Friday, December 18, 2009

Encounter on the Greyhound

On a return trip from an impromptu visit to Columbus I met a man of Dominican heritage who noticed I was reading Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Turns out he is a kind of peace/radical activist of some sort. He travels around the country speaking on various issues.

But I have to say that talking with him was like brushing against the ideologies of my budding early teen activism beginning with the Columbus chapter of Anti-Racist Action. Not only did he hand my a pamphlet I'm pretty sure I owned when I was thirteen on COINTELPRO and its continuation, but also a copied-so-many-times-the-text-is-illegible Black Panther flier. This man was potentially in his late 30s or 40s, and he presented information to me with an attitude that suggested that his every statement should be revelatory.

I don't want to sound patronizing, but I see myself now at some sort of remove from the realm of the political projected by that well intentioned man. Particularly, because he rattling off these implicitly anti-semitic comments about Jews owning the media, which if you actually look at the data there hasn't been the critical mass of Jewish ownership of media conglomerates since the 1960s (he should think about a frightening Aussie running shit instead and the rise of conglomerate produced media).

I guess I don't want to think about this man's thinking about politics as emerging from a kind of ethical bent and personal practice to be obsolete, but I think my understanding of the ways in which governmentality, imperialism, and capitalism shape the space of the political is radically different from what it was when I was passing out the aged fliers he uses to make his speeches. But moreover the arrangement of players and conflicts have changed necessarily reshaping how we understand the political landscape: certain ethnic and raced conflicts don't take shape in the ways that this era of thinking projects (as in the consistent exploitation of African-Americans by Jews for example, there are and have always been working class Jews).

I guess this was a good reminder for me about the minimal progress I've made to think about the contemporary and the possibilities and limitations of the present.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Harrowing Weeks Since

So these last few weeks have produced absolutely no posts from me and this mostly has to do with some emotionally trying and difficult things going on in my personal life. In order to represent its simultaneously painful and tacky, clichéd quality of this experience I present a scene from Fass Binder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant without subtitles:

Highlights from the last couple weeks include:

1) Talking my advisor down. Was finally able to make the point that there is in fact a "last instance" when it comes to Latino immigration to the United States (for those unfamiliar with Louis Althusser this will make no sense). He intimidates the crap out of me so this was a step in the direction of me becoming his colleague and not merely his student.

2) Discussing academic porno. So in the reading "How To Tame a Wild Tongue" by Gloria Anzaldua my students and I encountered the phrase "my mouth is a motherlode." This made me burst into laughter immediately which my students didn't understand. Upon later discussion with other grad. student friends we decided that this would be an amazing title for a gang-bang porno staring Anzaldua. Picture the final money shot scene on her mouth, she a nude older Mexican woman, brown breasts flying, turquoise jewelry splayed everywhere.

3) Encountering this phrase in a work by Americo Paredes, "the American taste for ham plays a big part in border folklore, and now and then one hears the term gringo jamonero" as a derisive term for Americans--ha!

4) Despite a broken bike frame that I've had for almost 6 years, I've started sucking it up and working on a much newer frame I purchased to produce my dream bicycle. With some help from friends identifying appropriate parts, I'm feeling pretty good that it might be done by the end of january.

5) Amanda Blank has a few good tracks:

6) The semester is over almost a week earlier than usual and I only have 7 student papers to grade.