Friday, November 21, 2008

Elektro-Szokotczka

Back in the Soviet Union children of the formerly bourgeois often held names from refashioned revolutionary slogans and technological innovations. The most comical example of just such a name is perhaps Dazdrapertrak [Даздрапертрак, a word based on the initial syllables of Да здравствует первый трактор!]—Long live the First Tractor! In honor of those comrades long since shipped off to the distant gulag, I have renamed Malika. She shall henceforth answer to Elektro-Szokotczka, or Electroshock Kitty.

It is a much less shocking name than her original moniker: Princess Stinky Butt.

This morning, sometime around 3:30 AM, she discovered her secret powers as she lay atop my chest. It seems the pink blanket is a great conductor of static electricity. As I pet Malika, she built up quite a charge. She then stretched her paws out to hug my face, causing a flurry of aurorae between her furry toes and the fur on my chin.

Like any mediocre science nerd, I of course had to repeat the experiment in order to verify and validate the results. After a couple more shocks to the chin, I decided it was time to let science finally try to get back to sleep for the night. Malika grew disinterested, returning to the foot of the bed.

Of course, the question remains: why was I awake at 3:30 AM in the first place? Answer: because after waking up at 2:30 AM to be sick and nauseated once more, it was difficult going back to sleep. Lying awake for those few hours this morning, I began assessing my doctor’s appointment twelve hours prior.

I had written here that medical science is pure hermeneutics, but now that the question-and-answer period between man of medicine and man of sickness is long over, I have come to a remarkable insight. Medicine is a faulty and impoverished version of interpretational strategies. I treat my texts—even including the daily comics—with more care and respect than any M.D. has treated poor, little, sick me.

In either field, one’s assessment should always be a bit more than rewording the patient’s symptoms as if intralingual translation itself were a cure. I am still sick with no prescribed medicine and a splitting headache brought on by my limited coffee intake. Maybe I should just take a few more electro-shock treatments with a purring cat on my chest.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

World Philosophy Day, or A Lack of Education

Yes, I am the backwater, poor white trash that created a Facebook event page for World Philosophy Day. UNESCO, the sponsor of the global event, did not create one. Neither Richard Rorty nor Judith Butler created one. Nor Slavoj Žižek. Only I, the barely literate, suburban graduate student at the non-flagship university. It currently has seven “guests.” This truly is a global celebration....

Even before getting out of bed this morning, I waxed philosophical. Malika was attempting to kiss my chin, which I kept resisting. So she turned to biting my hand. I reproved, “Biting doesn’t solve any problems … except the lack of biting.” Assuming, of course, that a lack of biting could indeed be some sort of problem. (You know who you are.)

Then I started thinking of all the other “problems” we attempt to solve through equally faulty thinking. Education is perhaps the most misapplied solution. It is supposed to cure everything from global war and famine to suburban ennui.

Education only solves the problem of a lack of education.

Food will “cure” hunger. (With the political infrastructure to ensure delivery and a stable economy.) And not starting wars will end wars before they begin. (No, I do not expect anyone to really listen to or understand that last statement, let alone prudently apply it.)

Regardless, I love teaching. And I love learning, but usually on my own initiative. I despise being the slave to another’s poorly planned pedagogy and mountainous reading load. And I loathe merely grading exams in a field I have no business grading exams in. How could anyone think world peace would result from something that does not even bring me inner peace but its opposite?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sick Day

This is the first real sick day I’ve taken in months if not years. Whatever illness I’ve been suffering through over the past several weeks finally got the upper hand last night when it not only made me nauseated but also unable to sleep. There’s nothing like a double measure of the wrath of God to force little, old me to forgo the typical “eyes wide shut” approach to daily life and instead focus on interpretational strategies to help me understand just what the heck is going on with my body. My mind. My soul.

Medial science is pure hermeneutics.

And although I’ve looked up several new physicians in the vicinity, I finally made the decision to call my old quack from the neighborhood of south Dallas. At least I won’t have to fill in endless medical histories of me and my ilk. And I can get in tomorrow afternoon. Meaning: tomorrow will also be a sick day wherein I miss yet another class.

I just finished watching a PBS/Nova documentary about the Bible’s “Buried Secrets.” Spoiler alert: the Israelites are really the remnants of low class Canaanites, most of whom were born and bred in the highlands. And that whole monotheism thing of theirs didn’t really take off until after the Babylonian Captivity during the 6th century BCE.

Before the destruction of the First Temple, thousands of deities/idols were kept in the cupboards of the ever self-righteous. Little clay Asherah figurines kept the Midianite god YHW(H) company on those long, lonely Promised Land nights.

I wanted to watch this documentary after sitting through three hours of intellectualizing over Freud’s text Moses and Monotheism yesterday morning. So many repetitive secondary sources ill chosen for the task of not annoying me with subject matter or reading load! I was hoping some “scientific” exposition would help bring my mind back to life after being intolerably numbed in class.

Now—if I can sit up, eat some food, and stay awake—I need to shower and get other work done now that I have some time to actually work productively. I would rather sleep, but it’s probably not a good idea to jump start full-blown insomnia while I’m still sick with heaven-knows-what.

By the way, I’m on hiatus from scheduled blog posts for the next few weeks. I had intended to announce this obvious development several days ago, but as usual, my schedule got the best of me. I’ll try to check in every few days. I hope all is well out there with you and yours.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Coverage: Full Disclosure of H8, or California Goddam

Despite the false headlines in The New York Times Wednesday morning, Obama has not moved America beyond race politics. Very little has changed as far as the electorate goes. Otherwise, the International Herald Tribune would not have had to carry the following story this morning: US gun shops attribute rising sales to election.

And there would not have been a noose hanging at Baylor University in Waco, a shit-hole of a town about two hours south of here known for several lynchings back when it was socially acceptable--and sanctioned (nay, sanctified!) by religion to lynch.

But even the Southern Baptists came up with an apology for their complicity in the torture and murder of African Americans all those (not-so-long-ago) years ago.

In my county, only 37% voted Democrat this last election! I feel more like a minority here than I did in Japan as a white man.

I am truly thrilled with the Obama win, but even though I went to bed late that night feeling somewhat proud of my country, I still felt a significant amount of unease. Two things still overshadow his victory for me: (1) that he won only 6% more of the popular vote than the McCain/Palin ticket. It should have been a fucking landslide after the past eight years of this corrupt, immoral administration and against that Dynamic Dunce Duo. And (2) the fact that every anti-gay legislation on every ballot in every state passed. Does this mean the same people voting for Obama are the same ones voting against same-sex marriage and gay adoption?

So we Americans--at least a slim majority of those who went to the polls--have ultimately just elected yet another politician to serve in a political office--another man, another heterosexual in the confines of a legalized, state- and church-sanctioned marriage with kids to parade out in front of the press corps. How mundane and conventional. Traditional even.

Big fucking deal. The Obama girls get their puppy while every child with same-sex parents has her or his family erased. Voided. Canceled out. Swept aside. Annulled. By law and by a majority of voters.

Since when did inherent rights become something we allow the electorate to vote on? Since when did democracy stop including protection of minorities against the majority?

Just 41 years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional, annulling the legislation still enforced in at least sixteen states. One would think--and by this "one," I mean it in its fully vexed and most unjust use--that one who is a product of "race defilement" would be able to show a little bit more sensitivity on the issue of marriage that goes against so-called social mores.

The only hope we as human beings and as Americans have now is in a similar ruling on anti-gay legislation. Maybe one day, in the future to come, legislation based on hate and fear can be eradicated as simply as gay marriages and the right to adopt were Tuesday evening.

My country makes me sick. To paraphrase Nina Simone: "Florida Goddam! Arizona Goddam! Arkansas Goddam! California Goddam!" And I mean every word of it....