Thursday, February 26, 2009

Exams

Today--in less than an hour (at 10:00 AM)--I begin my comprehensive exams. Today's field: Modern Jewish Thought. I think I might argue that there's no such thing! A strategy I might use on another exam for another field. I won't be on Facebook; I've already posted and read what I wanted this morning. I won't be checking emails or SMS. I won't be surfing the web for porn or reading blogs. But I will keep my webcam on throughout the day so you can watch the progression. Regression. Digression. Aggression. Stay tuned.

By the way, this photo was taken around 3:30 in the morning after writing my first exam question. I don't look half bad for being completely wiped out after writing a 25-page answer.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

El sonido nuevo

Here is my list of 17 new tracks that everyone should be listening to this spring. iTunes offers 7 of them for sale; the others can be found online through their individual sites. Enjoy.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Be Mine

When I was in second grade all those years ago, I got it in my tiny head to create my own Valentine cards for my classmates who, might I remind you, were not necessarily my friends. I painstakingly cut out little pink hearts from construction paper for every girl in my classroom, repeating the procedure for the boys with blue.

On each tiny pink heart I penciled, “I love you.” On each blue I replaced the verb with “like.” Even then I knew about the difference and admonition of boy-to-boy love.

After recess, Mrs. Hardin allowed us to walk along the rows to deliver our Valentines in the brown lunch sacks taped to each desk. I made sure I had one colored, creased paper heart for everyone. I didn’t want anyone to feel left out.

During the party, while we enjoyed a reel-to-reel film and cookies with punch, I overheard some kids make fun of my homemade, heartfelt gesture. I knew it was silly; I knew everyone should appreciate my Valentines over any store-bought version.

At the end of the day, as I was leaving the classroom to be picked up by the mother who had encouraged me to be so vulnerable and sensitive, I saw several wadded up pieces of construction paper on the floor. And in the trash. Pink and blue pieces of trash that should I had had the strength to unfold I knew would reveal my carefully formed handwriting in pencil. But no strength made itself available to my own downcast, broken heart.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Canor, cantor, dulcor

Richard Rolle abandoned the intellectual life and his academic training at Oxford to take to the frock in meditation upon the name of Christ. He didn't have much of an option, though: while praying in a chapel one day, the love of Christ literally inflamed his soul and body. Assuming that this fire was akin to what Moses saw in the desert--a flame that both burned and yet did not consume--we can imagine also that the heat of this flame unstopped his ears so that on the exact date a year later he began to hear the sweetest of melodies enchiming the love of Christ. From fire, to song, to the sweetness of Christ's love, Rolle spent his remaining days repeating and ruminating on Jesus' name. Each syllable a new translation of the love he experienced while engulfed in flames, in sweetness.

"In the translation, I follow the letter as much as I may." To Rolle, Jesus was not some mere intellectual exercise but rather the literal body and materiality of language itself. To follow Christ is to follow the word as pure logos; not some linguistic trope but the sheer manifestation of word as world. And thus we have the first use of "translation" in its meaning to convey from one language into another.

Finally, the Black Death caught up with him before his fiftieth birthday. His body was burned. Yet I imagine that among the ash, not a single iota of Rolle's flesh remained. Ash to ash, dust to dust. Word to word.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Resurrection

Is this damn blog still up and online? Does anyone ever post on this damn thing anymore? What’s up with the crappy black-and-white photos uploaded at random? Did the cute but considerably older and insanely pretentious guy who used to maintain this site die? Is that why he’s no longer a contributing member of the blogosphere? Did he run off to Mexico? Or move to a cave?

These are the questions I assume my faithful and loyal readers have been asking themselves lately. In all of the years since I’ve been posting here, I’ve never been so disconnected from my blog and simply at a loss as to what to do.

My own response: fear no more! Or perhaps: fear no less. Despite the fact that I nevertheless remain disconnected, I remain willfully aware that something must be done.

I’ve been reading Jalal Toufic lately in preparation for my meeting with Walid Raad tomorrow. I like how Toufic articulates the necessity of resurrection after and in response to the surpassing disaster. Otherwise, tradition becomes mere zombie-like simulacrum. These excerpts make me want to sit down and reread Blanchot’s The Writing of the Disaster again and again. And to crack open some Deleuze and Guattari as well as Baudrillard.

In my own response to the apathy and ennui of my current situation(s), I’ll effect a resurrection to rival Jesus’. At the very least, I’ll attempt to be more disciplined about posting on my most precious blog. Tomorrow promises to be another day.