Friday, October 26, 2007

Bullet-Point Friday

  • It’s like, you know, flamenco piano: when you hear the first measures of just such a beast you recognize the form (flamenco) but don’t recognize the medium (piano) because your ears are not trained to interpret that form through that medium. After a few moments, a new synapse fires, and you are better prepared to hear flamenco piano again: a new possibility has been created in your world.
  • It’s like, you know, when human beings rely too heavily on infrastructure designed to keep them safe (i.e., guardrails, stop signs, traffic lights) that they behave irresponsibly because someone else is policing their reckless behavior; they have a false sense of security because they’ve relinquished responsibility for their own actions. (It’s also like, you know, when parents expect legislation to supplement their demonstrably poor parenting skills: they want society to be policed instead of being responsible for the raising of their own children. I mean, think of the children!) Remove the guardrails and pedestrian accidents fall 60% because pedestrian and driver behave more responsibly when they must think for themselves. If I choose to jaywalk, then I’ll be sure to look both ways—twice, even—before jumping out in traffic.
  • It’s like, you know, trying to get through a lecture on Berkeley’s immaterialist idealism when your students would much rather hypothesize about “crazy people” or “people on LSD” or “the blind”: if someone falls in the woods and no one is around to perceive it, did the person really exist in the first place? (Thankfully, for Berkeley, God is omniscient and omnipresent: He’s always watching/perceiving! And even if you don’t believe in God, He still believes in you.) I sometimes wish my students would stop invading my sensory world so their drug-induced craziness would simply stop existing, even if only for me.
  • It’s like, you know, hotdog!
  • It’s like, you know, accepting the alternate relationship with truth that wanders to supplement one’s acceptance of truth that remains coordinated on a grid. To start walking with the right foot (techne, the logos of techne, the word: “technology”) is quite alright as long as the next step is with the left foot (organic, systemic (uncoordinatable) episteme, the organicity of the epistemic); otherwise, you spin around in circles going nowhere. And no guardrail is going to protect you from doing that!
  • It’s like, you know, attempting to speak language as such without using any of the words from the language of humankind. Or perhaps like, you know, speaking a word to(ward) an other all the while speaking a word as (an)other. This too shall not pass.
  • It’s like, you know, Liberace’s famous question: “Would you rather have roses on your piano or tulips on your organ?” Vote now!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Das ist der Deal

Rarely does a day go by since I first heard this song in Germany that I don't stop to listen to it or sit down to watch this video. Yes, yes: come marry me! (And that's only a message to my secret love..... Miguel, I hope you don't mind finding out this way!)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bullet-Point Friday

  • I had my first setback in about a month or so after beginning my new insomnia medications: I couldn't get to sleep Tuesday 'evening' until about 2:00 am (Wednesday morning). Now I'm still recovering from that episode. The only thing I can figure out that was in the least bit different was that I drank a Dr. Pepper at 3:30 that afternoon. It was the first soda I've had in two months, and the only reason I drank it was because I 'won' it by filling out a survey about alcohol use on campus. From now on, I will only drink water (and alcohol) on campus. Perhaps I need to 'update' my responses on the survey.
  • I skipped working yesterday afternoon and instead spent about 90 minutes at the YMCA. I felt I needed a break from the multitude of assignments and projects after working almost nonstop Wednesday afternoon/evening until about 9:00 pm. Yea: endorphins are my friends! (Unlike Dr. Pepper.)
  • I'm taking another 'break' this afternoon: we're going to the Texas State Fair. I know I'm going to spend all weekend working, so I might as well try to have a little bit of fun while I can. Besides, I spent my morning office hours grading exams.
  • I'm excited about my books from Amazon being shipped: Gadamer, Jabes, and Plato. God, am I a dork or what? I used to be one of the cool kids (at least as an undergraduate), but now I'm quite the stuffy old graduate student surrounded by books ... and very few friends. (Even Dr. Pepper is not to be trusted.)
  • Perhaps Tiny Tim (or is it Tiny Tina these days?) can bring a little joy back to my life.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bullet-Point Friday

  • Well, I kept my cell phone on buzz from late September until today hoping that I'd get that call either from the MacArthur Foundation or Sweden. No such luck. I guess I can switch it off (and hold my breath) for another year.
  • Since besides keeping a fairly sophisticated monthly budget I don't dabble in economics, and since rarely do I delve into cutting edge scientific research, I thought I'd surely be shortlisted for either the prize in literature or maybe (as a last resort) the peace prize. I guess I need to write more than term papers and angry blog posts. And perhaps do more than save the world everyday from my utter disgust.
  • Congratulations to Doris Lessing, whoever she is. I browsed through the table of contents of the Norton Anthology of British Literature last night and couldn't find anything by her. If Norton doesn't bother with her writings, why should anyone else? Perhaps she's just trans-canonical.
  • Congratulations to Al Gore, whose name was in the news just a couple of days ago when a British court determined that nine statements in his film on global warming were in error. Thankfully he wasn't up for the Nobel scientific prize. Polar bears drowning, indeed! (Although I have to admit I chuckled out loud during that part of the movie when the computer-animated polar bear went kerplunk into the Arctic waters! Ah, good times. Of course, if you were in the audience and couldn't tell that that scene/scenario was designed purely for an emotional response, then perhaps you deserve a Nobel for naiveté and gullibility.)
  • No Nobel. No Genius. At least I'm in good company.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Genocide Schmenocide

I'm loving how the Turks have taken to the streets to protest the passing of a House bill (in committee) calling the Armenian Genocide "genocide." Perhaps someday our government will actually do something about genocide instead of sitting in committee debating whether a genocide should be called genocide.

And where were the Turks when Hitler himself mentioned the Armenian genocide? If Hitler can talk about it, then shouldn't meager American politicians have that same freedom?

Hell, why doesn't Turkey just gang up with Azerbaijan and 'reveal' the facts about the genocide there perpetrated by the Armenians. (Maybe in the future the Azeri lobby will get a House bill through committee calling the Azeri Genocide a "genocide"! That'll be political progress at its finest!)

Fuck all of you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

American Justice/Global Injustice, or Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

I just finished reading two articles from the IHT: German claiming CIA torture loses final appeal and 40 years after Che's death, his image is a battleground after doing some serious thinking since finishing my class this afternoon. I taught the Hindu creation myth today.

Brahma grows bored and so creates Maya to play a game with. She convinces him to create the world of illusion: the universe, the stars and planets, the animals and plants. Then she tells him to create an animal that would be intelligent and aware, one that could appreciate Brahma's creation. So after creating humans, he asks Maya when the game would begin. She cuts Brahma into millions of tiny pieces and puts a piece in each human. Then she makes the pieces forget who they are. The game consists of the pieces finding themselves again.

So, what's the purpose of the game? To win? To lose? To move beyond the illusion of the duality of winning and losing? Is the purpose of the game merely to continue the play? These are all questions that washed ashore during discussion. Is the Holocaust or the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq just humans taking the game too seriously? Am I taking their game too seriously? How serious are the charges of kidnapping and torture made by Khaled el-Masri? (Alas, not serious enough to be addressed by the US Supreme Court.) Can anyone take Che Guevara seriously after forty years since his murder (also conducted by the CIA/US government) and after the sale of millions of T-shirts with his iconic, revolutionary gaze?

I think the game makes me sick. I only find myself nauseated.

Monday, October 8, 2007


One of the many blemishes part of Putin's blemished legacy, Anna Politkovskaya was murdered a year ago.


Today, on Columbus Day (Observed) I’m sitting through a lecture on early American history—yeah, academic calendars don’t quite match up to national holidays. (When I was at UD—boo! hiss!—I was told that we would not be off on Labor Day because “we are not laborers.”)

But today, I too feel like Columbus: discovering something that millions of people already knew about. (Thanks, Lisa Simpson!) My discovery: I need a break from sitting through lectures and spending far too many hours in front of a computer doing research and writing.

A modest proposal for renaming the day observed today:

  • Stolen Continent Day
  • Genocide Day
  • Taino Heritage Day
  • European Legacy Day (celebrating the effects of smallpox and “conquista”)
Indeed, perhaps we all should just walk backward into the ocean….

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Visual Culture

After a relatively short run-through of the DMA this afternoon, I came up with the following six contenders for my project in Visual Culture. I'm really not ecstatic about any of them: I would much rather write about the work of someone I know a little bit about, like Anselm Kiefer or Magda Abakanowicz, but we've already been scolded for choosing only recent subjects (from the last 30 years). Since I have no interest in recreating the canon, I thought about either an Asian or pre-Columbian work, but I didn't find anything today that grabbed me. These six, despite being fairly canonical--hell, they're hanging in a Dallas museum!--caught my eye; plus I thought I'd be able to say something new and interesting about each of them, assuming that someone else hasn't already exhausted these works.

Thomas Wilmer Dewing's The Singer, 1924

Arthur Garfield Dove's Up the Alley, 1938

Edward Hicks' The Peaceable Kingdom, c. 1846-47

Max Liebermann's At the Swimming Hole, 1875-78

Odilon Redon's Initiation to Study - Two Young Ladies, c. 1905

Paul Serusier's Celtic Tale, 1894

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bullet-Point Friday

  • I'm enjoying my trek through Daniel Weissbort's From Russian with Love, a book about his friendship(s) and (professional) relationship(s) with Joseph Brodsky, translation theory, Russian, literature, and death. It is everything that John Felstiner falls short of. Throughout Felstiner's work (specifically Translating Neruda and Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew), he steers the reader toward this totalizing conception of identity and poetry: he reads Neruda and Celan as if their names were always in capital letters, as if they were homogenized, monolithic, unified Cartesian subjects, as if his biographical/literary/psychological/physiological uncoverings and excavations had the final say on what their poetry was all about. Weissbort, on the other hand, speaks toward an actual and real person he met, befriended, and knew, and yet who escapes any insincere attempt toward totalization: was 'Joseph' a Jew, how much of a Jew was he, how does his translation of his own poetry speak the same as their Russian versions. 'Joseph' is always moving away, eliding Weissbort’s efforts to read him, his words, him through his words, his words in his (own) voice, his words in his Russian (or Russified English). Felstiner reminds me of why I stopped reading literature and poetry all those years ago; Weissbort makes me want to read everything Brodsky ever wrote (as well as everything Weissbort ever wrote).
  • I have approximately 50 pounds of books about Mark Rothko I need to work through this weekend as I prepare for an in-class presentation on the Rothko Chapel next week.
  • Tonight is First Friday at the Ft. Worth Modern. I thought I would take myself out for the evening to enjoy the new exhibit and then maybe a nice vegan meal at Spiral Diner. (I can’t wait for the Spiral Diner to open up in my neighborhood!)
  • Tomorrow is already “full up to the neck”: German class from 10:00-12:00, a visit (during the Texas-OU game) to the Dallas Museum of Art to come up with a subject for my term paper, and then Lauren’s party in the evening celebrating the release of Superficial Flesh. Perhaps one of these days I’ll actually have some down time and do some pleasure reading or spend an afternoon just brushing my cats. Maybe December.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I've been meaning to write something on this tired, old, useless blog (or perhaps I'm describing myself) for several days now, but nothing seems to come to mind. Today, though, is a special day: the fiftieth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik--Sky Lab's older punk-ass Soviet sister. Without her, where would we be today? I can pretty much bet that the bus stop in Warsaw where I used to catch my bus would not have been named Gagarin.

And we wouldn't have had such beautiful songs such as these:

Rickie Lee Jones' "Satellites"

or Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love"

Here's U2's version of the Lou Reed classic from the early '90s:

I don't know if a big image and three embedded videos from YouTube count as a real post here at Crash Course, but since I see others doing it, it must be alright.