blogging is still my passion

I started this blog in 2004, and then I gave it a (long) rest in 2007, while I did some spiritual regrouping and growing.  In the past month, I have started up a new blog -- this time, more personal in nature.  Although this blog is and was very personal in terms of the issues and concerns that I care most about. Blogging is my passion.  But teaching is my first passion, and I can teach through blogging, as I did on this blog.  We are all learners in this life -- learning and growing.  And now is the time to return to blogging and writing after this extended hiatus.  All my best as we journey on.  Peace.

code of ethics

There really should be a code of ethics for how people treat teachers in our culture.

Teaching is a calling, first and foremost. For all practical purposes, one teaches because that is what one was born to do – and nothing that happens in one’s life alters that calling because it is ingrained in who one essentially is. Even when one is not in an official teaching position, there is still an overriding sense of mission -- to teach others through whatever venues are available, including writing and blogging. It is a mission that deserves to be respected. When your life’s work is that of teaching, it is very difficult to do anything else – because, again, it is a calling of the highest order and composes the fiber of one’s very being.

Being a teacher, especially in higher education these days, means that one makes considerable financial sacrifices – the sacrifice of delaying income while in graduate school and then the sacrifice of low salaries once employed. Those financial sacrifices should be respected and honored, as well.

Increasingly, there are many teachers in higher education who opt not to teach for reasons of poor pay and institutional politics. Call it a boycott, if you will. In fact, many of the best teachers – who care the most about students – end-up dropping out of teaching for these very reasons – because too often the university system rewards those who look out for themselves (and their own research agendas) rather than those who care about others and are dedicated to the service of students. This is a pervasive problem within higher ed today. Indeed, years of putting others’ needs ahead of one’s own needs can lead to burn-out and financial drain – even break downs -- for many of the best teachers. However, that does not mean that those teachers who opt out deserve any less respect.

Anyone who takes teaching seriously knows that in being a teacher, you are also serving as an advocate for students. The best teachers are advocates – and they can serve as advocates in all sorts of capacities outside of education, as well. In recent years, my main work has been that of an advocate – because as a dedicated teacher, that is what comes most naturally. The call to service for many teachers extends far beyond university walls.

about this blog

This is the blog of a teacher, academic, poetic thinker, artist and theorist -- and most of all, a pacifist.  I am currently concerned that blog entries herein have been unfortunately misinterpeted, and so I am going back and qualifying everything on this blog so that people understand how things that have been stated on this blog relate to my work and the work of other people in academia.  I am sorry for any misinterpretations that have occurred here.  Things can sound quite different on the internet and in writing than they are in reality.  Lots of writers are quite different in their writing than they are in reality.   I have a wide range of interests -- as should be reflected on my book list and on my blog reads list. My interests range from theory to teaching (pedagogy)  to science discussions on a science & technology discussion website known as to social issues and women's issues (because I care about those things). My interests range the entire gamut of topics and subjects, and my interests are interdisciplinary in nature, which means that as a teacher, I am interested in lots of different subjects.   I am concerned here that my blog reads and quotations have been really misinterpeted, and I am trying to qualify everything on this blog so that it will make sense to people who do not have an academic background and are not familiar with the contexts in which all of this blog is being written. I really feel that things have been taken out of the appropriate context, and I want to try to help people to understand what is being said.  Academia can be quite a different place than the real world, and people write about theoretical issues and have debates about theoretical issues that sound quite different to folks outside of academia.  I would appreciate help from other academics/teachers in helping people to understand the theoretical context in which this blog is being written.   I am a very kind-hearted and caring person by nature, and the blog title really does reflect my heartfulness and caring.   In reality, I am always trying to help people, and that's all that I want to do -- help people and get back to teaching.  If I have written anything that sounds assertive or overly-aggressive, that is just because I have been trying to help people out in the only way that I know how to help.  I have also been trying to work out congenial disagreements with a few other bloggers who haven't given me the opportunity to explain and correct misinformation.  Any subtexts in these posts have only had to do with intellectual disagreements and not being provided with the opportunity to respond to misinformation and wanting to keep this blog private and pseudonymous as many academic bloggers do when they do not want their writings to impact their lives and careers, and when they want to keep privacy. There are many other bloggers who blog pseudonymously.

Please note that "when the moon waxes red" is the title of a book by the poetic theorist Trinh Minh-ha, and that's what that title is in reference to.  And the lunar eclipse really was beautiful the other night. And that really is my favorite Mulder-Scully moment that I posted below, and I really was listening to the song the other night. This blog is filled with daily observations from reading the newspaper and listening to music and so forth.  I also love the work of Paulo Freire -- he is a favorite teacher, theorist and writer of mine because he advocates love as the source of all actions and practices, and I truly believe in the power of love, and that's the thematic of this blog and has been the thematic of this blog since the beginning, i.e., the concept of love and the many different things that I love.  I am also a very spiritual person, and I believe in both christianity and zen buddhism as a spiritual way of doing onto others and treating other people like one would want to be treated oneself, and I tend to privilege theorists/writers who practice theory in a zen or buddhist kind of manner.  Maybe not as institutionalized religions but as spiritual practices of meditation.  That is what is being referenced by the zen posts on this blog -- I have been a long time reader of buddhism. While some of my writing may appear assertive/aggressive -- many writers are different on paper than they are in writing -- I am actually a very kind-hearted person.

clinton, the nurturing warrior

From the NYTimes last week, on the Clinton presidential campaign and how Hillary Rodham Clinton is negotiating the complicated terrain of being the first woman in serious contention for the presidency. Interestingly enough, in the article, Clinton is referred to by the Times as being a "Nurturing Warrior," negotiating how to present herself as both maternal/nurturing/accessible and tough-minded at the same time.

"She is, in this latest unveiling, the Nurturing Warrior. She displays a cozy acquaintance ('Let’s chat') and leaderly confidence ('I’m in it to win it'). She is a tea-sipping girlfriend who vows to 'deck' anyone who attacks her; a giggly mom who invokes old Girl Scout songs and refuses to apologize for voting for the Iraq War Resolution in 2002. Her aim, of course, is to show that she is tough enough to lead Americans in wartime but tender enough to understand their burdens. ..."

"But the senator is trying hard. In appearances in Washington and around the country, Mrs. Clinton — Version 08, Nurturing Warrior, Presidential Candidate Model — is speaking more freely of her gender than she has in years. Her campaign knows that Democratic women are her most loyal supporters. Ann Lewis, a senior campaign aide, points out that women made up 54 percent of the electorate in 2004; Mrs. Clinton garnered 73 percent of female voters in her re-election campaign last year, compared with 61 percent of male voters, according to exit polls.'"

whitman's imperative

A perpetual favorite of mine and an imperative to live by.  I myself am a poetic thinker, and I greatly admire this passage from Walt Whitman because it is an imperative that I believe in. 

"This is what you shall do: love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body." -- Walt Whitman

And while I was buzzing around youtube this afternoon, researching whatever might be available of Whitman footage, I found this richly-stocked archive, inclusive of a Foucault interview that I was serendipitously reading this past week. And then, soon after, this video about Whitman set to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic" surfaced (it starts out with a good narrative, but then, yes, the footage becomes somewhat corny -- consider that there's not all that much available for Whitman on youtube yet):

a title of a book by trinh minh-ha

"when the moon waxes red"  is the title of a book by  the poet theorist Trinh Minh-ha.

Cool. Red lunar eclispe over manhattan ... From the article:

"Mike Ealay, a 60-year-old architect who wandered over to the observatory to watch the eclipse, said the red color of the moon made it look like a close-up version of Mars.

"'I think it's quite exciting. It's like having the red planet on your doorstep,' he said."


organic data

Linking to this slashdot article for no other reason than that I find the article & comments an interesting discussion of what the future might hold for what has been called "organic computing."  The concept of junk dna possibly already containing a repository of undecoded data -- possibly, I say -- is an interesting one.  Always already cybernetic organisms? Of course, the big caveat to using bacteria as data storage is mutation -- that "reproduction is inherently error prone."

beau sia, poet

The real value of youtube ... opening up a public conversation about cultural stereotypes otherwise unimaginable on standard network television.   Far better -- more passionate & powerful -- than any public ad campaign on network tv that I have ever heard.   And poets, as always, deliver it so much better -- with so much more generosity -- than critics and pundits.

As a footnote, I am scratching the generosity comment because -- upon further reflection over the past week -- the only real generosity is towards the very end of the video. Even as the dramatic delivery method improves upon that of many stale critics and pundits, the method -- as seductive as it is at first glance -- borrows too much from the masculine tradition of slam poetry. Poetry, by my definition, is not meant to be a competitive sport -- performative, yes, competitive/damning, no.

on toolboxes

"I would like my books to be a kind of tool-box which others can rummage through to find a tool which they can use however they wish in their own area... I would like the little volume that I want to write on disciplinary systems to be useful to an educator, a warden, a magistrate, a conscientious objector. I don't write for an audience, I write for users, not readers." -- Michel Foucault


"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

"When you know the truth, the truth makes you a soldier." -- Ghandi

"Truth has beauty, power and necessity." -- Sylvia Ashton-Warner

"I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."-- Martin Luther King

more on memetics

Perusing this site, George Lakoff's Rockridge Institute, today. Lakoff and memetics -- both subjects expounded upon on this blog in the past.

From the site, "The Secret Behind Why Ideas 'Stick' -- NPR Morning Edition"

"Chip and Dan say frames must have six characteristics to 'stick' in people's minds: simplicity, unexpected, concreteness, credibility, emotional and story. Their example was the urban myth of the stolen kidney and waking up in a bathtub full of ice."

In other words: clarity, estrangement, thick description, truth value, narrative and emotional resonance are what matter in the realm of memes and their survival. Notably, kind of backwards to how much analytical/critical discourse is crafted, structured and evaluated in the artificial discursive economy found within the academy -- backwards to what types of discourses are generally privileged, that is.

The Made to Stick website.

poppy seed cakes

More Tori Amos, from a 2003 interview:

"'I would compare thoughts, ideas, facts… and what I began to see was that there is truth in every religion. There is truth there, but there are also many lies. And I was interested in uncovering the lies, the controls, the domination of the patriarchy, which women are involved in as well as men,' she says. 'It is not about us becoming whole because then we wouldn’t need them. There would be no institution.'

“'Although, I will say that the little poppy seed cakes that get made by the little old ladies — that’s truth. That’s love. Yes, there is love there. There is no question that within the institution there are moments and pockets of truth, and there are also incredible pockets of control.'”

"'There’s always going to be feedback when you say something that’s against somebody’s belief system,' she says, 'but … I’m putting light bulbs out there, that’s all I’m doing … and they either make you want to cogitate over them or not.'"

just because

"God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: 'This is my country.'" -- Benjamin Franklin

"If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." -- John F. Kennedy

"The history of free men is never really written by chance but by choice -- their choice." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"Liberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying No to any authority-- literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social and even political." -- Ignazio Silone

"The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." -- Thomas Jefferson

"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." -- Charles Austin Beard

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either."  -- Mark Twain, ironically

more reality

For those who mistakenly think that the world and/or this blog revolves around their little egos, a reminder that nobody is the sum of their blog entries and that not every entry is a looking glass -- the overwhelming majority are not. That said, yet more evidence of out-of-whack priorities in this world in which most Americans whittle away their lives engaged in various exercises of accumulation and hoarding:

U.N.: Hunger Kills 18,000 Kids Each Day

"''Today 850 million people are hungry and malnourished. Over half of them are children. 18,000 children die every single day because of hunger and malnutrition,' Morris said. 'This is a shameful fact -- a terrible indictment of the world in 2007, and it's an issue that needs to be solved.'"

"Morris said the largest number of malnourished children are in India -- more than 100 million -- followed by nearly 40 million in China."

"Elsewhere, there are probably 100 million hungry children in the rest of Asia, another 100 million in Africa where countries have fewer resources to help, and 30 million in Latin America, he said."

housing ecology

From today's NYTimes, "Think Small," on the back-to-basics movement of building ecologically-sound-yet-design-conscious dwellings with small footprints.

"A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes."

"From the beginning, Mr. Adams said, he had an ecological agenda and intended to serve as a steward of the former ranch property. 'I was committed to finding a tiny house that would have no lasting impact on the land,' he said. 'But truthfully, I wanted something with design value, too.'"

"'It feels acutely more sheltering to be in a tiny house rather than a big one,” Mr. Adams said of the glass-and-wood structure, which sits like a jewel box on the land. 'Looking out at the vastness of the environment heightens your sense of containment.'"

reality, II

Stumbled upon this website today, and it doesn't get much more real and urgent than this: Invisible Children -- "Improves the quality of life for war-affected children by providing access to quality education, enhanced learning environments and innovative economic opportunities." These kinds of documentary/fundraising efforts go much further in addressing the pragmatic, material realities of "othering" -- exile, marginalization and torture -- than many of the insular theoretical discourses waxing and waning abstractly about "the Other."

Mandate & Ethos

"When we first saw the thousands of children running for their lives, we were surprised by the lack of international attention. No one was talking about child soldiers, night commuters or the Lord’s Resistance Army. So, we asked ourselves, 'How can we help?' While we had our own big ideas in the beginning, the more time we spent among the people of Uganda, the more their reoccurring pleas became our development strategies."

"Invisible Children is not offering a handout, but instead, a life-long investment in vulnerable youth. We provide them with quality education and valuable life skills that enable them to take responsibility for their future and the future of their country."

"To achieve this goal we emphasize community involvement and Ugandan leadership. As a part of a global community, we also promote cross-cultural education, and continuously look for ways we can better work together in defending the oppressed and promoting peace."

Sad, dark, cruel world, indeed -- as if there is not enough darkness in the world already. And, once again, originating from a zealot-man in the name of religion.

And Jan Egeland of the UN is a humanitarian crusader extraordinaire:

"During a November 2003 field visit to Uganda, United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland stated, 'I cannot find any other part of the world that is having an emergency on the scale of Uganda, that is getting such little international attention.'"[9]


I originally posted a link to this noteworthy and highly-recommendable article by Katie Hogan, entitled, "Superserviceable Feminism," last March -- for the reason that it aligns with several analyses that I have made previously on this blog and elsewhere and for the reason that it turns the feminist gaze directly on the institutional economy and its discursive practices. And since today seems like a day in which I need to knock some sense into somebody, I am restoring the link and the excerpts from the article that most immediately apply to an issue near-and-dear to this blog -- i.e., the perpetual devaluation of feminized, emotional labor by, yes, masculinized institutions.

"A similar argument about a small scale of bias that occurs repeatedly and builds into a damaging devaluation of women and feminism emerges in Susan Fraiman's book Cool Men and the Second Sex. Fraiman meticulously discerns the practice of subdued bias in the structure and design of theoretical arguments produced by academic stars—those prominent male scholars and queer theorists who populate the pages of mainstream newspapers and scholarly journals, hold prestigious academic posts, and project an aura of coolness, both in their personas and scholarly writing. Similar to Valian's study, Fraiman identifies an underground realm of assumed ideologies about women's intellectual and social inferiority. Fraiman bluntly asserts, 'Much of this discourse is secretly and sometimes quite frankly in love with [its own] masculinity'" (123).

"Fraiman's Cool Men and the Second Sex unwittingly works in tandem with the project of theorizing service, illuminating the ways in which women, femininity, emotionality, the maternal, and feminism 'service' the advancement of scholarly arguments. In other words, small 'textual effects' of bias in male scholarship accumulate to disadvantage women, mothers, and feminism: 'What I mean to protest are cumulative textual effects, unexamined and incongruous patterns of sexism just beneath the surface of works purporting to be oppositional (and sometimes feminist)' (Fraiman xix). In the work of academic stars such as Andrew Ross, Edward Said, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and in the canon of queer theory, exemplified by Judith Halberstam, Judith Butler, Lee Edelman, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, repression and stasis are coded female as a way to advance the idea that defiance, boldness, creativity, and rebelliousness are working-class, anti-corporate, hip, and masculine. A pronounced 'preoccupation with masculinity' structures these scholars' arguments, even while they evoke feminism. In this way, arguments that articulate solidarity with women and feminism on one level also mitigate—and in some cases, undermine—solidarity by quietly overrating that which is male and masculine and devaluing that which is female and feminine. A recurring focus in male and queer texts is the motif of a 'pejorative maternal' and the tokenization of women and feminism, rhetorical strategies that these well-received and influential texts depend on to create their arguments. ..."

"In academic women's lives, femininity and the maternal are also underlying assumptions linked to the expectation of women's unpaid labor. Not only is service not perceived as intellectual, it is often framed as a labor of love, akin to the work women do for their children, rather than as work for which one should be paid and acknowledged. "

"Feminist insurgent insights and practices were permanently altered by the force and will of academic institutionalization. Once feminism was 'disciplined,' it lost its rebellious impulse and became disconnected from social change skills, knowledge, and activism. As a result, feminist studies is more successful than the feminist movement, and the word 'activist' is more damaging to one's feminist credentials than the word 'academic.'"

"Superserviceable feminism not only illuminates the expectation that women, because they are women, will serve their institutions, departments, programs, peers, students, and so on, but that feminist studies will similarly serve in a multitude of ways as well. Fraiman argues that women, feminism, the maternal, and femininity "serve" progressive, left, male, or male-identified theoretical arguments by functioning as the Other, as that which male or male-identified arguments resist, renounce, or reject. Felski argues that feminist studies has infused the field with a capacious approach to literature, rather than the equally prevalent, though in her view, self-righteous, overly ideological approach. And Messer-Davidow argues that once feminism is inevitably 'disciplined,' it brilliantly services institutions—by opening up cross-dialogue and new specialisms—but at the expense of its original impulse for social change."


Every month, on the back page of The Sun -- one of my favorite magazines, if not the favorite magazine, after the unfortunate demise of DoubleTake several years ago -- they publish a couple columns worth of aphorisms under the title "sunbeams." Here are several from this month's edition:

First, on the myth of the economy of scarcity:

"An assumption deeply integral to capitalism ... [is that there's] not enough to go around: not enough love, not enough time, not enough appointments at the food-stamps office, not enough food stamps, not enough money, not enough seats on the subway. It's pervasive. We learn mistrust of each other, bone deep: everything is skin off somebody's nose." -- Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz


"Love ... is the extremely difficult realization that something other than oneself is real." -- Iris Murdoch

"The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But ... the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'" -- Martin Luther King

"The friend who holds your hand and says the wrong thing is made of dearer stuff than the one who stays away." -- Barbara Kingsolver

"There is incredible value in being of service to others. I think if many people in therapy offices were dragged out to put their finger in a dike, or take up their place in a working line, they would be relieved of terrible burdens." -- Elizabeth Burg

"Saving someone's life is like falling in love, the best drug in the world." -- Paul Schrader

"We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is." -- Mark Vonnegut

"One life stamps and influences another, which in turn stamps and influences another, on and on, until the soul of human experience breathes on in generations we'll never even meet." -- Mary Kay Blakely

"One could laugh at the world better if it didn't mix tender kindliness with its brutality." -- D.H. Lawrence

"If those who owe us nothing gave us nothing, how poor we would be." -- Antonio Porchia

"When we honestly ask ourselves which people in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares." -- Henri Nouwen


From the classic Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert Pirsig:

"I think that when this concept of peace of mind is introduced and made central to the act of technical work, a fusion of classic and romantic quality can take place at a basic level within a practical working context. I've said you can actually see this fusion in skilled mechanics and machinists of a certain sort, and you can see it in the work they do. To say that they are not artists is to misunderstand the nature of art. They have patience, care and attentiveness to what they're doing, but more than this -- there's a kind of inner peace of mind that isn't contrived but results from a kind of harmony with the work in which there's no leader and no follower. The material and the craftsman's thoughts change together in a progression of smooth, even changes until his mind is at rest at the exact instant the material is right."

"We've all had moments of that sort when we're doing something we really want to do. It's just that somehow we've gotten into an unfortunate separation of those moments from work. The mechanic I'm talking about doesn't make this separation. One says of him that he is 'interested' in what he's doing, that he's 'involved' in his work. What produces this involvement is, at the cutting edge of consciousness, an absence of any sense of separatedness of subject and object. 'Being with it,' 'being a natural,' 'taking hold' -- there are a lot of idiomatic expressions for what I mean by this absence of subject-object duality, because what I mean is so well understood as folklore, common sense, the everyday understanding of the shop. But in scientific parlance the words for this absence of subject-object duality are scarce because scientific minds have shut themselves off from conciousness of this kind of understanding in the assumption of the formal dualistic scientific outlook."

"Zen Buddhists talk about 'just sitting,' a meditative practice in which the idea of a duality of self and object does not dominate one's consciousness. What I'm talking about here in motorcycle maintenance is 'just fixing,' which the idea of duality of self and object doesn't dominate one's consciousness. When one isn't dominated by feelings of separateness from what he's working on, then one can be said to 'care' about what he's doing. That is what caring really is, a feeling of identification with what one's doing. When one has this feeling then he also sees the inverse side of caring, Quality itself."

"So the thing to do when working on a motorcycle, as in any other task, is to cultivate the peace of mind which does not separate one's self from one's surroundings. When that is done successfully then everything else follows naturally. Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all. That was what it was about that wall in Korea. It was a material reflection of spiritual reality."

"I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts at the end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right. The social values are right only if the individual values are right. The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there. Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value" (266-267).

on dialogue

From Paulo Friere's Pedagogy of the Oppressed:

"Human existence cannot be silent, nor can it be nourished by false words, but only by true words, with which men transform the world. To exist, humanly, is to name the world, to change it. Once named, the world in its turn reappears to the namers as a problem and requires of them a new naming. Men are not built in silence, but in word, in work, in action-reflection.

"But while to say the true world -- which is work, which is praxis -- is to transform the world, saying that word is not the privilege of some few men, but the right of every man. Consequently, no one can say true word alone -- nor can he say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words.

"Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world. Hence, dialogue cannot occur between those who want to name the world and those who do not wish this naming -- between those who deny other men the right to speak their word and those whose right to speak has been denied them. Those who have been denied their primordial right to speak their word must first reclaim the right and prevent the continuation of this dehumanizing aggression.

"If it is in speaking their word that men, by naming the world, transform it, dialogue imposes itself as the way by which men achieve significance as men. Dialogue is thus an existential necessity. And since dialogue is the encounter in which the united reflection and action of the dialoguers are addressed to the world which is to be transformed and humanized, this dialogue cannot be reduced to the act of one person's 'depositing' ideas in another, nor can it become a simple exchange of ideas to be 'consumed' by discussants. Nor yet is it a hostile, polemical argument between men who are committed neither to the naming of the world, nor to the search for truth, but rather to the imposition of their own truth. Because dialogue is an encounter among men who name the world, it must not be a situation where some men name on behalf of others. It is an act of creation; it must not serve as a crafty instrument for the domination of one man by another. The domination implicit in dialogue is that of the world by the dialoguers; it is conquest of the world for the liberation of men.

"Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for men. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself. It is thus necessarily the task of responsible Subjects and cannot exist in a relation of domination. Domination reveals the pathology of love: sadism in the dominator and masochism in the dominated. Because love is an act of courage, not fear, love is commitment to other men. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause -- the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical. As an act of bravery, love cannot be sentimental; as an act of freedom, it must not serve as a pretext for manipulation. It must generate other acts of freedom; otherwise, it is not love. Only by abolishing the situation of oppression is it possible to restore the love which that situation made impossible. If I do not love the world -- if I do not love life -- if I do not love men -- I cannot enter into dialogue" (76-78).

marxism & literature

From Raymond Williams, Marxism & Literature, "Aesthetic and Other Situations:"

"But it is really much simpler to face the facts of the range of intentions and effects, and to face it as a range. All writing carries references, meanings, and values. To suppress or displace them is in the end impossible. But to say 'all writing carries' is only a way of saying that language and form are constitutive processes of reference, meaning, and value, and that these are not necessarily identical with, or exhausted by, the kinds of reference, meaning, and value that correspond or can be grouped with generalized references, meanings and values that are also evident, in other senses and in summary, elsewhere. This recognition is lost if it is specialized to 'beauty', though to suppress or displace the real experience to which the abstraction points is also in the end impossible. The true effects of many kinds of writing are indeed quite physical: specific alterations of physical rhythms, physical organization: experiences of quickening and slowing, of expansion and intensification. It was to these experiences, more varied and more intricate than any general naming can indicate, that the categorization of 'the aesthetic' appeared to speak, and that the reduction to 'ideology' tried and failed to deny or make incidental. Yet the categorization was complicit with a deliberately dividing society, and could then not admit what is also evident: the dulling, the lulling, the chiming, the overbearing, which are also, in real terms, 'aesthetic' experiences: aesthetic effects but also aesthetic intentions" (156).

that explains alot

From As the Future Catches You: How Genomics & Other Forces Are Changing Your Life, Work, Health & Wealth by Juan Enrique. The ellipses are part of the text itself.:

"Among the lessons from the genome ...
Men are in trouble.
Women have two X-chromosomes ...
Men have one X and one Y.
Ys are a third as large as Xs ...
Recessive ...
Repetitive ...
Twice as prone to mutations.

"In the words of a John Hopkins professor ...
'The Y chromosome is really pitiful.'

"(Maybe this is why men ... fight more ... live less ... think they run things?)"

botching theory

From today's NYTimes Book Review, on plagiariasm:

"At the same time that he is letting judges off the hook, Mr. Posner acknowledges that in academic circles there is a double standard for plagiarism, with professors often getting off far more lightly than their students. The reason, he says, is that the left, which dominates the professoriate these days, is soft on plagiarism because the left is uncomfortable with ideas of individual creativity and ownership. (Surprisingly, he fails to take a whack at French theorists like Barthes and Foucault, who argued that in the strictest sense there is no such thing as an “author,” because all writing is collaborative and produced by a kind of cultural collective.)"

Once again, the Times botches a summarization of "French theory" by conflating Barthes and Foucault, the latter of whom wrote about the "author function" and how the "author" -- in contrast to the flesh-and-blood writer -- was invented as discursive entity so as to organize and control the circulation of literary discourse. It's called literary theory 101.

As for the "left" being "uncomfortable with ideas of individual creativity and ownership," huh??? Does that mean that the "right," then, is a champion of "individual creativity"? Sigh.

and the list goes on ...

More hubris to add to that Slate top-ten list of 2006 civil liberty violations:

"A signing statement attached to postal legislation by President Bush last month may have opened the way for the government to open mail without a warrant. The White House denies any change in policy.

"The law requires government agents to get warrants to open first-class letters. But when he signed the postal reform act, Bush added a statement saying that his administration would construe that provision 'in a manner consistent, to the maximum extent permissible, with the need to conduct searches in exigent circumstances.'"

pay-gap rationalizations

Today I am amused by the elitist pseudo-rationalization found in the third op-ed letter [by a male, high-school student] in this set of op-ed letters published in the Times.

Right, let's blame pay inequalities on where women attend universities, as if only attendance at the "competitive colleges" is supposed to guarantee good and equitable salaries -- or guarantee a quality education. Interesting how many high-school students are steeped in these myths that if they don't get into the Harvard's and Yale's then their future "earning powers" are inherently doomed. And you would think -- following this student's illogic -- that men graduates of those "less competitive colleges," no matter how disproportionately represented, would likewise be draining the statistics.

The other letters in the series make far more sense. Indeed, the last explanation is a prototypical one that explicates many other societal maladies, i.e., the undervaluing of "'nurturing' specialities" results not only in larger health problems [requiring invasive surgery] down the road but also larger societal problems when preventative education and care is poorly financed.

corporatedemia: capital misallocation

This trend has been bothering me for some time now, i.e., the hypocrisies of universities willing to pay millions to construct new, state-of-the-art buildings while they entirely neglect faculty salaries and hire low-wage adjuncts to replace tenure tracks. Apparently, "quality of life" only pertains to luxurious student lifestyles on oasis-styled campuses, not to the well-being of the teachers who actually keep universities functioning. Needless to say, this financial picture is so out of whack -- the priorities are so out of whack.

"Backed by rising tuitions and growing endowments, schools are also piling on amenities unheard of just 20 or 30 years ago -- from condominium-style residence halls with suites boasting private kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms to state-of-the-art recreation centers resembling country clubs.

"At University of Missouri, a newly renovated $43 million Student Recreation Complex that opened in August stretches over 300,000 square feet -- including cardio and fitness rooms, an aquatic center, a DJ booth and a juice bar.

"'Parents want not only quality academics but they also want a quality of life in our institutions that perhaps 20 years ago or 30 years ago parents were not so concerned about,' said Claire Van Ummersen, a vice president at the American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,800 colleges, universities and organizations involved in higher education."

cards stacked deep & high

A resounding "yes" to this article in yesterday's Times, "How Suite It Isn't: A Dearth of Female Bosses," and a brief observation here that insofar as academia is increasingly going corporate, as well, the same analyses hold true for administrative positions in academia: male authority figures automatically support and promote one another, while similar support, encouragement and advancement is often withheld from women. Sadly, these patterns of behavior replicate themselves from organization to organization, institution to institution.

"Analysts and executive women also say that one of the biggest roadblocks between women and the c-suite is the thick layer of men who dominate boardrooms and corner offices across the country. 'The men in the boardroom and the men at the top are choosing and tend to choose who they are comfortable with: other men,' Ms. Bartz says."

"'The truth is, left alone, I think the situation would get worse,' Ms. Bartz says. 'I think the reason you see roughly 2 percent of Fortune 500 companies run by female C.E.O.’s is because there has been some discussion about the issue. If the topic didn’t continue to be highlighted as important, I do think that percentage would slide backward.'"

"The addition of a second woman to the board only slightly changes the environment. The women sometimes feel the need to stay away from each other, worried that it will appear as if they are conspiring against the men on the board."

"the culture of make believe"

I have been meaning to post this wonderful quotation from Derrick Jensen's The Culture of Make Believe ever since this blog went on hiatus back in July. Here it is:

"Earlier this year, David Edwards, the author of Burning All Illusions, said to me, 'If the first value of a dysfunctional system is, 'Don't talk about it,' then our primary goal should be tell the truth, to be honest as we can manage to be. When I read something truthful, something real, I breathe a deep sigh and say, 'Fantastic -- I wasn't mad or alone in thinking that, after all.' So often we are left to our own devices, struggling in the dark with this external and internal propaganda system. At that point, for some to tell us the truth is a gift.  In a world where people all around us are lying and confusing us, to be honest is a great kindness" (141).

lingis on selflessness

Here is a passage on selflessness -- as derivative of our animalistic natures -- and compassion from Alphonso Lingis' book Dangerous Emotions that has been on my blog book list since the inauguration of this blog -- and it's been there for the reason that Lingis has long been one of my favorite philosophers or phenomenologists due to his poetic attention to the sensuous world. Again, opening-up books opens-up or expands minds -- which is any teacher's job.

"Our theoretical ethics from Aristotle to Marcel Mauss and Jacques Derrida finds intelligibility in gift-giving only by reinterpreting it in an economy of equivalent exchange, even if that means calculating prestige as recompense with interest. The impulse to give without calculation and without recompense, when it rises up compulsively in us, as it does every day, we have contracted in our commerce with animal nobility. How rarely do humans find the courage to say those fearful words, 'I love you' -- fearful because we are never so vulnerable, never so open to being so easily and so deeply hurt, as when we give ourselves over in love of someone! But from early infancy we have come to understand that instinct -- in our kitten that so unreservedly gave itself over to its affection for us, in our cockatoo that in all her excitement upon seeing us wants nothing but to give all her tenderness and high spirits."

"How awesome the thirst for truth, when contemplate it sovereign in the great scientist, the great explorer! Here is someone contemptuous of honors and wealth, craving a mind open to the most tragic realities, to the cosmic indifference of the universe to our wishes and to those of our species craving to know with the wounds, rendings, and diseases of his or her own body the oceans and tundra, rain forest and glaciers. Human culture compensates with prizes and honor those who limit their curiosity and their research only to funded projects that will benefit the human species. It is not from human culture that those consumed with the thirst for truth learn to program their lives, but from the albatross that leaves its nest to sail all the latitudes of the planet and all its storms and icy nights for seven years before it touches earth again, in order to give its mature strength to raising offspring like itself. You, researchers and consolidators of knowledge, Nietzsche said, have only turned the ways of the universe into a spider web to trap your prey: that is because your soul does not fly like eagles over abysses" (63-64).

Update: Okay, so maybe I will keep that litho, after all. Funny how the unconscious operates.

dreaming realist

I wrote this brief post last week -- then temporarily nixed it, but then thought much better today, adding a couple links: Well, I was doing some research on Gibson's "consensual hallucination" from 1982 -- you know, war is a kind of consensual hallucination onto itself, as well, and even more of a hallucination when images -- verbal and/or photographic -- of it are strategically or not-so-strategically disseminated in cyberspace so as to hallucinate “knowledge” of events and people half the world away and conjure-up a phantasmic consensus about their meanings and significance. But then, as is nearly always the case when researching online, I digressed onto several other productive tangents, including this one:

"Dreaming in public is an important part of our job description, as science writers, but there are bad dreams as well as good dreams. We're dreamers, you see, but we're also realists, of a sort." William Gibson

stuff that really matters

See, this is primarily why Slashdot is apportioned my limited online reading time as opposed to a political juggernaut such as DailyKos -- and has been apportioned my reading time since discovery in 1999. Not to mention the international mix of articulate, tech-savvy respondents with broad-ranging perspectives. I would even suggest that there are two categorically-different weltanschauungs in operation here, especially if one regards politics as the continuation of war by other means.

Update: Upon further reflection, my preference here may also have something to do with the fact that the Slashdot format harkens back to the more collectively-driven, resource-pooling bulletin boards of the early 1990's rather than, like many blogs, revolving around [the whims of] a singular personality. [Yes, there's that cult dilemma again.] Additionally, far moreso than with most blogs, statements are collectively ranked and "karmically" weighted for what they say rather than for the entity saying them. [Yes, there's that author function dilemma again -- and perhaps more importantly, the search engine-magnet issue, i.e., virtual capital accumulates to those who already possess it and/or those who staked ground first, much like in the real world, and traffic flows along grooved tracks. The danger there being the narrowing of vision and the assumption that the tracks are naturally meritorious or preordained -- rather than an effect of the technology and its selective design.] The template design of Slashdot is also such that one barely notices the identity of the writer since the writer byline in the comments section is usually shadowed over while the text is in white. And more to the point, slashdotters usually detect, rat-out and humble self-promoters at the speed-of-light. When, I must ask, does the "old-stream media" -- or even "blogosphere" -- do that? Again, night/day.

night-to-day, day-to-night

This scribal impulse is kindred to this which is kindred to this documentary impulse -- all of which are so much more preferable to this overhyped spectacle, if I may say so. I don't know -- I tend to find mostly all conventions nauseating, overhyped and economically wasteful.

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, widely viewed as a leading candidate for her party's presidential nomination, declined an invitation to attend." Gee, I wonder why? I wouldn't be surprised if Republicans were anonymously clicking advertisements on the DailyKos website as I write -- talk about "decimat[ing] the National Democratic Party" through divide-and-conquer tactics. What was that impugning Washington Post editorial really about in May? The perceived insolence of Clinton's "pollster Mark Penn" in declaring DailyKos politically "irrelevant" or -- might we say -- impotent and thereby predictably prompting a cliched counter-strike against Hillary Clinton or shall we say, against the "heartless, passionless machine" -- to speak of linguistically dehumanizing a person -- who has oft-served as an advocate for children's issues? Who said that politics on DailyKos were not based on "special interests" -- or ego contests? And needless to note, there's a great deal of ego in naming a convention after oneself ...

And what I have forgotten to note previously: I found it quite peculiar that on the week in May in which that Washington Post editorial against Hillary Clinton appeared, Mr. Moulitsas was out on the road, publicizing and promoting his recent book -- no doubt, a further source of income for him -- while a small cadre of mostly female bloggers were manning his blog [empire] for him, presumably as free, uncompensated labor.

And from this past week's Time Magazine by Ana Marie Cox, more military metaphors spill from Mr. Moulitsas' mouth:

"You don't generate that kind of following by responding to rhetorical excess with equanimity and reason. You get that kind of following by responding to rhetorical excess with more rhetorical excess. Or, as Moulitsas puts it later, 'You can't take pen into a battle with someone who's wielding a machine gun.'"

Sorry, though, I couldn't agree less with the analogy to the empathic Kurt Cobain. I suppose that I, too, have a penchant for the "19th Century DNA" that generates non-partisan, culturally-sensitive, real-world journalism such as is exhibited in this book by Rory Stewart -- who did rather courageously enter Afghanistan during war with virtually only a pen in hand. Of course, this is coming from a person who read every Paul Theroux book stocked by the local library before the tender age of fifteen. I must admit, sometimes the "blogosphere" exasperates me for these very reasons, i.e., the partisan militancy that glosses over the nuanced textures of sensory observations. You know, in many ways -- and I have observed this before -- some intelligent, liberal-minded bloggers are inadvertantly letting a few incendiary, equally-overhyped-and-undeserving-of-attention conservative personalities -- virtual mouthpieces -- set the militant tenor of the exchanges by even bothering to pay them mind and respond/link to them. Again, some superstructural reflection on memetics theory as it so applies to the medium might go a long ways here.

Update: This Times article from today underlines my above observations. Sensationalism has, indeed, become addictively memetic, drowning out the more analytical, perceptive voices. Jarvis: "'We become complicit in the little schemes' of those who make them." Herron: "'A patient, thoughtful, analytical person is made invisible in this world of sustained screaming.'" Exactly my points since the start of this blog in 2004 -- and years beforehand -- i.e., persistently theorizing the virtual medium and how it technologically operates -- its discursive economies, as it were -- is not only essential to reversing the current course/downslide of American politics but -- and at the risk of sounding didactic -- should also be viewed as a responsibility for any communicator. And, actually, there is no better-suited environment than the online, virtual environment for studying and tracking the mutational flow of memes and for critically reflecting upon the impulses -- perchance the subconscious binaries? -- that fuel their flow. And for some odd -- yet likely explicable -- reason, this other, retrospective NYTimes article from September 4th of last year associatively pops back into my liberal mind -- having been stuck in and mulled over in the subconscious recesses since last fall: "But everyone seems to have missed the elephant in the room: Bloom's ostensibly conservative meditation in fact anticipated and repudiated almost every political, religious and economic premise of Kimball's and Horowitz's movement. Conservatives who reread Bloom today are in for a big, perhaps instructive, surprise."

fascinating nano-tech

I have always found these kinds of technological developments fascinating -- to think, more mimetically-perceptive touch technologies could eliminate or minimalize invasive cutting. What a novel concept, eh? From the BBC article:

"The hope is that if you have the resolution close to a human finger in applications like minimal invasive surgery, where the surgeon could actually 'touch' while he or she doing the procedure and tell if the tissue is cancerous or abnormal etc, that would increase the success of these surgeries."

ids running rampant

These stories about the use of myspace, facebook and other social networks to surveil and do background checks on teenagers and early twenty-somethings are becoming weekly news phenonomenons these days -- which suggests, at least to me, that it might be beneficial for high schools to begin offering courses in new social media and the history of the internet/arpanet -- or at least tailor existing rhetoric courses towards the virtual venues in which students already live.

Of course, on the flip side, corporations and employers, too, might need to take a crash course in search engine technology and the limitations of online epistemology -- particularly when it comes to shared names -- and the concept of creative identities or ids running wild in the virtual realm yet appropriately constrained in reality. And what a great way to secure a boring, straight-laced workforce utterly lacking in imagination and inventiveness.

Ah, the short-lived, pre-Google days of the internet ... something to tell the grandchildren about in the distant future. And with all of this in mind, I find it very difficult to believe -- or at least to accept prima facie -- Google's "do no evil" motto -- in fact, I wish that more blogspot bloggers would pause to think about how they are practically uploading and storing their entire, documented lives onto Google servers. Indeed, during 2005, I tried to raise this server issue on a couple blogspot blogs, though to little comprehension by non-techies. Actually, it's not only teenagers and college students who need to do more reflecting on the limitations of search engines and their link-based hierarchies -- many bloggers would do well to theorize the social medium, as well, and how their interactions -- their locations within the networks -- are shaped, "predestined" and/or limited by the technologies. Unfortunately, that's an issue that is too often met with defensive resistance outside of tech circles.

the grace of einstein

A couple weeks ago, I added this recommendable book to the book list on this blog, and in the acknowledgements section of that book, I found this lovely Einsteinian quote -- which I think would happen to make an excellent substitute approach for draconian plagiarism policies [my own included] since most plagiarism is, in essence, rooted in the mistaken belief that words simply magically materialize on the page -- or the screen -- without any meaningful labor. And, of course, this belief is often further engendered by writing tasks that require little or no personal investment -- or tasks that focus on the final product instead of the selective process -- tasks which ultimately do an economic disservice to those who do write for a living. After all, the pedagogical reality is that prohibition through penalization will forever be an uphill struggle in the virtual era of digital reproduction. Thus, better would seem an Einsteinian sort of approach that teaches an appreciation of the invisible labors that supply the scribal content that fuels the internet -- indeed, to teach appreciation is, in an indirect way, to teach value -- the value of craftsmanship, that is, and the material realm -- and perhaps nothing could be more imperative in light of the mass leaching of value by cost-slashing, incorporeal corporations and institutions.

"A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."

Albert Einstein, "The World As I See It," Ideas & Opinions, 1954.

the oceanic

Well, I might as well do some quoting from Torgovnick's book since it relates to a motif of this blog. For me, this is not new stuff -- indeed, my copy of Primitive Passions: Men, Women and the Quest for Ecstasy came hot off the first-edition presses in 1996. Some folks may also recall that the writerly writing group which helped to spawn Torgovnick's book was interviewed in Confessions of the Critics in 1996 ["Writing in Concert"]. I was looking at a couple of passages from that interview today, as well -- especially the ones about the "very different landscape." Too seldom is that reality acknowledged.

So, anyway, here are Torgovnick's observations on Andre Gide and Carl Jung's writings as they pertain to the gendering of the "primitive" and/or oceanic experiences in the 1920's. Familiar and persistent tropes -- cultural mythologies -- are in operation here; you see, Torgovnick has long been a part of my theoretical "toolbox" for dealing with these kinds of inanities, and a very well-stocked toolbox it is -- just in case folks haven't figured that out yet:

"What is more, Gide and Jung tended, like many men in their culture, to think of the Other as the opposite of the masculine self, and so very often as female. It would be easy to pass without comment over Gide's and Jung's 'instinctive' identification of the primitive with the female, so common is it in Western thinking. But I want to focus on and defamiliarize that identification, since it is the pivot on which men frequently turn away from the oceanic back towards conventional ideas of autonomous selfhood.

"It was not, of course, that Gide and Jung conceived of all Others as biologically female; indeed, they interacted especially with African men. Instead, it seems that some of the logic of imperialism worked its way into their psyches. Both European women and colonized peoples were, relative to European men, associated with the childlike, the irrational, and the dependent -- and so linked. What is more, immediate precedents for gendering the land female and symbolizing Africa in female terms were available in popular writers like Rider Haggard and Joseph Conrad. In addition, the popularity and renown of historical figures like La Malinche in Mexico and Pocahontas in Virginia tended to make females into symbols of access to indigenous peoples and their land.

"But ultimately, the reasons for the connections between the female and the specific sensations Africa triggered in Gide and Jung are more devious. They reach further back into Western thought. Before leaving these men, it will be worthwhile to probe, albeit briefly, some of the older stories and myths that would have impinged on them and led them 'instinctively' to reconnect the sensations produced by Africa with mothers and females. ..." (37).

"It is abundantly clear that these linkages between the female, the oceanic, and the primitive are extremely ancient and extremely strong in Western culture. But it is important to understand that they are not in any sense factual or inevitable -- nor do they represent either a proven truth or even consistently arrived at theories. Instead, the links between females, the oceanic and the primitive were based on myths, fictions, intuitions, individual neuroses, and the wildest form of speculation. Still, the linkage between women and the dissolution of self has been persistent and fateful in the West. Not until the 1970's, to give just one example, would psychologists propose that, contra Freud, mothers and their infants are the prototypes not of 'objects' that must be rejected by 'subjects' but of what had come to be called 'interpersonal relations.' Not until the 1970's would researchers think about mothers as subjects in their own right and consider the possibility that male and female infants interact differently with their mothers" (41).

I would highly recommend the several pages inbetween those two quotations, particularly the parts about a primitive matriarchy being replaced by a modern patriarchy and how any reversion to a matriarchal culture/religion "represent[s] acute dangers both to men and to the emerging patriarchal state." In other words, women are infantilized and associated with the primitive/oceanic as a method of minimalizing any perceived threat to man's imagining of himself as a "mature," autonomous agent/self.

the emperor has no art

Sigh -- this is not art. Real artists do not march on command [i.e., "forced march of activities"] -- yes, that's authenticity measured on the scale of normative deviance and even free speech. How about, instead, a documentary on the nyc art world gone corporate and "awry"? And it's as if these artists have never heard of the internet as a method of dignified promotion -- well, that's probably because certain nyc art consultants go out of their way to disingenuously [and condescendingly] discredit virtual venues [er, deflating competition].

Indeed, if one needs any further testimony to the problems with the over-commodification of art and artists, the Times serves up yet another article that documents the pretentiousness of the charades -- and the financial tolls they exact on artists.