Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is your "Taste Biography"?

Carl Wilson touches a lot on the origin of tastes, or in the words of Paul Valéry,

"Tastes are composed of a thousand distastes"

So in the words of Carl Wilson, what is your taste biography? What are the distastes that create your tastes? Where do these distastes come from? After all, it takes a lot to dislike Dolly Parton. Moving away from Celine Dion for a second, I'm posting two videos below.

The first video below is Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" which depending on who you ask is one of the best songs of the 20th century or one of the gaudiest songs in the history of music

This video, on the other hand, is the cast of the popular fox show "Glee" singing the same song

Same song, different performers and style, which one better fits your "Taste Biography"?

This is your brain on Celine Dion

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you're all having a good "break." I just wanted to share this with you guys to consider as you do the Wilson reading. While reading chapter 7, "Lets Talk About Taste," I thought of this old chart I found a few months ago that sort of relates. The study is based on what music good students and poorer students listen to, and it's interesting to look at and assess where you may end up on the chart. Who knows how legitimate it actually is, but I just thought it would be an interesting to share nonetheless.

Also notice that one of my favorite artists, Sufjan Stevens, is right up there with Beethoven, thank you very much.

See you all next week!

Friday, November 27, 2009

For while you read

The music video for "My Heart Will Go On"
SPOILER ALERT: The ship sinks at the end

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A new world?

I thought that this Huffington Post blog might spark your interests in application to our gender discussion today....what if in fact we don't have so much a "new man", but a "new world" as the author contends?


Monday, November 16, 2009

That Thing

First of all, I think The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill should be canonized as one of the classic feminist texts. Secondly, this song is what I thought of when I read this dry paragraph in "Exhibiting Masculinity" by Sean Nixon:

"Individuals are positioned within particular discourses, then, as an effect of power upon them. This might work, for example, through the intensification of pleasures of the body, its posture and movements and the solidifying of certain practices. This is a productive relation, with power constituting the fabric of the individual and the individual's conduct."

Maybe it's just because Sean Nixon doesn't address the reader as "baby girl," but this just seems like another example of theory not packing the punch that art can.

Anyway, do you think that by examining our subjectivization, we can free at least some of ourselves from power and live better lives? Is that even what Lauryn Hill is talking about?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Porn... Not for women?

I bring your attention to Wendy McElroy's book, XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography. When the sexual revolution hit, and many women turned to porn for jobs there was an outrage. Porn was not following the social norms of the role of a woman. So I guess this helps us tie into Foucault's piece that we read earlier in the week about society's created so-called "normalcy." Even now, I think men are always looked as being a lot more accepted in anything in the sex industry while women are looked down upon. But why do you think there is such a difference? When a girl sleeps with a two guys in a night she's a slut but if a guy does, he's patted on the back and congragulated. Is that fair? Does it really even matter? Should men and woman be regarded differently because they are different sexes or no?

Take a look at the book. The website below has the whole book and its really interesting. How do you think this ties into the flaws of our society in the past and present? Have we created a social norm for both sexes that might be progressing faster for the male sex? Do you think woman in pornography are still regarded in the way that McElroy says they were in the past? Thoughts?????

The All-Too Familiar Feeling ...

Have you ever found yourself running late for class/work/ any daily obligation just because you couldn't resist the obligatory stop into Starbucks for a latte? If so, you know about "Running Latte," the state of being late for something because of the noble pursuit of a latte. Running latte is a great way to let your professors know that you care more about sipping pumpkin spice than taking notes on that first slide... and also one of the easiest ways to show your employers that you shirk responsibility at the first sight of that alluring green mermaid logo.

Ever been there? Well then you can relate! And consider that the term running latte is completely made up-- but works better than just simply "running late" or "getting a latte" to signify this honorable condition.

A Proper Renaming

At home in the land of the queer...

Returning to yesterday's discussion in class-- We were saying that since the words "male" and "female" describe a state of being that is at once self-contradictory, perhaps definitions themselves are something fluid. This of course brings up a great paradox-- Can a definition be fluid? Isn't the point of defining something with a word to endow it a constant, distinguishable quality that will illicit a universally "signified" image?

These are a few very strange images that are not only haunting if stared at for too long, but also put one at a loss for words. My question to you is, do we use existing words to describe these new images, as in "lion with a full head of human hair and a strangely human expression" or "face comprised entirely of mouths" OR is it best to develop entirely new words and categories for these images because they are unable to be placed in any existing category of meaning. Developing a "third" word might be the best way to understand this type of absurdity. The face made of mouths could be a Fouth. The human looking lion could be a Hulion. Or a Liman. And then of course there could be Chickarettes. So what do you all think? Are there some things that are just too strange, that in order to even comprehend require a third word from the realm of the "queer?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roomie Lovin'

Here is a great example of what we discussed in class today. These girls have a more platonic relationship than Seth and Evan do in Superbad (not to say that they had a sexually charged relationship, but there was, as Nick said, a "bromance"), but they still treat each other with absurd affection. Although this is a gross exaggeration of how best friends actually act, there certainly is an element of truth to it...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I would like to invite you all to read this poem by Katha Pollitt:


In the hygienic sand
of the new municipal sandbox,
toddlers with names from the soaps,
Brandon and Samantha,
fill and empty, fill and empty
their bright plastic buckets
alongside children with names
from obscure books of the Bible.
We are all mothers here,
friendly and polite.
We are teaching our children to share.

A man could slice his way
through us like a pirate!
And why not? Didn't we open
our bodies recklessly
to any star, say, Little one,
whoever you are, come in?
But the men are busy elsewhere.
Broad-hipped in fashionable sweatpants,
we discuss the day--a tabloid
murder, does cold cream work,
those students in China--

and as we talk
not one of us isn't thinking
Mama! Was it like this?
Did I do this to you?
But Mama too is busy,
she is dead, or in Florida,
or taking up new interests,
and the children want apple juice
and Cheerios, diapers and naps.
We have no one to ask but each other.
But we do not ask each other.

This poem centers on a depression that seems distanced by irony and fueled by the inability of this woman to connect to the others who so clearly share her situation. Aside from its commentary on gender relations, I posted it because I think it contains valuable elements of many of our recent discussions: "otherness", self-awareness, social norms, progress...

What do you take from it?

Face Time

We discussed yesterday the evolution of the modern syllabus... In the same sense we could look at this Dentyne Ad through a Foucaultian lens. Do you think that the expression of love or companionship has also evolved over time as a function of technology and that changing conventions have given way to new ways to deviate from the norm?

Love it or Hate it: Modern Art

This sort of streamlines what we were talking about in class yesterday. Someone mentioned that she is drawn to modern art because it depicts an "emotional state," while others of us cannot seem to find a basis to appreciate those certain kinds of artistic renderings that look, frankly, as though they were drawn with crayon. It's always interesting to look at an issue in terms of an equation that outlines the opposing forces within the social discourse. This one strikes me as wildly accurate.

Reductive Resistance

First off, I'm digging this conversation about Angela's post. Nice work, folks!

Secondly, my argument for the day is admittedly reductive and concrete, but it's hump day, so I'm begging for a little slack. Upon listening to M83's Before the Dawn Heals Us last night (and BTW, Dawn is the messiest post-shoegaze masterpiece out there, so pick it up promptly), after our class met, I was reminded of this Pitchfork article that calls attention to Anthony Gonzalez's own brand of resistance to power. It was probably a dumb move on his part, which is why he eventually apologized. Regardless, we now have some hump day fodder. Which leads me to all of these points:

After yesterday's conversation, I wanted to call all of your attention to some of the examples that I can conjure which suggest that heterosexual relationships--that frequently normalize heterosexual, childbearing sex--are still at the center of contemporary representations of romance. It's also fitting to note that many of these representations emerge from "reality" and "family" television, so make of that what you will.

Let's start with the uber-example.

Then there's this one . . .

and this one . . .

and this one . . .

and we can't forget about this one, no matter how "secret" these lives are . . .

and this one . . . (How perfect would it be if Casey and Cappie get together?!?!? I mean, their names rhyme! How cute!!!!) . . .

and this one . . .

and we'd be remiss if we didn't look here--no matter how horrifying--too . . .

and here . . .

and here, to be thorough about all of this . . .

and here, at least.

So I ask again, progress anyone?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reform or Punishment?

Foucault is constantly referring to the term "power." It is a main part of his argument in Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. But what are your thoughts on the object of power in prisons? Do we think prisons hold too much of it, too little, or just the right amount? Who do you think should hold power in prisons? He argues that Mettray looked to the idea of reform which in turn reformed the image of the "power" of society over the individual. Instead of condemning individuals for their crimes, they looked to induce morals and normality to those imprisoned. This, Foucault argues, has altered society's focus from an individual's body to their mind and soul and is ultimately where the prison fails, causing more criminal activity rather than the reform these authorities hoped for. What are your thoughts? Do you think reform is the answer? Do you think prisons should be educating and inducing morals on individuals instead of punishing them for their crimes or do you think the role of the prison is to induce power over criminals who have earned their stay there?

I came across this article while reading on Foucault on the Internet. It touches on other prisons as well as Mettray. It's a little lengthy but please do try to skim through because its actually pretty interesting. Thoughts pertaining to this article and what I said above????

And Some More . . .

Another brick, another wall.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not to derail the conversation about race...

but doesn't the beginning of this scene in Wet Hot American Summer smack of Derrida? I'm so glad I went to college so that I can make these kinds of connections.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

It's Black and It's White

I just came across this article that definitely relates to the most recent racially fueled discussions we've had in class... in a unique way.   How would Baker or Gates react to this incident?

The roots of Blackface are arguably discriminatory by today's standards.  Why is this? Does society frown upon imitating other cultures?  Is the racial climate too unstable to find any source of comedy in relation to it?  I think this incident is fascinating mostly because I can't help but wonder what the outcome would be if African American students dressed in whiteface and paraded around the GWU campus.  I'm almost certain it would be given very little attention– if any at all.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Anzaldua and Borderlands

In our class yesterday, it seemed that many of us had a bone to pick with Anzaldua and her essay on the new mestiza. Particularly, there were many thoughts on Anzaldua, perhaps, writing from a rather defensive (perhaps embittered) position. If you think that Anzaldua is writing in this manner, how does it affect your reading of the essay? Is credibility lost by way of an overly passionate prose or is the passion refreshing and effective? See the passage below as an example of her bluntness:

"The dominant white culture is killing us slowly with its ignorance. By taking away our self-determination, it has made us weak and empty. As a people we have resisted and we have taken expedient positions, but we have never been allowed to develop unencumbered --we have never been allowed to be fully ourselves. The whites in power want us people of color to barricade ourselves behind our separate tribal walls so they can pick us off one at a time with their hidden weapons; so they can whitewash and distort history" (2219)

Pardon the Interruption

I just can't help it, folks. This link is just too darn funny. Just know that I know that you now know that this link exists. I'll be watching come research paper time, heh, heh, heh.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Richard Wright, "Black Boy"

While reading Gates, and during our discussion on Tuesday, I found myself thinking about the black writer Richard Wright. Wright, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, chronicles his youth and adolescence in "Black Boy," detailing the hardships of his life as he maneuvers through a series of jobs and emotional traumas. Although these aspects certainly contribute to the powerful nature of his story, it is the theme of literature that Wright often employs that I found myself thinking about in regard to the above theorists.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. writes "The Afro-American literary tradition was generated as a response to allegations that its authors did not, and could not create literature, considered the signal measure of a race's innate "humanity." (Gates 2427) In this way, Gates goes on to say that merely adopting the modes of western literature is not enough; African Americans need to go beyond this and "develop a coherent criticism to communicate the complexities of our culture." (Gates 2430)

Consider the following excerpt from Wright's "Black Boy," in view of the above statements:

"The plots and stories in the novels did not interest me so much as the point of view revealed. I gave myself over to each novel without trying to criticize it; it was enough for me to see and feel something different. And for me, everything was something different. Reading was like a drug, a dope. The novels created moods in which I lived for days. But I could not conquer my sense of guilty, my feeling that the white men around me knew that I was changing, that I had begun to regard them differently." (Wright 250)

In my view, this excerpt stands at odds with Gates. The works that Wright describes are all of western literature (Mark Twain, Thomas Hardy, Bernard Shaw, T.S. Eliot, Nietzsche, etc). I think that Gates would argue that, as a black man, Wright should not look toward such writers to groom his intelligence but look for those "language (s) [in which] black people ... represent their critical or ideological positions." (Gates 2431) Would you agree with this? Do you think one's blackness requires them to purposefully search for works that illuminate black complexities? Or, can a man such as Wright retain his blackness and still develop his own literature persona and tastes through these western writers?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Interesting article...

Hey all, I thought this article might add another layer to our discussion last class and therein pique your interests, enjoy :D

And we were just getting to know each other . . .

Claude Levi-Strauss has died.