Too Cool for Internet Explorer

so c’mon!

April 28th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Editors: The Back Room

Y’all can email me for directions and more information. Since I’m a weird shit magnet, I’m gonna forego putting the directions online for all to see.

impending changes

April 27th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Judge Joe Brown

Behold, a student’s rendition of yours truly. Obviously this is the summer outfit, as I usually wear pants until it gets hot hot hot. I just saw a Today Show segment that suggests if I really want to score with the ladies (and some gentlemen) I need to cut my hair and save shave; nothing says “endearing but not-sexy” than (a) hairy boys; (b) boys that cry (cause, you know, they don’t). Hawt.

There are changes afoot: my boy Julius, who is the computing guru around these parts (or around the Denver parts), is closing up shop on rotissupop.com and moving things to a new server. Over the course of a few weeks materials for this website will be migrating to www.joshiejuice.com(.) I hope to get some time to redesign my web page collection, however, I’ve become envious of the sites of my friends who can actually code beyond HTML 2, and I’m considering hiring someone to do mine. I’m taking bids now, hey. Michael: how do you do those neat, ever-changing banners for your blog?

Also, blogger.com really bugs me ’cause I cannot access my own damn archives in anything but IE Explorer. If I use Firefox or Safari I get a white page of code. I’ve tried everything (new templates, old templates, re-same templates) and cannot figure out the trouble, so, I’m thinking about moving to typepad. Any suggestions on how to revamp the blog (and how to keep the archive) are welcome.

standard doubles

April 26th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Baby Huey and the Babysitters: Living Legend

Teen lust novelist Kaavya Viswanathan was on The Today Show this morning with the mea culpa routine, trying to salvage her credibility after a plagiarism flap. Apparently her adolescent novella, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life lifts 40-something hunks, phrases, and turns of phrase from Megan McCafferty’s teen novels. This morning the 19 year old endured the rage of Katie Couric, whose parade of “come on, girl, you know better” -style questions came off poorly. I thought the young woman was quite sincere. She said she was horrified when the lifts were brought to her attention, and that she didn’t realize how deeply she had “internalized” McCafferty’s words while wrestling with those hot teen hormones in highschool. Apprently Viswanathan had read and re-read the novels over and over as a teen and pre-teen (like I did with, um, Madelene L’Engle novels I guess . . . and, er, Ayn Rand).

I thought Viswanathan seemed contrite and honest; Couric closed the interview by comparing her to what’s his face on Oprah, which was stupid. James Frey just flat out lied; I think this young woman probably did have unconscious memories and scripts percolating to the surface. To deny her honesty is to deny there is such a thing as the unconscious; indeed, it’s to deny the truth of Joyce’s literary genius, as well as the entire corpus of rock and roll music. Just this morning I was listening to Electric Light Orchestra’s “Roll Over Beethoven” . . . a thoroughly unoriginal yet really fun string-infused, ten minute extension of the Chuck Berry tune. I’ve even read my own published work and recognized turns of phrase I’ve “internalized” from other authors (“soul-deep” is one of them; I realized after I’d written a few things and used the phrase that I internalized it from Ingebretsen’s At Stake book).

That said, the ongoing saga with the webmaster of the page that plagiarizes sections from my book continues. As I reported last week, this webpage lifts, verbatim, large sections from my book. This ain’t no “unconscious” internalizations floating to the e-surface; this is outright theft (I mean, who else would make up terms as stupid as “rhetorical antinomy” or “occult poetics” except my beer-addled brain circa 2000?). Anyhoo, I asked the webmaster to remove the page or credit my book. She responded that she’d never heard of the book, and to provide evidence of plagiarism. So I quoted one example, and then she responded that if I could locate a copy of Modern Occult Rhetoric in a library in Singapore, she would go take a look. I responded in a WTF tone: why is it my responsibility to locate the call number of my book in Singapore for her theft? Obviously, we’re not just dealing with someone for whom English is a second language, but a “cultural” other . . . not to mention someone who is, um, crazy. My last missive:

Joshua Gunn wrote:

>>STEAL?

plagiarism = theft. Yes, this is also called stealing.

>>Why don’t you go to the police then!

Apparently it’s ok to steal in Singapore. As if I can specify a library and call number for you over there. You are rude and deliberately offensive.

>>In any case I won’t open any of your nonsensical and abusive mails anymore, they will simple be deleted.

Nonsensical? What’s nonsensical about your webpage citing, verbatim, passages from my book and my saying you shouldn’t do that? It’s simple ethics.


Ok, ok, there is some element of enjoyment in this. This person was easy to “set off,” which is suggestive (of craziness!), to say the least. The last email I received from “Christine Wong” was yesterday morning. Somehow my telling her plagiarism is unethical means that I am now George W. Bush–the mighty cock of U.S. fascism. I reprint it here in its entirety for your and my enjoyment (feel free to email her to chime in if you want!):
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 05:59:32 +0100 (BST)
From: christine wong
Subject: Re: Ethics and the disrespect for laws in other countries countries then your .

I have never in my life broken any laws anywhere. On the other hand for you to accuse me of such, is illegal not only in the country where I reside, but more important in your own jurisdiction.

Your obviously an egomaniac, convinced everybody has seen your book, as if you don’t notice nobody as much as bothered to write a single review on amazon whereas you find many other books there that have a dozen reviews within a few days after a book is released. No, I have never seen your book and didn‚t know of its existence until you forced it on me with your verbally aggressive mails.

And no you cannot also not go around like a Rambo and demand other countries to change their laws only to fit your personal desires. Yet you seem to insist that you do have that right, this reminds of the old colonial attitude of rape and steel and murder as much as you like, because you have a entrenched conviction that are better then the rest of the world as far *they* have different customs as those you are used to in your private apartment.

As for your unbalanced style of logical deduction, why would I ever have lived in Singapore?

Also, you clearly work for money and I don’t. Thus from a forensic point of view your misapplied motive and violent desire to force your will on other parts of the world, with different laws as your own, is deductible. Ad to this the above evidence that you are an egomaniac, the problem you have, rather seems comparable to that of those people who for example murdered millions of Jews during WWII (or and do this to any other population group or and country in the world today) and felt (feel) they did (do) something good. In other words, you don’t even know how rude and unethical you are.

Hoping you did tell the truth about the press, and that this is not just another twist of your unethical and violent behavior, I request that you forward this my mail to them.

*And to the press who reads this, pls this is a good exercise to study the history of international law the way it developed and what the differences are today between various parts of the world as a whole and how it is applied in those various places. Mr.Gun as far this is concerned obviously is an uneducated brute, ignorant of any knowledge relating to the subject he nevertheless ventures into. My only motive is that I try to do something good for other people, and this can be dully proven in a court of law anywhere in the world. *

Also Mr.Gunn, *I kindly but urgently request, that you forward a copy of this correspondence to the ethics commission of your University network. I hereby request that someone with legal authority contact me at the same way assistant professor Gunn did, and explain why, members of your faculty are allowed to use the university net to send insulting mails to other countries, because of course your University as a legal entity in the US is liable in this case.*

Yours very sincerely,

Christine Wong


Presumably, Christine Wong.

i love larry

April 24th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Haujobb: Ninetynine

. . . and Larry loves me. Who doesn’t love Larry-love?

chicken dance

April 23rd, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Marconi Union: Distance

Last night I had dinner with my neighbors, all of whom are wonderfully Left (and identify with neither of our political parties). Two of the folks gathered were my new neighbors immediately next door, a happy couple from Canada (and one by way of Germany), who just moved in last week. “I heard you are a teacher at UT,” said the pregnant wife. “What do you teach?” Oh dear, I thought, here we go. Might as well have fun with it. “I teach about popular culture, usually how to be critical of popular culture.” Everyone smiled, I felt a non-verbal push for elaboration. “So, right now I’m teaching a class on religion and popular culture, and we’re looking at narratives, namely, spiritualism, demonic possession, apocalypse, and alien abduction.” I then related how we were currently reading and discussing Whitley Strieber’s Communion. The new neighbor-wife looked incredulous: “So, what do students who take your class get a degree in? Occult studies?” she teased. “No, communication studies or cultural studies,” I said. “I’m sure his classes are electives,” added her husband. “Thank god,” she replied with a characteristically, no-nonsense sense of relief.

Last week, on a vanity google-spree, I discovered a website that plagiarizes large hunks of my book; presumably the site is an explanation of the appeal of The DaVinci Code. I emailed the webmaster, Christine Wong, and asked that either my ideas be credited (although they are so misappropriated and misconstrued I’m not sure how this would do less damage . . . maybe the theft is best left?) or that the webpage should simply be removed. She replied incredulously:


From: christine wong
Subject: Re: Plagiarism
To: slewfoot@mail.utexas.edu

Never heard of “_Modern Occult Rhetoric: Mass Media and the Drama of Secrecy_ published last summer with the University of Alabama Press”

Pls provide evidence for your claims.

Sincerely,
C.Wong


So I replied:

To detail the every specific instance of intellectual theft would be cumbersome–especially at the level of argument. The webpage borrows liberally from the whole of my book. However, there are a number of naked, almost verbatim lifts. For example, your webpage says:

“We can now understand modern Theosophy’s esoteric language, as a rhetorical process of invention. As occult poetics – esoteric language has a number of functions for the occultist or mystic. It has an epistemological function for the true believer; because the terms in question are odd or strange, their ambiguity helps to preserve the notion that what they denote may actually be beyond signification, and thus assertions about it are “true.” Esoteric language reassures readers of their faith on the basis of possibility and is the inevitable outworking of a contradictory confrontation with the limits of language that can be aptly described as a rhetorical antimony.”

My book says:

” . . . I have suggested that we can understand Blavatsky’s rhetoric, particularly her esoteric language, as reflecting a process of invention particular to occultism. As the most conspicuous part of this rhetorical process–that is, occult poetics–esoteric language has a number of functions for the occultist or mystic . . . . First and foremost, esoteric language has an epistemological function for the true believer. Because the terms in question are odd or strange, their ambiguity helps to preserve the notion that what they denote may actually be beyond signification, and thus assertions about it are ‘true.’ In this respect, esoteric language reassures readers of their faith . . . ” [and it continues; pp. 76-78].

Her reply?

From: christine wong
Subject: Re: Library
To: slewfoot@mail.utexas.edu

Not [I have never heard of your book] before you mentioned it. If you can locate a library in Singapore with a copy and cite the call nr., I‚ll be glad to go and look at it.

Last night I watched Penn Jillett and Paul Povenza’s The Aristocrats, which I thought I would love. I did laugh uncontrollably in many moments, but in general found the explanation of how humor works not only lacking, but annoying. It felt at times like a smug, MENSA-produced series of winks. Like the American Mensa come-on from one of their webpages:

We actually get your jokes: a guy walked into a bar with a lizard sitting on his shoulder. He said to the bartender, “A double whiskey for me and,” pointing to the lizard, ” a half-pint of Guinness for Tiny here.”
“Why do you call him Tiny?” asked the bartender.
“Obviously,” the man answered, “because he’s my newt.”
[in very small print below the joke] If you laughed (or winced) on your first read-through, you belong to Mensa! If you noted that a newt is actually an amphibian and not a lizard, you really should consider joining today!

The last small print bit, there was too much of that in The Aristocrats.

How does that Morrissey song go? “Such a sensitive boy . . . .”

castration + invention = casvention? oh, it’s convention!

April 22nd, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Meat Beat Manifesto: Armed Audio Warfare

Ken Rufo put together a fine panel for the biannual Rhetoric Society of America conference in Memphis next month. Titled “Sizing Up and/as the Symptom: The Inclusion of Psychoanalysis and the State of Rhetorical Theory,” the panel addresses the designated theme of the conference, “Sizing Up Rhetoric.” Now, you have to admit this is one of the most stupid conference themes of all time (right up there with SSCA’s “Our Family Values” theme this year); the announcement of the convention planners that theirs was an Oedipal anxiety demands (and guarantees) castration. I mean, “if you have to ask . . . ” is the phrase here. Hence, the titles of my and Chris’ papers, overdetermined: “Whose Rhetoric is Bigger?” and “The Biggest Rhetoric of All.” Ken’s paper has a changed titled, but, admirably, he didn’t go for the slice (or at least he decided not to sing along with Trent Reznor, “with teeth”). Speaking of the proverbial Oedipal fear: did I mention the uber-super-duper smart Barb Biesecker is responding?

Regardless, Ken’s write-up details the challenge nicely:


Our panel title is intentionally ambivalent, in that it includes within it several perspectives on the same theme. Is RSA’s desire to ‘size up’ rhetoric . . . symptomatic of some deeper anxiety about the state of the field, an anxiety and a symptom that perhaps can be explored by recourse to psychoanalysis? Or might we suspect that the turn towards psychoanalysis is itself symptomatic, a consequence of a shift in material culture, mediation, or even theoretical trendiness?

Now, my issue today is to write something; originally my paper addressed the former statement of the symptom: “In this paper,” I said in the abstract, “my aim is not to defend psychoanalysis, but to suggest that arguments for and against it concern a deeper fixation on the so-called ‘rhetorical turn’ in the humanities across the board (e.g., “big rhetoric”). . . My suspicion,” I continued, “is that the secret wish behind ‘sizing it up’ . . . is ultimately a confirmation of disciplinary impotence.”

I still think this is true, but not enough for the paper. So I’m blogging hoping to shake loose some invention juice, or rather (to stick with the metaphor), to shake the juice loose. Or in the Derridian key, to sing about coming, since what is to come is the apocalyptic, and calls for measurement or an assessment of the current state always betoken a death—an end, or if you prefer, an arrival (of death). In any case, my thinking about what to say on the panel must yoke the phallic and chicken little, a theme that I’ve been thinking about in relation to scholarly invention since my work with David Beard on the apocalyptic. Let’s say, since this is a blog after all, that my project is how best to choke the chicken at the convention (. . . and is this not, as Zizek might say in a manic flight of pleasure beyond pleasure, the proverbial activity of all convention-going? Is this not the central complaint of panel-goers subjected to rhetorical theory?).

I’m thinking here of a speech Derrida gave (at a conference on disciplinarity, if I recall correctly) by in the 1980’s titled “Of an Apocalyptic Tone Newly Adopted in Philosophy.” The speech is hard to read, but it is a very interesting rumination on tone and an essay Kant wrote titled something like “On a Recently Overlordly Tone Adopted in Philosophy.” I read the essay—gee, almost a decade ago! shit I’m old—and have been haunted by it ever since, mostly because I’m haunted by things I don’t understand anyway (who isn’t?). Derrida obsesses therein about the ineffability of “tone”—that when evoked the notion of “tone” seems to betoken the abstract voice of mastery (“I AM THAT I AM”)—that is, the atonal—and that this is the voice of apocalyptic, the voice of philosophy. (Now, it’s hard for me not to related “tone” to Lacan’s notion of the “voice” as a object-cause of desire; I’m thinking here, too, of how many times that word has been used to critique my work as “arrogant”). The gist is a critique of Kant’s Aufklarer-style gestures—decrying philosophical mystigogues for castrating reason by harboring secrets—as similarly “overlordly” (e.g., that practical reason is held up as the uber-secret). No one gets out alive; smoke ’em if ya got ’em; and so on. The Derridian move is familiar, but with this difference: Derrida makes these arguments by aligning sexual taboo (law of the father, and so on) and apocalyptic revelation in the bible, or at least by riffing on these Freudian thematics.

So, blogging this, I can now sort of see where I am going to go with the paper: a critique of the discourse of the master/mastery as those who herald ends and issue warnings. Again, I don’t think it would be wise to “defend” psychoanalysis at the panel, although I suspect many will come with that expectation. What I can offer, however, is some sort of apsycho-deconstructo-reading of the scene of RSA (or better, the so-called “globalization of rhetoric” debates) . . . the trick is to figure out an “object.” This might be a neat essay if I can figure out how to widen the scope. The only “tip” on that score is an essay I found on Project MUSE by Melanie White: “On the Recent Apocalyptic Tone Adopted in Canadian Sociology.” No shit, get this opening:

Canadian sociology is apparently in danger: it is in danger of losing its intellectual vitality and disciplinary viability as a consequence of structural shifts and organizational movements that threaten to undermine its unique contribution to intellectual life.

Good lord: that sounds like Michael Leff on rhetorical studies. So perhaps the object is this pattern of argument in other disciplines? That may be a neat project: locate debates “of an apocalyptic tones” in other fields in order to make the meta-argument that Derrida’s understanding of “tone” or the utterance, “Come,” is the name for the jouissance of scholarly invention itself.

amanda palmer is fuckin’ rad

April 19th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Dresden Dolls: Yes, Virginia

New music Tuesday brought Amanda Palmer back into my life with the arrival of the new Dresden Doll’s album, Yes, Virginia. I had discovered a couple of singles from the album before its release, “First Orgasm,” a song about the ennui of masturbation, and “Sex Changes,” a lovely comparison between plastic surgery and sleeping with that person you shouldn’t sleep with (because having “sex will change you”). These, however, turned out to be the weakest songs of the set! The new album is effin’ phenomenal . . . so much more powerful than the debut.

For those unfortunate readers who have not heard of them, the DD are a boy drummer and a girl pianist that play warped, cabaret-style music, a little creepy, certainly dark, but also very funny. The piano-playing style of Palmer is mad–think Tori Amos on speed at times, and Fiona Apple on codeine playing ballad at others. What makes the sound special, though, is Palmer’s style of vocal (she sings deep alto and brings it back up to her normal range) with Brian Viglione’s occasional harmonics. What’s truly choice are the lyrics of this album: at times on the debut record the lyrics were too cliché (“Coin Operated Boy”) or cheesy. This time around, there is still some cheesiness, but it’s a full-bodied embrace of this cheesiness–of kitsch-as-love, if you want (shout-out here to Zac). Lyrical themes still swirl around body-image/disfigurement, but there are also, this album, screeds against bad people (namely, GWB in “Sing”).

Two songs stand out to me as most excellent: First, the song “Backstabber” fucking rocks-out, and the lyrics are choice:

backstabber! hope grabber!
greedy little fit haver!
god, I feel for you, fool…..
shit lover! off brusher!
jaded bitter joy crusher!
failure has made you so cruel….

rotten to the core
rotten to the core

rotten like a crackwhore
backing out out the backdoor
show us what you’re good for
stick it to the noise board
come on join the bloodsport
show us some support, still
working at the drugstore
is it because you’re A FUCKING

backstabber! hope grabber!
greedy little fit haver!
god, I feel for you, fool…..
shit lover! off brusher!
jaded bitter joy crusher!
failure has made you so cruel….

so don’t tell me what to write
and don’t tell me that I’m wrong……
and don’t tell me not to reference my songs within my songs

so here we go the open road
is covered with taco stands
and you can stop we’ll drop you off
and write to you when we land


The song has that Smith’s “happy sound with warped lyrics” thing going on, a jazzy amble with lots of cheery, high-hat percussion from Viglione. The chorus is divine; the harmony between Palmer and Viglione gives me goosebumps. Whomever the “greedy little bitch” is, she’s really paying the price now with this song! (I’d hate to have a really good song written about me that expresses such cheerful hatred! Ouch!).

The other marvelous song is “Sing,” a sad show-closer that ambles long like a Mogwai tune, but with perhaps the happiest message ever penned by Palmer: “sing! sing! sing!” for no reason at all, she pleads. It reminds me of Edward Ka-Speil’s motto for the Legendary Pink Dots: “sing while you may.” The song builds to an awesome crescendo. After hearing this album twice through yesterday, I really wanted a cigarette.

You can pick it up at Best Buy and Target (doh!) for $8. It’s worth the price; lets support our artists that deserve supporting!

PS: I’m not ignoring Whitley’s reply to my post on Monday; I’m going to field the class today for questions to ask him about his book and his experience with aliens, and then email/blog them. Stay tuned!

alien post imago

April 17th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Social Distortion: Mommy’s Little Monster

Today in the rhetoric of religion course we are discussing Whitley Strieber’s Communion, a New York Time’s bestseller for over twenty fives weeks back in the early eighties. As we read this novel, I am teaching a bit of Lacan on fantasy and das Ding, that the figure of the alien as a mutagenic human is that uncanny double of projection (the “stranger within,” and so forth). Communion is really a love story, a object (objet?) lesson in jouissance, as a long section from the part we read for today demonstrates:

She [the alien] was undeniably appealing to me. In some sense I thought I might love this being–almost as much as I might my own anima. I bore toward her the same feelings of terror and fascination that I might toward someone I saw staring back at me from the depths of my unconscious. There was in her gaze an element that is so absolutely implacable that I had other feelings about her, too.
Clearly Strieber had been reading Jung; the alien figures of the book are textbook exemplars of the shadow. But the enjoyment of his violation–aside from the anal probe stuff–is where this gets interesting:
If I could give up my autonomy to another, I might experience not only fear but also a deep sense of rest. It would be a little like dying to really give oneself up in that way, and being with her was also a little like dying. . . . Her gaze seemed capable of entering me deeply, and it was when I had looked directly into her eyes that I felt my first taste of profound unease . . . I could actually feel the presence of that other person within me–which was disturbing as it was curiously sensual . . . . this person was looking at me–that she could apparently look into me–filled me with the deepest longing I can remember feeling . . . and with the deepest suspicion

Love hysteria, to be sure, a rape fantasy, the ecstasy of soul-mating, “father, can’t you see I’m shitting?” and the repression of anality, it’s all there. If you want to teach Lacanian psychoanalysis to undergraduates, I can think of no better route than the good mother/bad mother fantasies of alien abduction (e.g., Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the good mum, and Alien, the bad . . . but not Alien Resurrection, which is a reconciliation with “the alien within”).

And isn’t it sad, too, that what passes as “true love” in the United States requires the disfiguring of your lover into an almond-eyed sour-stirrer from Mars or Venus? The demand to “look into me” is tiresome; it’s hard to keep saying and impossible to respond. Unless you are Katie Holmes and have no difficulty sleeping with an alien in the name of true love . . . .

gnomalicious: name that gnome II

April 11th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Tones on Tail Nightmusic

Alright, I am getting over myself and banishing the demons of darkness with the help of my husky army of garden gnomes (and a few rose bushes that are just starting to explode with blooms). These little dudes have been guarding my treasures and battling aphids like nobody’s business for weeks. Of course, y’all remember Object [petit] Ace and Siggy McKenna (click on the photo to the right for a larger image). These pugnacious but peace-loving pygmies were lonely, however, and so I found them some mates. I regret that so far it’s largely a homosocial affair (I’m looking for female gnomes, so if you have any leads, do let me know).

I would like to introduce to you five new but, sadly, nameless gnomes. Swinging high above Siggy and Ace is this happy guy, who I picked up at the grocery store on the “seasonal” aisle. A colleague had told me I could find cheap gnomes at the H.E.B., and that she recently spied one picking his nose that would be perfect. I raced to the store to find the nose-picking offender, but he was sold out. So this swinger is the surrogate (someone give the polite but secretly naughty imp a handclap . . . for the Clap). What shall I name him? I was thinking of Andy, after Andy Warhol (you know, that famous filmic swinger).

Now, this little dude is resting below a large mushroom that doubles as a birdbath, the ultimate of Gaia harmonics (I mean, tripping and then getting clean! the two usually do NOT go hand in hand, but these gnomes, they’ve really figured it out; pure genius . . . it’s like making a crack den bathhouse!). I gave him a good paint job to give him some color. He’s smokin’ something funny in that pipe, and just as happy as can be, chillin’ in his purple (morning) jacket. I was thinking of Dr. Scholl’s for his name (as if there is such a thing as “happy feet,” just like a clean high).

This little guy is (and was) somewhat of a challenge. He was a lonely and forlorn unpainted gnome abandoned and off to the side at Howard’s Nursery. He was very dirty, covered in mud, and I suspected had been languishing and waiting for love for many years. I think no one purchased him for their garden because he was gifted with a very strange facial expression, which I brought out a bit by painting him. Once I saw that he was something of a crier (announcing he had a basket of goodies to give away), it occurred to me he needed pink shoes. So I gave him pink shoes. And then he started to remind me of Harvey, the elf from those claymation Rudolph movies who wanted to be a dentist. So I’m thinking of naming him Harvey, but I’m still not quite sure. Ideas, anyone?

Now we’re getting into what I will term the artificial insemination gnomage, and by that I refer to the mass produced gnome. To put this another way, I rescued this guy from Target, and he had a lot of identical twins. Anyway, he’s got a waterer in his hand, but what’s in there is magic juice. That’s right, juice that is magic. You can tell he is proud of his magic juice becuase of that silly “I’m-so-proud” look on his face (which he got in China). I would tell you what’s magic about his juice if I was allowed, but his not-so-identical brother has threatened to take away all the mushrooms if I tell. So I’m going to leave it at that. Any ideas for naming these two? Are there some famous twins I can name them after?

You can get the whole overview of my patio Eden with this photogallery. Spring’s sprung y’all. I mostly grow herbs, but this year I’ve planted some peppers (sorry, I don’t do tomatoes), and I guess my love of roses is not lost on anyone at this point. The stinkier they smell, so much the better. Reminds me of the smell of going to church when I was a kid, all those folks wearing too much perfume . . . and my teenage church, mostly a lysergic haze . . . oh, and then there was algebra.

of rubbers and roads

April 9th, 2006 by Bolibuckness

Music: Coil: “A Cold Cell”

At a dive bar named “Memphis” somewhere in Dallas last Wednesday night, Amanda asked perhaps one of the most direct (and sadly unasked) questions any student of thought should constantly be asking: how seriously do I take my theory? Do I use theory to make sense of my own life? Is there a point where I say, “that’s just theory” and “here’s how I really feel?” The short and best answer is that there is no good answer to these kinds of questions, for to finally settle on one will force you into strategic pragmatism (or to write the whole enterprise off), which seems empty to me, or dogmatism and the kind of lifestyle rigidity typical of conservative Texans and Objectivist, role playing fascists.

But the truth is that I sometimes get much personal comfort from theory, and sometimes I do not. Amanda meant to stress my interest in psychoanalytic theory and how (and if) I incorporated it into my life. My answer was first to stress that my therapist is not a psychoanalyst, but a more of a holistic, “New Age” listener with thirty years of experience. I said that my explorations in Freud and Lacan do not commit me to the sort of dogmatism that insists on the liberation of my drives and what not, but that my intellectual embrace of the unconscious did inform my trust in the therapeutic process.

Today I learned of the death of a mother figure for me; she passed away yesterday from the complications of cancer treatment. I was taking a break from reading Lacan’s “The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire” when I check my email to learn about this news. I am not quite sure what I feel at the moment, a little dazed, but also somehow comforted (and there are tears lurking just below the surface that I’m keeping from coming up, because I have the strategic pragmatic impulse in play—that impulse that refuses to feel). I looked for a plane ticket, but so far there is nothing cheaper than $500, so I cannot afford that, and I’ll wait until tomorrow to call the travel agency and see if I can find something in the $300 range; if I can, I intend to go.

So in my life this Sunday morning I have four events sort of swirling in my consciousness: Lacan’s “graph of desire,” which I will lecture about tomorrow; the jibber-jabber of politicians on immigration from this morning’s Meet the Press, the death of one of many of my mothers (but not just any other; she’s a mother just the same), and scenes from a failed conference (I left SSCA early because I was spiraling into a depression I’d rather folks only read about, not see). I mean, this stuff is all about death and others, and the Other, so on one level Lacan definitely helps me put a language to my feelings: my failed romantic relationships have something to do with misplaced demands for love on both sides; my sorrow over the other death, the real one or the biological one, if you want, is also in some sense a recognition that she gave me love (in the sense of recognition; she cooked for me, schemed with me against my father—that is, my academic advisor—and so on); and this battle against Mexicans is about the racialized Other who took our happiness away, or who threatens it by, apparently, taking away my career in migrant farming.

Obviously I’m feeling blue today, but I guess my longer answer is that “theory” does invade my personal life, and I use it to make sense of my personal life, that it gives me coordinates for thinking, even if it never really tells me what I should and should not do with and in or for “my life.” It helps me to think inside and outside of my academic work. I think psychoanalysis is chilling to many people precisely for this reason: the theory is notoriously (sometimes secretly) autobiographical, and because it deals principally with the individual, it’s very hard to read about the contents of consciousness without thinking about your own. It’s really hard to read about love or mourning or sorrow without thinking about your own feelings that attach to those labels. So I’m in “mourning,” I’ve been mourning for many days, and I’m drawing on my own reading in psychoanalysis to make sense of that process. But it doesn’t mean that I’m down with the Lacanian “short session” necessarily, or that I do not want to enjoy certain cultural fantasies that I know at some level are illusions.

Heck, I think Amanda’s question is answered by the “academic blog” phenomenon itself. What else is all this strangely public, private writing about, but a chronicle of active thinking and detailing of connections between one’s public career and one’s private life? The two inform each other, and that is how it should be. Otherwise, I see no point to the academic life, this so-called “life of the mind.” If the life of the mind does not infect you when you are gardening, then you should be an accountant.

I love and hate my job. And at least I have the love (too many people, like my biological mother, hate their jobs). So I am lucky on that score. But I hate my job, I hate the price I have to pay to get my love (publishing like a demon; the insecurity of juniorness; department politics; the petulant demands of some students, and I am especially growing to dislike the loneliness of academic scholarship in the humanities–and that I have allowed my career pursuits to crowd out my need for companionship and am only now starting to worry about it). So I’m mourning today, sometimes on the verge of tears, sometimes composed enough to keep reflecting, sometimes wondering if I will die alone and sometimes saying to myself, “worrying about dying alone is stupid; you’re just depressed and you need to get over yourself.” I assure you those (sometimes overly-dramatic) feelings end up in the lecture notes somehow, even if I cannot make an academic study of it.

Finally, one final point: although it is true I self-censor before I post on this blog, what gets “cut out” are the things that would get me fired or sued, or things that are cruel or that would hurt someone’s feelings. The audience that I imagine who reads this are mostly friends, so I often write to “the friend.” I’m not so foolish to believe, however, that I can somehow control my journal’s “meaning” or what is read. As an article of (theoretical) faith, I don’t think you can cut out the feeling/affect that is around the edges of the letter. I don’t even to pretend to “hide” that stuff; if I did, then I’m not really sharing or being open to what others have to share with me. I think (that is, I trust; I hope).