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Saturday, December 16, 2000
 
To: "Felicien, Faslyn Lucelta"
Subject: hey you

FUZZ!

So, you want to go to DC Dec. 27-30, yes? I will be there with Joe for the [MLA convention]. You'll come visit???? Don't you know people there? Yes?

me

To: "Meyer, Anne Sara"
Subject: anne!

better fangs :F? --

how goes it??? i'm almost done! well, sort of! only one paper left! yay! new [buffy] tuesday! yay! will i see you monday?!

i went to this oral exam at a [professor's] house last night. it was such a strange experience. first of all, i went with two of my classmates, and we were half an hour late (they were finishing their papers, i was trying to finish my paper, there was traffic, we had to pick up some food to bring, etc.). we had good directions to get to the house, but there were so many turns and stuff it was a good thing i decided not to go alone without someone navigating. so we got there finally. the house was cool. we got some drinks, then settled in to the exam. the exam consisted of each person drawing a quote from a selection the [professor] had picked out and given to us earlier. then the person had to explain the quote and speak about it for five minutes. kind of a stressful concept, but in a low-stress environment. and the professors are really friendly, too.

so, when the first person started talking, the power suddenly went out. then came back on. we were confused. we laughed. etc. but then as he started in again on his quote, the power went off and stayed off. so the professor had to go get candles. here we were, sitting around in a circle, having an oral exam by candlelight. hee hee. it actually helped me out because i have that strange fear of talking in front of people. since it was dark, we could only see each other barely and i wasn't as conscious of being watched when i had to speak.

then we had dinner. and it was fun and new. i've never had dinner at a teacher of mine's house before. we had yummy lasagna. we got to hear fun and exciting things (as well as scandalous things) about the english department's past.

the end

p-duck

Here's the [link] to the chat I had with [Lucy].
To: "Eric A. Friedman"
Subject: Re: election (fwd)

Dear Eric,

Quick reply to your message. I think you have written a very sincere note to your colleagues. There are doubtless people who believe, as you mention in the first paragraph, that (1) the next four years will only be about damage control and (2) it is better to withdraw from the political arena in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds (Republican President AND Congress). And I think this is where your commitment (in the rest of the note) to a course of human rights and social justice is a refreshing response to the election of Bush to the presidency. As always, I love your images and your optimism. What might help to spur some more comments and thoughts is perhaps to suggest one concrete example of how to continue pursuing social justice in light of a political-legislative atmosphere that would seem to discourage such a pursuit. For example, what is something that you/we could do to address issues of poverty even as our elected representatives seek to disavow responsibility for the poor?

Paul

At 08:57 PM Friday 12/15/00, you wrote:

Dear Paul,

Could you let me know if this is okay? I was thinking of putting it up on the Wall at the law school tonight or tomorrow. (I think you know the Wall, a place of public comment.) In particular, do you think it needs more, or is my point made? Or do you think I should cut down on the ending (Sweet Survivor? -- but I do love this song!)? Also, do you think there are people who feel as I describe in the 1st paragraph? Thank you!

(Winter break is official 12/22-1/1.)

Bye bye,

Eric

Justice, we may fear, is doomed to at least four years of painful setbacks. You know what I am talking about. Al Gore was elected President, but George W. Bush won the election. Where does this leave those of us who supported Al Gore? We may be tempted to turn our energies to damage control. And there may be much damage that needs to be managed. We may be tempted to withdraw from the public debate and public sphere, rather than exhaust ourselves swimming against a relentless current. And we will be swimming against the current.

But I hope that we can have a different reaction. When you are walking along the road, headed for a destination at which you must arrive, and it starts raining, the ground turns muddy, fallen trees block the road, what do you do? You keep on walking, only with even purpose and determination than before, for it is only with that added vigor that you will be able to push on through the mud, climb over the trees, and continue on your way.

We are walking along a road to a destination at which we must arrive -- justice, equality, human rights for all. It has never been an easy walk, and now it seems that the rains have come. So how do we respond? With a renewed sense of purpose and determination, so that we can continue progressing towards our destination. Forward, forward, forge forward through the storm.

Many of us are not happy that George W. Bush will be the next President of the United States, that both the Congress and the Administration will be Republican. But this is the reality. Bush said recently, "I can't tell you how excited I am . . . how enthused I am about the opportunities . . . to work with other world leaders to make the world more peaceful." We have at least a foundation on which to build. We may not feel that Bush is our President, but let's not give up on doing what we can so that he does what we would want our President to do. In the words a song written when the idealism of the 1960's was transmuting into the greed of the 1980s:

Carry on my sweet survivor . . .
Don't give up on the dream, and don't you let it end.
Carry on . . . .

-- Peter Yarrow, "Sweet Survivor"

Carry on.

****************

"I have only dreams: to build a better world, a world of harmony and understanding, a world in which it is a joy to live. This is not asking for too much." -- Yitzhak Rabin

"Don't say the day will come. Bring the day! Because it's not a dream." -- Shir LaShalom, Song for Peace

Friday, December 15, 2000
 

Date: Fri, 15 Dec 2000 09:48:08 -0500
Subject: Re: grr!
From: Lai Li Jun
To: duck vamps

Ellen emailed Brine to tell me that pylduck was "totally amazing" on chat yesterday. Geez what did you do. I just lurked Wed night. But I'm going to try and go on again today, it's the last day. I think that the chat is archived, so I'll go look at it.

I watched and taped Olive too. It was cool.

Drink lots of water, take like tablespoonfuls of echinacea and 1000mg of vit C. Got it?

Thursday, December 14, 2000
 
(Editor's note: I seldom e-mail or talk about "politics" because I used to be e-flamed and insulted for being "naive" about the ways of the political arena. I realize now how evil these people were, resorting to ad hominem attacks to discredit my views.)

Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2000 14:22:41 -0500
To: "Eric A. Friedman"
From: duck vamps
Subject: Re: weblog

Dear Eric,

You're welcome.

I do indeed write in my weblog more than I perhaps have time for. But it helps me to think, so that's good.

The Supreme Court decision was not really what kept me up. These papers I have to write are what kept me up. I had sort of reconciled myself to the imminent election of Bush to the presidency back in late October. I was surprised that Gore actually gave Bush a run for his money. But as the political cards fell, there really was no way that he could have generated enough support given the way he campaigned. (Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit, but I was just disgusted by his pandering to conservative "swing" voters who really only exist anyways to homogenize the two parties' platforms. I have this sneaking suspicion that they are a political-media constructed group of people anyways.) I guess I'm just pessimistic. Well, the good thing is that it's highly unlikely Bush will get re-elected in four years.

When does your winter break begin? (I forget if you mentioned it before.)

Paul

To: "Dastidar, Joyeeta"
Subject: hey you

it's all your fault that i'm obsessed with thinking about writing TO people in my blogs now. but i was thinking, other bloggers often address fellow-bloggers directly in their posts. so it's not as if journal-style (archival) blogging is completely distinct from a more communicative e-mail type posting. but anyways, i'll keep posting e-mails for awhile until i have time to think about this some more.

/ duck

Dear Self,

Ah, so it appears that I have been visited by the folks at [MIT] in connection with the [Lucy Project] (site surveillance is a handy tool for procrastination). Wonder if they noted how I came across them and tried to figure out who I am.

me

To: Lai Li Jun
Subject: Re: grr!

hey gien--

so i'm on the [lucy chat] right now. i should save the transcript of the chat. wonder if i can do that or if i have to cut and paste it. anyways, it's interesting. we're talking about ducks and cats and cakes and stuff. haven't had a chance to look at the whole site yet.

finished round one of my papers. it's nice to have a completed paper on my desk, no matter how crappy it is. two more to go. i'm taking a break for a bit this morning. went to get groceries this morning, stopping by a bagel place to get mmm....bagel, cream cheese, and lox...it's really cool outside. it's gloomy, but there's this white mist that is hovering over everything. it's like a diaphanous (love that word) curtain that mists the windshield of my car.

i took a loooooong, nice hot shower when i got back from getting groceries. it relaxed me very much. i wanted to just go to sleep, but instead i'm back at my computer, ready to type.

me


Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 20:34:26 -0500
Subject: Re: grr!
From: Lai Li Jun
To: duck vamps


on 12/13/00 5:48 AM, duck vamps wrote:
argh! how do you write???

So,,,,, when you're done writing, check this out:
http://xenia.media.mit.edu/lucy
It's Ellen's performance that she's doing for her art in residence at MIT.
I'm going to try to go to the live chat/performance stuff...

Wednesday, December 13, 2000
 
Dear Mr. Rabbit,

Hey. Just came across yet another mind-turning (that's a good thing) entry at [worsethanqueer]. This entry, dated and time-stamped 12.11.00, 10:01 a.m., addresses some of the same questions about web cams, surveillance, and disciplinary gazes that came up in one of my classes and that I'm blindly flailing at in my paper. Slander asks, "why not invite intrusion when there's nothing to see?" as a way of interrogating the appeal of web exhibitionism. And here she is really writing about the superfluity of public surveillance if the watched object conforms to (and in fact enacts) disciplinary norms. I agree with her reading of how common disciplining gender via a sort of "collective social inspection" is, whether it is through the forum of a web site or a television talk show.

What Slander notes is that "there's nothing particularly titillating or interesting, even," about what many people do on their web cam, "but that may not be the point." And this is where thinking about the convergence of exhibitionism and surveillance is interesting. While there is something that's supposed to be sexy about web cams because it opens up the possibility of Freudian exhibitionism (i.e. the showing of genitals), is this transgression of social propriety what creates the appeal? If so, where does that place web cams of office cubicles (making flashing mostly unlikely)?

I think it perhaps has to do with something that a classmate of mine, Will, is touching on in his paper -- namely, personal "solutions" to the problem of privacy. It seems simple to believe that by opening up all boundaries to what is private, by making everything public, one can preclude censure since private things are those marked as important to be kept from a public gaze. And in some ways, that's the way I feel about disclosure and privacy. I am much more inclined to reveal things about myself because I don't want the knowledge (or "open secret") to hang over my head like a sword dangling from a single thread (this image from a children's story my mother used to read to me about the pressures / dangers of being a king). Regarding sexuality, if I let people in a new situation know from the outset that I am gay, I don't have to worry about how they will react when they "find out" later (especially through other means, as this will perhaps signal to them that I was trying to hide the knowledge). But of course, this is not such a practical and total "solution." Drawing a military analogy, de-classifying top-secret information does not make that information completely harmless.

(My computer is making a strange humming sound every once in awhile. Perhaps I should've turned it off for a rest sometime in the last twenty-four hours.)

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your coat is mighty grey / "Yes, indeed, 'twas made that way" / "Every little one must shine, shine, shine" / "Every little one must shine, shine, shine"

Love,
Mr. Duck

My friend Joyeeta has noted that she has different personalities depending on who she is with. It's an observation worth noting because the common knowledge is that everyone has "one" true personality that they are. Every other way they act is just artifice. But isn't how we act in front of people exactly an act, always a way of presenting ourselves to those around us? So where does that "one" true personality lie? Is it you when you're alone? But then taking out all social relations (and expectations) from your conception of yourself is infeasible as well as uninstructive in determing a social identity and personality (and is akin to trying to imagine a tabula rasa or "state of nature").

In any case, I was thinking I'd start addressing my blog entries to specific people I know (and don't know, such as celebrities, the admired-from-afar). Would I write about different topics? Would I present the ideas differently? How would that change how others read the entries? (What is the qualitative difference between reading a "private" journal and reading "private" correspondence?) And what if I only [blogged] things that were in fact also e-mails to various people? (My blog becomes an archive of sent e-mails?) As you can see, my head is only about the questions these days. Can't seem to answer anything, even to myself.

Speaking of reading "private" correspondences, I just reminded myself of [Griffin and Sabine], a trilogy of illustrated books by Nick Bantock. The story is the exchange of letters between the two characters Griffin and Sabine. It enjoyed some popularity upon release because of the richly textured illustrations and pages (the letters were in fact separate pages on beautiful stationery in wonderfully designed envelopes attached to the pages of the book-proper). From the web site: "Welcome to griffinandsabine.com. Created in collaboration with author/illustrator Nick Bantock, this site celebrates the voyeuristic tale of love and mystery that is Griffin & Sabine . . ." [Go.] Indulge.

After staring at my computer screen for so many hours lately, I decided to change the look of the darned thing. I ended up choosing this Leondardo da Vinci themed desktop. It uses a Book Antiqua font for the text. Kinda strange. The hour-glass cursor when the computer is "thinking" has been replaced by a paintbrush mixing colors on a palette. Sometimes it's a picture of Mona Lisa fading in and out. I like the desktop background a lot. It's a mix of some of da Vinci's illustrations (or at least imitations of them). I like the texture of the pen strokes as a ground for the theme. It provides an aesthetically pleasing counterpoint to the "antique" look of the font that is at the same time pixelated with a computer-rough-edged look. The faded-black ink (sort of a reddish-brown) color scheme is marvelous, too.

In less than a fortnight, I will finally be 23.

And now back to the main event...

Tuesday, December 12, 2000
 
Wow. I guess I never really listened to the lyrics of [NSYNC's] "Digital Get Down" until Joe pointed them out:

"I can see everything you do / Bouncin me from satellite to satellite / I love the things you do for me so late at night / So turn me on yeah / It's like I'm right there next to you yeah."

"Here's what you do: leave a message / You know the kind I like to get back to."

"I see you on the screen, I get to freakin' / So get down babe / And I'll get down for you / I get so excited when I'm watching girl / I can't wait to see you touch your body girl."

Hmmm.

[This] is a fun holiday greetings e-card to send to people if you want to torture them.
Monday, December 11, 2000
 

Dear Joyeeta,

Read me.

Daffy

Today is the last day of classes. I had my last class on Thursday, but still. This is really it. It's almost the end. In less than a week, I will be all done with the semester. Hardly seems possible.

Elizabeth pointed me to this fascinating article on [gay teens online]. I think it'll be an informative complement to the paper I'm writing on [Buffy] and the embodiment of gendered identity in new technology. I know that I would have had a much different (probably more tortured) time with forming a self-aware consciousness if I didn't have the resources of the Internet as a communication tool that linked me to other gay people "out there." My first encounters with self-proclaimed gay men were all on-line. My first crush was a man I e-mailed for years. We were able to talk to each other in ways that we couldn't otherwise (I was still living at home, he lived with his married brother). It was such a strange, liberating situation. The funniest thing, too, is that we had actually become friends before we came out to each other, so he was also the first person I came out to.

Sunday, December 10, 2000
 
Well, I did end up going to the holiday party at the big ol' [Carolina Club] Alumni Hall. I'd been to the Club once before about a year ago to have dinner with Joe and this guy who worked at the Club. It's quite a fancy little place. Anyways, the party was fun. Lots of food. I couldn't keep myself away from the chocolate mousse desserts in little pastry shells. Mmmm....chocolate.... I also had some wine (made me tipsy) and got to talk to my fellow first-year students. Also talked to [Mr. Thompson], one of my professors, and saw (but did not get a chance to speak to) [Mr. Curtain] in a fabulous green velvet coat that everyone loved.

I've never been one to go to parties, especially not institutional parties, because I do not talk to many people and end up being a floating loner in seas of people. But I did have a good time this afternoon. I guess I have made some very friendly acquaintances here at [UNC's English department]. Since I don't see these people outside of class and campus, it was nice to take a break to hang out with them.

To go or not to go?

[sunday 10 december 4:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Holiday Party at the Alumni Hall III]

I would like to go see some of my friends for a bit. It'd be nice to see Elizabeth's boyfriend again, too, who's in from out of town for the next few days. But I had told myself I would go only if I had made enough headway into my papers (hasn't happened yet). And, Joe has said he does not want to go. So do I go it alone? Or do I forgo it altogether?

There are two things, aren't there?:

The first thing is, dinner at [Rick's Diner] on a Saturday night is not such a good idea. The place is full of little kids (and their parents, of course) making loud noises, talking loudly. And on cold nights, it is just no fun to be in a full restaurant while people keep opening the door, standing in the doorway while assessing the situation, trying to decide whether or not to wait for a table. You would think they would try to get completely inside, out of the cold. But they insist on wavering on the threshold, half the party inside, the other half outside, and the door gaping maliciously wide open as the cold air outside and the warm air inside try to reach an equilibrium temperature.

The second is that [Jerma] and Consuela are such great company. Joe and I had dessert with them at [Francesca's Dessert Cafe] after they (that is, Jerma, Consuela, Joe, and this other guy) went to a Christmas concert at Duke Chapel. (I stayed home and stressed out about writing.) Jerma is a particularly fun person to be around because she generates such heated and involved conversations. She doesn't accept anything anyone says at face value. She's always very interested in getting into why people believe certain things, why they like things, etc. It's a unique experience being around her. It's fun watching her and Consuela interact as well. Just because they are together (to whatever extent, however they define their relationship) doesn't mean they don't take each other to task for what they think. I, of course, like listening to the way Jerma's mind tries to wrap itself around other people's thinking. It's amazing. She also makes Joe laugh and that's really nice.

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