Wednesday, June 30, 2004[Three Ohio state universities to offer full same-sex partner benefits.] Good news. About time. But damn, if that reasoning isn't just fucking annoying. It's not about gay rights or gay pride, say the administrations, but about good business practices. It's about the fact that universities everywhere are starting to feel the pressures of offering benefits or face the loss of top-notch teachers and scholars. In all of this, why don't they also start feeling that gay people are people deserving of equal treatment?
>> 5:42 AM
Today's To Do List
(Or for tomorrow, as things go...)
- Send off measly few pages of dissertation chapter to advisor-type person.
- Write and send off conference paper abstract on transnational queer performance.
- Write and send off conference paper abstract on Asian Americans and the law.
- Prepare for tomorrow's class on the Acadians of Louisiana.
- Check in on friend's dilapidated car.
- Pick up requested book at library on Asian American short story cycles.
- Order books for classes I'm teaching in the fall.
>> 5:27 AM
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Whew. Class discussion was intense and a bit hairy today. We actually had to do a bit of an intervention, too, since some people have been increasingly vocal about their beliefs in how "white" people are versus "people of color" in a way that is only about those surface stereotypes. As with any class dealing with "cultural diversity" in a discussion format, these kinds of comments are inevitable, but we did need to remind them about the goals of the class. Some students still want to cling to simple understandings of cultural characteristics (all Southerners are like this, all black people are like this, etc.) even as they also want to explode stereotypes and myths. It's really a very odd contradiction in my mind. In any case, I tried to bring up the ideas of "cultural grammars" and "performative identities" as a way to think differently about group characteristics and dynamics. We had to remind the students that there should always be a sense of respect when talking about individuals as well as groups of people, or at least a more nuanced understanding of them. It's difficult, I guess, to talk about these things. I had to explain that our goal was not simply to combat stereotypes or to champion positive images of Southerners (whites, especially), but that we wanted to explore the deeply historical roots and social context for the emergence and evolution of all the characteristics and ideals of Southerners that circulate today. I think some of the students get it (one definitely understands how we are approaching things), but at least a couple of them are intensely resistant to moving beyond their black-and-white views of what people are like. Discussion is getting a bit ugly sometimes, and I fear that there is one student who is probably being angered by other students' comments about Southern white hicks. But even more than making everyone feel comfortable in class (which is of great importance) is the idea that we should be talking about cultural expectations and characteristics not in some way that makes them inherent to certain people, but in ways that understand how these expectations and characteristics have been articulated to certain bodies over and through historical periods. It was definitely an exhilarating discussion, but it also devolved a bit too much into chaos. It was also hard to broach the topic of how discussion is going without outright condemning certain types of comments and certain students. A couple of students did react somewhat defensively, but I hope we were able to discuss why we wanted them to ask different questions than the ones they were considering with regards to the readings and class discussion.
I flew back from the conference in Champaign-Urbana last night. Got back home just after midnight. Really am probably running myself too ragged. But the conference was overall a pleasant experience. I didn't get to make connections ("network") as much as I should've or would've liked, but I did talk to some people with whom I might carry on conversations in the future. I also have to admit that I subject myself to the kinds of comments that I was ranting about in the last post. I go to these particularly self-reflexive (though all cultural studies as a kind of intellectual/political work is supposed to be self-reflexive), self-critical panels that try to consider how to re-direct the energies and debates of cultural studies work. Still, I go not with the sense that there is something wrong that needs to be fixed, but with the expectation that there is always a different way to do things that might address inadequacies of older and current approaches to cultural studies. Instead of hearing about new research, methods, and so on, though, all I got was this lamenting of how academic cultural studies work in the US is so America-centered and totally lacking in actual political effects. Bite me.
>> 10:56 AM
Monday, June 28, 2004
>> 9:48 AM
Sunday, June 27, 2004
I also got to hear a couple of papers on Asian American literature today. It is always refreshing to hear about stuff you know about.
I'm taking a break from the hullabaloo right now but will rejoin the masses for a keynote address by [Meaghan Morris].
>> 3:23 PM
Saturday, June 26, 2004
I think I'm coming down with a cold. :(
>> 5:34 PM
>> 4:24 PM
>> 1:31 PM
Sunday, June 20, 2004
>> 6:55 PM
Saturday, June 19, 2004
>> 10:24 PM
>> 12:53 PM
Friday, June 18, 2004
I learned today at work that you can print a shipping label for [recycling HP print cartridges] if you lose the one enclosed in the box.
(Thanks for the cakes, T!)
>> 2:09 PM
Thursday, June 17, 2004
OMG! [Ooh-La Latté], the cool new coffee-place-slash-lounge with the cheeky name here in town, is totally wireless! It is totally my new favorite hangout.
>> 7:11 PM
I begin with what we might call a bipolar disturbance in literary criticism. Caught between the materialism of cultural studies and the formalism of philosophy, literary criticism is construed, on the one hand, as useless--struck dumb by its lack of purpose in the face of real politics and real bodies--and, on the other hand, as singularly efficacious, the only tool through which to reveal the essentially discursive character of all forms of culture, including bodies and politics. While this rhetorical model of criticism is regularly posited as politically bankrupt, as having no purchase on the facticity of the world, the model of materialist cultural criticism is just as regularly unmasked as, at base, rhetorically constructed and thus guilty of concealing its own formalist dimensions. This "disturbance," as I've described it, tends to be acted out as a debilitating dialectic: caught between formalism and materialism, literary criticism is left without any ground to stand on. Yet this peculiar bipolarity within literary criticism is intimately linked to the strange status of literature itself. Language becomes recognizably literary at the moment it assumes a rhetorical or formal dimension rather than serving as the invisible conduit of mimetic representation. Whence, evidently, the allure of formalism for literary criticism: form would seem to be exactly what demarcates the literary from the nonliterary, what defines the exclusive territory of literature. Yet formalism, as has been widely and persuasively argued, tends to turn literature into precisely the kind of artifact that means little in relation to the world and tends to obscure the worldly relations that inform the text and its production. Indeed, in the field of Cultural Studies--a field whose defining gesture is political engagement--"formalist" is a term whose meaning often comes to approximate "apolitical." "Formalist," fashioned as opprobium, speaks chidingly of hermeticism or more acerbically of the insidious erasures enacted by universalism.She later goes on to argue that it is the productive tension of "the profoundly bipolar or duplicitous character of literature and literary language" that she wants to take up. This bipolarity is exactly why I'm in literary studies as opposed to something like cultural anthropology which, while very interesting, often makes certain claims to a "reality" than I think is really appropriate.
>> 3:27 PM
Wednesday, June 16, 2004[J.K. Rowling Ends Harry Potter Series After Discovering Boys]. Ha. Title says it all.
>> 3:57 PM
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
- lê thi diem thúy, The Gangster We Are All Looking For
- David R. Shumway, Modern Love: Romance, Intimacy, and the Marriage Crisis
- Ranu Samantrai, AlterNatives: Black Feminism in the Postimiperial Nation
>> 9:54 PM
Monday, June 14, 2004
Trying to work on too many different things at once. Cartoons, multicultural children's literature, Global South, American South, Caribbean literatures, sports studies, genealogies of American Studies, and stuff. One of these days I will have to find a focus. I must say, it is both incredibly reassuring -- because it validates my thoughts -- and disappointing -- because it's been done -- to find articles that make arguments I am thinking. (Above image from Amy Tan's The Chinese Siamese Cat.)
>> 3:19 PM
Friday, June 11, 2004[Unwanted Faxes: What You Can Do] -- and apparently, "Beginning January 1, 2005, it is unlawful to send an unsolicited advertisement to a facsimile machine without the prior written permission of the recipient of the advertisement." Woo hoo! Now if only that could be done with other UJA (unsolicited junk advertisements).....
>> 11:43 AM
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Things have been going great with Rob this week. We're back to our giddy, happy selves. But I'm still a bit perturbed that we haven't really re-addressed the doubts about us that he raised a month and a half ago. I've tried to bring it up since, but he's been somewhat dismissive of the whole thing (not necessarily in a bad way).
I'm going to enjoy things as they are for now.
Now if I could only get myself to work on those conference presentations....
>> 3:13 PM
Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Last night when Rob was leaving for work, I told him I was going to go out to look at funeral homes and cemetery plots for my impending death by bug bite. I told him he would have to pry my corpse from the bed when he got back in the morning. He laughed and said to be sure to leave a note letting him know where I wanted to be buried.
This year hasn't been good for staying bug-bite free for me. I've been mauled by insects when others around me have been left unbitten. What gives? My new motto should be, "Keeping mosquito populations well fed."
I really am such a hypochondriac. After reading stuff on-line about skin infections and getting some advice from people, I started feeling light-headed and achy today. I had originally scheduled an appointment for tomorrow morning to get some antibiotics, but then I started fearing [sepsis] and rescheduled for this afternoon. Sigh. [WebMD] preys on people like me. Of course, while in the nurse's office, my bug bite looked so insignificant. The red bump has definitely shrunk and it no longer itches like the devil. The red streak is less visible than it was yesterday or this morning. There is clearly an abscess, though. I probably could've just weathered this infection without any drugs....
>> 2:52 PM
>> 11:49 AM
"The decision to get married ought to be between the two women involved, and everyone else should butt out," Miyatake added. "Seriously, drop it."Tee hee. It'd be funny if my parents ever pressured me to marry Rob. Though really want they want isn't for me to be married so much as to give them (biological) grandchildren.
>> 11:31 AM
"If California legalizes same-sex marriages," says BOND founder and president Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, "it will destroy the family, especially the black family."
On April 25, some 7,000 people in San Francisco's Sunset district -- primarily Chinese Americans and Christians from 180 Bay Area churches-- protested same-sex marriage, reports Julie D. Soo in the May 21 edition of San Francisco's English-language weekly AsianWeek. Gay marriage "could lead to the extinction of the entire human race," said event spokesman Rev. Thomas Wang, as reported in the Chinese newspaper Sing Tao. "There will be no future if the United States does not repent."
"Chinese, in 5,000 years of history, have acknowledged that homosexuality has always existed. But, it is accepted with the understanding that you don't glorify such relationships," Tsai is quoted as saying in AsianWeek.I'm reading a book by Tze-Lan Sang called [The Emerging Lesbian] that gives a very different account of female homosocial/homosexual relationships in China and "ancient" Chinese culture. So nyah.
>> 11:24 AM
Then again, maybe there is no weird intent behind it. Maybe the Axe people are playing it straight, and actually think this campaign is clever and cool and gets right to the point and that no one will notice that these clearly lobotomized women are offering up their sex to a giant hairy armpit as though it was a fat Republican senator and they were a cheap hooker.
. . .
And yet, before you even ask, you already know the answer. It will never end. The giant hairy headless armpits and their ilk are here to stay. And you know there is not a damn thing you can do about it. Enjoy your reconfigured brain. Dry pits win. Mwwaaa hahahahaha. Shrug.
>> 9:38 AM
OMG. Best. Picture. EVER.
(My dad mimicking pose of rabbit statue. The rabbit is his zodiac sign.)
>> 8:13 AM
Tuesday, June 08, 2004[Gay Cowboys Movie!]:
It could be the moment one of Hollywood's last great taboos is broken: a sex scene between two hot young male actors. Finally, it seems, gay relationships are about to go mainstream at the moviesCan't wait! And it's possibly got [Jake Gyllenhaal] and Heath Ledger as the cowboys. And it's going to deal with the physical, sexual aspects of gay relationships. Maybe. Woo hoo!
>> 6:27 PM
"Do you think torture might be justified - not a memorandum - just a question to you, attorney general of the United States?" Biden asked.
"I am not going to issue or otherwise discuss hypotheticals. I will leave that to academics," Ashcroft replied.
"Let me completely reject the notion that anything that this president has done or the Justice Department has done has directly resulted in the kind of atrocity which were cited. That is false. It is an inappropriate conclusion," he declared.It's just the fault of the guards, of course. Nothing about laws or military policies has anything to do with the guards and their commanding officers believing that what they did was appropriate. This world sucks. Can I get a refund?
>> 3:12 PM
That is sort of an antiquated process! I would think an email with all the relevant information should suffice. But, if it doesn't, then it doesn't!
I've just placed an order for 30 copies of the book with the Ithaca College bookstore, so if you can send it as a desk copy and if not, then so be it since going up to school during the summer and faxing things in the absence of an administrative assistant is a bit of a bore!
>> 2:40 PM
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
The chicken crossed the road, and will continue to cross the road, to show its independence and to transport the weapons it needs to defend itself. However, in future, to avoid problems, the chicken will be called a duck, and will wear a plastic bill.
>> 2:22 PM
>> 1:31 PM
>> 10:16 AM
>> 8:52 AM
Thing is, IMS is supposed to affect older men more, not so much twenty-six-year-olds. But then again, twenty-six-year-olds aren't supposed to have joint problems and high blood pressure, either. I am so not going to live very long. My body is already acting like it's in its sixth decade at least.....
At least I'm feeling better right now. Of course, it was all up and down last week. I was mostly just pissed off the whole time, but there were some shining moments of calm and happiness. What's also a little weird is that I was feeling a lot more aggression in general, too, not just frustration and/or depression. Maybe it does have to do with wildly fluctuating testosterone levels....
>> 8:02 AM
Monday, June 07, 2004
Just back from watching The Day After Tomorrow starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. It sucked ass. Some of the weather effects were cool, like the tornados destroying Los Angeles and the wall of water flooding New York City, but the storyline was so trite, so contrived, and so utterly geared to pull heartstrings and push buttons. It's all about how this cataclysmic natural disaster heals a broken family and shit.
There's some interesting stuff in the movie about the North and the South, though. Oddly, the storm only decimates the northern hemisphere. So there is some lamenting in the movie about all the civilization that is lost in the storm. At one point, some librarian makes a comment about saving a copy of the Gutenburg Bible not because he is Christian, but because it symbolizes civilization that has been wiped out by the storm. And I was like, umm, are there no books anywhere in the southern hemisphere? Is there no culture or civilization in the southern hemisphere? And seriously, just because the US and Europe have been wiped out doesn't mean there aren't repositories of Western civilization and culture elsewhere at all.
There's also the evacuation of US citizens to the South and into Mexico, and the movie jokingly notes the reversal of movement across the US-Mexico border. This movement is at first met with resistance as the Mexicans put up barricades, but then the President negotiates with Mexico to forgive all Latin American debt to the US or something. And the President at the end of the movie thanks the Third World for being so welcoming of American refugees who now have to make their homes in these once despised lands.
Seriously, it's not that interesting of a movie to watch, but some of the stuff really reveals all these ideas about US culture and how the US imagines its place in the world.
>> 8:55 PM
>> 3:48 PM
>> 2:52 PM
[Furor over UC prof's brief on war]:
But critics insist that Yoo appeared to ignore the likelihood that his recommendation would result in widespread abuses. "The open question is whether Yoo wrote this memo knowing this would facilitate the mistreatment of prisoners, and if he did, he could be accused of a crime," Roth said. "I don't know if it reflects shocking incompetence or criminal intent."
>> 10:04 AM
Friday, June 04, 2004[this story] about a member of the [Critical Art Ensemble] under investigation for being a bioterrorist is more alarming.
>> 8:55 PM
Many of the highest-rated reality television series -- "Fear Factor" being the most notable -- rely on a series of gross-outs, embarrassments and, ultimately, humiliation, to fuel them.
As more and more critics called the genre a pox on television (and, by association, creativity), the series nonetheless grew exponentially in their appeal among the masses. This season, "American Idol," television's most popular reality series, seemed to ratchet up the level of public humiliation that it reveled in, as singers clearly unaware of how stupendously untalented they were ended up getting a national dressing down (as usual) to gigantic ratings. In a not-so-strange twist, arguably the worst singer to be picked on, Berkeley's now infamous William Hung, became a celebrity. It proved we love an underdog almost as much as we want to see that underdog mocked openly.
>> 2:42 PM
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
>> 2:43 PM
One of those days. Feel mentally unstable.
>> 2:09 PM
I'm loving the frozen grapes as a snack. It's odd how different the experience of eating them is from eating simply chilled grapes. So refreshing.
There is absolutely nothing interesting going on in my life.
>> 1:32 PM
>> 6:59 AM
Tuesday, June 01, 2004
A beautiful day today.
I had lunch in the [arboretum].
It was a lovely three-day weekend for me. Rob has broken knees. That's not why the weekend was great. The weekend was great because he had to stay home from work the whole weekend because his knees hurt. He also had to do a lot of math homework for class, but at least he was home! It's sad that we only get to see each other when something bad happens (like stabbing pains in knees). And he was glued to his computer working on multi-variable calculus problems most of the time. But I could hang around and read next to him. It was lovely.
I did a lot more reading than I have done in quite awhile, though summing up what reading I did won't seem so impressive. I finally got around to reading Sigrid Nunez's A Feather on the Breath of God. It read too much like autobiography/memoir for my tastes in fiction, but it definitely offers a perspective on multi-raciality and what I think of as interesting alternate genealogies of Americanness. The narrator's father is Chinese-Panamanian American by way of Panama and the mother is German American by way of Nazi/post-war/occupation Germany. The narrator also ruminates on occasion on some "intellectual" things like Freud's ideas about the father (as popularly understood) and Virginia Woolf's thoughts on childhood. Apparently, Nunez is a big Woolf fan and has written novels in the vein of or about Woolf (and her pet mamoset?). I have to read some of Nunez's other books to see if I can come up with a presentation topic for an upcoming MELUS conference....
I also read/re-read some essays on multiculturalism by Wahneema Lubiano and Lisa Lowe. And I started Jonathan Goldberg's Tempest in the Caribbean and Hiromi Goto's A Chorus of Mushrooms. I really got to start reading stuff for the classes I'm teaching this summer and fall....
I watched the weird-ass movie [Birthday Girl] because Ben Chaplin is in it. Who knew Nicole Kidman could speak Russian? Anyways, Ben was okay in it. The movie really ends up being the usual kind of having-a-baby-changes-things kind of moral, though. Like, even women can be crazy, slutty criminals until they become pregnant. Then they want to settle down and be good (mothers).
>> 2:28 PM
atom site feed
asian american writers' workshop
the new york times
jon carroll @ sfgate
the village voice
let bygones be...
the old stuff