Monday, September 30, 2002
>> 10:09 AM
Sunday, September 29, 2002[Me] in the library's catalog.
>> 7:28 PM
And yet I spend Sunday afternoons as always, in front of the television. I flip through the football games, the shopping channels, the old movies. There's nothing I want to watch, but I can't pull myself away. I can't sit myself down at the desk or computer to do some work. There's got to be something fun to watch, just a half-hour show, before I relinquish the promised freedom of the weekend. But it's all an illusion. I'm never free to relax. I have nightmares about being unprepared for class. I have nightmares about not finishing papers. I have nightmares.
I need something to give me a different perspective on this daily-grind life. I need some way to make this worthwhile.
>> 7:13 PM
Saturday, September 28, 2002
>> 9:23 PM
THAT WILL SHOW HIM WE MEAN BUSINESS!
>> 8:37 PM
I know you hate me doing this.
But through love, I cannot help.
We still love you as our son as always although we don't
like your sexual orientation.
Hopefully you will keep your mind open, looking on both
side of the debate.
I watched the last half of Harry Potter: The Sorcerer's Stone on dvd this afternoon. And I remembered (again) why I found the book unenlightening when I read it a few years ago. I'd heard about how these Harry Potter books were redefining children's literature, pushing new ground in terms of the kind of subject matter that could be covered. But fantasy, magics, magical worlds, and such have always been a staple of the children's stories I've read. (Series by writers like Susan Cooper, J. R. R. Tolkien, Roald Dahl, and Madeleine L'Engle are just a few examples.)
In another way, though, these books seemed remarkably old-hat. The ending, wherein the hero defeats the villain through love, was hardly surprising. Seeing the movie again this afternoon, though, reminded me how this kind of love that can kill and defeat is really rather problematic. It's the sort of move to use love as a weapon, especially against an incredible evil in the world that simply must be defeated.
Late last night I caught a big chunk of Starship Troopers on television. I still can't figure that movie out. Is it really a celebration of military might? Or is it a critique of a Cold War mentality, military operations, the "expendability" of humans in combat, etc.? Hard to tell. Making the enemy gigantic insects of course radically distances them from any sort of rehabilitation. It's much easier to go to war against non-humans, creatures in an epic battle to wipe out our species to make room for their own. But you can see in the movie the kind of rhetoric our own country uses to mobilize us to war. You can see parallels to the kind of dehumanization and degradation of the enemy.
>> 7:10 PM
>> 4:04 PM
Thursday, September 26, 2002Choire:
>> 2:53 PM
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
>> 7:15 PM
Tuesday, September 24, 2002
>> 4:44 PM
I saw a [student production] of Beautiful Thing yesterday afternoon. After receiving an e-mail about the production on Sunday, I felt compelled to go, even though there are plenty of things for me to do. I don't remember there being so much stuff in the play. Leah seemed to have a more extensive part than in the production I saw back in college. (As did Sandra, really.) Too bad the acting wasn't too good. At least I didn't get a clear sense of why the two boys fell in love or how Sandra and Jamie managed to live as mother and son when they constantly took snipes at each other. I'm being totally nostalgic about student plays, still. I want to go see enthusiastic college kids acting, producing, living that theater life.
>> 3:32 AM
Sunday, September 22, 2002
Did anyone see [Frailty] in the theaters? I vaguely remember announcements for it, but no reviews. I saw it on DVD yesterday. And wow. That is one disturbing movie. Religious fanaticism as reason for killing people ("destroying demons"), but with the hint of truth?
["Kids lit grows up."] Gena says I'm secretly planning to be a children's book writer. And she may well be right. I find myself drawn to children's books -- the fantasy, the puzzles, the nonsense.
>> 2:01 AM
Saturday, September 21, 2002
Sigh. I am not going to get out of credit card debt this semester as I had hoped.
But now I have the car back, vow to have the tires rotated every five thousand miles (it's included in the above-mentioned cost anyways), and will take much better care of it overall.
In other news, still have this chronic fatigue. Maybe I should see a doctor.
>> 6:09 PM
Friday, September 20, 2002[AFLAC TV Commercial Degrades Ducks]: "On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I am writing to express our objection to your Grand Canyon and Natural History commercials and to request that in future ads you do not place any more birds in literally or implicitly harmful situations."
Heh. Animal abuse is not funny. But of course, here is the question of representation. Does the commercial actually promote or condone violence against ducks (and other animals)? How does the humor work? Would a person in a duck costume, a less "real" duck, make a difference?
I'll make a leap to race, not to imply that ducks = black people. But consider the 7UP commercials with the 7UP guy. Interestingly, the second 7UP guy, like the first, is a black man who is largely clueless about the world around him. He promotes 7UP in ways that mark himself as an object of humiliation. The commercials implicate the audience as "knowing" against his "ignorance." But the commercials are deliberately playing up this gap in common sense and knowledge. Are these commercials implying that black men are ignorant and stupid? (Also related is the Joe Boxer/Kmart commercial featuring a black man dancing in his underwear. [Some bloggers] have commented on the sticky field of representation concerning this commercial.) Can we extricate ourselves from histories of representation? (Black men as clueless, as smiling entertainers...)
Of course, these vexed questions are why many people want to move away from cultural politics, from issues of representations. It's not that these issues are unimportant, but that they are unresolvable in the given context. You can't fight representation with representation because all representations are rooted in some ideological position. If you only have images of intelligent black men, if you call for only positive representations of black people, for example, you are advocating a specifics of what someone can and cannot say. And you are also pushing certain values and ideals that might not be useful in the long run.
I don't know what to say.
>> 9:36 AM
Thursday, September 19, 2002
Does anyone know when/how/why "slaying the dragon" became the catch phrase in blogs for dealing with life's obstacles? If you know, please e-mail me. Thanks.
>> 9:30 AM
Wednesday, September 18, 2002[Bush Calls Iraqi Vow a Trick; Rumsfeld Urges Early Action]:
Three protesters, chanting "Inspections, not war!" briefly interrupted his testimony. A police officer escorted the women out of the hearing room.
"As I listened to those comments, it struck me what a wonderful thing free speech is," Mr. Rumsfeld said.
What a strange thing "free speech" has become in our country. What part of these protesters' being "escorted" from the hearing room indicates that they were free to speak their mind? Of course, a Congressional committee hearing might not be the forum for dissent, but the fact that Rumsfeld takes this silencing of the protesters as indicative of free speech in this country is really quite disturbing.
>> 2:34 PM
I'm thinking about this article because what Eve Sedgwick looks at in "How to Bring Up Your Kids Gay" is the shift in American psychiatry in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a psychiatric illness and instead to institute an illness of "gender identity disorder." What this move left in its wake, as Sedgwick points out, is a more pointed threat against the sissy boy (not so much the butch girl as long as she doesn't insist she has or will grow a penis), the effeminate boy. It's OK to be gay (as a man) as long as you act masculine, are tough, etc. But if you can't align your biological sex, the fact of your penis, with masculine, aggressive behavior, then you're still a troubled person.
>> 10:32 AM
>> 10:07 AM
I have realized that a weblog (or online journal or whatever you're chosing to call it this year) isn't a product of mine so much as it is a process of mine. Once I stopped posting, I realized that I got fewer and fewer ideas for poetry and any other outlet I had for writing. What was making me suddenly so loquacious in the last couple of years is the fact that I started writing about nothing, anything, everything back in October, 1999 with a weblog I called Running Tally. As my voice developed and my writing improved, I gained fuel for other projects outside of the web. When it felt like I was really taking off, I discontinued posting here to "make time" for these other supposed avenues... which is as ridiculous as saying, "Wow, I'm becoming such a great athlete, I'm gonna stop doing calisthenics so I can spend more time competing!"
A wonderful way to think about journals and writing. Journals are the playing-field of the mind. As a loosely-structured format, they allow more connections and permutations between ideas than more focused writing. I think creativity is all about exploring these connections, however haphazard they may be or play out. It's that weird paradox of writing: setting down ideas in concrete words somehow allows you to grapple with the suppleness and ambiguity of those ideas.
>> 9:47 AM
Monday, September 16, 2002
Someday I'll have to sit down and write about some of the amazing ways being in a relationship with Joe encouraged me to think about race. Though I won't claim to have entered a "black" world or perspective because of the relationship, I do think that being in constant contact with black people offered a way of experiencing, if only vicariously, the radically different way black people in America approach and engage with race in the everyday. Race matters in subtle ways that you just don't see if you live and move in largely white circles. The insistence of the mainstream that race doesn't matter or shouldn't matter comes across as patently absurd because race consciousness pervades every aspect of social interactions. Of course, the question is the difference between acknowledging race and discriminating based on race. Is there a difference?
These are some thoughts I want to try to work out. They are working thoughts, meaning any implied conclusions are always subject to change. It does seem to me that liberal white academics have a tendency to want to erase racial difference in ways that black academics see as attempts to deal some sort of fundamental blow to blackness. (My frame of reference is the black-white dichotomy that seems to structure American racial knowledge, both because it is the dominant paradigm, but also because I have never had the opportunity to study writings on race that deal with Asian Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and others.) And yet, does taking on the project of identifying some sort of irreducible racial difference suggest a separatism that will only impede social progress towards racial equality? And what do we do with biracial and multiracial people? Are we dealing with the terrain of false consciousness and "white-washing," for example, when people of color don't exhibit their race appropriately?
My tendency is to read race as structural and discursive effects. I want to displace questions of essential characteristics, of defining what a race entails. Instead, I'm interested in how race works in articulating the relationships between individuals, between classes of people, and between people and organizations. What are the dynamics that manifest in racial terms between people in various contexts of conflict, compromise, negotiation, or discussion?
I'm also interested in how moments of crises seem to bring out well-trodden "common-sense" about race. Racial epithets somehow emerge, like Freudian slips, from the mouths of otherwise multiculturally friendly people.
As [chuckles] writes, there is something about race that is about cultural heritage -- knowledge of one's background, for example. But it is certainly not just that, or perhaps not even that. These thoughts are why I'm trying to figure out how I want to deal with the question of culture in literature as it plays out against more literary or aesthetic questions. A call for papers on literary aesthetics in Asian American Writing just came into my e-mail inbox this past weekend. It's a raging question: are minority literatures worthy only of study as repositories of cultural knowledge? Are they lacking in the aesthetic qualities we find in the Western, white European greats? Can we read literature by people of color as poetic, beautiful, formally challenging? Or is it only the content we can plumb for what it reveals to us (the white norm) about different cultures? My advisor characterized what I want to study as "ethnic literature," and I almost cringed. The term shunts my work (and the writing I might want to read) into that sticky territory of multicultural education, a project that is at once important and compromised from the start. Are we simply working towards the celebration of cultural heritages as commodities? Are we only going to deal with difference as a choice in food, clothing, holidays?
>> 6:09 PM
Saturday, September 14, 2002
Perhaps I'm somewhat stimulated to consider these questions because I have this semester a Chinese American freshman in my class. In many respects, he reminds me of my brother, dressed as he is always in the sporty wear of a surburban basketball fan (the style, mannerisms, attitude). Here is someone else who has perhaps grown up in a predominantly white neighborhood, and yet has produced an identity through a black-influenced culture. How is it that Asian Americans seem to cathect either to white, bourgeois culture (me) or to black, hip-hop-infused basketball culture (my brother)?
It's a compelling question for me, and yet one I tend to avoid because the answers are not readily available. And perhaps the answers are also uncomfortable. What does it mean that I can't seem to see an Asian American identity except in black or white terms? Why do I feel more uncomfortable around Asian Americans than people of other ethnicities? Why does the idea and sight of Asian American groups (student clubs, non-profit organizations, professional groups, etc.) both excite and unnerve me? Why do I fear being seen as yet another Asian? And what is yet another Asian in the first place?
I'm also in a self-reflective mood because I'm trying to prepare myself for the written exams and dissertation stage of my graduate studies. It's high time for me to come up with a course of study, a plan for what I will research and write as well as teach. How will I market myself as a scholar and teacher? What will be my research specialities, my teaching subjects? One would think that I would simply teach literature, or perhaps more specifically English, American, and other anglophone literatures. But the divisions run far deeper. I must specialize in a particular time period because ostensibly what people write has a lot to do with when they lived. And I must specialize in a particular kind of writing as determined along aesthetic, generic, and racial lines. For instance, formalist or cultural analyses? Poetry or prose? African-American literature or "American" (read: white) literature? The trajectory of my career, or even its very existence, will depend heavily on how I make these decisions over the next few months.
I very much want to be able to focus my energies on contemporary Asian American writers, not because I want to claim that their writing is the only writing important to me as an Asian American today, but because I want to recognize that this writing is important for me and others. I want to make known in literary studies that Asian American writers have something to say, and something to say beyond what some might consider the limits of Asian American experience (to use a word with which I'm also grossly uncomfortable, that sense of pigeonholing a person's worldview through any of a number of identity categories). But here is another dilemma: no faculty in my department studies Asian American writers. This fact, besides revealing how limited the reach of Asian American writers is in contemporary literary studies, makes it difficult for me to come out of this program as a specialist in Asian American literature.
>> 6:13 PM
>> 1:40 PM
Friday, September 13, 2002
>> 1:00 PM
Wednesday, September 11, 2002[Faith, Hope, and Clarity]: Louis Menand's overview of critical responses to 9/11. While informative and useful in sketching out the various kinds of responses to 9/11, the article doesn't give me a sense of what Menand considers helpful responses. I would've liked to see more of an evaluation of why he thinks some responses are more appropriate than others or if all responses are equally appropriate.
>> 9:48 PM
>> 11:34 AM
Tuesday, September 10, 2002[AFLAC: Hey! That's our duck!]
>> 1:12 PM
The quiet of driving without talk or music radio is a new experience for me. I've always driven with the radio on, sometimes loudly, other times softly as background noise. And I've noticed these past few days that driving has its own sounds. Roads have their sounds. Other cars have sounds. It's like living in a whole new world. In the evenings when the sun no longer makes of my car a greenhouse, I can roll down the windows and listen to the rush of air as it grazes my car and others along the road. I can listen to the changes in road and pavement surfaces. I can listen to the sounds of passing cars. I hear the sounds of other people's radios, the sounds of insects buzzing and night, and the sounds of pedestrians' voices along the infrequent stretches of populated city blocks.
I'm not in a hurry to get my radio reactivated. For now, the silence is what I need.
>> 1:01 PM
Monday, September 09, 2002
>> 3:43 PM
Sunday, September 08, 2002
[Christina Aguilera Returns, Her Image Remade]: As much as it's hard not to take a tongue-in-cheek attitude to Christina and other teen poppers like article writer Sanneh does, it's also hard not to admire the simple fact that Christina does what she does. While her whole makeover ("makeunder," according to the article) is also somewhat laughable, a tactic we "intelligent" folk see as a naive attempt to express some non-existent ideal of an inner self, it's also a strategical move in the sticky field of representational politics. And what more can you do but to redefine yourself back or away from what others have defined you?
>> 10:14 AM
Saturday, September 07, 2002[this photo] is great. And I'll even grant that the kid is cute. But I especially love the look on her face -- a sort of cross between indifference (to her birthday cake) and incipient crying. And the hand on the cake. Priceless. (The kid is a sort-of ex-relation, the daughter of the sister of my sister's ex-husband.)
>> 7:03 PM
>> 3:14 PM
>> 2:52 PM
Friday, September 06, 2002
Late yesterday afternoon I was suddenly overcome by fatigue. I struggled through the early evening, but then slept from about seven to eleven. I got up briefly to gather together my stuff for today, but then was back in bed around midnight. This morning I had the hardest time getting out of bed. It was Rob's turn to torture me until I got up; I had tortured him yesterday afternoon because he wouldn't get up despite being late for work. I didn't want to teach today, and only hoped to drag myself through my two classes with some semblance of propriety. Luckily, the one class I take as a student was cancelled (professor still sick), so I could crawl back home to rest a bit before tonight's festivities.
Unfortunately, my just-returned car is acting strange. I took it over to the shop people, and they're going to replace the car battery to deal with one of the problems (difficulty starting car). To fix the other problems (humming noise while driving, weird clanking noises when negotiating bumps in road), I'll have to take my car back in next week and leave it for at least a couple of days. I really do not want to deal with this hassle of carlessness again.
Somebody please send me some good news, some happy thoughts.
Maybe my new glasses will be ready this afternoon. I had a blast going into Specs Eyecare yesterday. The people who work there are fabulous in every way. George helped me pick out these really cool new frames that fit my face like they were custom made for me.
One of my students who missed class today sent me an e-mail apologizing for her absence. She was straightfoward and honest, not attempting to excuse herself, but merely to explain why she missed class. She's still trying to juggle her schedule of fun and work, trying to deal with her newfound freedom of all-night excess with this nine o'clock class. I replied to her e-mail, telling her that while I understand the difficulties of balancing fun and class, that her absences continue to add up.
I'll be stopping by at happy hour today, the first time I'll be going to one of these graduate student get-togethers when there isn't a special occasion (i.e., prospective students' weekend and free drinks). Afterwards, there will be dinner out and a screening of I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, the documentary film about Wilco and their latest album.
Somebody please send me some good news, some happy thoughts, and a scoop of strawberry ice cream to cool me off.
>> 1:16 PM
Thursday, September 05, 2002[Durham Public Library] and it made me smile, a grin that stretched from ear to ear, if you please. I'm such a geek. On the front of the bus was the sentence, "Take Me to Your Reader," and I laughed out loud. Maybe my dream job would be to drive around the BOOKMOBILE, to bring the joy of books to people everywhere around town. But only if I could avoid little children.
I went to get some more of Clinique's [post-shave healer] while I was at the mall for my eye exam. It appears that the stuff is very popular since all the department stores were out of stock. So instead, I bought the new Clinique Happy for Men After Shave Balm. It's supposed to be like the post-shave healer, but with fragrance. And it's happy. :)
Now I will go find myself a new pair of glasses at Specs Eyewear. I truly loathe the pair I have now. It's all bent and scratched, and I've only had it for a year. It's just cheap as hell. Those $99 frames just aren't really worth it. Don't even get me started on [Lenscrafters] where I bought them last year, though. I almost bought a pair of glasses there today because the lens specialist assured me that they could make my glasses in an hour, even though all my past experiences have told me that they always have to send my frames out to a special lab to get my highly-powered prescription lenses installed. After waiting an hour, they finally told me that they couldn't make the lens for my glasses. And then it took them twenty minutes to refund me. But no, I am going to be happy, not angry. Specs Eyewear, while exorbitantly expensive, is great because the licensed opticians there really know how to find glasses to fit your face. They take the time to go through everything about fitting glasses.
I have the new Clinique Happy for Men After Shave Balm fragrance lingering on my skin now from the sample I tried at the store. Think happy.
>> 1:53 PM
Life can be very difficult, and scarey, and I want to find a grown-up who understands that, and despite all my numerous flaws, and all the potential difficulties ahead of us, knows in his heart that life with me is a helluva lot better than life without me - that's what I hope to give, as well.
>> 8:59 AM
A Republican media consultant dismissed the new interest by the party [in grassroots organizing] as little more than a fad. "It's good, but it's marginal," the consultant said. "I don't think McDonald's ever came knocking on your door."
Is it just me, or is this example a little disturbing? I mean, drawing parallels between the ways a commercial business and a politician advertise might be helpful, but it seems like this media consultant wants to collapse those differences between a multinational corporation and a politician. Do we want a McDonald's running the state or national legislature?
>> 6:42 AM
Wednesday, September 04, 2002[Vin Diesel] and "multiracial mystery." I wouldn't condemn anyone for refusing to state an ethnic or racial background in the service of ambiguity. But I think it would be very interesting for Vin Diesel to make more explicit his critique of racial typing. His short film Multi-Facial was a good start, though its doggedly untheorized presentation of Diesel performing different ethnicities does little to suggest what we can do to dismantle racial typing, or even if we really want to dismantle it. I'd like to see Diesel mount a full-on assault of the very ambiguity of his looks. Make people question why it unnerves them that they can't place him. Make explicit what he is able to do as an ambiguously-ethnic person that someone more visibly white or a minority can't.
>> 11:44 AM
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
But anyways, it's no longer the long weekend. As always, I had hoped to catch up on work leisurely. Instead, I got sucked into the seductively whispered sweet nothings of television, as always. I don't know what keeps me fixated on that thing, especially when most of the time I'm sitting on the couch, I'm thinking that there is nothing interesting to watch and I should get up to do something else. Instead, I watched some of the old Batman live action television series, a little bit of an inside look on army training, a few snippets of sitcoms, bits of Smallville, a little of the original Star Trek series, and a woman getting a purified water enema on VH1's All Access: Rock Hard Bodies. That last bit was quite disturbing, and yet I kept watching it. VH1 actually showed the stuff coming out of the woman's colon, muddying up the clear tube that was stuck up her ass. Very disturbing.
Didn't [this] happen in some Law and Order episode?
>> 8:33 AM
Monday, September 02, 2002[Bjork Robbed in London Home.]
>> 6:55 PM
>> 6:49 PM
Sunday, September 01, 2002
>> 9:21 AM
atom site feed
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let bygones be...
the old stuff