Thursday, January 24, 2008


For those of you interested in the hippity hop: check out Sweatshop Union. Found them at

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I'm pretty sure I just saw someone on A Daily Show suggesting that the roots of the organic food movement are to be found in German Organicism. He even when on to suggest that, since the Nazi's co-opted much of Organicism (and Romanticism in general), that the organic food movement in the US is fascist.

It is a world of words to the end of it, but that only means we have to be careful how we use them. Cognates and homonyms don't make an argument.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Happy Ending

One of our presenters fell ill at the conference, so I was asked to give my paper from Wales in stead.

Jason asked a question that I answered a little differently than I would now. He wanted to know if I thought the term "Minimalism" was useful or valid, given my different take on the repertory. I said that it's a mistake to use the term, but that we can always only make mistakes, and that we ought to make them strategically and scrupulously.

I'd like to expand that a little. In A Critique of Postcolonial Reason, Spivak launches a lengthy and convoluted critique of Jameson's Postmodernism, dealing (in)directly with many of the issues I approach in my paper. She talks about the decentered subject (which can never be dead, according to her), arriving at several contradictory conclusions which will require much more study to understand. One interesting thing she brought up that I think I finally do understand is Derrida's graphamatics (which I'm spelling wrong, I think, but I can't find my book right now). The graphamatic is apparently the necessity of assuming a coherent, unified origin for the subject (the I). As I understand it, the actual coherence or unification of the origin of the subject is both irrevocably forgotten and effectively irrelevant. However, in order to begin thinking or theorizing the subject at all, the origins need to be finessed in this graphamatic fashion. This move, which Spivak says can never be endorsed by deconstruction, is the necessary first move: it is the mistake. I think graphamatics can extend well beyond the subject, and into subjects as the term is used more colloquially. In this case, I think it's a useful invocation for the establishment of genres and stylistic schools. We cannot think Minimalism without assuming that it has come into being as a coherent body of work, but thinking it will show that assumption both to be false and necessary.

I still will need to work out exactly what it means, from this deconstructive vantage, for the subject to be decentered. I find it very alluring that at one point Spivak says the subject is always centered, but unfortunately she says later that this is not the case. More reading is in store, and this time it's going to be the same turf over again.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Headin out the door...

I gotta run, but I wanted to get this quick. Was I dreaming when the radio came on this morning, or did Huckabee really use Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" as his
entrance music? The piece named after Nietzsche's magnum opus? Well done sir.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I don't know much about Mumia. Santa Cruz had a lot of activists trying to get him off death row, but I didn't pay much attention. This is him on Immortal Technique's "Revolutionary Volume 2":
To think about the origins of hip hop in this culture and also about homeland security is to see that there are at the very least two worlds in America. One of the well-to-do and the struggling. For if ever there was the absence of homeland security it is seen in the gritty roots of hip hop. For the music arises from a generation that feels with some justice that they have been betrayed by those who came before them. That they are at best tolerated in schools, feared on the streets, and almost inevitably destined for the hell holes of prison. They grew up hungry, hated and unloved. And this is the psychic fuel that seems to generate the anger that seems endemic in much of the music and poetry. One senses very little hope above the personal goals of wealth and the climb above the pit of poverty.

In the broader society the opposite is true, for here more than any place on earth wealth is more wide spread and so bountiful. What passes for the middle class in America could pass for the upper class in most of the rest of the world. They're very opulent and relative wealth makes them insecure. And homeland security is a governmental phrase that is as oxymoronic, as crazy as saying military intelligence, or the U.S. Department of Justice. They're just words that have very little relationship to reality. And do you feel safer now? Do you think you will anytime soon? Do you think duck tape and Kleenex and color codes will make you safer? From Death row this is Mumia Abu Jamal
Some of this is fairly common (though useful) rhetoric, but I like two things: the link juxtaposition of American poverty, opulence, and political rhetoric; and the brief analysis of anxiety that ties these three together. I would add to this the identity politics of the American majority. The politics of (the same) identity is what allows gay marriage and intelligent design
to be powerful political issues. This same image of identity is what rejected and then appropriated hip hop (while still retaining the rejection), and at the core of identity politics is anxiety (which is why maybe there never was a postmodern culture).

The rejection of political rap--which preoccupies Immortal Technique--has nothing to do with profanity and violence. This is a genre which exists aside from commodity culture: it's system of valuation is not one of exchange. It validates the American underclass, illuminating the underlying compulsions of behavior patterns that are thought by the privileged to be free choices.

The end of one of his songs is apt, especially given the specular/visual importance of identity: "Turn off the news and read a book."