Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another video

I've been asked to share this video with as many people as I can. I don't believe anyone who reads me lives in either of the states in question, but you may know someone, and it's likely that some day similar laws will be proposed where ever you are. I think this one is actually intended for those who aren't necessarily pro-choice.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Not Ready

I heard someone on the bus repeating the TV today. I was rockin way to far out to Felix, but even so I nearly said something about it.

She was saying that McCain will win the election because, come election day, we will see that America is just not ready for a black president.

Now she might be partly right. Maybe when push comes to shove, Americans won't vote for a black man, even while they might tell pollsters that they would. But not "ready"?

Ready is something you become after work. You practice four hours a day for a year, and then you're ready for your concert. You read your book, and you're ready for your book club meeting. If Americans won't vote for Obama because he's black, that doesn't mean they're "not ready," it means they're racists. You don't have to practice or study to eventually become not racist. It's not a skill that's slowly acquired after years of diligence. Now sure, a person can go, gradually, from being racist to being less-so. But you don't, during the process, say, "Wait, I can't be friends with you, I'm not ready to treat a black person as a peer. Give me a few more weeks."

Saying things like "We're not ready" isolates and reifies the problem. By presupposing a movement toward not-racism, we can overlook the personal need to actually move. The rhetoric of racial preparedness borrows from the worst problems of Humanism by silently claiming that society is necessarily making progress, and that all that is required is patience. So don't get too worked up about America being racist still, because it will all get better on its own.

What we need is not "We're not ready," but "Damn the racist bastards who fear a man for the color of his skin, for his religious beliefs, and for his parents' nationalities. And damn the complacent collaborators who indifferently await a tomorrow they lack the compassion to build."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Best Thing

This is the best.

I found one with the little boy eating animal crackers saying "Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh God

There's a café in my neighborhood that I like a lot. It's volunteer run, organic, etc... seemingly a haven for exactly the sort of latté-sipping, west coast, vegetarian elitist that am I. What's strange about it is that almost every conversation I overhear is about Bible study or church or some sort of thing. Nearly every woman I've seen in here, regardless of age, is married (many of the men are too).

As you surely know, my relationship to religion has been mercurial. The first moment that found me strongly distancing myself from Christianity was in reading Woolf's The Voyage Out. Her dismissive attitude toward Christians, coupled with her progressive politics and dismal view on European society propelled me toward secularism in ways that Nietzsche could not have. Subsequently, through a developing relationship with what is broadly referred to as French Post-structuralism--specifically Deleuze, Derrida and Irigaray--as well as some of their American interpreters--Spivak and Buttler--my mistrust of religion has become more sophisticated (which is only to say, more complicated and better articulated).

Most briefly, I'm suspicious of the "flying phallus in the sky" theory. It seems to me dangerous to presuppose a transcendent (sublime) authority that rearticulates, on a higher level, just the sort of control and domination that perpetuates models of colonial and domestic violence. I do not mean that God is necessarily an overtly abusive authority: clearly this is more the case in some Christianities than it is in others, and, following my unhealthy urge toward abstraction, I would like to momentarily erase these differences in the interest of thinking about Christianity more generally. I do mean, however, that the relationship established between God and Man [sic] mirrors problematically the relationship between Man and his family. God loves you unconditionally, but has laid out a detailed list of rules designed to restrict your behavior. When you break these rules, you will be punished, unless you atone--that is, unless you re-prostrate yourself before the law. God is discipline. He is the machine in the Penal Colony. He is the Father. I paint with too broad a brush when I say that Freud's theory of the family, with all the Oedipal problematics, works just as well to describe religion as it does to explain family dynamics, but the clumsy tracing is illustrative, nonetheless.

Underlying this is both my feminism and my anarchism--where my Marxism lies will need to be worked out still: are politico-economic equality and resource distribution contradictory? Indeed it may be that my affection for Irigaray-style feminism requires a sort of Deleuzian anarchism. Following Foucault, but with a greater attention to impossibility and nuance, Deleuze traces the genealogy of God in the West to the same problems of control (his word is fascism) that inform and are reinscribed by Plato and his descendants. "God is a lobster." God is the double-articulation of form and content. I would go further and say that God requires as an epistemological foundation the segregation of matter and form/content, and that the way to (a post-humanist) ethics is through the deconstruction of the metaphysical dualism that undergirds far more than just our religions. It expresses itself most crudely in discourses on authenticity (where is the real America?). We might lament the divisive politics of the Right, but continuing to perform the dualisms of religion makes us in some significant way complicit.

I'm getting out of hand a bit, and think maybe I should wrap it up. (Aside: if you can't drink your tea without slurping, don't order tea in a shared space.)

What I'm looking to do here is explore a little why I'm disturbed by being around groups of religious people. I think it worth clarifying, because of the pre-supposedly antagonistic relationship between theists and nontheists, that while I may lament and even occasionally lampoon the individual decision to adopt a theistic position, I don't see anything necessarily unethical about such a decision (anymore). Indeed, so long as the theism is of the unevangelical sort, it seems to me a personal choice, and surely only one of many that any given individual may make which necessitates complicity in the phallocracy. But, as Derrida has demonstrated, we cannot help but be complicit. We ought to do what we can to strive for the ethical, but for each of us there will be certain complicities which are strategic. Thus membership in a church can also facilitate charity work and community development--though this last is itself problematic when the politics of religion help to define what a community is.

Strategy is what makes me uneasy in dismissing religion. Examples both positive and negative of how membership in a religious community can facilitate activism and change can be found quite easily, and it seems to me that these resultant activities--which need not necessarily be traditionally classified as activisms--are what is of greatest importance.

Myself, I remain skeptical of the need for a religious base for any such activities, but having not participated in them myself, it would be too theoretical to dismiss them out of hand.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Thing

I'm pretty sure I'm preaching to the converted, but this is another good thing to share (this time via feministing:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

2 things

Thing 1:

FiveThirtyEight has an interesting little article on the cities visited by Obama and Palin lately. The comparison is considered appropriate because Palin overtly referred to the cities on her agenda as "the real America." Of course, as the author states, the racial and economic divergence between the campaigns (and from the norm) cannot be responsibly read without reference to strategy, but with strategy comes the content of the gesture. The point carried implicitly in the article is that for Palin, "real America" is quite a bit whiter than America really is (and of course for Obama America is quite a bit poorer, though he isn't using the divisive rhetoric of validity that Palin uses). To be fair, though, we should look at where Greensboro, the town she most explicity refered to as "real," lies on the chart (you have to look at Obama's chart to find it): Greensboro is only around 55% white, it looks like. Of course, this doesn't do much to balance the fact that McCain and Palin tend to cater to whiter audiences, while at the same time slinging elitist populist rhetoric.

Thing 2:

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I'm reading the beginning of Meyer's Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties. He points out something I should have been much more careful about in the recent past. I've been busy defining the boundaries of minimalism, attempting to establish a base from which to draw a comparison to minimalist musics of various stripes. Instead, I need to pay much closer attention--and starting with Meyer's book will help--to the relationships between specific minimalist artists and specific composers. This is good and bad. On one hand, it will require a much more detailed understanding of art history. On the other, it will require much less philosophical theory.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On Why I Hate

I think perhaps the most overwhelming problem with popular music today is a misunderstanding over the difference between entitlement and loss, and between a tantrum and rage. In this respect it seems perhaps that art does, in fact, imitate life.

The song I was listening to when I started thinking along these lines is "Colorshow" by The Avett Brothers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


What is a detail?

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Some guy said he was gonna steal my french bread while I washing dishes (at work), but he decided not to because he thought I'd kick his ass for it.
I said I'm a pretty gentle dude.
He said "well, I guess you can't judge a book by its cover."