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12.18.2006


i'll be back...

12.17.2006

merry christmas.

http://www.asthmatickitty.com/mp3/sufjan_stevens_-_Peace_-_Sister_Winter.mp3

12.16.2006

the semester is over, and i am doing what people generally refer to as 'chillin'.' it's quite enjoyable. on wednesday, i will be heading to roma. there, i will meet up with chaeli and st teresa. to begin the annals of my journey (which will all probably have to be recorded in retrospect, as i will ignore the internet as much as possible during my stay there), i have made reservations at the E & S hostel through bootsnall.com, a travel site suggested by reknowned traveler daniel white, whose own adventures can be found on his blog under the name danielwwhite.blogspot.com. a much more reasonable web address than my own. the hostel is just a bit east of the Colosseum, provides cheap private rooms (so we can pray without disturbing anyone), and ...well, that's really all i know about it.

i have opened some of the gifts which i received from my mother and sister, and am now listening to the Blessed Sufjan Stevens May He Live Forever, thanks to Emily. i am also perusing Italian vocabulary and admiring the publishing brilliance of Chronicle Books in their design and binding of Barbara Hodgson's Italy Out of Hand: A Capricious Tour. it may be one of the most beautifully made books i've ever seen. this, and Langenscheidt's pocket Italian dictionary are thanks to my mother. as are the Smartest Socks in the World, which i will wear all over Rome without any podiatric fears. i would like to suggest Smartwool socks to anyone who cares about foot pampering. discovered to my mother and i by the attractive young gentleman in REI who tried to unsell me my Keens ('with these seams, you really don't want to be wearing them in all that rain. oh no.') even though he was off-duty.

and i have spoiled myself today with mulled wine and a banana crepe at the German market, followed by jonathan safran foer at the bookstore on princes street. all this while discovering my flatmate angela, her musical interests, her literary interests, and much more. it is good to be on vacation.

12.14.2006

Somewhere outside my window lives a playful pair of birds with the most striking coloring of white and black. They fly with the grace and swiftness of kingfishers, but they are not kingfishers. In fact, I may only be comparing them to that beautiful bird because I like the word--kingfisher. I wish I knew what kind of bird they are. The human instinct to Name nature was not left in the Garden.

12.11.2006

Christmas at Jenners...


ice skating and kitsch...


at the German market...





These photos are a bit late in coming, but papers tend to interrupt blogging in the same way that blogging interrupts papers.
can anyone explain subjectivity?

12.08.2006

At long last, I have completed a paper as a postgraduate student. What was it about? Something to do with time and history in Walter Benjamin's 'Theses on the Philosophy of History,' posted left, and John Berger's novel G. It is a good paper in that I know what I'm talking about. It is a bad paper in that no one reading it will know what I'm talking about unless... well, unless they already know what I'm talking about.

Now I can get down to the business of paper number two, alongside the final preparations for a Roman Christmas. Oh yes, and there is a Christmas party tonight, to which I am bringing bread. Of course, I made the dough just now with Liesl, and... it's not doing what it's supposed to do. At all. Like, not by a long shot. It is both too dense and too crumbly. What is together lets nothing else in. What is not together refuses to connect. And will it rise? I am having serious doubts. 10:30 will tell.

12.06.2006

I do not want to be valued for what I do and do not know or what I have and have not done any more than I want to be valued for what I do or do not look like, sound like, walk like, or any number of impressions which are, essentially, superficial to myself. What I have done is not always in my own power—I did not choose to live in the suburbs any more than I chose to live in the jungle. And though I chose Edinburgh and this course, I did so in more ignorance than preference. Though I chose my clothes, I did not choose the money in the pocketbook which limits or allows what I buy. Though I have chosen my dinner, I did not choose the selection of the market. I did not choose this skin, though I enjoy its privileges and suffer under its shame. Who then am I, and why should I be loved or hated or held or pushed away?

12.03.2006

readings and class meetings are over till January.

two weeks of writing papers,
one, on narrative ending
the other on subject and subjection... or subjectivity

also, reserving accomodations

unearthing quotations

browsing in the German market

fighting wind and rain

eating porridge

drinking tea

burrowing in the library with literary criticism and Marxist theory

I could not get this song imbedded in my blog, and so I am going to post the link below and let you listen to it on your own. It has been in my head for days, and I think it strangely expresses all that i ever want to say...

http://profile.imeem.com/3VODl/music/2qlxTYKC/from_a_shell/

, at least, for now. (also reminds me of driving with foggy windows 'round wheaton, windshield wipers keeping time, jacket to the chin.)

11.25.2006


Tuesday, 1:45, hair appointment. It's coming off.

11.24.2006

let me take your hand like a landmine

and lead you

to the edge of the void.

let me drag you to the brink

show you the black you think so distant.

I will show you the dust--

we will wait for the stone to sound--

wait in the oubliette

you know i can't create,

and

(strangely)

hope.

241106

11.23.2006

Turkey Thighs, Buy One Get One Free!

Somehow, Thanksgiving away from home always holds an extra and unusual sense of gratitude. Here I am in Scotland at Thanksgiving, miles away from family, miles away... from Thanksgiving. And yet, upon the table, six plates are piled with all the right things: turkey, sweet potatoes (yes! with marshmallows!), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yum, and even stuffing! The bread I baked was done just in time for everyone to leave without having tasted it. A shame that they did not get to share in its warm goodness (my own bad timing), and a pleasure that we of flat 5 are able to consume it all on our own. One cannot forget the homemade cranberry sauce, so amazing that I filched the recipe right out from Nick's back pocket, and the homemade cranberry and apple pie--also amazing. And yes, Sarah left the remaining pie in our kitchen. For us. To eat.

In one light, this sounds like gluttony. I am rejoicing in the presence of excessive amounts of food. But it is not the mere taste, not the full stomachs that we are grateful for. It is the consistency of tradition, the commaraderie of shared experiences, the fact that at this time yesterday none of us had concrete plans for the holiday--and yet, everything was there in full.

Now to call my mother and inquire after the homeless...

11.20.2006

yum, yum, and stuffed birds


Oh my. It's been over a week since I've written anything, and that was not very interesting. So perhaps my life has been drab. Perhaps I have done little but read read read for the past two weeks. Who can blame me? That's what I'm here for, after all.

I have done one lovely thing, though. Yesterday. I went to the Tea Room on the east end of the Royal Mile and had cream tea.
(photo above, provided by www.edinburgh-royalmile.com) Heaven, your name is clotted cream. Next to ceilidh dancing, one of the favoriter things I've done in Scotland. Although I must admit a certain sense of self-consciousness, being there with an actual British person who apparently hails from the cream tea capital of England. And I should have been self-conscious. I earned such tension the moment I licked a spot of cream off my finger. Proper people don't do that! ah... but who can let such beauty go to waste?

Another thing I have done: wandered for an hour or so in the National Museum of Scotland, which is free, which has amazing architecture, and which contains a variety of stuffed beetles. It also hold some representative figurines of extinct birds, a guillotine named "the Maiden", and a treasure chest (empty) from long ago (obviously) with a hidden lock system comprised of 15 spring bolts. Oh yes, and I cannot fail to mention the creepy mask that a dissenting Protestant preacher wore on his Gospel tours back in the days of zeal. It looked like that scarecrow mask from Batman Begins.
Mask photo (view only if you possess a strong constitution): http://imdb.com/gallery/ss/0372784/BBFC27.jpg.html
NMS website:
http://www.nms.ac.uk/nationalmuseumhomepage.aspx.
Website exerpt: 'Have you ever asked, “What is a Bird?”. This is the ideal place to find out! Learn about their flight. Explore their feeding and nesting. Look into courtship and mating. Many of the specimens in our collection are displayed in characteristic poses - look out for the vulture!'

I have also tasted haggis, though I can take little credit for the experience. Flatmate Jess gains all the glory, as she scarfed an entire meal of the stuff, minus the slight tastes that Flatmate Liesl and myself took from that portion. I didn't mind it! I don't think I could eat a whole meal of it, because sometimes the mind takes over the gag reflex... but I could manage more than one taste now and again. It tasted like a sausage, only more... grainy. To try this at home: http://www.smart.net/~tak/haggis.html

So I suppose I have been doing more than reading. Though I have a lot more of that still to do. You will find me in the same spot for the next four days, plowing through Thomas Pynchon (http://www.pynchon.pomona.edu/v/index.html) and Henry Mackenzie (http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=2858). And maybe, just maybe, a bit of Alastair Gray (only unrelated websites available. Google it yourself).

11.15.2006

Since the morning broke, we were afraid.

It's pieces hit us slowly

like glassdrops from the sky.

I cried for you, then,

and wished I could take your place

under the evening

as it fell.

041205

11.12.2006

I am eager for the day when I will be settled enough to own a cat or a dog. That will be good.

11.11.2006

It's Saturday, and my nose is running.


Saturday afternoon--the sky is clear, but the wind is blustering. A siren passes; a Harley over at the dealership revs its engine. My head feels thick, and small wonder. I have been hit with a cold right across the face. This week has not been the most eventful. Just reading, reading, more reading. My reading list for this next week is as follows:
Humphrey Clinker (by Tobias Smollett)
V (by Thomas Pynchon)
Lanark (by... whoever wrote Lanark)
and another book which I don't know 'cause I haven't checked the syllabus in a while. And where's the syllabus? What have I done with it?

As well as reading the above books (V, Lanark, and the last don't really have to be read till the week after, but they're long, so I need a head start), I need to compile my dissertation bibliography by which my advisor will be chosen. This will take some time.

And I want to feel better so I can make cookies (I will not make them when I cannot taste them), and perhaps I will also make some soup.

I am also going to the grocery store and to Boots for (obviously) groceries, and items like face soap and such.

This is a typical Saturday.

11.07.2006

...For the last ten or fifteen years, the immense and proliferating criticizability of things, institutions, practices, and discourses; a sort of general feeling that the ground was crumbling beneath our feet, especially in places where it seemed most familiar, most solid, and closest to us, to our bodies, to our everyday gestures. But alongside this crumbling and the astonishing efficacy of discontinuous, particular, and local critiques, the facts were also revealing something... beneath this whole thematic, through it and even within it, we have seen what might be called the insurrection of subjugated knowledges.

—Foucault, Society Must be Defended, 7th January 1976, tr. David Macey

the traveling fur #1

11.06.2006

Second Wedding, Second Return

I am back a second time from the second wedding of the month. The travel was less eventful this time around, which is a blessing. I am more tired than before, and I feel that I have eaten more food. I have also come home to find that the three long lost boxes which my mother sent me two months ago have finally arrived. After long and tiresome journeying over the Atlantic by fishing boat, followed by a slight detour through a bit of the Sahara, a few nights in a Bedouin tent, and finally a backpacking trek across the Continent (perhaps even round about through Norway)... the boxes have arrived. Unless they came from the other direction. Perhaps it was a rickshaw through China, over the mountains of Tibet, etc. Regardless, they are here. Which means that I presently have at my disposal Herodotus' Histories, my Greek cookbook, and a smattering of Christmas reading material. Very exciting.

As with my sister's wedding, I hesitate to summarize the wedding of Stuart and Nicole of which I was most recently a part. The important things, I cannot do justice to. And a recollection of the unimportant things might make the whole thing seem trivial. I also do not have any photos yet, as I foolishly kept my camera in my bag the entire time. I am eager to display the photos of the groomsmen, all of whom looked beyond snazzy, and so will try my best to acquire them from somewhere.

Until then, I will make this the first record of the traveling furs. We bridesmaids all wore white fur wraps and have agreed to wear them henceforward in as many interested places as we can conjur. Mine was worn on the plane on the way over here, and I have a photo, taken by my mother, of myself wearing it at the Palm Springs airport. I suppose you will simply have to trust my word when I say that I wore it constantly the entire trip, save one or two hours between the warmth of the Palm Springs puddle-jumper and the chill of LAX.

Speaking of which, what does a person do when they accidentally spot the bride and groom on the day after their wedding? Yes, Stuart and Nicole left for their Honeymoon out of Gate 77, and my flight left two minutes later out of Gate 74. They did not see me (I quickly removed the easily spotted fur wrap about this time), and I decided against addressing them at all. Let them have their peace, even in the midst of all these stranger-crowds.

I will post the first fur photo later.

10.30.2006

flashback

Below are a very few photos from my sister's wedding a few weeks ago. They mostly have to do with me, since this is my blog, and many who read it do not know my sister. She was beautiful, though. And the wedding was lovely.


I think she's putting on glitter... check out that hair! Now, how do I do that again?
Reading Muir during the ceremony... the Bride... the Groom... happiness...

More Bride and Groom... more happiness...

Cowering in fear? Chill out, me. They're only flowers.


Is the danger past? Not quite...

Yes, Dad is actually removing the groomsmen's celebrations from his car windows. And rightly so! Some of them weren't quite the thing.

All these years without Facebook, so happy, and now what have I done?

Bags are packed yet again. Well, technically, I'm only bringing one bag, hoping I can manage to carry it on the whole way there and back again. This time for the wedding of Stuart and Nicole. It will be good to see everyone again, and good to get some reading done on the plane and train, especially as I've done absolutely no reading at all done today. The culprit? Check out the title to this present entry. You know it. The killer of reasonable time. The black hole of internet blog addiction.

What exactly are the rules of etiquette relating to weblog usage? What's all this "prove to me I am your friend" business? These exclusive circles, all the many things we create out of our well-founded fears...

What I will be doing tomorrow: taking a train to London.
What I will be reading tomorrow: Thomas Pynchon's V.
What I will be listening to tomorrow: Sufjan's Illinois. Berry (maybe). Leonard Cohen. Lovelovelove.

10.27.2006

Flat Five, and Romeward Bound

I have officially moved to a new flat. Everything is cleaner and quieter, though the noise was never an issue before. I like the situation of my room, and I have arranged the furniture in a very pleasing manner. When I have cleared the floor of all my drying laundry, I will be sure to take a photo.

It is a Friday night, and I am not out at a pub this time. It has been a long week, and I decided to curl up with some hot cocoa and a dvd. What shall I watch? Flatmate-Jess will have to choose, or at least select a few options, as we will watch together. That, and she is our own personal Blockbuster.

To add to the stock of news, I have more or less decided to go to Rome for Christmas. A crazy choice, as I will probably be going alone. But there is no room for fear, no room for confusion, and no room for loneliness. Rome must be seen.

Before that, and before papers, and before anything else, really, I will be going home again. In three days. I'll take a train to London on Tuesday, which will be good since I love trains and, as has been said before, I still haven't been outside of Edinburgh. Wednesday I will fly home, Thursday I will... something. Friday I will... another something. And Saturday I will be in the wedding. Sunday, back on a plane, and Monday, hit the books for class on Wednesday. All of this is assuming that no storms will bar my passage one way or another, as past experience has shown is quite possible.

This is all very matter-of-fact. I will be sure to fill in more interesting narrative concerning the process of preparing for Rome, as well as the past week, the week to come, and all other things of far more interest that this monotony.

10.24.2006

salmonella, salmonella! night and day it's salmonella...

I have officially put in a request to transfer accomodations. Though I have not requested to go far. Simply up a flight of stairs and on the other side of the hall. These are my reasons:

They seem like rather compelling reasons to me. I should have taken a picture of the inside of the microwave... that was interesting. (Note the presence of cleaning spray upon the counter. Also worth noting, that it doesn't get much use.)

10.23.2006

from Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Man,"

of which...

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,

With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,

He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest;

In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast;

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,

Whether he thinks too little or too much;

Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;

Still by himself abused or disabused;

Created half to rise, and half to fall:

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;

The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

10.20.2006

"No Jesus, no mother, and no chloroform, either."




What is with the ahistorical writing of the post-WWI generation? They synthesize all the violence of their experience into a narrative without ever actually naming the source of the tension. This is the case in Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and now Jean Rhys. (Not "now," really. but I did just read her.)

The Post-WWII generation was not so dismissive. Not to say that the previous generation was dismissive, but they were struck somewhat silent about the specifics. Shock. Is that the kind of shock that Walter Benjamin was talking about? I did not understand that bit. Post WWII, they were shocked, but there seemed to be two responding alternatives. One, the reversion to a narrative of fallen enemy vs. victorious righteous ones. Not necessarily a simplification of the experience, but a making-palatable. Two, the testimony of horror. In this case, they were not stricken silent, but rather compelled to give some kind of witness. Weisel and Levi are examples of this.

Not that I'm studying post-WWII literature. Back to Marx, girl. Back to Lukacs and Adorno.

Here are my thoughts on this one. Marx, or at least the Marxist theorists and critics that I have read so far, seem to be depicting a secular religion or faith narrative that ignores the absence or existence of God (which is why they don't call themselves a faith, and why they don't refer to their theories and philosophies as theology). However, it is a very clear faith narrative, and a Judeo-Christian one at that. We have fallen humanity, constantly and perpetually regressing into a reified state of objectification, consumerism, destructive-'progressive' capitalism, etc. As (apparently) Habermas implies, it is not so much a recent problem--the result of Lockian property notions gone Ameriworld--as it is an inherent human flaw (like... sinful nature?). After a certain time, we have our prophets, or singular prophet, who declares this problem to the world and calls for transformation. Something like Scripture, a Moses-Isaiah-one calling out in the desert, prepare the way for the... revolution. This, of course, would be Marx. One might compare all of his disciples to the Christian New Testament writers, noting, of course, the absence of Christ in the Marxian formula. This does not mean, however, that there is an absence of Messiah. Check out Walter Benjamin. He's full of messianic notions. And more than that, in Benjamin we have the iconographers. For the Marxist aesthetic is surrealism (according to the afformentioned Ben), representing all the complicated notions of object, image, meaning, and more. It is interesting to note that Benjamin himself had quite a thing for Paul Klee's Angelus Novus. A meditative fascination with the divine being in image. But back to the Messiah. It is not Walter alone who has this notion of a hoped-for future. The whole crew of Marxists everywhere speak of this hope for transformation through revolution. The revolution takes different forms; the transformation has different causes, but the hope is the same. (Granted, it is also, as far as I can tell, rather ill-defined. For a godless notion of the Coming Kingdom must be wary of hoping for anything in particular, lest that particular be only another broken product of the broken system.)

(I must add, the novelist of the Marxists are far more talented than the novelists of the Christians. Not that this has anything to do with anything. But there's just no comparison between Jean Rhys and Francine Rivers. Come on.)

10.18.2006

Boeing 747


I have returned from witnessing the blessed union of my sister, Emily Clare, with the great and huggable Chris Ritchey. Oh my goodness... she's not Emily Lewis anymore. Crazy pants. Emily Ritchey. That does have a good sound to it; it is a good name. Anyway, the wedding was lovely, and I will expound on it in due course. When I have half a brain to attend to it.

At present, I am full of travel woes, though they are over. I am full of them, because I am weary from them. The trip was rather monotonous in its delays. If you care to hear, I will account for the passage of the last two days. This is how it goes:

I woke at five a.m. on Monday in order to make a seven o'clock flight from Palm Springs to Edinburgh via Houston and Newark.
On the way to the airport, my brother gets a call saying that the flight has been delayed an hour. I let him drop me off anyway, and wait the extra hour in the airport.
The plane leaves, but the storms in Houston (which caused the original delay of the flight out of Palm Springs) do not allow us to land when we get there. We are diverted (heartily) to College Stop, a wee two-gate airport about twenty minutes from Houston. We wait there for a number of hours which I cannot recall, allowing ourselves to be deeply concerned by the sloggish pace of the snackbar worker who was quite overwhelmed with the sudden influx of impatient Californians. Morning moves well into afternoon, and we are finally liften back into the air and set down in Houston. Which is no blessing, because the airport is jam-packed with frustrated, impatient, tired, and confused passengers, most of whom have lost their flights, their gates, or their minds, because everything in Houston is a complete and utter wreck. (Not due to any fault in the Continental employees; all because of a storm.)
At one moment, while seated on an underground tram moving between terminals, I thought "I wouldn't be surprised if this thing just takes us round and round in circles." That is how non-functioning and confused everything was.
My first flight out of Houston is non-existent, but a helpful gentleman in Palm Springs alotted me a seat on the next one. I made it to the gate just in time to see the plane pull away from the jetway. I felt like crying. (Meanwhile, crowds run and stumble around me, yelling and panting, seething with mayhem.)
A great deal more boring confusion, and finally, a flight! That drops me in Newark around 2 a.m the following morning. The Continental people are really quite friendly and considerate. They gave me a suite at a nearby hotel (I was not, of course, surprised when a man with a nametag and radio said that the train to the shuttle to the hotel would be delayed because the police had stopped it to examine a stray piece of luggage. Of course it would be delayed. What wouldn't be delayed?), in which I indulged in five hours of sleep, a Continental breakfast, conversation with a fellow "distressed passenger," and a hot bath.
Having to be out of the hotel by noon, I returned to the airport to wait for my flight at 8 p.m. that evening, exactly 24 hours after I had originally been scheduled to leave the country. I ate lots of bad airport food, purchased with vouchers from the airline, hopped on the plane, landed in Edinburgh, and--would you believe it--made it to class at nine the next morning, suitcase in hand.

Class was good, and the shuttle to Kings Buildings was fabulous. I am, at last, safe and still within my flat. I will nap, go to the grocery store, read for class on Friday, and recover from the world,

so that I can do all this over again in three weeks for Stuart and Nicole's wedding.

10.11.2006

wanderlust

I am going home tomorrow morning. This is a strange idea. It will be a stranger reality. I am glad to go home, glad to step away from this world for just a moment, to better see it new and fresh but familiar when I return. More than this, I am glad for my sister's wedding. Glad for the vows, the strange appearance of extended family members, the green skirt. Glad for seeing my brother and my mother and everyone. Glad for the twos-on-twos.

On the airplane, I will do my best to blitz through Samuel Richardson's Pamela. I will ignore the assigned readings of Foucault's "The Deployment of Sexuality," in part because I couldn't get it at the library and because I don't want to buy it, but most of all because I simply don't want to read it. I will read the essay by Adorno instead, and the chapter of Adorno and Horkheimer that I couldn't finish last night. I will listed to Rob D on my iPod. I will buy an overpriced sandwich in the airport. One of the airports. I will drink lots of coffee to leapfrog the timezones. I will think of all my friends in far away places, of all their travelling, and all my sitting still.

Until then, I should think about packing. I am taking some small gifts, almost unmentionable they are so inadequate for the occasion. And I am bringing home one pair of shoes. And I am bringing some clothes for the few days of running about, and a dress for the rehearsal dinner. (Is this cataloguing the result of reading Robinson Crusoe? I am so easily manipulated in my style. Oh dear...)

On a different note, I need some suggestions about where I should go during Christmas Break, and what I should do when I get there. Anyone have any ideas? I'm thinking Rome or Paris... or both. Or should I stay cheap and not wander far? Oxford... Manchester... Please feel free to suggest. I'm sure I'll bring the question up again closer to the season.

Until the bells are rung, the doves releases, and the tule removed from the construction zone, I will be silent. Enjoy my absence....

10.10.2006

Cohen is wooing my ears, and I am wondering if perhaps Hume can wait.

10.09.2006

Sticks of Fire

This morning, I woke up to the most incredibly loud and horrible noise coming from outside my window. A tree obscured the view for a while; I could not see what was going on. When the noise abated, I saw a truck pull forward slowly with a man behind it, holding a hose (connected to the truck) with one end bright as with flame. He was walking very slowly, and this fire stick-hose was blowing like a leaf-blower onto the pavement. But it was not a leaf-blower, because he was going very slowly, and he wasn't trying to get rid of the leaves. I could not see what it was supposed to be doing. Does anyone know? Please tell.

Yesterday was fun. It was Liesl's birthday, so I taught Lucy Liu how to make a carrot cake. Oh divine! We also saw The Devil Wears Prada and ate at a very posh Mexican food place. Everything tasted amazingly good, but at the same time, nothing tasted quite right. In a good way. In the sense that we were eating Mexican food in Scotland. So of course it won't taste the way it does two hours from the Mexican border. It will taste a bit more... Scottish.

Having spent the entire of yesterday baking and soiree-ing, I will probably be doing nothing but read-read-read all of today. Still haven't finished Robinson Crusoe...

10.07.2006

Notes on a Shipwrecked Man of Varying Sorrows

I am sitting in a cafe (Beanscene--very hip), reading Crusoe, and stealing glances at the passing world. There is a great French door open to the street just to my right. No one is walking through it; it is my own great window onto Nicolson Street.

Across the street, The Militant workers hand out papers set up on their windy table--a sign hanging between them reads "Defend and Emulate the Cuban Revolution." Is it wrong for me to be thinking, 'how quaint...'? People are in jackets, vests, and knit hats already; it is not very cold. They are over-eager for winter. I hum the Jesus Prayer in my mind: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me...' The cars here are so small. The old men are so interesting in their plaid working shirts, their wispy white hair. The children are so beautiful. Why are American children always hidden away? People are so beautiful and sad (I like to stare at them, waiting for them to glance back. It is a strange triumph when they don't. There is one boy across the cafe from me who knows I am staring. He refuses to look back; I think he is posing, he is so suave and careful in his casual demeanor.)

Ahem. Back to Crusoe.

Academia


I have included, to the left of all this nonsense, several links to a variety of pages of present interest or necessity to me. There you will find a link to my sister's wedding blog, the premier website on Marx, and a variety of other things (more to come, of course). The Marx, Hume, Pitkin, and Locke sites all link to essays that I am presently reading or rereading for my academic pursuits. Here are some questions I have to consider for next Wednesday's course.

1. Try to extract the central ideas from Adorno and Horkheimer. What version or versions of the enlightenment project are described here?

2. Compare Defoe’s story to Locke’s second treatise. Within a few pages Defoe says both that he was “reduced to a mere state of nature” and that “I might call my self King, or Emperor over the whole Country”. What are the politics of Crusoe’s island? Think especially about his relation to Friday, of course.

3. To sum up one of the topics discussed in this weeks’ seminar: Locke demystifies or “disenchants” (to adapt Weber’s term) the idea of kingship or sovereignty by arguing that its authority does not come directly from God, but from the law of nature (whose rightness however we can be sure of because of its origin in God’s will). Crusoe’s story is, on the one hand, the story of his relationship with nature; but also, on the other hand, the story of his relationship with God. How are the two related in this novel?

4. “World domination over nature turns against the thinking subject himself; nothing is left of him but that eternally same I think that must accompany all my ideas” (Adorno and Horkheimer p.26). Unlike Oroonoko, Crusoe gets to tell his own story. What are the characteristics and function of the first-person narrative voice here?


Doesn't that just sound exciting?

10.04.2006

hail the conquering biscuit


There is nothing like a grocery store for entertainment. Here are some of the odd things one finds:

Tiger Prawn Gourmet Pringles (see chips exerpt below; the word is "posh")
An entire aisle devoted to yogurt
An entire aisle devoted to tea cookies (and another to tea)
Microwavable Yorkshire puddings
Tomato paste in a tube
Clotted cream (say that with me, if you will. "clotted cream")
Outdated food on the bargain racks
Two varieties of salsa
One variety of tortilla chips (feel free to correct me, Jess and Liesl)
Orange juice valued at five dollars a carton
Kashi cheaper than Cocoa Puffs
No shortening? and where are the chocolate chips?
Refrigerated pasta

and much more.

mouths fly open


It is the second week of real courses, and I have at last spoken up in the group. Granted, it was my assignment to speak. I volunteered to be the first to introduce the week's reading. This meant that I read very closely and carefully, and that I spent many hours last night working out precisely what I would say--and the very tones in which I would say it. I remembered all that I had planned (mostly because I had it written out very clearly in front of me), but I let slip the precisely practiced tones. I was monotonous. Even afterward, as five us went to get a sip of coffee, that conversational monotony held on. Will these people ever know me? Why have I constructed such a wall? I can be jovial, personal, nerdishly hip... but I am shy. Where did that come from? I have not been shy since high school. (Excepting the one lunch I had with Dr Lundin, in which I had nothing to say and knew not how to say even that.) Perhaps I am afraid of the World. I feel there is nothing in common? I am uncertain... It needs only time. I am too used to friendships forming suddenly and beautifully, acquaintances so quickly becoming family. I am used to beautiful people falling into my life like hail. So simple, so present.

Anyway, I thought I'd throw into the mix my core course essay question, not due till mid December. We were given several to choose from, but this seems the most interesting to me:

“There are two meanings of the word subject: subject to someone else by control and dependence, and tied to his own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge” (Foucault, “The Subject and Power”). In what ways do texts in this period construct the relation between subjectivity and subjection?

If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. Or helpful secondary texts... Or a helpful primary text on which to focus. I suppose this means I ought to read Foucault. Oh dear. I will not let them take my heart! I will not let them kill my soul! I will be like a leaf...

10.02.2006

"...for a little pure truth, a little unflinching application of simple truth to life, the heart cried out ceaselessly."
P. 82 (D.H.Lawrence, Women in Love)

names for Mary's kitten


Description: boy, grey, very cute kitten.

Wanted: a strong name.

To the rescue!:

Dartmouth
Rhombus (don't mind if I do, Jesse)
Farquad
Burlesque
Bruce
Rubicon
Marcus
Dwayne
Nelson
Eric the Red
Pinto
Thor
Rover
Steve
Jackaroo
Lyman
Tchaikovsky
Austere
Mouse

(Please contribute in the comment section as you have alternate ideas.)

10.01.2006

the church doors are red

This morning, over a bowl of Swiss muesli, I told Lucy Liu about Jesus.

9.29.2006

ten, or a heirarchy of crisps


It is nearly one in the morning, and I've just come home from a Friday night at the Doctor's. This is no clinic, but a local pub full of warm bodies, warm ale, and loud voices. It was better than the last time, I must admit. Perhaps that is due to the fact that I didn't drink anything this time. Mostly, I think it was just good company, good conversation, and... that's about it.

Here are some things that I learned this evening:

I would love Manchester and must go there for the fashion. (Should I not buy the coat on Princes Street? Should I take the train to Manchester instead?)

If I go to London, beware the over-priced tourist attractions. See the Bridge, the Ben, and the Buckingham Palace from a distance. Be cheap, and save your money for a more interesting and reasonably-priced city.

On a more interesting note, Altoids are not a British curiosity. The Brits know nothing about them. "Altoids? What's an Altoid? What do you do with it?" Then again, they were more than a little surprised to discover that Monster Munch is not an American junk food item. "Monster Munch? What's a Monster Munch?"

In fact, Monster Munch is only one of many delightful crisp options to found in your local BP, Tesco, or Sainsbury's store. The unique thing about Monster Munch, other than the Tabasco taste and caloric content, is that they are shaped like monster feet. Right. I am not quite sure where they fit into the crisp heirarchy, but I did learn a few other important points. Lamb and Mint crisps are "posh," as are the Prawn Cocktail. Lamb and Mint crisps are "the sort your mum would put in a bowl and pass round. She wouldn't just put in salt and vinegar crisps." Of course she wouldn't. Why would she do that? I think I must bring home some of these posh crisps when I return for the wedding in October. Tonight, I tried Steak and Onion. They weren't as good as the Lamb and Mint, but if you need a quick dinner...

9.28.2006

nein, Marx. nine.

For a taste of what I'm trying to troll through for tomorrow morning's course, here's a happy link: http://www.marxists.org/archive/lukacs/index.htm

All the passages under "Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat." Any hints on what he's talking about? Anything? Anybody?

9.27.2006

eight


Yesterday, I found the coat that I have been waiting to buy. It is not a raincoat as such, but it is just what I want. Had I wondered to myself, 'what sort of coat would you like to own and wear?' this is not the one that my imagination would have created. I would have thought of something quite classic in dark grey or black. It might have had the general fit and style of this one, but I would never have conceived of such a red colour. It is fabulous.

On the same day, that is, yesterday, I observed a very unusual and fascinating thing. The city of Edinburgh is riddled over with all manner of hills. On my way home from George Square, for example, I must descend and ascend two hills of great incline. (That is, they seem quite inclining to my meagre legs.) Liesl and I were scavenging around Princes Street, where I found the coat that I will buy, and then we headed over to the Royal Mile. Somewhere between Prince and Mile, New Town ends and Old Town begins. That means two things: one) you pass over a bridge that crosses over what I could only figure to be the train station, and two) the streets no longer feel the need to be even and straight. The Royal Mile is pretty straight for an Old Town street. In fact, I think the idea of it is that it be straight. But it is most certainly not even. We had already rambled around the castle end of the Royal Mile, which chooses to ascend right up to the great stone walls of said castle, so on this particular yesterday, we chose to explore the other end of the street. (This is a lot of preface for a very short and simple observation.) So anyway, we were headed down the hill of the eastern end of the Mile, when my pseudo-flatmate was struck by something across the street. I was more interested in fashion than in public curiosities, and was at this time trying to point out to her a variety of boots in a certain shop window. She wisely directed my attention to the more interesting matter across from us. On the opposite sidewalk, a man in a wheelchair had his dog by a leash. That dog was tugging furiously at that leash, and the man was gripping very hard. This might sound like any normal bloke out walking his pup... except that the dog had the leash by his teeth, and was, with all his dog strength, pulling the man in his chair up the steep incline of the hill. Now, I have often thought of this city as a nightmare for anyone with any sort of physical handicap. But I had never considered all the clever ways in which obstacles of this nature may be overcome. It would have taken enormous strength and endurance for the fellow in the chair to get himself up that long stretch of steep road. It might also, generally speaking, be difficult for him to find ways of jollying about with his very energetic dog. But here is a solution to both, for I am sure that at the end of the day, the dog was quite happy in his game of tug of war, and the man was quite happy in his strength. Three cheers for Scottish ingenuity!

9.24.2006

seven and a half

It is not good to keep silent.
It is not good to speak.
It is hard to know--there is no knowing
which and what to do.
I shout opinions and crush hearts.
I bury opinions and crush hearts.
Opinions, then,
are deadly things.
They kill with greater efficiency
than the strength of my arm
or the might of my mind.

I would remove them,
but they crop up
with each bite from the fork,
with each perk of the ear.
I would undo them,
but they have already given me
a tainted name.
They have already spoiled
this chat and that shake of the hand.
There is no retrieving the slight,
no replacing it with affirmation,
no recalling it
or calling it by another name.
It is my self-made bane.
Oh be careful little mouth
what you say.

seven

I need to clarify the purpose of this blog.
1. To post general events, particular observations, occasional academic challenges, readings, poems, photos, quotations, and interesting finds.
2. NOT to express unnecessary, harmful, or divisive opinions.
3. To provide another means of communication between myself and family/friends.
4. Eventually, to create a useful or interesting source of links to a variety of sites which will, hopefully, in their union, serve as a kind of conversational valley. Whatever that means. I have an image in my mind of posts and comments echoing off the walls of various websites that rise from the earth like the red cliffs of Utah. And somehow, this blog is the groundfloor. Right. Such useful imagery...

9.23.2006

six


So far most of these posts have sounded a bit down. Life is not so grey, actually. Today we (myself and flatmates) wandered further north in the city than I have ever been. There was one point, just below the battlements of the castle, where we could look out over the whole of New Town, over to Leith, and beyond to the sea! So far, that is my favorite view in the city. (Unfortunately, due to the nearness of said castle, it is also a favorite jaunt for many a tourist; however, it is also at the top of a ridiculously long and steep trek which the careful tourist would try to avoid!) I did not bring my camera with me, since we were originally only planning to find ourselves a Scottish breakfast. Which, incidentally, I did not like very much. It tasted cheap, greasy, and unflavorful. I think it was the baked beans, really. It seemed like they had been made with watered down ketchup. For those who want to find good food in Edinburgh, City Restaurant may be a very convenient location with a lovely view of some fabulous old buildings, but avoid the breakfast. (Incidentally, both flatmates thought it was fabulous and said it would be a danger to their pocketbooks to have the restaurant any closer to our flat. Perhaps I have poor taste in food.)

9.22.2006

five


This evening: my first Scottish pub. What's the big idea? Mostly noise, cheap beer, and... more noise. Even so, it was good to get it over with, I suppose. At least the girls know what I mean when I say 'I'm not really a pub person.' It's not exactly my element.

9.21.2006

four

Today was my first day of missing. I did not miss an individual, a group, a place, a food... I just missed. I have kind of been waiting for this, because I know that when it comes it will come like a flood. And in the times when I least expect it. I will be sketching teardrops in the margins of my notes again.

This sounds rather sad, but it is good really. I am familiar with what will come (and is already coming), and I know that it will pass. I also know that it is a feeling, and not a need. Though I love feelings, and I know that they are good and God-given, a need is something else. A need will kill me if it is not satisfied. And this hurt will not kill; it will happily rebuild me. This is very good; very good.

9.20.2006

three


Dreams can be crippling things.
They wear you out with wondering;
they woo you with their wasting.

I wander through the Scottish streets
still seething with morning memories
of things undone,
faces unmet, places
ungone.
Wars between worlds
that are not, have been battled
on the surfaces of my brain.
A friend is wed; a storm falls upon my hair;
I wind my way through the labyrinth
of countless haunted homes,
the twining chords of my cortex.

All the while, chapels,
statues and castles,
tower above me,
wondering
why I fail to look up.

9.15.2006

two


No castles today, but a good long jaunt and a new sense of confidence about my location, my ability, and the city in general.

9.14.2006

one


Scotland is wet, especially today. I was thinking, as I rode the double-decker bus into the heart of the city, that I enjoy extreme weather. And then I realized that it is not the weather I enjoy, but what it does to good company. Extreme weather draws people together. Perhaps it is that need to be for and against things. 'I am for my brethren; I am against this rain.' I have yet to see if this rain today has improved my friendship with the two girls I wandered with, or if it has increased my loneliness for Wheaton and Desert friends. I suspect it has done both.

The only reason I don't like rain is because it blinds me. That is a significant reason.

9.05.2006

avanti

Western wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!
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