Friday, June 17, 2011

For Solon

I heard that you watched The Big Lebowski for the first time last night. Better late than never, I suppose.

You need to show this clip to your students. The Dude knows how to debate: "Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

For Oxymoron: Share the Love.

Thinking of you. Of Me. Chive On.

Album Cover of the Week: Garth Brooks's No Fences

Oxymoron's recent comment reminded me of two things. One, the barbed wire fence post dovetailed (in ways not originally anticipated by the author) with solon's recent thoroughgoing treatments of privacy issues. And two, it has been more than two weeks since my last "album cover of the week." And so therefore this seems fitting:

I was always sort of "meh," when it came to Garth Brooks musically, with some songs being ones I really dug, but most being ones, again, to which I responded with a general "meh." Still, this album title, and the cover with all its invocation of the innocent, well-minded cowboy whose freedom must be preserved, oozes sociopolitical context, and therefore deserves to be taken seriously.

On the level of music? Well, I never much took Brooks seriously as a "Cowboy." I liked the class warfare implications of "Friends in Low Places" very much, however.

But you know what? I LOVE. I mean LOVE his epic song, "Two Piña Coladas," to the point that I elevate it into the top 50 stratosphere of pop song Utopia in my admittedly addled brain. But I mean really, check these shenanigans out:

Garth Brooks - Two piña coladas by taduckly_

The Rhetoric and Symbolism of the Barbed Wire Fence

A few days ago I encountered a quotation in some research that I am currently doing, and it has stuck with me to the extent that I feel compelled to share it with the vaunted Rhetoricians on this blog. Quoth Sara L. Spurgeon:

The barbed wire fence is a potent and deeply paradoxical symbol in the American West. On one hand, it is the triumphant emblem of Anglo-America's conquest of the land once referred to as the Great American Desert, of the sheer force of human will necessary to empty it of those animals like the buffalo that do not serve Anglo America's needs and to fill it instead with cattle--nature tamed and controlled by the sharp-edged product of Eastern facroties. It is also, for many Westerners, the sign of some final closure, usually expressed nostalgically as the loss of the wandering horseman's right to travel freely and without restriction across the landscape. That wandering horseman, the lone cowboy with his bedroll and his rifle, is the most commonly recognized modern American expression of the sacred hunter, the lone male in the wilderness, here digging the postholes that mark his own demise and performing the final fencing-in of th natural world.

Heh. Fascinating. I wonder if John McCain was struggling to make sense of this kind of mythopoesis, when he exorted the federal government to Build the Dang Fence.

Predicting 2012

After watching one debate, and really, if Reagan's 11th Commandment declares, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican," it seems clear that the Republican ticket in 2012 will be:

Romney for President, Bachman for VP.

If the field stays the same, the only alterations I would suggest is Romney President and Marco Rubio for VP or, the long-shot ticket, Bachman for President and Rubio for VP.

Just in Case You Missed It:

Here is a review of the Republican Debate by New York Magazine (if you couldn't guess that the only thing mentioned was nothing other than repeal everything Obama). Some excerpts:

Most Meaningless Self-Descriptor: Tim Pawlenty saying, "I'm a husband .... I'm the father of two beautiful daughters, I'm a neighbor." Oh, so people live near you.

Time It Took for Someone to Claim That Obama Doesn't Believe in American Exceptionalism: Thirteen minutes (Romney)

Most Unsurprising Bombshell: Michele Bachmann announcing during a presidential debate that she’s running for president.

Meekest Moment: Tim Pawlenty barely defending his own assertion, made on Fox News Sunday yesterday, that President Obama's health-care reform is basically "ObamneyCare."

Time Until Tim Pawlenty Said “Meat-packing Town”: 31 minutes.

Statement Made Oddly Risky Because of the Influence of the Tea-Party Movement: “Federal government should be doing food safety.” —Herman Cain

"Oh Snap" Moment: Michele Bachmann reading a quote from then-senator Barack Obama on how raising the debt ceiling was a "failure of leadership."

Boldest Plan for Afghanistan: Mitt Romney saying that he wants a plan to safely hand Afghanistan over to the "Taliban military," as a military man in the audience visibly flinches.

Biggest Pander (tie): Mitt Romney announcing that the hometown favorite Boston Bruins were up 4-0 in the Stanley Cup finals; Pawlenty saying that what he learned tonight was that the Boston Bruins have “more heart” than the Vancouver Canucks.

Biggest Contradiction: Michele Bachmann saying she supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage while also claiming she wouldn't interfere with state law. What about the states with laws allowing gay marriage?

I would also take a moment to read the live-blog write up at Democracy in America, which was much more entertaining the debate itself.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Where Aren't We Live Blogging the Republican Debate?

Seriously. I could, one, give better answers than the Republicans and, two, think it sucks that the Bruins are up 4 - 0 on the Canucks.

The Death of the Author

In the postmodern sense, not literally. More like Barthes and Foucault than Theo Van Gogh or even Hemingway.

A prominent female blogger in Syria goes missing:

Abdallah's cousin wrote on the blog that Amina was taken Monday by three men in their 20s "assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia."

"One of the men then put his hand over Amina's mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad," Rania Ismail wrote.

Abdallah describes her blog as "An out Syrian lesbian's thoughts on life, the universe and so on..." -- this, in a country where homosexuality is not just taboo, but illegal.

But, maybe not after all. The first apology and the second apology:
I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone -- I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

This experience has sadly only confirmed my feelings regarding the often superficial coverage of the Middle East and the pervasiveness of new forms of liberal Orientalism.

However, I have been deeply touched by the reactions of readers.
If there were ever a time for lit crit, now would be that time over the issues of sexuality, gender, voice, identity, and appropriation.