Excuses, excuses

27 04 2011

Here I have my own blog and my own project(s) and what do I do?

Spend all day over at TNC’s joint arguing Locke.

Shees.

~~~

At least that’s better than spending all day dealing with the president’s capitulation to conspiracy-mongerers release of his “long form” birth certificate.

It’s not as if evidence ever actually disproves a conspiracy; no, any counter-evidence is immediately seized upon as further evidence of said conspiracy.

And no, I ain’t linkin’ to the conspirators. Enough.

(Although I did like the term ktheintz at Josh Green’s blog coined for this particular group of conspirators: after-birthers. Nice.)

~~~

Given my struck-through comment on capitulation, I pretty clearly disagree with Sullivan on all this. (For those who don’t read him: He thinks it’s not unreasonable to demand that public figures release any and all information about themselves. I do not.)

Just because Sullivan chooses to expose as much of his life as he does to the public doesn’t mean every other public person should be forced to do so.

I also don’t care much for his Trig obsession, not because I don’t think it’s possible for Palin to have lied about it—I think she’s his mother, although I also think she lied about the circumstances of his birth—but because I’m really fucking tired of the public interrogation of any woman’s reproductive status.

I think Palin is a malign force in our body politic; I also think she deserves the same goddamned privacy regarding her uterus as every other woman does.

In fact, I wish she’d take her whole damned self private.

~~~

Anyway. I need to get out more.





Punishment and diminishment—but I repeat myself

26 04 2011

Punish women who want/get abortions? Yes and no:

Stealing from Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones (via Matt Yglesias, w/his emphases):

Anti-abortion lawmakers in state legislatures around the country have already drawn national attention—and outrage—for pushing bills that would drastically limit access to abortions. But in Louisiana, one “unapologetically pro-life” lawmaker wants to go even further. State Rep. John LaBruzzo, a Republican from Metairie, has introduced a bill that would ban all abortions in his state—with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother—and charge women who seek abortions and the doctors who perform those abortions with “feticide.”

Louisiana state law calls for jail sentences of up 15 years, with hard labor, for the unlawful killing an unborn child. LaBruzzo told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the inclusion of the line subjecting women to “feticide” prosecution for seeking abortions was a “mis-draft,” and including it “would make [the bill] too difficult to pass.” He promised the provision will be removed from the bill before it goes to a committee vote. But while LaBruzzo doesn’t expect to punish women who seek abortions, he would still like to see doctors working on the chain gang for providing a constitutionally protected medical procedure.

Yglesias goes on to note:

There’s something very ethically and metaphysically weird about the hesitance to legally sanction women who abortions. LaBruzzo and his fellow travelers seem to believe, quite sincerely, that a fetus is a moral person and that killing it is wrong. They’re also hardly unwilling to punish women who find themselves with unwanted or unplanned pregnancies—they’re eager to punish them via laws mandating that pregnancies be carried to term. And obviously it’s not the case that women typically get abortions by accident or because they’re somehow swindled into it by unscrupulous doctors. It’s almost as if he doesn’t take the moral personhood of pregnant women seriously. [my emphasis]

Yep, that’s about right.





Modern thought(less): Rambling preamble

26 04 2011

Thoughtlessness is a marker of modernity.

That’s a big, vague statement, leaving “thoughtlessness”, “marker”, and “modernity” all undefined. What I’ll be attempting to do, then, in goddess knows how many posts, is to unvague these terms, to ask if there is something about modern thoughtlessness which is distinct from prior/other moments of thoughtlessness, how mindfulness is connected to thoughtlessness, and whatever the hell else pops into me wee little mind about modernity.

Dmf asked how the project on the dawning of modernity is coming along, to which I can only respond: still coming. There will be connections made, however. I’m almost sure of it.

Anyway, since this is the pre-amble, here are a few pre-liminary statements (subject, of course, to revision):

1.We are not yet beyond modernity.

2. Following (1), what is called “post-modernity” is actually a critique of modernity, such that “post-modernity” is a misnomer.

3. Modernity has its own history, such that features which are prominent in one period in one period may be marginal in another.

4. Following (3), some features of modernity may be emergent and/or may disappear over the course of modernity.

5. The role of science, in terms of method, subject, and results, matter in the shaping of modern thought.

6. Modernity has become inseparable from capitalism.

7. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation were crucial in the development of modern thought.

8. Rights-based individualism is an emergent phenomenon and varying property of modernity, that is, the connection between individualism, rights, and modernity must be interrogated, not assumed.

9. Rights-based individualism and capitalism are connected to the phenomenon of thoughtlessness.

10. Mindfulness, as an emergent goal of rights-based individualism, deepens rather than overcomes the phenomenon of thoughtlessness.

Some of these hypotheses are commonly accepted, others, less so, but I wanted explicitly to mark off the ground where the digging will start.

Furthermore, I don’t know that all of these statements will hold up, or that others won’t emerge as more pressing or plausible. These are, at this point, simply educated hunches.

Two other points: One, I was captivated some many years ago by the concept of the palimpsest, so I’m sure I’ll work that in somehow. The hard part will be making sure I don’t mislead myself in my eagerness to deploy the concept.

Two, it is worth mentioning again that this discussion of modern thought is of a specific, European-based phenomenon. I reject the notion that European history comprises the whole of world history, and in writing these posts make no claims about other histories or forms of contemporary thought in the world.

In any case, why does this matter? Maybe it doesn’t. I simply want to make sense, and it seems to me that spelunking into intellectual history is one way to do so.

We’ll see.





Unpause

25 04 2011

Situation preliminarily resolved.

And no, I don’t really want to blog about it, at least not now. Given the amount of time I gave over to thinking about what was a (low-level) shitty situation, I’d just as soon move on to something else.

And yes! I do have ideas! Which I’ll blog about! . . . soon.





Pause button

20 04 2011

I’ve got a bit of a situation here which I’ll probably maybe possibly but most likely probably will discuss when it’s resolved.

Nothing cataclysmic,  life-threatening, life-changing, traumatic, orgasmic (I wish!), or really anything that will mean much of anything once it’s been resolved.

It preoccupies me nonetheless.Which is why I mention it. And why I won’t say much more about it until. . . that’s right, it’s resolved.

Which should be soon.

At least one thing will be resolved. Soon.

Anyway. . . .





Let’s run naked through these city streets (part I)

17 04 2011

Restless, I am restless. Again.

I thought I’d be over this by now. I know New York’s my city—where the hell else am I going to live?—so you’d think that knowledge would be enough to calm me.

It does not. Knowing there is no place else does not calm me.

Oh, I could certainly live elsewhere. Had I any knowledge of German beyond gesundheit and Gott im himmel and I’d give Berlin a whirl, and I wouldn’t mind a stay in Budapest or Prague. Or Paris, despite the cliche of, well, Paris.

But could I live, forever, in one of these places? Make them home? If I can’t make it here, I can’t make it anywhere.

Why is this? Is this the consequence of lookin’ to leave since I was thirteen? Bide time in SmallTown, live in Madison—love Madison, but know I have to leave, because to stay is to, I don’t know, to give up, somehow—live in Minneapolis, knowing I’d have to move to wherever I’d be lucky enough to land an assistant professorship, etc. Even when I moved to Boston, allegedly for my last move, I had a sense it wouldn’t take. It didn’t.

New York, however, New York took. It took awhile, but, man, this is it.

And I don’t know what to do with that.

It feels like a last stand, no more escape hatches or retreats across the desert, no more waiting for life to begin.

What am I still waiting for?

My life is more than halfway over and I’m afraid to let it be. I’m in the city I’ve dreamed of in that first escape plan, and I still feel like I’m on the run.

So I’m staying put and waiting and on the run, all at once. No wonder I’m restless.





The heaviness, the heaviness

17 04 2011

Family farms are amazing places.

You notice the barns, first (there’s always more than one barn), and, in Wisconsin, they tend toward the standard red. There’s usually a big barn, thirty or forty feet high, and then a smaller one, maybe around 20, 25 feet, and maybe another outbuilding, used for the farm equipment; there’s often a chicken coop thereabouts. If there’s not a silo, then there are a number of large cylindrical containers, and it’s not unusual to find a gas pump on the property.

The family farms I knew were dairy farms, and the milk-barn, where the cows went into their stalls twice daily for milking, tended to be low-ceilinged in the stalls area, although where the hay was kept there was, actually, a loft.

The farm house looked big from the outside, but it was usually quite cozy inside. The first floor would have the kitchen, a den, then maybe a formal living or dining room; the parents and kids’ bedrooms—and on these farms, there were usually a lot of kids—were on the second and third floors. Depending upon how large the family was, the younger kids would share rooms, and the older ones might have their own, or, they were all shared, divvied up by sex and age; maybe there were two full bathrooms.

Any trees on the property were near the house, or maybe there’d be a small stand to mark the edge of the property or on some spot where crops wouldn’t grow. Two-lane highways might cut through a property or serve as the dividing line between families; shoulders were gravel and often pitched steeply toward a ditch. If you came upon a tractor driving on the shoulder, you still had to swing wide around him, as the tractor usually trailed some equipment that spread across both lane and shoulder. It was rarely a problem; there’s not much traffic out on those country roads.

And there’s the smell. It’s almost always smelly on a farm, but it’s a clean smell, of manure and hay and dirt and animal, the kind you get used to and reminds you, simply, of country.

I’m thinking of one farm, in particular, as I write this, but it was the thought of another which prompted this post.

Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm posted on a 4-H visit to his mini-farm, for the kids to watch his farrier take care of his donkeys. Katz notes (correctly, I think) that urban and suburban parents today are over-protective of their kids, but that In farm areas, most families can’t afford to do that and don’t believe in it. In this and many other posts, he celebrates the hard and necessary independence of those farm kids.

Such hardy independence, however, has its risks.

As I read Katz’s post, all I could think of was RW. R. was in my brother’s class (two years ahead of me), and oh, was he a honey. He was popular with the guys, very popular with the girls, close to his younger sister J, who I later knew through theatre and track.

Word was she had to be sedated at his funeral.

R. was hit in the chest with a piece of farm equipment, and, being out in the country, was far from any hospital; by the time the ambulance got there—word was it got lost on its way to the farm—it was too late.

I think he was sixteen.

R. likely wasn’t doing anything on the day he died that he hadn’t done before, and, at sixteen, was certainly old enough to be doing anything that needed doing on that farm. He was one of those kids that Katz and I would both admire.

But as much as Katz wants to thrust the sweat and peeling paint and oh yes, the smell, into his viewers’ understandings of the family farm, as often as he cautions that there’s no such thing as a “no-kill” farm, as much as he wants us to see the hardness and the beauty of these places, the admonitions themselves often serve to turn that hard beauty into its own kind of light.

There is light there; he’s not wrong to see it. But not everything hard is beautiful and not everything beautiful is light, and sometimes what matters most of all falls beneath a heavy sight.





Kitties! (Really strange) kitties!

13 04 2011

You are such a weirdo.

Trickster hears that a lot from me. (Yes, I talk to my cats; what of it?) A lot.

Because she is weird.

I’ll dig out the five plastic milk-cap thingies from under the shelving unit and she’ll cry because I didn’t get the one beneath the fridge.

Or she’ll cry because I dug them out and, you know, she really wanted to the be one to get them. Which means, of course, that no sooner are they dredged out than she’s shot them back under.

She also likes to sit in my mail-box:

(Oh, I forgot I had that Netflix movie. . . .)

I constructed this box out of found wood, thinking it would help me keep my mail in order. No, it’s just something for Trickster and Jasper to rootch around in.

Anyway, Trickster at least fits. Jasper, on the other hand. . . .

Well, Jasper’s a big boy:

I’d guess he’s 15 or so pounds to Tricks’s 9.

She still owns him, of course.

And while she’s not as agile as Chelsea was, she’s still able to make her way up top:

Jasper will get on the red stool and stretch his paws to the top of the shelf, but he can’t quite figure out how to get up there (it’s about 5′).

Trickster knows this.

This could be Trickster’s general attitude toward both Jasper and me:

She’s lucky she’s cute.





It was twenty years ago today

10 04 2011

I was standing in the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, chatting with my sister-in-law and nephew, when I was thrown back in time.

There was K.

K. is the sister to B., who led the choir in which my nephew sang, and for which he and twenty or so of his classmates and a few parents flew to New York to sing. I mentioned something to my sister-in-law about B., who I hadn’t seen for over twenty years, when I last saw his sister.

“There she is,” s-i-l, said.

Where?

“There, in the black sweater, standing next to him.”

Holy shit.

It took a moment to recognize her, but, yep, there she be. I walked over to her group and stood there for a moment, waiting for someone to finish talking. K. looked over at me, kinda squinted, then her face and eyes and mouth and arms flew wide open.

Oh my god!

She lives in Jersey, with her wise-ass husband and their three sweet kids and four cats (“never look at kittens when you’re in a bar drinking”), runs a school for the performing arts, and occasionally performs around town.

(I’ve mentioned K. once before: She was Maria in our high school’s production of The Sound of Music, and she’s one of the reasons that I hang on to that memory.)

Oh, and that JG Wentworth opera commercial? She sings all the female parts for that.  I think that’s the right one; maybe it’s all of the commercials—I don’t remember, what with being a wee dazed and all.

I never thought I’d see her again.

I don’t know that I will. I mean, I gave her my number and e-mail and we talked about meeting up in the city and her giving me a tour of her school but, honestly, who knows.

It would be lovely, I think, to see her again.

And if not, it was lovely simply to see her again.





Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends

2 04 2011

So it occurred to me that this guy. . .

. . . is simply this guy. . .

. . . with more hair and fewer prostitutes.








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