Day 279: No Underwear

After a few weeks that were very busy again (and after another weekend spent at a conference–this time here at UIC) I took a close look at my apartment today, something I haven’t done in a long time. Result: I really need to do some cleaning and a LOT of laundry (since it is getting too cold here to keep going commando). After this conference, I was actually looking forward to having some time for other kinds of writing again (i.e. an article I have to finish, as well as further revisions to my dissertation). It seems, though, that I will first have to devote some time to housekeeping and grocery shopping (which will probably also be good for my health, since pizza by the slice and other forms of takeout, the only food I have been eating for the last few weeks, probably does not contain the nutrients my body needs at this point).

Quick report on this conference: my argument that biopolitics is an analytical paradigm utterly unsuited for the analysis of contemporary power structures (and the ways they are exercised) did not keep people from giving papers on contemporary power/political issues that were based on an uncritical use of this very concept, there were some scary talks fetishizing empiricism and reducing issues of power in governmental information gathering to a problem of trust and informed consent, and some male participants insisted on being referred to as “she” (which I sadly could not consider as revolutionary an act as I was apparently supposed to). Overall, it was a good conference, however annoying the overall praise of a politics of diversity may have been (which too many people still seems to think results in some form of liberation, not realizing that it is actually the politics of neoliberalism).

I will now go grocery shopping and buy some healthy things that will hopefully help me finally get over my cold, which, per Anna’s suggestion (my favorite this far), means: brandy. cheers y’all

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Day 275: Another Conference

Last week’s conference went relatively well. The presentations on the panels I organized turned out to be very interesting, the people were nice, and I actually got some valuable feedback on my own presentation. No rest for the wicked, though, as the next conference is coming up this weekend. I will be giving a presentation and moderating a panel on Friday, which means that I should really get my talk together. This, however, is being complicated by two things: 1) I am still sick as a dog (whenever I begin to feel better, I have to pull an all-nighter, or spend a few days with only three or four hours of sleep per night and the flu comes back because my body seems to be too tired to kick it out completely) and 2) I am beginning to wonder if giving a paper on the end of biopolitics (as a valuable/contemporarily suitable hermeneutic principle) was the best choice for a paper at a conference where biopolitics is the dominant analytical paradigm (the Project Biocultures conference). But then again, the organizers felt they should include my paper, so I guess I should not worry about this too much. Upside: it is rather unlikely that no one will want to ask questions/have comments after the talk.

Other than that there is really not much new to report that does not revolve around my efforts to get rid of my cold (I am taking vitamins, airborne, drink lots of fluids, and even eat fruit (yes, fruit–me!), but I still seem to be unable to get healthy–I have been trying to do things my sports coaches would have advised me to do back in the day, hence I tried to “run it out” by the lake for the last three days, but surprisingly this did not work either–I may try rubbing some dirt on it a little later, usually a coach’s second universal remedy.).

Day 13: Papa Smurf Part II

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So I woke up this morning and felt even worse than yesterday. Isn’t this cold-thing supposed to go away? Maybe it is a result of me having not yet tried any onion-related treatments (I did buy onions, though). I also tried to remember what I ate yesterday. Chinese takeout and pizza. Seems like they are not putting enough vitamins in junk-food these days. Shocking.  On the upside, however, I am able to remain heavily Nyquiled every night, which, at least for me, always results in incredibly vivid dreams (not always of the good kind). Last night I dreamt about sandcastles and I also seemed to be incredibly worried about what would happen to the sand-producing industry, now that all of Europe is banning smoking and public ashtrays do not need sand any more (yes, weird, I know–I already posted something to that effect somewhere else this morning–apparently at least my unconscious is funny). My apparent unconscious concern for the working sandman (if we want to interpret my dream as that–I would also be willing to go in the direction of sandman equalling desire to finally get a good night’s sleep, some displaced/overdetermined experience from yesterday, or, and thus might be the most disturbing interpretation, Sandman as in Freud’s “The Uncanny” in which case I shall be wearing squash goggles for the rest of the day–“ring of fire, spin about”–thanks E.T.A. Hoffmann!)–wow, long parenthetical interjection–so my concern for the working sandman will form the basis of of today’s post: February 21 as the publishing date of the Communist Manifesto.

The sad thing about the Communist Manifesto is that its over the top rhetoric that was supposed to rally the masses back when it was published is now the thing that drives the masses away from it. I would thus like to simply post some passages from the manifesto to remind people of how even over 150 years after its initial publication its criticism still not only rings true, but should inspire intellectual and scientific dialogue, rather than outright, idologically motivated, unquestioning and ignorant rejection. Here some passages:

“[The bourgeoisie] has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom–Free Trade.”

“It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e. to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.”

“[The bourgeoisie] has also called into existence the men who are to wield those weapons–the modern working class–the proletarians. In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e. capital, is developed, is developed, in the same proportion, the proletariat, the modern working class–a class of labourers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These labourers, who must sell themselves piece-meal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.”

 “The lower middle-class, the small manufacturer, the shopkeeper, the artisan, the peasant, all these fight against the bourgeoisie, to save from extinction their existence as fractions of the middle-class. They are therefore not revolutionary, but conservative. Nay more, they are reactionary, for they try to roll back the wheel of history.”

“Hitherto, every form of society has been based, as we have already seen, on the antagonism of oppressing and oppressed classes. But in order to oppress a class, certain conditions must be assured to it under which it can, at least, continue its slavish existence. The serf, in the period of serfdom, raised himself to membership in the commune, just as the petty bourgeois, under the yoke of feudal absolutism, managed to develop into a bourgeois. The modern labourer, however, instead of rising with the progress of industry, sinks deeper and deeper below the conditions of existence of his own class. He becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more rapidly that population and wealth. And here it becomes evident, that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state, that it has to feed him, instead of being fed by him.”

Two things that should seriously be discussed here regarding the persistent logic of capitalism and the populace’s reaction to it (and to its critique): 1) “revolution” being such as scary word in the US today (ironically, after this country was founded on a revolution), it should be noted that the bourgeoisie is really the revolutionary class; 2) that this bourgeoisie even within the logical paradigm of running an unjust and exploitative system cannot even get that right, meaning we need a continued openness regarding what indisputably forms the character of capitalism, namely that it is based upon central systemic and logical inadequacies and contradictions.

yours in global and sandy solidarity

Day 11: Olives and Onions and Shots–Oh My!

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Dear all,

yes, today my post is coming awfully late, I know and while I would like to blame it on the slower internet connection at my new notebook location, I will just go ahead and blame it on the fact that I am sick. Well, quite honestly, I have been sick for the last three days and it has not kept me from writing, but I still think I should be allowed to use that excuse at least once. Otherwise, what’s the use of getting sick (apart from the sudden ability to turn Kleenex into apple turnovers–ok, sorry for that)?

Today I was told that my regimen consisting of coffee, pizza and Nyquil might not be the best way to go. As an alternative, I was told, I should try either rubbing warm olive oil on my chest, or covering it with thinly sliced onions. This then got me thinking: Germany cannot possibly be the only country with completely weird folklore-remedies. I do remember my grandmother giving me cola with Maggi when I had a stomach ache, my grandfather universally suggesting to take a shot against pretty much every kind of ailment (“I have a stomach ache.” “Take a shot.”–“I have a headache.” “Take a shot.”–“I have a hangover.” “Take a shot.”–“I’m too tired to drive.” “Take a shot.”) and my mother rubbing some kinda clay-goo-vinegar mixture on my knee when I tore a ligament.

My question for you is thus: a) what other weird, but apparently effective, folklore-cold remedies do you have for me and b) what are the weirdest remedies in general you are aware of? I promise to announce the weirdest one, try it out and then  describe the effects in detail on this blog.

Now I will try to get some more writing done. Haven’t really been too productive in regards to writing my dissertation over the last few days. Might have to take a shot.

P.S.: the picture of Papa Smurf does not really have anything to do with this, but it makes me feel better.