Blog Re-Launch Extravaganza (or something…)

I am currently considering re-launching this blog. I am, however, not yet sure whether or not I should change its content, layout, aim, …

The simple reason for returning to blogging is: I have time again. The last few months were crazy and only now are things beginning to calm down at least somewhat (well, maybe in 2 weeks I can really say that and actually mean it). I finished my Ph.D., I got a job, I moved to Canada (I drove a truck up here from Chicago–took me all of three days, 1750 miles and did things to my body that scared me a little bit), I live in a house in the woods, I go swimming in the ocean in the evenings, I read and write a lot and I just agreed to function as committee director for a student who wants to write her thesis on the Beats.

So, I will probably be unable to post daily, but I am hell-bent on getting back to this. Hope you’re all well. I’ll talk to you all soon.

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Day 420: The Universal

A while ago I promised to return to writing about issues of critical theory. Yet, I have barely done so. In fact, I have barely blogged as of late. I am not sure why. There is a lot of stuff going on, but most of it is too mundane to bore people with. I am trying to find an apartment in Canada (I am moving at the end of June), I’m in the process of scheduling a date for my defense, I’m making final revisions to my dissertation (mostly unnecessary, yet I can’t just let it lie around), I am copyediting the proofs of a book chapters that will come out soon (I may send links, but then again that may conflict with me trying to keep this blog largely anonymous), I am writing on form, utopia, totality and universals, and I put together several conference panels. So, lots of stuff to do but this stuff is largely not very interesting.

Therefore, here the beginning of a return to issues of critical theory. A beginning inquiry into the nature of the universal:

Thought is the proper medium of the universal. This means that nothing exists as universal if it takes the form of the object or of objective legality. The universal is essentially ‘anobjective.’  It can be experienced only through the production (or reproduction) of a trajectory of thought, and this trajectory constitutes (or reconstitutes) a subjective disposition.

Subjection, in other words, is contingent upon the fact that the particular can only be thought (and represented) in reference to the universal. Subjection is, therefore, fundamentally connected to Marxist accounts of subjectivity (and ideology) that make reference to the necessity of ‘totalizing’ in ways that are always already dialectical (and not noumenal). Now, what does that tell us about the distinction between the terms ‘universal’ and ‘totality’? As we find it, the distinction between both terms in critical theory is often qualitative or even merely rhetorical. There is, however, a logical distinction that, I suspect, has something to do with the above. Thoughts?

Day 400: Thank You

As the process of writing my dissertation nears its end, it may be time to begin thanking those persons and institutions who made the whole process possible, bearable and occasionally even fun. Today, I would like to thank Chicago’s fantastic indie coffee houses. You have given me much joy, necessary caffeine, free wi-fi and a psychologically healthy work atmosphere for a long time now. You indiscriminately house the masses of poor graduate students and allow them to be “social” (i.e. fight isolation by having a common workspace), provide them with a living room (since most of us live in studio apartments) and in certain cases even feed us for free by giving away day-olds at closing time (at which point it is VERY clear that only grad students are left in the building). So, my thanks today go out to: Intelligentsia (on Broadway–used to be indie at least, still kinda is, but definitely has the best coffee), Dollop (a fantastic place with good coffee, good people and a great atmosphere for studying), Pick Me Up (not as great if you’re in it for the long haul in terms of studying, but good and cheap food), The Fixx, Filter (at least back in the day when you could still smoke there) and, of course, my current home Noble Tree (which is where I am writing this post while enjoying a large glass of Metropolis dark roast–aaahh…). In fact, here is a short segment on Noble Tree Coffee & Tea that was recently featured on Metromix TV (you can see me working a few times and my friend Eugene was even talked into commenting on their coffee/food). You can also see the video on Noble Tree’s chronology site: http://nobletree.tumblr.com/

Day 394: White Folk

People have been talking about this blog quite a lot–even in academia, which is why this entry may be quite fitting:

There are some entries that are rather haphazardly put together, but a number of them are witty and entertaining. Enjoy.

Day 374: Depeche Mode

Yes, if you like them, you must have liked my blog recently (lame “Enjoy the Silence” reference).

Explanation: stuff is going on and I don’t want to jinx it. Also, chances for that stuff that’s going on to actually happen (i.e. produce results) are really slim, so I have to force myself not to think about it, which has the same effect as someone telling you not to think of an elephant (you think of an elephant–just in case that wasn’t clear). But: stuff may or may not be happening.

Other current projects that take up my time:

1. I am training for the first annual Summarizing Infinite Jest World Championship.

2. I am preparing the launch of my new line of merchandise–evidently you don’t have to be famous any more these days to release your own fashion/fragrance line (mine will include shirts with my confused faced as standard logo and a variety of lines that say things such as “Heisenberg may or may not have been here” — my current fragrance that will be released later this week is “Eau D’Espair for Men”–it will be part of a Humanities Ph.D. toiletry set).

3. I am advising a friend on the pros and cons of getting various Greimas-squares tattoos.

Just thought I’d bring you up to speed.

Day 357: New Computer

Last week, I forget when, but I think it was Wednesday or Thursday night, my notebook crashed. I tried to fix as much as I could with my limited knowledge of computers (erase potentially bad drivers to fix the blue screen crashes, run a system restore, etc. ) but to no avail. I took it to a computer repair place down the street the next day and they promised me to fix it within 24 hours. Oh, that means I must have taken it in Thursday, since I needed it back by Friday (I was supposed to give a practice job talk for my committee at 2 p.m. on Friday). Of course, it turned out that the problem could not be fixed (which meant that my job talk had to do without the pictures and videos I had intended to include). Ultimate diagnosis of the status of my notebook: completely fried! Apparently, it overheated and literally fried my entire harddrive. Hence, for the last few days I have been running around sans computer and have to say that I have not felt this helpless and unproductive in years (no internet and not even a word processor that would allow me write and correct my job talk/handout). The technological overkill has brought us a terrible beauty, indeed.

Long story short: I had to buy a new computer (I bought a really basic notebook for now and hope to be able to buy a nicer Mac once I have more money in my account–should that ever happen). Positive effect: I finally have an English operating system and version of office (which means that I, too, can from now on outsource much of the spell-checking process to regions outside of my brain). Negatives: I have to get used to a qwerty keyboard, which is not a big deal, and I am still hoping that my files from my old computer can be recovered somehow, which IS a big deal (I did not back up my music and pictures–big mistake). Luckily, the nice people at the shop were able to rescue most of my dissertation (which, of course, I had backed up 300 times anyway).

All in all, I am happy to be able to write again (even though Word 2007 still weirds me out a little).

Day 333: The Last MLA Post for the Next Ten Months

Even in times of postmodernism, it seems as though irony will not have to fear for its life as long as the MLA continues to host its annual convention.

I just got this link from a friend–it’s an alternative MLA site that lampoons, impressively accurately, this year’s program, MLA behavior and even, also quite accurately, the floor plan of one of the headquarter hotels. I also love the alternative Chicago poster–this would have been a lot more fun, had they adopted it as the official convention poster. Go Chicago! here the link:

http://www.mlade.org/