Day 435: AY!

Wow, I’ve been really bad at this whole blogging thing as of late. (I mean even worse than usual.) I have been insanely busy and practically spent every day in its entirety at coffee shops writing. I’m just finishing an article (which I will be sending out tonight). Also, I hope there will be some time left for me to do laundry, since I have to get up at 4 in the morning to go to the airport where I have to get on a flight to Long Beach at 7 in the morning. I’ll be at the ACLA convention over the next few days. I organized a panel there and will be presenting a paper (along with some other UIC folks). There will also be a few MLG people there, so it should be fun. I am, however, slightly worried about the presentation I have to give, the main reason for which is the fact that the presentation has yet to be written (and in a way that doesn’t make me look like an idiot). Well, I guess I have a longish flight and one more night at the hotel for that. It’s more a matter of copying and pasting anyway. The talk will essentially consist of an abbreviated version of an article that should be coming out as part of an edited collection sometime soon. I’ll advertise here it when I know specifics.

Oh, and in the same spirit, for those read German: check out Sebastian Domsch’s Amerikanisches Erzaehlen Nach 2000. Muenchen: Edition Text + Kritik, April/May 2008. It’s not quite out yet but should be within the next few days–you can pre-order it. Yours truly has a chapter in that as well.

I’ll be back next week with reports from the Western frontier (of the culture industry).

Day 426: No Rest for the Wicked

I saw New Model Army in concert at a tiny place in Wicker Park here in Chicago last Saturday night and I am still smiling. What a fantastic concert and what a fantastic band! They still stick to their shit, still rock, still stir up trouble and still have really bad teeth. I haven’t had a case of goosebumps as bad as this one at a concert in a long long time. “Here Comes the War” may just be the perfect opening song, especially considering that US customs seized not only ALL of their CDs upon entering the US from Canada (threatening to the homeland, evidently–probably for the same reason that anti-imperialist band were denied visas for their last tour a few months ago) along with a lot of other merchandise, including all buttons that said “I’m not at war.” Apparently, one has to be at war these days in order to enter the US–somewhat perplexing, really (“Put out the lights of the Age of Reason!”). To sum up, there is really not much more to this post than this: I love this band! (But apparently not as much as my friend–she briefly considered jumping the bass player.)

The movers move, the shakers shake // the winners rewrite history // but from high on the high hills // it all looks like nothing

old-school but contemporary:

and about two weeks ago–shitty quality, too big of a venue, but otherwise represents their present state (unchanged) state quite well:

Day 423: The Last Lecture

Here Randy Pausch’s by now famous “Last Lecture:” “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” This may be difficult to critique, but let’s try. I’d be interested in hearing how people actually read this phenomenon–the book just came out a few days ago.

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 410: We are the WTO

I just saw a great documentary on an anti-globalization, anti-capitalist, anti-corporate greed group calling themselves “The Yes Men.” Here their website–really worth checking out.

Day 406: In Germany

Yep, I´ll be in Germany for spring break (you know, for the beach, beads, boobies, body shots, and such). It´s only a very short trip, but I haven´t seen my family in about a year and it may be another year until I get to see them again (I have to move in the summer, go to MLA over Christmas break, etc.), so that definitely makes the trip worthwhile.

I just got back from running in the snow, which made me a little sad–I noticed that I should think that it all looks quite beautiful around here, but after having sat around in an insane amount of snow for the last few months, I appear to be unable to create a positive emotional response to that sort of aesthetic. Eh, screw it–my grandmother is preparing a feast for us as we speak and I will drink a lot of beer and Schnaps this afternoon. Who cares about aesthetics then, I ask? (a question that may lead to an insight into Russian car design.)

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/