Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Don't Even Know What the Posthuman Is...

Nice relaxing and thoroughly uneventful Thanksgiving. But I think that my home has become some weird kind of conduit for my dreams, specifically my dreams of what I wish the profession were like. Last time I was home, you may recall, I dreamed that all the English grad students were ninja assassins competing for a magical dagger. Well, nothing quite that odd this time.

Instead, this dream was all about theory. For those of you not in the academic world, there's this "hot" topic currently in vogue, called the "posthuman." No one is quite sure what it means, but I think it has something to do with how we relate to shit like dogs, and zombies, and robots, etc. You know, win them over so they don't try to enslave mankind. (But forget about the dolphins. There's no placating those bloodthirsty fuckers.)

Well, in my dream, all of academia was abuzz because someone had just written an article that supposedly clearly solved the problem of the "posthuman." Not just a debatable article, either; this was the "key to all mythologies" of the posthuman, something that definitively settled the problem forever. But for some reason, I had the only copy of the article (I didn't write it in my dream, I just had it), and all these competing factions wanted it. Some wanted to embrace the posthuman, others wanted to destroy the article and thus erase all records of the problem ever being solved. Massive conspiratiorial shit was going on in my dream. I guess the original author was dead, or lost his backup copy, or his hard drive got destroyed, who knows.

No real resolution to the dream, sadly. Just yet again a sense of increasing competition and espionage within the academic world. I guess I subconsciously find our lifestyle boring, and could do with some more ninjas or spies or whatnot.

And the kicker? I couldn't even figure out the article in my dream. I guess I don't even subconsciously understand theory. All I knew was that it had something to do with WALL-E. Figures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

It's a Paul Rudd Weekend!

Watched The Great Gatsby last night (the 2000 made for tv version). Was about as ungood as expected. Paul Rudd, as I predicted, made an admirable Nick Carraway, and the film did do some things right by including a hefty dose of Nick's narration verbatim from the book. But Gatsby was laughably unimpressive, Daisy seemed mildly mentally challenged, and the whole movie felt like someone was doing "The Great Gatsby: The Highlights" rather than building an overall film. Guess that's the drawbacks of tv. Of course, I hear the Redford version is similarly awful but for different reasons.

Seeing Role Models tonight. I hear good things. And again, Paul Rudd.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Teaching Philosophy

For those not in the academic world, part of applying for a job involves writing up a philosophy of why you're a teacher. I'll have to do this next year, so I'm taking a preliminary stab at it now. Let me know what you think.

Teaching Philosophy

I teach because I can.

I teach because I abhor stupid people. This way, I get to put a face to my enemies.

I teach because stupidity fills me with contempt. And contempt for others allows me to forget my own insecurities.

I teach because the stupidity of others validates me.

I teach because it is one of the few professions left where people come to you as supplicants.

I teach because they pay you for the privilege of being your supplicant.

I teach because I fear the real world.

I teach because I have no idea how to do actual things.

I teach because I believe the children are our future. I must mold that future in my image.

I teach because the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. It's my job to inform them of that.

I teach because I can write like the wind. This is a skill with few practical applications.

I teach because I can do it hung over.

I teach because I can do it drunk.

I teach because I crave attention.

I teach because I am a ham.

I teach because it combines performance with the arrogant display of knowledge.

I teach because I am smart.

I teach because I am smarter than most of the rest of the world.

I teach because I am smarter than your children.

Except M. & B. C.'s children.

Those kids are freaky smart.

Like, superintelligent crazy children of the corn smart.

Seriously, Mr. N.S. probably taught them Latin at age 4.

Where was I?

Oh yes.

I teach because I loathe the summer and want nothing to do with it.

I teach because I enjoy having Christmas off.

I teach because there are few things more wonderful in this world than the face of a young adult.

Particularly the look they get when you tell them their work isn't good and they have to start over.

That shit is priceless.

I teach because it is priceless.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Blog for the Asking

So hey there, blog world. 'Sup?

I know, been a while since we last spoke. Been a lot of speculation going around. Talk of panda love. Some kind of voting thing went down. Might have been some drinking takin' place in the old Mad-City. Might have been a trip home in there somewhere. And all that's cool and all, I ain't gonna lie. Just haven't been in a blogging place, lately, since I been too busy livin' my life.

Like a guy I recently had the pleasure to meet told me: The Game's out there, and it's play or get played.

Fella name of Omar. Some of you might have heard of him. Badass out of Baltimore, has a tenuous relationship with the five-oh.

So that's my longwinded way of saying I've been spending a lot of quality time recently with season one of The Wire. Which, unlike most things in life, really does live up to all the hype. I'm still not convinced it's better than Deadwood (it'd take an act of God to dethrone Al Swearengen), but it's unarguably one of the top three shows I've ever seen. And Omar is indeed a badass.

Ok, life update. Full of anecdotes, lots of sound, little fury. Since last we spoke, numerous things of various consequence have been happening. First, and most time-consuming, I'm applying for fellowships this semester, one of which is due in under a week. My life has been a suck-fest of writing a dissertation abstract (transforming what will be a roughly 250 page document into five pages) and editing down 49 pages of dissertation chapter into 25 pages of writing sample. Yeah, it sucks. And yeah, my friends and colleagues on the market currently will tell me how much easier this is than what I'll be going through next year. To which I respond, the promise of future suckitude does not lessen the suckitude of the current moment. I think Gandhi said that. Or maybe Socrates Johnson.

Ok, on to amusing things! We like amusing things, right? As I noted above, I went home for a weekend back in October. My brother recently got engaged, so this was the big meeting of the families (and when I phrase it like that, it sounds like some kind of mafia deal. It isn't. Or so my lawyers say.). Her parents and brothers, my parents and me, the bride and groom, various other significant others and children. Twas a night of fun and merriment. The Dubs clan upheld itself well, though we did end up waiting outside in the cold cold car for about 10 minutes waiting for my bro, rather than going into the restaurant to meet these strangers awkwardly. I triumphed by not getting plastered and embarassing them all. My parents were shocked, shocked I say, that I could actually uphold my end of a conversation with strangers (the bride's older brother and his wife). Granted, my current schooling has basically weaned me away from ever talking with people who are not also English grad students or scholars, their lack of faith wasn't all that surprising. But they didn't need to seem so shocked when they told me I was actually "charming." I guess all those years of cynicism and contempt for my fellow man may have colored their expectations a bit.

Still, the Clan Dubs did get kind of served in the meeting, due largely to a matter of preparedness. The bride's grandmother came, and she's apparently famous for making her own caramel and giving to her grandkids at holidays. So, to make a good impression, yours truly ended up with a shit-ton of caramel. This was bad enough, but apparently the daughter of my dinner conversationalists is some kind of crafts prodigy. So it being near to Halloween, this fifteen year old girl brought my parents a pumpkin hollowed out and stuffed with wildflowers in an absolutely stunning arrangement. Seriously, kid's got mad skills. But between that and the candy-making granny, my side of the family looked like chumps, comparatively. I was tempted to start juggling the candles on the table while singing some Don Gionvanni just to hold up our end. Who knows, a few more drinks and I might have. Or maybe I'll just bust that out at the wedding.

Also, while home, I dreamed that all my fellow grad students and I actually lived in our office building, but it was some kind of Wudan-esque dojo, and we were all ninja assassins. I had a magic knife, and everyone else was trying to steal it from me. They did not succeed, because, hello, ninja. Luckily, Ninja Scholar wasn't there. She has magic authentic ninja powers, strength beyond my dream ninja powers. And that Hapa Ninja Baby, he'll cut your ankles off before you even hear him coming.

Speaking of NS, she, myself, the Hillbilly, and one other colleague have all submitted papers to a conference for next year (Boston in March of '09!). I believe we're in a competition to see who could submit the worst paper proposal. But since the judges are NS and myself, I think we've got a fair shot of getting in. Though I can be a fair critic, and may reject myself on principle. All the swearing in my proposal may be off-putting.

What else, what else? Halloween party this year, awesome times, went as Igor (or random hunchback). Surprisingly, being hunched over all night did not result in a sore back. But drinking all that wine did result in a sore head. And apparently me yelling at passers-by from the balcony. Which I don't remember at all.

Hmm...election night, election night. I'm happy it's over, so people will stop asking me if I know where my polling place is, if I'm registered to vote, blah blah blah. Yes, it was an exciting night. Yes, the folks here in Madison marched spontaneously from the capital to the university after the results were announced. Yes, even my cynical heart felt genuine stirrings of emotion with the realization that we had witnessed an historic moment in our nation's history, capped off by an extremely moving speech from our new president-elect.

But that doesn't mean I didn't want to throttle the obnoxious woman at our election party who kept yelling things in triumph. Like, awkard yelling, solitary yelling, like she was drunk on Obama or something. Seriously, yelling when everyone else is yelling and clapping is cool. Yelling out things in the middle of Obama's speech, as if he can hear you and will answer, is annoying. I imagine Brownsox was in a similar state. If he wasn't wedded to his iPhone, that is.

And I will admit, I'm a touch sad that I didn't get to see a democratic loss. But only because I thrive on the misery of others, and there were few funnier moments than four years ago when W. got re-elected, and the entire grad program here became a collection of the most depressed m-f's in the world. Made me laugh from deep in my cold cold heart. But I don't miss it that much this time around; after all, I did vote for the man myself.

Also, seriously, why did multiple people just assume I voted Republican? Even Batman asked me if I was feeling alright, since my candidate had lost. I like to think I've been fairly vocal (for me, at least) in my McCain-Palin bashing over the past few months. So really, do I come off as that conservative? Is it the Catholic thing? The white male who mocks the misfortune of others thing? My prep school ways, my disdain for public school systems and public universities? My affection for fine scotches? My cocky stride and my musky odors? Oh, I'll never be the darling of the so-called city fathers, who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about what's to be done with this Dubs...where was I?

Anyway, enough politics. What else, what else? Hmm... Just read all of Y: The Last Man, a ten volume comic series about a plague that wipes out all mammals with a y-chromosome except one dude and his pet monkey. Conceptually it sounds ridiculous. In execution, it's one of the best things I've ever read. Check it out; Quantum can vouch for it's goodness.

Is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?

Yeah, I got nothing else. Future updates to hopefully come more regularly. But for now, I'm off to spend some quality time with Jimmy McNulty.