Friday, September 28, 2007

Bill and Flossie Williams' Refrigerator

I love the poem by William Carlos Williams "This is Just to Say." I printed it out and put it on our refrigerator. I love WCW, he's simple and succinct and beautiful. I found out today in my Postmodern Poetry class that his wife Florence (Flossie) wrote him back. Here are the two poems.

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold.


(crumped on her desk)

Dear Bill: I've made a
couple of sandwiches for you.
In the ice-box you'll find
blue-berries--a cup of grapefruit
a glass of cold coffee.

On the stove is the tea-pot
with enough tea leaves
for you to make tea if you
prefer--Just light the gas--
boil the water and put it in the tea

Plenty of bread in the bread-box
and butter and eggs--
I didn't know just what to
make for you. Several people
called up about office hours--

See you later. Love. Floss.

Please switch off the telephone.

Blogger Play

yes, this is kind of incestuous, blogging about blogspot on blogspot. but this is really cool: Blogger Play. It has a slideshow of all the photos recently uploaded to blogs on blogspot. It's kind of eerie and cool.

Watch it here.


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thanks to Claire for telling me about this.

Sin and Salvation in Advertising

In my Critical Theory class we were talking about sin and salvation concepts in advertising. It's from the book How to Watch TV News by Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death) and Steve Powers.
"The Seven Deadly Sins, in other words, are problems to be solved through chemistry and technology. On commercials, there are no intimations of the conventional roads to spiritual redemption. But there is Original Sin, and it consists of our having been ignorant of a product that offers happiness. We may achieve a state of grace by attending to the good news about it, which will appear every six or seven minutes. It follows from this that he or she is most devout who knows of the largest array of products; they are heretics who willfully ignore what is there to be used." (125)

Shoot! For some of my classes, I've had to write papers on postmodern consumerism and I've talked about how the old metanarratives of society (nationalism, religion, etc.) which is what people used to find meaning for their lives and events within, have gone away. To replace them, capitalism has come in and created a type of religion for consumers.

For instance, there are little cults around different stores. In high school, it meant something very definite if you shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch vs. Aeropostale. Why? Because there was this whole narrative and meaning surrounding the brands that people wanted to be a part of, to identify with.

The same thing with Starbucks. People are die-hard fans. They love sitting there, the community found there, the music, the caffeine, everything. But it is also an image that has been carefully constructed by Starbucks. They give us something that we want, and it's almost a spiritual experience (ritual) going there and taking part in it. But, at the end of the day, it's just COFFEE. or is it?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baraka recap

Well, he was a very angry black man. I may or may have fallen asleep through parts of it; that head-jerky church sleep. Here's what he talked about:

  • He went off on Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice while I was out. Nina summarized for me.

  • "You're in college because some people love you and those people who love you, that's who you serve."
  • He brought up the idea of having a sort of united black political party a lot.
  • He referred to white people as "our enemies" throughout the talk.
  • "skin is thin, class with kick your ass"
  • a beautiful bit of a poem, something like: "was it ever so quiet that the room started asking you questions"
  • Lauryn Hill and his son, Ras Baraka have collaborated on a couple songs.
  • recommended this guy: Sekou Sundiata, The Blue Oneness of Dreams
  • Nina's note: LOTS of anger/conspiracy theory

Well, I'm glad I went. The audience was about 1/3 white. There were about 150 people there. He ended the evening by reading his super-controversial poem "Somebody Blew Up America" (read it here) He introduced it by saying "Let me read this poem that got me thrown out of being a poet laureate of New Jersey." And, he said later, that they didn't technically throw him out, but actually removed the position. So, right now, New Jersey is the only state that doesn't have a poet laureate. Haha. Hearing him read the poem was amazing. There's a section where he asks "who? Who? WHO?" and he read it like I read a Dr. Seuss book. He was almost sing-songy in parts and shrieking in others.

What I'm Cooking, pt. 2: Noodles with Scallions, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Snow Peas

This is another recipe from Nigella Lawson's How To Eat, and it was awesome. A really simple dish - basically stir-fry with egg noodles. I love food, I love the way it feels, I love learning about it. I've been feeling really up and down with my emotions lately (besides an awesome, week-making conversation this morning) and cooking connects me with some woman-ness in me and calms me down. Now I know why my mom likes it so much, it just feels good.

Lets hope the pasta keeps for a couple days. My dishes always look like hell three days later.

Oh, and the food was just so beautiful when I was chopping up the ingredients. I had to use Oyster mushrooms instead of Shiitake because that's all they had at HyVee.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amiri Baraka

In honor of poet Amiri Baraka coming to Mizzou tonight (tickets were FREE!!), here are a couple of his poems. Baraka is a pretty angry black poet, and I am fully expecting to be yelled at tonight. Fortunately it's being held in Jesse Hall Auditorium, which is enormous (I saw Maya Angelou there last was amazing) and so he won't actually be able to see me cowering.

A Poem for Speculative Hipsters
He had got, finally,
to the forest
of motives. There were no
owls, or hunters. No Connie Chatterleys
resting beautifully
on their backs, having casually
brought socialism
to England.
Only ideas,
and their opposites
he was really

Monk's World

'Round Midnight

That street where midnight
is round, the moon flat
& blue, where fire engines solo
& cats stand around & look
is Monk's world

When I last saw him, turning around
high from 78 RPM, growling
a landscape of spaced funk

When I last spoke to him, coming out
the Vanguard, he hipped me to my own secrets, like Nat
he dug th enumbers & letters
blowing through the grass
initials & invocations of the past

All the questions I asked Monk He
answered first
in a beret. Why was a high priest staring
Why were the black keys signifying. And who was
wrapped in common magic
like a street empty of everything
except weird birds

The last time Monk smiled I read
the piano's diary. His fingers
where he collected yr feelings
The Bar he circled to underscore
the anonymous laughter of smoke
& posters.

Monk carried equations he danced at you.
What's happening?" We said, as he dipped &
spun. "What's happening?"

"Everything. All the time.
Every googoplex
of a second.

Like a door, he opened, not disappearing
but remaining a distant profile
of intimate revelation.

Oh, man! Monk was digging Trane now
w/o a chaser he drank himself
in. & Trane reported from
the 6th or 7th planet deep in
the Theloniuscape

Where fire engines screamed the blues
& night had a shiny mouth
& scatted flying things.

I Like This Song: "Homecoming" by Kanye West feat. Chris Martin (coldplay)

I was sitting in my 3-hour long sociology class yesterday and was thinking.
It takes me a long time to warm up to ideas.
Like, around 2-3 months.
I'm a lot like Mario, waiting for the block to go up and down, up and down, before I jump.

Did you know...

The countries with no minimum drinking age:

  • Armenia

  • Azerbaijan

  • China

  • Fiji

  • Nigeria

  • Poland

  • Portugal

  • Georgia

  • Thailand

  • Vietnam

Also, interesting information about drinking laws in Missouri: the rumor is actually true, a minor can drink "when a family member consents and/or is present." (Helpful website on drinking laws).

Monday, September 24, 2007

Isn't it amazing how we look like our parents?

Did You Know...

"A more sinister example of bad things transported from the First World to developing countries is that the highest blood levels of toxic industrial chemicals and pesticides reported for any people in the world are for Eastern Greenland's and Siberia's Inuit people (Eskimos), who are also among the most remote from sites of chemical manufacture or heavy use. Their blood mercury levels are nevertheless in the range associated with acute mercury poisoning, while the levels of toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biophenyls) in Inuit mother's breast milk fall in a range high enough to classify the milk as "hazardous waste." Effects on the women's babies include hearing loss, altered brain development, and suppressed immune function, hence high rates of ear and respiratory infections...It's because staples of the Inuit diet are whales, seals, and seabirds that eat fish, mollusks, and shrimp, and the chemicals become concentrated at each step as they pass up this food chain." (p.518 from Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond)

Economic Term of the Day

Karl Marx

Commodity fetishism: Marx made this one up, it refers to when a commodity (anything bought or sold, including labor) has any kind of social value surrounding it that elevates its market value over what it practically should be. From wikipedia: An example is that a pearl or a lump of gold is worth more than a horseshoe or a corkscrew.

A horseshoe or corkscrew are infinitely more practically valuable, but human beings like pretty things.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Postmodern Art

Barbara Kruger

Peter Halle

David Salle

Anselm Kiefer

St. Louis' place in History

"The starting point for much of the debate about postmodern issues in the twentieth century has been architecture. It has even been suggested that the transition from the modern to the era of the postmodern can be specified as 3:32 p.m. on 15 July 1972. This is the time when a prize-winning example of modern housing -- the Pruitt-Igoe housing development in St. Louis -- was blown up because it was considered unsuitable for human habitation even by those on a low income. Modern architecture was characterized by the principles of architects such as Le Corbusier who was at his most influential in the 1920s, though his ideas are typified by the high-rise flats which came to dominate our cities in the 1960s." (p.41 - Routledge Companion to Postmodernism)

Why Are We Here?

From the city with over 50 colleges and universities in its city area:

Last night me and some of my friends watched La Dolce Vita. I had heard about it for forever, I had the vague notion that it was about an actress and the paparazzi and the meaninglessness of life or something along those lines. I also knew that Lindsay Lohan had a tatto inspired by it.

Unfortunately, I had no idea what was going on for most of it. I even accidentally watched the introduction by Alexander Payne. I feel like it's one of those pieces of art (I think the Beatles are in this category also, at least for me) where if you take it out of time context, it seems a little unimpressive. But in its time I'm sure it knocked the socks off of everything else on the market.

Julie fell asleep in the recliner, Cassie went to her room in the middle of it, and I zoned in and out, between listening to the massive party upstairs and the English subtitles. Oh well, maybe in a couple years I'll give it another shot.

Grammar and Poststructuralism

Who knew? While studying postmodernism and the theories of deconstructionalism and poststructuralism, I have found that they both come back to a book on grammar. This is from my Routledge Companion to Postmodernism:

"Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, who revolutionized the study of linguistics in his posthumously published Course in General Linguistics (1916). Saussure's major point about language is that it was above all a system: a system with rules and regulations (or internal grammar) that governed how the various elements of language interacted...The linguistic model set up by Saussure formed the basis of structuralist analysis, which applied it to systems in general, making the assumption that every system had an internal grammar that governed its operations. The point of structuralist analysis was to uncover this grammar...Ultimately, what poststructuralists object to is the overall tidiness of the structuralist enterprise, where there are no loose ends and everything falls neatly into place."
BUT, grammar is not neat and tidy. Things to do not always fall into place. There are always "irregular verbs" and exceptions to every rule. There is no way I am the first one to make this connection. What went wrong?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

While I was in Malaysia, we were working with Missionary Kids who had grown up in Japan all of their lives. It was interesting talking fashion with a couple of the girls.

There's a fashion movement called Ganguro where they put intense amounts of white eye makeup all around the eye and accent it with tiny crystal sticky things.

Ganguro Girls

  • Also, super-dressy shoes with otherwise normal outfits are cool.

  • A store that is iconic of the movement: Alba Rosa (website)

Completely Uncalled For

Friday, September 21, 2007

Finally a response to Postmodernism

I've been reluctant so far to feed the arguments in my head against Postmodernism and its ideas that I'm hearing in class because I find that the more I argue against what I'm hearing in class the more I get angry at my teachers and the less I learn.

However, I have a paper due Monday on all of this and so I have to start formulating my opinions on what I think about Postmodernism.

It seems like the more I read about it, and based on what I know about the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory, the more I start thinking that this movement is a reaction by the Sensors in the world against the Intuitive Modernists. (I recognize that there is a lot more going on with this, but stick with me).
If it is like this, then this also feeds into the cyclical view of history, which I'm very interested in. Based on what (very little) I know and have observed, it makes a lot of sense that each generation reacts in a lot of ways against the one before it. This is a beautiful way for human kind to balance itself out. However, things start going sour when one side claims to hold their view (intuition vs. sensing, judging vs. perceiving, etc.) as the more perfect than the other and goes to the extreme to prove their point.
My theory is that a lot of postmodernism is rejecting the intuitive way of thinking in favor of the sensing. "Intuitive" on the Myers-Briggs can be characterized by a more big-picture way of thinking about things and its weakness is to create all-encompassing theories that leave out a lot of important facts. "Sensing," in contrast, is more detail oriented but can ignore larger life patterns that can be very helpful.
A quote from my Teach Yourself Postmodernism sounded like it was from a Myers-Briggs Sensor description: "As you know, postmodern thought tends to reject the idea of things having a single, basic meaning. Instead, it embraces fragmentation, conflict and discontinuity in matters of history, identity and culture. It is suspicious of any attempt to provide all-embracing, total theories. And it rejects the view that any cultural phenomenon can be explained as the effect of one objectively existing, fundamental cause" (101)

Thinking of postmodernism this way, as the natural and necessary counterbalance to the highly intuitive modernism, is extremely helpful. As you might be able to tell, I am on the intuitive side, and so have solved my problem with a broad theory. However, deconstruction and cynicism are extremely valuable, especially when tyrants come in with their (intuitive) broad social theories (like communism) and try to make everyone fit into their theory.

Something Interesting from Class Today...

In my 20th C. American Lit. class we are reading the Routledge Companion to Postmodernism, which is super interesting because it is a bunch of essays on how Postmodernism affects philosophy, politics, feminism, you name it. It's great. However, the book that I accidentally bought instead was even more interesting because it gave the ideas from the source, with articles by Lyotard and Derrida, among others.
But I'm not being graded on that book so it will have to wait. Here's something interesting from the book I was actually assigned:

"Our experiences are now rooted in the processes of consumption rather than production...The people were miners, shipbuilders, or mill workers and the basis of social life was for these men and women their relationship with the process of production" (36-37)

I think this is really interesting because it seems to be true that people's identities used to be tied more to their work and production, as can be seen in the surnames of Baker, Smith, Schomaker, etc. Pretty cool.

Lucille Clifton poems

Homage to My Hips
these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don't fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don't like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top

poem to my uterus
you uterus
you have been patient
as a sockwhile i have slippered into you
my dead and living children
nowthey want to cut you out
stocking i will not need
where i am goingwhere am i going
old girlwithout you
uterusmy bloody print
my estrogen kitchen
my black bag of desire
where can i go
barefootwithout you
where can you go
without me

Favorite Malaysia Pictures, Pt. 3

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Favorite Malaysia Pictures, Pt. 2

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Favorite Malaysia Pictures

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Malaysian Street Graffiti

I love street graffiti, especially the stencil ones. There are some cool ones in Columbia that I need to take pictures of, but while I'm waiting for that, here's some cool ones from Malaysia, all from around Kuala Lumpur.

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