I'm Stephanie.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

post x: L'ecriture, l'ecriture, l'ecriture

I recently read a somewhat interesting article called "L'Ecriture Feminine" by Ann Rosalind Jones, which discusses the ways in which the language we operate within is intensely patriarchal.  This isn't necessarily at the root of feminine inequality (although it may help to perpetuate it), but it's worth observing and maybe deducing that it is not necessarily the most-suited language choice out there for all of us.  Mostly, it is not for women who have at any time felt an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction with the language in which we operate.

All of that said, I do not see how this is remotely limited to women.

The article of course dwelled upon the construction of our very language making actual sexual equality not a default mindset, but I felt like it was overlooking the default that language places all of us under and how this has power over our interactions with other humans, with nature, and with ourselves.

It is definitely not good or at least not wordily courteous when the normative is set to the male by default, so that when a woman (person) even refers to herself, she (or he) verbally refers to herself as other and may even think of herself as other.  But don't men do this too, when they don't fit in with a precise definition of the normative that the language has provided? Our language also doesn't just do this to women, but it does it to men, as well as to all things, so that when something, someone, some concept, some abstraction, receives a word, it becomes further removed from that thing which is actually is.  So the male, as well as the female, the thing, gets defined in terms of something that is other from what it actually is.  Answer to this?  Fuck if I know.  But yeah, language does have some patriarchal patterns that might be a little better serving if neutral...better serving to both women and to men.  But who's the neutral?  Then would there be a separate neutral, or a neutral that encompasses both?  I like the latter, but the latter in our language tends to be the male term.

So naturally, this becomes a piece of work for the poet who must function within the boundaries so clearly perceived as simply false and un-encompassing of that which things truly are.  (Although so little can truly be elucidated, nor should it be.)

I'm really, really tired of talking about this already.  Topics concerning femaleness and maleness and language exhaust me like no other, and I never get to the bottom of anything, I contradict myself, I disagree with myself, I can sound hyper-feminist, and at times even chauvinistic in my own way, because words fucking fail.  So do people.  So do machines,  and so do systems, eventually.   And I am a person, using language, a system to try and explain something concerning exactly these facts.  Whoa man.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

post ix: I, i, I, i, and I

I wouldn't be surprised if our vernacular were to expand to include new forms of the word "I" and "self."  "I" alone isn't necessarily satisfying.  Sometimes it is more fitting to its descriptive need when not given the importance of capitalization.  Sometimes it may need more than capitalization to achieve its magnitude.  Sometimes it may be something that is still "I" in a way, but is not entirely just "I," or is really only a fragmented representation of "I" that it needs a new word altogether.  It may be just a branch or a leaf or an insect clinging to the tree that is "I," but at other times this thing we're calling "I" may require a bombastic head - the whole tree and the forest to allot for its meaning.

But on that note, where are these "I"s?  These "self"s?  Do we even have one at all, or do we have many that we've littered about like seeds to grow and cultivate without the mothership "I" even being aware?  Mothership "I"?  Fuck.  There I go assuming that there is some kind of a pure, base, consistent "I" whose superficialities are only sparse contingencies of its truth.  Shit.  I'm getting into truth/Truth which is a larvae's nest of impalpability, so let me abandon that for now, except where it relates to the "self" thing.  Um, which I guess is everywhere.  And nowhere.  Which may be the same thing as everywhere.

Many of us seem convinced that we are frequently experiencing some varying tragedy of the self.  But perhaps we're just created so many selves, all intangible yet suited to a specific need that we perceive to possess, that at least one of them, at some point if it remains so separate and autonomous, gets sick.  Or gets neglected and wants attention.  Or gets lost.  Or just discovers the non-fulfillment embedded in mortal human experience and cannot accept it, and has deviated so far from its own awareness of its own existence that it cannot grasp actual fact and clings only to the fact that it has created to fulfill its own separate reality.

What are these selves that we create?  These masks of identity that cease to be masks and become actual spawns of self?  I suppose some are obvious.  The hot girl on Myspace who is hyper-emotional and therefore sensitive and needs to be protected.  Preferably by a man/boy who can offer validation, but presumably only validation to this particular self - the hot girl on Myspace self.  The academic who becomes so turned on by the idea of being an academic that she abandons all idiocies and activities that could possibly hinder her apparent enlightenment and rich cultivation of mind.  Her opinions and previous thoughts have been flipped because she is now seen as an "academic".  Therefore, Tim and Eric is no longer funny, books without existential depth are no longer good, and comic books are only good for the social, moral, and artistic commentary they make about their creators.  This is one new self.  (Um, that was a shitty example though, because basically she just became a boring dick of a self.)
Or the female that perceives herself as breakable, disintegrating, getting smaller, getting forgotten, being eaten alive.  So she lets her body eat itself alive, get smaller, become breakable, and disintegrate.  She sees herself as a tiny miniscule speck of nothing in the chasm of nothingness and she becomes this tiny speck.  Except now she has bone and organ damage to the body she had perceived and identified as being so innately damaged.

These created selves seek only the validation and nourishment that applies to its own aspects, not the the needs of its original source.  If there was an original source.  Are we born as real selves, or is even the "mothership" self I assumed exists earlier, created?  Although all cells in the physical world come from pre-existing cells, what if in the metaphysical yet highly real realm, these selves come from nothing and then breed.  They are mothered by the original that created itself from nothing and spread? Or they are mothered by the original that actually came from within us?

The actual self arises not in the materialization of the body, but in the consciousness of existing.  So then what would being born have to do with it at all?  The coming into consciousness is much more significant.

"Selfishness" at least in my experience, has been losing its connotation as a negative word, and is breaching neutral ground.  It is becoming more and more accepted to admit your own selfishness, and at times, it is even praised because it is assuming that you possess some kind of care and respect you can then share with others.

But why this shift?  We are a society of abstracts becoming material, and then dwelling upon and within that material.  Could all of our attention now to "self": self help, self love, self protection, self care, self etc etc etc be an attempt to create material out of abstract?  To try and solidify these slippery things we assume to exist that we call selves??  Other aspects of contemporary society have been able to function in this way.  "Self"hood has always been a dilemma, and maybe now we are trying to "fix" it in some way by giving it the same attentions we have given other slippery concepts that have gone from abstract to physical and even common.  Maybe our focus on the existence of our "self" is just a cry for these "self"s that allegedly exist to solidify.  To exist wholly and not as an enigma, or maybe even as a lie.  Ew, negative ending. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

post viii: 'Murica

Is it time for another American Renaissance, or is it just being acknowledged that the praxis for another Renaissance is too far from reach?

A lot of the thoughts in this post are kind of recycled from thoughts I was having over the summer - legitimizing consumerism as the anti-Truth, where Truth may not even be desirable in the first place.  Also legitimizing consumerism and pop-culture as a rejection of the reality of death.  (See Toy Medium by Daniel Tiffany.)  However, all of that was explored in a post I wrote about fetishism that got eaten by Blogger.  Fuck you, Blogger.  So anyhow.  American Renaissance.

I feel like Renaissance writers are slipping their way steadily back from the grave into pop culture, as that may be the only route left.  I was startled and delighted to be made aware of the Walt Whitman/Walt White from Breaking Bad connections.

Since being exposed to the writers of the American Renaissance, I've always felt an enormous affinity for the varying, yet linked, ideologies.  From Walt Whitman's Pantheistic view that God is in everything - our bodies, the Earth, those funny little hairs we have on our forearms, and the ragweed in our yards - to Herman Melville's later suppositions in Moby Dick of Atheism and Gnosticism and the quest for Truth leading to either destruction or nothingness (whoa, bleak), to Ralph Waldo Emerson's focus on conformity as not only personally and spiritually stifling, but as societally crippling and dangerous, and to Henry David Thoreau's original message of defiance when facing an unjust system.

So where are we roughly 100 years after this Renaissance?

More or less, we're here:

(Crap, I want this outfit...)
Materialism now is feeding off of pre-existing materialism.  An obsession with cool - current cool sucking extracts from past bits of cool, creating new slightly altered but significantly distinguished breeds of cool, leading then to more materialism so that we can keep up with all of the fucking cool.  Clearly, I would be a really cool person if I wore these Bart knits.  (But really, I think I would be.)
Cool is getting expensive, damaging, and is removing us from our own individualized searches for Truth.  However, when Truth just may indeed, as Edgar Allan Poe or sometimes Melville would suggest, lead to discoveries of bleakness and ruin, who wouldn't want Bart knitwear?  If there is no Truth, as the great leviathan, Moby Dick himself intimates, then perhaps this American un-Renaissance of corporate dependency and glib satisfactions is a natural progression in the Western tendency to fuck things up.  That may sound like an over-simplification, and certainly it is.  But oftentimes there is truth in over-simplifications, and throughout time, Western culture truly has tended to spread its picnic blanket of fucked-up-edness far and wide.  Fucked-up-edness may however just be a reality of mortal life.  Who knows.  Get fucked sideways by Moby Dick and then float on ecstasy on Leaves of Grass.  American Renaissance writings are all so valid, and so prevalent to right now, and yet bring so many different emotions and thoughts to the table.

So what do we do?  Live at our own Walden Pond?  Not likely.  But we can read.  We can think.  We can reconsider what America was intended to be in the first place, and how from early on, these writers tried to shine light on how we were slipping from what could have been some really awesome values, had we actually lived up to them.

That's it for now.  'Murica!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

post vii: Food is still Food and Sex is still Sex - The Meaning of Bacon

Our culture has been doing some pretty cool / confusing / paradoxical / profitable / fucked up things lately with food. For a much longer time, our culture has been doing very similar things with sex. I'll explain more deeply in a moment, but first I should say, I think that this is entirely natural.

Food and sex are our most intrinsic desires, and yet we are a species governed by extrinsic constructions. Sex and sustenance guarantee the survival and the perpetuation of the species and are the motivators of our most urgent and primal desires. It is no wonder that there should thusly be a limitless array of interesting cultural phenomena surrounding both of these mandatory components of life. (I could also talk about defecation and the weird shit - hehehe...shit - that we do with that, but I probably won't. Shit's complicated).

I could start with food advertising, and how tactics of the porn and sex industry are used for food. In an image-dependent consumer culture, this is totally understandable.
Food, like sex, is messy. It doesn't always cooperate. That supposedly beautiful avocado turkey burger from Carls Jr might topple over while being photographed, the fries may become flaccid, the bun might not be as taut and tan and shiny as it needs to be able to make you abandon all other thoughts, and to suddenly feel like, I need that fucking burger, now. Forget my husband. Forget my kids. BURGER.
Things may not drip when they need to be dripping, and things may be dripping when they shouldn't. Food photography and porn (the really shiny kind) have a lot in common.

What happens is that we abandon reality in favor of idealistic images of our most necessary and innate urges. I feel like we likely do this to make these potent urges more manageable in a society whose functionality would be disrupted by these images. In doing so we create taboos that allow us to endlessly dance around the fact that SEX is SEX and FOOD is FOOD.

Suddenly biting down on a messy burger becomes a transgression, and becomes thusly exciting. I've often wondered if some vegetarians are unconsciously vegetarian because they need to create their own food taboos so that the potential for violating said taboos provides an erotic realm of possibility that would not have existed were they not vegetarian. This is something that I thought about a lot while reading Erotism, by Georges Bataille.

The idea is that we are very much still animals, and always will be. Rather than feeling like calling myself an animal is a degradation, I feel like it is an honor. Non-human animals have a lot of their shit way more together than we do. But anyhow, there are so many of us, and we are all so individually urgent beings, as well as self-absorbed and paradoxical. We are physically weak, and have been creating similar system upon similar system to remain governed, alive, fed, and fucked over millennia since as individuals, we may not be able to fend for ourselves without external means.

Shit. This is so much more complicated than I wanted it to be. Back to the weirdness happening in Food. An easy place to look at this is our recent preoccupation with BACON.

This is an image (I don't mean body image, I mean image-image) and diet-obsessed culture where food is often no longer just food, used as sustenance, as life, but is rather used as a dieting tool, a dieting enemy, an acceptable means of pornographic and transgressive enjoyment (see foodgawkers.com or food porn sites), a drug, or even a purse or pillow or wallet.

Bacon, then is an ultimate transgression in a variety of ways. It represents slaughter, filth, fat, grease, and even old-school values in a nation preoccupied with progress. Its plentiful leavings of fat can be used for a variety of almost-equally taboo creations, it sizzles, it drips, it's hard, it's soft, and most of all, it misbehaves. It makes its way to sexy burger billboards, and atop maple bars in Portland. Bacon is on the rise.

Bacon is the anecdote to a society simultaneously obsessed with dieting and foodie-culture, and yet plagued by obesity and an untrustworthy FDA.

Although this may all sound disparaging, I am not really mourning any of this. Yeah, the diet-obsessed culture, the obesity, etc...those are downers (I sound like a real tool glossing over this, but my main point is the formulation of taboos and how they function). Without these created taboos, the pleasures surrounding both food and sex would be limited. I likely would not get the deep, physical and psychological almost painful satisfaction that I do from masticating a rare steak were it not for the current taboos and paradoxes set in place around food. And around sex. My Catholic childhood and largely vegetarian and vegan adolescence set me up with some pretty sweet restrictions to violate.

Taboos keep it hot. And delicious. So much Bataille in my thoughts. I've definitely mentioned him in an earlier entry as well, but I feel like his writings surrounding human transgressions are so perpetually relevant, and keep getting manifested in numerous fascinating ways. I hope he wouldn't mind this blog.

I leave you now with Paula Deen riding things.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

post vi: What to do about film? Objectify vs. not Objectify

This past week, I went to go see Snow White and the Huntsman. In it, Charlize Theron succumbs to tremendously sexy lunacy, Kristen Stewart moves her mouth while speaking, and a couple of really hot hairy guys in armor fight for Snow White and her kingdom with their hearts on their chainmail sleeves.

After both myself and the boy I saw the film with recently finished a course called the Rhetoric of Women Writers, it was difficult to not see certain female conventions unfolding in the film in ways that are predictable, adhering firmly to a (white) patriarchal structure of how film is made, as well as adhering to potentially harmful representations of women. It was also difficult to not notice how women in film do not even have a voice at all without being really hot. The hot woman ends up having to speak over the other hot woman with the voices of the thousands of other women who go unseen because of their lacking in hotness (this was Snow White in a nutshell for me). What seemed to make the film worse, however (despite how fucking visually stimulating it was) was that the film itself seemed to be aware of this dilemma of the representation of the sexes, but still used it to its own advantage as a film.

I have really mixed feelings about aestheticism in film as a whole. Sometimes I see film as a product to be sold, devoured by the eyes, and then tossed back into the macrocosm of popular culture’s images simmering in our minds. Therefore, I believe that the people in film should be tremendously attractive, as it is to be these faces we have to swallow for two hours at a time, and we are paying to swallow them. We rarely even exclusively look at who we’re having dinner with, sleeping with, or pouring out our souls to for that much uninterrupted time, and yet we find ourselves eye-to-gigantic eye with beautiful strangers when we go to a theatre to see a film. BUT. I have a problem with it when the film itself seems to be attempting to expose this very focus on aestheticism as a problem, but ultimately uses it as the answer - a.k.a. Snow White. Even though I was like, totally transfixed by the ridiculously pretty forest scenes, and anything involving chainmail. Basically, I just want to see film be smart when it can be. This one could have been, but wasn't. Super fucking pretty to watch though.

I feel like it is the consumer’s responsibility to be aware that the beauty on film is a product, and it is placed there, not to make the consumer miserable and feel that his or her own beauty is not enough, but that it is there to provide an element of resplendence that film may as well be channeling if it is going to be expecting you to be engaged in the entire thing. I honestly, have a harder time being really engaged in mediocre films in which no one is ridiculously attractive – male or female. And most films are mediocre. It takes some badass screenwriting, directing, or concept construction to make my eyes not grow tired without contact with constant aestheticism. It’s the aestheticism that as American filmgoers, we cannot be blamed to expect. Or if we can be, then at least we can burn at the stake of shallowness with the millions of others who expect it as well.

This makes me think too of the film version of Marie Antoinette with Kirsten Dunst. The film on its own would have meant nothing to me, but shit. There are too many scenes with silk high heels AND cake to possibly be able to divert my eyes. Throw in a couple of Strokes and Radio Dept. songs, and I’m only able to briefly ask myself, “what the…?” before I too, am going along with it because it’s really fucking enjoyable. At least it is to me. A good movie? No. Is there a point? Not really. But Kirsten Dunst’s skin was glowing throughout the entire thing, and the recreational drug-use depicted, the promise of extra-marital sex, and the pastels of the cakes, shoes, and dresses kept me and my eyes aching for more more more.

Whoa, so what am I talking about? Oh. Aestheticism in film. What I’m proposing is NOT more realistic standards for human attractiveness for film to go by. Rather, what I want, is that if women in nearly all films, in nearly all major roles, must be devastatingly attractive, I think that the same should hold true for men. Snow White, I think, pulled this off well. The men were beefcakes, without a doubt. The entire audience was free to objectify equally and brutally (and objectify they certainly did). But many other movies don’t really hold men to extremes of attractiveness. Some do, yes, but I still feel like men can get away with more and still be considered sexy-enough-for-film. They can have visible pores, a less-perfect body, crows’ feet around the eyes and still be the guy to look you in the eye for two hours while he both kicks ass and gets ass.

Basically, if Harrison Ford were a woman, he would not still be considered sexy at his ripe old age of...whatever he is now. But he is. Men are given more room to grow. That is, more room to grow older, than women are.

Film is so freaky because a lot of the time, we live it before we even live our own experiences, so it dictates those experiences before us. Usually the big things, or the things we think are big – losses of virginity, prom, day 1 of college, our wedding day, a divorce, the death of a pet, buying a home, flying a car over the Grand Canyon, getting lost in Europe – we’ve already experienced through film before we’ve experienced them on our own. This means that we pre-assign meaning to these events in our own lives, based off of the representations of them by film, even if those representations have nothing to do with us. Therefore, I think it’s hugely important that film adjusts itself, its characters, its actors, and its accepted scenarios to better prepare us for actual life. I can’t imagine Americans not looking to film to lay out a bit of a ground plan before they dive into their own experiences, so these ground plans need to be a bit more forgiving (or less forgiving), a bit more broad, and much, much more diverse.

There should be a hell of a lot more homosexuality and bisexuality in film because that is without a doubt, the world we live in, and what we are as people. With film acting as such an anchor on how people view their own experiences, to have the gay experience be either completely, or almost completely missing from film (unless the film is placed in a specific “queer” subgenre), is not only short-sighted, but ridiculous. I also think there should be more non-traditional bodies. Individuals with prosthetic limbs, individuals with dwarfism (yay, Game of Thrones), overweight individuals, etcetera, who do not have roles carved out for them that are representative on these physical elements of their identity. Included, yes. But as a focal point for their entire existence as a character? No. The fat girl is never, ever just the fat girl. The gay boy who likes the Misfits is never, ever just the gay boy who likes the Misfits.

So wait. I just totally fucking contradicted myself, didn’t I? I WANT aesthetics, but I also want the REAL (or do I? Maybe I don’t want this at all). I think what I want is for mediocre film to just fucking accept itself as mediocre and not as anything above that so to please, please, keep up with the aesthetics to cover up the fact that the film is horrifically mediocre and therefore acceptable by the American box office, but at least do it equally. But for those films out there aiming to be honest, aiming to do more than just entertain, keep breaking boundaries so that conventions that we eventually live on the other side of that film can be a bit less absurdly contained. I want for people to stop objectifying one-another on a daily basis, but in the realm of mediocre film, I just want people to be able to do it equally. If men can stick their noses right up Katy Perry’s ass, then I’m not about to roll my eyes at a girl wanting to do the same thing to Draco Malfoy in the new Harry Potter movie. As wet, film-soaked Americans, we are going to continue with our own bizarre personal fantasies. Some film will redeem. Most of it won’t. I think that since I see no end to the objectification of women in un-daring film, that I simply want to see men objectified as often as women. Give the men roles in which they do not speak and are only there to fuck and pour coffee while the women give counsel and pass out guns while wearing some kind of super cool furry toga. Um. Wow. I need to not write when I’m on so much prescribed hydrocodone. But if women have to be in this role so many times, men should have to at some point also.

Contemporary film is a whole lot like porn. There are separate spheres of pornography, some of which, I admittedly think could be useful to society and to the self, and some of which I think could be detrimental (if you're dumb about it, which a lot of people tend to be when it comes to visual media). The icky kind of porn (if you can't approach it with a mature mind) enforces negative stereotypes surrounding objectification, human commodification, and even abuse. But a more sophisticated, natural, honest kind of porn can actually open up an audience compassionately and sexually, rather than just give them all a simultaneous boner. If I had to get rid of one kind of porn, I'd definitely get rid of the "icky" kind as I have just called it. But I'd rather not do that either. I'd rather just be surrounded by responsible individuals who can handle their own media. I feel that this is so similar to film in general. Be responsible. Know what you're buying. Know who you are, what you want, and when to separate yourself from the media you choose to swallow. Also, have the nads to respect your fellow human beings, and don't let our created hierarchies represented via film and pornography get in the way.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

post v: Do androids dream of...

...writing papers about electric sheep?

I have been. Rather than actually writing the paper though, I've just been pondering the shit out of it. Let's look at this blog post as hopefully my last step in pondering before I just write the bastard.

How Philip K. Dick's name is not more well known is beyond me. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is one of the most artfully crafted dystopian novels that I can ever hope to encounter. While I am excited to write a paper about it, I am also more intimidated than I am with other texts because I feel like I owe this one something. Dick never, ever got away from the deepest of ontological questioning while still managing to incorporate synthetic cats and codpieces into the text. Win.

Essentially, the prevailing questions from the novel, or those that I gathered were:
- Is what we consider to be "human" replicable in androids? What do we consider to be "human"?
- Is "empathy" inherent to human nature, or is it merely a learnable construct designed to create solidarity within a given populace to assist in ensuring order, obedience, and consumption?
- Can androids feel empathy?
- If the android believes itself to be human, what is making it not human? If it is aware of, fears, and ponders death, it operates through language, and is biologically the same as a "real" human, is there still something making it not human? (then returning to the question, "what is human?")
- Is there nothing out of reach of becoming commodified? Even emotion itself?
- When the simulations become indecipherable from the "real," do they too become real? A new kind of real? But real nonetheless? Or was nothing real in the first place?
- Is there something lost when the lines between "human" and android become blurred?

I sound like a professor writing possible essay prompts within an assignment sheet. But I kind of am doing this. For myself.

I overwhelmingly got the feeling by the end of the novel that "human" is more of a construct than an inherent fact. We consider someone to no less human who is living with artificial organs or limbs that function and cooperate with the brain as the "originals" would have done. So if eventually we can build a human from the ground up, flesh and blood, with the capacity for love, sex, despair, hunger, thirst, and epistemological discoveries, what would separate these "artificial" humans from the real? I guess birth. There wouldn't really be birth in the same sense, buuuuut yeahhhh....

But basically, I don't think Dick would have written this novel if he didn't feel like there was something being lost in our ability to replicate even ourselves and our emotions, while pondering that we already do simulate many of our emotions anyway (and that television and television-culture, and also religion, and even just standard social conduct have a huge impact on this). However, by the end of it, I didn't really feel loss. I felt just as much "empathy" for many of the androids throughout as I did for the "humans," and I felt just pretty overall indifferent about my own inability to distinguish who was worth emotion and who wasn't. I felt really sad for the dying synthetic cat, and really wanted to take care of the artificial toad near the end of the novel, even though I knew it was an artificial toad. I just felt kind of submissively accepting of posthumanism. Perhaps if I weren't raised amongst artificiality with such intense familiarity, I would have felt more concerned for our potential up-and-coming cyborg reality, as the novel was written in 1968 when the television, advertising, and technology fusing with biology was really just beginning to bud and eventually explode...
Whoa. I still need to write a paper on this.

Suddenly though, I am reminded of Furby. When kids can't have a real pet for whatever reason, isn't the Furby, or the Tamagachi, or those weird baby dolls that actually pee and have a "realistic stool" a suitable replacement? Don't kids immediately latch onto these synthetic imitations of life and try to nurture them in whatever way they know how?
If technology advanced far enough to make these kinds of creations completely believable to children, and to adults, would the emotion behind that nurturing really change? If the Furby could "die"? If the baby doll could grow into an adult, become sexually active, fall in love, go to college, reproduce, age, and also die? What would really be at stake? Especially if no one - not even the synthetic being - was aware of its artifice?

I kind of hate to end with Furby.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

post iv: mad and maddening

So why are we (women) often so insufferable?
There is a portion of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, in which two youngish male characters are having a weighty conversation about women, and why they are the way that they are. While each of them is aiming to be entirely understanding and absolutely anything but chauvinistic, they both end up doing so and then realizing that they are doing so, find problem with doing so, and then continue to do it again, realizing that there is an unbreakable cycle. That they are a part of it. But that women are too. And that both of them, K, and E, still really just want to get laid.

"K - '...What modern feminists-slash-postfeminists will say they want is mutuality and respect of their individual autonomy. If sex is going to happen, they say, is has to be by mutual consensus and desire between two autonomous equal who are each equally responsible for their own sexuality and its expression'
E - 'That's almost word for word what I've heard them say.'
K - 'And it's total horseshit.'
E - 'They all sure have the empowerment-lingo down pat, that's for sure.'
K - 'You can easily see what horseshit it is as long as you remember to start by recognizing the impossible double bind we already discussed.'"

then later...

"K - '....today's postfeminist era is also today's postmodern era, in which supposedly everybody know knows everything about what's really going on underneath all the semiotic codes and cultural conventions. and everybody supposedly knows what paradigms everybody is operating out of, and so we're all as individuals held to be far more responsible for our sexuality since everything we do now is unprecedentedly conscious and informed...The point being that women today are now expected to be responsible to modernity and to history.'
E - 'Not to mention sheer biology.'
K - 'Biology's already included in the range of what I mean by history.'
E - 'So you're using history in a more Foucaultvian sense.'
K - 'I'm talking about history being a set of conscious intentional human responses to a whole range of forces of which biology and evolution are a part.
E - 'The point is it's an intolerable burden on women.'" (Wallace 228-230)

So what the fuck do any of us do? The only answer I can come up with right at this minute is to act like little boys (minus bugs and boogers) and take Jello shots. Admittedly, this book kind of made me want to shag David Foster Wallace for getting it, but then I was like...oh wait....shit.

Sugar-free Jello, of-fucking-course. Because, despite my own awareness and how liberated I should be, I'm not. I am a specimen of modernity, and if it weren't for academic perspective, this would make me very sad. Instead, I am delighted at examining myself philosophically, and am glad that I have so much tangled material to work with. So, shots. Slurp slurp slurp.

Friday, February 3, 2012

post iii - Pastiche Personne

A lot of the time in my life, I feel like a walking collage. I quote movie lines back and forth between friends (or Brule's Rules lines..."you've already got a penn-iss! Don't chop it off!"), I see things in relation to other things, some days I dress like I'm from the 40s, and then I go out and buy Adidas sneakers that remind me of KeSha. I still sometimes want to be Britney Spears circa 1997, and then other times I want to be like, this feminist who doesn't give a shit, who reads Gertrude Stein and Margaret Atwood, and who can cut off all my hair, not panic if I don't stay teeny tiny, and not wear a bra ever (my mom has definitely taken issue with me when I don't).

While I was raised on Catholicism, I was ironically, also raised on The Simpsons. The Simpsons, as we all know, is entirely dependent on pop culture references for majority of its humor. So little of what happens on the Simpsons is not in reference to something else. The Simpsons serves as this pastiche of Western culture, and our relevant figures of the moment tend to end up amongst its characters, now with eight fingers. Even the Strokes made it to the Simpsons (much to my delight).

It is these factors that I believe, has led me to a kind of obsession with collaging. With creating juxtapositions of images that become something completely different when shaped into the collage. Since I was maybe 14, I've been cutting, pasting, and arranging as many images and strange objects into art as I can, without really knowing where this impulse originates. I think I know now. There is no other way to arrange the fuck-all of thoughts, references, and signifiers in my fucking head.

Simona sent me a post card with this image, and the confusion somehow demonstrated in this work of art screamed to me to examine the ways in which I too collage in trying to make sense of the senseless. By Raoul Hausmann:

In California, the freeways serve as collages. Lap Band, Six Dollar Burger, Rolex, Spearmint Rhino, Disneyland, "Real Fruit" Smoothies at McDonalds. Racing past the signs at 75 miles per hour (at least) while maybe listening to some indie band with poetic lyrics, feeling like you're driving into the smog but then realizing that you've been inside of it the whole time.

The collage I have found to be a release. A channeling. An understanding of the "fuck-all" referenced above, and instead of mourning it, making it into art:

(canvas collages)

(room at my parents' house)

(envelope to Simona)

(my beautiful mom who urges me to not go bra-less)

(picture frames I made for Alica with beads, pins, plastic pigs, etc)

The collage serves as my kind of submission, my yielding, that I can't make true sense of a lot of what I'm fed by this world so at least maybe I can steal elements from it and turn those elements into something pretty. After all, aesthetics are more important than sense in this day and age, right?

So where am I in the collage of my being? How much is me, and how much are bits and pieces that I have pasted onto and into myself? Fuck if I know.

The collage is my control. The collage is my physical channeling, arranging, and controlling the signs and images that can sometimes pummel a thinking, feeling girl straight into the ground. The collage is my scream.