Life as an Extreme Sport

historicise *this*

I’m reading Ivo Kamps’ article New Historicising the New Historicism in preparation for class this afternoon; Kamps is basically deconstructing new historicism through the filter of the ever present year of 1968 and the Vietnam war. It’s an interesting take and criticism of both Greenblatt and the field of new historicism, and offers some good points for me to lecture on. At one point while reading, I came across a quote from Greenblatt that sums up why so many people avoid new historicism, literary theory, and CHID:

Anecdotes are the equivalents in the register of the real of what drew me to the study of literature: the encounter with something I could not stand not understanding, that I could not quite finish with or finish off, that I had to get out of my inner life where it had taken hold

I had typed this bit out to both Jen and Michael before realizing that yes, actually, that is it. It’s the encounter with something I can’t stand not understanding, that gets inside and takes hold and nags and nudges that I have to struggle with and contemplate and revisit and mull – that’s why I do this, instead of any of the numerous, easier routes I could take. It’s the challenge of understanding that is the lure, the dare, the taunt that keeps me engaged.


As everyone in academia knows, and most people outside of, Jacques Derrida died over the weekend. My initial reaction was, I admit, a bit embarassing – I was surprised to hear he had died, because I simply assumed he was dead. Aren’t all famous philosophers dead?

Anyhow, the NYTimes ran an obit that appears to have pissed off a good number of academically oriented people, largely for deriding the contributions Derrida made, and basically saying “thank god deconstructionism will die with him.” So the folks at UCI put together a letter they fired off to the NYTimes, complete with signatures of many people.

It’s the signatures of many people that’s getting me. I recognize names. A lot of names. I’ve been in the same room, and talked with, a few of them. Some of these names are people I’d list as very influential to how I currently think.

They’re all alive. Most of them are teachers at universities I could conceivably attend to pursue… whatever it is I’ll end up pursuing after this. That I could study with some of these great minds awes me. That I might eventually be one of these great minds scares and thrills me.

It’s very weird to have my world shifted around like this, to be only a degree of separation or three from these people I so admire, and to have it in the back of my head that one day, it could be reversed, and I could be the few degrees separation from a student who so admires me.

modernity and the war on drugs

A quick entry (although I have a backlog of topics to write on, lucky me) before I lose the thought to my fried short term memory:

One of the reasons the so-called war on drugs never achieved its goals of stopping drug use is that it was fighting a war without an opponent. This is not to say that there was no opposition, but that those dealing in the drug trade were operating on such a different level than the government, the analogy of books and pages and even libraries becomes meaningless. The government’s war on drugs is a decidedly modernist conception, a vertical column of rigid infrastructure that they expected their opposition to also adhere to. By contrast, those trading in drugs are following a more horizontal organizational style, focusing on distributed systems and cell based communications – all very postmodern. By framing their offensive on a modernist conception of reality, the government locked itself in to a method of behaviour that virtually guaranteed failure.


The Beginning

1 In the beginning the blog was created.
2 Now the blog was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit hovered.
3 And she said, “Let there be text,” and there was text. 4 She saw that the text was good, and she separated the text from the example. 5 She called the text “Academia as an Extreme Sport,” and the example she called “trashed” And there was a full trashcan, and there was text-the first hour.
6 And she said, “Let there be an expanse between the text to separate text from comment.” 7 So she made the expanse and separated the comment under the expanse from the text above it. And it was so. 8 She called the expanse “comments” for she could not figure out how to edit it otherwise. And there was the ability to comment, and there was text-the second hour.
9 And she said, “Let the image under the text be gathered to one place, and let an appealing image appear.” And it was so. 10 She called the image “default” and the gathered image she called “a template.” And she saw that it was good.
11 Then she said, “Let the author produce words: properly punctuated and grammatically correct sentences forming a coherant whole, largely commenting on the learning experience at a well-respected public university.” And it was so. 12 The author produced words: properly punctuated and grammatically correct sentences forming a coherant whole, largely commenting on the learning experience at a well-respected public university. And she saw that it was good. 13 And there was the ability to comment, and there was text-the third hour.
14 And she said, “Let there be words in the expanse of the body to separate the blog from the LiveJournal, and let them serve as signs that indicate this is a course requirement that has been taken a step further, 15 and let them be words in the expanse of the text to give light on the motivation.” And it was so. 16 She made two great blogs-the greater text to govern the day and the lesser text to govern the night. She also made a personal GreyMatter blog, but couldn’t get the RSS feed to work. 17 She set them in the expanse of her website to give light on the motivation, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And she saw that it was good. 19 And there was the ability to comment, and there was text-the fourth hour.
20 And she said, “Let the Miscellanea teem with living creatures, and let links lie to the side next to the expanse of the text.” 21 So she created the great links of the Miscellanea, the blogs with which the internet teems, according to their kinds, And she saw that it was good. 22 She blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the internet with intelligence and bring me humour during the day.” 23 And there was the ability to comment, and there was text-the fifth hour.
24 And she said, “Let the categories produce a way of filing according to their kinds: CHID 370, the cultural impact of information technology, CHID 390, the interpretation of texts and culture, MHE 401, the history of medicine, Statistics 220, basic statistics, and more to come, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 She made the categories according to their kinds. And she saw that it was good.
26. She saw all that she had made, and it was very good. And there was the ability to comment, and there was text-the sixth hour.
27. Thus the blog was completed in all its vast array.
28. By the seventh hour she had finished the work she had been doing; so on the seventh hour she rested from all her work. 3 And she blessed the seventh hour and made it holy, because on it she rested from all the work of creating that she had done.

UW Stops Accepting Transfer Students

Faced with overwhelming demand, the University of Washington has stopped accepting applications from community college students and won’t consider them until the spring and possibly summer quarters of 2005. The decision means that hundreds of transfer students who normally would expect to finish their bachelor’s degrees at the UW will have to change or postpone their plans. When the university does start accepting applications, the competition to get in will be intense, officials said yesterday. And, if those students want to stay near Seattle and enter one of the UW’s two branch campuses, they’d better hurry.Officials at UW-Tacoma and at UW-Bothell say those campuses, too, will be turning away students by fall.
– Seattle PI

Ouch. This makes me sad. The Direct Transfer Agreement was the only way it was possible for me to get into UW; I’m a non-traditional, older student; the DTA meant I could transfer here without having to worry about my lack of SAT scores or community service and other “rounding” qualifiers. While my GPA was hardly an issue, the lack of SAT scores themselves would have been a serious blocking issue.

I’m at work right now, and freshman orientation for family and students is going on; we’re swarmed with incoming students. It’s wonderful to see all these fresh and excited faces; they’re so young! But at the same time, I realize that there are hundreds of older students who won’t be making this same tour anymore. And, as the saying goes, there but for the grace of god…