Category Archives: Reads

A response to Mark Morford

It’s like the Q-tip hitting just the right hard-to-reach itch. The thing that makes your senses come alive so fiercely you remember you were kind of numb before. Your mind gets caught up in things but your body, your body wants you to live in it, too. You can refuse it but it will remind you. The Q-tip will remind you. Or maybe the thought-equivalent of that Q-tip will remind you. Continue reading


Foucault For Beginners

Lydia Alix Fillingham: Foucault For Beginners

Oh, I’ve read Foucault. Not a lot, but I have. I used his idea of “reserve discourse” for a paper. Less directly, my mother used him as a lens for her thesis a few years ago (a critical analysis of “Sex And The City”), so long before I read him I was hearing about him.

But he is, I think we can all admit, difficult. I got this book as a way to introduce me to his theories-at-large, so I can go on to read his actual texts with some prior understanding, instead of having to run to this post-structuralist Ph.D I know that I’m constantly bothering with this sort of thing (e.g., “Help! What the hell does Derrida mean by this?”)

I know the arguments of simplicity and substitution. But as a primer—not a substitute—it’s fantastic. Accessible but not insulting to the intelligence. I’m not sure how helpful it’d be to someone with no foundation in philosophy/theory or the social sciences or post-structuralism/postmodernism in particular, but everything at every level needs to be worked up to anyway.

I particularly appreciate the unabashedly feminist lens it was written with (sly comments here and there, nothing detracting). My favorite part was not even about Foucault directly; it was an imaginary conversation between Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre:

Beauvoir: Aren’t people constrained by the ideas presented to them? Aren’t you making things a little bit easier than they really are?
Sartre: Simone, how could you say that? You know I revere as we all do the great philosopher of social conditions, Karl Marx. But I can’t help thinking that however oppressed circumstances or other people may render us, we will still have some choices of action or inaction, and we must take full responsibility for those decisions.
Beauvoir: I’m not so sure. Take women. As “The Second Sex” (1949) we are brought up in a world defined by men, and we ourselves are defined by men. How free are we to break away from the definition of ourselves as secondary if we never encounter any other definition?
Sartre: Yes, dear.

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Ben Elton is a genius

Quotes from This Other Eden, one of British comedian-turned-novelist Ben Elton‘s early novels, which I just finished. (I’m useless at writing reviews sometimes, when something blows me away so much, as Ben Elton frequently [i.e., always] does. It’s weird how something can be so absurd yet so captivating.)

“Everything is fascinating when you should be working.”

“Plastic quoted Nathan with such withering sarcasm that all the pot plants died.”

“Max had to make a career decision. This woman had just tried to murder the most powerful producer in the world, a producer for whom Max very much wanted to work. On the other hand, this same woman was very attractive indeed, and her announcement of execution had contained some extremely valid points. What to do?”

“‘I’m a screenwriter,’ said Nathan, ‘and I thought I didn’t love my wife but then she left me and it turned out that I did love her after all. Actually, you and I met at Plastic Tolstoy’s, when you tried to kill him and had to hide in the rain forest, but you probably don’t remember.’”

“One of the few genuine perks of being a member of an oppressed minority is that you can choose when and when not to play the card. One minute, objecting to being defined by one’s religion, race or whichever orifice you choose to take it up. Then the next minute, claiming special debating rights at dinner parties with the very same grounds. Sometimes this trick can actually be pulled off in the space of a single sentence.
“‘As a Bhuddist cat-shagger, I deeply resent the way you seem to constantly categorise people by their religion or sexuality.’” (261)

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Ideal worlds

A letter to my friend S. G. Collins:

Finally got a chance to read “A kitten at the feet of Olympia.” I don’t know what it is, but you keep creating characters that I want to fall in love with. Perhaps we have the same taste in women. One day we will meet our perfect woman, and have to fight over her. But I tire too easily and am too prone to living in fantasy, so you would win. Continue reading

I love this paragraph

“I grew.
“I grew and stretched and raged around the room, filled the place with my fists and feet. I got my knees off the floor and walked. I hit the walls and clawed them. I broke through the clothes that were put on me. I wailed and cursed, hard words that came through the open window to me. I only stopped to swallow snot and any food that got in my way. My mother grew fat on the air that I left her. I slept where I fell.”

—Roddy Doyle, “A Star Called Henry” (yes, the same Roddy Doyle that wrote the Barrytown trilogy; woah)

I’m Published!

A poem of mine, “Hassle-Free Sex!”, was published in former-fellow-student Gina Abelkop-aka-‘s brilliant and beautiful omnibus, “Finery”.

Click on that link to purchase or trade a copy. Really. You should. Not just for my poem, but for everyone else’s stuff plus the gorgeous design of it. I’m listening to the “Amélie” soundtrack right now and it and this omnibus go together really well. The finer things in life… sigh… :)

On “The Breakfast Club”

“[John] Hughes was unforgivably remiss as far as multiculturalism goes. These are all suburban white kids, for god’s sake! If The Breakfast Club were made today, Judd Nelson’s part would be played by Tupac, and Anthony Michael Hall’s by B. D. Wong. Ally Sheedy’s character would be a lesbian, and the Emilio Estevez character wouldn’t exist.”

– Jason Cohen and Michael Krugman, “Generation Ecch!