Quick Study: April 2010 Archives

Another reminder that the miraculous thing about Anti-Intellectualism in American Life is that Hofstadter kept it to one volume.:

Water, fire, air and dirt
Fucking magnets -- how do they work?
And I don't wanna talk to a scientist
Y'all motherfuckers lying, and getting me pissed....


This sort of thing is almost beyond parody. But not quite, thank heaven:

How did God even think up dirt?
Erasable pens make my head hurt...
Yo, how do suitcases always know where to meet you, huh?

via

April 23, 2010 1:00 PM | | Comments (18)

There are some pages in Bourdieu that would apply to the following dialogue very well, but I can't help feeling like they would be redundant.

Besides, this has a swearing rabbit, or puppy, or whatever it is. Commentary pales before the primary text.

A nod to Adam and Anthony, who'd just, you know, do the #*?%@! reading....

April 20, 2010 5:05 PM | | Comments (4)
'The most blatant of these [alterations of the historical record in Orwell's Animal Farm] concerns the character of Napoleon. It is clear that Napoleon represents Stalin, just as Old Major is Marx and Snowball is Trotsky. Who then represents Lenin? Since Orwell depicts the Rebellion as led by two pigs, Napoleon and Snowball, one is forced to the conclusion that Napoleon also represents Lenin. Thus in Animal Farm the figures of Lenin and Stalin are merged into one character. This is of enormous ideological significance. The dominant orthodoxies both West and East have always insisted, each for its own reasons, on the continuity of Leninism and Stalinism: the former to discredit Marxism and the revolution itself as the inevitable prelude to tyranny, the latter to claim for themselves the heritage of the great revolutionary....If Animal Farm had contained a separate Lenin figure, this would not in itself have resolved the matter (any more than it does in real life), but it would at least have permitted the continuity to have been questioned within the terms of the text. As it is the merger of Lenin and Stalin in Napoleon forecloses on this possibility, and greatly strengthens the impression of a smooth and inevitable degeneration into dictatorship'.
John Molyneux, 'Animal Farm Revisited', International Socialism journal 44, (Autumn 1989).

'For a Marxist, Orwell's depiction of the rise and fall of the Russian Revolution in 'Animal Farm' is rather problematic due, in part, to his apparent conflation of Lenin and Stalin into one character - Napoleon - or rather the absence of a 'Lenin' character altogether. This implies Leninism led to Stalinism in a crude and ahistorical manner.'
'Snowball', 'A quick question about George Orwell', Histomat blog, 22 August 2005.

'There is, however, one very salient omission. There is a Stalin pig and a Trotsky pig, but no Lenin pig...Nobody appears to have pointed this out at the time (and if I may say so, nobody but myself has done so since; it took me years to notice what was staring me in the face).'
Christopher Hitchens, 'Where is the Lenin pig in Animal Farm?', The Guardian, 17 April 2010.

                                                 (via Histomat)
April 19, 2010 2:23 PM | | Comments (4)
Among other places, Inside Higher Ed notes:

The Library of Congress has announced that it is archiving every public tweet on Twitter since its inception in 2006. While many don't think of Twitter for its historic significance, the collection will include such items as the first-ever tweet and Barack Obama's tweet about winning the 2008 election.
One of my wife's colleagues at the LC responds: "When I am in charge of everything we're going to catalog those tweets by IQ level."

While we're on the libraries-and-preservation front, let me mention that my column yesterday was on a history of the destruction of books, timed to coincide with the anniversary of the burning of the National Library in Baghdad.
April 15, 2010 11:15 AM | | Comments (0)
My colleagues at Inside Higher Ed have been offering various Twitter feeds, and one in particular that may bear mentioning to followers of this blog is IHEpublishing, which will keep you updated on things IHE runs about university presses, journal publishing, academic libraries, and the like. (The links they post include my column, of course, but plenty more besides.)

Also highly recommended for major meta-nerd coverage is the website of Against the Grain, which has just started offering the ATG News Channel for subscribers.

I've enthused about ATG before. It is strictly for the hardcore inside-scholarly-publishing-and-libraries constituency, but I always find something interesting in each issue and will post things here drawing on the News Channel material, if it seems appropriate.

By the way, I've also been doing the Twitter thing for a while -- albeit with all the inconsistency and ambivalence that seems to accompany my efforts at blogging itself, let alone the micro sort. Anyway, the feed is up and I will try to keep, well, feeding it. 
April 5, 2010 10:58 AM | | Comments (0)

Earlier today, while rereading various things by David Foster Wallace, I came across this paragraph in his report on the 1998 awards event sponsored by Adult Video News, the journal of record for the pornographic film and video industry:

[T]he endless lists of categories and nominees are interspersed with little entr'actes of musical entertainment. Ms. Dyanna Lauren, for instance, appears between Best-Selling Tape and Best Foreign Release to sing her original composition "Psycho Magnet," a hard-rock ballad about being a porn star and getting constantly stalked and harassed by mentally ill mooks. The song's argumentation strikes yr. corresps. as a bit uneven, but Ms. Lauren struts and contorts and punctuates her phrasing with uppercuts to the air like a genuine MTV diva. The downside is that vocally, even with heavy amplification and digital synthesis, Dyanna Lauren sounds like a scalded cat, although Dick Filth points out that so does Alanis Morissette, and H. Hecuba chimes in by shouting: "Say whatever you want about the song-and-dance numbers here, they sure beat what Wahlberg and Reilly were coming up with in Boogie Nights!"
Filth and Hecuba are DFW's "native informants" from the industry. Anyway, when this essay was reprinted in Consider the Lobster a few years ago, I recall wondering what the song "Psycho Magnet" actually sounded like, but had no luck finding out. (Not that I quite applied myself to this effort.) Today, however, it is possible not only to hear the song but to witness the performance in question:

It certainly adds a little something to the experience of reading DFW's essay. ("The song's argumentation strikes yr. corresps. as a bit uneven...") "Psycho Magnet" is available on the self-titled album of Lauren's group, Thousand Year Itch, which is, all things considered, a pretty great name for a band that played that particular venue.

The album was released ten years ago and I don't see any sign of Thousand Year Itch going on to do anything else, but on Amazon you can hear clips from it, including the TYI covers of "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Helter Skelter." The latter somehow reminds me of being dragged by a friend to a proto-hair metal bar in Dallas in 1980. But recording "Preacher Man" was a nice touch.

The studio rendition of "Psycho Magnet" has much less ardor than the live performance, and I am just glad someone preserved it for posterity, having now listened to this video three times and finding it kind of pricelessly unhinged, especially the guitar solo, which shows the influence of the great Nigel Tufnel.

April 4, 2010 4:00 PM | | Comments (7)

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