Friday, March 24, 2017

Somnambulant Pleasures




In this internet meta-moment, a daughter shares with her father her sister's video of his sleepwalking.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Two Beheadings Or Not Two Beheadings



Holofernes was an Assyrian general who, according to the apocryphal Book of Judith, wanted to have sex with Judith before destroying Israel.

Other versions have it that Judith, upset with her fellow Jews for not trusting in God to save them from foreign powers, travels to the Assyrian camp, gains the trust of Holofernes, then, when he is drunk, slips into his tent and cuts off his head.

The painting up top is by Artemisia Gentileschi and is notable because it shows the effort it takes to cut a human head from its body. The painting below is by Caravaggio and is notable, too, but for the opposite reason.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Open Casket (2016)



Our maker gave us to each other. Our parents, and their parents, helped to make our faces. Emmett Till (1941-1955) had a beautiful wide-eyed face that was as much his parents' faces as it was his own. Murderers Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam took Emmett Till's face and abstracted it until their fears were momentarily allayed. Emmett Till's mother chose to show that face to the world -- both in person and in photographs -- after her son's body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River and prepared by staff at A. A Rayner & Sons Funeral Homes. Now, over sixty years since his murder, Dana Schutz has made a painting of Emmett Till's funereal face and some people are calling not for a conversation about this painting, but for its destruction.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hyphenation



Yesterday's post on the American Conservative website asks, "Is Trump the New Teddy Roosevelt?"

In an excerpt below, we are told that both presidents are against hyphenation, with Roosevelt using a hyphenated word to indicate the intensity of his commitment:

Roosevelt famously railed against “hyphenated Americanism” and declared that America was not a “mosaic of nationalities.” In language that rings as distinctly Trumpian today, Roosevelt demanded total allegiance and nothing else from American citizens, native and naturalized alike: “A square deal for all Americans means relentless attack on all men in this country who are not straight-out Americans and nothing else.”

Monday, March 20, 2017


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Who Sings the Nation-State? (2010) by Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is a book that looks like it was made from a recording of an on-stage conversation or an email exchange. It begins with ten pages of Butler, before Spivak says, "You said we're reading Arendt." Another thirty pages of Butler before Spivak says, "Oh listen, I don't want to say anything more about Agamben because you've already said it but I'm tempted. But you have more, no?"

Early in Butler's opening she addresses the hyphen between "nation" and "state":

"So, already, the term state can be dissociated from the term 'nation' and can be cobbled together through a hyphen, but what work does the hyphen do? Does the hyphen finesse the relation that needs to be explained? Does it suggest a fallibility at the heart of the relation?"

Saturday, March 18, 2017

"Go ask Alice...I think she'll know"



Go Ask Alice was a sensation when it was first published in 1971. Constructed as a diary by a 15-year-old who died of a drug overdose, this Anonymous-ly authored book was in all likelihood written by Beatrice Sparks, a 54-year-old youth counsellor and registered therapist.

I was curious to see Go Ask Alice as a course text in the UBCO Bookstore earlier this week. The shelf card says the book is assigned to CULT 400K -- "CULT" for Cultural Studies, right?

The title of the book is from the Grace Slick penned, Jefferson Airplane song "White Rabbit", from the band's amazing Surrealistic Pillow (1967) album. "My Best Friend" is another song from that album, written by Skip Spence, who, as a member of Moby Grape, gave us "Omaha" (1967), and a solo album, Oar (1969), which only gets better with age.