Archive for March 2009

More Things I Have to Put Up With

March 27, 2009

The anthropology blog Savage Minds had an amusing post recently about some ridiculously “postmodern” titles for academic papers. To wit, education researcher Paul Smith has published papers with titles like, “an ILL/ELLip(op)tical po – ETIC/EMIC/Lemic/litic post® uv ed DUCAT ion recherché repres©entation” and “Split———ting the ROCK of {speci [ES]al} e.ducat.ion: FLOWers of lang[ue]age in >DIS.” The former paper is summarized as follows:

An approximately excessive, already-much-too-full, incomprehensibly elliptical poetics of research representation, this post/conceptual writing/writhing about research explores a poetic, poemic, polemic, politic, post discourse, and describes a new grammar and rhetoric for understanding education and social science. It offers an undiscovered set of metaphors to unpack ed DUCAT ion scanty science. It is a spoken/written langue/tongue piece based on an intentionally outlandish and overwhelming form used by (some) conceptual, and POST poets. Avoiding the never-transparent language that inscribes the offalic and violent taxonomy of norm(&)al academic research Repres©entation, this writ(h)ing outlines, through a flagrantly and literally/littorally entirely tiresome, unspeakably visual and aural word conflagration, a po-etic that begins to de-inscribe the nature of metaphoric, medicalized, ventriloquizing, normative discourse of social science/education.

I admit, I thought a much milder version of this writing style was cool as an undergraduate. But that was 10 years ago! I really thought, or at least hoped, that the academy had moved on. Thanks to Lazlo for slapping me out my hyphens and slashes when I wrote my first graduate school application back in 2002.

In somewhat happier news, I just read an article that claims Amazon sales of the Communist Manifesto have risen 700% (!) and those of Das Kapital have doubled since the beginning of the economic slump. (Side note: how does Amazon know when the slump started if none of the economists can figure it out? Corporate conspiracy!) There’s better reads than Marx in times like these, but Marx is waaay better than most of the standard alternatives.


New Mexican Sanity

March 19, 2009

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico signed a bill yesterday ending the use of the death penalty in that state. Richardson’s statement has some good reasons even people who support the penalty in theory should be against its current practice. 15 down, 35 to go….

Yoder Comes Alive!!

March 12, 2009

The great Christian-anarchist website Jesus Radicals has just updated their website and simultaneously blown my freaking mind. Not only do they now have the internet’s best Jacques Ellul collection. Not only do they have previously hard-to-find Yoder articles from the Gospel Herald. But they have 10 minutes of video of Prof. John Howard Yoder rapping about why democracy is an ambiguous concept. Yoder has been my intellectual master for the past 5 years or so, and until about 15 minutes ago I’d never heard his voice or seen more than a couple of pictures of him (he died in 1997). I’m kind of freaking out.

Regent Bookstore has made available DVDs of a full lecture series Yoder did on New Testament Ethics. Umm, my birthday’s soon…anyone?!

Baila el guaguanco

March 9, 2009

Okay, I haven’t been posting at all because I’ve been super busy with school/music and really haven’t had anything to say that’s not directly applicable to those two things. But today I feel like communicating with my legion of virtually real readers, so here are two possibly interesting things I’ve done in the past week:

(1) Submitted two paper proposals for next year’s American Academy of Religion Annual Conference. I presented at the last one in Chicago, and really need to get in to this one, as it’s pretty much the main place I’ll be interviewing for jobs (if there are any jobs). I feel great about my paper proposals, though there’s never any guarantees.  I put in a paper on Bourdieu, Yoder and the possibility of nonviolence to the Religion and Social Sciences section. Here I look at how Yoder’s Politics of Jesus was written against traditional Weberian sociology of religion; but Bourdieu significantly updated/transformed that sociology, and I think grappling with Bourdieu’s critique of prophets as essentially violent is a good exercise for pacifists in learning to be symbolically nonviolent.

The other paper is for the Christianity and Academia Consultation and argues that within the symbolic and material economy of the university I attend, theology is essentially worthless, i.e., not worth people knowing about at all. This second paper may provide a foundation for the last chapter of my dissertation, and gives me the opportunity to do a little empirical research. But mainly I proposed it because I find it really fascinating that people I meet in bars and parties on a weekly basis have no idea what “Divinity” (as an academic discipline) or “theology” are. I understand that people might think it’s lame, but that they (“they” being mostly other university students) are totally ignorant about the subject is strange. So I’m looking around at the structure of the university in terms of funding, enrollment, etc. to show that there is really no advantage whatsoever for anyone to know about us…even if they like our library a lot!

(2) Just went down to London for a couple shows with Diva Abrasiva. The first one was at the legendary Cafe OTO and we were honored to hear a speech there by the even-more legendary Steve Beresford on accidents in electronic improvisation (in brief, he thinks they are good). Then BLISTRAP absolutely blew my head apart. Mick Beck is a god. Possibly the best thing I’ve seen since Humcrush a couple of years ago. The second show was at Pangea Project, which is a cool new venue/community space in Stoke-Newington. We had a tiny crowd there but still a fun show. Oh, and I seem incapable of playing anything other than guaguanco on the drums right now, hence the title of this post. Diva Abrasiva is still touring, so if you happen across this in the UK, click on the link and come out! I’m back in Scotland, but will rejoin the dudes in Dundee on Friday.