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Feb 24
Zach:
    Theory Group: Materialism

    Please start new questions/threads about any topic that interests you, however broadly- or narrowly-focused. The following questions are meant only as possible starting points.

    This Group is tied to the Winter 2010 Graduate Seminar, ENG 236: The Materialist Trajectory, Professor Enda Duffy, UCSB.

    In addition to general discussions, feel free to post specific paper/project proposals, however rough, here.


    Paper/Project topics and General Musings:

    Feb 17
    Zach:
      Unboxing
      I am interested in looking closely at the phenomenon of the "unboxing" video, a popular genre of DIY YouTube product. These videos, which range from the mundane to the outrageously elaborate, are made by self-proclaimed gadget enthusiasts when they receive a new product in the mail. The self-made video documents the literal unboxing of the product, layer by layer, until the product itself is unveiled.

      You tube clip
      <w:mediasearch>


      It seems to me that this represents a fascinating public ritualization of the commodity, a meta-level fetish that not only (of course) serves to further fetishize it, but also to individualize it, to stage the maker's relationship with the commodity as art-making process. The video, ostensibly about the product, is also art-as-ritual. This seems to be an inverting of the Benjamin principle of mechanically (in this case digitally) reproducable art as de-ritualized. In some sense the de-ritualized, mass-produced, but still desired object is re-encoded as object of art. The representation of the object, the performance of ritual, is itself the artwork to be consumed, and in that sense stands in for the commodity itself.

      Because this performance is erotic in nature, the obvious place to start here is Roland Barthes' "Striptease." In particular, his reading of striptease as a progressive stripping away of the eroticizing layers of clothing, marking the moment of nudity as the moment of desexualization is quite useful here: the packaging in "unboxing" is fetishized more than the commodity--that is precisely what is unique about this genre. The revelation of the commodity, which the viewer can potentially own herself, marks its desexualization, its reduction to use-value. (Many videos, such as the one above, make the mistake of testing the product out after the unboxing. Naturally these are not as popular as "pure" unboxing videos.)

      Central to my paper will be Horkheimer's and Adorno's "The Culture Industry," as well as Benjamin's "Work of Art." I'm particularly interested in how the decentralized, DIY mileau of YouTube, where anything is possible, actually ritualizes mostly mass-produced commodities, and does so by reproducing the forms (tropes) of the elite Culture Industry.

      In terms of this last point, I'm not sure which authors to turn to theoretically. Does anyone have any suggestions, about this or other theorists I can turn to more generally on this subject?

      Thanks,
      Zach
      <w:mediasearch>

    Feb 14
    Alison Reed:
      The Metaphor of the Striptease
      I wonder if you might want to pick up Deleuze and Guattari for this project… let me trace out the ideas that let me to Anti-Oedipus in particular:
      Beginning with the metaphor of the striptease, which is of course from The Pleasure of the Text: “Is not the most erotic portion of the body where the garment gapes? In perversion (which is the realm of textual pleasure) there are no ‘erogenous zones’ (a foolish expression, besides); it is intermittence, as psychoanalysis has so rightly stated, which is erotic: the intermittence of skin flashing between two articles of clothing (trousers and sweater), between two edges (the open-necked shirt, the glove and the sleeve); it is this flash itself which seduces, or rather: the staging of an appearance-as-disappearance” (Barthes 9-10).
      Desire as absence, or lack, conjures a distinctly Lacanian notion of pleasure (I would be happy to post more about this if anyone is interested but for now I will let it stand alone). Deleuze and Guattari reject this model of desire based on lack in Anti-Oedipus: “If desire produces, its product is real. If desire is productive, it can be productive only in the real world and can produce only reality . . . The objective being of desire is the Real in and of itself” (26-27). For Deleuze and Guattari, desire is not a lack, as conceived of in Lacan’s earlier work, but a productive force. Desire lacks a fixed subject, and instead represents a set of passive syntheses that operate automatically within the unconscious. Thus,“Lack is a countereffect of desire; it is deposited, distributed, vacuolized within a real that is natural and social. Desire always remains in close touch with the conditions of objective existence; it embraces them and follows them, shifts when they shift, and does not outlive them” (27). Nonetheless, in the words of Deleuze and Guattari, capitalist flows produce the following conditions: “Death is not desired, but what is desired is dead, already dead: images” (337). Deleuze and Guattari go on to explain that lack is the product of a market economy, which thrives on engendering subjects always in need of more and more—that is to say, the endless accumulation and fetishization of goods.
      Works Cited
      Barthes, Roland. The Pleasure of the Text. Translated by Richard Miller. With a Note on the Text by Richard Howard. New York: Hill and Wang, 1975.
      Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Preface by Michel Foucault. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983.
    Feb 17
    Zach:
      Thanks Alison! I will try to at least dip my toe, for this essay, in the murky lake of Deleuze and Guattari, at least in relation to desire and the commodity, and perhaps lack (I could hardly leave that out, could I?).

      I was actually referring to Barthes' essay "Striptease" in Mythologies, not The Pleasure of the Text, but I will consider that as well. Whereas the later Pleasure appears to use the striptease as a metaphor for the text (or at least the text that seduces?), the earlier essay, in deconstructing Parisian striptease, sees a ritual of desexualization, an "exorcism" of sexuality. That this is productive metaphorically there is no doubt, but it is also a critique of a cultural practice. Which text, then, is more Materialist?
      Feb 18
      Alison Reed:
        I think that to choose between the two is in some sense to decide whether you are more interested in taking the linguistic or the psychoanalytic turn. Mythologies, published in 1957, is deeply entrenched in structuralism and Saussurean semiology, whereas The Pleasure of the Text (1975) was written after the text (S/Z) that most markedly documents the influence of post-structuralism on his previously structuralist methodologies. Of course, the project of dismantling myths in the first work seems more overtly materialist, but perhaps it would be interesting to trace the distance between nearly twenty years of one of Barthes’ most compelling metaphors?
      Feb 25
      Zach:


        1


        Subject: desexualization through unwrapping/unboxing
        Range: previous thread
        Suggestions: moving through successive data visualizations, until database is stripped of meaning




    What is work? How is it represented? How does it relate to labor? How does it relate to the "labor theory of value"?



    What is value? How can we talk about value in terms of materialist critique? How is value related to or part of culture? Is there more value in high or low culture, and if so, why?




    How can we think about consciousness in materialist terms? What is "field of vision"? What is "ideology"? How can one see through reification? On what grounds can we claim that our vision has validity?
    Mar 5
    Alison Reed:
      Podcast on Louis Althusser’s “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes Towards an Investigation)” (approx. 16 minutes):

      file


      I also attached the handout from my in-class presentation:

      file








    Feb 17
    Zach:
      Some thoughts on "Facs of Life," a film about/orbiting/after Giles Deleuze, focusing on the lives of eleven of his students. Here's a link to an extended trailer: http://www.streaming.mmu.ac.uk/eri/deleuze/facs_of_life.wmv

      The filmmakers, Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni, are at UCSB this week, screening the piece as both a theatrical film (which I attended) and as an experimental video installation (which I haven't seen). Here are my initial thoughts, in note form:

    • The film is non-narrative, non-linear (as far as it goes), and quite beautiful (visually and aurally). It is also inordinately obsessed with its own status as film ("rushes in no rush to become a film"). In this respect it feels very much like a late sixties or early seventies Godard film. In fact, it lifts numerous tropes from these films, even lifting a whole scene from a (short) film I haven't seen. The filmmakers explained during the discussion that the original scene involved three students and three factory workers in a field, soon after May 1968, discussing what to do next. A fire keeps them warm as it slowly burns out. "Facs of Life" restages this scene between four students on the edge of a field of sorts, adjacent to an enormous metallic building. A fire keeps them warm but is slowly burning out.
    • One change is particularly telling: where are the factory workers?
      Feb 18
      Alison Reed:
        I think the absence of the workers in this particular scene is one of the film’s many deliberate ghosts, which perhaps mirrors/reflects on the theoretical disappearance of the word class from class consciousness (as Enda suggested yesterday in seminar)—or the ways in which class has been under-theorized in a totalizing neoliberal hegemony that works hard to present America as a middle-class Subject, when in fact the income gap discrepancy is spiraling out of control (see Mike Davis’ City of Quartz or David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism).
        What I found most compelling about the film’s self-consciousness, or its engagement with the medium as such in resisting the recuperation of trauma: its haunting, and its obsession with the film as unarchivable archive, not to mention the audience’s spectrality—the film presents the notion that the image has more of a past and a future than the individual whose gaze attempts to re-temporalize it.

    • More striking, perhaps, are the similarities, not only in this scene, but between this film and the work of Godard and Chris Marker, done over 30 years ago. In some ways the question is: why remake those films?
    • One of the filmmakers commented: perhaps cinema has actually leapt ahead of praxis and left us incapable of enacting change. I was thinking the same about their film as I watched it: where does the aestheticization of Deleuze's themes leave us? That flickering flame feels less urgent than beautiful.
    • The filmmakers indicated that their artistic enemies were: representation, identification, and intentionality.
    • One particularly arresting scene involved one of Deleuze's students reading "Anti-Oedipus" out loud to a stream of passing cars from the edge of a freeway at night. It was quite beautiful. The drivers could not be affected, but the viewers could. Perhaps this is one tactic of resistance.
    • There was plenty on space, but I'll leave it to Alison Reed or Mike Frangos (both of whom were there as well) to pick that up...
    • One humorous anecdote, from the filmmakers, not the film: Sometimes Deleuze's students would ask a question and he would respond, "Yes, we'll return to that question in two years." And then he would. How? People would attend and participate in these lectures for many years. They were not degree seeking students, academics by trade, but people from various (mostly creative) walks of life, who believed that the knowledge/thinking that occurred in those rooms was useful for living. Accordingly, they attended for a long time, and also according to the filmmakers, they all professed to understand absolutely nothing for the first year or two. There was no choice but to stick it out!
    Feb 25
    Zach:

      1



      Subject: Reading theory to people who can't hear, as action staged for others. Images as having greater history than viewers of them.
      Range: previous thread
      Suggestions: accessing viewers of a given image, timespan






    How can we theorize actual change, or, to put it more simply, how does change occur?

    Feb 17
    Alison Reed:
      Visibility, Spectacular Unreadability and Democracy

      In thinking about the link between representation and the body, as well as mobilizing theories of embodied alterity in social space, I became fascinated by French philosopher Jacques Rancière’s staging of politics as an event that disrupts the existing order. Rancière is associated with neo-Marxists working in Althusser’s circle during the 1960s. Interestingly, Rancière’s break from Althusser occurred in response to the May 1968 student uprising (events which Althusser called “counterrevolutionary”), and which marked the beginning of a replacement of conservative with liberal political ideals in France. Rancière also came to believe that Althusserian Marxism was a “philosophy of order” that prevented active revolt against the bourgeoisie. Rancière then began to re-examine socio-political and historical forces influencing the production of theory. One of his central concerns is from what position do we speak and in the name of whom? I think Rancière will help me trace out an argument about democracy, representation, and effecting change in the political sphere through what I will call “spectacular unreadability.” In building on Rancière’s discussion of the partitioning of visibility in social space, my paper will argue that spectacular unreadability is a certain kind of political visual presence, or a hyper-visibility, that defies existing codes and conventions—and thus refuses both capitalist incorporation of subculture style by the mainstream (as with punk subculture) or a typological criminalization (as with the zoot suiter style becoming a preemptively criminalized body).
      If we take the simplistic definition of democracy as the free and equal right of every person to participate in a system of government, then clearly we must begin again; that is to say, to find democracy in the ruptures rather than re-instantiations of the political power in which “majority rule” is predicated. “Equality” exists in democracy only through the systematic and violent policing of space to rule out the minority. Conceiving of diverse “representation” as the goal of democracy, and as a strategy for implementing its vision, my paper seeks to examine the rupture of the political, which is where politics really happens for Rancière, through the visual register. The circulation of bodies that continually confronts the accepted order could be one small but necessary step to staging actual change in politics. Conceived of as an embodied Deleuzian deterritorialization in the political sphere (which is everywhere), what is the possibility for effecting change through spectacular visual confrontations to the dominant order? And furthermore, what would unreadability look like without being subsumed by invisibility (or in Rancière’s terms, an “unrecognizable modality”)?
      My paper will draw from theorists of subculture, such as Dick Hebdige and Simon Frith, in order to work through the problem they expose and analyze in their work, which is that forms of spectacular rebellion have always been appropriated by mainstream capitalist flows. As Hebdige argues in “Subculture: The Meaning of Style,” spectacular youth culture is always returned to capitalism, or normalized under its systematic cataloging of subculture codes. We are left with the dilemma of creating a rebellious subculture style that remains unreadable, while highly visible, and thus evades hegemonic systematization.
      These new interstitial subculture identities are at once highly visual but also disruptive, or political. But what would these bodies look like? How does one avoid the hailing? Let’s take one example. Antonio Viego addresses one possible response to this moment of hailing in his discussion of the “pachuco’s/a’s and zoot suiter’s endless production of meaning” through the visual realm (151), by constructing “an incalculable, unreadable, and unrecognizable text” (142). Rosa Linda Fregoso also traces out some sites of resistance within the visual register through the ways in which “pachucas” enter the public sphere through a confrontational visual presence, against the grain of expectations of “feminine” behavior—these women are “mythic figures” in their “transgression of gender and sexual norms, their rejection of Mexican American propriety (buenos modales)” (91). In “carving their presence in the public sphere” (91), pachucas “exhibited a mastery over the urban, masculinized territory of the streets” (91).
      However, as I mentioned before, subculture theorists are quick to note that these “unreadable” texts quickly become easily identifiable class, gender, ethnic or racialized stereotypes that are circumscribed by the law. It becomes necessary, therefore, to theorize a new kind of visual resistance. Lázaro Lima discusses the difficulty of resisting the system when that resistance often requires partial complicity, “since the enabling condition for intervention and clout in the public sphere has often meant the uncritical acceptance of bourgeois inclusionary norms” (7). Lima discusses the post-Mexican-American War’s assertion of a counteridentity, the Chicano—“born out of the interstices where ethnic memory meets American cultural amnesia” (9). Lima explores the multiple ways in which the Latino body has reconstituted itself within the order Lauren Berlant calls the “National Symbolic,” as the “archive of images and language the nation depends on to represent Americanness” (9).
      Lima’s key tropes of the body and memory summon the juridical term corpus delicti—meaning body of crime. This term is useful insofar as the “National Symbolic categories of citizenship and the discourses of national belonging are plagued with metaphors with juridical meaning and historical weight (alien, citizen, legal, illegal, foreigner, national, immigrant, migrant)” (15). Lima critiques the fantasy produced by cultural amnesia that “continues an investment in American national identity through a folk mythology that is neither historically factual nor ethically accountable” (21). Lima writes that we must “awaken from the elusive embrace of a national fantasy incapable of reciprocating our love of difference” (126).
      In response to Lima’s challenge, I will mobilize Rancière’s attention to the theatrical space of politics. Rancière, after all, draws a link between politics and aesthetics, as both are a mode of visibility. So, we must ask: what is visible in the political realm, and how might a disruption of that order catalyze change? Rancière explodes this question in the space of the theatre as an “aesthetic practice,” which resonates with Butler’s idea of performativity—a destabilization of accepted ideological codes through heightened awareness of and mockery of them (take, for instance, the figure of the drag performer as a grand performance of gender that destabilizes the fixity of male/female). Although, of course, performativity is generally not a daily personal choice but a ritualized reiteration that enacts a kind of violence on the bodies it polices into submission. Like Butler, Rancière draws on J.L. Austin’s notion of the performative utterance—which is neither true nor untrue but speaking makes it so. The speech act, for Rancière as for Butler, is a political gesture. This always paradoxical gesture is specific to the present moment and thus constantly shifts in relation to the world. Like Althusser’s ideologies in the plural, they are historically contingent. For Rancière, politics is a foundation-less foundation, and this lack of fixity that never presents itself as such encapsulates the “scandal” of politics.
      Considering Rancière’s The Politics of Aesthetics, it is important to note that he is against political philosophy’s conflation of politics proper with the police, which he defines as the force that divides communities and establishes hierarchies of the sensible. He argues that the law presupposes an aesthetic division between visible/invisible, audible/inaudible, sayable/unsayable. Politics proper broadens the scope of predetermined aesthetic categories by including what has traditionally been excluded from its illusory foundation. Rancière thus defines the political as a disruption of the police, staged by politics—in order to intervene in systems of aesthetico-political order. The excluded, or the inaudible and invisible, must intervene in the aesthetic order through affirmation of the basic tenet of politics: that we are all created equal. Democracy, then, encompasses the acts that reconfigure the sensible—not as a form of government per se. For Rancière, politics is that rare event that occurs when the coming together of sanctioned divisions of the shared world and positions within it are ruptured.

      My thesis, then, argues that visibility in social space has enormous potential, but since this potential has always been policed by the dominant order, we must reconfigure subculture style to disrupt the existing order without being subsumed by it. Thus, a new kind of political visibility is called for: spectacular unreadability. I will mobilize this term as a kind of hyper-visibility that refuses ideological inscription through its constant shifting of codes—by self-consciously moving between different ideologies, visual stances and subculture styles. The unreadable, unarticulable, visual confrontation of bodies that cannot be pinned to a particular subculture style or criminalized typology opens up a transformative space outside of the law’s jurisdiction, and yet continually presses upon its bounds. The lawlessness of unreadable spectacular identities works against the naturalizing stigma of hegemony’s visual order.

      I welcome any comments, criticisms or complications of my argument. Thank you!

      Works Cited

      Deleuze, Gilles and Félix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Preface by Michel Foucault. Translated by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem, and Helen R. Lane. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983.
      Fregoso, Rosa Linda. meXicana Encounters: The Making of Social Identities on the Borderlands. Berkeley: UC Press, 2003.
      Hebdige, Dick. “Subculture: The Meaning of Style.” From The Subcultures Reader. Edited by Ken Gelder and Sarah Thornton. London, New York: Routledge, 1997. 130-142.
      Lima, Lázaro. The Latino Body: Crisis Identities in American Literary and Cultural Memory. New York: NYU Press, 2007.
      Rancière, Jacques. The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible. Translated by Gabriel Rockhill. 2000. London, New York: Continuum, 2004.

      Viego, Antonio. Dead Subjects: Towards a Politics of Loss in Latino Studies. Durham:
      Duke UP, 2007.
      Feb 17
      Alison Reed:
        The Sexual Outlaw

        Since my last post, I have been thinking about the following question: what would these unreadable bodies actually look like in lived social space? I reread Cathy Griggers’ fascinating article “Lesbian Bodies in the Age of (Post)mechanical Reproduction,” which maps the construction of visual (and visible) queer identities in cultural and political arenas.
        As a way to examine the practice, not just theory, of “spectacular unreadability,” I will take up a close reading of the body as a kind of text, specifically the sexually other(ed) body, focusing on the figure of John Rechy—particularly his auto-doc The Sexual Outlaw.
        My concern is that while my paper is absolutely inspired by the materialist trajectory and recurring themes from discussion, it deals more explicitly with theorists not directly engaged in the course, namely Rancière (although it will certainly reference Benjamin and possibly in passing—Laclau, Mouffe, and/or Lefebvre and Certeau). Any ideas on which authors here mentioned might make for the most productive dialogue? Thank you!

    Feb 17
    Zach:
      Alison, I think this sounds like a very useful inquiry. It is all too easy to dissipate revolutionary (or indeed any) energy through the mere performance of subculture. Along with the self-congratulatory thought, "I am subversive," comes an easy abdication of responsibility for effecting change, of challenging the majority. Heidegger might be useful here: He is very concerned with the distinction between self-identification with categories prescribed by "the they" and an embrace of potentiality itself (which necessarily irupts these categories, these leveled-down possibilities). This distinction between potentiality, which could be connected to flux, and prescribed categories of being, which could be connected to prescribed subcultures. The performance of subculture, as you say, is easily reabsorbed back into capitalism. Subculture is quite profitable, and has the ancillary benefit of eleminating any real subversion of either capital or majoritarianism in democracy.

      I believe you've perfectly stated the problem:

      "We are left with the dilemma of creating a rebellious subculture style that remains unreadable, while highly visible, and thus evades hegemonic systematization."

      Again, the solution of flux, of continual change (if I'm reading you correctly), is an interesting and potentially fruitful one. In practice, however, is this still subculture? If we are to not only explode the systemitized boundaries imposed by the majority, but to destabilize the system of capital as it now exists, must we not do away with fixed identities? And once we've done that, what is left to cohere us? While I think you are right to point to the difficulty of creating style that is simultaneously unreadable and highly visible, I think this is an additional difficulty the problem of style praxis must face; namely, how can any strategy of resistance remain both social and unfixed?

      Of course, one way out of this dilemma is to abandon either the social or the flux, but neither is likely to be satisfactory to you, I'd guess.

      I think this relates in a number of ways to de Certeau. I'll start a separate thread to address him.

    Feb 17
    Patrick Mooney:
      Alison, if you're interested in pursuing the Heidegger angle, I can help you ... I did a fair amount on Being and Time as an undergrad and can help you navigate the German to some extent, too.
    Feb 17
    Lindsay Thomas:
      It may also be interesting to think about de Man has to say about the materiality of the letter as a way to continue refining your ideas about spectacular unreadability. I mention this only because so much has been written about de Man's conception of materiality (and history), and it could be useful to position yourself in this discourse. Also, you should check out Robyn Wiegman's American Anatomies: Theorizing Race and Gender. I don't know if you've run into it before, but Carl mentioned it in class the other day. Her first chapter, "Economies of Visibility" deals with precisely the problems you mention above: she explores how what she terms "economies of visibility" produce certain racial discourses and, perhaps most importantly for your project, what the critic is to do in the face of such discursive and material challenges. While her discussions of visual economies and technologies of race always bring her back around to the question of what criticism can do, she always moves to foreclose the possibility that theory can somehow be translated into direct action or even into a call for direct action. And, bringing myself back around to where I began, de Man also deals with the distinction between theory and praxis in his Resistance to Theory (especially the first chapter/essay, "The Resistance to Theory"). Actually, now that I think about it, the Foreward to that volume (U of Minnesota Press, 1986) does a nice job of explaining de Man's ideas on that topic.
      Feb 18
      Alison Reed:
        Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I definitely need to pull out my Heidegger notes from years ago, and I may take you up on your generous offer, Patrick. I have the Weigman sitting on my desk right now—I will read that first chapter right away! Also, I absolutely agree with you, Lindsay, that a consideration of de Man would be fruitful… as well as de Certeau. More on de Certeau soon, after I read Zach’s latest post (see below).

    Feb 25
    Zach:

      1



      Subject: "spectacular unreadability"
      Range: Alison's original post
      Suggestions: digital avatars- have the ability to change at all; but how to maintain relationships with others?





    Feb 17
    Zach:
      Michel de Certeau's brand of subversion

      In "The Practice of Everyday Life" de Certeau makes the claim that consumption is a form of production; that is, that is isn't merely a passive activity, but involves choice, creativity, and subversion. Just the activity of walking, to get from point A to point B, is subversive. While the participants of this activity are "blind" and cannot see the patterns they create, they nonetheless rewrite the geography they inhabit, rewiring it as it were: they make some areas drop out, and others exaggerated. It isn't clear (to me, at least) whether de Certeau is here claiming that this (re)writing primarily affects the walkers themselves, or the planners--those who see the city from above as a map, a grid. The first would be difficult to argue: if the walkers cannot see at the scale required, how can their banal activity actually affect them concretely? It seems clear that they are not walking to be subversive; they are walking to get where they need to go. The subversion, the poetics of their acts, seems epiphenomenal on de Certeau's account. And this is perhaps the greatest problem with his text: its lack of concrete detail, of any useable tools for praxis, which I'll take up in a moment. But if the walkers would just walk anyway, and as an aggregate of individuals have too limited a point of view (taken almost literally as a visual field), then who else could be affected by their writing? It is surely visible from atop the World Trade Center (de Certeau's example) or from inside a helicopter, or even as abstracted on pedestrian traffic simulations, but visibility here doesn't seem to translate into changes in material conditions. It may be true that more people traffic Broadway than Market, but surely this fact doesn't change anything. And I would argue that when we consider walkers or any other group (defined functionally), it becomes clear that their actions (considered statistically as well as individually) are entirely prescribed by their geography, which is in turn quite planned. It isn't clear to me how de Certeau hopes to get out of this trap; I suspect he hopes for an illusory escape through poetics, for certainly he makes walking sound beautiful...

      It may be that walking can be harnessed as a subversive tactic where walking is prohibited or unexpected. (Patrick, maybe you should chime in here.) That is, I certainly don't deny the possibility that a mundane action can be subversive, but the condition of rendering the act subversive would seem to require an extraordinary context--one outside of the norm (walking on roads, for instance, or on private property). The march is one form of walking that is potentially subversive. Perhaps its extreme cousin is the riot. But de Certeau isn't speaking of the extraordinary; he means our everyday walk to work, or the corner store, or the subway. Likewise, he implies that normal use of commodities involves some form of subversion of the producer's intention. (Once again: how does this translate into actual material effects?)

      The danger in arguments like de Certeau's is that it can convince us that our everyday activities, our normal mode of consumption, is in fact subversive--that is, that we are always already subversive. Needless to say, this forecloses the potential for actual, active action. Those in power always hold a great deal of stock in such platitudes: as long as consumers can consume/perform rebellion, no actual rebellion will take place.
    Feb 18
    Patrick Mooney:
      Some general thoughts that I'm much too tired to theorize rigorously:

      Walking is subversive because it removes one from the general logic of capitalist practice. The mode of being-in-capitalist-society has a certain logic of things that one "must do": a schedule of activities and a work ethic, of course, but also a mode of movement, a narrative of reward for hard work, etc. When the night manager for the business shows up for work after a four and a half mile walk in hundred and ten degree heat, it foregrounds the mythic character of the Horatio Alger story that capitalism uses to justify itself. This works in different ways at different levels. My subordinates wonder why they should bother to work harder, since the reward for promotion apparently doesn't pay off enough for me to get my car fixed in a timely manner. Clients who see me coming to work wonder about how the business treats its employees. My boss has a guilty conscience over how much he pays me. The fact that I transport myself to work this way is am implicit indictment of the capitalist logic that they business uses.

      This can be foregrounded in various ways. For instance, my boss asks me if I'm walking to work again, even though I have a car now. I reply that I won't be able to get my brakes fixed for another two or three paychecks. Luckily, there are other employees around. Also coincidentally, my boss that day was just about to leave after yet another three-hour workday in which he'd more than adequately fulfilled his general responsibility of doing his Mr. Clean impersonation. Coincidentally, I wish him a good trip to Hawaii with his wife and daughter, since all of his employees -- none of whom can afford vacations off the mainland -- know that this is his second two-week vacation in that state during the year. This is not exactly an explicit indictment, but it's closer to the surface than just showing up sweaty and changing in the employee bathroom before clocking in.

      But this is a particular example that doesn't address de Certeau's general concerns particularly closely. More generally, I would argue, walking is generally subversive because it's outside the logic of general capitalist practice. One is "not supposed to walk" as a mode of transportation because it implies a disconnection from the general personality characteristics that a "good subject" is supposed to have: one is supposed to value speed (it's modern!), efficiency (you have to get where you're going as fast as possible, because efficiency is a virtue that is supposed to be transferred from the production facility to private life -- virtue is virtue, after all) and organization (one must rationalize one's free time just as the production process is Taylorized); one is supposed to acquire an automobile as soon as possible, because this is one of the major consumer products that allows us to construct identity through consumption. Refusal to own an automobile is anti-American; inability to own one is just as bad; failure to use an automobile that one owns is wasteful.

      Moreover, walking is a reflective, disconnected activity. One is supposed to consume to the limits of one's ability during leisure time, not just stroll around thinking and gawping at things. The pace of modern life is supposed to be numbing, distracting, etc.; our leisure time is supposed to prepare us to produce on the job again. Most activities that are socially sanctioned as free-time activities are designed to interpellate us as consumers, even if (as in the case of, say, television programming) only as consumers of ideology. (Queue Adorno & Horkheimer.) Removal from the cycle of consumption, distraction, and general immersion in the practices of capitalist life is inherently subversive for the person who chooses to spend his/her leisure time in such a suspicious manner.

      None of this explicitly follows de Certeau, but I think it provides a useful background discussion to what he's explicitly getting at. Walking as a social practice actuates a different kind of production of space than driving from A to B for the perambulating subject. It's resistant because it refuses to take capitalist-social "necessities" as such and exposes them as ideological. "It's obvious" that "one must drive to work" (or "watch TV and eat at Wendy's in one's spare time," etc.)-- except that "obviousness" is not actually a criterion of truth. Even insofar as it is only a liberatory/restructuring geographical practice for the walking subject, it has some value. It's a tactic, not a strategy. One does what one can, because the alternative is to do nothing in the face of overwhelming, totalizing immersion in the backwash of the logic of the production floor into one's leisure time. It may not bring about the downfall of the postindustrial mode of production, of imperialist exploitation of third world countries, etc., but my life is better than it would be if I didn't do it and let myself be immersed in the rationality of consumption. Finally, "consciousness" (whatever that might be, exactly) is expanded as ideology is dismantled. Getting to work step by step -- or strolling around on the weekend -- produces space differently for the simple reason that mechanical modes of transport are themselves alienating to a large extent. As (historically) an inveterate walker, I don't really feel that I know a new area until I've walked around it. Having my feet touch the ground is a more intimate experience than zooming by with one foot on the gas pedal. Listening to the throb and hum of the city is more intimate than blaring the radio while the landscape scrolls by the corner of my eye.
      Feb 24
      Endaduffy2010@googlewave.com:



      Moreover, walking is (usually, and almost always at least potentially) a public display. Even on the most backwards of roads, there is always some possibility of a passerby observing the perambulation. Even if they only think, "That poor sap is out there in the wind and the rain; I'm glad I'm warm in my enormous Ford pickup truck with the window sticker of Calvin peeing on a Chevy logo," the possibility of other modes of interaction with space is raised for the passerby, however briefly. Demonstrating the possibility of resistance to the ideology of rationalization of time and mechanically mediated interactions with space raises the likelihood that they will be reproduced by others.

      I think that part of de Certeau's point is that the view from the top of the WTC is itself an alienated, abstract, artificial view of the city, analogous to positivist notions of space. Seeing the city from above gives a solar, godlike view, not a human one. but the distinction between god and human is itself a type of class distinction, and thus not a reasonable model for interactions between people.

      I have a much harder time with the idea that consumption is subversive.
    Feb 18
    Steven Pokornowski:
      I won't spend much time in response to this, because I can't spare much today; however, this is a topic that interests me and something I think we may want to continue vetting throughout the course.

      So, I agree largely with Zach's criticisms of Certeau, and my conception of the article was certainly broadened and enlightened by Patrick's reply.

      That said, I found Certeau troubling, and I find that some of the logic in Patrick's reply may need an interpretation or explication (one that I am certainly unqualified to offer, but will gesture toward nonetheless).

      1. Trouble
      I found Certeau troubling for much the same reason that Zach did, he implies that by going about your ordinary routine can be subversive, without explicit contemplation or goal. (Walking as tactical, but tactics as organically formed rather than meticulously planned?). Something that Patrick brought up without explicating, and I think is a common facet of walking, is that most people walk with a specific destination in mind. On our daily walks we proceed in business manner--that walk to work may have been subversive in the conception that you were not driving, but you still behaved as one would expect in Capital: you took the same route, at much the same time, on the same days, to reach and return from the same destination, no? In this case your subversive walking is merely inscribed in Capital, you are allowed the sense of rebellion while adhering. If you consciously walked different paths, or left at different times stopping at different places along the way there or back, then your walking would be a concentrated, contemplative subversion--is this different from what Certeau is addressing?

      2. Class
      The issue, and one raised by Patrick's anecdote of the police explaining that those who regularly walk long distances are "suspicious" might remind us that this is an issue of class. By not having a car, you are identified with a socioeconomic class that Capital has-increasingly aggressively one might say-attempted to hide. You become suspect, and dangerous, because you become identified with the socially oppressed underclasses (and I am coming up with this on the fly, so if I say anything ignorant I beg pardon and ask to be corrected). These are the same classes of people who are forced to work in secret--whether they are locked in closed Wal Marts or hidden in Free Trade Zones (and no, I do not want to imply that those are the same thing). It appears that there are certain ways of walking that can be construed as subversive, but only in so far as they make salient components of Capital that it actively attempts to hide.

      3. Walking, in itself
      Walking, in itself, does not do a prohibition in Capital: but walking in certain places or for certain stretches can. Furthermore, walking and alternate forms of travel are becoming capitalized upon, and I assure you this trend will increase, as Capital culture begins to exploit ideas of sustainability. It's okay for you to walk, as long as you aren't going far, or you buy the right shoes, and some mace, and you spend the whole time on the cell phone. How much time walking is spent on the phone? Texting? Checking email remotely? All are participatory in Capital. How much time in walking to work is spent on considering what must be done in the work day? Or how you will spend your money and your leisure time after work?

      4. Not all bad
      It may be true that the city does not want us to walk, yet, especially in California. In this sense walking may be subversive, but this subversion is weak and conciliatory, unless the conditions in which one walks make salient obscured social relations.

      5. The hungry keyboard
      I am sure that this argument is not conclusive, nor have I written a calculated and well considered draft of it here. These are thoughts and gestures toward a critique. I welcome criticism.

      sp
    Feb 18
    Steven Pokornowski:
      POSTSCRIPT

      In this somewhat eery story, there is a brief line that seems to resonate with what we have been discussing.

      "Kennewick detectives, who had been watching Baker and knew he took a walk every day, waited until he left his Garfield Street house to arrest him, Simington said."

      The unemployed, vindictive, (unstable?), walker?
    Feb 25
    Zach:

      1


      Subject: walking as prescribed by capital, walking as subversive
      Suggestions: One walker utilized by capital (energy harvest? Information transport?). One walker (in virtual space?) always walks through restricted areas.
    Feb 25
    Zach:
      Signifying poverty, Walking as Consumption

      1. Patrick notes that walking raises questions and potentially prompts conversations that can be embarassing to police, managers, etc. In this sense I suppose it is a certain spectacle that can be harnassed for the purposes of interventionist dialogue (or monologue?). In Patrick's example of the Mr. Clean Impersonator, this functions as a class signifier: by walking, one is marking oneself (accurately or inaccurately) as lower class. As Steve implies, this is only subversive because it makes visible what is meant to be kept invisible: the poor. This does seem potentially subversive to me as a tactic: mark oneself as poor, make oneself visible, and people will become uneasy. On the other hand, as Patrick notes, capitalistic (and in particular neoliberal) logic has more than one way of dealing with this situation: the label of "lower class" is only one. Another is "wasteful." Another is being a burden to others. When someone can afford a car but refuses to use one, this can be subversive or it can be instrumentalizing of others. In film school I knew a guy who could certainly have afforded a car, but chose to bum rides off of other people instead. In this case, he's burdening the wrong people, and of course he annoyed us. If he had walked, maybe that would have been subversive; as it was, he was merely interpreted as being an obnoxious freeloader.

      2. In many contexts, capitalism wants us to walk. Tourism is largely powered by walking: walking is (or can be) a form of consumption. To walk the cobblestones of Rome, the bridges of Venice, the paths of Ireland, or the trails of the Grand Canyon is to purchase your piece of them, to capture them, to consume capitalism's most profitable commodity: experience. A lot of money is invested in people walking, in just about every city of the world (with some exceptions; Los Angeles is not particularly suited to walking). Business depends on window shopping, not only in Paris and NYC, but in tiny towns everywhere. Finally, think about the mall. Malls are designed for walking, capitalize on the pleasure of walking, of loitering, of "taking in the scene." Perhaps outdoor malls like The Grove in LA make this most clear, as they actually consist of artificial streets: they look and feel like thoroughfares, but are given over to perambulation. This is a walker's fantasy: take over the streets! It's "Singin' in the Rain." There is no traffic, nothing but a consumerist wonderland, to be navigated on foot, in the mode of pure consumption: no traffic lights, no rules of directionality or flow; the consumer is free of obligation to get somewhere, free to pause at this jewelry store or that candy shop. In the mall, as on the "riverwalk" or "lakefront," one consumes the experience of walking just as one consumes the products being hawked along this faux parade route.


Feb 18
Steven Pokornowski:
    Paper Ideas

    I am having trouble deciding between two paper routes. I will likely bring the Lefebvre in to both, so consider that.

    These are the ideas I emailed Enda about a week and a half ago, both have evolved... but not tremendously.

    "Option 1: So, I was considering another reexamination of the theoretical concept that I've been working through for the last 9 months (the object-information paradigm and such). In our Joyce Redux panel, David Lloyd mentioned that my basic conceptualization is essentially describing the commodity, and that the formulation allows us to introduce Foucault and Virilio into the dialog. This was interesting to me, and it seems that the claim made about the shift from materiality to markers of information does certainly mirror the commodity form in its manifold substitutions of relative value. One possibility is that I can explore the construction of my model in relation to the commodity form elucidated in Capital, and see what this enables and try to begin to move my ideas beyond what Althusser might call "descriptive theory". My fears here are a) that I'm getting too caught up in one thing and b) the paper would be boring for you to read. The perk is that this work will have to get done eventually anyway.

    Option A: Look at the Althusserian (or an Althusserian inspired) notion of ideology within the Conrad novel, The Secret Agent. The more ideologically interpellated each character is, the less agency they have: so, Verloc's multitude of ideological identities and the Professor's extreme interpellation in a few give them the least amount of agency within the novel (after all, for all he says, the Professor can only make bombs and harass the authorities [he never attempts or even considers/explains an action that might make a difference]). In addition, the speeches between the anarchists/communists might make for interesting analysis (I haven't looked at this with Althusser in mind yet). Opposed to Verloc and the Professor is Stevie (only hailed as "idiot" and family member, and loosely hailed, though even his actions are limited to those allowed by these ideological identifications [the family tie is what causes him to do Verloc's bidding, and the role as "idiot" is what forces him to trip and annihilate himself]). Winnie stands as an interesting case study, as she is momentarily freed from her ideological identifications (through the departure of her mother, the death of Stevie, and the discovery of Verloc's role in the affair; Winnie is freed from the identifications as daughter, matron, and wife) this allows her to kill Verloc; however, her immediate reaction (the rumination on the gallows and penalties for murder) hearken to the RSA and ideological self-policing, re-interpellating her. The revision or addition to Althusser would be in the consideration of individual ideologies (for example Winnie: mother figure, daughter, wife) instead of simply general considerations of ideological apparatuses. OH, I almost forgot, conceptualizing ideology as something that encircles the subject is a fruitful way to consider this (something that the novel makes possible), allowing an interesting series of readings of Stevie's circle drawing.

    With the Conrad idea, I think a GREAT Comma project can be worked out explaining ideology and demonstrating how it operates in the novel. We could make animations of figures representing the characters being caught in a series of circles representing ideologies. (It's a great conceptualization of ideology, because it allows one to map this, making a venn diagram for each subject, and illustrating how the more powerfully they are interpellated [represented by a smaller circle] or the more ideologies they are interpellated by [obviously, a series of circles] increasingly restricts their agency and movement. So this would be readily visible with a representation of the subject standing in the center of a map of ideologies: the more ideologies the subject is interpellated by, or the more deeply they are interpellated, the less room there is for that subject's representation to move within the diagram.) Does that make any sense? The only problem with making this a comma project is that I have no clue how to animate, and I don't have a ton of time to devote to it. In case it helps, I've made a rough, 2D example of the idea in microsoft paint and attached it (forgive the typo[s] in it, I made it off the cuff, right now)."

    Ideological Encircling_Winnie.jpg


    The ideological encircling idea would be complicated with Lefebvre (the role of space in upholding this false homogeny of subjectivity?).

    The first thing is referring to this paradigm I've been working with that is similar to a conception of the cyborg--but I intentionally avoid this term because I want to open a different sort of line of discourse and inject Foucault and Paul Virilio into more hardline materialist discourse. I call it the "Object-Information Paradigm" and it is a way of considering the reduction of subjects to objects (reification in the strongest sense, this is evinced in metonymical description, prostheses), the loss of the boundary between human and object, the reduction of objects (and thus objectified individuality) to information (and due to the lack of borders, an informational network), and the collection or subversive appropriation of this network.

    I know, it only sort of makes sense here, it works in a lot of ways, though, I assure you. (my argument is that this is a development that accelerates in the twentieth century, much along the lines of Lefebvre, so he comes into this as either a text to resist [in his claim that the fragmentation of space fragmented subjects] or corroborate [I am unsure if I agree or if subjectivity broke first, chicken or the egg: which was reified first? I need to consider it at greater length. The actual situation. Clearly the egg was.]

    Let me know what you think would be more interesting to you, and recommend some addendums or sources if you fancy.

    Many thanks.

    Steve
Feb 21
Zach:
    Steve, the second (which you've fleshed out to such a greater extent) sounds the most interesting to me. The Ideological Encircling ven diagram is excellent! A really useful way to visualize subjectivity. However, there are some obvious limitations: First of all, ven diagrams don't work very well when you have more than three overlapping domains (at least, when they must all intersect each other, which is necessary to have the central subject area). This seems like an artificial restraint. You almost need another dimension (a three dimensional ven? Along a time axis?) But that seems pretty difficult. BTW, you should also post this in the Data Visualization wave, to see if anyone else has suggestions for this sort of visualization. I'll add you right now!

    One other thought: this visualization is limited to visualizing agency in spatial terms: i.e. "room for movement." When considering ideological interpellation, there may be other dimensions you'll want to consider...
Feb 21
Steven Pokornowski:
    Many thanks for the input! Very prudent observations, which I'll have to consider.

    The original conception was three dimensional... but I don't really know how that would look... or how to make it.

    It almost works better with more figures (maybe they'd have to be a different shape?) because the amount of overlap reduces the amount of space available (idea being amount or intensity of ideological identities reduces agency).

    I'm sorry if these are ill considered responses, I am on the phone and don't want to wait to respond.
Feb 15
Patrick Mooney:


    file



    Bill Watterson's comic strip Calvin and Hobbes [official website], syndicated 1985-1995, reproduces several strands of argument from Adorno & Horkheimer's "The Culture Industry" fairly closely: Calvin, Watterson's hyperactive, hyperarticulate six-year-old, and his stuffed tiger Hobbes frequently explore issues involving consumer culture, aesthetics, advertising, and economics in its layout. In contrast to many comic strips, which show one-dimensional characters who alternate between appearing as talking heads and involved in repeated, stereotyped pratfalls, Watterson's comics involve characters who exhibit multiple dimensions to their personalities; the comic strips themselves show an uncommon degree of aesthetic development in their execution (particularly the Sunday strips, and particularly after 1992); and the series as a whole resists providing final evaluations of basic questions. (The question of the ontological status of Hobbes, the tiger, is probably the best example: Though the simplistic interpretation that Hobbes is animated "only in Calvin's mind" or "by his imagination" provides for an adequate reading of many strips, some strips put Calvin and Hobbes situations that would be literally impossible without a second self-aware character acting "in the real world," as when Hobbes ties Calvin to a chair in such a way that he cannot escape on his own, or assist him in climbing a tree that is implausible for a six-year-old to climb with only the assistance of a stuffed animal.)

    The strip's critique of consumerism, simple Horatio Alger production values, and commodification of cultural-aesthetic products mirrors Watterson's own (comparatively rare) public statements and short essays (many of which are introductions to collections of comic strips by other artists). (Many -- perhaps most -- of these essays are reproduced here.) Watterson, a recluse who resisted public celebrity even as he wrote and inked one of the most popular comic strips of the end of the twentieth century, fought his syndicate to avoid tie-in merchandising products -- which, given the enormous popularity of the strip, would have been inordinately profitable for both him and the syndicate. His arguments center on the simplistic presentation of character that would have been popularized by, say, a "Hobbes" stuffed tiger and on the intranslatability of a comic strip to other media, such as lunchboxes or animated specials. Watterson also struggled to avoid mandatory adherence to what he saw as the narrow limits imposed on comics as a genre, eventually convincing his syndicate to require that newspapers present the strip as he drew it, without reordering or removing panels or reducing its size, and requiring that his Sunday strips be presented on a full half-page after 1992. Watterson also refused to work with assistants or allow guest cartoonists to produce strips during his sabbaticals, producing each of the more than three thousand Calvin strips on his own during the strip's run -- a highly unusual procedure for a strip cartoonist. He retired at the height of the strip's popularity, citing in a letter to newspaper editors a conviction that he could not continue to produce a high-quality product within the confines of the daily strip format.

    Watterson's work, then, seems -- in its vision of artistic integrity, its critique of commodity culture, its insistence on pushing the boundaries of thesthetic e genre rather than conforming to its expected generic requirements, and its refusal to be simply a site for the production of artistic tie-ins -- to lie somewhat outside the bounds of totalizing bland aesthetic discourse that Adorno and Horkheimer delineate. I'm interested in exploring the boundaries of this particular instance of resistance to the culture industry as leveling force.

    The comic strip genre itself provides an interesting site for such resistant aesthetic discourse, partly because of the mixed interpretive skills required to process it and the differing forms of historical development they bring into play. Calvin (and other comic strips) functions not only in the form of standard verbal narrative, but also brings temporal considerations associated with film, as well as some of its visual techniques (close-up, etc.); the visual qualities of the strip also draw on traditional "high art" interpretive skils drawn from painting, woodcut, and so forth. Insofar as it is serial and repetitively published, it also draws on the type of narrative associated with television programming, insofar as each daily strip must be intelligible on its own for those who do not follow the strip consistently. Moreover, the lack of an "authentic original" of the comic strip form follows Benjamin's analysis of film and photography in certain ways ...

    One of the more interesting aspects of the strip's reception involves the (mis)appropriation of the main character in unlicensed products, perhaps most notoriously the "peeing Calvin" window decals, which put the eponymous character in situations reflecting meaningless (to Adorno and Horkheimer) consumer distinctions. A typical decal of this type shows Calvin urinating on a logo representing a brand of truck other than the one whose window on which it appears -- a sticker appearing on a Chevy window might show Calvin urinating on a Ford logo, for instance. As "The Culture Industry" puts it, "The schematic nature of this procedure is evident from the fact that the mechanically differentiated products are ultimately all the same. The the difference between the models of Chrysler and General Motors is fundamentally illusory is known by any child, who is fascinated by that very difference." (p. 97 in the Stanford UP edition) What fascinates me about this particular cultural phenomenon is not just that the decals are unlicensed, but the reductive way that they produce identity via consumer-choice "differentiation" by mere affirmation of preference. Urination on a symbol is not an argument, but a form of contempt for argument and debate.

    The article reproduced here traces the original "peeing Calvin" window stickers to NASCAR fans, and this article in The Onion presents a (perhaps predictably) satiric view of the subject.

    Any suggestions are much appreciated. I've tried to attach a PDF file containing selected Calvin and Hobbes cartoons in the unlikely event that anyone is unfamiliar with the strip but curious, but can't tell for sure if I've succeeded ...



    file

Feb 16
Zach:
    Sounds interesting. What is the connection (thematically, aesthetically) between the comic strip and the "peeing Calvin" stickers?

    On one hand, if the comic takes on leveling process of the Culture Industry as you say, then the stickers would seem to invert that by reasserting the illusion of product differentiation (through a rather vulgar performance of brand preference). On the other hand, by indicating contempt for argument and debate, do they enact their own leveling down? Is this indicative of an awareness of sameness or just a convergence of (negative) advertising with products themselves? (There is something ironic about slapping a sticker indicating contempt for other brands on one's already self-advertised vehicle. Beyond driving a mobile advertisement for Chevy, is it really necessary to indicate one's contempt for Ford?)

    Then again, within the subculture of the comic strip, maybe this equivalent to slapping a "peeing Adorno" sticker on one's TV...
Feb 16
Patrick Mooney:
    Ah, but what would Adorno be peeing on? Horatio Alger? Ayn Rand? Teenage anti-Establishment punks?

    Thematically, I think the stickers are reductive ... say, leveling, in a similar way that the Culture Industry typically (according to A&H) is. Calvin is a complex character with well-developed opinions on a number of points: he's (somewhat ambivalently) anti-consumerist, pro-environment, imaginative, articulate, etc. etc. etc. The stickers reduce Calvin's personality to a single dimension ("He's MISCHIEVOUS!") while ignoring other aspects of his personality (some of which substantially undermine the presentation of Calvin portrayed on the window stickers). There used to be a great, semi-comprehensive archive of these stickers here, but they apparently are moving to new server right now. Still, for those who are curious, a google search turns up plenty of examples. I copied one of my favorite lines from the discussion on that site into my journal a few years ago: "Nothing says 'I'm an idiot with a pointless opinion' like a window sticker of Calvin peeing."

    One of my favorite strips -- which I haven't been able to dig up on the Internet yet -- has Calvin discussing T-shirts with product logos, telling Hobbes, "It says that my identity (or is it 'self-worth'?) is so tied up with what I buy that I'll pay the company to advertise its products."

    A rather depressing pro-Calvin-peeing forum discussion can be found here. There are, unfortunately, plenty of similar discussions on forums across the Internet; that one is pretty typical.

    One of the more depressing aspects of the whole phenomenon, as this Slate.com article points out, is that Watterson's refusal to license "legitimate" products means that these cheap window stickers are what we're left with. Truthfully, I'm not sure at this point what to make of that.
Mar 2
Patrick Mooney:
    Apologies to everyone for the technical problems that prevented me from distributing a handout for the Harvey discussion last week. I've converted the handout to HTML and posted it to my personal website. I've also tossed in some goodies in the hopes of making up for my inability to print out a paper copy.

Mar 3
Zach:
    This is a really impressive handout Patrick. Thanks! My only note: the Zotero reference imported without the summaries (only the disclaimer). The bibtex reference imported into Zotero, with all the summaries, but with some strange formatting...
Mar 4
Patrick Mooney:
    Zach! Thanks! That's funny, they're both generated by Zotero. I'll take another look and see if I can figure out what's going on. Zotero doesn't generate great HTML, though ... maybe I should clean it up and see what happens. Ugh.
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