Thursday, April 24, 2003

I have a lot of essays that I should be writing at the moment. They looked exciting about a week ago - particularly my politics one, on the ethics of humanitarian intervention. But now? The reading has killed my interest. I am coming to hate theories of justice. What would possess someone to sit down one day in their study, and say to themselves that "today, I will write my theory of justice"? Only the most excruciating books and treatises seem to come out of such a process. I miss being creative - writing for the fun of it, not for the sake of bloody contentions and bloody topic sentences, and referencing, and substantiating... Hmph. Blogging seems pleasant, as it's at least some creative outlet. So perhaps that's what this lump of a post is about - I want to write more creative stuff. Not turgid essays.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

I am now a few days into my Easter break. What have I achieved? Little. Perhaps ten pages of reading for a looming politics essay. My day has been one fairly typical of the holidays: I rose at 5:40pm, ate breakfast outside so as to soak up what little remaining sun there was, and then settled into a night of slothful television watching. I am now typing at my sister's laptop. It is 3:07am, and my pyjamas are beginning to smell rancid. I love it. I really do. In short amounts - days of this becomes soul-destroying - such removal from a world of schedules and personal hygiene is edifying.

But that's not really what I want to post about. What I wanted to comment on, briefly, is what I consider to be one of the stranger parts of America's post-war activities in Iraq. I am referring to the sets of 'Iraq's Most Wanted' playing cards that have been distributed amongst the American soldiers. You've seen them on the news. With Saddam as the Ace of Spades, his son-in-law Jamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan as the Nine of Clubs and various others in-between, the deck is the U.S. Government's way of showing the media and the world that they mean business - Las Vegas-style, as it were.

My qualm about the deck is that it seems - to say the least - a flippant choice, and even a cynical one. After all, it's not like America hasn't already been accused of having a Hollywood-style approach to foreign policy. It's all fine and well that they may have a list of wanted men from the former regime, but playing cards? Does this mean that we're soon to see a set of "OPEC Leaders We'd Like To Assassinate" commemorative plates? And how about a "Jacques Chirac" doormat for the Presidential ranch? I'm sure Franklin Mint and eBay would really appreciate the business.

(As an afterthought, it strikes me as a pity that George W. and the Iraqi Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, weren't included as jokers in the now-famous deck.)

Meanwhile, in other news, Paul McCartney has called for a ban on cluster bombs. Will anyone care? Will anything be done? And will Bono move to sue for breach of trademark political action? Only time will tell.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

Another thing that I forgot to mention.

I should add, in relation to my telling you about that horrible presentation in my philosophy tute, that the arguments of my talk - if not the presentation of the talk itself - were vindicated yesterday, when the tutor used a rather strange analogy in illustrating a point.

We were looking at Robert Nozick's general arguments against egalitarian socialism, and were discussing whether or not a situation in which the general population has, say, $2000 each, while only one person has $270,000, is fair. Then, the tutor chose to make an analogy between this situation of economic inequality, and another situation in which the inequality would not be specifically monetary.

The second scenario he gave, was of a society in which one celebrity sportsman had, largely as a result of his fame, managed to have sex with 20,000 women over the course of his career, while all other men got by with minimal bonking. Was this, the tutor asked, also an example of unacceptable inequality? Why should one man get so many women, while so many have so few? And would a system of state-issued brothel vouchers be a viable means of remedying the situation?

I don't think it would be stretching it too far to say that this is about as close to equating women with property as you're going to get. But is it really? Could the example have just as easily been one in which a woman has sex with 20,000 men? Perhaps it could. But even if the male and female positions had been exchanged, the fact is that what was suggested, and thus what was easiest to conceive of, was this example of a guy having lots of sex with girls. Which is pretty poor, if you think about it.

What made it even worse was that most of the guys in the tute could see nothing wrong with the example. Most of them giggled, perhaps feeling somewhat naughty to be talking about sex. And I hardly said anything about it, feeling that I might come across as a party-pooper if I did.

Does all of this sound silly? Was I overreacting? And why on earth did I feel like it would be out of place to say something about it? Who knows. Give me an email (cjrya1 [at] if you have any answers. In the meantime, I'm definitely off to bed, so cheerio.
Oh, and one more thought about the White Stripes. I notice that, like Rage Against the Machine, they have made a point of noting in the CD booklet of Elephant (is that what it's called? The CD booklet? Perhaps they're 'liner notes'...?) that the whole album was made without any recourse to computers. It's all reel-to-reel recording, organic sounds and the like.

"So what?", was my first response. This romanticisation of the acoustic, the 'back-to-basics' and 'stripped-back', seems just so silly.

In fact, statements like these, renouncing technology, always remind me of something that I heard Björk say once, in a documentary about the making of her Homogenic.

The good Ms Gudmundsdottir said, and I am paraphrasing, that people have a tendency to complain that computer-made music has no soul. However, as she goes on to say in her quaint, Icelandic manner, it's no good in these situations to point the finger at the computer for doing wrong. On the contrary: if the music has no soul, it is only because a person hasn't put it there. Computers are, after all, really only a tool like any other musical instrument.

And on that note, I'll say goodnight. Sweet dreams.
There will be no post tonight. Why? Because I just accidentally deleted three paragraphs and NOW I CAN'T GET THEM BACK. Ahem. Suffice it to say that there was general discussion of the last week's events.

I now find myself fuming about those lost paragraphs. They were really going somewhere, I felt. I had covered the activities of my leisurely Friday, including my television watching and what I had for dessert, and had just settled into a history of my time at uni this week. But it's all gone now.

Perhaps it's mildly appropriate that they were erased, as it forms somewhat of a link to what I was planning on writing about: a thought I had while out last night, in the cubicle of a public toilet at a bar.

(Which is not to say that the location of the thought bears much relation to the thought itself. But on with the post, which seems to have taken place after all.)

I think my fear at the moment, if fear is not too strong a word, is of not being able to express myself. I find myself being shrill, trailing off, not being able to find the right words. This was particularly the case a little over two weeks ago, when I delivered a particularly regrettable presentation in my political philosophy tutorial. The horribleness of it all was, I am certain, largely resultant from three factors: my lack of preparation; the simmering cold I was developing; and the fact that I was attempting to put forward a feminist critique of the readings, that would have required much more groundwork to be covered than would have been possible in a flimsy, ten-minute presentation. But no matter how hard I try to rationalise all this, I can't deny it: I couldn't get my point across. I couldn't even make my points seem relevant. I came across as a reactionary, moaning feminist of the "it's all the patriarchy, maaaaaan" variety. Ugh.

Which was exacerbated last night, when a guy at the Builders Arms told me that I spoke too fast and had a habit of trailing off at the end of my sentences, like I was embarrassed by what I had to say.

This can't be me! I was a debater, I tell myself. I am articulate, I am insightful, I am adept at structuring my thoughts, I am... etcetera.

So, it looks like I need to slow down. I blame Kafka for this. Inherent contradictions... prose that runs against itself and runs the characters into the ground... it's all freaking Kafka's fault.

Meanwhile, I note that I am very aware of the sensitivities I have developed from doing this contemporary feminist theory subject. Am I a feminist, I ask myself? At this point, only technically. While I may have thoughts that are completely consistent with what would be considered a feminist point of view, I don't think I would want to call myself a feminist. For reasons of 'fashion', so to speak? Probably so. I hate people like that. Oh well.

Should go to bed... Mmm... holiday sleep-in awaits. How I love leisure. Have been listening to the new White Stripes album, incidentally - I think I like the White Stripes, though Jack White's vocals so often remind me of Frank Black in the Pixies days. Which, I should add, is not a bad thing, by any means.

(I'll get some structure in the next post. I promise.)

PS. I might just add that tonight, for the first time ever, I watched a whole episode of Seinfeld and enjoyed doing so. I actually laughed at it. It's obviously just one of those things that you develop a taste for, like olives and blue cheese and whatnot. Goodnight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

i should apologise for that first post. it was a crap first post to a blog. will correspondingly post some more.

i watched sex and the city tonight. rather than the sort of "i'm so averse to this heterosexual rubbish... oh, but it's kind of funny" bind that i have previously found myself in while watching the show on other occasions (unrelated: am aware of inarticulate tone of this piece. will blame it on still-uncompleted philosophy essay), i found myself watching the show in a new frame of mind tonight. a frame of mind heavily affected by my... being currently enrolled in a contemporary feminist theory subject. queue thunderclap.

it was all about balls. the show tonight, that is. men's fixation with their balls. yet what shat me, perhaps on account of my sensitisation to it by women's studies, was the constant implication that men are governed by testosterone, while women, lacking this, are savvy, conversational creatures who like to shop. i suppose you might say that i was bothered by its essentialism, to use the jargon. yet it's more than that. it made me feel like i do when i go shopping. how is that? well, kind of self-aware/critical. not of anything specific like weight, skin, deficient wardrobe, but of how i fit into being 'a girl' (in the gender sense, construction and all that, not the "i have the wrong bits" sense.)

which all likes a bit of a wank when i type it up like that. like undigested theory. like someone else's thoughts/awarenesses. sure, from the age of two i always had an aversion to barbie and dresses with smocking, but...

you get the idea.

i really should write this essay now. expect fiddling with the format as this thing carries on... number one being my choosing to forego capitals. lower case is to my writing what pyjamas are to my... mood, or something. no time for laboured analogies. until next time.
Well, here we are. I've created another webpage. I, a second-year student, supposedly part of the real world, have created a blog. Oh dear.

And I think that fulfils this posting's quota of paralysing self-consciousness. On with the rest.

Am presently continuing with one of my longest procrastination efforts to date. I've been playing spider solitaire and checking my email for six nights now. That's quite a lot of energy drinks.

Otherwise, have been spending much too much time with the dogs. I find that my conversation with those outside of my essay writing prison is increasingly consisting of short, sharp commands.

Perhaps I should finish the freaking essay. In the meantime, my email address is cjrya1 [at], and my old webpage (Summer holidays between VCE and first year) is located here.


PS. I think the timezone for this thing still needs rejigging. It's 1:47am on Tuesday the 15th of April, by my computer clock.