Sunday, February 06, 2005

possibly-surprising revelations about things that influence my life
[to be filed under: low-brow]

1. today I went for a walk - a long one - with my mother and my dogs. yesterday also, i went for quite a decent walk. the inspiration for doing this? The catalyst? Well, my mother bought the new book by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Kyan Douglas, Beautified: Secrets for Women to Look Great and Feel Fabulous* - for my sister and not myself, I might add. And, after ridiculing it for awhile, I read a few 'chapters'. And then, what do you know: I clipped my nails, moisturised my feet, tried out some handweights that have been lying around the house and, yes, have started going for walks.

2. Ms Fits rightly points out the brilliance that was that 1980s Canadian institution, The Zit Remedy (later: The Zits). Undoubtably a landmark band of their time. However, I am reminded in viewing the picture that she posts of them, that Joey Jeremiah (the middle one, for all you Gentiles) was in fact a formative figure for me in the construction of my conception of gender.

What was there to look forward to in being a girl if you couldn't be Joey Jeremiah?

I asked the same question in relation to Prince, of course - the video clip to "Cream" appeared to me circa 1990, when I was aged five or six, in order to show me just what it meant to be a woman. After all, if you were to identify with anyone in that video, who wouldn't identity with Prince?

(With apologies for recent solipsism.)

* It's actually well-worth checking out the Amazon page for a laugh if you have some time to kill - comments include:

"Finally I have found a beauty book that not only focuses on looks, but the soul and the beauty from within as well!"

"I was especially glad to see that Kyan included a Spirit chapter and that, as a man, he recognizes that women need to be appealed to mind, body and spirit if they're to be appealed to at all"

"I fell in love with Kyan after reading this. It's very sweet. He dedicates the book to his mother, sister and grandmother!"
[note to self: must write post about my mother's strange relationship to Queer Eye... link to discussion about the increasing 'use' found for gay men in mainstream culture]

Alarming, no? Perhaps not, given that it's an Amazon site. But I view these with the same morbid fascination with which I often find myself transfixed by infomercials at 2:30am, so...

Thursday, February 03, 2005

k-punk writes on those who critique Christianity. As ever, he draws some very incisive theoretical links.

However, I am not 'entirely sold' on a few points:

1) I have trouble with Mark's assertion that Nietzsche believed in History as Progress. I always thought that Nietzsche was in fact a most vocal critic of this very position - thus ridiculing those who would see this age as 'the most moral', et cetera. Surely the idea of history as Eternal Return, as loop (a day repeating itself over and over again - thus Nietzsche invokes the image of Daybreak, of Twilight), is antithetical to belief in progress? The notion of 'redemption', furthermore (Mark writes that the "Anti-Christ ubermensch" is a figure of redemption, which I will agree with for the moment), does not lend itself easily to a conception of history as progression: as Walter Benjamin points out, the Messianic redeemer in fact stops time - he appears with a "cessation of happening". If history can be ground to a halt, how could its logic be 'progress'?

I wonder, then, what Mark k-p is referring to when he thinks of Nietzsche as a believer in progress?

2) I find that there is somewhat of a leap made in equating the Last Man with Oedipus - though perhaps this is something that would seem more obvious to me if I had read Deleuze and Guattari on the issue. Even so - how is Oedipus a last man? What features do they share?

Also, though Nietzsche does get a little 'hysterical' about his anti-Christianity, I think it is somewhat insensitive to paint Nietzsche as a "pantoGoth God-baiter". I say 'insensitive' because there is a real ambivalence in Nietzsche about Christianity - he seems to admire and hate it simultaneously. Nietzsche is quite aware of this conflicting position, however, which differentiates him enormously from the overly-vocal Christianity-basher of today, whose distinguishing feature is her or his total obliviousness to the paradoxes and contradictions of his or her own position. The whining secularist, repeating the mantra - surely, we have freed ourselves from those stifling, primitive superstitions by now - is patently unaware of her/himself. And though Nietzsche may well protest too much about Christianity, I don't believe that you can use this in order to charge him with the crime of a lack of self-knowledge.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Just quickly. I went book shopping today (unintentionally, of course) and picked up two books - one of which was a super-cheap and very attractive (nay, cute) copy of Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents - part of the Penguin "Great Ideas" series. Now, this series is, as many have pointed out, hugely parochial and full of hyperbole: though it includes some quite-nice works (some Seneca, Montaigne, The Communist Manifesto, the Freud...), it's not only very Western in the worst Capital-W, self-aggrandising and self-reflexive kind of way, but also so horribly English in its selection of titles (not looking at anyone in particular, George Orwell...). It's got the feeling of one of those "Greatest Hits of the 90s" CDs that includes at least 2 forgettables but no Madonna. Even so, these books are very well-designed (and cute! did I mention cute, in a minimalist kind of fashion?) so I'll probably purchase a few more when they arrive at Readings. (This is undoubtably a clever piece of marketing on Penguin's behalf.)

In relation to the above, then, I include the following links. Firstly, this article - "Written Out of History", by Ziauddin Sardar - is a rather apt criticism/critique of the series and its bias of selection: when it gets to the bit about how the west has shaped its identity "by appropriating eastern achievements and then writing them out of history", you can almost hear those solemn words of Walter Benjamin: "there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism." The second link should give you a taste of the wiffle-waffle publicity that has gone along with this series: it's an interview on the Penguin website with Simon Winder, the editor of the series, entitled - Read the Revolution. (Yikes!) To make matters worse, it peddles more of that cliched and misguided rubbish about the arguments in The Communist Manifesto being "discredited" - suggesting, perhaps, that Winder has never either a) heard of globalisation, or b) read the work in question. Not that you'd expect anything more from the promotional material on the series' website.

Toorah - I meet tomorrow for a meeting with my Honours co-ordinator, regarding the possibility of my taking 6 months off. You'll pray for me, won't you? Of course you will.