Saturday, July 25, 2009

Language is a virus

Interesting thoughts on Language
followed by Laurie Anderson's performance:

"Language," William S. Burroughs reminded us, "is a virus from outer space." Performance artist Laurie Anderson adds, "That's why I'd rather hear your name than see your face." This metaphor captures beautifully both the power and the danger presented by the task of communicating the "flux of wholeness," as Heather Raikes describes the rheomode. Raikes' use of the rheomode suggests that technology might be seen not just as a channel for communication and performance, but more radically as the environment in which subjects serve as conduits for experience.

A virus operates autonomously, without human intervention. It attaches itself to a host and feeds off of it, growing and spreading from host to host. Language infects us; its power derives not from its straightforward ability to communicate or persuade but rather from this infectious nature, this power of bits of language to graft itself onto other bits of language, spreading and reproducing, using human beings as hosts.The notion of the meme -- coined in 1976 by Richard Dawkins to illustrate the field of memetics -- crystallizes this view of the communication process. Georges Bataille similarly argued that communication was best understood from the perspective of contagion. In Bataille any human being is no more than a conduit for communicative process, a channel for ideas which pass through him/her."If, as it appears to me, a book is communication, then the author is only a link among many readings."* The author is simply a node on a network, through which ideas pass.

At stake in such a conception is a radical reworking of the notion of the subject in communicative experience. Bataille writes:
a man is only a particle inserted in unstable and entangled wholes. These wholes are composed in personal life in the form of multiple possibilities, starting with a knowledge that is crossed like a threshold - and the existence of the particle can in no way be isolated from this composition.... This extreme instability of connections alone permits one to introduce, as a puerile but convenient illusion, a representation of isolated existence turning in on itself. ("The Labyrinth," 174).
Subjectivity is an illusion, one that allows us to operate comfortably in this plane of existence, but which nonetheless masks true reality, in which there is no division between subject and object: "There is no longer subject-object, but a 'yawning gap' between the one and the other and, in the gap, the subject, the object are dissolved; there is passage, communication, but not from one to the other: the one and the other have lost their separate existence" ("The Torment," 89).


Monday, July 20, 2009

Wild about Harry

Love this commentary on the new Potter film:


The Homosexual Undertones of the Half-Blood Prince

A major challenge in Harry Potter 6 is that the teenage wizard had the ability to get a boner. So how did the kid-friendly franchise deal with the prickly issue of teenage sexuality? Splendidly! But perhaps in an unintended direction.

Hogwarts is a hormonal hothouse! Wizards are snogging in the halls, winking at each other during Potions class, and they're even abusing their powers to seduce other supple wizards. Director David Yates did a fantastic job capturing the sexual tension that must throb through any kind of co-ed castle. But because the most troublesome part of teen sexuality is the idea of a loose lady wizard most of the innuendos and flirtation stayed between the boys. And so in the tradition of British boarding schools things got a little gay.

Here's a breakdown (spoiler free):

Ron adores Harry, naturally. Ron's always been uneasy around girls and it was chalked up to the fact that he's clumsy goof. But in the sixth installment, Ron has become a bit of a strapping butch boy and he starts to get noticed by the girls. He plays along but really only lights up when he is around Harry. His supposed crush on Hermione is as lustful as nursing home bingo game. But when Harry's in the room, Rupert Grint, who plays Ron, blushes, grins, his shoulders roll back and hips sway forward when he talks to Harry.

Daniel Radcliffe who has always played Harry a little fey, undulates and titters around Ron. At a quidditch tryout Ron needs to impress Harry in order to make the team. Harry's eyes stayed locked on Ron as he straddles a broom. When Ron succeeds in blocking a score from the opposing team, Ron leans back on his broom, clutches the broom at its base and points it in Harry's direction. Harry beams. It is a giant phallic broomstick in between his legs! C'mon people!

Also, there is a lot of touching and affection between the male teachers of Hogwartz and the boys. Whether it's Snape, (Alan Rickman looks like a New Wave lesbian in a cape) who continually pushes his chest into Harry's face. Or Professor Slughorn who longs for Harry's attention and who Harry essentially seduces for information. Or Dumbledore, with his feminine affectation is such an obvious old queen.

There's a whole closed cabinet/closed motiff too! At one point, Dumbledore confronts a young Voldemort about a literal flaming box of secrets in his closet!

And even though Rowling has revealed that Dumbledore was in fact a gay, the homoeroticism that was on the screen is absent in the books. Hell, I don't even think it was in the script. The young male actors are bubbling over with sexual energy and had nowhere to point it so they pointed it at each other.

P.S. I also think Radcliffe is gay as all get out! There, I said it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lazy Days of Summer

Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, Savannah, and a party at Callanwolde with Joseph Mydell highlight an amazingly mild July. Next stop: Asheville and the Blue Ridge Mountains...

You are invited to view Jak & Dar's photo album: Chat-Sav-CallanJoe7-09
Jul 3, 2009
by Jak & Dar

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Nice selection of Corot's paintings;