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Category Archives: Kultur


Friend of mine just forwarded me this CFP (that’s ‘call for papers,’ for the unwashed among you) for an impending scholarly clambake at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this golden age of academic off-jag, it’s pretty hard to stand out as a polysyllabic bullshitter, but this, uh, text and its author deserve mad props for totally delivering on the enticing promise of the panel’s subtitle. Take us beyond meaning, Jamie Bianco of the University of Pittsburgh!

Non-discursivity and Affect: Beyond Meaning in Media

Seminar Organizer: Jamie Bianco, U of Pittsburgh
Within cultural and comparative studies, we engage the world through discursive and critical frameworks. In response to emerging theorization of multimodality, non-discursivity, creative criticism, practical research, object-oriented philosophy, and speculative realism, this seminar seeks to engage work that draws out these emergent conceptualizations in relation to cultural and media production, reception, circulation/distribution, and response. Are non-discursive elements “readable” in a critical response? What is the role of “design”? How might we think about and produce responses to ecologies and ethologies of culture, media, mediated objects, and user/makers within creative critical or multimodal productive methods that privilege critical making over intervention? Are experiential critical designs effective? This seminar considers media to include print and analog forms as well as digital and computational forms and welcomes work in multimodal/multimediated genres and styles.

So much to admire here. I love the way that “practical research” stands out like a turd in a punchbowl next to “multimodality, non-discursivity” etc etc. I loves them scare quotes around “‘readable'” and “‘design,'” though would prefer to see same around “role,” and maybe “seminar” too, because that’s a concept that’s really been insufficiently problematized. I’m dying to know the distinction between “critical making” and “intervention.” Are we talking here about the difference between sitting around criticizing shit and actually doing something about shit? Just a fucking guess, based on the rash assumption that it has to mean anything at all.

In the words of my man Flann, “Can you imagine the sneering daredevils who despise each other for not ‘understanding’ grey incomprehensibilities like this?”

Bruce Herald, October 29, 1901. “The wreck of matter and the crush of worlds” is from Addison:

The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amid the war of elements,
The wreck of matter, and the crush of worlds.

The general tendency of this blog is anti-nostalgic, but I’ll own that I wish I lived in an era in which wisenheimers in cheap diners garlanded their snappy patter with bits cribbed from Addison.

I just posted this profound think piece at the Chicago Reader.

Daily Picayune, February 18, 1881. Also known as a barrel organ, the hand organ was like a cross between a calliope and a music box. It opened up the busking trade to those without musical skills, but was not readily programmable, so some dudes just ground out a single melody throughout their careers as street entertainers.
“Star Spangled Banner” didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, and their was considerable controversy over the choice owing to the melody’s origins as a bawdy 18th-century British drinking song. It’d be interesting to know whether our patriotic sailor was serving in the U.S. Navy, as the latter, hard-drinking crew were early adopters of the song when the rest of the country still regarded “Hail, Columbia” as the patriotic default.

Morning Oregonian, December 25, 1922. Back before fine publications like Penthouse Variations and later the Internet gave them respectable outlets, paraphiliacs with a literary bent had to smuggle their fantasies sub rosa into the letters columns of their local dailies. It was better than nothing, and once in a while a lucky few even got a response from a kindred editorial spirit.

The Chicago Reader just published a profile I wrote about this musician, who deserves to be famous but isn’t.

Assuming my my flight gets me there on time, I’m going to be giving a brief lecture on Wild Women as part of this here cultural event at the Gershwin Theater in New York on April 29th, 8 PM. The rest of the program sounds entirely legitimate though, and admission is a mere fin. Come one, come all.

Blocked from my regular blog praxis by the good people at Hewlett-Packard, makers of the valetudinarian paperweight known as the Compaq 6510b, I’ve been honing a new Erma Bombeck shtick over at the Chicago Reader (here and here). The first one blew up real good with the help of Twitter momentum provided by no lesser man than Roger Ebert, which I thought was kind of cool.

The Daily Picayune, February 24, 1888. Oh man, I’d my eyeteeth for access to such an institution. Bet they served mince pie, too. Though I know a lot of Canadians (really–a lot) who would take grave offense at the idea that the noble game of crokinole originated among bean-eating Yankees.

afireSalt Lake Telegram, June 3, 1922. Is it because Salt Lake City is a faraway foreign capital that I cannot make heads or tails of what should be a straightforward bit of scandal-mongering? afire2

She fainted while her underwear was on fire. Sheesh, what a mystery are the autonomous functions of the human body! But how odd that her dainties should catch fire and not the rest of her clothing. (Is silk particularly flammable, compared to other pre-synthetic fabrics?)
Then again, perhaps she was wearing only her underwear at the time–that would help explain their exclusive and limited combustion.
Or maybe she wasn’t wearing them at the time: She might have built a symbolic bonfire of her knickers on the hotel room floor before shooting the dude and herself.
The questions multiply the mysteries. . .
Anyway, I’m guessing “hotel attaches” are to house dicks as sanitary engineers are to garbagemen. Or maybe “attache” applies only to house dicks small enough to fit through transoms. But now let’s proceed to the intriguing literary aspects of the story.

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