Batman and His Problems

July 28, 2008

Everyone just loves the new Batman movie. After only two weekends in theaters, The Dark Knight is the #1 movie of all time according to imdb members. Critics have been gushing with glowing reviews (though the New Yorker or A.O. Scott beg to differ). The movie’s success is evident, it is the fastest to gross over $300 million domestically. Heath Ledger is even generating Oscar buzz… but with all the hype aside, the best I can say of The Dark Knight is that it’s a “superior superhero movie”, which is pretentious-filmspeak for “the hype’s total bullshit”.

The “superior superhero movie” qualifier should be elaborated. The Dark Knight features a very competent cast with a remarkable Heath Ledger to go along with a cool chase, some neat cat-and-mouse scenes, and some Stygian Gotham atmospherics. Seeing it on an IMAX screen is definitely and all-encompassing (and loud) experience. What’s interesting about Dark Knight (and what everyone fawns over) is how it questions the superhero genre itself within a “post 9/11” context. But that’s all it does. It questions and questions and questions as loudly and succinctly at every possible moment. Writers Cristopher and Jonathan Nolan bring up just about every liberal post 9/11 talking point: Torture! Wiretapping! Due Process! Just let the Joker make a phone call! All of this makes for a story that’s richer than usual. Only all these hot-button topics dissipate as Batman does what the genre invariably tells him to do.

The dissipation problem is more than thematic. The movie frantically weaves in and out of scene without giving each a sense of cohesion or closure. As a result, scenes with dramatic potential get the same slap and dash treatment as unnecessary exposition. There’s an entirely absurd Hong-Kong mission where Batman comes off like some glorified American James Bond. In spite of all the razzle dazzle, the final confrontation between Batman and Joker reminded me of a time I went flaccid during intercourse. You’d imagine that a $185 million dollar budget would afford some script editors… But no… Even Two-Face’s little coin flipping trick is a pallid replica of Anton Chiguhr’s.

I have always had issues with superhero movies. I just can’t accept a superhero world and the myth of exceptionalism that the genre bases itself on. In the proud American tradition, the superhero world presupposes a simple good versus evil polarity, which The Dark Knight questions without betraying the assumption. The superhero itself is equally problematic. A superhero is the sublimation of the human entity into a weapon, into an instrument of order and security. The apotheosis of the superhero requires that the individual leave behind his real identity in order to become an abstracted citizen, a symbol of a man, an image (The Dark Knight uses all the batman imitators to briefly toy with this idea). As a symbol, the superhero is essentially a fetishism. In the case of Bruce Wayne, whose “superpower” is his wealth, he spins amazing technologies out of thin air, a batmobile here, a wire-tapping infrastructure there… as if Batman and Lucius Fox built it all themselves. No one expects a superhero movie to discuss labor. After all, the superhero must be divorced from his material reality to be super. Such distinction is clearly only allotted to the exceptional, while all other hard-working citizens must depend on this symbolic exception.

Just as Batman is a symbol, so is the Joker. They mirror each other (another idea that the movie brings up to little consequence). That the Joker is the most compelling character in The Dark Knight attests both to an incredible performance by Heath Ledger and to the staleness of the other “human” characters. The Joker is a non-entity. Unlike Batman, he has no human context, no mask, only a grotesquely painted facade, making his unmotivated acts of destruction all the more palatable for its symbolism. The Dark Knight becomes the Joker’s movie. He gives the best lines, diabolically catalyzes most of the action, and brings Batman’s entire moral universe into question. Is Batman doing more harm than good? Has he brought Gotham down a road of no return? Perhaps this will be answered in the third installment. But by the end of The Dark Knight, even the Joker becomes problematic.

The problem is not that the Joker’s acts of destruction are a symbolic challenge, but that the movie insists that the Joker is a terrorist… After the movie, I remembered Baudrillard’s “The Spirit of Terrorism”:

This is the spirit of terrorism. Never is it to attack the system through power relations. This belongs to the revolutionary imaginary imposed by the system itself, which survives by ceaselessly bringing those who oppose it to fight in the domain of the real, which is always its own. But (it) moves the fight into the symbolic domain, where the rule is the rule of challenge, of reversal, of escalation. Thus, death can be answered only though an equal or superior death. Terrorism challenges the system by a gift that the latter can reciprocate only through its own death and its own collapse.

As exceptional symbols, both Batman and the Joker enjoy a quasi-omnipresence and an unlimited supply of resources. Although Batman has everything money can build at his disposal, the Joker uses real, functional structures (the domain of labor). In using these structures, the Joker becomes a truck driver, a nurse, a soldier -and always a terrorist. Therefore the Joker, the symbol of unmotivated chaos, the non-entity, is also the symbol of terrorism. And as such a symbol, terrorism becomes depoliticized, it is no longer a reaction against the dominant order or calculated political violence. It is reduced to being evil, to being the unreasonable and unmotivated desire “to watch the world burn”, and to being only vincible with weapons or superheroes.

This new batman movie posits fundamental questions about itself, and for a second, the entire superhero framework appears absurd. But that’s only for a second. Maybe these limitations are placed by the genre. How much of Batman would the studio’s allow to be deconstructed, torn from its roots and set on fire?If I ever decide to make my own superhero movie, I want to create a dashing hero experiencing all sorts of superhero adventures, blowing all sorts of shit up… there’ll be chaos and destruction… but at the end, the superhero confronts an angry mass… guerrillas? workers? students? only to be swarmed and killed, dismembered, torn apart. The antithesis of the American-brand exceptionalism: the “super power” of the collective.

– s

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Lake: Afternoon: Haikus

July 27, 2008

sitting by the shore,
a generic fisherman
craves a cigarette

..

three splashing children
reinvent themselves as shapes
they once saw on screen

..

a mother, reading
paperback, anticipates
the next rendezvous

..

a boy, eyes grinning,
unwraps a milky way bar
– first time shoplifting

..

watching other kids
play, a lone girl swears to guard
the secret of eels

..

lovers in the shade
make up names for babies
they would never have

..

“What democracy?”
a man points and demands, as
his audience yawns

..

on the grass, a stoned
poet writes the tragedy
that all ice cubes share

..

a pensive woman
counts dragonflies, tracing the
limits of language

..

an old man, strolling,
recalls a Greek bakery
with last night’s hunger

..

students picnic, pour
boxed wine into plastic cups.
laughing, they forget

..

among the bushes,
an exuberant jimmy
urinates proudly

..

a tanned vagabond
ties down his whimpering dog
then goes for a dip

..

the water report:
pH slightly alkaline
with traces of lead

..

overlooking the
lake, she informs me: no one
can see us at all

– s


An Ivy League Theory of Value

July 26, 2008

Fassbinder’s fabulous 1981 film “Lola“, tells the story of a small town singer/hooker (Fassbinder lifted the premise from “The Blue Angel” starring Marlene Dietrich), who goes after a reserved and untainted building commissioner after a corrupt contractor (and lover) remarks that the new commissioner is “no man for her”. By seducing the commissioner, Lola is reacting against social exclusion and oppression by seeking to affirm her “true value” through the melodramatic vehicle of “true love”. Granted, Lola and the commissioner fall in love and get married, but Fassbinder is perverse at heart. During the last scenes, the corrupt contractor buys a short honeymoon with the freshly married Lola by giving her the whorehouse she worked in as a wedding present. “You’re an expensive mistress”, the contractor quips. “That’s how it should be”, retorts Lola.

The big irony of the film is that Lola’s successful quest to reaffirm her worth amounts to a mere increase in exchange value. Lola just became more expensive, that is her empowerment.

In the new issue of “American Scholar”, former Yale English Prof. William Deresiewicz presents a stinging and insightful critique of the elite Ivy League education system and how it breeds an upper crust mentality of exceptionalism and entitlement. On the one hand, Deresiewicz laments a system which he calls “anti-intellectual” for pushing normative ideas of intelligence, work, and society, while eschewing independent intellectual development and individual choice. Being smart isn’t the same as being intellectual.

When elite universities boast that they teach their students how to think, they mean that they teach them the analytic and rhetorical skills necessary for success in law or medicine or science or business. But a humanistic education is supposed to mean something more than that, as universities still dimly feel. So when students get to college, they hear a couple of speeches telling them to ask the big questions, and when they graduate, they hear a couple more speeches telling them to ask the big questions. And in between, they spend four years taking courses that train them to ask the little questions—specialized courses, taught by specialized professors, aimed at specialized students. […] We are slouching, even at elite schools, toward a glorified form of vocational training.

On the other hand, Deresiewicz believes the self-congratulatory bubble of elite institutions is a reflection of American socio-economic conditions. How different is the atmosphere of grade-inflation, extensions, and constant counseling at elite institutions to the padded lives of the wealthy, where they can always count on family money, connections, rehab and spiritual voyages to India to get themselves together? Meanwhile, public universities are entrenched with rigid bureaucracies and inflexible technocrats…

In short, the way students are treated in college trains them for the social position they will occupy once they get out. At schools like Cleveland State, they’re being trained for positions somewhere in the middle of the class system, in the depths of one bureaucracy or another. They’re being conditioned for lives with few second chances, no extensions, little support, narrow opportunity—lives of subordination, supervision, and control, lives of deadlines, not guidelines. At places like Yale, of course, it’s the reverse. The elite like to think of themselves as belonging to a meritocracy, but that’s true only up to a point.

Deresiewicz’s disenchantment is summarized in the following quote:

But I do know that the life of the mind is lived one mind at a time: one solitary, skeptical, resistant mind at a time. The best place to cultivate it is not within an educational system whose real purpose is to reproduce the class system.

But how inextricable is education from “the class system”? Is it that surprising that a school such as Amherst or Yale, whose endowment is funded by capitalists, would seek to train future investment bankers and politicians? Perhaps this disenchantment comes from the expectation that an “elite” institution would be mass producing young Darwins and Marxes and Sartres, but even such expectation presupposes that educational institutions are essentially social factories. As Baudrillard put it, an educational system aims “at remodeling an ideal nature from a child”. What “ideal nature” exists that isn’t defined by a dominant paradigm?

As astute as Deresiewicz social-economic commentary is, he speaks of the class difference between elite institutions and public universities only in terms of their differences, as if an i-banker from Amherst working 80 hours a week for Bear Stearns isn’t stuck in a life of subordination, supervision, and deadlines. Classes are separated by their position relative to the means of production, not simply by annual income. Chris Rock once joked, “Shaq is rich, but the white guy who writes his check is wealthy“; while elite institutions are spawning the ruling class of tomorrow, that can’t be said for all of us. A diploma from Yale isn’t an automatic ticket to upper-classdom, we’re still expected to sell our labor just like a middle-manager from Ohio State or a factory worker in Sri Lanka. This idea of a meritocracy espoused by “the elite” is an illusion at worse, a petty reward at best. Exploit yourself so that you one day can exploit others. What empowerment then does an elite institution give us? Ask Lola. It just makes us more expensive.

– s


The Tyrant Poet and the Aesthetics of Genocide

July 23, 2008

Blazing the headlines this week: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade for committing war crimes during the Bosnian War in the 90s. These crimes include killing at least 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica during an ethnic cleansing campaign in 1995, shelling Sarajevo during a 43 month siege, and using 284 U.N. peace keepers as human shields -an impressive criminal resume. Karadzic will be facing the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague. Rather than focusing on the Bosnian conflict and all the craziness in Yugoslavia (Slavoj Zizek gave a fantastically rambling lecture on the overall nature of the Yugoslavian conflict and NATO’s intervention that’s worth reading), I want to digress on the absurd circumstances of his capture and his characteristic intellectualism.

Unlike Saddam Hussein, who was sucked out of a hole in the ground, Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade, living as Dragan Dabic, a bearded alternative medicine practitioner. Rather than be a fugitive, Karadzic simply assumed a new identity, playing the character of Dragan Dabic to its logical limits. Dragan Dabic successfully ran a private alternative medicine practice, living and moving about comfortably, without security, in Belgrade.

Dr. Dabic was a proponent of “Human Quantum Energy”. In fact, he emerged as a local leader in alternative medicine, giving lectures at alternative health symposiums, making appearances on TV Shows, publishing articles in magazines… He even maintained his own personal website, which offers special trinkets, including a necklace described thusly: “This necklace is for personal protection. It is worn on the chest at the height of the fourth chakra and thymus gland, the gland of youth and immune system. It harmonizes the energies of the aura and the physical body, protects from harmful rays … If you hold it in the palm of your hand for a few minutes it causes a turbulence of energy of the chakra, heats up, and vibrates even though it is not battery powered.”… The way in which a dictator that started a campaign to “terrorize and demoralize the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat population” that left over 200,000 dead and millions displaced managed to disappear completely into the image of a friendly, well-adjusted, holistic healer that “gave lectures comparing meditation and silent techniques practiced by Orthodox monks” reaches the limit of dark comedy. It is so disturbingly absurd that the only way I can respond is by laughing.

It’s no surprise that Karadzic pulled off this kooky doctor cover; before being a murderous tyrant, Karadzic graduated from medical school and eventually became a psychiatrist. But the holistic healer guise is particularly absurd because it’s an embodiment of Karadzic’s aesthetic antithesis… Aesthetics? What Aesthetics!? Well… turns out that Karadzic is also a published poet.

Suffice to say that Karadzic wasn’t the Rimbaud type. His poems are generally very disturbing, suffused with ego-maniacal messianism, self-adoration, and destructive imagery. Take his poem titled “Sarajevo”:

I hear the misfortune threads
Turned into a beetle as if an old singer
Is crushed by the silence and turned into a voice.

The town burns like a piece of incense
In the smoke rumbles our consciousness.
Empty suits slide down the town.
Red is the stone that dies, built into a house. The Plague!

Calm. The army of armed poplar tree
Marches up the hill, within itself.
The aggressor air storms our souls
and once you are human and then you are an air creature.

I know that all of these are the preparations of the scream:
What does the black metal in the garage have for us?
Look how fear turned into a spider
Looking for the answer at his computer.

In reference to this poem and the shelling of Sarajevo, Karadzic remarks: (the translation seems to be off?)

There is a poem of mine about Sarajevo. The title was “Sarajevo,” and first line was “I can hear disaster walking. City is burning out like a tamyan in a church.” In this smoke, there is our conscious of that. And a squad of armed topola—armed trees. Everything I saw armed, everything I saw in terms of a fight, in terms of war, in terms of—in army terms. That was 20, 23 years ago, that I have written this poem, and many other poems have something of prediction, which frightens me sometimes [laughter].

Here it’s evident that Karadzic’s messianism begins as a fulfillment of prophecy, in other words, a vain sublimation of sociopathic fantasies. The God complex is even more glaring in this untitled poem:

This fateful hour stiffened and reached the sky
Like a tree it now binds all existence in its branches
I am the cause of universal distress
A certain knight called Moses secretly fears me
From this fateful hour hours pass by upward like my head
And you are bound by some chilly
By some frosty terror
It’s only the snake-like world that changed-its dirty skin
For the moment
It is only I who sprouted from the Universe like the morning star
And the Universe blushed with envy and changed colors
It is only cowards eating their cowardice
And their non-existent strength
It is I speaking and burning
I won’t be silent after all
And let the crowd go to the devil past redemption
I’ll handle you in no time
And without much ado
And right at this moment
A tomcat shall peep at the neighborhood kitty through a chink
And two lovers
Shall stand by the first casket on hand
And kiss each other as I command

If you are interested, the links to the poems feature several other poems. I’ve used my “favorite” of these in this entry… But what do these poems say about Karadzic’s aesthetic ideas?

Walter Benjamin, in his influential essay called “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” argues that “all efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war.” Being that this essay was published in 1936, during the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, Benjamin links the aesthetization of politics directly with nationalistic fascism. Perhaps the earliest voice for such a war aesthetic (and fascist art) is Italian Futurist F.T. Marinetti. In a manifesto about the Ethiopian Colonial war, Marinetti wrote:

War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others…Poets and artists of Futurism! …remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them.

Through the aesthetization of war, the Futurists sought to figuratively destroy the fetters of the past, the hands of history, the forms of memory. In that sense, Karadzic is the Fascist Futurist ideal: the tyrant-warrior poet that sought to destroy history and memory in the most palpable way possible, through genocide. Following this logic, Karadzic may have hoped the Bosnian War to be his Symphonie Phantastique. That such gruesome and cruel reality be equated with the transcendence of art may be a symptom of our hyper-capitalist modernity, where self-alienation (as Benjamin wrote) “has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.”

– s


Withdraw My Drawings? Fuck You, Christian Man!

July 17, 2008

So my sudden burst of blogging productivity has been slowed down by a week and a half on Cape Cod with wonderful people. Although this is my second trip to the cape, it is my first time experiencing the “real” Cape Cod and lemme tell you… Cape Cod is really a sort of “Vacation Land”, but I mean vacation in the same way a heroin addict shoots up to take a “vacation”, it’s a bizarrely opiating place to be. Every house seems to be adorned with glaringly bright blue and pink flowers. Most people are chubby and dressed as casually as catalogs allows. There are bugs and sand everywhere. In Provincetown, the bugs and sad are delicately accented by many many gay men. But all the beaches close at sunset and the bars close at 1 in the morning. All in all, Cape Cod is a glowing haven for the American bourgeoisie who can afford to take a summer vacation, but seem incapable of dealing with “Europe” or a night life, it is a kind of lazy, pastel sub-culture. I’ve taken some pictures, but none characterize Cape Cod better than this one below.

Other than stepping all over these fantasies of American property ownership, I’ve been watching a lot of things: Shot-by-shot analyses of “North by Northwest” and “Notorious”… A comedy/musical hour with a fat tranny named Jackie Beat… A blind old blues guitarist at a bar… The Polo-shirted a Capella stylings of Hyannis Sound… With all this watching, you’d imagine I’d be out of the reach of trouble, after all, an audience is a passive structure. But you’re wrong. I, your faithful and timid blogger, raised some feathers, ruffled some flags and almost got into a fight with a very indignant middle-aged Christian male-type inside the “First Federated Church of Hyannis”… a church of all places! Granted, saying “almost got into a fight” is kind of an absurd thing to say, like “she almost got pregnant”, there’s either physical violence or not. Jimmy McNally provided an insightful linguistic analysis concluding that the angry Christian male was really a “pussy”, even though the Christian twice cornered me and threatened to beat me up. What would cause a respectable, bespectacled, polo-shirted cape-codding federated protestant to harass a stranger inside a church, in front of almost a hundred people?

Loud gay man sex? An abortion? Jeremiah Wright…? This time, the provocateur was art. With this week’s silly controversy over a New Yorker Cover, it’s kind of apropos to talk about art pissing people off. So here’s the story… First off, many of you know that I have a pretty heavy doodling habit. My biochemistry notes had more doodles than writing. My fiction/playwriting notebook is essentially a doodle pad with random writing scrawled in the margins. In a way, I’m way more attentive when I doodle. A lecture may be very interesting to hear, but very boring to watch. Doodling complements an aural interest with a visual one. In case of a boring lecture, doodling keeps me from falling asleep.

In any case, I decided to put the little golf pencils and books behind the pews to use during the Hyannis Sound’s a Capella concert… It made the entire concert much more appreciable than it would have been had I tried to look at singing boys in pastels from thirty pews away. Since there wasn’t any scrap paper, I drew on the inside covers of the hymnals and Bibles. I was very well aware of the potential for sacrilege, but I was feeling slightly subversive (maybe I’ve watched too much Bunuel), I thought I’d “engage” federated church members with art. Besides, there is a fine line between expression and defacement, between art and vandalism. Ask Banksy. By the end of the concert, I made four drawings (including the drawing below) in two hymnals and in one Bible.

As me and my two Jimmy’s got up to leave, the angry middle-aged Christian blocked the pew, the following exchange ensued:

“Have you been writing on the Bibles”

“Me? No…”

“Are you lying? Not that I am accusing you… but you have been accused…”

“Well… There are some drawings in the books.”

“Did you make those drawings?”

“I made one of them…”

The angry Christian insisted on seeing this drawing of mine, so I showed him the saxophone player I drew behind the cover of a Bible, pictured above. To say the least, he was certainly “engaged” by the art. He found it an unspeakable act. He threatened to show the art to the church’s administration and have me pay for the Bible’s replacement (how that drawing makes a Bible “unreadable” or “nonfunctional” is beyond me).

“Why did you draw this?” Torquemada demanded to know

“It felt right with the music.”

“Do you have an eraser?”

“No.”

The Christian huffed and puffed, but then he thought of higher meanings…

“You know,” he started “this is a very important weekend for me and I’m not going to get riled up by this… So I’m going to let this go… but if I ever see you at this church again -just talking to you is pissing me off… I’m going to kick your ass-”

“I don’t understand why you are being so disrespectful,” I interjected “I didn’t draw anything vulgar… If I choose to express myself to God by drawing, why can’t I?”

That didn’t appease the Christian one bit, he huffed and puffed again. We tried to leave, but the Christian guy cornered me again at the sanctuary door, saying he ought to “express himself to God” by “kicking my ass”. I ignored him and started walking away. He demanded that i never return and that I “get the hell out of here” before he “kicks my ass”… By then, Jimmy McNally took my hand as lovingly and queerly as he could and outside we went. We all had a good laugh over this, for a second, I was worried about getting into a fight. I am sort of relieved that I showed him the saxophone player in the Bible, rather than the drawing in the hymnal… The guy would have flipped two shits if he saw my portrait of a Virgin Mary holding a baby and a machine gun titled “Our Lady of the Guerrillas.”

– s


A Nun Unmums: reflections on taking dives

July 5, 2008

As one of the non-voting Williams sisters takes home the Wimbledon prize, a former Wimbledon finalist has told an English newspaper that she threw the 83 Wimbledon final to Martina Navratilova. Andrea Jaeger was 18 when Navratilova destroyed her in the Wimbledon finals 6-0, 6-3 in 54 minutes. Jaeger became a professional tennis player when she was 14 and retired five years later because of a shoulder injury. She became an ordained Dominican nun in 2006.

Jaeger in the flower of her youth

Jaeger in the flower of her youth

Any such revelation is instantly met with accusations of lying, which is a fair critical response. Jaeger, in a 2003 interview, did attribute her Wimbledon loss to a sore thumb and emotional distress due to an argument with her father (and manager). In that interview, she mentioned that she played without determination. It is definitely possible that Jaeger is still trying to justify a quarter-century old loss. But actually proving whether Jaeger did or didn’t throw the game is impossible. Only Jaeger herself can attest to her choices during the game. Whatever shock value this confession has is due to the absurd nature of sports, where losing is never a choice. In sports, one loses because one is incapable of winning, and winning is the only option. When enterprising players such as the 1919 White Sox or the 1978 Peruvian national soccer team decide to take a dive, the whole legitimacy of the game is called into question and panic ensues. Once you choose to play the game, you exchange your choice bag for the role of player. But the most interesting thing about Jaeger’s recent confession is not that she threw the game, but her stated reasons for doing so:

“My dad also asked me about something he heard that happened in the locker-room. I refused to answer. If I’d told him some of the things I encountered on the tennis circuit, he’d have hurt people and pulled me out of that final. Over the years, I took a few beatings from my father to protect players and staff. Dad was so angry that I would choose to protect them and not answer his question that I thought he was going to get his belt. I said I was sorry, grabbed my bra and my wallet and ran outside, aware dad wouldn’t hit me in public.”

“I wanted to order a cab, so I went to the flat next door where Martina was staying. I was upset and kept pounding on the door and ringing the bell until Martina’s trainer, Nancy Lieberman, opened the door and took me to the kitchen. Martina was sitting in the living room. She glanced round at me briefly with a look on her face to say that I’d interrupted her preparation for the final. She stayed seated and didn’t look at me again.”

“I couldn’t have done that in her position, but all I thought at the time was: ‘I’ve changed her routine and affected her. I can’t go out and try in the final now’. Martina missed her chance to help her neighbour who was suffering in order to fulfil her desire, so I had to make it right. I gave up my desire to give someone their help.”

There’s no question that Martina Navratilova acted like a huge asshole the night before the finals. Even if it was Wimbledon, Navratilova had already been there. What would it have cost to give a person some empathy? Perhaps Jaeger realized at that moment how much the role of “tennis player” can make one so cold and distant -so inhuman… but what is more inhuman than the negation of agency?

Of course it’s left to wonder whether a terrified 18 year old American girl really reasoned so elegantly before the Wimbledon finals. Maybe she took a dive because she wanted to say a big “Fuck you” to her dad. Maybe the frigid impressions of Martina looking away and the anxiety of unanswered door bells ringing hollow only coalesced into an actual understanding of the meaninglessness of the games much later in her life. Regardless of the reasons, Jaeger did not give a shit for the Wimbledon title that day. Her throwing the game was, after all, the most human thing she could do.

– s


In Lieu of Loos in Waterloo

July 4, 2008

Being it summer and all, we’ve been lazy. Personally, I’ve been sleeping way too much and wasting my days dusting my music library. But now’s about time for some updates. Among the small projects I’m undertaking is a photo series entitled “Jimmy Mcnally takes a piss”, which would seem like an unnecessary concept under standard conditions. But Jimmy loves to pee outside, on trees and grass and squirrels. Maybe he’s onto something. Too many times, peeing outside falls in the realm of shit-faced male pragmatism. Probably because we’ve grown accustomed to our cement world of air-conditioned water closets with marble floors and heated seats. This is not a reaction against the comfort of the modern bathroom -can you name a more accommodating place to read “Ulysses” or Time magazine? Rather, it’s a rebellion against compartmentalization both social and architectural. This This photo series seeks to examine outdoor urination as an aesthetic experience, a very basic kind of dialectic between man and nature.

Collage\

This first one is a digital photo collage, the other two are regular digital pictures. You can see a larger version by clicking on the images. The third picture was taken in the Bird Sanctuary behind Amherst College.

Among foliage\

In the sanctuary\

-s