Friday, August 29, 2008

A Fascinating Article About Racist Rhetoric

So MLK gave his famous speech just over 45 years ago, so that his homophobic family could then sell it to cell phone companies; I am reminded of the "I Have a Dream Speech" because Obama accepted the Democratic Presidential Nomination. I read the speech, it was alright.

I hope that he's the next President (because the only other person that could be is McCain and that spells disaster). By the way, I think that the next "racial issue" will be that group that we call Hispanic or Latino. I think it's going to come in the form of further Immigration Control, which is absurd but happening.

Today I read a fascinating article about the history of American White Supremacist Rhetoric that is currently being used as the legal defense strategy of these black drug lords in Baltimore and I am sharing it with you all because it's amazing. I think that it's a fascinating article because it describes a really prominent feature of our historical moment: the dissolution of the nation-state through the rise of the interest group.

Nation-States are really monolithic, right? They're huge, they don't move around because they are geographically-rooted, when they move it is always in one of two directions: retreat or advance/colonize. Now we have Multinational Corporations, entities that are quite large in a number of measures (Wal-Mart is one of the largest economies in the world), and what we call globalization (itself simply the footprint of the Sasquatch that is sometimes called The System); and we also have organizations like Al-Qaida (unless you're John McCain and insist that it's only related to Muslims, by ignoring all those crazy Christian and Jewish, and any other violent extremist group out there). These groups are like nomads, and here I'm thinking of Deleuze & Guattari's sense of nomads...

Anyways, I'm tiring you out from reading the real meat and potatoes here. The article is a little long, but it's really well-written and a fascinating stage on which to present some complex ideas (although the journalist never even touches on where I'd like to go from here).

Please Read This and Respond: here(or in Japanese, ココ)

Monday, August 18, 2008

New PSA Site

So, here's a place that I hope will act as a great tool for those of you that have been a part of the PSA so far (and for those to come).

It's an archive to show the unintiated what the PSA is all about:

It's in need of more information because I have only, what, three flyers out of the 90 that we made... I've only got, like, two of the PSA stickers posted. We did lots of cool stuff and the world needs to have rapid access to that when they meet us - they need to know with whom they are dealing.

I'd like to also post the CVs of alumni (for future job hunts, newspapers looking for background on "the early genius of ________" so I need you, mis cumpaneros, to give me your photos. If you have hardcopies of any of the Sophias or stickers, whathaveyou, take a digital picture of it (a nicely lit, big one) and email it to me. If you have digital copies of any of it, please email it to me.

And tell me what I got wrong on there and what you'd like to see on there.

Rots of rove

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What Is Lost in Translation?

So, as you may be aware, Japanese society is perhaps the most polite society on the planet. There are several degrees of politeness that must be employed to do the simplest things, even when buying groceries.

This politeness-thing is difficult for Westerners to understand and it's really difficult to live here comfortably because we are constantly having to do our best to demonstrate the proper level of politeness (like, "is it okay, when taking off my shoes to enter a building, to turn completely around - and so show my butt to the host? Answer: yes it is).

But there is a reciprocated problem: the Japanese have no swear words. The worst thing you can say is that you will kill someone. Yeah, now think about the massacres that you've committed when you're late to work or someone is too slow to make your Willy's super veggie burrito (mmm, I'd kill someone for a Willy's Superveggie burrito - I'd kill they mama).

So I spend a certain amount of time, every day, trying to educate my (totally fluent) Japanese colleagues. Here is today's lesson, it's about using slang as adjectives:

According to my coworker the title of "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back" in Japanese is:
ジェイ & サイレント ボブ 帝国への逆襲
which translates to "Jay and Silent Bob counterattack empire"

Monday, August 11, 2008

The History of the PSA and Getting into the EGS

Many thanks to all y'all that have sent me congratulatory statements upon being admitted to the European Graduate School, I hope I do ya proud.

No seriously, I do.

Kristy asked how I got into the EGS and I thought I'd share.

I wrote about working with my friends in the Philosophy Student Association (PSA). Actually, the last three positions I've taken I have discussed at length my work with the PSA because it has been great work so far (because I believe that we will continue to do awesome shit).

Here's what I wrote, actually:

My work with the Philosophy Student Association (PSA), I think best exemplifies my fierce independence of thought and need for creativity in my scholastic endeavors. I come from a small state university on the outskirts Atlanta, Georgia (USA), a city Rem Koolhaas described as the Postmodern city – a city without a center. Kennesaw State University, during the eight years I attended, went from a junior college to the third largest university in the state and with that growth came tremendous resources with few students taking advantage of this opportunity. In step a small group of intellectually gifted and exceptionally-motivated undergraduates that would thirst for something beyond receiving a degree that emphasized only skills training. We met in an Asian Philosophies class.

Kennesaw during this time saw the median age of its student body go from 35 to 23 which meant that the PSA largely consisted of students between 21 and 25, the university describes that demographic as "nontraditional." Among the membership were several artists (two of whom were working as tattoo artists in the metro area), a full-time high school teacher, a full-time elementary school teacher, and several students such as myself that were supporting ourselves and paying our own way through our undergraduate years. We all shared a certain degree of irreverence and a desire to overcome the general malaise, the overall suburban Americanism, that Kennesaw had been steeping in for the previous decade. The Philosophy Student Association began with a sketch that one of the members had created during a lecture on the Buddhist rejection of Hinduism. I recognized that brand identity was the crucial step needed in order to begin our work and so this sketch became a limited run of stickers which we could use to cover over the Coca-Cola and Home Depot (both based in Atlanta) logos that had become ubiquitous on our campus. This logo, "Sophia," would be placed on all works we produced as a collective. So far, five of our original members have had this logo tattooed onto our bodies, we joke that we are a "blood in, blood out" community.

As the Philosophy Student Association we created the annual North Georgia Student Philosophy Conference (NGSPC), an international conference held over two days in the spring. The NGSPC publishes an annual journal, selected proceedings which feature original works by scholars such as David Farrell Krell and Henry Rosemont, Jr, and Walter Brogan. I served for five years as head of the selection committee for the conference as well as the selected proceedings. We, the students, found the funding, we coordinated all the logistics for hosting the conferences, and we were entirely responsible for the layout and design of each journal. The PSA was responsible for what has been described by professors at other universities in the southeast as, "the best philosophy lecture series in the region," the Mike Ryan Lecture Series. This lecture series, named after a member that tragically died at the PSA's inception, brought world-renowned scholars and artists such as Graham Parkes, Saul Williams, David Wood, P.J. Ivanhoe, and Robert Bernusconi. Again, we, the students, found all the funding and coordinated all the logistics for each of these events, including setting up and breaking down the tables and chairs. The Philosophy Student Association generated a monthly newsletter, "Sophia," in which we published student précis (again all design and logistics were directed and executed by us). We created an online journal, OtherWise, which seeks to foster and encourage undergraduates to engage comparative and continental philosophies. The PSA was awarded "Best Student Organization of the Year" for five years in a row for our exceptional dedication to improving the quality of discourse in our community. My friends and I accomplished all of this without a Philosophy major, there was no structural support from the faculty of the Philosophy faculty with the noted exception of David Jones (or advisor) and Tom Pynn.

So, I really want to thank all of my friends that contributed to that work and I encourage you to continue to think about the great work you've done so far and use these experiences garnered to date to really break-out from the tediocrity that surrounds us.