Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Social Bonds in the Initiation of Methamphetamine Use

I presented this at the 7th Annual Suburban Studies Conference at Kennesaw State University last week. In a nut shell:
  • underlying assumptions about the nature of the "self" are greatly shaping how the phenomenon called "addiction" is discussed
  • an expanded notion of selfhood allows us to understand how addiction, as a discursive practice, can be possible
  • issues of relapse and how to effect drug use cessation may be better understood when considering drug use cessation as suicide
  • reciprocity is central to identity formation both in drug use initiation as well as necessary in drug use cessation.
Quick note: My comment about prisons, early on in the slides, makes more sense when the animation works. The illustration, taken from Thomas Kasulis, shows the primary understanding in the West of identity. In this understanding we have a series of externalized relationships that exert influence on our lives. When it becomes too much, or in adolescence, we hear the phrase, "I'm going off (to Europe, the military, whathaveyou) to find myself - who I really am." We see it with Jesus in the Wilderness even, or of Zarathustra returning to the towns where he is ridiculed. If the animation worked, you would see that when we go off to find ourselves, it looks an-awful-lot like solitary confinement in prison. I (radically) would suggest that the reason we see all aspects of our Late-Modern lifestyle as addictive is rooted in our notions of reciprocity and mutual vulnerability.
Boshears_Suburban Conference 2009

Torture Is Our Legacy

It's as though having a conscience was something superfluous and, perhaps, a detrimental quality for those that would run this country. That is the take away message from the latest details of the recently publicized torture documents.

I now want to know how the people of Germany have come to understand themselves after the Nuremberg Trials, etc. Time to re-watch The Marriage of Maria Braun.

I am currently reading Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem and I am severely saddened by the similarities between what these Bush Administrators are saying and what Eichmann and the other Nazis said about their role in executing atrocities against their fellow human beings.

Fascists, man. I live in a country that can more easily imagine the entire planet being destroyed by an asteroid (unless Bruce Willis has something to say about it), than it can imagine America not torturing or lying or spying on its own people.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Oh Racism, Classist Be Thy Name

I'm having breakfast this morning, listening to V-103 ("The People's Station" as they call it here in Atlanta), as I am wont to do. I love listening to the "Frank & Wanda in the Morning" show. I used to love listening to NPR, but I gotta level with you: Frank & Wanda - they're funnier. Those of you that aren't from Atlanta, hell, most of y'all that are in Atlanta and are of a similar background to me probably don't listen to Frank & Wanda and don't know the joys of "Girl Talk with Ms. Sophia" where I get to learn the important news: which contemporary-urban (pop) star is having what legal problems, etc. V-103, Frank & Wanda, they are in many ways an important organ in how people in Atlanta think. If you're a rapper from the South and you want to make it big, you gotta get on V-103. If you're a minister and you want to expand form the small-time congregation to a mega church (probably in Conyers), you gotta get a segment on V-103. Because V-103 is supposed to be today's vox populi.

But I know, and you probably know as well, that V-103 is not really a radio station with "the People" in mind. At least not the People in that proletariat, working-class, don't own a house that's worth more than a quarter of a million dollars, I didn't go to college, I've been unemployed for six months just like most of my neighbors. V-103 ain't referring to these people. They're referring to someone else and today I was reminded of that in a pretty ugly way when Frank Ski took a moment to deliver one of his little sermons.

Frank today wanted "us" to take a moment this morning and think about something big that he knew was going to happen in Detroit soon. Immediately I started thinking about the riots in the 60s. "Sure, Frank, people are going to start making a fuss now that the economy has gotten really outta hand and the people living and working in MI are really going to be up the creek," I thought to myself. But I was pretty well disappointed when I heard Frank say, "These people working in the factories have been making too much money.... The industry just couldn't innovate...."

That's right: the reason why the economy is in the shitter is because the workers are making too much money. This isn't a new line of thinking, in fact, this is the history of the United States. Frank Ski, at best, is ironically Uncle Tomming us today, at worst he is deliberately regurgitating the vitriol of the power elite in an effort to further sow discontent and malevolence among those at the bottom of the success ladder. Disgusting, Frank, that you would encourage those at the bottom to fight amongst themselves, for your own amusement, so that you don't have to worry about anyone from the bottom impinging on the material success that you have.

But that's the way those in the popular media are largely playing it. So much so that even Stephen Colbert had to parody it with his "Word of the Week":
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - Keeping Our Heads
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Unfortunately, the audience may not be getting the point here: we are being spoon-fed a nonissue with all this corporate bailout talk. Folks from Rush Limbaugh to Congress to even Frank Ski are creating a straw man argument that the super-rich (the power elite) shouldn't be given our tax dollars if all they're going to do is give themselves bonuses and not fix the real problem with their industry: paying the workers well.

What I've yet seen together in the same breath, but certainly in the show or on the same agenda at their meetings is this: "we need to cut back on the excesses of American industry: we need to get Labor Unions to stop unduly controlling how we pay people here, it's bad for competitiveness. Further, we need to close the border with Mexico because they are not only lower wages but they're also dangerous" (I guess because they can't get jobs any more and so a life of crime is the only way to go, maybe the natural state of affairs, 'cause ain't nothing more dangerous than a poor person).

As Tim Wise said, "Do we really believe that the only thing keeping bosses from paying people more in this country is the presence of low-wage, medium-semi-skilled labor from south of this artificial border?" (~5:30):

Tim Wise is pretty great to listen to, and so I'd like to share a full lecture he gave in Seattle a few years back, just follow this link