Friday, June 25, 2010

new post at the avant guardian

in this week's popOp I discuss Nicolas Bourriaud's relational aesthetics and desubjectification (remember that one?)

pictures and videos and a link to a radio station... a cornucopia of media consumption can be yours if only you would click on this link, right here.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Missing Okinawa

It's crazy hot out here in Atlanta. It's the summer; that's natural.

During the summer months in Okinawa it's much, much hotter. 虫暑い (mushi atsui, literally means even the bugs are sweating). It's hot, the ocean is like bath water, you put on your jimbe or your kariyushi wear (as part of the mainland's "cool biz" practices, kariyushi  wear is supposed to be understood as professional/business summer attire).

This is appropriate because kariyushi in Okinawan, or ウチナーグチUchinaguchi, means "harmony with nature." And it's very important to be appropriate in Okinawa because when the Ryukyu Kingdom 流球 still paid tribute to the Chinese dynasties the small islands were known as shurei no kuni (the Land of Propriety). This message was sent to the Ryukyuans on a tablet as a token of gratitude for the historic kindness the Ryukyuans have shown visitors as well as their commitment to Confucian education in Naha. The inscription was later added to the Shureimon Gate leading to Shuri Castle, the ancient home of the Ryukyu Kings.

Any how.

In the summer comes Obon, similar to Dia de los Muertos, where the living celebrate their ancestors. In Okinawa this is the best time to see and be a part of the eisa エイサ festivities. Eisa began as a more solemn Buddhist affair but over the last fifty years has become increasingly flashier and livelier.
Here's a short clip of the Uruma City traditional eisa dancers during the 2008 10000 Drummers event in Naha on kokusaidori in Naha (apologies for the quality of the recording):

The traditional eisa performances, I was told were (as was the playing of the sanshin 三線) supposed to be done to the rhythm of one's heart. Today it's much faster, less contemplative, and tends to encourage dancing. Here's a great performance from the 53rd 全島エイサ祭り(zento eisa matsuri All-Island Eisa Festival) in Okinawa City:

I had the great fortune to perform at this festival with the Okinawa City International Association's eisa team. At the end of the long hot day everyone was invited to join on the field and dance.

My wife and I loved visiting Ikeijima 伊計島 off the coast of Uruma うるま and Gushikawa 具志川. Sometimes we'd go running along the kaichu dori 海中道路 bridge that connects them to the honto島 (main island). One summer night we went running and when we got to Henza 平安座島 we heard the beating of those big eisa drums. It was a beautiful night; it was crazy hot, of course. But there was a nice enough breeze from the ocean every now and again. I remember the moon was out. It was beautiful to be in such a lovely place.

This song from BEGIN is very reminiscent of that night. Although this video isn't filmed at Katsuren 勝連城 (which is near Ikei and Henza), it was filmed at Nakagusuku 中城城 (the two castles fought against each other in the 15th century).

I just wanted to write about Okinawa a little.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Great Thanks for Great Heidegger-related Sites

I'm most certainly very late to this fine party that Pete has been hosting over at both Enowning as well as Ereignis.

Both sites are exemplary in the dedication that Pete has shown for providing the English-reading blogosphere with tons of great scholarship and opinion on Heidegger and philosophy in the world.

Selfishly, I'm really glad to have his Heidegger and East Asian philosophies section on Ereignis. Also, self-aggrandizingly, I've had two items shared on Enowning and it's really great to know someone is out there noticing.

Thanks, Pete, for all sharing the good times!

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Post at the avant guardian

This week on popOp we look at doctors performing experiments on the recipients of torture from the U.S. government (you're welcome, torture victims, I'm sure you find solace in knowing that future victims will have a more effective and efficient mode delivered to them). How would Hannah Arendt think about it, would it look anything like what Confucius taught?

Things that make you go hmmm.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Post at the avant guardian

In this week's installment of popOp we drop that delicious album from Spiritualized and just before we nod out we consider the crucial role that "drugs" has had in structuring the Western imagination since the Ancient Greeks.

Go ahead, take a little read - it won't kill you and you won't get hooked. Promise.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My friend, Ryland, asked me a great question tonight:
"Every time you talk about desubjectification in yr popOp, I don't understand what you mean. What do you mean by desubjectification?"

In reponse:
I think a great place to look would be in Foucault as this is where Agamben (from whom I learned the term) gets it. He gives a fairly good account of it in an interview in 1978 with Le Bitoux (Mec, 1988, trans. Savran, 1992). The idea seems fairly similar to D&G's discussion of the BwO - a zone of intensity, no longer a representation of an ontic being. 
Foucault states, in that interview:
[in the bath houses] you meet men who are like you, who are like what you are for them....You cease to be imprisoned in your own face, in your own past, in your own identity."
So desubjectification can be an affirmation of non-identity. A means by which to become a multiplicity, a communal being.
Immediately I don't feel much of a resonance with the idea of an emancipatory strategy in this sort of situation, it seems a bit too much plaisir and less jouissance. But then I read this article "Overcoming Masturbation" by Light Planet, a mormon proselytizing organ. Now I see why desubjectification as a strategy would be of use to someone.
I'm fairly surprised that 1) these people think there is something wrong with masturbation 2) the problem will be "cured" by not "admiring oneself" nor touching one's body, and 3) one strategy for overcoming the problem of enjoying oneself a-sexually is to eat a snack "even if you're not hungry" and finally 4) don't even pray about it.

Seriously? You believe that prayer, the direct means of access to the Lord of all Creation (including masturbation, mind you!) is actually a bad thing when you're trying to overcome what God created us to do?

I'm with you, Foucault:
It is regrettable that such sites of erotic experience do not exist for heterosexuals. Wouldn't it be a marvelous state of affairs for them to be able to, at any hour of the day or night, enter into a place furnished with all the comforts and with all the possibilities they could imagine...?
I am writing this week's popOp about addictions (even masturbation, I guess) and the centrality of this concept to the very notion of how we think of the universe. I'm referencing, of course, Plato's Phaedrus and the discussion of pharmakon-pharmakeia-pharmakeus-(pharmakos); thanks, Derrida!