“So as to give them courage we must teach people to be shocked by themselves.”

Zizek! (HUM415)

Here’s a version of Zizek! should you want to review the concept of surplus-enjoyment.


Detour (HUM303/ HUM425)

Nada (HUM303/ HUM415)

From Nouvelle Vague director Claude Chabrol, based on a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette. Left-wing guerrillas fight the State. The person who uploaded the film (thanks dude!) seems to be under the impression it’s some kind of porn flick.


Gilda, Are You Decent?


Find the Commodity (HUM415)

First thoughts. Pretty rough. Help me with this.

Q. What is the status of the commodity in Dawn of the Dead and eXistenZ?

An answer to this question might be assembled from the following elements:

1. DoD:

The Mall as mise en scene. Consumer plenitude amidst the wreckage. A fantasy of “free play”: the commodity without production OR exchange? The world of the zombie apocalypse is necessarily post-money? At some point, inevitably, the supplies will run out. At what point do the survivors become commodities, their beating hearts the alluring “nose shine” that attracts the zombie consumers. (And why do zombies want to eat brains rather than other organs? The brain as the seat of reason, affect, imagination.)

2. eXistenZ:

Slave-pod as a weird placenta-commodity. A prosthetic attached to the consumer by the umby cord, which, once ported, acts as a bridge linking and thus identifying the two. IOW, the consumer becomes the commodity. In this scenario consumption and production are simultaneous (identical?). The body is not extraneous, vestigial meat to be shed (i.e., Case in Neuromancer) but the means by which the virtual occurs.

3. Formal considerations: montage, eyeline match, biotech visual motifs.

Film Noir Doc (HUM303/HUM425)

This documentary on film noir takes a rather conservative approach to the topic– it presents fn as a coherent genre with a straightforward development and a few key influences– but it does cover quite a bit of ground. Anyone wishing to write about film noir for a final paper would do well to screen this doc in addition to reading the PDFs by Spicer, Fluck, Gelly, and indeed any number of interesting studies on the topic (Naremore, Krutnik, Copjec, Kaplan, Dimendberg, Christopher, et al– see UCBerkley’s bibliography of secondary sources: ).


Matte (HUM303/HUM425)

matte painting



matte composite



Final Paper Prompts (HUM303/HUM415/HUM425)

Final paper prompts are up:

Postwar Images (HUM303/HUM425)

The images at this link were made by Arthur Fellig aka WeeGee and they may provide some cultural context for our study of film noir:

TL;DR (HUM415)

If you revisit the remarks made by Omar Aktouf in Encirclement: Neoliberalism Ensnares Democracy you’ll find that he makes several points about education, capitalism, and humanism. Among these is that foundational works of world culture such as those by Aristotle are important because in absorbing the words of such figures we are supplied with the linguistic materials for our own reflection. The point is not that those others, over there, the ones who haven’t read Aristotle, are stupid. The point is that in the words of Deleuze “capitalism is profoundly illiterate”; or, put another way, capital desires only those forms of literacy which contribute to its expansion. Little wonder, then, that consumers may be more adept at reading ads than the novels of Victor Hugo.

You might also consider the paradox that in an age of compulsory schooling there are, Aktouf argues, fewer educated people. He advances this claim on the assumption that the mere mastery of technique is not knowledge in its profoundest sense. We train problem-solvers these days, who are capable of making calculations, rather than problem-framers, who can formulate what the problem may be.

Finally, it could be useful to reflect on what it means for an academic of Algerian heritage to be so adamant in the defense of French literature– among other forms of intellectual endeavor– as an end in itself. Algeria, you may already know, was colonized by France in the early 19th century and regained independence only after a terrible and costly struggle.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 157 other followers