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


Here’s a list of some of the films I screened this semester.

Oculus (2013): Pretty spooky in parts. The interwoven narratives are definitely confounding and the gore factor is relatively light. Writer-director-editor Mike Flanagan understands the primal magic of mirrors, which have the uncanny power of both doubling and distorting the world.

A Tale of Two Sisters (2003): Another “family” horror flick. I think it’s the intimacy of family relationships that make them prime terrain for disturbing films. Certainly the perversion of that intimacy and the violation of trust are linked to the gothic mode. Secrets, darkness, sudden aggression, the gap between perception and reality: all of these elements work to construct an off-kilter storyworld.

Gothic (1989): A Ken Russell film starring a very young Natasha Richardson as Mary Shelley. A relentlessly batty, hallucinatory account of one of the most famous house visits in English literature, when Polidori, Byron, and the Shelleys told one another ghost stories and Frankenstein was born. The print that’s available on dvd is murky and awful but it’s worth watching anyway.

His Kind of Woman (1951): If you’re a fan of Robert Mitchum then you’ll likely forgive him this over-the-top crime drama with the wooden yet sultry Jane Russell.

Twixt (2011): This is a beautiful looking film that loses energy as it moves along, but has the virtue of imagining a lengthy conversation with Edgar Poe (Ben Chaplin) about plot and narrative.

Poklosi (2012): A better-than-average Polish thriller that is concerned with the crimes of the past.

Faust (2011): If you can get past the opening autopsy, you’ll find this adaptation of the Faust legend is very engaging. Sokurov’s Satan bears a passing resemblance to the figure hallucinated by Ivan Karamazov as he suffers from a virulent “brain fever” in Dostoevsky’s novel. Note also the role that Sokurov’s cinema art seems to be playing in Russia’s efforts to assert its cultural presence on a global stage.

Wolf Hall (2015): I am a huge fan of Hillary Mantel’s historical novels, particularly Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. This miniseries is a really well-executed adaptation of both of them. Clare Foy is just remarkable as Anne Boleyn.

App (2013): I actually enjoyed this film. Cultural anxieties about new tech are usually pretty interesting to consider, and if App is fairly ridiculous it does have something to say about the subsumption of human consciousness into “social” media.

Noah (2014): Initially I was wary of this film but then I realized it was directed by Darren Aronovsky, who basically treats a Judeo-Islamo-Christian myth as science fiction. Check it out.

Pontypool (2008): This original take on the zombie flick picks up William S. Burroughs’s conceit that “the word is a virus” and transports it to strange places.


Get a job!

Student Organizing Intern at San Francisco State University
Hours: 10-15 hours/week
APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Open until filled  
California Faculty Association Tim Sampson Memorial Student Internship Program
The Purpose of the Student Organizing Internship Program is to:
1)      Build the leadership capacity and organizing skills of CSU students as future leaders.
2)      Develop an ongoing partnership with the student and faculty community around issues relevant to the CSU.
3)      Increase student awareness about student learning conditions and faculty working conditions and the impact to the quality of education
4)      Promote student awareness, empowerment and engagement of social justice and labor issues
Required Qualifications
1. Ability to make at least a one year commitment
2. Ability to manage time and complete projects in a timely manner
3. Ability to adapt to shifting expectations and priorities
4. Self starter and self motivated
5. Willing to learn new skills to perform job duties
6. Good record-keeping skills
7. Willing to travel occasionally throughout California

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Get a job!

On-Campus Paid Tutoring/Teaching Opportunity

The Learning Assistance Center (LAC) is currently hiring reading/writing and math/sciences tutors for Fall 2015.

At the LAC, you’ll get the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students while tutoring academic skills and benefiting from a great job environment.  We’re on campus, have flexible hours, and offer ongoing support from peers and experienced faculty coordinators.

Tutors receive $11.50/hr. starting pay. They work at least 7-8 hours a week and participate in tutor education workshops and a weekly seminar. You must be an upper division or graduate student to apply.

For information about positions, applications, or our tutor education program, please visit the LAC web site:





Ten Minutes (HUM415)

Go to this link. Watch Omar Aktouf speak from 1 hr 22 min to 1 hr 32 min. This will help you.

Of Good Report

This looks great. First it was banned, then it won awards. Hope it’s released here soon.



Oprah, Neoliberal (HUM415)


Guns of Brixton

There are a startling number of covers of this track: Jimmy Cliff’s perfectly enunciated acoustic version, Los Fabulosas Cadillacs’ code-switching live performance , Nouvelle Vague’s dreamy Bossa Nova beat, Arcade Fire’s miserabalist accordion, The Honeydippers’ smooth rockabilly sound, etc.

More to the point, others have noted just how apposite this track is to contemporary events.

It’s important to pay attention to what’s happening in Baltimore. Though the city is not technically under martial law, the situation is about as close as you can get. The National Guard is patrolling the city, there is a curfew, and people are being detained without charge in excess of the legally mandated 24 hours.

The security apparatus (RSA)– courts, cops, feds, etc.– try to learn from every new crisis. Each time there is some kind of mass disruption or social explosion, agents in the field and administrators in the office coordinate with one another in order to assess and streamline their tactics. Surely some of those procedures are directed at individual safety. Still others are formulated in the interests of defending property and maximizing the State’s ability to control its citizens.

Think about image and narrative. A “common sense” of these events is being crafted, one that will likely confirm and challenge existing biases simultaneously. The social meaning of Baltimore is being consolidated. Corporate media in particular seems quite taken with footage of Toya Graham smacking the shit out of her son, a clip that has, as they say, “gone viral”. I find these images particularly interesting because they immediately evoke an ideology of parenting and thus social reproduction based on the principle of tough love. If only we would lovingly beat our children they would know better than to lash out against official violence.

(h/t: Alex)


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