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

Student, Customer, Grader

The first truism of grading papers is that some students will undertake the assignment in a sincere fashion. That is to say, they evince a real desire to engage with the prompt or even the course as a whole.

Counterpointing these sincere students are the customers– who frankly don’t GAF about much so long as they get (at a minimum) the B- they think their tuition has purchased them.

The goal of a good grader is to read sympathetically, to lean forward into the flow of language on the page in order to understand. When that language comes from a place of authenticity, even when its claims and conclusions are off, a genuine social exchange occurs. When that language is dull, stolen, mashed together without regard for meaning, lazy, rote, or the product of unconscious ideological training then the social exchange that transpires resembles mere commerce. It’s a lie.

As a genre, the lie is intended not to inform or comfort or contradict or do any of the myriad other things by which our relations to one another are extended and confirmed. The purpose of the lie is to distort, diminish, and deprive. To get over. Such a purpose is in precise alignment with what someone– whom exactly, I forget– once called the casual sociopathy of everyday life under advanced capitalism.


Readings for Spring Classes

HUM225: Values in American Life

Stephanie McMillan, Capitalism Must Die! (CMD) 978-0991604708 (Recommended)

Yellow Bird, Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta: Celebrated California Bandit (LA) 978-0806114293

Henry David Thoreau, The Higher Law: Thoreau on Civil Disobedience and Reform (HL) 978-0691118765

Frank Norris, The Pit (TP) 978-0140187588

Martin Goldsmith, Detour (D) 978-1617209321 (Recommended)

Chester Himes, A Rage in Harlem (ARH) 978-0679720409

Faye Mayenne Ng, Bone (B) 978-1401309534

Read more of this post

It interrupts my dreams

“This world is a place of business. What an infinite bustle! I am awaked almost every night by the panting of the locomotive.(1) It interrupts my dreams. There is no sabbath. It would be glorious to see mankind at leisure for once. It is nothing but work, work, work. I cannot easily buy a blank-book to write thoughts in; they are commonly ruled for dollars and cents. An Irishman, seeing me making a minute in the fields, took it for granted that I was calculating my wages. If a man was tossed out of a window when an infant, and so made a cripple for life, or scared out of his wits by the Indians, it is regretted chiefly because he was thus incapacitated for — business! I think that there is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.”

HD Thoreau, “Life Without Principle”

Final Exams (HUM303/ HUM415/ HUM425)

Classes are cancelled Thursday, Dec. 11 due to a pretty tame storm by Florida standards. I’ve already emailed you about our plans. At the usual time class begins I will post the final exam to this blog. You will then have 12 hours to upload your answers to ilearn. This is a hard deadline. If you have any questions please address them to this post. Thank you. I had a great semester.

Exam windows:

HUM303: 9.35 am – 9.35 pm

HUM415: 2.10 pm (12/11) – 2.10 am (12/12)

HUM425: 11 am – 11 pm

What happened

Detainees were forced to stand on broken limbs for hours, kept in complete darkness, deprived of sleep for up to 180 hours, sometimes standing, sometimes with their arms shackled above their heads.

Read more of this post

Page 9 Footnote 2

The Committee did not have access to approximately 9,400 CIA documents related to the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program that were withheld by the White House pending a determination and claim of executive privilege. The Committee requested access to these documents over several years, including in writing on January 3, 2013, May 22, 2013, and December 19, 2013. The Committee received no response from the White House.

This is important…

… and you should pay attention, in part because the luxury of willful ignorance is a privilege accorded– for the most part– solely to the citizens of Empire. Those who live in places Empire bombs and invades and surveils don’t have the option of turning the channel.

The US Senate is releasing a much-delayed, heavily redacted report on key aspects of the (on-going) US torture regime. The Obama administration and its neoconservative allies did not want this report to be issued to the public. Already, torture enthusiasts such as Mike Rogers are claiming that the release of the report will cause incalculable damage to US prestige and even the death of its agents and operatives. Of course the same was said about wikileaks and Snowden’s revelations.

Read about it. Discuss it. This matters.

Everybody knows

Don’t Forget Your Kpop (HUM415)

Like, have you ever been caught up in some kind of love triangle and then you see the other dude and you’re both really angry so you get into a dance-fight and it’s so super-intense your eye makeup begins to run and you even need a tiny band-aid on your cheek and then, inexplicably, the object of your affection (who actually functions as a point of fantasmatic contact linking you to that other guy according to the gender-normative logic of homosocial rivalry) contracts a fatal disease and dies and then you and the rest of the band storm around the hospital corridor crying and shaking your fists? Me neither. But Big Bang has.

Black Mirror (HUM415)

Well, this is about as bleak as it gets. From Black Mirror, a series created by British comic Charlie Brooker, a story of living death in the Spectacle.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 162 other followers