Monthly Archives: September 2011

Quoted (HUM455)

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

— Jean-Jacques Rousseau

If the spring of popular government in time of peace is virtue, the springs of popular government in revolution are at once virtue and terror: virtue, without which terror is fatal; terror, without which virtue is powerless. Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is not so much a special principle as it is a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to our country’s most urgent needs.

It has been said that terror is the principle of despotic government. Does your government therefore resemble despotism? Yes, as the sword that gleams in the hands of the heroes of liberty resembles that with which the henchmen of tyranny are armed. Let the despot govern by terror his brutalized subjects; he is right, as a despot. Subdue by terror the enemies of liberty, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is liberty’s despotism against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is the thunderbolt not destined to strike the heads of the proud?

— Maximillien Robespierre

“America is ungovernable… He who serves a revolution ploughs the sea”

— Simon Bolivar

Trans-National America and Sister Carrie (HUM225)

What we get in “Trans-national America” is a critique of Americanization and a counter-narrative of what US national identity might be. In essence, Bourne writes against the normativizing tendency of Americanization as a process of compelling immigrants to become as Anglo-Saxon as possible by bleeding them of their cultural particularities. Instead of a compulsory form of Anglo-centric nationalism, Bourne posits a trans-national version of national identity which encourages not only the maintenance of “home culture” but its active influence on US culture. He calls this condition cosmopolitanism, and views it as a powerful impetus for national-cultural development. Even further, Bourne suggests that the practices and values emerging from that process will prefiguratively constitute the American tradition. In this sense the US is a work in progress, one impelled by the plurality and variegation of its population.

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ShockDoctrine/ GenP (HUM415)

If you’re interested in exploring some of the events and ideas discussed by Klein, you might look at her website, which has primary historical documents:

A trailer for the film adaption of Generation P (Homo Zapiens):

It’s not clear if or when Gen P will be released in the US. It just screened a the Toronto film festival last week

A short film inspired by the book:


GBK Notes (HUM415)

The Goodbye Kiss: Rough Notes

Each chapter is named after a woman (though in the case of La Nena, the woman in question names Giorgio’s restaurant).

When Giorgio goes to jail he enters a prison economy which he manages to exploit to his own advantage. He pimps a Brazilian transvestite for cigarettes, for example. The changing nature of Italian society is present even in the confines of prison. Whereas in the past an informer such as Giorgio might be attacked or killed, he observes, “nowadays even prisons aren’t what they used to be” (25).

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Histories of Violence

The Guggenheim and the UK Guardian have put together a multimedia project on violence. A number of interesting thinkers and artists (Zygmunt Bauman, Judith Butler, Brian Massumi, et al) have produced numerous short films, interviews, lectures which present critical and theoretical “interventions” into the concept of violence.