In Seattle for a few days of amazing food and friends. Yesterday, finished reading Cory Doctorow’s second book, For the Win. It was so good! I felt excited but sad and listless after. I wish it were just a little shorter because then I think I could teach it. It’s an amazing introduction to Marxist theory, finance capital, labor organizing, and the reality of online virtual economies. (Characters in the book organize the International Workers of the World Wide Web, a union of game laborers, aka the Webblies, get it?) And well written to boot. Now, starting Samuel Delany’s Nevèrÿon series. So happy to have fiction back in my life.
Thus far, having a good time at the ol’ ASAs. My lovely hosts in the Haight are keeping me comfortably rested, and sending me off each day with delish homemade breakfasts in my belly. My goal this time around has been to not run myself into the ground, and I’d say it’s been a success. A good balance of panels, plenaries, and playing hooky with pals both sociological and non.
I’m speaking on one of the dubiously-named SKAT panels at 4.30 this afternoon, in the Union Square Hilton, Continental Parlor 7, Ballroom Level. It looks like I’ll be in the company of some smart and interesting folks, am looking forward to seeing what happens.
Thought I’d resume the blog for a second annual ASA reportback. I arrived in San Francisco Wednesday night for a little pre-gaming with some local yokels. Thursday we traveled down south and stayed at Pigeon Point on the ocean. True beauty. Today we made our slow way back to the city, stopping for some beachy hanging out along the way. I maybe got a bit sunburned, but since I’ll be spending the next several days in dark, windowless hotel conference rooms, I figured some excess rays would be alright.
I’m excited about the conference. If you’re around, say hi!
I have decided to take a little break from blogging. I’ll be back, maybe after the summer? I’m working on developing some healthier boundaries in my relationship with my computer. This may or may not have something to do with having recently seen Wall-E. In the meantime, I’m trying to cultivate some more analog activites into my daily routine, including but not limited to: coffee breaks, walks, and letter-writing. Feel free to get in touch and suggest other such activities you’d be interested in pursuing along with me.
The two first items on my Google Reader today: Tina at Scatterplot, writing that misfortunes highlight how lucky I am, and A. over at On My Commute, who is feeling lucky no longer putting off the inevitable. A double-whammy of good advice to quit whining and get some perspective — coincidence, or just good luck? So as I grind through the end of one more semester, no job on the horizon, but a very generously-funded fellowship, a great group of scholar-friends, and hours every day to do work I deeply enjoy, I think — eh, not the worst life in the world, not by far.
For those who haven’t heard, I have the sad news to share that Eve Sedgwick died yesterday. Although she taught at CUNY, I never got the chance to take a class with her. Nonetheless, I can only think of a few other writers who have impacted me as much as her. I read Between Men for the first time in my second year of college, and it changed everything about what I was studying, and more importantly, how I was studying. As I said to Dean earlier, I feel like that book and Epistemology of the Closet taught me how to think. I know so many people must be struggling with her passing, and I just want to add my small bit of grief and empathy to the collective mourning.
Like Obama, I’ve been a bit despondent since Battlestar Galactica wrapped up. The bad thing about watching TV shows as they air, as opposed to on dvd or on the computer, is that you don’t get to decide how fast it goes by. They do. So with BSG taken from me before I was ready, I’ve been listlessly, aimlessly watching whatever. In desperation, I even watched an episode of the Tudors the other night, and let me just say, that show is not good.
But, after some hesitancy (scared to get attached, then abandoned?), I watched the first few episodes of Dollhouse this week. It’s the new Joss Whedon show, starring Faith of BtVS and Helo of BSG. I’d heard mixed things, but I liked it right away. It’s like Buffy with a budget. And though the show has nothing to do with high school (not yet, at least), Whedon seems to have returned to some of his favorite adolescent reality tropes: (1) Pretty girls are more complicated than they might seem at first glance, and being pretty can make you lonesome and (2) From nerds come the cruelest cuts. I can’t offer much insight on the first trope, but as for the second, my junior high years in particular bore out the truth that nerds may seem meek, but they are mean. Especially rampant is nerd-on-nerd violence. Nerds establish and defend nerd hierarchies, and to be at the bottom is to experience all the pent-up wrath of people who are picked on by everyone but you. In my junior high, the hierarchy was something like: regular nerds with more or less normal bodies on top, followed by D&D nerds, followed by really smart kids with funny bodies. At the bottom were the outcast nerds who were so smart they didn’t even do well in school, because they were too bored to bother, so even the teachers didn’t like them. When the teachers turn on you, you know you are in trouble. Anyway, I feel like the guy in Dollhouse who’s in charge of the computer that wipes your memory away probably fell somewhere in that bottom strata, and this fact helps explain what seems like his complete disinterest in human relations. From the bottom of the nerd heap, can you blame him?
I had an art-filled day yesterday, starting in the morning with the wonderful people of Visual AIDS. I’m working on a little project with them, and have immensely enjoyed the hours poring over slides from their archives of art by people with HIV/AIDS. Their office — a beautiful and slightly beat-up room in a giant old building in West Chelsea filled with studios, offices and galleries off labrythine hallways — reminds me of an old New York that feels mostly displaced by Banana Republics and Starbucks American Apparels and Pinkberries.
After an afternoon of editing an essay for the book collection I’ve been working on, I stopped by the NYU Steinhardt MFA thesis show. My favorite piece was the deconstructed front room by Tracey Goodman. The show is up at 80 Washington Square East until April 25th. From there, I continued on over to the New Museum, where my good friend Emily Roysdon had a piece opening in this new triennial thing happening over there. The crowds were a bit staggering, but well worth elbowing through. I especially liked the pieces by Keren Cytter (glass boxes throwing prisms of green light onto the walls), Liz Glynn (a cardboard model replica of Rome, built, and destroyed, in a day), Brendan Fowler (posters describing a back and forth between the artist and a band named AIDS Wolf) and Haris Epaminonda (paper collages), among others. Upstairs, caught in the doorway between the bar and the balconey that encircles the seventh floor, I speculated with friends as to how many other sociologists might be there among the artists, art critics, art buyers, curators, and djs. Educated guess: 4.
I spent the past few days shunning my dissertation at the Awesome Farm work weekend. Awesome Farmers KayCee and Owen gathered a group of thirty or so friends and farm allies to work on a bunch of projects — sheep maintenance, field clearance, egg gathering, chicken coop construction, and of course, the much-loved lunch crew. I worked on coop construction, and let me just say, my entire body hurts. I’m wobbling around like a freshly-shorn lamb. You know how people will say something like, “I’m so sore, I hurt in muscles I never knew I had?” Well, I don’t even have the muscles I never knew I had, so I’m just in a generalized state of pain. But well worth it. It was an amazing time, and I greatly enjoyed the intensive hanging out with good friends and the chance to work with new people. I really like being part of a group effort, and I think what I lack in muscle mass I make up for with enthusiasm and cheering-along-ness. Having never been that into the usual objects of team spirit (like sports, or nation-states), I have a lot of stored up rah-rah to spare. If you live in the city, or the Hudson Valley, you can pre-order chicken and lamb from the farm’s website, and as Carla from Top Chef reminds us, nothing taste better than food made with love.
I’m pretending I’m an art student today, hanging out in the very pretty but comfortable offices over at Steinhardt, doing work and drinking tea. When I imagine an alternate life at an imaginary university in Europe somewhere, my imaginary office looks a lot like the one I’m in right now — stacks of magazines, slide trays and house plants jockeying for space with the Macs. Not a Dell in sight. An email from TSM’s California Comp Lit informant reminded me that the bleeding of work into life I wrote about last week can also be a bleeding of life into work. So I’m letting myself enjoy that I get to spend my days reading, writing and chatting with smart and interesting people. That’s not so bad, right?
Earlier, was browsing the latest copy of Left Turn magazine, a new issue on “Igniting the Kindred: Visions of Queer Radicalism.” As the letter from the editors says, the articles prompt thoughts on the history of multi-racial, multi-issue queer politics, and what that history offers for thinking through social movements for queer/trans liberation today. Dean and I are excited and honored to have a little review in it we wrote of Milk, or really some thoughts on Milk in the era of Obama and Prop 8.