This is one of the best books I've read in a while, and if you get the chance ever, go hear Tom Spanbauer read. He has the most amazing reading voice....moreThis is one of the best books I've read in a while, and if you get the chance ever, go hear Tom Spanbauer read. He has the most amazing reading voice.
The book's prose is lyrical, and Spanbauer makes excellent use of repetition stylistically. Now is the Hour is the story of a kid growing up in rural Idaho and discovering that he's queer — a queered up coming of age story that I found pretty compelling. Amazing narration!(less)
One of the best books I've ever read: a Borges-esque take on AIDS, Lebanese-Americans, and gay identities. A series of vignettes told from a variety o...moreOne of the best books I've ever read: a Borges-esque take on AIDS, Lebanese-Americans, and gay identities. A series of vignettes told from a variety of voices; time and location fold on themselves, and I am left wondering who is speaking and realizing, somewhat ironically, that it doesn't matter. Humorous in its serious understanding of futility and hope and death and longing. Up there with Gabriel Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude and David Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius as one of my favorite works.(less)
In Pedagogy of Freedom (1998), Paulo Freire builds on his theories of critical pedagogy to promote the autonomy of students and to critique and fight...moreIn Pedagogy of Freedom (1998), Paulo Freire builds on his theories of critical pedagogy to promote the autonomy of students and to critique and fight against neoliberalism and its cynical stance toward the future (22). He is adamant that an act of teaching must also involve an act of learning (Chapter 2). He also expands on his notions of the unfinished human, stating that "this unfinishedness is essential to our human condition" (52), and that the future is made through trial and error (54).(less)
If you are looking for strong democratic political philosophy, Simon's is okay. However, I found it too wrapped up in Thomistic ontological grounding...moreIf you are looking for strong democratic political philosophy, Simon's is okay. However, I found it too wrapped up in Thomistic ontological grounding (i.e., too Catholic) and not well organized. For a better read, check out John Dewey.(less)
While in the Frankfurt airport killing time, I decided I needed something to read while waiting in the airport and on the long flight back. During my...moreWhile in the Frankfurt airport killing time, I decided I needed something to read while waiting in the airport and on the long flight back. During my vacation, I had already read Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Freedom, Judith Butler's Excitable Speech, and Yves Simon's Freedom and Community, as well as most of two issues of CCC and an issue of Hypatia. I was a bit tired of academic voices and theory (though I had enjoyed everything I read, except perhaps Simon, whose Thomistic perspective irked me and whose writing seemed dry), so I went to the bookstore and perused. The English section was limited, so I was left trying to decide between a collection of short stories by Margaret Atwood and The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson.
Bryson, a native Iowan who had moved to Britain, had been haunting me for years. If someone was knowledgeable of travel writing, they asked me about him. I have some acquaintances who have been shocked that I hadn't read any of him. I was holding Atwood's book and Bryson's book, weighing the pros and cons of each. So I read Bryson first paragraph:
I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to. When you come from Des Moines you either accept the fact without question and settle down with a local girl named Bobbie and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever, or you spend your adolescence moaning at length about what a dump it is and how you can't wait to get out, and then you settle down with a local girl named Bobbi and get a job at the Firestone factory and live there forever and ever.
and decided I had to read this. Iowa-deprecating humour? I was excited. Maybe this book would be worth the astronomical 14 Euros (which, with the exchange rate, is about 1 million dollars).
I admit I was chuckling a lot during his first few pages, and even occasionally throughout the rest of his book. However, it wasn't before too long that his book just began to annoy me. Every attempt at humor in his book, besides some self-deprecation or making fun of his family, is targeted shots at those who are different from him. Bryson's book seems like a good example of how to enact the construction of "normal." Overweight? Here's a few jokes thrown at you. An accent that isn't accepted as standard? He'll mock you incessantly. Differently abled and in the same room as Bryson? You're there for one purpose alone: to stare at because you're a freak.
I haven't quite finished the book, and I probably will (I only have about 50 pages left), but I have to say I'm greatly disappointed. The sour icing smothered the cake when he announced that, feeling incredibly visible and alone in a nearly all black Southern town, that he now knew what it was like to be black in South Dakota.
I beg your pardon, Mr. Bryson, but you have no idea what it's like to be black anywhere. If anything, Bryson's book is a chronicling of his extreme naiveté at his own unearned privilege.
It seems like the only group not worth mocking in his book are queer folk, and that's probably because they are so invisible to him that they're not even on the radar to mock. Jokes about other people can be amazingly funny, but a book constructed completely on mocking others, a book that seems to function mostly as a reinforcement of normalcy, fails to continue to be funny. It's just tiring.
I should have picked up Atwood's book instead.(less)
This is one of the most accessible books of theory I've read. It was quick and easy to follow, and I think Baudrillard's take on the September 11, 200...moreThis is one of the most accessible books of theory I've read. It was quick and easy to follow, and I think Baudrillard's take on the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is an interesting one. If you're interested in theories of globalization, terrorism, homogeneity, and alterity, check it out.(less)
Two great interviews with two of the smartest people alive. One thing I really liked about this book was how well Giovanna Borradori was able to put D...moreTwo great interviews with two of the smartest people alive. One thing I really liked about this book was how well Giovanna Borradori was able to put Derrida's and Habermas's thoughts from her interviews with them into the context of their larger bodies of work. The interviews were not as heady and difficult as the two philosophers' other writings, and Borradori's accounts of their overall theories are really accessible.
I just finished reading For the Hard Ones: A Lesbian Phenomenology by tatiana de la tierra, a fantastic collection of poems (prose poems? a manifesto...moreI just finished reading For the Hard Ones: A Lesbian Phenomenology by tatiana de la tierra, a fantastic collection of poems (prose poems? a manifesto [sic]? a "wishful thinking"? tatiana de la tierra admits herself that it is hard to classify this book ). More accurately, I read half of the book, for the poems are in one half English, and in the opposite half (the flip side of the book), Spanish. I do not know Spanish well enough to read through a collection of poetry and understand it, so I only read the English.
I found tatiana de la tierra's poetry bold, refreshing, and erotic. Sometimes I cringed at the way that she portrays lesbianism as automatically subversive, as automatically an authoring of the self outside of societal scripts. But this is a minor point, because I think most of her poetry conveys powerful understanding/insights into the discourse of sexuality/sexualized bodies.
de la tierra writes often of naming — including the naming of oneself. To name oneself as a lesbian, she writes, is "to speak the truth":
to speak the truth—I am a lesbian—is to name the imprint that being a lesbian leaves. as a consequence, there is no space for questioning. no one will ask: is she?
to silence or deny the truth is to leave a trail of lies. people will surely ask: is she? (27)
Lesbian for de la tierra is about a re-scripting: rejecting the scripting that most people take for granted and follow without criticizing and writing one's own script. Though, as I alluded to above, I find the "writing one's own script" somewhat problematic, I also find the way de la tierra describes this process, this reclamation of the self... well, poetic.
This passage that I just quoted, I believe, serves to help understand the marking of sexualities, the interpellation of bodies: even if one does not claim the word "lesbian," one is marked and read as such, and questioned and called such. Announcing oneself as "lesbian" (or gay, trans, queer, faggot, and so on?) is, as has often been noted, a speech act. But here we see it is not just a statement of "I am," but also a statement of impact: "I am impacting you." I am not sure if I agree with "truth" and "lies," or even the desire for "no space for questioning," but I do agree with her portrayal of self-naming as "imprinting" on others.
As de la tierra writes later:
each person who sees a lesbian is marked: lesbians leave their footprint on other people's faces. (47) (less)
Fantastic — a great application of queer theory to gay and lesbian studies (including history, views of sex and sexuality, gender construction and pre...moreFantastic — a great application of queer theory to gay and lesbian studies (including history, views of sex and sexuality, gender construction and presentation). Read this book before you decide on the significance of Stonewall, S/M, dildos, sissyboys, and so forth.(less)