Tuesday, 16 August 2005

Seminars and Seders: A Lazy Quasi-Comparative History of Neither I wrote the previous post I fully intending on working on my dissertation until the very moment I fell asleep. Alas! I had to check my email, and it contained the graduate seminar descriptions for the fall quarter. Since I've been having this conversation about the extent to which literary studies houses Theory quite a bit lately, I can't help myself: I will post some of the course descriptions of some of the upcoming UCI English, Comparative Literature and Critical Theory Emphasis seminars below the fold. Lest I seem to be attacking the venerable institution which will someday (maybe even soon) authorize all the shit I've stuffed in my head the past six years, I should note that, as a genre, the "course description" suffers from the same Madison Avenue-inflected bombast of theory or anti-theory anthologies, i.e. just as you must buy this anthology over all other anthologies so must you attend this seminar above all other seminars. Wow. Amazing what'll spur Seder flashbacks. If I could figure out how to type in Hebrew, I'd impress you all by reproducing the Four Questions which must be answered once a year, every year, by the youngest, drunkest Jew at the table during what's supposed to be a celebration of the Egyptian Exodus. (As recounted in one of the books of the Original Testament. Which one escapes me for the moment. I'll be brainier come morning.) Since I'm unable to impress you with the modicum of Hebrew I acquired during a decade of Wednesday evenings spent attending Hebrew school, I'll have to settle for saying that to my knowledge these seminar descriptions aren't different from all other seminar descriptions. We "Irvinites" don't place pillows behind our heads and backs to differentiate this seminar from all other seminars. We're not required by the Lord who brought us out of Egypt to be Our Lord to sing the most entertaining and repetitive song ever written; one which is both called and seemingly consists only of the word dahyenu. Typical lyrics run the gamut from dahy-dahyenu, dahy-dahyenu to dahy-dahy-enu, dahy-dahy-enu, dahy-dahy-enu, dahyenu, dahyenu! Few songs are more fun to sing but none are more fun to sing as an increasingly drunk fourth grader. (I'm convinced that Andy Merrill, creator and writer of The Brak Show, is both Jewish and Dahyenu's biggest fan. How else to explain "The Song that Never Ends"?) We neither drink to excess as the Lord commandeth nor do we leave any alcohol for Elijah. We know Elijah's the absent-presence of all that's phallogocentric...alright, alright, we know that Elijah's an absent-presence who somehow manages to imbibe a goblet of wine better left for the Easter Bunny. Because if you had to choose between a guy whose name--in Hebrew Eliyahu, which just so happens to my Hebrew name and is the name (abbreviated as "Eli") I went by for about half of my formative years--means "my God's name is Yahu" and the Easter Bunny, who would you prefer do the drinking? But I...
Acephalous is Six Months Old! or Praises Be I've Survived! [Note: Amardeep's comment prodded me to finish this post. Since its continuation sounds as indulgent as I thought it would, I've left it there in the comment section. But if you really want to you can read it.] In eleven days Acephalous will have been around for six months. Happy Birthday Acephalous! What can I say? You began as a necessary distraction during a year in which I accomplished almost nothing. That angered me, and that anger confused me because it had been years since anything had pinched the nipples of my soul. I hadn't sweat the small stuff since high school and couldn't be bothered to nearly a decade later. So what did I do with my anger? I started you! I wanted to channel all these useless afflictions into something productive. I had tired of the typical existential wallowing that follows any brush with mortality and I hadn't written a damn thing in months. I would prepare for class and teach and return home exhausted. Then you came around. I haven't been the same since. When you were first conceived you were nothing but an outlet for the unabated anger of a recent cancer survivor. You've since become so much more. You invented yourself an author by the name of "A. Cephalous" who posted hither and thither. "A. Cephalous" earned himself a reputation and then was subsumed into He Who Is Scott Eric Kaufman. (He became the guy in the middle unworthy of the women to his right, your left. Before you ask, he also became the guy whose mother is more Irish than Irish and the guy whose beard grows in bright Irish-Red despite his otherwise stereotypically Semetic features. He also knows how silly this genetic essentialism is. But his beard's still bright red if allowed "philosopher-length.") This post began with a point. It was to be a retrospective of the evolution of the way in which Acephalous has mattered to me, but it will have to settle for knowing that without it my cancerous anger at universal injustice may've vented itself in far less productive directions. I could say that one of the reasons I groped for The Valve-preservers was because at that moment anger and argument were all I had. That and Wilco. But Jeff Tweedy could only inspire me. He could do nothing for the doldrums that had parked themselves on my jet stream. So I waited-out the weather but the weather did out-wait me. And here I am. Six months later. No longer "A. Cephalous" but myself. No longer chock-full of cancer but filled to the brim with healthy cells. And now you have pictures. Happy birthday Acephalous who is not "A. Cephalous." Thank you for the survival. (Tomorrow night we'll resume the serious arguments about Zizek, Knapp and Theory. Tonight we eat cake.)

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