Sunday, 09 October 2005

I Am Become Ubiquitous So the good people of Long Sunday have decided to take the Kaufman Challenge and post my little series on Foucault over there as well. That means the same post now appears below, on the Valve and on Londay Sunday. (Well, almost the same post, since I tweaked it between the time I posted it here and sent it to Matt, and have tweaked the version on the Valve a few times since.) This is no Brucian scheme to drive more traffic my way, however. (What do I care for anonymous traffic when all you lovely people are already here?) I'm interested in watching how the same ideas are considered in two different forums. (I resisted the urge to pluralize fancifully.) And in creating peace between our two peoples. As CR noted in the amusing comic-book-cum-indie-rock thread last Monday: I appreciated yr initial comment, Scott. And I’ll take it further in the hokeyness line… There’s actually a bond between those that blog… Those that take this seriously… A bond deeper than the differences that divide us on the “matters fundamental.” I think, anyway. The very fact that we’re here. That we care to discuss or even have it out. It’s the others, off-line, that are going through the motions… Ever talk blog to outsiders? Meet with that blank stare? “But why? Why do you feel the need to do that?” And it seems so obvious to those of us in this bidness of torching each other, daily… Like a restoration of something that should’ve been going on all along... His account jives with my experience: blank stares or unsubtle hints of time wasted. I've also received a fair amount of genuine inquiry. One of my dissertation advisors, for example, pulled me aside after a lecture series he'd organized to ask me about both Acephalous and the Valve. He had read over them and was intrigued by their potential as a scholarly venue. Another faculty member (contra Bruce and Tribble) said that in his discussions about my blog with other faculty members, they had all noted that if they knew a candidate had a blog on which he or she discussed matters academic, the first two things they would think are: 1) this candidate is a committed writer, which bodes well for his or her academic career, and 2) this writer thinks about academia when he or she isn't required to, and would therefore be far less likely to coast once he or she acquired tenure. Dangers certainly abound. (Some have already been hysterically catalogued by people with no insight into the hiring process.) But many of them can be avoided if only we could stop behaving like we're on the internet and start acting more like Adam Roberts. (Yes, this post received vital compositional assistance from an over-the-counter cold remedy. Can't you tell? Look at all the parentheses.)
Who Can Write in Your Books? Anyone Important Enough To [Warning: This post may seem livejournalistic. But entertainingly so. You know me better than to think my tales of life at UCI merely personal. They all resonate. Resonate, I say, RESONATE! That, and there's some implicit lessons to be learned on the importance of bibliophile etiquette buried deep beneath the surface of this entry.] Before I begin working through Foucault to the New Historicists, I have some trivia to share. The copy of Hardt and Negri's Empire from which I'll be quoting has an interesting history. It begins in 2000, the year of its initial publication, when Jim Ziegler (since tenure-tracked somewhere) and I were discussing it in the "TA lounge," a.k.a. the round table in front of the graduate student mailboxes ... which the faculty use as a short-cut between the main English department office and the primary graduate seminar room. (And why shouldn't they? It's their department.) So Jim and I are idly chatting about Empire when Julia Lupton walks up, pauses, greets us, says something to Jim (I'm deaf, remember?) and then hurries off. (Julia's an important person around UCI—a model academic whose standards I fail daily to live up to—she's always hurrying somewhere, and with good reason.) Point being: Julia and Jim exchange words both assumed I could hear. I couldn't, but as I often do in such situations, I nodded my head and pretended to hear all. So when Jim's email arrived later that afternoon asking me what times worked best for me, I had no clue what he was talking about. I related my schedule. "Perfect," he responded. "I'll get right on it." "Get right on it?" I thought to myself. "Get right on what?" Turns out everyone rightly pegged Jim as (but mistook me for) the resident Hardt & Negri expert, and that I was now the co-coordinator of the faculty-dominated Empire reading group. You heard me correctly: a first year, in his second quarter, was assumed expert enough in the Hardt & Negri corpus to lead a faculty-dominated reading group. (In retrospect I realize the faith Julia placed in Jim was well-founded, and her willingness to defer to a graduate student on the topic a sign that she practiced the egalitarianism she preached. But I digress.) So I participated in this reading group with Jim, Julia and a host of imposing faculty members like Mark Poster and Andrzej Warminski. One of the highlights of my first year, I tell you. Time passes. The year is 2005. It is Spring Quarter. I haven't thought about Empire or been all that theoretically inclined for years. I still own the book, mind you, and it still overbrims with my original marginalia. I'm invested in every page. Manic glossing. Attack this point here, cheer-lead that point there. The phone rings. "Hello?" I say, assuming the voice at the other end belongs to a machine which desires nothing more than to clean my carpet, lower my mortgage rates or help me refinance my loans. "Yes, I'm told...

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