Haraway

April 22, 2007

Imagine my disappointment when I saw the word ‘cyborg’ in the title, only the read this piece and not find one reference to the Terminator trilogy.  Shame, that really could have terminator.jpghelped Haraway. 

On page 2269 Haraway defines a cyborg as “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction.”  Haraway uses the image of the cyborg because she sees technology and the use of it as becoming essential to what it means to be human. 

On page 2272 she writes, “Our machines are disturbingly livley, and we ourselves frighteningly inert.”  As technology progresses and advances we are making it so that these machines are capable of doing more and more.  And are at the same time making it so that we are having ever less to do. 

Haraway speaks on gender roles on page 2275, “There is nothing about being ‘female’ that naturally binds women.  There is not even such a state as ‘being’ female, itself a highly complex category constructed in contested sexual scientific discourses and other social practices.  Gender, race, or class consciousness is an achievement forced on us by the terrible historical experience of the contradictory social realities of patriarchy, colonialism, and capitalism.”  What Haraway is saying is that there is nothing natural about labeling people by race, gender, or class, these distinctions have all been created and put on people.

Under the section about The Homework Economy Haraway writes, “Work is being redefined as both literally female and feminized, whether performed by men or women.  To be feminized means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled, reassembled, exploited as a reserve labor force; seen less as workers than as servers; subjected to time arrangements on and off the paid job that make a mockery of a limited work day; leading an existence that always borders on being obscene, out of place, and reducible to sex.”  What I think this means is that Haraway sees the work force becoming more positions of service, which is where the feminized part comes in.  When I read this part I kind of thought of Disgrace.  In particular David, and how after losing his distinguished job as a professor, he helped Lucy on the farm and then took work helping Bev Shaw with the animals.  In both instances he was helping women.

That’s all I’ve got for Haraway, I know it’s not much but this was a hard piece to grasp.  I would like to thank Aliya for graciously volunteering to cover Haraway in our carnival.  If it had been me, then that section of our carnival would probably just be filled with not much information, but a lot of picutres of robots.  Like this  number5.jpg

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Horkeimer and Adorno wrote “Real life is becoming indistinguishable from the movies” (1226).  On page 87 of Beginning Theory, Barry writes of Baudrillard, “Baudrillard  is associated with what is usually known as ‘the loss of the real’, which is the view that in contemporary life the pervasive influence of images from film, TV, and advertising has led to a loss of the distinction between real and imagined, reality andillusion, surface and depth.  The result is a culture of ‘hyperreality’, in which distinctions between these are eroded.”  What both sets of ideas are saying is that our reality isn’t real, but instead the reality from TV and movies.  The more I think about that, the more I see examples of it, at least in my life.  A perfect example is this class.  When writing blogs or trying to understand the material I don’t use real life examples, I use movie quotes and Seinfeld references.  In talking with my friends, if there’s a particular idea I want to get across, rather than come up with my own way of saying it I instead use a line from TV or movies.  That goes with what Baudrillard says on page 1733, “The real is produced from miniaturised units, from matrices, memory banks and command models– and with these it can be reproduced an indefinite number of times.”  All those episodes of Seinfeld are stored away in my brain and lines and scenes can be taken out at anytime for a quick one liner.

Just to illustrate the point even further, also on page 1733 he writes, “In this passage to a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, nor of truth…”  I read that and this is automatically what I think of

Baudrillard brings Saussure and Jameson back into the equation when he writes, “It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody.  It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself” (1733).  So when Saussure wrote, “The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound-image” (963)  Baudrillard is saying that doesn’t apply anymore.  In mentioning parody, Jameson wrote “Parody capitalizes on the uniqueness of these styles and seizes on their idiosyncrasies and eccentricities to produce an imitation which mocks the original” (1963)  However, since there is no longer any original to mock, parody is not possible.  The only thing I can equate it to is making a copy of a copy of a copy. 

Like Jameson using the Bonaventure Hotel, Baudrillard uses Disneyland.  According to Baudrillard Disneyland and places like it were created to make us think that the real still exists.  We go to a place filled with characters and rides that don’t exist outside of Disney, we think we know a distinction between real and not.  Baudrillard writes on page 1741, “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation.”

One final thing, in Beginning Theory Barry mentions that Baudrillard believes the Gulf War never happened.  If I were Baudrillard I wouldn’t mention that around the VFW, some of those guys are pretty committed to the lie.

Wow, Horkheimer and Adorno do not like movies. 

They argue that all mass culture is the same, “Under monopoly all mass culture is identical” (1224)  I can agree with that.  In our culture once something becomes popular it is done again and again and again, until the next popular thing is found.  Survivor was popular, which is why every channel has 10 different reality shows.  American Idol was popular, explaining all the shows that are searching for the next big… whatever, and why your vote makes all the difference.  It also explains why every week there is a new computer animated movie about a group of cuddly little animals. 

I couldn’t help but notice an interesting choice of words on pages 1226 and again on 1232.  They do not refer to movie goers as the “audience”, instead these people are called victims. Page 1226: “hence the film forces its victims to equate it directly with reality.”  Page 1232: “the permanent denial imposed by civilization is once again unmistakably demonstrated and inflicted on its victims.”  Sure, $10 for a ticket along with about $8 for popcorn and soda may be a bit outrageous, but victim?  Strong language, wouldn’t you say?

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On page 1231 they write, “There is no erotic situation which, while insinuating and exciting, does not fail to indicate unmistakably that things can never go that far.  The Hays Office merely confirms the ritual of Tantalus that the culture industry has established anyway.”  And thanks to the explanation in the footnote, that makes sense.  Tantalus always had food and drink just out of his grasp.  Movies present things that are out of the grasp of normal people.  We’ll never be as funny as Bill Murray, or as attractive as Jessica Alba, or as much of a bad-ass as Bruce Willis(the film Die Hard will attest to this)  But is that a bad thing?  If I wanted to see people that were just like me, I’d look out the window.  We go to movies, suspend our disbelief for a few hours, and walk out thinking ” wow, that was pretty cool.”  I don’t think movies are a way of taunting people for things they’ll never have.

While I can understand some of the points they make, I don’t agree with these guys.  I like movies.  And I don’t see them as a means of brainwashing, or as a tool of the culture industry. 

Margaret Cho

April 4, 2007

So I watched some of Margaret Cho and her comedy.  Needless to say, in the future when I want to laugh, I probably won’t be going back to Margaret Cho.  After I was done watching Margaret Cho I had to go and watch some Jim Gaffigan, just to get a couple laughs in.

Margaret Cho spoke a lot about homosexuality in her comedy.  In her first bit she described, a word for homosexuals that I’m not going to use, as “my kind of guy.”  She also commented on how attractive she found the men in gay porn, a stereotype she felt should be perpetuated.  She feels that all Chippendales dancers are homosexuals because it is not possible for any heterosexual male to be that attractive.  To try and tie this in with Butler, Cho is putting homosexual men into gender roles.  She is saying that all homosexual men are attractive and they always get along with women, both of which are stereotypes.

She also talks about how she took on a very negative self image of herself after she had been told she was seen as too heavy for a television role.  She turned to drugs and alcohol as well as becoming very promiscuous.  On page 2491 Butler writes, “‘the body’ as so much inert matter, signifying nothing or, more specifically, signifying a profane void, the fallen state: deception, sin, the premonitional metaphorics of hell and the eternal feminine.”  It seems that Cho fell under this belief.  Upon hearing that she was not attractive enough, she saw her body as a void, which is why she turned to alcohol and men, as an attempt to feel wanted.

The Butler Did It

April 2, 2007

On page 2488 Judith Butler begins with a very interesting bit on trouble.  “To make trouble was, within the reigning discourse of my childhood, something one should never do precisely because that would get one in trouble.  The rebellion and its reprimand seemed to be caught up in the same terms.”  You never want to make trouble or get into trouble, because that would be the cause of and lead to more trouble.  It’s sort of like asking why you can’t or shouldn’t do something, and the answer you’re given is “because.”

On page 2489 she writes, “Is drag the imitation of gender, or does it dramatize the signifying gestures through which gender itself is established?”  I don’t think drag is an accurate imitation of gender.  When men attempt to dress as women, whether it be for a Halloween costume or other reasons (see Silence of the Lambs) there’s pretty much a standard protocol.  There is almost always a dress or skirt and a pair of heels.  Is this what it means to look like a woman?  This is based on stereotype, and is in no way an accurate depiction of female gender.

On page 2500 Butler writes, “Discrete genders are part of what ‘humanizes’ individuals within contemporary culture; indeed, we regularly punish those who fail to do their gender right.”  As always, this can be seen in an episode of Seinfeld.  There is an episode in which Jerry is on a date at a nice restaurant.  His date orders first, and orders a dish with meat.  Jerry orders a salad, his reason is that he is not very hungry.  However, upon ordering the salad he immediately feels he has made a mistake.  Ordering a salad in front of his date is no way to appear manly.  A man is supposed to order a big steak for his dinner.                             salad.jpg                                

This passage can also be used to explain the treatment of homosexuals in our society.  What they do is different from the norm and some of the negative treatment homosexuals receive is because there are some who feel they are not doing their gender right.

I think the differences between gender are created.  This can go back to Saussure and language, and how a tree is a tree because it’s called a tree. There are differences because we say there are.   

At the Symposium

April 1, 2007

So I was able to make it to the English Symposium on Thursday.  However, the only portion that I was able to attend was thatwhich I was required to be there for another class of mine, Eng 314- Writing Drama, with a focus on comedy.  During this time, my fellow classmates and I were there to present both comedic monologues as well as several skits that we had written.  And I learned something while reading one of my pieces, I am not nearly as funny as I like to think that I am.  You could actually hear the crickets chirping during my reading.  But that’s ok. 

But another problem presents itself.  How to take what we have read so far and find a way to relate to funny pieces of writing.  Or in my case, things that at least had the intention of being funny.

One of my classmates, Holly, wrote a very good skit about a young married couple who go to see a marriage counselor to try and work out some problems in their relationship.  However, this counsellor has just been divorced from his wife and is extremely bitter over his wife leaving him, and attributes all of this couple’s problems to the wife.  He knows nothing of this couple,  but accuses the wife of infidelity and insults her with some pretty nasty names.  I think this piece could be related to Gayle Rubin.  She would obviously not be very pleased with the counsellor placing all of the blame on the wife for no reason other than she is a woman. 

Another person in my class, Cindy, wrote an extremely funny monologue in which a young girl attempts to convince her parents that she does not need to attend the family vacation this year, and is responsible enough to stay home and care for herself.  I kind of link this to Althusser.  The parents can be seen as the repressive apparatus, and the forcing of the child to go on the trip can be the reproduction of labour.

I know that the comparisons I have made are a bit of a strech, but it’s all I got.