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On Post-Colonialism

August 15, 2012

So I’m thinking of going back to school in January.

Which means that I have all these bureaucratic things to do, which is not good because bureaucracy kills people with ADHD and other mental illnesses daily. So it may well keep me from being able to go to school.

On the other hand, this gives me something to write about, as I read and react to lots of stuff I’m trying to wrap my head around while preparing to jump back into academia.

For example, I’m reading a lot of Critical Theory. Pretty much everyone studying at a high level in the Humanities (History, Philosophy, Literature, etc.), has to contend with. Forms of critical theory include critical race theory, postmoderist critical theory, and post-colonial theory.

Anyone who has done any reading of these things can attest to the fact that a lot of critical theory is pretty dense stuff. Over-long sentences are a common part of critical theory, and I often have forgotten the beginning by the time I reach the end. So I like to write responses to it was I read it to sort my brain out. 

Unfortunately, no pretty pictures for now. Just a lot of scribbling and half-formed thoughts.

 

Such as the following:

The history of Western academic discourse is one of oppositional ideas (history of
science, etc.).

Instead of trying to find the parts which are useful and relatable, one seeks to oppose and
disprove.

This is not always the case, but generally the exception is one of discipleship- other forms
of criticism seem to be distinctly oppositional. (see The Argument Culture (1998) by Deborah Tannen) 

It therefore seems contradictory to argue that indigenous forms of discourse tend to be
less oppositional- in effect, creating an indigenous versus Western dichotomy on the
one hand while arguing on the other hand that dichotomies are fundamentally a Western
construct and cannot be applied to indigenous forms of knowledge.

This is an example of the inherent problems in addressing indigenous knowledge in
an academic forum. It is not an impossible venture (to believe this would be a form
of essentialism), but it does create some difficulties. Essays and theses and academic
discourse generally have a very structured format, with their own basis of knowledge
and language, etc. This is not necessarily a negative description, as having a basis of
understanding is an important part of communication. However, many indigenous forms
of knowledge have to be modified, stretched, or trimmed to fit, awkwardly, into the set
format.

This awkwardness results in the same lack of clarity in language that has afflicted much
of post-structuralist thought- a form of in vitro translation and self-consciousness about
language that thwarts communication. To be blunt, how do you talk about how limited
and fraught Western language and ideas are, when you are using the same Western
languages and ideas as your only tools?

Do you invent words or compound expressions, as many post-structuralists have?

Do you use complicated and overlong sentence structure, as many post-structuralists (and
academics generally) do?

In order to write indigenous scholarship, can we use any non-indigenous language?

I would argue that this would be the ideal, since language is itself so fraught with cultural
significance.

Is it impossible to do otherwise? I certainly hope not. But it is inherently problematic.

Getting back to the idea of opposition as opposed to alliance, or dichotomy in dichotomy
with dialectics, or the binary versus the medicine wheel, it quickly becomes obvious how
metaphysical this discussion can become. The simple truth is that it is possible to be both
at the same time. It is possible to be in opposition in some areas, and allied in others. It
is possible that some things are dichotomous sometimes, but dialectical (interactive) at
other times. It is possible to have some black and white in the medicine wheel. (note how
immediately these binaries become political, fraught with histories of racism, etc)

In other words, there is a middle alternative to the opposition between opposition and
middle alternatives.

Is this illuminating, or obfuscating, or both at the same time?

Just because there is a broad bent towards cooperation does not mean that indigenous
ways of knowledge are absolutely and essentially cooperative, and never ever
confrontational.

Just because the ideal is alliance does not mean that opposition has no place.

This is something like Petronius’ Paradox: “Practice moderation in all things, including
moderation.”

So it is not necessarily a question of absolute truth versus relative truth. It is possible to
be both.

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Why I haven’t been posting

November 8, 2011

So I know I promised that this blog would not become an abandoned lonely page floating aimlessly in the interwebs, but it’s turning out (as usual) to be harder than expected to keep up with the posting.

So I had this clever idea that I would make a post about why I haven’t been posting, which helps me bide my time until I have to actually do a real post again but makes it look like I am actually doing something. Like I said, clever!

Reasons why I haven’t been posting:

  1. All the stuff I said in my first ever blog post. Plus:
  2. I’ve been feeling extra crappy lately, on account of my financial and general life situation being the suck, and because my doctor and I have been playing that game where we try putting me on various different pills at various different dosages and then wait around to see what happens. Spoiler: it usually isn’t something good.
  3. As a result of #2, I haven’t really had the energy to devote to the drawing element of my blogging, because it requires a level of patience and tolerance of frustration that I rarely have at the best of times and currently is at nil. So I would ask that you just bear with me for this text-heavy post. If it helps, feel free to imagine some awesome drawings while reading.
  4. I need to do the dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that I have been doing dishes and the constant dish-cleaning makes it impossible for me to keep up with my blog responsibilities. I mean I need to do the dishes, and I’m not, and those two facts are really depressing and cause me some serious self-loathing, such that all I can do is sit around and think about how I should be doing them and why can’t I just and I’m such a loser. So the dirty dishes just stay in the sink being dirty, mocking me. (Imaginary drawing of mocking dirty dishes)
  5. I also need to do the laundry and take a shower.
  6. The state of mind I’m in currently makes it really hard to think of funny and/or entertaining things to say, and it makes it hard to think of anything as funny or entertaining, except for a few things that I always find funny or entertaining, which just makes me more depressed because I feel like I will never be able to be that funny and entertaining so why should I even bother trying? Which brings me to:
  7. Everything I want to say or write about, Allie Brosh already has, and funnier and better than I can.
  8. Also in this state of mind, my level of intelligence seems to drop significantly, because I’m just so overwhelmed with sad/mad emotions that all I can ever say in response to anything is stuff like “Shut up! I hate you.”
  9. Shut up! I hate you.
Anyway, I have been working on some other stuff and I promise it doesn’t suck as much as this post. Maybe I shouldn’t have promised that. I take that back. It might possibly suck even more than this post. No guarantees that it will be coherent or that there will be drawings or if there are they will be decipherable at all.
Shut up! I hate you.

Public Libraries

October 26, 2011

I love public libraries. First of all, on a political and community level, it’s actually a pretty radical idea to have people given access to information and learning, basically for free. If someone had just come up with the idea of public libraries today, it would be considered ridiculous. People would argue that it wouldn’t work, that it threatened to impoverish artists because it was offering free access to their works, it would be considered an expensive and idealistic (if not communistic) idea.

After all, if there is a single general push in politics today it is towards privatization and away from public services, which is one reason why we have to be vigilant about protecting our wonderful public libraries. Public libraries, ideologically, are fundamentally democratic and libertarian institutions. An educated population with access to information is a very dangerous thing for The Powers That Be.

Poor people don't need to read, it only confuses them.

The second reason why I love libraries is more visceral and sentimental. I was always a reader. I was a pretty hyperactive kid, but if you gave me access to a good story I could sit for hours. My parents made clever use of this fact, by making sure that I was always supplied with reading material. My mother worked at the City Hall in the town I grew up in, which was right beside the public library, which was down the street from my elementary school.

In my later elementary school years, I used to walk over to the library after school and wait for my mother to finish work and drive me home. I don’t remember specifically what all I read in those years. A lot of it was wildly inappropriate for my age, because I read well and had a morbid interest in all things gory and/or salacious. This was before they started publishing things like the Goosebumps books and young adult porn fiction like the Twilight series, and I found most of the books in the kids’ section both boring and below my reading level.

Reading salacious, age-inappropriate novels

My parents weren’t very concerned with age-appropriateness (I think my Mom gave me a V. C. Andrews book when I was 9 or 10), but I had to contend with the librarians, who would shoo me out of the adult section.

I wasn’t exactly a popular kid, and when I wasn’t being outright ostracized and bullied, I was just considered kind of weird. I didn’t really have very good social skills, and I had trouble getting along with the other kids more and more as I grew older. The kids I considered my “friends” pretty much just tolerated me. So I vividly remember the smell of the library books and their yellowy pages, the crinkly plastic covers, and how sitting in the stacks reading horror stories and titillating historical romances was often my favorite part of the day.

This deep love of libraries is why it is particularly difficult for me to admit that I am a terrible library patron. I chronically return books late- if at all. I still have some books from a couple of different places. Most notably, a copy of A Little Princess, one of my absolute favorite books when I was little. I don’t even remember where I got it from. I don’t know how much money I have paid in fines, but it doesn’t seem to make up for the overwhelming feeling that I am a terrible person for doing this to a library, when I love them so much.

I mean, I also have the exact same record with video stores. I have the strangest collection of DVDs borrowed from video stores near where I lived at some point, and never returned. Yes, I know, this makes me a thief, but this doesn’t bother me as much as the idea that I betrayed the trust of my precious libraries. At one point I was receiving collection notices from a video store for some 11$ in fees. I never did end up paying that, I think. It’s embarrassing, but it doesn’t give me the deep sense of shame I feel for my failure to live up to the public library user agreement.

Of you see this person, do not lend her ANYTHING!!!

"Also, ask her if she has the 20$ she owes me."

So why do I do it? I mean, why don’t I just return the books on time like a normal person? Well, right now my best answer is that I am pretty much congenitally irresponsible. I know that sounds like an excuse, but it has taken me years to finally admit to myself that I am just not capable of some things.

First of all, I have a terrible memory. At least, when it comes to appointments and due dates. This is the case when I’m the only person who suffers the consequences as well as when I have made a commitment to someone else. On top of the fact that I forget when they are due, I have a lot of trouble dealing with things like getting places during opening hours, generally speaking. I don’t really understand how this works, I think it’s a combination of procrastination and lack of preparation. I also have trouble motivating myself to do things that are not fun in any way. I am a serial procrastinator. I know this is really immature of me. I have a brain disorder, okay? The result ends up looking something like this:

Thursday: “Oh shit the library books were due last week! I need to go return them after work today.”

Friday: “Oh shit I forgot to return the library books yesterday!! Must remember to go tomorrow.”

Saturday morning: *sleeping*

Saturday afternoon: “Shit I have to go to the library today! But first I need to eat something…”

11:35 pm Saturday night: “Shit Fuck Balls the library books!!!”

One month later: “Are these library books? Ffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuu…”

And so on, and so forth.

So, um, there’s really no ending to this story. I mean, so far at the library in my current town, where I have lived and been a library member for over two years, I have no outstanding fines or books out, so I guess things are improving. I just wanted to let you know that you should never, ever lend me anything, because I won’t return it unless you show up at my house to pick it up, and I happen to know where it is. I’m pretty much a terrible person.

First post!!! New blog!!

October 23, 2011

Here is my first blog post!! Isn’t it awesome? Yeah!!

Okay, I should probably come clean, here. I probably have 10-15 blogs started on various websites all over the internets. Every once in a while I get an email telling me that Natural Penis Enlargement has left a comment on one of my posts, so I know they’re still out there.

Why am I a serial blog creator? Well, I really like the idea of having a blog. And I get really excited about all the ideas I have. And then the ideas and the excitement kind of spirals out of control. I decide that I need more stuff on my blog, pictures and drawings and all kinds of exciting junk.

Because I can’t just make a blog. It has to be the super-awesomest blog ever.

New! Shiny! Fireworks! Other stuff!!

Bestest blog ever with tons of awesome junk on it!!

This kind of happens to me with pretty much everything I do in my life. I start off really strong out of the gate. I have tons of great ideas and even more enthusiasm! Then the inevitable happens.

um... this is kind of a lot of work.

The creative process as it happens to me.

I realize I’ve taken on too much. Also, things always take about twenty times longer than I think they will. So I kind of… you know… give up.

But not this time, people!!

Nope, I have already planned out how I’m going to do a super-awesome job at this blog, and I have tons of great ideas. I’m just waiting for the fireworks guy to get here, and we can get started.