Archive for June, 2007

Tennis, Anyone?

June 28, 2007

Sucked into the drama of professional tennis in the last few days. Wimbledon. The championship at the All England Club is a one of a kind event. Unique.

I offer the observation (admittedly biased) that the women are far more interesting to watch than the men. Well, especially one in particular. Sharapova. Words fail. She’s superhumanly cute. And six foot two. Sorta dizzying to watch her play. Unlike most of the other people I write about here, also very much alive. Alive and vibrantly, vitally blond. Maria, you go girl.

The whole thing is a pretty spectacular showcase. The first week has already proved more than amusing, with good play by the Americans and a scandalous incident involving red knickers.

Tennis has definitely gotten more interesting…

Hanging at the CIA

June 24, 2007

Espionage fantasies aside, I haven’t somehow ended up in Langley hanging with the agency. Sadly, the acronym stands for Calgary International Airport, which isn’t really that international when you’re trying to catch zees on artfully designed chairs with chrome strategically located in all the wrong places during a nine hour layover. Then there’s the option of wandering around with all your gear on a cart in a non-descript corporate space, distinguished as Calgary only by some bad sculptures of guys wearing cowboys hats doing stuff that guys wearing cowboys hats do. Add to that the fact that it was the middle of the night and I would have rather been getting drunk beside a bonfire…

But it’s worth it. And after this jet-set version of a slow caravan across the Sahara, I think I’m done with cross-continental travel for a spell.

Montreal, and all of its oh-so-soulful denizens, will be missed. But times and people change. Hopefully, for the better. Au revoir a tous

Totally Mind Blowing

June 21, 2007

OK…I don’t use lame titles unless I mean it, so this discovery is exactly as described above. If it’s actually genuine and not some bizarre return to the lame days of Piltdown Man (bad research…very bad research…bad, bad…like P.T. Barnum bad), then this is going to blow the doors off a few sacred cows, for sure. That’s major high technology (and art, no less….) from 35,000 or whatever the hell it is years ago. That’s way before any of my timelines…And I’m a damn historian. Unbelievable discovery. Like Lascaux.

Dark Light

June 21, 2007

The solstice; from the Latin “sol” (sun) and “sistere” (to stand still). Today was all about dark, foreboding enchanted forests, dwarves, fauns, fairies, imps, castles and other associated neo-romantic iconography. Most interesting was the play on the surreal, from Dumbo‘s rather explicit LSD trip to Disney‘s collaborations with Dali. Suddenly it’s like I’m receiving messages from uncle Walt’s cryogenically frozen head…

Must kill mouse…Must kill mouse…

A Canticle For Leibowitz

June 18, 2007

Catholicism and sci-fi? Odd bedfellows, to be sure. Or, perhaps not — the universalist utopia, a preoccupation with time…Even rituals and superstition. The two come together in the bizarre brilliance of Walter M. Miller, Jr.’s classic 1959 tale. A Catharistic Asimov-esque type, Miller ranges far and wide, moving the imprint of early atomic age apocalypse into a wider field. Like opening a door (or a box, say once owned by Pandora) and finding more within than expected, A Canticle For Leibowitz blows the hinges off your dogmatisms in a chain reaction of flows, cycles and epicycles. A new wave Ptolemaic ode with a proto c-punk feel — replacing mirrorshades with aviators and rosaries. Most (w)holy recommended, Miller’s masterpiece is under-appreciated and lashed together in disturbing and dark tones — hellishly hot (yet not off the press) and verging on self-immolating. Kind of like Aquinas on acid.

New is not always improved…

Recalled

June 18, 2007

Some new ambitions on this site. In the coming months I seek to refine and recall an old concept — romanticism. I take as my inspiration a book written by a colleague; J. David Black, The Politics of Enchantment: Romanticism, Media, and Cultural Studies (Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2002). Theoretically inclined, it makes some convincing arguments about the power of romantic thought in a world dominated by the structural and rationalized shapes of an oft-misguided Enlightenment tradition. Romanticism in this light is seen as a critical force, something that can help us all recapture some enchantment in a social space dominated by dogma and the deep ideological chasms of global capitalism and post-industrial banality.

As all romantic projects should be, this is also personal. It’s not immediately apparent, but recently my life-force has been drained of youthful, spirited vitality. I feel anhedonic. The passage of time, a bad relationship, and the self-induced rigors of academia have conspired to sap some of my pep in recent years. But I’m coming out of it…New horizons, energized ambitions, a better outlook on things…All trickling into my soul-space like some secret alchemical elixir…

Thus this (admittedly ethereal) project serves a dual purpose — to attempt to shock both internal and external systems. Using language and image, harmoniously and discordantly, I seek to provide a spirited new tone and tenor to the archetype of the romantic and the idea of romanticism. A tall order…Towering even — but with time the moats of monotony can be crossed and (in)spired heights may be reached. We’ll see.

For now, I leave you with a quote, culled from an obscure, random source (the best kind) — Bruce Wilshire’s Romanticism and Evolution: The Nineteenth Century (New York: G.P. Putnam, 1968):

“The romantics teach us that there is no meaning without mind and no mind without imagination. To encompass the present and the actual we must range beyond it in the possible. Consciousness itself marks both center and periphery. So, then, what can balance it but itself?” (314).

Couldn’t have said (channeled?) it better myself.

Anniversary

June 13, 2007

Looks like it has been exactly a year since my first post. Crazy. Lots of ebbs and flows, adventures, new horizons. Some high (and low) points include:

Very bad poetry

Depressive episodes

Mind-blowing days

Bitchy browsing

Near apocalypses

Moments of pure tranquility

And blazing beauty

Also lots of politics, and history and bookishness besides, but you already knew that…Guess I’ll keep on going for a little while, since the last 365 days haven’t been so bad. Thanks one and all for coming along on the ride (especially Irina, without whom this site would be remarkably monochromatic…) and making this more than a monologue. You’re a “special” bunch…

Balance

June 11, 2007

I note with sadness the passing of American philosopher Richard Rorty (1931-2007). Rorty is portrayed by Todd Gitlin — a left-leaning U.S. historian who is nonetheless a notable critic of radicalism in the recent documentary The Weather Underground (2003) — as seeking a balance between “liberal politics” and “Nietzschean vitalism” by way of a short obit. An intriguing proposition. Moreover, it’s the first time I’ve seen the word “vitalism” thrown around the media in ages. Perhaps the idea is witnessing a revival, 100 years after the publication of Bergson’s Creative Evolution

As described in the New York Times, Rorty came from a lefty background. As a thinker he sought to blend elements of American pragmatism with the great continental philosophers of the recent past. He eventually became a critic of analytical philosophy and its positivist proponents, and gravitated towards notions of historicism.

His influence was significant, and his deep understanding of philosophy, politics and history will be missed. If you’ve never heard of him, take this opportunity to pick up one of his articles (a real one, not a wikipedia entry…), written on myriad topics, and read it. Like the early pragmatists who inspired him, his work is accessible and readable.


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