Dec. 9th, 2008 06:07 pm
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Door at the end)
I think I'm going to take a while off before I apply to grad school. Not a really long time, maybe just a year and a half, and then see how that goes. This semester has been kicking my ass, and while I've grown as a writer, I think I need to take some time off and work on writing poems for myself instead of for assignments, and work out where I want to go with my fiction. I also need to do more research on which schools I want to go to instead of just skimming their webpages, and work out what I want to do with my writing. I'm rushing into grad school because I don't know what to do with myself if I'm not taking classes, and I don't think that's a good thing.

Also, I guess I'm getting my cap and gown on Thursday, so I'll be walking after all. Eh.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Life in coffee spoons)
Since my Non-Western Lit class got canceled again today, I have been taking the time to look at grad programs.

WMU actually looks good, although half of their web pages are down, so I can't find much about funding or assistantships. Columbia in NY does too, but the application fee is twice that of most of the other schools (and I can't find anything about funding on their site either; pages aren't down, just no links). Sarah Lawrence looks fantastic, funding? D: Columbia in Chicago has a two-year MFA in poetry but apparently not in fiction, but they do have a tuition waiver for the first year and possible grad student teaching positions. Indiana looks really amazing, but they only admit twelve students per year, holycrap. Art Institute of Chicago has an MFA in "Writing," which looks like it's largely focused on creative writing; Prof. Blake said that one of the girls I went to Poetry Collective with is going there and loves it, so there's that.

I'm looking at this thing right now; it's a NEOMFA, a program that's shared among four universities, all of which are less than an hour away from each other. Scheduling and driving seems like it would be a pain, but it'd mean being able to be in Kent with Seth, and it looks like a good program.

I need to get my shit together for actual graduation, too. Sigh.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Postmodernists get all the chicks)
I haven't been posting my essays for school lately because I don't think they've been all that great. Acceptable, sure (I'm getting good grades), but I have to admit I've been sleepwalking through some of them. This one is different, and I'm actually impressed with myself again.

The story this analyzes is here. The essay explaining the theory I used to analyze it is here.

We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author. )
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Bibliophilia)
We're doing Borges in Freed's class. Today, we discovered that everyone's copies of The Library of Babel and The Garden of Forking Paths are all translated slightly differently. None of us realized this until we'd all spent fifteen minutes arguing over whether Borges was suggesting that time was sentient or a figment of the imagination or both or neither.

[ profile] drworm and I have been attempting to watch "Sapphire and Steel." We got through the first episode and have been watching bits of pieces of the second while doing other things. It's very strange and slow and low-budget and is kind of like watching a transcript of a dream someone had; there are some parts that make sense in a logical way, some parts that make sense in a magical/archetypical way, and some parts that would probably make sense if the viewer had information that they're not given. Strangely, the second episode that we've been half-watching already makes much more sense than the first episode we paid attention to. It's definitely not like anything else I've ever watched. ...Sammi said it reminded her of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

I desperately want to go to this, because it seems to offer an opportunity to party and drink heavily with middle-aged ladies who share at least one of my current major interests, and I've always had a better time drinking heavily with middle-aged ladies than I have with groups of people my own age. Perhaps another year.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Spinny machine is spinny)
MATH CLASS: We've moved on from basic, simple "Find X! It's probably under the bed. Did you check the laundry hamper?" stuff to problems like "Illya has two liters of Burnett's 70-proof vanilla-flavored vodka and three liters of 100-proof Smirnoff, the kind with the blue label. How much Burnett's and Smirnoff will he have to mix together to get a drink that's exactly 80 proof?" and "Patrick had $500,000. At the beginning of 1984, he deposited some of his money into a CD at a 5% rate of interest, and the rest of it into a savings account at a 9% rate of interest. After a year, the interest is enough for Patrick to buy a quarter of a kilogram of cocaine for his New Year's party. How much money did Patrick deposit into the savings account?"
I got everything wrong on the mixtures assignment and have nearly given up on this interest-rates thing. The formulae the prof gave us just don't seem to make sense and they don't apply to half the problems, and when I try reasoning them out I get them wrong.

Firefox keeps freezing up on me. Fuck you, automatic updates, fuck you.

STUFF THAT DOESN'T MAKE ME WANT TO SMASH MY KEYBOARD IN RAGE: I found my cell phone. My dad sent me some money. I really need to call most of my relatives. We finally saw Get Smart and it was surprisingly funny, and I vaguely want to download some episodes of the original series but Don Adams' voice is nails-on-blackboard annoying. I want to go to the beach or something for July 4th, but I don't think there are any lakes within daytripping/weekend tripping distance (even if we just followed 10 west or went to Saugatuck or something, it'd still be two hours either way), and anyway we're probably going to stay in the apartment and watch Wonder Showzen or see another movie or something.

There are hawks wheeling in the sky outside. Everything looks beautiful from inside the library.

ETA: I just spent fifteen minutes messing around with Google Earth and planning out a huge roadtrip. Clearly need to get the fuck out of Mt. Pleasant after classes are over.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Art in revolution)
Hah. Okay. So, my Algebra class starts tomorrow instead of three weeks from tomorrow like I had planned. The good thing about this is that it's 055, which means it's all stuff I learned in the eighth grade, because my dyscalculic brain can't handle anything more complex.

Wow, okay, I was sort of joking, but I just checked the Wikipedia article for dyscalculia, and lookit all my symptoms:


ETA: I'm reminded of the stereotype of girls not being good at math. Do you think having dyscalculia is a valid condition? The result of gender-based social programming, or a shitty educational system in general? Does being verbally gifted necessarily mean being mathematically deficient? Discuss.

The class isn't very long, and there's homework, but I expect the homework won't be particularly difficult, since the syllabus lists things that I've already learned but haven't thought about for years--Order of Operations and such. Probably a refresher course, good for keeping the mind sharp during the summer but not too taxing.

I can't believe how many things I want to do right now and how many things I could do. I have novels and stories to beta-read and now a screenplay to co-write (co-adapt?) and short stories to finish and E-mails to send and vague ideas for pretentious fan essays that will just have to wait. And I'm almost done with the hardest thing I have to do for school this summer. It's due tomorrow anyway. And then I CAN LIVE AND DO THINGS.


Also, Adult Swim is tonight and Seth and I have a bunch of movies that need watched before we incur massive late fees at the video store. BAD US. Um, we watched Wonder Boys, which was unexpectedly funny, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which was an excellent postmodern parody of the noir genre, and then...well, we've been lying around watching movies and going out for walks and generally luxuriating in having the apartment to ourselves, since Sammi is gone for the next three weeks. Also, I have to clean the litterbox. :/ Because I am taking care of the cats now, you see.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Bibliophilia)
"Millions of Strawberries," by Genevieve Taggard

Marcia and I went over the curve,
Eating our way down
Jewels of strawberries we didn't deserve,
Eating our way down
Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted
And over us the hot day fainted,
An we saw snakes,
And got scratched,
And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched
Small buds of berries,
Till we lay down--
Eating our way down--
And rolled in the berries like two little dogs,
In the late gold.
And gnats hummed,
And it was cold,
And home we went, home without a berry,
Painted red and brown,
Eating our way down.

[Poll #1206652]
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Black Plague)
I'm not going to be posting the text of my Snow Crash vs. VALIS paper because I don't think it's all that well-written, as far as my papers go, but here is the summary:

Snow Crash and VALIS are both about people who get infected by informational viruses that turn out to be religion, but in Snow Crash, the virus is bad, gods aren't real, and the way we see reality is determined by language, whereas in VALIS, the virus is good, the gods are real, and reality is an illusion created by us being language. This might be because Philip K. Dick was schizophrenic and Neal Stephenson most likely has the Asperger's.

ETA: Hooray for totally changing your mind about the point of your analysis 1 hour before the paper is due. Whatever.

Hopefully I can whip five pages of babbling into something that says that coherently, and I can do it before 5 PM.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Salvation in a spray can)
[ profile] drworm is here, watching Eddie Izzard with Sammi in the living room while I work on my analysis paper on his laptop. We all are starting to smell because the hot water boiler for the entire building sprung a leak and there's no hot water for showers, but that's okay because none of us really care. (Apparently the showers in the pool locker rooms are open for cleansing purposes, but I'm not going down there because they're grubby and moldy and crawling with spiders.)

I'm doing this paper on thematic similarities and differences between Snow Crash and VALIS, and I'm having the usual problem I have with literary analysis, which is that I want to write everything at the same time instead of doing a nice, neat, linear outline and then following it. :/ and then, of course, I had to reread VALIS for the nth time and that's always a little bit crazy-making. [ETA: After outlining, convinced they're two sides of the same cosmic story. WTF. Wish I could send Stephenson a letter and ask him what he thought of VALIS, but he's a huge Aspie recluse and wouldn't answer.)

The paper is due on Friday at 5, and then I think we're going to spend the weekend just hanging out and ordering takeout and watching Man from UNCLE episodes and stuff. :) And then Monday it will probably be back to the grind, but that's okay, because Seth is going to be here for a few months and I only have less than a month to go in the whole semester.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Beatnik BFFs)
Sammi decided that last night was a good night to break out some weird honey-infused bourbon and watch shows with four basic character types of female protagonists. I had no objection. I like Desperate Housewives quite a lot--Sammi only has the first season, so we've been watching that over and over. I seriously enjoy Bree, even though she's normally not the type of character I can sympathize with--yes, she's a supermom type and a Christian conservative, but she's also a gun nut and a cheerful control freak who is close to losing her shit because of her family. Makes her interesting. I still want to write a little MUNCLE crossover just so I can send her and Illya on a shooting range date. I have the Crossover Disease.

BUT I STILL MANAGED TO GET MY HOMEWORK DONE! And I got my grant forms in! Apparently I'm eligible for a $2,500 grant because of my drive-thru work at the Taco Bell. Who knew? If I get it (and that is a fairly big if), it will net me more money than I ever earned actually working there.



In ENG 201, We're reading McLuhan ("Media is the message" guy) and doing Baudrillard again, I am not kidding. This time around, there are four levels of simulacra. That is one more level than before. Even weirder, it's the same basic article from my last class, it's just a different translation. I don't even know what's going on.

1) That which reflects reality
2) That which masks or misrepresents reality
3) That which masks absence of basic reality
4) That which bears no relation to reality

mindfudged you guys MMMMMMMINDFUDGED


We did Puritan and then Romantic stuff in Childrens' Poetry. One of the definitions someone gave for childrens' poetry yesterday was that "Kid's stuff is usually didactic or has a moral, and adult poems are just, like, images." (Which is sort of true; even that crazy hippie Shel Silverstein wrote his share of "Remember, kids, be a free spirit!" poems, which technically still have a moral. Oh, yeah, and the prof doesn't like Shel Silverstein. She thinks most of his poems are just nonsense that doesn't necessarily have a deeper meaning. Sammi, who's in the class along with me, shared my huge WTF moment.)
This didacticism, Alton says, is a leftover from Puritan poetry, when most poetry for the small ones specifically was aimed at saving them from Hell. (Which prompted an outburst of "But I don't believe that's right!" from some girl. I really fucking hate that shit, I'm sorry. There are some times and places where your opinion doesn't matter and nobody cares.)
Childrens' Romantic poetry was often less didactic and usually nature-based, because of the Romantic belief that children were innocent tabulae rasa who were at one with nature. Even up until the 1970s, pretty much any childrens' poetry anthology had at least one nature-based poem in it.
Also, I hadn't known that Blake's "The Tyger" was meant to be a childrens' poem. It was paired with "The Lamb" in a nifty two-volume book that was themed around the dichotomy of innocence and experience. We got into a discussion about whether "The Tyger" was meant to suggest that tygers were in some way Satanic before I broke it up by mentioning that the poem was much less intense and scary if you sung it to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (which, by the way, is called "The Star" and was written by Jane Taylor and has five stanzas. Also, the familiar tune was written by Mozart years before she wrote the poem. The more you know!).
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Default)
  • 02:27 Sammi lent me laptop. After brief confusion over file format, am seriously COOKING on this paper. #
  • 03:23 Possible topic for thesis: Compare Napoleon/Illya and Brock/Molotov as analogies for Soviet/American relationship. lol pretentious "acafan" #
  • 03:50 "Kristallnacht" Harry Potter RPG strikes this Jewish girl as less offensive than goyish fangirls getting offended on my peoples' behalf. #
  • 04:03 Spike says: Time for kitten break. #
  • 05:14 Stumbled into Journalfen discussion on pregnancy and childbirth that made me feel a bit ill. I read these things on purpose why? #
  • 06:44 There are so many examples of simulation/simulacra in Venture Bros. that I'd need to write way more than I'm going to to cover them all. #
  • 12:31 Took four-hour nap, woke up to cats gettin' crazy on catnip. LOL using Twitter to procrastinate. Exam in 1 hour! #
  • 13:15 Borrowed a few smokes from Sammi--I'm focused, wired, doing great Dr. Girlfriend voice. #
  • 13:26 Off to grammar exam. Will finish paper when I get out. Wish me luck. #
  • 15:02 Grammar exam easier than I anticipated. Prof sympathetic, says I did well. Rockin' awesome--am grammar superstar. #
  • 15:10 Day is very warm, and I chose cold-weather clothes. Very happy for chilliness of computer lab this time. #
  • 16:21 wtf, paper is clearly 7 pages--why is MSWord calling it 6? #
  • 17:42 Sent copy of paper to prof. Going to print one out, put it in his inbox. Then going home to collapse for a very long time. #
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Guild of Calamitous Intent)
Clones, Dream Machines, and Butterflies: An Examination of Simulacra and Simulation in the Venture Brothers

We're trapped in a cliché. Use your fake impossible magic to get us out of here. )

I'm actually surprised at how well this paper turned out. I worked on it all weekend (which was a fairly grueling task) and had to watch several episodes of the Venture Brothers over and over (which was not nearly as grueling).

The Venture Brothers is one of my favorite shows; silly as it may seem, it's one of the few things that makes me feel like I'm actually part of a generation instead of being a drifting pop-culture vulture. I know I have had no hand in its actual creation, and I'm only peripherally part of the active fandom, but it somehow feels like my show in a way that most movies and TV shows I like don't. I tend to reinterpret media, to ferret out themes and images and try to subvert them or question them; this isn't so much a conscious philosophical stance as it is an instinctive response to being presented with assumptions and points of view I don't identify with or agree with on the level on which I think they're being presented to me. Maybe it's because that's what the Venture Brothers does in the first place, but it's one of the few media artifacts where I can analyze it and feel like yes, that's what the creators intended all along, and it's just that I've just managed to find it.

The more I watched the episodes, the more examples of simulacra I found--I don't know if it's just my new Baudrillard goggles, or whether so many of the episodes really sync up that way, but it was fascinating. I kind of wish I'd had the time and space to mention more, but I think I got the most important and interesting ones.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (World Inferno Friendship Society)
Maybe it's the stress from finals and the dread of working at Taco Bell for an entire summer, maybe it's the encroaching food shortage and oil crash, maybe it's all the Mischief Brew I've been listening to or all the Baudrillard...but after I graduate next winter (okay, the spring afterwards, since it's going to be cold and snowy), I really do want to be some sort of anarcho-primitive gypsy and see if I can live off the land. Just live in a little shack in the woods and have a garden and spend my free time reading and writing. Dig out my typewriter. No computer. Phone for emergencies only. Learn to play the guitar or some ridiculously easy instrument instead of listening to CDs. Maybe see if these people have openings for 2009. Even if it's just for a few months.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (William S. Burroughs sez:)
I really wish my teachers would let me write stories instead of doing papers. It's not that I'm lazy, it's just that I generally feel like it's easier to express what I think about a given idea or book in narrative form instead of analytical form. (This is why I am a Creative Writing major instead of a Literature major.) I still have immense trouble streamlining everything into a nice linear outline when there are different angles that need to be dealt with from several different directions at the same time. My most successful papers have essentially followed characters through a whole, single narrative, and I can't always do that. I can't with this one--we're supposed to structure it around ideas instead of the narrative, which makes me have to leap back and forth from Part Two of the book to Part Three of the book, and it's making everything that I write a little disjointed.

Which is probably also why I write fanfiction, except that's always more personal--the best stuff I do is a way of working out my own personal issues by transplanting them onto convenient characters. In my defense, this tends to work mainly because I can match these things up--I can explore my own ideas about parenthood or feeling like an outcast through a character who is a parent and who was an outcast when they were younger, and I can explore my conflicts about being consciously social through characters who have different ways of dealing with's recognition more than transplantation, really. Sometimes, I'll start writing something and it just won't come together until I actually realize that I'm writing about my own ideas or experiences. Then everything comes into focus and I can finish it.

My original stuff is less personal and tends to explore ideas that I just happen to be fascinated with. If I do write something personal, it's usually to annoy or communicate with one specific person, and I lie to everyone else and tell them that it was "just this cool idea I had, you know?"

I don't even know about my poetry. That shit is all over the place.


For those of you who write fanfiction--is working out your own issues via fanfic really that bad? Do you like being able to see into the author's mind when reading a fanfic, or does it take you out of the "universe" the fanfic is being written in?

I actually like being able to spot someone's real-life issues or opinions in a fanfic, even when I think those issues or opinions are annoying or bullshit. It's partially a voyeuristic frisson and partially just fascination at all the ways a generally monolithic source material can be interpreted and played with.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Filin' my nails)
...a Man, my Son. Ask yourself first, this quick question. "Would I enjoy having him take my body and fuck me in bed as a woman?" If your answer is, yes. Then kill him. To kill life is the consummate of all fucking. This is the nearest any killer will come to know the consummation of a God Act. Herein also lay one of the secrets of Divinity. The choice of taking human life or sparing it.


I found this quote in a book I bought last year at a sale. I'm not telling you which book or which year it was published or who it was by. I just thought it was...striking.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Filin' my nails)
I watched Kill Bill Vol. 1 last night because it was on TV, because I only have Vol. 2 because I lost the first DVD. So I had this dream where I found out by messing around with Wikipedia that it was actually based on an old Japanese legend about a demon who owned a bunch of snakes that he sent out to do his evil bidding, and one of them fell in love with a sleeping man and asked some god of mercy or other to turn her into a woman, and then the demon found out and sent all his snakes to kill her at the wedding...yeah. It was a pretty awesome dream.

Which is amusing, because I decided last night that the reason it's partially animated and partially B&W and cut very weirdly in some places is that it's actually kind of a visual representation of an ongoing dream, or of a continuing daydream. Most of Tarantino's movies that I've seen have this surreal quality about them anyway, like they're taking place in a universe that's removed from reality by a layer of other movies, as opposed to movies which try to be more realistic, or at least suggest that they are based on basic reality. I don't even think it's one of those simulacra which try to hide the illusory nature of what it's trying to simulate in the first place, it's more highlighting the surreal and non-realistic nature of movies, or at least of that kind of over-the-top grindhouse movie, in the first place.

Not that I think this is necessarily on purpose. Things can be very clever and postmodern just through being very cleverly done and fun to watch. Stuff like Wayne’s World is very wink-wink-nudge-nudge postmodern, and I’m fairly sure Mike Myers was thinking more about how many jokes he could squeeze into a movie than about illustrating the artificially constructed nature of a narrative. Theory describes culture first, anyway, culture just starts to follow as theory trickles down.


We had a little class discussion in my Po-Mo seminar today about how what we learned had affected us. A lot of kids talked about how they kept thinking about The Matrix and wished they could just take the blue pill and pretend they'd never read Baudrillard. A lot of kids talked about how they totally looked at everything in a different light now and they were so glad they had taken the class! I told the prof that the class had given me the proper terms and a structured way to think about things I'd thought about but hadn't had the words for before the class. He changed the subject really quickly. I sometimes think I am not on the same page as everybody else, or perhaps we are using different translations.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Punch the Jew!)
Reasons it was worth getting up today:

--Free brownies at the U.C. as part of some sort of special event week thingy. Everything is scheduled for times when I already have shit to do...but free brownies! Also "ornamental" grapes. Mmm, overlooked vitamins.

--"F1 boss Max Mosley has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers!
Son of fascist Hitler lover in sex shame!"
There's a video. They drink tea.

Reasons it was not worth getting up today:

--It's fucking snowing again. Just a little, but it is snowing.

--I'm sneakily watching old spy shows on AOL video while I have two hours between classes to kill, and I just realized that the classy main character keeps inserting these little vocal pauses into all his sentences, and I had a boyfriend that used to do that all the time too and it drove me fucking insane, and now not only can I not un-hear it, but every time I look at this suave spy with a cleft in his chin I will identify him with a 300-lb. Jewish redhead who thinks he has the soul of a grizzly bear.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Robots are love.)
Baudrillard once wore a gold lamé suit with mirrored lapels while reading his poetry in a Las Vegas bar.
How cool is that? How cool is that? I'm so fucking shallow. Simulations is blowing my fucking mind. Jean Baudrillard is so crazy and so classy and so totally right about shit. I don't have my copy with me right now or I'd bombard you with quotes. I need to get more books by this person. I need the Futurist's Manifesto too. I need to get this stuff from Amazon for cheap because I have a really bad habit of not returning books to the library ever.
My copy of Simulations is from a publishing company called Semiotext(e) and it is from the "Foreign Agents" series. FOREIGN AGENTS. There's a repeating clip of an Interpol document about naturalized citizens on the front cover. It makes me think of Naked Lunch. All agents defect sooner or later. Agents becoming their cover stories, and their "true" natures are...not true. Or were never true. Or are just as true as the "false" ones. Or the "false" ones are just as true as the true ones. ILLUSION.

ANYWAY SO THE POINT IS Baudrillard talks about three levels of simulacra, which I want to talk about now because I just figured out what he means by "precession."

LEVEL ONE: Counterfeits. This is basically simulacra for beginners, where you just need to start getting your head around the idea of "copying." A counterfeit depends upon the existence of the original for its existence. Counterfeit $20s only work because everyone knows what a real $20 looks like; realism in art only works because everyone knows what a real apple looks like, and a still life looks like an apple (with a banana and some flowers and maybe a dead bird or something). This is where you need to figure out that there are things that don't want to be things in themselves, that are deliberately trying to be like other things. It's so sad. Poor copy-things. If they were people, they would have low self-esteem.

Here is an example of a counterfeit:

LEVEL TWO: Industrial simulacra. Once you've gotten your head around the concept of a copy, it's time to make things that are copies of each other. These were invented by Henry Ford and made cool by Andy Warhol. Industrial simulacra are not copies of anything that already exists. They are only real because they are exact copies of each other--anything that deviates from the mold may be an object, but it's not a real copy, it's a deviation, a typo, an irregular. Like a Coke can that is blue and green instead of red and white. (Which may have gotten Warhol serious bank, but is less okay if it's being rejected from the factory for being overly colorized. Or if you're paying $1.25 for the privilege of drinking it and it turns out to taste like toothpaste because it doesn't follow the Coke recipe.) This is why off-brand things are sort of weird and why people get seriously upset if their Burger King burger is square and little kids throw fits if their Halloween costumes are not officially licensed--they want real copies.

Here is an example of an industrial simulacra:

LEVEL THREE: Simulation. First, you need to have recognized that Level 2 simulacra are real because they can be replicated. Good? Good. Now, check this: Reality itself can be replicated. This is where people get tripped up and start making references to the types of movies which think they are clever because they put their protagonists in a world which is actually just virtual reality. Yes, we know we're living in a world which is completely created by computers. That is not the point. The point is that we believe that that world, being a level 3 simulacra, is no more real or no less real than the "real" world. That an exact replica of, say, Stonehenge or the Grand Canyon or even a person is exactly equivalent to the "real thing." Is it? Maybe. I don't know. How can you even tell? Does it really matter? Who's keeping track? What feels more real? Which one has the brighter colors, the tastier food, the bouncier music?

Here is an example of a simulation:

Simulations, being less "real", have to try harder; to this end, they overcompensate and create hyperreality, in which they become more "real" than what is actually real. (My teacher liked to use the example of watermelon-flavored bubble gum for this: It's an imitation of watermelon flavor, and it tastes nothing like real watermelon, but the fake flavor when you finally bite into a piece of real watermelon after eating nothing but watermelon-flavored bubble gum, the real thing is kind of disappointing.) And that is where we are today.

Baudrillard points out that we are essentially living in a huge simulation--this is not because we are literally living inside of a computer program, but that society alters so much and bombards us with so many signs and signifiers and copies of things that we are incapable of confronting reality as reality, of being able to discern the difference between what is real and what is a simulacra. Things like movies and video games and Disneyland, which are deliberately presented to us as unreal copies of reality, are there mainly to help us pretend that there is anything left that is real, just as scandals like Watergate or the Lewinsky thing are presented to us as deviations from the norm so that we can pretend that there is a norm to deviate from. Which is why, as he put it, "The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the Matrix that the Matrix would have been able to produce."
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Turkey vultures are awesome.)
Yesterday, we watched this movie in Anthro class about the behavioral similarities between primates and humans. I was particularly interested in a segment involving an aye-aye, in which the aye-aye used its long middle finger for just about everything, including as a radio transmitter. Wouldn't it be great if we had evolved from aye-ayes? But we didn't. We didn't really even evolve from chimps, we just have a very close common ancestor. We're like nth cousins, evolutionarily speaking. The point of showing the aye-aye was that aye-ayes have long middle fingers and have no need for tools, like chimps do, which is why chimps are so cool. Which is not to say that aye-ayes aren't cool, because they are very cool, but when was the last time you saw an aye-aye paint something that a very rich monkey enthusiast would pay $114,000 for? I ask you.

There was also a segment on macaques, and a troop of macaques in a Japanese tourist exhibit whose troop had gone from the usual number of about 40 to over 1,000 macaques because of overfeeding. It was sad. Normally, macaques in a troop all know each other, but that's impossible with 1,000 macaques, so the macaques had to learn to not make eye contact with any other macaques, only trust their family and a few close friends, gobble their food in a big muddy field and not share it, and be careful in case they got mugged and none of the other macaques would step up to help (and they don't). It's so sad. It's like the advice you get from people in small towns when you go to big cities, except that the lighter macaques aren't told to be especially wary of darker macaques. Maybe in a few thousand years.

Stuff chimps do: The chimp with the most friends, not the strongest chimp, will almost invariably be the troop leader. Chimps will spend years sharing the meat of lesser monkeys with their friends so that one day, when the troop leader dies, the other chimps will all go into a smoke-filled back room (crudely made out of leaves and dirt) and emerge with a little crown (also crudely made out of leaves and dirt) and put it on their friend's head. And then the younger, stronger chimp, who's fucking pissed that he didn't get that little monkey crown, will screech and jump up and down and rustle trees around so that he looks bigger, and will beat the shit out of everyone that crosses his path to parade his dominance.

Also, chimps that are not alpha chimps will learn this early in life, and will cultivate very close friendships with young female chimps, grooming them, sharing their food, playing with them, and then when the female chimps go into estrus, the friend-chimps will be around to mate with them before the alpha male catches wind of this. The teacher helpfully pointed out that human females don't go into estrus, and because they are vaguely sexually available all the time, they can damn well make up their own minds about whether they want to mate with the alpha chimp or the friend-chimp or the alpha female bonobo down the next ridge. The twenty girls in the class giggled. The three boys did not.

The teacher also laid upon us some fairly juicy gossip about Louis Leakey and Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey. (Not telling.) But I love sordid gossip about famous academics and historical figures, it is so weird. I could give a shit about the sex lives of anyone in "People" magazine, but if you've contributed important ideas to the intellectual life of mankind and also had a threesome with a Nobel prize winner and a Modern poet? I am so there.
kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Cinnamon sees all)
Jean Baudrillard, on The Matrix: "The Matrix is surely the kind of film about the Matrix that the Matrix would have been able to produce."

Joseph Kane, on postmodernism: "The great thing about postmodernism is that it doesn't actually try to contradict any other theories, it just kicks them in the balls every once in a while."


kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Default)

April 2015

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