Posts Tagged ‘Chris Ware’
* The big story in academia yesterday was the eleventh-hour preemptive firing of Steven Salaita from UIUC (which according to reports may have cost him his tenure at Virginia Tech as well). Especially disturbing in all this is the participation of former AAUP president Cary Nelson, on the side of the firing. Some commentary from Corey Robin, Claire Potter, Philip Weiss, and Electronic Intifada. A statement for the Illinois AAUP. A petition.
* Delayed gratification watch: This week I finally cracked and read Chris Ware’s Building Stories after nearly two years of anticipation. So great. I can’t wait to teach it. I may write more about this later, but for now I can tell you that my arbitrary path through the book told a beautiful story that began with the couple’s fateful move to Englewood and drifted backwards in time, Ulysses-like, to the day the couple met, before culminating in a quietly nostalgic trip to the eponymous building as it stood about to be torn down. So great. My friend Jacob’s review. “I Hoped That the Book Would Just Be Fun”: A Brief Interview with Chris Ware.
* Call for applications: Wisconsin Poet Laureate.
* I was born too early: N.Y.U. to Add a Bachelor’s Degree in Video Game Design.
* I was born too late: MIT looking into paying professors by the word.
* College rankings, 1911. Class III! How dare they. #impeachTaft
* State’s rights we can believe in: New Jersey drivers may be able to ignore other states’ speed cameras.
* The Lost Projects of Dan Harmon. In addition to Building Stories, I also cracked this week and finally started watching Rick and Morty. Now, granted, it’s no Building Stories — but it’s pretty good!
* The New Inquiry‘s “Mourning” issue is out today and has some really nice essays I think I’ll be using in the second go of my Cultural Preservation course next spring.
* Now we see the violence inherent in the system: Insurance Company Pays Elderly Man’s Workman’s Comp Settlement With $21,000 in Coins.
* Department of diminishing returns: The British Office: The Movie.
* And the kind of headline where I really don’t want any details: NASA: New “impossible” engine works, could change space travel forever. Second star to the right, and straight on till morning…
* Reaching My Autistic Son Through Disney. What a story. I bawled.
* Women run just a quarter of the biggest art museums in the United States and Canada, and they earn about a third less than their male counterparts, according to a report released on Friday by the Association of Art Museum Directors, a professional organization.
* The greatest secret of American manhood is: We are afraid of other men. Masculinity as Homophobia.
* At best, job creation is merely an inadequate palliative for years of deep recession. At worst, it’s an active strategy for redirecting wealth upwards and further immiserating the working class. Quantify that.
* A theory of neoliberalism: Wages versus Assets.
* Democrats are really starting in with the surrender-to-hopelessness blitz EARLY this cycle. Meanwhile.
* A rare sociological analysis of Federal Reserve policy confirms what many economists already knew: top central bank officials missed the oncoming crisis because they failed to make the connection between housing, the banking industry and the economy. I don’t know; my rule is never attribute to incompetence what can be adequately explained by soulless millionaires cynically cashing out.
* If you pirate a digital copy of The Triple Package, use the find and replace function. Find “successful cultural group” replace with “bourgeoisie” and then the book will become a coherent and honest provocation, rather than the triple package of neurosis, projection, and obfuscation that it really is.
* Do I read this right? An off-duty cop shot somebody and the other guy got charged with assault?
* de Blasio vs charters in NYC. How charter schools get students they want. In the great efforts they are expending to exclude the students that are the most difficult to educate, charter schools are lending more credence to my argument about the arrow of causation in our perception of school quality than I could ever generate.
* Mother Canada? Is that a thing? Displays of Canadian nationalism always seem off to me. Letting down the side, Canada.
* I had no idea just disintegrating in midair was something that could just happen to planes. I wish I didn’t know it now.
* Wages for Sea World animals: Yes, California Can Really Ban Shamu, Legal Experts Say. Can’t they just argue exploiting whales and making their lives miserable is free speech? That’s how it works with humans.
* I was saying this weekend (1, 2, 3) that voting for Rand Paul is not as irrational as it might seem at first glance, given the unilateral powers the executive branch has in the U.S. and his stated opposition to the war on drugs and the war on terror. What’s interesting is that Rand Paul himself absolutely does not want me to hold this opinion.
* Great walls to end tornadoes in our time? What could possibly go wrong?
In 2007, Gary Younge (he is an ally) suggested that what we all needed is a White History Month. Gary reminded us: “So much of Black History Month takes place in the passive voice. Leaders ‘get assassinated,’ patrons ‘are refused’ service, women ‘are ejected’ from public transport. So the objects of racism are many but the subjects few. In removing the instigators, the historians remove the agency and, in the final reckoning, the historical responsibility … There is no month when we get to talk about [James] Blake [the white busdriver challenged by Rosa Parks]; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail. Wouldn’t everyone–particularly white people–benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories?”
Ruin Your Life, Major in English, and Doom Yourself to Decades of Grinding Isolation, Solipsism, and Utter Social Disregard
Robert Matz at Inside Higher Ed: The truth, however, is that reports of the deadliness of English to a successful career are greatly exaggerated. According to one major study produced by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the median income for English majors with a bachelor’s but no additional degree is $48,000. This figure is just slightly lower than that for bachelor’s degree holders in biology ($50,000), and slightly higher than for those in molecular biology or physiology (both $45,000). It’s the same for students who received their bachelor’s in public policy or criminology (both $48,000), slightly lower than for those who received their bachelor’s in criminal justice and fire protection ($50,000) and slightly higher than for those who received it in psychology ($45,000).
Another study by the same center paints a similar picture with respect to unemployment. In this study, the average unemployment rate for recent B.A. holders (ages 22-26) over the years 2009-10 was 8.9 percent; for English it was 9.2 percent. Both rates are higher than we would wish, but their marginal difference is dwarfed by that between the average for holders of the B.A. and that of high school graduates, whose unemployment rate during the same period was 22.9 percent (also too high).
Among the study’s other findings:
• While aging has a detrimental effect on reasoning and short-term memory, it leaves verbal abilities “completely unimpaired.”
• Smoking has a negative impact on verbal abilities and short-term memory but does not affect reasoning skills.
• People who play video games performed “significantly better” in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.
• Products that are advertised to improve brain function aren’t effective. “People who ‘brain-train’ are no better at any of these three aspects of intelligence than people who don’t,” Owen said.
* We need DNA tests before you can vote: Iowa’s GOP Election Official Has Found Only 6 Examples Of Voter Fraud Out Of 1.6 Million Votes Cast.
* Somewhere in Portland, there’s a very old building, and that very old building has a very, very old basement. An incredible basement, a video-game-level basement, a set-decorator’s dream basement.
With this sense of historical determinacy in the background, Building Stories turns from problems of the collective past to questions of personal memory. In one of the text’s most virtuosic sequences, Ware presents a cross-section of the ostensibly titular building, overlaying it with a catalogue of events and experiences that took place therein over the past century, along with the objects that filled it up: “296 birthday parties,” “68,418 orgasms,” “61 broken dinner plates,” and so on. This record of prior feelings, frustrations, and occasional pleasures, is notable first for the way that it detaches them from particular bodies. While Ware positions the accumulated orgasms, for example, over the female narrator, she sits placidly upright in bed, reading by herself. In their enormous numerical excess, these items outstrip the scope of any one individual form, indeed of any one life. While Ware letters this sequence with the same delicate cursive script he used when investigating Jimmy’s paternal past in his earlier novel, he pointedly detaches these terms from any single historical trajectory. What we find here, then, is something like a sedimented record of all those everyday banalities that must go forgotten if we are to continue going about our lives. Like the apartment building itself, which disappears into the weave of the text as a whole, these are the things we leave behind as we mature. Indeed, the most striking of all the items on the page may be the one that Ware places on the porch of the building, at the very edge of its steps: “11,627 lost childhood memories.” Surely it is no accident that this page appears near the start of Building Stories’ “golden book” volume, an object whose gilt spine and cardboard cover summon up images of preadolescent reading, of those works that shape us in ways we can never fully recall.