To emphasise that engagement with feminist struggl…

To emphasise that engagement with feminist struggle as political commitment, we could avoid using the phrase ”I am a feminist” (a linguistic structure designed to refer to some personal aspect of identity and self-definition) and could state, “I advocate feminism.” Because there has been undue emphasis placed on feminism as an identity or lifestyle, people usually resort to stereotyped perspectives on feminism. Deflecting attention away from stereotypes is necessary if we are to revise our strategy and direction. I have found that saying “I am a feminist” usually means I am plugged into preconceived notions of identity, role, or behaviour. When I say, ”I advocate feminism,” the response is usually, “What is feminism?” A phrase like ”I advocate” does not imply the kind of absolutism that is suggested by “I am.” It does not engage us in the either/or dualistic thinking that is the central ideological component of all systems of domination in Western society. It implies that a choice has been made, that commitment to feminism is an act of will. It does not suggest that by committing oneself to feminism, the possibility of supporting other political movements is negated.

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, bell hooks

The last free people on the planet

I started reading Neuroanthropology a couple of years ago at least, and it has been one of the first blogs I suggest when I find myself in discussions around certain topics, particularly the cultured body and this specifically in dance, theatre and other physical situations.

Today I have read a number of articles and blog posts that are high exemplars of thoughtful analysis and to me underscore the brilliance of new media as it has grown in the past several years; individuals who are unabashedly passionate about their fields on interest and recognise the importance of their voices in providing not just a bulwark against the endless mediocrity and often willful disingenuousness of commercial media, but often altruistically providing considered, articulate, educated writing that could exist nowhere else.

Greg Downey at Neuroanthropology today wrote a piece that at its absolute minimum is all this: ‘The last free people on the planet’. It’s over 11000 words (and that’s before even clicking any of the extensive links or further reading), so find a spot in the sun if you’re in Brussels, along with something to drink, take an hour and read this.

(Some) Stuff I Read This Week

For some reason I decided to start using Twitter again — I suspect iPhone — and without any clear purpose thought to keep track of (some of) what I trawl through every day from the various news feeds I subscribe to. Certainly not a complete list… I wouldn’t even bore myself with that. (For those of you who like Twitter, I am here: francesdath)

Hannah Arendt And The Challenge Of Modernity: A Phenomenology Of Human Rights http://bit.ly/al0fTY

Publishing Bigotry: What Obligations Do We Have? http://bit.ly/ap8JfM

The Banksoniain #16 http://www.banksoniain.netfirms.com/banksoniain_16.pdf

From the Feuilletons (10/09/2010) http://www.signandsight.com/intodaysfeuilletons/2067.html

Insights From The Afghan Field http://www.currentintelligence.net/reviews/2010/9/6/insights-from-the-afghan-field.html

What Books on Afghanistan? http://easterncampaign.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/what-books-on-afghanistan/

Can we really say Wen is insincere? http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/09/10/7524/

You have failed us, Mr. Wen http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/09/09/7483/

William S. Burroughs’ Lost Graphic Novel Ah Pook Is Here Gets Exhumed http://bit.ly/99IVYd

Corruption in Afghanistan, Part DLXXII: Kabul Bank in Crisis http://bit.ly/bzJYzu

On Clean Energy, China Skirts Rules http://nyti.ms/crIV9P

If We Only Had Twelve Fingers http://cabinet-of-wonders.blogspot.com/2010/09/if-we-only-had-twelve-fingers.html

Obama: I mean it — tax the rich http://bit.ly/d8mJZR

China’s Other Billion: Mud Houses in China’s Powerhouse http://bit.ly/aghJ9U

Being Jewish in Shanghai http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2010/09/being-jewish-in-shanghai-photos/62574/

Racist patriarchy in Israel, updated http://leninology.blogspot.com/2010/09/racist-patriarchy-in-israel-updated.html

‘Livelihood Issues’ http://www.literaryreview.co.uk/mirsky_09_10.html

Shenzhen Special Economic Zone celebrates 30 years

Hungary: Heterosexual Pride March http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/09/06/hungary-heterosexual-pride-march/

Thesis: That’s why they go to war http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2010/war

Book review: Goodbye to London – Radical Art and Politics in the Seventies http://bit.ly/9fBkhH

Awesome death spiral of a bizarre star http://bit.ly/crFrQH

Readin: GYP. http://www.languagehat.com/archives/003982.php

Thoughts on Inner Mongolia (內蒙古回顧) http://www.portraitofanlbx.com/2010/09/thoughts-on-inner-mongolia-內蒙古回顧/

Hu’s Shenzhen speech: the numbers http://cmp.hku.hk/2010/09/06/7383/

Israel: “Rape by deception” turns out to be brutal rape of a vulnerable and abused woman http://bit.ly/9tYI9q

Assigning a gender to be appealed

Restrepo http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2010/09/05/restrepo/

ich habe deutsche gelernt… ein bisschen

Oh it’s finished. A month of learning German five hours a day, grammar grammar grammar… my brain hurt from all the new pathways being made… mmm so now I feel I know it less well than French still. But improving.

Wanted to write more but feeling lazy…


where i am…

Oh a long pause… oops… not from lack of things to say, just fallen out of the habit. So, for the next month I have a small routine.

Walk from Südstern to Markisches Museum for ballet, walk from there to Weinmeisterstr in Mitte to the Goethe Institut for an afternoon of Lernen Deutsch. Already today my brain feels mushy… oh speak to me in small words…

the meaning of everything

So far in 2007, I’ve started well over a score of books, and finished no more than a handful, well down on my two new books a week plus rereading of one or two more that was my diet while in Zürich (last year as I’ve pointed out until it’s painful, I devoted myself to reading all of Neal Stephenson’s works at least twice and occasionally four times, hence proving I have no life). My frustration in the absence of being utterly seduced by an author in no small measure is due to current poverty, prohibiting my evening visits to bookshops and buying something new based on a cryptic system of cross-referencing jacket quotes, quality of cover design, and other superstitious nervous tics.

Middlesex is currently the highlight of the year, for obvious reasons, though the final fifty or so pages from when Cal flees the surgery in New York were unnecessary, as we already know he finds peace with his body, and more importantly in the act of running away signifies his control over his own destiny; from then on, he is free, and thematically there is nothing more to add.

My current read, and I’m fairly sure it will be in the top ten for the year, entwines several of my other dirty pleasures, language, European history, and geeks. In no small way it owes its existence to the period covered in Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, notably the consuming fixation of the era and its formidably erudite polymaths with systematically documenting, ordering, listing, assigning, and cataloguing everything. And while you’re busy at tabulating the universe, it is proper the language of the endeavour should also undergo such a project. Hence, The Meaning of Everything – The Story of The Oxford English Dictionary, populated by consumptive prodigies, lascivious proto-feminist in-name-only-solicitors, and rural amateur philologists, many with vast beards.

I have to state that Philology, both Comparative and special, has been my favourite pursuit during the whole of my life, and that I possess a general acquaintance with the languages and literature of the Aryan and Syro-Arabic classes – not indeed to say that I am familiar with all or nearly all of these, but that I possess that general lexical and structural knowledge which makes the intimate knowledge only a matter of a little application. With several I have more intimate acquaintance as with the Romance tongues, Italian, French, Catalan, Spanish, Latin & in a less degree, Portuguese, Vaudois, Provençal & various dialects. In the Teutonic branch, I am tolerably familiar with Dutch (having at my place of business correspondence to read in Dutch, German, French & occasionally other languages), Flemish, German and Danish. In Anglo-Saxon and Moeso-Gothic, my studies have been much closer, I have prepared some works for publication upon these languages, I know a little of the Celtic, and am at present engaged with the Sclavonic, having obtained a useful knowledge of the Russian. In the Persian, Achaemenian, Cuneiform & Sanscrit branches, I know for the purposes of Comparative Philology. I have sufficient knowledge of Hebrew & Syriac to read at sight the Old Testament and Peshito; to a less degree I know Aramaic, Arabic, Coptic, and Phenecian to the point where it was left by Gesenius.

(Letter of application to a post at the British Museum Library written by James Murray, to Thomas Watts, Keeper of Printed Books, November 1866. Murray’s application was not successful.)

— The Meaning of Everything

some stuff i read this week

Lazy Saturday afternoon post-dragging myself out of bed and thinking of going climbing pretty soon, but first a random trawl through my news feeds of stuff that for no apparent reason I’ve ended up reading and getting all contemplative (in the philosophical not religious sense of the word) about. Reading: it might make you a better person.

The Useless Tree, one of my new-found favourites compares the United States prison system unfavourably with Qin Dynasty and Warring State period Legalism and offers some Confucian and Taoist interpretations on the world’s leading jailer.

Every socially responsible blogger and other do-gooder is going mental over Psyphon that will miraculously set free entire nations under the iron fist of internet censorship. Ethan Zuckerman though, of …My Heart’s in Accra is waiting and seeing, while Ann Condi at Danwei says yeah cool, but … wtf, apathy?!?. Personally, I prefer Tor; encryption, talk dirty to me.

Net/computer/new media/whatever it’s called this semester ~Art has been really annoying me lately, like it’s reached a threshold of dumbness where any single-idea conceptualism is received with vacuous, rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights “ohh! cool! art!” uncritical praise. Thankfully “A la recherche du temps perdu” is being performed in machine code, that is to say in binary, like one of those plays that goes on for a week.

Back to the War on Terror: Lenin’s Tomb posts the leaked EU Draft Report on Renditions. Can anyone say “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”? Nah, I didn’t think so.

Around to China, which is really what this blog was all about until I lost my way and purpose and direction and … Making sense of Beijing Propaganda, yeah I used to photograph, translate, read, memorise new characters from all the white on red proclamations around Shaheding. My favourite was one warning against muggers who were targeting single women in the suburb and how this was lowering the tone of the whole neighbourhood. Actually I just discovered Shanghai Journal - 日记 Journal today and straight away it goes onto my news feeds.

Sparrow War! Take that capitalist intellectual running dog avian!!! Turns out that “while sparrows have flaws like intellectuals”, as with a rehabilitated Chairman Mao, they are “70% good, 30% bad”.

Feng37 is now blogging at 在桥下流 Under the Bridge, in Guangzhou.

Sometimes I really think I should have gone off and done Astrophysics or Particle Physics. It’s just so unbelievably sexy, I was really ecstatic when a Bose-Einstein Condensate was first produced and deservedly won the Nobel Prize in Physics, and as for Higgs Bosons … Anyway, the Large Hadron Collider is nearing completion near Geneva, 27 kilometres of particle accelerator hell. Check out the Quicktime VR of it, and more and more.

Normally, like free-to-air Murdoch News, I’d finish with the tranny/shemale/girl equivalent of Cute Kitten Story, allowing you to wash your palette of the not-so-nice real world-195×130. Instead, as I have been having one of those peculiar turns lately, possibly due to changing hormones from injection to pill and thus “finding the right dose”, which is a Metaphor for the tranny equivalent of PMS, and I do mean Mood Swing, or possibly due to being the better part of a long-overdue pregnancy since I made it quite clear which pronoun was inappropriate (hint: using he, him, his, lad, mate, boy, man, sir, mr, might win you a swift poke in the kidney), today there is No Cute Kitten Story.

Instead: Trans Respect/Etiquette/Support 101. Read it. Now.

what i’ve been reading today

Another list of completely unrelated stuff that circulated through my news feeds in the last couple of days and makes me feel intelligent and superior. Of course I still will fail to recognise you and forget your name next time we meet. (And you’ll have to tell me things several times over the course of weeks before they stick… pi to 100 digits anyone?)

Somehow I got onto Keith Olbermann, who is quite simply the Orson Welles/Citizen Kane of political media in America and what media really should be – partisan, accurate and extending a swift middle finger to right wing imperialism. Reading the transcript of his special comments is a joy, seeing him in video delivering burning waves of unfettered rage against the Bush administration. Countdown Special Comment: Death of Habeas Corpus: “Your words are lies, Sir.”

Back to China. And of far more importance to anyone unfortunate enough to be discarded from the world’s circus of runting: smut. Other people’s smut. Or important men in China and the mistresses they keep. Quantity or quality?

Hawaiian earthquakes and Hollywood movies, physicists and American football, using grammar to fight bacteria. What does it mean? Who knows. Does it sell papers? Apparently. I really love Language Log.

Back to China again for the Chinese Blogger Conference 2006 or 中文网志年会.

After the mayor of Guangzhou got a bunch of poor fools to swim in the newly-cleaned Pearl River, and spent a long time dredging the toxic oily black sludge from the city’s canals, the United Nations Environment Programme has declared the Pearl River estuary is a “dead zone”.

Continuing optimistic doom, certain extinction and rising sea levels, the Greenland ice sheet is on a downward slide, and mass extinctions in the past have been caused by a ‘sick earth’.

Neal Stephenson, as any of you who come here even slightly often or know me personally will attest to my absolute admiration of, is in no small way responsible for my next performance, pestilence. In a roundabout way, he also got me intrigued with poisons and other chymicals, and so naturally I am salivating at the thought of reading Elements of Murder: The History of Poison.

Oil. This is a fight to the death.

Ja, so anyway, let’s end on happy things from Virtual China. Food. Chinese food. eatingchinese.org. Even in blog form … drool.

stuff i read today

Having dragged myself out of bed at the rather late hour of 1030 and still working my way through a strong coffee that is scouring my intestines like a mouthful of Draino, I’m quite happy to announce I am vacillating in doing everything I need to do today, viz. washing, waxing legs, shopping, eating.

Starting with Language Log who has been unleashing dispassionate and comprehensive slaughter on the current pseudo-scienctific rubbish flying around the media lately on the emerging science of sex differences. This morning he is at it again with Gender myths: letting science mislead.

Back to Guangzhou: Q: Why 18,000 family members of Guangzhou subway staff get free ride? Lu Guanglin, the general manager of Guangzhou Subway Company: “That’s for anti-terror.”

North to Shanghai, where it is not a good time to be a corrupt political crony of former number 1 Jiang Zemin, or really to have anything to do with Chen Liangyu and the Shanghai Gang. China Digital Times 中国数字时代 has been covering it: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

we make money not art is at the Emergence Festival in Paris, where you can play Motor Karaoke and the loudest screamer wins, Beijing Accelerator is also there.

Finally, instead of a cute picture of a kitten after acres of severed limbs and human suffering I would be presenting in an impartial and balanced way if I was a Sunday newspaper, here is some geek humour from Popaghandi for geeks. If it doesn’t make you snort whatever you are eating up your nose, you are not a geek.