Esther’s Space- journey through my life

February 28, 2007

Engaging in discourse with Rubin’s text

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 8:19 am


Gayle Rubin

+ phone.jpg +stick_figure_small.jpg

 Hi Gayle, it’s Esther.  I’m well thanks, and yourself….Oh, that sounds painful, I’m sorry to hear of it…Yes, actually, I just finished your article, it was a bit lengthy, don’t you think?….Well, maybe, but maybe  you should have turned it into a few different articles instead of a novella, or maybe you should have taken out a couple tribal references, they really were ‘ad nauseum’ (1669)…Yes, I know that they’re fascinating, but they seem to gum up the writing a bit…mmm yes, maybe (sigh).  Oh, yes, it was very clever, I laughed several times….yes, you are very talented………….I’m curious to know why you chose to start with Marx…I know that you need to start somewhere and generally cannot go wrong with Marxism, but here you may have…No, really, of course you will be able to prove, ” a failure of classical Marxism to fully express or conceptualize sex oppression,” (1665), Marx was wholly unconcerned with such and therefore his theory is unprepared to counter your arguments…Well, if that’s true, then I can prove to you the failure of traditional yeast bread recipes in the fight to make excellent pork chops………The idea of the kinships systems was very interesting as well, especially the idea of marriage as gift-giving versus debt-solution…yes, it was a very clever idea (sigh)…it actually reminded me that my birthday is coming up soon, and if you are interesting in replicating these tribal political and social systems (1671), feel free to buy me a house and I won’t even feel bad that I only got you wool socks for your birthday…No!  I don’t want to know how you’ve used them……….Also, I think you might have brought a bit of baggage to this article with you…yes, it is that obvious…Are you kidding, how about when you wrote, “the incest taboo presupposes a prior, less articulate taboo on homosexuality.  A prohibition against some heterosexual unions assumes a taboo against non-heterosexual unions.  Gender is not only an identification with one sex; it also entails that sexual desire be directed toward the other sex” (1675)….I don’t know, those statements just seem like an awful lot of leaping and bounding to arrive at such conclusions, and I kind of think that sexual desire being directed at the opposite sex is somehow relation to the reproduction of the society…Yes, I know you don’t like those words and would prefer to not define or use them………..Whatever, anyway, as a whole it was interesting to see how the discourse moves beyond the theory in this article….Yeah, I think Marx, Freud and Levi-Strauss would all want to gang rape you for this…ewwww, I’m leaving!  Yeah, disgusting…see you in class.



February 26, 2007

Louis Altheusser- I am but a subject of the structure

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 8:08 am

I’m going to guess that we have stepped away from non-structuredness for a moment. I feel like I ‘got’ Altheusser, for the most part. I’m going to contribute this to the beautiful translator. I love him.

Okay, it seems to me that Altheusser argues that in order to survive, any social contruct needs to re-create the means of reproducing itself. (Wow, it isn’t an easy concept to articulate). Basically, in a non-ideological example, I will use humans. People make people. But if the A people make B people that cannot make C people, there will very quickly be no more people. Cool. Got it.

I think that I agree with much of what Altheusser is arguing. It seems obvious to me that society, religion, education, etc. are all self-propagating machines. Not that it is necessarily a negative thing, for I’m not sure that there’s much of an option. It does seem a bit depressing, however, that we are so ingrained in this ideological re-creation of ‘the machine’ that there is no means of escape or transcending it. Or maybe it’s the individualist society that I have been raised in. Oh, I see, there is not individualism, as is addressed by Altheusser’s later statement, “ideology hails or interpellates individuals as subjects” (1504). Later, he states, “a subjected being, who submits to a higher authority, and is therefore stripped of all freedom except that of freely accepting his submission” (1507). How depressing, but I suppose it is the truth.

Okay, now I feel like I have something, I’m ready to build, off to the institution currently most responsible for creating robotic machines of people with no original ideas, yay!

February 21, 2007

The World ends, and stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — estherspace @ 9:27 am
  • Promethean Cab Company: “promethean refers to events or people of great creativity, intellect and boldness.” hmmm. I’m not sure this fits with the reality within Watchmen.
  • tachyon: “any hypothetical particle that travels at superluminal velocity…A tachyon is constrained to the space-like portion of the energy-momentum graph. Therefore, it can never slow to light speed or below. To date, the existence of tachyons has been neither confirmed nor explicitly ruled out.”
  • Bubastis: ancient Egyptian city, center of worship for feline goddess Bast
  • Orrery: (XII-21) An orrery is a mechanical device that illustrates the relative positions and motions of the planets and moons in the solar system in heliocentric model. They are typically driven by a large clockwork mechanism with a globe representing the Sun at the centre, and with a planet at the end of each of the arms.orrery_small.jpg
  • Pale Horse (advertised in backgrounds X-5, XII-2): In 1964 there was a movie released entitled “Behold a Pale Horse” based on the life of a Spanish guerrilla exiled in France after the Spanish Civil War returning to Spain to visit his mother. Behold a Pale Horse is also the title of a book by ufologist Milton William Cooper. Title is thought to have come from the Bible (Revalation 6:8), which states:

And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

I think this is likely to be the source of the Moore reference.

In Derrida’s world, perhaps Veidt’s killing of half of New York is an event or rupture. It is certainly responsible for bringing two cultures (at least) together and making them realize that they are in need of a supplement to account for the missing connections between the two ideologies. hmmmm, that made more sense before I wrote it down. Pretending that it still makes sense……the recognition of the need for a supplement causes the de-centering that Derrida insists upon. Perhaps the ‘Burger ‘n’ Borscht’ (what a combination) is representative of bricolage, because the society is using the ill-fitting tools that it does have access to in an attempt to create the ideal universal center. or something

Oh yes, and we MUST discuss the Hiroshima lovers.

Questions I have at the end of the book:

  • Huh? How does it all makes sense.  I finished and my response was, “are you kidding me?!”
  • The Dan/Sam Laurie/Sandra Hollis thing.  Was this all an alternate time scape or are they forever young in their superhero costumes?
  • Why did Dr. M. nuke Rorschach?
  • Why do all of the superheroes pretend that Veidt’s plan makes sense (as does the world)
  • Why did Dan & Laurie decide to have sex just because they can.  Weren’t there more pressing issues to be dealt with at the time?
  • Hiroshima Lovers-throughout their appearance in the book they were often depicted with some non-human explosion or something around there stomach region.  This didn’t really seem to come to much.  Any idea what it was all about?
  • And can that really be the end of nostalgia and the beginning of the new millenium?  It would seem that the world at that point is prepared to completely forget all that has happened in favor of starting anew.  Is it possible to go forward without looking at all to the past?  I would argue no.

February 20, 2007

♪♪♪A little bit of Derrida, by my side♪♪♪

Filed under: Uncategorized — estherspace @ 2:21 pm

Derrida, Watchmen, Freeplay, and Centerlessness

For Jacques Derrida, a deconstructuralist critic, texts are open to a number of different and equally valid readings and not bound to a specific and essential structure. Through this, the notion that the center is no longer the center is validated and the option for freeplay introduced. Now, everything is provisional, rather than fixed or true.

freeplay: opportunity to move freely within a basic structure

decentering: shifting the focus from a center that must create, define, and control a structure in favor of allowing for possible understandings that have not yet been constructed. Derrida’s decentering relies upon the concept that structure is created, not inherent, therefore the decentering is the deconstruction of structure and the opposition to rebuilding.

Within Watchmen, the characters as well as Alan Moore are utlizing the freeplay and decenteredness allowed by Derrida’s deconstructionism.

  • Watchmen as a Graphic Novel-Alan Moore is writing within the structure of language and the more specific structure of a graphic novel, but is maintaining a great deal of freeplay. The characters are as plentious or sparse as he chooses, there are any number of possible story lines, the panels and scenes can be as large or small as necessary, the characters can be physically shaped or appear in any manner, without the confines of a structural ‘recipe.’
    • Take, for example, the first introduction to Dr. Manhattan (ChapterI Page20). Here, Dr. Manhattan is easily four times the height of Rorschach, and his panel takes up the space that was previously occupied by six panels.
  • Dr. Manhattan-One of the best examples of freeplay within the novel. He exists within the basic structure of humanity, but is able to transcend it and work within it in an infinite number of possibilities.
    • Dr. Manhattan’s relation to time is an excellent example of decentering. Time is traditionally thought to be a structured, linear arrangement of moments on a continuum. For Dr. Manhattan, time is not arranged in any structure that would traditionally be recognized. Instead of a linear composition of time with a past, present, and future, time for Dr. Manhattan is a constant present, no matter where that ‘present’ may fall on a traditional linear scale of time (Chapter IV). His ability to live within these constant presents while also interacting with humanity is an example of decentering, for new possibilities have been introduced and therefore the original notion of time cannot suffice.

In relation to Watchmen, Jacques Derrida’s concepts of noncenteredness and unlimited freeplay are inhibited by the necessary structure of literature, interpretation, humanity, and society.  While Derrida would prefer a non-structured world, we as a society demand strict structure in every aspect of our lives. 

February 18, 2007

Watchmen-It Continues

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 5:44 pm

Okay, I did my research:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Osymandias” from Wikipedia…this poem, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, deals with the arrogance of power.  It’s perfect for Veidt, the ‘smartest man in the world,’ especially the line, “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings…”  I do give Moore kudos for the amount of research (or maybe’s it’s just previously gathered and mentally catalogued factoids, I don’t know) that goes into his character development.

Furthermore… “Archimedes“- Dan(a.k.a. Nite Owl)’s flying saucer’s name.  Again, according to Wikipedia, Archimedes was one of the three most influential mathematicians of all time.  Archimedes had a thing for circles.  His death (purportedly) came about because a Roman soldier interrupted his contemplations of a mathematical drawing in the sand, so Archimedes said, “don’t disturb my circles,” and the soldier killed him.  On his tombstone they put his favorite mathematical diagram (because we all have one of those), a sphere inside of a cylinder of the same height and volume.  He was also accredited with running about the streets shouting ‘Eureka!’ after he used a bath to discover density.

Okay, enough research.  This time I was able to recognize a number of structural keys within the text.  One that was very interesting was the parallelism of the beginning and end of a number of chapters.  For example, Chapter 5 begins and ends with a building’s sign, which looks like ЯR  with Xbones beneath it.  Interestingly (but certainly not coincidentally) enough, Rorschach uses a similar “R” reflection, though his is lower case(.דr.) (Chapter 5, page 3).  Chapter 6 parallels the beginning and the end with Rorschach ink blots, Chapter 7 uses the reflective eyes/goggles theme, and Chapter 8 begins and ends with the statue of the golden masked avenger.

One of the most interesting parallels for me was the silhouettes of couples, beginning (and continuing, with the addition of others) with the “Hiroshima Lovers.”  The “Hiroshima Lovers,” as Rorschach titles them, can be found: (Ch.5-pg. 11) (Ch.5-18) (Ch.5-23) (Ch.6-27).  However, they are also joined by two other silhouettes, Chapter 6, page 3, the silhouette of Rorschach’s mother and a customer, as well as Chapter 7, page 27, where we see Dan and Laurie.  Now, for the connection– Rorschach states that the Hiroshima Lovers are “trying inadequately to console one another” (Chapter 6, page 27) because, obviously, there is going to be a huge explosion and the world as they know it will end.  When Rorschach comes upon the silhouettes of his mother and her client, it is a situation in which both are trying to find something in the other, and their exposure leads to a fight.  When we see the silhouettes of Dan and Laurie (Ch. 7, pg. 27), it is followed immediately by an explosion (obviously meant to signify Dan’s conquering of his impotence, but also part of a larger commentary).  So that’s it.  Judging by the blood, desperation of the people, and the quickened ticking of the doomsday clock, I’m going to guess that this world is going to be ending soon.  Good thing Dr. Manhattan’s got his home on Mars.

February 11, 2007

Watchmen-the beginning

Filed under: THEORY 330 — estherspace @ 4:47 pm

I think I need help.  I don’t think I have the skills to read this ‘book’ as we are supposed to be reading it.  To me, it is rather dark and disgusting.  It is creating its own alternate reality, which confuses me, since I know little about history.  I feel like I should compare reading it to being in the twilight zone, except that I’ve never seen that either.  So, reading Watchmen is like being in Pleasantville, pleasantville.jpg things aren’t quite as black and white, and I’m not sure if there’s going to be any social realization in the end, but there’s a great deal of pastiche and mentonymity.  I feel the Jameson.  And the signs are there.  But was everyone really that paranoid about nuclear war in 1985?


More specifically, I have a problem with Dr. Manhattan.  To begin with, he finds himself to be too good for clothing.  Perhaps he represents the new ‘new,’ and what I may be parodying now will later be pastiche, but, nonetheless, it’s a problem.  Furthermore, he is the only character with any actual super-human powers.  His cohorts all seem to be on their own personal power trips (ahem, the bastard comedian), but Dr. Manhattan seems to think that he’s better than the world and sees no need to help humanity, despite the fact that he may be the only one capable of doing so.  Jerk.   Oh, and to go along with my problem of the alternate reality thing, wikipedia has a biography of Dr. Manhattan here.

Back to the theory thing, the excerpts from the biography interspersed with the cartoons (hate me for saying it, it’s okay) is an obvious and serious case of metonymically substituting something for the past.  As explained to me, this is a common ploy of graphic novelists; to create universes within which they exist.  I don’t like it.  I guess that doesn’t matter, though.   However, it does depend upon collective agreement to successfully do so.   If there were more people who did not ‘buy into’ the world that any series or individual novel (graphic or otherwise) created, the genre would not survive. 

So, in conclusion, this is a screamingly postmodern text, I hate the Comedian, the Nite Owl is pathetic, Dr. Manhattan is full of himself, Laurie Jupiter makes me sick, and I think that “The Watchmen” is missing the element of realism that is necessary for any novel to be classified as such.  So, who is watching the watchmen?  I hope my next posting is a bit more focussed, but I think that I needed to vent. 

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