Esther’s Space- journey through my life

November 28, 2007

Monty Python, Philosophy, and Australia

Filed under: Rave — estherspace @ 7:11 pm

My three favorite things. I found this to help us get through this difficult time…the end of the semester. It’s a frightenly catchy tune:


November 24, 2007

Shaun, the not-quite dead.

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 9:02 pm

I was afraid that I was pretty dumb when I watched this movie and didn’t really ‘get’ how it was an important piece of postmodern commentary. Then, I watched a video of the main characters being interviewed on a morning radio program (here), and then went to my old standby, Kim, to see what she had to say. I am relieved to say that I said ‘duh’ when seeing what the radio show guys got out of it, and it really tickled me to witness Kim’s curt, exhausted, and utterly apathetic response to the film. Apparently, I’m not really missing anything, it’s all right there for us to see, open and available to the masses. Now watch, this is going to come back to bite me in the bum.

Zombies. They’re here, and they are sort of a problem (only sort of). The film is apparently saying that, in many ways, we are all zombies in the way that we live our lives.  For the most part, we’re all just going through the comfortable routines and habits, the same things day in and day out. Is this post so very different from all of my others? Are the papers we’re all working on so very different and groundbreaking in relation to the last set of final papers we wrote? Despite our greatest hopes and dreams, I would argue that they pretty much are not.

What we need is an event that will separate the men and women from the zombies. (I’ll let much of that statement go to be digested by someone else). And, like Shaun, this event will provide the opportunity to become leaders. For others, the Eds of the world, a zombie takeover of the city will only prove that we have no higher calling, and that videogames and shelter really are among the best things in life. I guess that Shaun of the Dead proves that in society, it really does ‘take all kinds’.

Of course, nothing can be quite as simple as I outlined above. While Shaun did take the zombie takeover of London to show what kind of stuff he was made of (even if it meant shooting his mom), none of this ambition seems to continue into his life after the quelling of zombie rage. Sure, he gets Liz back, but was simply knowing that he could be (if absolutely necessary) decent enough to give her the patience for the gads of indecent or lackluster qualities that he displayed on a daily basis?

This movie really asks us to step into an alternate reality. I was just about to affirm that I would find my partner-in-crime absolutely terrible to live with if he really continued to do all of the things that I hated, patient only because once I saw him protect me (but not four other people) during a zombie attack. Then I realized that I have been referring to this entire zombie situation as something like a background to the main events. I think a ‘real’ zombie attack would probably garner a bit more of my attention. Who was it that said that in postmodern narrative we don’t even question the existence of parallel but obviously different worlds, like, um, zombie worlds?

November 16, 2007

Apex~ Struggle is a Really Crappy Name

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 11:11 pm

Really, I hate naming the town ‘Struggle’. But that’ s not what I’m here to deal with.

In finishing the novel we were supposed to try and hold onto the threads of the metaphors the novel (because apparently it is acting independently of its author?) is playing with. One of the things we began to discuss in class was how Nomenclature Guy sees himself within the corporate structure, and within society as a whole.

In terms of his not-whiteness, NG is certainly conflicted about his racial identity. Sometimes, he refers to himself as a “brother,” but in other instances makes a very clear distinction between him and Regina’s ‘people’. I guess it might be comparable to me recognizing my relatively shared race with someone from Australia, but would not regard our histories as familialy connected within the last century or two.

With the idea of Muttonchops and Scary Housekeeper Lady being the underbelly of Freedom/Winthrop/New Prospera/Struggle’s society, but the ones that the city needs in order to survive as a community.  These people, however, aren’t the movers and shakers that NG regards himself as.  Where these two ‘types’ come together is when you encounter the nomenclature whiz kid who is never invited to the Christmas party.  But, again, I am stuck in a position where NG places himself very much outside of this realm. He is winning awards, so would obviously be invited to the Christmas parties, since his absence would certainly be noted.

Why is NG outside of the roles that he sees all of the other ‘marginalized’ or, perhaps, black segments of society stuck in (the necessary but unappreciated social infrastructure)?  At the same time, he also, occassionally, sees himself as closely tied into this social stratum of individuals.  He uses the colored Apex bandages, but they only cause him to allow his toe to fester and causes him to lose the toe.  But, in the long run, the damage is primarily psychological, or psychosomatic.   I can’t make all of the pieces fit together.  Perhaps they are not supposed to.  That’s it, this is the postmodern perspective– there are many simulataneous truths, since life is not a pointed, clear and concise narrative it is possible that there are numerous and probably paradoxical truths.  Oh, sly, sly.

November 15, 2007

Apex~ the hidey game (2)

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 9:59 pm

Something that really struck me about this middle portion of Apex Hides the Hurt was the black vs. white dichotomy in Freedom/Winthrop/New Prospera.  I know we discussed it a bit in class, but, probably because it’s a major focus of my paper, I sensed some serious colonization/postcolonization discourse vibes.

The entire recorded history of the town is based on a tradition of dispossession.  Those who discuss it suppose that the story truly begins with Winthrop’s entering of the area, but that is certainly not the case.  Before Winthrop, there were the people of Freedom, but before them, it is very likely that there were some other natives, especially since the the town was located on such a valuable river that could connect it with the rest of the world.

So, there were the natives, who are never mentioned, who are displaced (I assume) by the black settlers who begin to refer the the area as “Freedom.”  Though not original to the land, they become, through generations of living, closely connected to it, and when Winthrop enters the picture, they appear to be ‘natives’ of the area as far as he is aware.  And, much like the settlers of Freedom had done, he colonized the indigenous people and imposed his own ideals on the village.  In the same vein, when Lucky enters the town, he does his own version of colonization, except this time it is not a clear distinction between white and black ideas, but instead it is a colonization through imposing technology.  As one of the characters notes, Winthrop has become a “company town”, in exactly the same process that it had first become a freed slave town, and then an American dream town in the frontier spirit.

A specific part of the text that sparked all of this takes place when Regina is giving the nomenclature consultant, or as I like to call him, Nomenclature Guy, a tour of the old and new parts of the city.  In defense of her support for calling the town Freedom once again, Regina tells the story of how each section of town could be identified by how the streets were named.  She said, “How you know you’re home is when you see your name on the street” (128).  My immediate thought was that Albie probably felt exactly the same way, but with a different set of names.

After all that, my mind is teeming with questions about the pre-Freedom people that were likely to have lived in the area, and I am wondering about how each supporter for the town’s name is coming to the table with different arguments as to why their name is most appropriate, but that all of these individuals are using the same techniques that they claim to detest in the others’ approaches, but no one is taking a moment to self-reflexively investigate what their names are about beyond a very specific emotion reason.  If that sentence makes any sense.

Personally, I think New Prospera is a crappy name, and not ‘just old enough to be cool again’ because Florida developments are teeming with names like that.  What the town needs is something like Apex, something that sounds great and can come to mean something to the people, but doesn’t have any background of potentially offensive meaning.

November 10, 2007

Apex ~ Number 1

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 3:15 pm

I am soooooooo excited to read Apex Hides the Hurt.  It was one of those books that I saw it hit the ‘new’ shelf at APL, but never could find the time to consume it.  So, thank you KM for the forced reading!

Oh, where to begin.  Structurally, this looks and acts very much like the novels I am used to reading.  There are chapters, an obvious plot, and a fairly smooth narrative.  This book does not make itself at all inaccessible to the ‘average’ reader.  Perhaps this accessibility is an important aspect of posmodern ideals, since it is not reserved for consumption by the elite. 

Now to the good parts.  Nomenclature consultant- it’s one of those jobs that can seem really dumb, but wowee, if they do it well it is really frightening.  Let’s just think about the globalization we are currently experiencing. 

globalization.gif This cartoon speaks to the power of a name.  What are these (markedly colored) natives being bombarded by?  Not by ideas of free trade and democracy, but instead by (markedly white), easily identifyable representations of America.  Obviously, we are winning the people through imposing the ‘American lifestyle’ upon them until they become as equally dependent upon their daily regime of Coca-Cola and McDonalds as we have. 

Back to Apex, the primary character admits that, “it was not the first time he had been saved by the recognizable logo of an international food franchise, its emanations and intimacies” (37), attesting to the fact that everyone develops this (psychosomatic) dependency upon the familiar and, in many ways, controlling ideas of what something can represent.

So, what if there was a breakdown between sign, signifier, and signified?  Because, while the re-naming of a town can have the economically advantageous outcome of boosting community morale and encouraging investment, it can also go the other direction if the wrong name is chosen.  What if the word ‘chair’ no longer represented our understanding of what a chair was?  What if New Prospera is not an appropriate new name for Winthrop?  Is it possible that by re-naming the town New Prospera it could result in not a revival and rebirth of faith in the town, but instead it would produce a breakdown between the idea of what something is and the reality of what it actually is, which would ultimately create a loss of faith and goodwill between the consumer (citizen) and the coordinator (the government). 

November 9, 2007

In the end, there will be a paper…

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 8:42 am

Key ideas:

  • Linda Hutcheon sees postmodern narrative as a “paradoxical confrontation of self-consciously fictive and resolutely historical representation” (Politics 66)
  • Postmodernism as a way of reading, rather than a time period.
  • In an interview, Kate Grenville stated, “the subject of this book is actually white settlers, it’s the white settler response to the fact that the Aboriginal people were on the land they wanted to settle on. It’s not actually about the Aboriginal response to the white settlers. That’s not a story I could tell. I do believe that you have to draw on what you know to write well, and I don’t pretend to understand or be able to empathise (sic.) particularly with a tribal Aboriginal person from 200 years ago; that’s beyond me.”

     Kate Grenville’s novel, The Secret River, can be read as an epistemological investigation of the interaction between English settlers and Australian aborigines, as a plausible re-visioning of the past. However, if one employs the techniques of postmodern and postcolonial reading, it becomes clear that this attempt at fashioning a historiographical narrative reveals a number of disconnects between the author’s stated goals and the text she produced. Often, there are moments in which her language lends itself to a particularly imperialistic re-visioning of history, meant to reiterate the ‘traditional’ ideas of the ‘othered’ native, despite her assertions that the novel is meant to be a fair and balanced representation of the challenges that faced both English settlers and the aboriginal people of Australia.

Things I still have to unpack:

  • If postmodern narrative is self-consciously fictive, does this novel not apply, since it is not overtly self-conscious; it relies on the reader to recognize the disconnects between the author’s goals and the work produced?
  • Why does it matter that the author could not construct a novel that met her own goals? Is this a subconscious manifestation of her own discomfort with her ancestral past?
  • What are the implications of the author’s claim that she did not feel it appropriate to imagine the past from an Aboriginal perspective, but did feel as if she understood how her ancestor’s felt in particular situations? Why did she feel like she could ‘understand’ the latter and not the former, is it simply another way of avoiding giving the minority a voice?

 Sources: I gots the Hutcheons on the brain.

Create a free website or blog at