Readings for March 3rd

Posted: February 27, 2020 in Readings

Nice to see everyone today for group projects. I hope you got something out of our class, informal as it was. I enjoyed chatting more casually with you all, and also seeing your care and enthusiasm for your midterms. That’s great!

As I said in class, we’ll read Linda Nochlin for next Tuesday. I think you will find her ideas to be somewhat more accessible than de Beauvoir’s, though also a bit more surprising than you might anticipate. The Laura Mulvey piece is hugely influential but extremely difficult. I will not assign it, though feel free to have a glance if you are curious.

That’s it for now. Have a great weekend!

Simone de Beauvoir
The Second Sex (1949)

Linda Nochlin
(b. 1931)
“Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971)


Laura Mulvey
(b. 1941)
“Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” (1975)


Cultural memory (loss) functioning as it does – especially in our digital age – I imagine a majority of students will never have heard of the world-renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks.

“I dare to hope that, despite everything, human life and its richness of cultures will survive, even on a ravaged earth,” the neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote before he died, in 2015. “Between us, we can surely pull the world through its present crises and lead the way to a happier time ahead. As I face my own impending departure from the world, I have to believe in this—that mankind and our planet will survive, that life will continue, and that this will not be our final hour.”

Biggy Thinky

Posted: February 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

This is probably a bit too simplistic of an account of Simone de Beauvior’s very complex life and thought – a little too Cliffy Notesy. But simplification is not always an absolutely bad thing.

Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was a French author, feminist and existential philosopher. Her unconventional life was a working experiment of her ideas – that one creates the meaning of life through free and authentic choices.

A German teenager dubbed the “anti-Greta” – climate sceptics’ answer to the schoolgirl activist Greta Thunberg – is set to address the biggest annual gathering of US grassroots conservatives.

Naomi Seibt, 19, who styles herself as a “climate sceptic” or “climate realist”, will this week address the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington, joining speakers including Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence.

Seibt is in the pay of the Heartland Institute, a thinktank closely allied with the White House that denies established science showing humans are heating the planet with dangerous consequences.

CPAC will be the biggest stage yet for Seibt, a so-called “YouTube influencer” who tells her followers Thunberg and other activists are whipping up unnecessary hysteria by exaggerating the climate crisis.

“Climate change alarmism at its very core is a despicably anti-human ideology,” she has said.

February 24, 2020

They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.

Wielding little more than a pencil, a slide rule and one of the finest mathematical minds in the country, Mrs. Johnson, who died at 101 on Monday at a retirement home in Newport News, Va., calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s history-making moonwalk, let it return to Earth.

A single error, she well knew, could have dire consequences for craft and crew. Her impeccable calculations had already helped plot the successful flight of Alan B. Shepard Jr., who became the first American in space when his Mercury spacecraft went aloft in 1961.

The next year, she likewise helped make it possible for John Glenn, in the Mercury vessel Friendship 7, to become the first American to orbit the Earth.

Yet throughout Mrs. Johnson’s 33 years in NASA’s Flight Research Division — the office from which the American space program sprang — and for decades afterward, almost no one knew her name.

Antoine Lavoisier and his wife and collaborator Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze

“However, the democratic and individualist ideal of the eighteenth century is favorable to women; for most philosophers they are human beings equal to those of the dominant sex.”

“The times when women were the most sincerely cherished were not courtly feudal ones, nor the gallant nineteenth century; they were the times—the eighteenth century, for example—when men regarded women as their peers; this is when women looked truly romantic: only read Les liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), Le rouge et le noir (The Red and the Black), or A Farewell to Arms to realize this. Laclos’ heroines like Stendhal’s and Hemingway’s are without mystery: and they are no less engaging for it. To recognize a human being in a woman is not to impoverish man’s experience: that experience would lose none of its diversity, its richness, or its intensity if it was taken on in its intersubjectivity; to reject myths is not to destroy all dramatic relations between the sexes, it is not to deny the significations authentically revealed to man through feminine reality; it is not to eliminate poetry, love, adventure, happiness, and dreams: it is only to ask that behavior, feelings, and passion be grounded in truth?”

–Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949)

The image of Jean-Paul ’n’ Simone holding court in Paris every day at the Café de Flore or Les Deux Magots, talking or writing side by side from the 1930s to the 1960s, has become fixed in cultural history. They’ve also acquired a less appealing reputation as omnivorous sexual predators, the bisexual De Beauvoir sleeping with female students and male admirers, and procuring girls for the wall-eyed, physically unprepossessing Sartre.

Which influenced the other more? “The traditional view,” Bakewell says, “is that it was all Sartre, with De Beauvoir scampering along in his shadow. But a more recent counter-movement insists that it’s all about her, that Sartre stole all his ideas from her. The reality is almost certainly the interplay in the middle.

Seen side-by-side in photographs, they struck an almost comic pose: his girth dwarfing her petite frame. When they married, her parents called them ‘the elephant’ and ‘the dove’. He was the older, celebrated master of frescoes who helped revive an ancient Mayan mural tradition, and gave a vivid visual voice to indigenous Mexican labourers seeking social equality after centuries of colonial oppression. She was the younger, self-mythologising dreamer, who magically wove from piercing introspection and chronic physical pain paintings of a severe and mysterious beauty. Together, they were two of the most important artists of the 20th Century.

Laocoön and His Sons, 200 BCE, Pergamon

“If the philologist is indeed, as Anthony Grafton has suggested, ‘entangled with the forger like Laocoon and his serpents,’ then it is because he can vindicate the past as his object to the very degree to which he can demonstrate its ‘monstrosity’; he may speak of the tradition that precedes him only in exposing its corruption.”

–Daniel Heller-Roazen, “Tradition’s Destruction: On The Library of Alexandria” (2002)



An article from NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS, by Anthony Grafton,
senior professor of History at Princeton University:

Imagine what it’s like to be a normal student nowadays. You did well—even very well—in high school. But you arrive at university with little experience in research and writing and little sense of what your classes have to do with your life plans. You start your first year deep in debt, with more in prospect. You work at Target or a fast-food outlet to pay for your living expenses. You live in a vast, shabby dorm or a huge, flimsy off-campus apartment complex, where your single with bath provides both privacy and isolation. And you see professors from a great distance, in space as well as culture: from the back of a vast dark auditorium, full of your peers checking Facebook on their laptops.

It’s hard not to be miserable when watching what pursuit of football glory has done to Rutgers, which has many excellent departments and should be—given the wealth of New Jersey—an East Coast Berkeley or Michigan.

Perhaps it’s not a crisis. After all, as many observers have pointed out, this is the way we live now, and room remains for exceptions and for hope. Still, the dark hordes of forgotten students who leave the university as Napoleon’s army left Russia, uninspired by their courses, wounded in many cases by what they experience as their own failures, weighed down by their debts, need to be seen and heard.

Our Universities: Why Are They Failing?
Anthony Grafton

(Department of History, Princeton University)
November 24, 2011

Grading The Contemporary University:
“America, once the world leader in educating its population, is now tenth.”

At competitive private colleges and universities, admissions directors reserve places in each class for the children of alumni and potential donors; for athletes, many of whom will make less use of their academic opportunities than their classmates do; and simply for those who can pay. And at universities that boast of their commitment to undergraduate teaching, too many professors gabble through PowerPoint slides twice a week and entrust the face-to-face teaching of actual students to underpaid graduate students and Ph.D.s on short-term contracts, who do their best to impart basic skills in writing and quantitative analysis while earning only a few thousand dollars a course.

It’s not hard to see why colleges and universities resist simple evaluations. There are now almost five thousand universities and colleges—both two-year and four-year—in the US. Millions attend them, including around 40 percent of eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-old Americans and a great many older students. Postsecondary education stretches from the tree-shaded Olympuses of the Ivy-plus private group and the imposing quadrangles of the great public universities to urban community colleges that run twelve hours a day, surrounded only by vast parking lots that are never big enough to accommodate everyone. It’s private and public, mass and elite, ancient and ivy-covered, contemporary and cutting-edge. No generalization could do justice to this vast and varied scene.

(read more)

Surely the best way to address this shocking degree of ignorance through is more standardized testing!

Searches for the keyword “where is India” were highest in Indiana followed by New Jersey on February 24. And for the “what is India” keyword, New Jersey had the highest search followed by Indiana.

The searches peaked soon after the White House released a statement stating Trump’s India visit.

However, this isn’t surprising. Last month, searches for “where is Iran” surged when murmurs about World War III were doing the rounds on Twitter. The search peaked after US media reported that US-Iran are on the brink of a war — after Iran fired missiles at the multiple bases housing US troops.

Most of you probably don’t know protests of this kind actually happened. But do they matter? Should they even be allowed?

When Sohum Banerjea started his PhD in computer science at UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) in 2016, he paid $800 a month to sleep in a bare-bones living room. It was the best he could afford with the stipend offered to him by the university.

“There were five of us in a two bedroom apartment,” he said. “Each of us paid $800. I didn’t have a door or curtain.” That summer, he traded the living room for a rat-infested bedroom.

Banerjea is one of many UC Santa Cruz graduate student workers who withheld fall quarter grades from the university on Friday as part of an ongoing graduate student strike at the university over the cost of housing. Santa Cruz, which experienced a housing crisis spillover from Silicon Valley over the past decade, is the third most expensive county in California and the least affordable in the state when adjusted for wages. Graduate students at UC Santa Cruz report paying up to 60 and 70 percent of their incomes in rent.

Stonefield in SLC 2/20/20

Posted: February 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

You guys! I wish I could have taken you guys to this band. I took students to see them then perform a few years ago at an all-ages venue. Unfortunately, this time they played at a club that was 21+. I’m sorry, because it was so good.

Field Tripping! Feb 28!

Posted: February 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

OK, let’s freaking do this! Hear and meet some great minimalist bands, Seattle’s A Digital Clock, and local artists Hoofless and Durian Durian. Click map below for directions.


Posted: February 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

I’m glad you guys took my words today seriously and buckled down to do some solid work. Each group showed signs of making real progress, or at least a solid commitment to do so. I was very pleased with what I saw. I am glad we were able to get something accomplished and, despite my scare tactics, relax enough to have a few laughs together as well. You guys are really awesome and I want you to know how much I enjoy meeting with you. Have a great weekend, whatever you do, and remember that I will always be around to help you.

Peace out!

Welcome To Neo-Colonial America

Posted: February 19, 2020 in Uncategorized

Interesting to read Frantz Fanon in the day of US oligarchy: staggering inequality of wealth distribution, the privatization of public lands, resort tourism, base populism, nationalistic chauvinism, religious sectarianism, retrogressive ‘family’ values, test-centric education, the commodification of folk culture, the cult of traditional ‘local products’ (including coal and oil), crumbling infrastructure, rampant ecological irresponsibility, mounting farm bankruptcies, and mass incarceration. Welcome to neo-colonial America!

I remember studying this stuff back in high school. While it was presented as interesting, I don’t recall my teacher saying much about the specific political content of this work. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention back in the day. In any case, do you have thoughts on what any of our authors might think of this work?

I’m not going to encourage students to look at these artists, much less offer and sort of commentary here on the blog. Everyone already knows what is expected.
Whether they choose me meet expectations – in the pursuit of the All-Mighty ‘A’ is entirely up to them.

José Clemente Orozco
(1883 – 1949)
El Hombre Creador Y Rebelde

Diego Rivera
(1886 – 1957)
Secretariat of Public Education Murals

David Alfaro Siqueiros
(1896 – 1974)
Muerte al Invasor

If this event did not fall so late in the semester, I would have made you write an assessment of Dr. Indych-Lopez’s presentation for our first graded assignment. There’s certainly nothing preventing your from attending anyway.

11 am | FREE | G.W. Anderson Family Great Hall

Enjoy a special presentation by Anna Indych-López, an expert on the art of Diego Rivera and professor of twentieth-century Latin American art at City College of New York. During her talk, Indych- López will distill her knowledge on this famous Mexican artist and situate his 1930s work within trans-American exchanges.

By Anoushah Rasta • Published February 14, 2020

At PodShare, a sleeping pod comes with some shelves and a personal TV. It’s in an open space with other tenants. No guests are allowed. The building has two shared bathrooms, a fully-stocked kitchen, a workroom, a TV room, an outdoor community space and free Wi-Fi, Netflix and Hulu. All utilities are included. There are also lockers people can use to store their valuables.

“In a way it’s kind of like going back to college dorm living, except everyone’s older and more mature,” Philippe Dunbar said.

In 1949, the University of California initiated a policy against hiring Communists. At their September 19, 1969, meeting, the Board of Regents fired Davis from her $10,000-a-year post because of her membership in the Communist Party, urged on by California Governor Ronald Reagan.

As I said in class, this 1066 film by Gillo Pontecorvo made quite an impression on when I first saw it at your age. This trailer is for a pay-to-view service, but there are free editions of the film on YouTube.

Frantz Fanon argues, in “Reciprocal Bases of National Culture”, that for African (and all colonized) nations to become fully Enlightened, to achieve genuine Self-Consciousness and Autonomy on the world stage, they cannot simply pick up European instruments and styles of music (cellos and string quartets), but they must rather raise their own indigenous instruments and styles of music to a world-class level. While so-called “world music’ has risen to high levels of both excellence and popularity in other regions of the globe, particularly Europe, it is still largely unknown in America.

I first discovered the Malian kora about fifteen years ago, while listening to the BBC’s international music station. To my mind, Mali is one of the most musical places on Earth. I spent most of the weekend listening with a friend to various artists from that country. Do yourself a favor and don’t ever pass up an opportunity to see authentic African musicians perform. They come through town far more often than you might imagine.