Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Heartland of Nonbelievers

Some smart blog posts I read today - one about Ted Cruz's rhetoric of the "real America" and another about the future of queer theater - have got me thinking. I'm hungry for representations - in politicians' speech or in art - that assume certain ways of thinking and living. In other words, Cruz claims that Texas = America and D.C. does not; I want to hear a politician talk earnestly about "the heartland" and mean New York City. I want to watch a show where a death occurs and no one utters the word "God." Or where a gay couple - or any couple - are happily without children, and it's not a defining aspect of their identity. Or where living spaces are normal-sized and as unremarked upon as the giant apartment on Friends or the lush real estate on Modern Family.

I know that there are some politicians and some plays, movies, and TV shows that embrace or at least approach the perspectives I'm discussing. What I'm (naively? misguidedly?) hungry for in this moment are mainstream, mass audience, nationally-known examples, ones as available as the click of a remote control or mouse.

In his first inaugural address, President Obama said, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers." One of my friends was in the car with her husband at the time, listening to the address over the radio, and after she heard "nonbelievers," she turned to him and exclaimed, "He just said our name! We're famous!"
I do want more of those kinds of moments in our national discourse, where the facts of our pluralistic country are presented in fuller array. But here I'm talking about something stronger. Maybe I'm advocating a view as one-sided as the individuals and institutions that frustrate me. But if so, it's because lack has made me hungry for moments of one-sided abundance. I'm not saying that my politician or my TV show would bash Texas, God, children, or large houses. She/he/it would simply treat as normal, as self-evident, other views, other ways of living.

What would we call this?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When Blogs Die

Don't worry, faithful 3 or 5 readers! I'm not killing this thing yet. I'm thinking about the phenomenon of teachers incorporating blogging into coursework. It's not something I've done myself, but last quarter I took two classes where it was either required - as in this case - or optional - as in this. But now those blogs sit there, most likely unread and unused, and that makes me a little sad.

"Things change," my father might say, taking a nonchalant bite out of his peanut butter sandwich. Yes. And as a recent review of my own blog list demonstrates, people abandon or delete their blogs all the time. But given that, how useful are blogs as teaching tools? Would it make more sense for teachers to ask students to post to pre-existing, more heavily trafficked sites than to create new forums that seem to only have a shelf life, and a core audience, that lasts as long as the class itself?   

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"But Not Everything Has a Name"

So says my friend - and she is right! But in a French-themed coffee shop in Vancouver the other day, I did wonder about the difference between these two sentences:

"That is my dessert plan."
"That is the plan of the dessert."
(Just for the record, my plan involved chocolate, bread, and cappuccino).

And she agreed that it seems like there should be a name for this, for changing the first formulation into the second, for making the noun "dessert plan" into a prepositional phrase. A name other than, "Making it more awesome," that is. Imagine if Coleridge hadn't deployed this device? We'd have "The Ancient Mariner Rime" instead. And also: "The Ape Planet," which would inspire way less foreboding. I could go on, but I will spare you.   

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gay Cowboys are my Weakness

There are knock-offs meant to deceive (see this article about the problem on Amazon, for instance and then there is wordplay where the reader/viewer/etc is meant to be in on the jokey adaptation or hybrid, such as in my Annie Proulx-Pam Houston post title here, but the joke is also meant to generate genuine interest, $, etc. Is there a name for this?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Savoring the springboard

I didn't want to leave the 6th grade, and two years later, I didn't want to leave middle school. I couldn't imagine leaving high school because it meant that I was definitely leaving behind my best friend, who had died 6 months before. I had to go though - my town was too full of ghosts. Four years later, I was sad to leave college. Well, you get the picture - I like to stay.

I know I love a place when I turn off the lights in its empty rooms. I would do that in my dorm - pass by the lounge, its television screen dark, the old maroon couches listless, no one in sight - and I'd flip the switch before continuing on. Now, nights when I'm the last one on the third floor of the Humanities building, I'll turn out the lights in our (very little) lounge too. It feels less environmentally-conscious than simply, oddly protective.

Barring the unexpected (and aren't we always barring that?), I graduate again in 4 months. I need to concentrate on applying for jobs, and I know that in the right one I'd be happy to commit all over again to a new place and its old, quiet furniture. It's just the dive that's difficult.