Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Doubt

Well, I'm sitting in the airport in Charlotte right now, en route to Florence, SC, and then Hartsville, SC and Coker College for a job interview. Also, I'm mildly freaking out. I figure that if North Alabama really wanted me for the job that they would've contacted me today. Since I haven't heard from them, and since both Stanford and USC-Beaufort both told me they didn't pick me today, and since it's been more than four weeks since I heard from Central Arkansas, I'm just guessing that I'm never going to get a f***ing job.

This is maddening.

I really feel like UNA is the place too! It's where I want to be.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm going to start Tivo-ing Craig Ferguson

Watch this. He's an intelligent man and a class act. Conan could learn much from him. I used to love Conan, but I don't think his humor has progressed from what it was at the beginning of his show. When he takes over the Tonight Show, it will be terrible. And Letterman isn't funny. He's as funny as Gallagher.

I'm going to start Tivo-ing Craig Ferguson

Watch this. He's an intelligent man and a class act. Conan could learn much from him. I used to love Conan, but I don't think his humor has progressed from what it was at the beginning of his show. When he takes over the Tonight Show, it will be terrible. And Letterman isn't funny. He's as funny as Gallagher.

If you like the show Scrubs

Check out this site, though I must warn you to turn down the volume on your speakers if you're at work or others are asleep.

It features a man yelling in a banana hammock, so the sensitive Mormon set should be forewarned.

http://www.thetoddtime.com/

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ailing

I feel no better today than I did a week ago in Jackson, WY. My glands are swollen, my legs hurt, I am stuffy (my ears have yet to unclog from the plane landing), my throat is sore, my tonsils look like pus-sy (I checked the spelling on that one) strawberries, I have a low grade fever, and I'm coughing every 2-3 minutes, a big hacking cough. I also have a gastrointestinal disturbance.

I am so going to the doctor tomorrow.

I've only eaten ice cream, diet be damned, today since it's the only thing that feels good on my throat. After taking Dayquil and Nyquil for a week to try and cope, I want to fall asleep and stay asleep. I also want to have at least a few hours where my whole body doesn't just ache, so I just popped two Vicodin.

I did get a flu shot this year too.

To paraphrase Bob Marley:

One good thing about Vicodin,
When it hits you, you feel no pain.

Oscar for Cinematography

Gillermo Navarro just won for Pan's Labyrinth, which I have not seen. It must be amazing, because Children of Men is one of the single finest-ly shot movies I have ever seen. Right up there with Lawrence of Arabia, Empire of the Sun, L.A. Confidential, and my holy grail, Road to Perdition.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hello from Florence, Alabama

I just got into Florence. My first instinct is "THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD BE." It is gorgeous, exactly the kind of place I want to raise my family, and close to my relatives.

On the way here from Tuscaloosa I noticed that every little town has three things: a post office, a convenience store, and a BBQ joint. The best name I saw, which I didn't have time to take a photo of was The Boar's Butt.

Wyoming was horrible, without a doubt the worst trip I've ever been on (Sloop John B included). In case you wonder why.....

1. We missed Mardi Gras (this alone would do it....but no...)
2. Altitude sickness (out of breath ALL the time, 6200 ft)
3. Coming down with a cold, stayed in bed sick for two days, I'm still sick by the way, current fever = 101.6F (always good to go into an all day job interview with a really bad cold)
4. Falling hard in the snow in the parking lot of the airport (who knew that snow could cut?)
5. Flight delayed 4 hours, caught last flight from Atlanta by five minutes
6. My ears didn't unplug after landing in New Orleans. I had pressure that felt like someone was running a pipe cleaner through every inch of my sinuses and now the pressure in my ears won't go away. It feels like I'm underwater.
And the kicker.......
7. Taking Jack to the emergency room with a 104.5F fever (earache)

I will never ever go back to Jackson Hole unless I am called on a mission there. There's a reason no one lives in Wyoming.

I am so freaking stressed right now.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Teach Your Children Well

My great grandfather, Francis Asbury Williams, purchased a couple of thousand acres of land in the tiny town of Moreland, Georgia in the 1950’s so he could have a family farm. Moreland is about 40 miles SW of Atlanta, and at the time, was so remote as to have been in another state.

The farm served many purposes. My great grandfather was a Vice President of Kroger Grocery Stores and made enough money to land him in the then highest tax bracket (75%). The tax write-off from the land, the fun of attempting small scale farming, and the ability to hire one of his daughter’s sons to work the farm (and thus ensure his daughter’s well being) were all motivating factors. When Granddaddy Williams passed away in 1978, and Grandmother in 1979, the farm was divided amongst his four children. Margie got most of the land on the east, Polly on the west; Harriet got the land around her home, and my grandpa, Papa, John McLarty Williams Sr, got two big pastures and a gigantic wooded swamp.

Papa has given land on the farm to most of my cousins. The stipulation is that Papa will only sell you the land (for a $1 an acre) if you will build on it and live there. My grandparents have 3 children, 11 grandchildren (one died at birth), and 30 great grandchildren: Callie, Drew, Hannah, Hunter, Chandler, Stella, Megan, Amanda, Stephanie, Lauren, Seth, Cody, Troy, Hailey, Kent, Tiffany, Zachary, Lillian, Slater, David, Jonathan, Anna, Abigail, Spencer, Samantha, Courtney, Logan, Luke, Marley, and Jack!

Papa recently sold the big ole swamp to some fool for a song. Papa decided to use the money to fly everyone in the family (including a bunch of other extended family I didn’t mention) to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jackson Hole is a resort town filled with all kinds of winter activities including elk feeding, snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, etc.

My family settled here because Brigham Young asked them to do so. They were all faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One of them was a scout for Brigham Young on the initial party that came into the Salt Lake Valley. His name adorns the “This is the Place” monument. The names Henrie and Blair are on plaques adorning old historical monuments around this town. My grandmother, Nanny, lived here until she was 11 years old. Her family moved to California once they realized what a frozen wasteland this god-forsaken place is. When my grandmother moved to Ventura, CA she quit practicing the faith of her forefathers, those same ancestors that had sacrificed EVERYTHING for their faith.

Nanny drove a semi-truck during WWII. Papa was a torpedo bomber pilot. One day he decided to hitchhike. Nanny picked him up in her semi. They were married six weeks later. She was a single mom with a toddler and had never been married. My great grandfather frowned on Papa marrying Nanny. Papa put himself through Emory and Emory Law School by butchering meat at night. He became a very successful lawyer. At some point in the 1960s, the LDS Church caught up with Nanny and taught her two youngest children the Gospel. My Dad and my Aunt Connie were baptized. My aunt stuck with it and produced “my weird Mormon cousins.” My Dad didn’t stick with it. He put LDS on his dog tags in Vietnam, mostly to go sleep in church on Sundays during boot camp. All my life I remember the Mormons getting the courage to come over and visit my dad once a year. He’d send us kids upstairs and proceed to tell the “Mormons” that he didn’t need them coming by. One day in 1990, an elderly couple, Grant and Beverly Packer, showed up on the porch looking for my Dad. Elder Packer had Parkinson’s and was shaking like Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond. We let them in. My dad got back into church. I was baptized a short time later. Susanna followed a year later. My Mom was baptized while I was in Costa Rica, so was my cousin Carrie’s husband Mark and my grandfather….Papa.

Papa wanted to bring the entire family together and give us something fun to do. My cousins (myself included) have all drifted apart as time, marriage, and family have placed new constraints on us. The only exception to this is trend is the five families that live on “the farm” together. My cousins Blair, Marty, Jenny, Carrie, and my Aunt Connie have all built homes within sight of each other.

All of my family are Mormons, save my Aunt Sherry and her kids and grandkids. All of us. Susanna no longer practices. Jared doesn’t either, but he always says that he’ll “come back” someday. Everyone on the farm is Mormon, active Mormon.

I lived in Provo, Utah for five years while I got my bachelors and masters degrees. I hate the cold. I despise it. I loathe it. If I cannot wear shorts, I am not physically comfortable, or happy. I have been this way my entire life. The cold depresses me. Going out in the snow, etc. is not something that I relish or even enjoy. I have been there, done that. If I didn’t go skiing and such during my five years in Utah, reason would stand that I wouldn’t like it. I went snowmobiling once. That was enough for me.

Mardi Gras begins in New Orleans on January 6th every year. It begins twelve days after Christmas on the Feast of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night. Mardi Gras Day is exactly 40 days before Easter. In New Orleans, there are parades for the two weeks before Mardi Gras day. It is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I love the parades for their humor, sarcasm, wit, satire, throws, and being with good friends. My children love it. This is our last year of being able to go to every parade because I will graduate this year and will be taking a job somewhere else. Every Mardi Gras is different. Going one year and then going the next isn’t the same experience. I love Mardi Gras as much as I love Christmas. If I weren’t freezing my ass off right now I would be camping out on the neutral ground on St. Charles Avenue in preparation for the parades tomorrow. Tonight features two excellent parades, but tomorrow is the special day that everyone waits for. It is magical. The entire street is filled with people just trying to have a good time and enjoying themselves. It is indeed the Big Easy on that special day.

This trip was originally planned for two weeks ago. That would’ve worked much better in my schedule, not merely because of Mardi Gras, but also because I am right smack dab in the middle of on campus job interviews. When my flight lands back in NOLA on Wednesday night, I will be picking up a rental car and driving to Florence, Alabama the next morning for an interview at the University of North Alabama. Then next week I will be flying to South Carolina so I can visit Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina. I have had a hell of a time arranging my visits because I had this big huge elephant of a Wyoming trip in the middle of my month. Not to mention that I cannot really work on my dissertation during these days because I couldn’t possibly have brought all of my materials here with me. With Mardi Gras, I could go work in the mornings and still have fun at night. Here, I am unable to work, because I am expected to be “doing stuff” with the family at all times.

And that’s just the thing. Aside from with my parents and sister, and the family reunion last night, I haven’t done anything with my family, and here’s why. They scheduled some of the big family events on the Sabbath Day, Sunday. Most of us are Mormon. We all know that spending money on the Sabbath is breaking it. We had some serious pressure on us to go and do things on Sunday. In this, the town where our Mormon ancestors struggled to eke out an existence, my little family was the only one out of all 70 of us that made it to church yesterday. Because my family is unwilling to break the Sabbath (interestingly, the sermon yesterday was on remembering the Sabbath and keeping it holy) we have been excluded from the majority of activities.

I remember being on the famous “trip” with my cousins in 1983. My grandparents bought an RV and took most of us around the country that summer. I remember that my cousins wouldn’t swim on Sunday. I remember saying “look, I’m swimming, and nothing is happening to me.” Years later when I joined the church, their example of keeping the Sabbath holy stayed with me. It was a standard that I used to judge something I was considering doing against. Last night some of my cousins left their older children at the motel and went to the Cowboy Bar on the Sabbath. I hope that my family’s example registers with my cousins’ children.

If the purpose in bringing us all here was to bring us closer together as a family, then I think that it hasn’t worked for me. Maybe it has for other people, but I don’t feel any closer. Last night at the family reunion with all our Wyoming relatives, I witnessed both sides of the family launch racial insults against a poor Domino’s pizza guy that was late in delivering our 30 pizzas (which were bought on the Sabbath), merely because his name was Julio. It disgusted me. Hardly any of my Wyoming relatives are active members of the church anymore. My Georgia relatives have been making poor decisions this trip.

Teach, your children well. How might our ancestors feel about the faith and practices of their progeny? We all become forefathers by and by.

http://www.google.com/maps?q=2405+Gordon+Rd,+Moreland,+GA+30259&ie=UTF8&z=15&ll=33.290719,-84.714975&spn=0.015605,0.043001&t=k&om=1

Everything wooded to the south and west of the arrow is "the swamp."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Muses was amazing last night. Awesome throws and even better humor. The $100 "Bills of Indictment" with William Jefferson's photo on them were awesome.


My favorite krewe is KREWE D'ETAT! Here's tonight's lineup:







NEW ORLEANS NEEDS A KREWE D'ETAT!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Some New Orleans Tornado Dark Humor

So our tornado excitement earlier in the week brought about a tragedy, the Lebanon Cafe suffered bad damage and is closed indefinitely. That means our only other real option for great Mediterranean food is Babylon Cafe. This made me laugh a little, as I love reggae music.


It would've been much more prophetic for Babylon to have fallen than Lebanon.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mardi Gras Madness, New Orleans, Throw Me Somethin' Mister, The Crowds All Scream

I LOVE MARDI GRAS!


I DON'T WANT TO GO TO WYOMING.





I WANT TO STAY HERE.




























Note the drool coming out of Jack's mouth.

A New Way of Looking at Racism

No racist would ever consider themselves a racist. No bigot says to himself, "I'm a bigot. I know it's wrong, but I don't care, I hates me some _______ people." These conversations of introspection happen in the minds of people that are becoming aware of their prejudices (which are very real) and attempting to modulate their behavior or reaction to those things they marginalize out of habit rather than out of conscious response.

I worry that I might have some racist tendencies. All too often when something bad happens in the news my mind begins visualizing who might have done something, and the criminal inevitably is a minority. Juan Carlos Avena and I had a discussion about this in 1999 when someone broke into my car in Provo, UT and stole my sub-woofers and over 100 CDs. I told Juan Carlos that I kept seeing two Hispanic males as the thieves, even though I had no reason to think that the crooks were Hispanic.

When I was first married, I admit that I did expect my wife to do certain things for me because she was the woman. I've since tried to eliminate these feelings from my behavior (I'm sure she could provide a list of ones I still do/have). I constantly try and remember that issues of "race" and crime are not linked. The color of one's skin has little to do with the content of one's character. It is the cultural upbringing of the individual that can influence behavior. As many times race is different across a shared ethnicity, it is easy to fall into the trap of blaming a race instead of a culture. However, let me say that when I say "blame a culture" that too is a trap. There are good citizens and bad citizens in every culture. The heteronomous laws of the majority culture might prompt rebellion or angst. You cannot "blame a culture" for the bad behavior of its members unless that culture is wholly bad, like say the culture of NAMBLA members. But, when thinking of sociological groups of people with shared cultures, people often will blame the culture, and hence, the race of that culture.

Latin America is interesting because a person of white, black, brown, yellow, red, etc. extraction can all be called Hispanic. Their ethnicity is Hispanic. Their race is what it is, but their ethnic group is culturally Hispanic. This goes agains the cultural stereotypes in the US.

I was reading a book called Tarrying with the Negative by the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and he wrote something that has had me thinking for days. Here goes:

What we must be particularly attentive to is the difference between this "postmodern" racism which rages around Europe and the traditional form of racism. The old racism was direct and raw--"they" (Jews, blacks, Arabs, Eastern Europeans...) are lazy, violent, plotting, eroding our national substance, etc., whereas the new racism is "reflected," as it were squared racism, which is why it can well assume the form of its opposite, of the fight against racism. Etienne Balibar hit the mark by baptizing it "metaracism." How does a "postmodern" racist react to Neo-Nazi demonstrations and riots? He of course beings by expressing his horror and repulsion at the neo-Nazi violence, yet he is quick to add that these events, deplorable as they are, must be seen in their context: they are actually a perverted, distorted expression and effect of a true problem, namely that in contemporary Babylon the experience of belonging to a well-defined ethnic community which gives meaning to the individual's life is losing ground; in short, the true culprits are cosmopolitic universalists who, in the name of "multiculturalism," mix races and thereby set in motion natural self-defense mechanisms. Apartheid is thus legitimized as the ultimate form of antiracism, as an endeavor to prevent racial tensions and conflicts. What we have here is a palpable example of what Lacan has in mind when he insists that there is no "metalanguage": the distance of metaracism toward racism is void; metaracism is racism pure and simple, all the more dangerous for posing as its opposite and advocating racist measures as the very form of fighting racism. (226)

....

I know that I have heard myself saying or at least thinking these very thoughts in the past. I will attempt to make them my past, and not indulge in any kind of bigotry.

I would love to hear yall's thoughts and comments.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Newly Developed Theory of: The Divine Reader

All,


I've been working on this for about 4 months. Let me know if you see any obvious holes, tautologies, non-sequiturs, or logical fallacies. Gently, please.



II.
While as the first section of the Review of Literature dealt with the secondary criticism of the Borges text, this second section will cover the literature on the relationship between author/reader producer/receiver of a text. I wish to delve deeper into the reality of mankind as a creation of god, and as a creation of the god-like author, as well as the seldom-explored relationship between the reader’s godlike creation of the setting of a text in his/her mind and the identity and existence of the characters in a text.


I will not deign to indulge in the fallacy of authorial intention that T.S. Eliot criticized when he said, “the poet has not a ‘personality’ to express, but a particular medium, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways” (42).[1]


Neither will this investigation get bogged down in what W.K. Wimsatt termed the Affective Fallacy because I will not concern myself with a view of literature based on its putative emotional effects on the reader, rather my interest lies in the imaginative producer role taken on by the receiver of a text (38-9).


Hans Robert Jauss, in the late 1960s, concerning what he termed the “aesthetics of reception,” said this:

Literature and art only obtain a history that has the character of a process when the succession of works is mediated not only through the producing subject, but also through the consuming subject—through the interaction of author and public. (15)


Meaning that he felt that neither process was independent from one another, that the “historical essence of the work of art lies not only in its representational or expressive function but also in its influence” on the (reading) public (15).


In order to properly dileneate the argument on which I base my reading, I must first reckon with Roland Barthes’s landmark essay, “The Death of the Author.” In his text, Barthes attacks the Classic focus of the “writer as the only person in literature,” claiming that “To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” (147). Barthes saw the language of a text as a fabric of quotations drawn from “innumerable cultures of centre” rather than from one individual (the Author’s) experience (146) and that a text’s unity lies in its destination rather than its origin (148). The essential meaning of a text then, according to Barthes, would depend on the impressions of the reader rather than the intentions, biography, or psychology of its author. Michel Foucault seems to agree with Barthes when he writes that the role of the author will eventually disappear and the “one who spoke” will no longer seem as important as the answers to these questions:


What are the modes of existence of this discourse? Where has it been used, how can it circulate, and who can appropriate it for himself?... And behind all these questions, we would hardly hear anything but the stirring of an indifference: What difference does it make who is speaking? (138)


After reading the essays by Barthes and Foucault it follows that an individual could easily be convinced of the separation of the historical author from the historical text. They would argue that this is because our perceptions of the author might unduly influence our reading of it as a “so-and-so” text instead of the meaning inherent in the work itself.


Linda Hutcheon, in A Poetics of Postmodernism, feels that the author may “very well be dead” but that “it is possible to argue that this position of discursive authority [the author] still lives on, because it is encoded into the enunciative act itself” (77). She cites Foe by Coetzee as an example when a narrator finds herself at the mercy of both Daniel Defoe and Coetzee himself. The novel’s dynamics makes Hutcheon worry that just like the narrator, “so too the receiver of any text could be seen to be at the mercy of an agent provocateur/manipulateur, the producer. This is the postmodern ironic and problematizing play of enunciation and context” (78).


In an effort to recuperate the author, Jorge García postulates that if a monkey were to type “FIRE!” on a typewriter there are several incompatible meanings that could be attached to the text (shoot!, careful, bring water quickly). He claims that “Context is essential for meaning and a typescript that lacks context must essentially lack meaning” because:


“…for entities to acquire meaning and become signs, and for signs to compose texts, they must be picked and endowed with meaning in certain arrangements at some point in history. Otherwise they are no more than the entities they are. Texts outside history are not texts. (179)


He adds that texts “need historical authors” because a text without an author is a text without history “and texts without history are texts without meaning” (179-80). He concludes ultimately that the imposition of the Author’s Proper Name on a text and the limitations that that knowledge causes are “not necessarily bad and, consequently, neither are the limitations that the consideration of its author may impose” because they may add to our understanding of the text (184).


Alexander Nehemas sees the author and writer as two distinct entities and says that the writer owns the work as one might own property, meaning that the work can be taken from him—as when someone rewrites or translates a work. The author however “owns a work as one might own one’s actions. Their works are authentically their own” an idea that Gilles Deleuze credits to Nietzsche and his theory of the artist being the only true creator of anything new, rather than the forger (Deleuze 134-38, Nehemas 113). Owning one’s actions and one’s thoughts leads me into my final conclusion concerning the corollary between god/creation and author/character: The Divine Reader.


The Divine Reader


I do not wish to interpret Borges’s stories considering him as the author, rather, I need to free the reader from the vice grip of both the text and the author. The reader of any text responds to the chains of signifiers in a subjective way based on their understanding of the words, their impression from the reading, their mood, intelligence, life experiences, previous books read, knowledge of the historicity and historiographic metafiction contained in the text, and any other myriad combination of semiotics and signifiers “through which [one] forms the ‘gestalt’ of the text” (The Implied Reader 283).


Classic thought maintained that the author exercised a patriarchal hand over his or her readers and essentially controlled their response by his or her construction of the text. Well-written comedy could elicit laughter from an audience; tragedy can bring them to tears. Melodrama can cause any number of very real emotional responses in a reader, and erotic literature can cause a very real and palpable physical response in the reader.[2] It comes as no surprise that the Classic view of the author was essentially one of awe and reverence. Additionally, the author was seen to exercise a god-like control over the characters in a work. The personages were considered pawns at the whim and caprice of their invisible creator, similar to Borges’s chess player and pieces in “Ajedrez.”


As previously mentioned, Barthes revealed the flaws in these ways of thinking. No author, no matter how clever or adroit with words can completely control the reader’s mental text, the mental response to a text. In the case of erotic literature, the authorial intent might be to cause a stimulus response to the text. This very well may be (and usually is) accomplished, but the author cannot control the mental images, the express content of each reader’s mind, something we can term “the mental text” which Wolfgang Iser might call “passive synthesis” (The Act of Reading 135).[3]


One reader’s mental text upon reading Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, with its famous scene of the soldier and the widow having sweaty sex on a train in Italy, will differ greatly from that of another reader (11). Each individual can rightly claim to have read, visualized, and understood the text, to have felt the same erotic stimuli, and even to have later indulged in the memory of those stimuli while engaged in erotic behavior, but the mental text that they construct while reading the text and while revisiting their reading of the text, is their own. Each reader’s vision of Jaromir Hladík, of Pierre Menard, of the magician in “Las ruinas” is their own construct, regardless of the original source input. One reader might picture the magician as a mustachioed brown-skinned man with a golden earring dressed in sackcloth, and another reader will certainly envision him in a different way. Is this the same magician? Is it the same Hladík in Reader A’s mind as it is in Reader B’s? Both have received the same text and produced their own version of it in their imagination, but their creations will differ, even if only slightly.[4] There are now two Hladíks, each dependent on the mental text of their receiver. This mental text adds the reader into the creator/created mixture by their ability to claim pseudo-authorship of the work they see in their mind.


For example, Gabriel García Márquez wrote the screenplay to “Un señor muy viejo con unas alas enormes” which was made into a movie with Fernando Birri as director in 1988. Having read García Márquez’s short story of the same name previous to my viewing of the film, I have to say that the version that I had constructed in my mind had nothing to do with the version I saw displayed on the screen. My mental text was entirely divergent from the onscreen version. Though the plot and characters were the same, I found this filmic version an intrusion into the world I had comfortably constructed around the story. The result was unsatisfying and left me feeling that I “preferred the book” to the visual work.


I, as a reader, and every other reader, have formed their own version of the angel fallen to earth. The mental text in my head as I think back on the story is far different from the one I had constructed while reading it. Time has erased certain portions of my mental text, but it is still there. What gives the reader god-like control over Hladík, the angel, or Pierre Menard (and his Quijote) is that each time I think about my mental text, without having to open the actual text, I resurrect those characters, those creations. My thoughts bring them back to life; my will to see them has control over them. They cannot progress any more than I allow them to do. Not only does this happen in my mind, but somewhere in the world today, and every day, a reader has read or remembered the original text, and has conjured a mental text of Hladík’s tale in their mind. This creates an alternate dimension, a multiplicity of Hladíks in existence. The reader, like the author, like a god, like “el dios detrás de dios” that started the whole process, exercises omnipotence over that realm of the universe that they control in their minds. Like the Gnostic cosmogonies with their ever-diminishing levels of divinity until the lower gods are only remotely invested with omnipotence, the reader forms part of this circle of power.As most mental texts are never put down on paper or spoken to others, as most of them are relegated to the nothingness of mental forgetting, these reader gods destroy far more than the actual text. Hladík is resurrected and dies again each time he is read, thought of, or even half-considered.

The reader has far more creative control over his or her creations than any author might ever hope to obtain. In essence, they have spawned new dimensions, a new wing of the universe in which they can play god. Readers may even create new texts, or add to and subtract from texts that they wish to change.[5] The reader is beyond god-like: el público lector son pequeños dioses. This is why the version of the Quijote that Menard writes is infinitely richer than Cervantes’. History and its new symbols have added to the text, and Menard’s version, is his mental text written down. To be sure it differs not an iota from the original in the words themselves, but the reading, the receiver’s interpretation of it, the re-imagining of the text, the new mental texts brought into existence by the receivers’ thought processes, adds to the text and each receiver thereby controls Menard so much that the version of the Quijote that they now imagine is their own which they have forced Menard to pen for them. Borges may include the story in his collection, but the reader can rightly do so as well. The reader is the ultimate historical author, because his or her actions and thoughts are unique and binding and independent of everything and everyone.[6]






[1] Eliot thought of the poet as the channel and catalyst by which the different elements of poetry were combined.
2 Robert Holub would argue that “the literary work is neither completely text nor completely the subjectivity of the reader, but a combination or merger of the two”. In this case, the various physical or emotional responses in the reader to the text can be theorized into feeling that the reader would most likely not have experienced those same things had they not first received the text. (Holub 84)
3 Holub says that the Iser’s passive synthesis is a form of “Ideation” which:
Is an essential part of the creative imagination that ultimately produces an aesthetic object. It does not always accomplish this in a straightforward manner, of course. On the contrary, in most non-trivial works, images are produced and recede again, being modified and reconstituted on a complex temporal process. Meaning, as an end result of this process, thus consists of a synthesis of various phases, and since the images can never be precisely duplicated, it is never exactly the same (91).
My Divine Reader theory does not contradict what Holub proposes; rather, I am expanding on his general idea and extending this process onto the original pseudo-authorial mental textual production of the reader/receiver.
4 It is also entirely possible that two readers or even two historical authors might conceive of the same or very similar story at the same time or at different times. There are always lawsuits after a hit movie because someone will claim that so-and-so lifted or plagiarized material from their screenplay, when oftentimes, the one had never been aware of the other. John Lennon insisted this was the case with his use of the line “Here come old flattop” in the song “Come Together” in spite of Chuck Berry’s insistence and lawsuit that the line was from his song “You Can’t Catch Me” (Turner 173).
5 The preschool cable channel Noggin has an interstitial segment called “Story Time” where they read a child a classic fairy tale. When they finish the fairy tale, they ask the child, “And then what happened?” They then illustrate and animate a basic cartoon version of the fantastic tale that the child contrives. Goldilocks comes back and apologizes and cooks pancakes for the Three Bears in one version. This new mental text made manifest was one child’s response to the prompting of what happened after the historical text ended. This mental text might have existed before the question was asked. Asking the same question to another child would surely prompt an entirely different answer. This is another example of the god-like control of the reader over the free will of any character (nay any aspect) of a text. The reader/receiver can reproduce and create with the characters in any way they like.
6 An excellent example of this phenomenon is Miguel de Unamuno’s novel Niebla. That novel starts out with the prologue written by one Victor Goti, the best friend of the main character, Augusto Pérez. “Goti” writes:
Se empeña don Miguel de Unamuno en que ponga yo un prólogo a este su libro en que se relata la tan lamentable historia de mi buen amigo Augusto Pérez y su misteriosa muerte, y yo no puedo menos sino escribirlo, porque los deseos de señor Unamuno son para mí mandatos, en la más genuina acepción de este vocablo. Sin haber yo llegado al extremo de escepticismo hamletiano de mi pobre amigo Pérez, que llegó hasta a dudar de su propia existencia, estoy por lo menos firmemente persuadido de que carezco de eso que los psicólogos llaman libre albedrío, aunque para mi consuelo creo también que tampoco goza don Miguel de él. (43)
Goti claims to exist in the same universe as both Pérez and Unamuno. Mario Valdés describes this exact situation when he writes, “This common level of existence for all three lies only in the domain of the reading experience of the varied and sundry readers of the novel” (108). Goti ends by saying that Unamuno’s “versión” of Pérez’s death is one “que estimo errónea” and he therefore impinges on Unamuno’s ability to convince his reader of how Pérez truly died, prompting the reader to doubt Unamuno’s (who will later claim otherwise) telling of the events (51). Goti’s opening statement conveys the message that neither he (Goti) nor Unamuno has free will, that they cannot act independently of the reader, indeed “They are at the mercy of the whim and fancy of their readers, whom they can only hope to marginally influence” (Valdés 108).

How to not ever get a date!

I used to know some guys that did this when I worked at Sybernet. They had dates. The girls were just like them, totally into RPGs and being creative.

http://www.howstuffworks.com/larp.htm


Why YouTube can be awesome.



These guys need help (I'm secretly envious I didn't think of this first):
http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page

Friday, February 09, 2007

North Alabama Wants Me!

So, I had an interview this morning on the phone with North Alabama, and now they've called an invited me for an on-campus interview. They wanted me to come on Feb 15th, but I'm sorry, I can't miss Muses or Krewe d'Etat, especially since it's my last year here and because I have to go to Wyoming with my family. I know that'll sound odd to those of you who haven't been to Mardi Gras, but I just told them "I have previous commitments these days" and that I am available after I get back from Wyoming or on the 14th. They want me to come after Wyoming, and they will let me know on Monday exactly when.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama called today and I have a phone interview with them tomorrow.

WOOHOO!

I wish I could give an F-

So, I've got this frat boy in my Spanish 102 class this semester, and he hadn't been to class since January 23rd. I assumed that he had dropped the class. Yesterday, I give a test, and he shows up. I couldn't even remember his name. He has eight absences. He got exactly 50% on the exam.

I wish I could give him an F-

No excuses offered either. I'm worried about him. I was stupid once too.

No wisecracks Paul or JC!

Gordito's New Cheesy Smile

Pride and Blogging

So, after being told that I was letting pride cloud my judgment concerning my blog and my job search, I have taken some so(m)ber advice from a dear friend and elected to make my blog private for the time being.

Let me say that these are the reasons why I am making it private: My principled stand includes more than just me, my children and my family are those who might suffer most by my inability to obtain a job. I hope my friend won't mind that I post parts of his motivating email here (which kind of pissed me off until I realized the wisdom in what he was saying).

... (edited a bit)

Hey Mac,

I wholeheartedly agree with your principles vis-a-vis intellectual freedom and sharing "who you are" with others, and I even admire your courage in sticking to them--to a point. In this case, however, I think you are misguided and I am concerned that your pride may be getting in the way of your reason. Given the recent development you discuss on your blog, I strongly encourage you to take down your blog for the duration of your job search or at least protect it with a password or something. You are leaving far too much up to chance as long as you leave it up.

Someone will not get a sense of "who you are" unless they already know you OR they read a whole bunch of your blog entries (each individual blog is not the gateway into your soul). You can be moody and sometimes you even regret or retract what you say (like the details of your sex life). If someone happened to read your blog in a haphazard or mean-spirited way (or just glanced at the topics without reading further), you could easily be set up for a character assassination and all sorts of senseless prejudice: Morman fanatic, sex-obsessed, obese, southern traditionalist (=racist). This character assassination doesn't even have to come from all of the committee members; just one might be enough to do you in (if the other members didn't feel strongly about you). Moreover, you are not giving proper respect to the other side of the job hunt that your future colleagues are going through. They are looking at, I am sure, dozens if not a hundred reasonable candidates for these positions. They will use ANYTHING they can find to help them narrow down the pool of potentially stellar applicants. It's just not a good idea to plant questions in their heads at this point. You may be consoling yourself with the thought that "I wouldn't want to work with anyone who doesn't appreciate the REAL me" and that is true; but you are dealing with a process that devotes about a couple of hours to getting to know each candidate (if that). It is a much better approach I think to be in full control of the honest message that you want to communicate to your future colleagues and if you want to broadcast your leanings in your cover letter or if you want to ask them if they have a problem with you or anything else, then do it--but take control of it! I suspect that if they did have any biases (and they were sensible, decent people), they would quickly get over them once they got to know you. But you leave far too much up to chance by not trying to control your message more than you do.
...

That's good advice.

He's right. I was wrong. Let's hope the google cache clears out quickly, that I get a job offer tomorrow, and I can go back to saying whatever the hell I want to.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Blogging Intrigue(d)

Those of you who know me personally know that what you read on my blog is essentially how I am in real life. What you see is what you get. Which leads me into today's post.

Last week I was contacted by a small religiously oriented school and offered an on-campus job interview. We attempted to arrange a time when I could come visit. I was offered two scenarios: either the beginning of next week, or the last week in February. I was excited to have another opportunity besides the interviews I've already had. I was told that I would be contacted by the end of last week to clarify the exact dates. It came and went, and then Monday, and yesterday morning, I received an email from this school telling me that due to logistical and budgetary constraints, etc. that they were forced to rescind their offer to me as they felt that had to bring the highest ranked candidates to their campus first.

I understand that budgets fall through sometimes...no problem. But, then I clicked on the IP map of the recent visitors to my blog, and about five minutes before this email was sent, someone from that school clicked on my blog for "zero seconds."

Now, I'm wondering if they somehow clicked on my blog, read something, and decided not to hire me. Many of my friends in academia, and articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education have been warning me about my blog, about how it might be perceived by potential employers. I truly feel that my blog is how I am. I think my blog is a window into who I am as a person and as a scholar; nothing on it should be offensive to the average person. I am prompted to wonder about the job environment in a place where people aren't comfortable with me as a person. If, indeed, that is the case. My stat tracker is usually very accurate, so if it was only for zero seconds, maybe I'm wrong.

Either way, I'm determined to make a principled stand. Academic freedom, intellectual freedom, personal freedom all motivate me to not curtail or hide my blog. It is what it is. It is what I am. My blog will continue until I no longer find it worthwhile.

My wife supports this decision.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

LDS Church on St. Charles Avenue Vandalized/Burglarized

Last Thursday night, someone left open the seldom-used front door of the LDS Church on St. Charles Ave in New Orleans. Sadly, this mistake allowed an unknown individual or individuals to enter the building. They used the fire extinguisher to break into the clerks office and the branch president's office (by smashing holes in the wall, and reaching around to unlock the doors). They somehow pried open the filing cabinet. When they realized that there was no cash on the premises, they proceeded to use the fire extinguisher on the clerk's office and the hallways--coating the entire building in the fine yellow powder of the extinguisher. Evidently, they opened all the other cabinets (kitchen, chapel, etc). Surprisingly, they didn't attempt to break into the library where the televisions and such are stored.

The police told us that this is the fifth church burglary on Saint Charles since the New Year.

We held church at the Stake Center in Metairie on Sunday, but we will be back on St. Charles this coming Sunday. Just in time for the Mardi Gras parades.

As I type this, an attack of the hives is coming on. I don't know what to do about this.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New Orleans Gallows Humor

I received this joke in an email today from a good friend. I believe it shows the darker side of people's opinions of the current local leadership. Remember, it is only a joke.
...

Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Riley visited a class in a local elementary school yesterday and the teacher suggested that they participate in the day's vocabulary lesson.

"Today's word is tragedy," said the mayor. "Can anyone give an example of a tragedy?" asked the police chief. One child raised her hand. "If a drug dealer was trying to shoot another drug dealer and hit my sister instead," the child offered.

"No," said the police chief, "that would be an accident. Anyone else?"

"How about if everyone quit visiting the city, my daddy lost his job and couldn't provide for me?" another child ventured.

"No," said the mayor, "that would be a great loss.
OK--One more answer from Johnny in the back.

"Well," said Johnny, "if the mayor and police chief were shoved off the viewing platform during a Mardi Gras parade and killed when a float ran them over, THAT would be a tragedy!"

"Now that's correct," agreed the mayor and Police chief. "And can you tell us why?" "Of course," confirmed Johnny, "because it sure as hell wouldn't be a great loss, and I doubt very seriously if it would be an accident."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Hives

No, not the band. I've had the hives on and off for two days. They keep popping up at random places at random times. Some have lasted mere minutes, some the entire time. The inside of my lips have swollen. My uvula swelled slightly this morning. Last night I had them everywhere in wheals all under my armpits. They itch like a hair shirt, and I don't know what's causing them. Possible theories include:

1. Mickelle gave me some Tommy Bahama soap for Christmas, maybe it's causing it.
2. I've been on South Beach for two weeks and most of the known hive causing allergens are the only things I've been eating for two weeks. I've never had a problem before. I'm not allergic to any food. I do get gastro-intestinal problems from large amounts of sesame seeds, but I can eat sushi with them on it and have no problems.
3. Stress. Dissertation deadline and all the stresses of life and dieting and school and parenting and the church getting vandalized might be causing them.
4. Some other unknown thing.

Benadryl provides mild relief but makes me sleepier than an old man in church.

Viacom is repeating past mistakes

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070202/tc_nm/viacom_youtube_dc;_ylt=AnA4NG5ck3fmLCQYOFyJPqIh2.cA;_ylu=X3oDMTA3cjE0b2MwBHNlYwM3Mzg-
Have they learned nothing from the music industry? Attacking YouTube and ordering it to remove these clips will only hurt their business in the long run. I now watch the Colbert Report on occasion because of YouTube clips.

Viacom is foolish.....of course this is the same company that paid a premium for Blockbuster ten years ago.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Coke Zero Cherry is in my hand

I have become a fan of Coke Zero since starting the South Beach diet some two years ago. While always complaining of the taste of diet vs. the Real Thing, I have grown accustomed to it now, though I will always prefer its original cousin. I always choose Coke Zero over Diet Coke, though I will choose Diet Cherry Coke over everything else. I did notice that Coke has recently retitled all of their beverages. It's no longer Cherry Coke and Diet Cherry Coke, but Coca-Cola Cherry and Diet Coke Cherry. I guess that's a move to simplify the design process since they began bastardizing the Coke flavors into ever more Robotussin tasting extremes: Diet Coke Black Cherry Vanilla anyone????? I didn't think so.

So, when I came home yesterday, Mickelle told me "Mac, Winn Dixie had Coke Zero Cherry." I was thrilled. Today, I did a taste test, and I think I prefer the Coke Zero Cherry to the Diet Coke Cherry, but only if the Coke Zero is really really cold. It tastes more like regular Coke, but the Diet Coke Cherry has a much stronger and realized Cherry flavor. I'm a little torn. Let's only hope that Coke keeps making good decisions like this one instead of trying to make Coke taste like Yoplait yogurt.