I am supposed to be working on my genre paper--which I've been sort of doing for several weeks now. For some reason, I agreed to write a paper using generic criticism to examine instances of simulated masculinity. I know nothing about generic criticism. I know nothing about masculinity. So it's been a roller coaster of reading about both of those things... with some pretty neat discoveries, and some not-so-neat ones. Come hell or high water, that thing is going to be done by the middle of this week--because then I have to finish the tenure application forms, the abstract for "Ninja Warrior," and midterm grades.
In the middle of the genre paper reading and percolating, though, I have been (mis)reading a couple of other things: Heidegger's "Being and Time," Chuck Klosterman's "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs," and Brad Warner's "Sit Down and Shut Up." Just like in grad school, different levels of salience highlight interesting connections between these seemingly different treatises on Buddhism and Being and "Saved by the Bell." The first thing is, of course, the shape and form of masculine performance. Each of these guys is doing alot of Really Masculine type stuff... which isn't bad or good. Just interesting. According to a dead German philosopher, a connoisseur of popular culture (he totally mentioned "Fifteen" which is this Canadian soap opera from the late eighties that I used to watch that NOBODY ever remembers. It had Ryan Reynolds in it. Seriously.), and a punk-rock-playing Buddhist monk, Being a Man is a business of knowing how to do things nobody else knows how to do, being very certain about knowing those things, and explaining lots of terminology in the process of the knowing. There are many dissimilarities, too, of course. But genre criticism is, after all, the seeking of similarities across different moments, right? Look at me, doing genre...
Not necessarily related to performed masculinity, another noticable similarity among these texts is a focus on/discussion about balance--or the lack thereof. In the pop cultural world of Klosterman, balance is a bad word. In H's world of World, balance is an imaginary--unavoidable and ignorable, bothatonce. And in Warner's world of practice, balance is a fact--whether or not we can recognize it. So, here is a a quotation for my dear anonymous, something that speaks to balance, responsibility, and the intersections between them:
"It's damned tough to practice that kind of compassion. But I can give you a little bit of incentive. No matter how unacknowledged your act of compassion, the universe always notices it. And the universe has a very long memory."