Monday, April 12, 2010

Prayers for Representation

Colorado is neat. I just want to start this out with a positive because it gets a bit dark in the middle part. If you are not interested in that part, cease and desist, dear reader. Instead, go outside. Hug your girl/boy. Visit Denver. Drink lots of water. Sit, lusciously, in the sun.

Before we begin, let us pray:
I offer my obeisances unto the Goddess who is the abode of lotuses, who holds the lotus, whose eyes resemble the petals of a lotus, whose face is a lotus, and who is dear to the Lord who has a lotus navel. You are the knowledge of sacrifice, the worship of the universal form, and occult learning, O beauteous one. You are the knowledge of Brahman, O goddess, and the bestower of the fruit of liberation. You are the science of dialectics, the three Vedas, Varta, the knowledge of chastisement. O goddess, this universe is filled with your gentle and terrifying forms.

Debate is Good
First Subpoint = The People Rock
a. The debate tournament from which we just returned was marvelous because of the people. I love hanging out with these clever, insanely dedicated folks.
b. My fellow coach is one of my favorite human beings in the world, and the debaters teach me new things every. single. day.

Second Subpoint = Learning Stuff is my Favorite

a. Judging the sorts of rounds and motions we saw at Nationals was a pleasure. I enjoy hearing smart arguments posed thoughtfully, and, as I mentioned previously, many of these teams come to play.
b. I like seeing the intersections of argument and imagination that get brought to bear in these moments. The fact that these students know where and when current events are occurring--as well as the material consequences of those events, always makes me a bit tingly. It is delicious to converse with and give feedback to such technically proficient interlocutors.
Third Subpoint: Legitimacy
a. Being the person that I am--rhetorician, Southern, woman, anti-Platonic-and-yet-seduced-by-Platonic-claims, always already tangentially linked to debate--it is satisfying, academically and intellectually, to be associated formally with a debate team for the first time ever. Much like the department in which I teach (which is the first department I've ever worked in to contain the word "Rhetoric"), this team makes me proud.
b. And my friend/fellow coach seems to agree. We make a good team.

Debate is Evil

First Subpoint = Games will be Games
a. The last adjudication in which I took part, a quarter final, hurt my heart. We ended up voting on technical proficiency over materially consequential argument.
b. The rules, arbitrary and enclavish, are strict. Poetry is difficult to find at a debate tournament, and when it does occur, it gets punished.
c. The outside is always dirty, made for exposure and erasure. I get the value of rules, I do. But I worry about the costs of these rules--these performative consequences on the world-shaping in which we are actively engaged... which leads me into my second and
Final Subpoint = Performing the (W)Hole Story, or Cunt Power, Fool
a. The debate tournament was really draining. I am a fan of performance. For real. I know how powerful and significant and potentially world-shaking it is to be a token representative, the voice of the vagina, the bootylicious appeal to Pathos, but I am tired.
b. In the middle of this sea of suits and ties, limp dicks and jealously guarded erections, we stand. The wearers of red peep toe shoes and sparkly earrings and tight bell bottoms and sassy cowboy boots and othered imagery and girlish hand gestures and leaners toward the dirty and defiers of expectation and negaters of the True.
c. We, the Other, add to the conversation of "reasonable" costs and "acceptable" losses," gauging the mechanism of rules writ large by people who may or may not ever have seen the shanty-style construction of an Alabama public school or spoken to a woman seeking reproductive rights or smelled the fear and rage at death penalty protest in central Texas.
d. Don't get me wrong. I am a rhetorician. Through and through. Situational reasoning is the name of my game--which is why I'm playing this other one. I get the significance of starting at the ground floor. I wear this burden of performative legitimacy and hot-ass high heels with pride.
d. Those burdens are weighty--for many, many reasons. Some of those reasons rhyme with "professorial responsibility." Some rhyme with "modeling good behavior." And some of those burdens rhyme with "Fuck you, Plato, and the Fascist, Formalist Horse You Rode In On. I Will See Your Philosopher King and Raise You Responsibility to the Other." The intensity and closeness of these things is something to see--debaters with good, smart, real questions are always everywhere, Goddess bless them.
e."O goddess, this universe is filled with your gentle and terrifying forms." Indeed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A few lists For Hannah

First, five reasons why I love Greenberg:

1) The opening line, spoken by Florence to the unseen and unavailable driver in the lane behind her: "Are you gonna let me in?" When I was a junior in high school, Dr. Schnell said that a good story tells you the tale in the first paragraph, but great art tells the tale in the very first line. She was right. Dr. Schnell was always right.

2) The closing line, spoken by Florence to Greenberg, "This is you."

3) The beginning and the ending of the movie. Last week, I had spoken to a couple of friends who thought I would hate this movie. And one of the reasons they thought so was because of the abrupt ending. I like that, though. One of the most exquisite things about Baumbach's writing is that he writes like people talk and tells stories like people live. At least, the people that I know. The ending is sudden and beautiful and scary and open-ended, as are all moments of grace.

4) The rant at Generation Y. "You're all ADD and Carpal Tunnel. I hope I die before I end up meeting one of you in a job interview." Nuff said.

5) The lighting. Every scene looks like forgiveness.

Second, five best quotes from Kicking and Screaming. (I'll warn you, the majority are from Max.)

1) Max: I'm too nostalgic. I'll admit it.
Skippy: We graduated four months ago. What can you possibly be nostalgic for?
Max: I'm nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I've begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I'm reminiscing this right now. I can't go to the bar because I've already looked back on it in my memory... and I didn't have a good time.

2) Max: What I used to able to pass off as a bad summer could now potentially turn into a bad life.

3) Chet: If Plato is a fine red wine, then Aristotle is a dry martini.

4) Louis: Violence is always justified some of the time.

5) Max: Who the hell bought black eyed peas?

There you are, dear Hannah. I'll make you a birthday song list on Monday.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dust and New Beginnings

Yesterday, I was walking to meet a friend for movie-time. We saw Greenberg, and, contrary to popular expectation, I really enjoyed it. I missed this Noah Baumbach--the one who wrote "Kicking and Screaming," one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE MOVIES EVAR--and it is good to see him again. In fact, instead of reading the rest of this entry, go watch "Kicking and Screaming." Like, right now. It's available Instantly on Netflix, and it will speak to you. I promise.*

So. On the way to this movie that is about realizing some things that one should have realized a long time ago, and then forgiving oneself for the slowness of realizing those things, and then recognizing the delicious gifts that live in both forgiveness and realization, I saw an ice cream truck. Usually, those things scare me a bit. Not as much as clowns, but still. They play creepy music, they contain multiple temptations for children who run at them mindlessly, they are often driven by people who may or may not be as-yet-uncaught serial killers (Dexter, anyone?).

For some reason, on this sunny day, to see this secret surprise movie with this dear boy, instead of walking rapidly away from the ice-cream-truck-driver/as-yet-uncaught-serial-killer, I stopped and looked at him. The boy driving it smiled at me, and said, "Beautiful day, beautiful lady." And then he gave me a FREE rocket pop.

That is a good day, my friends. Dusting off old favorites in new forms, meeting up with new favorites in old forms, and free ice cream. Welcome, Spring. It is good to see you again. For the first time.

*Seriously. Why are you still reading? WATCH THE MOVIE.