Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Getting back on the horse

I've been avoiding my blog for a few weeks now. Mostly this is because of an embarassing run-in with the folks at The Valve. I'm still too embarrassed to write about it, or really, even think about it. Suffice it to say Margo learned her lesson about criticizing smart kids' sites, and about participating on said sites after criticizing them. Good lord, it was ugly. My heart still sinks when I think about it.

But life goes on, even if the blog does not. I'm finishing up the second half of the antepenultimate week of the quarter and then, with the exception of some days doing summer advising, and some random meetings here and there, I'm on research leave until next January.

Good things in my life right now:
1. Following a colleague's example (and, actually, Profgrrl's) I've started dragging myself out of bed early in the morning and going to the gym before I do anything else. The great part about this is that I'm just as tired at the end of the day as if I hadn't already worked out, but because I have, I get to have this great conversation with myself as I leave school: "I should really go to the gym, but I'm so tired. But wait, I already WENT to the gym."

2. I got elected to a one-year term as alternate to the faculty council, which means I get to sit on the most powerful faculty committee (be that as it may), and watch and listen and learn as the big kids wheel and deal. As alternate I get to go to the meetings and sit at the table, (and I mean that, literally. It's an open meeting, but faculty who aren't on the council must sit off to the sides) but I won't be expected to serve on sub-committees.

3. Summer research funds are coming next month. Enough said.

4. SUMMER is coming next month.

5a. Total teaching bliss: I'm teaching Willa Cather's The Song of the Lark this week, which chronicles the rise of a Wagnerian diva, which means I get to do a mini-lesson on Wagner. I always enjoy that, but this time around, the class discussions coincided with the opening weekend of Episode III and so the students are in an epic, musical motif-oriented state of mind. Plus, I think I've finally figured out how to deal with the dangerousness of Wagner's nationalism/anti-semitism. First of all, there's the oft-noted contemporary politics analogy of the film, which drives home the point that there is no such thing as "art for art's sake," and that the lust of a pure, originary narrative and a "simpler" aesthetics can slip into fascism pretty quickly.

5b. But also, this novel, more than any other text we've studied this quarter provides an opportunity to talk about the ethics of divadom. What does it mean to sacrifice everything for art? What does it mean to value discipline and individual acheivement over everything else? And even as this pushes us towards a possible refutation of the diva as triumphant at the cost of any human connection, or as visible (as a woman and/or a racial or ethinc minority) in a way that doesn't actually do anything to raise the status or improve the lives of her community, only single her out as exceptional, it also brings us, as the last minutes of class tick by, to a clear vision of the diva as, above all, queer. Queer as in challenging every normative ideal of how a life should be lead, what should be valued, who it should be shared with.

6. I bought Season One of Arrested Development. This is a great show, and I'd fall for it no matter what, but because it's set in my hometown of Newport Beach, where they really do have frozen banana stands like the Bluth's (kind of a weird Balboa Island thing) it makes me happy, if a little homesick.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so glad your blog is back! I've missed your voice. CD

7:26 PM  
Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

Oh, the Valve is populated by some awfully cranky people (not all the posters, some of whom are perfectly reasonable. But in general they've left a nasty taste in my mouth). Screw 'em!

3:20 PM  

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