Sunday, 20 August 2017

Laura Kipnis 3

Summary notes on 2 podcast episodes with Laura Kipnis

Harper Academic Calling

sensitivity politics
policing sexuality
campus codes
how to define sexual assault
sexual libertine and traumatic - contradictory in their coexistence
are college students adults?
bad breakups
new vocabulary of trauma vs real life experience
to negotiate one’s own personal life and experience
sex as viewed as increasingly harmful - always the potential of hurt
different forms of power: e.g. who loves who most
victim blaming vs accountability
state of emergency - rush to war on false information
“rush to judgment in the name of security”
all women on campus should take self-defence

Public Intellectual with Jessa Crispin

fear of questioning “survivors” accounts of sexual assault
libertarian interest in free speech
leftist authoritarian tendencies and PC
how we frame female vulnerability and the predatory male (professor)
“tendency for self exoneration”
to blame others for something you participated in
online culture and being put “on trial”
what does women a disservice in the end?
Title IX tribunal as not actually making campuses more safe for women
mass alcohol consumption in order to fall back into traditional gender roles resulting in female passivity
unwatered sex - what counts as assault?
self defence and knowing how to defend yourself makes you more assertive, makes you carry yourself differently in the world
melodrama that causes harmful gender binaries

Veggies drawings

Laura Kipnis 2

I wish to bring up questions around freedom of speech and if certain efforts at sensitivity or 'keeping the peace' by way of censorship is a violation of such freedom. Questions that I have that arise from this discussion include: to what extent is hate speech a hate crime? Words hurt - so how should we address them? These thoughts come out particularly in light of recent events in Charlottesville and a growing movement of white supremacy in the United States.

Moreover, what is the role of humanities research such as art history in the maintaining of a democracy and in the fostering of an intellectual community that extends beyond the academic world? How are disciplines such as art history implicitly political and how to they encourage free speech in perhaps the most generative way? Does art history and other liberal arts disciplines fight against real racism, sexism and other forms of exclusion? 

Below are quotes extracted from her essay, 'My Title IX Inquisition', in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 May 2015.

“Much of this remains puzzling to me, including how someone can bring charges in someone else’s name, who is allowing intellectual disagreement to be redefined as retaliation, and why a professor can’t write about a legal case that’s been nationally reported, precisely because she’s employed by the university where the events took place. Wouldn’t this mean that academic freedom doesn’t extend to academics discussing matters involving their own workplaces?”

“I learned that professors around the country now routinely avoid discussing subjects in classes that might raise hackles”

“A well- known sociologist wrote that he no longer lectures on abortion. Someone who’d written a book about incest in her own family described being confronted in class by a student furious with her for discussing the book”

“what’s being lost, along with job security, is the liberty to publish ideas that might go against the grain”

“Ambivalent sex becomes coerced sex, with charges brought months or even years after the events in question. Title IX officers now adjudicate an increasing range of murky situations involving mutual drunkenness, conflicting stories, and relationships gone wrong. They pronounce on the thorniest of philosophical and psychological issues: What is consent? What is power?”

“With students increasingly regarded as customers and consumer satisfaction paramount, it’s imperative to avoid creating potential classroom friction with unpopular ideas if you’re on a renewable contract and wish to stay employed. Self- censorship naturally prevails”

Laura Kipnis

I have recently become intrigued about Laura Kipnis's views on feminism. This new interest is in conjunction with some other issues I have been thinking about regarding PC, trigger warnings, victimisation as well as certain fears reserved for women.

My view on trigger warnings so far has been the following: if it doesn't hurt anyone to do them, why not provide them? After a discussion with a friend, she suggested that no one has had a problem with the messages that prelude films, indicating any sexual scenes or aggressive language etc. This seemed compelling and viable and made me wonder why all of a sudden warnings akin to these should be considered controversial. I felt that so long as no one is excused from course material in a university class, a trigger warning may be helpful. Moreover, who am I to judge what someone else may find harmful, offensive or traumatic, as this of course differs depending not only on identity politics, but also on personal experience?

Identifying as a feminist through and through, I was interested to hear more about Kipnis's views on victimisation and female agency.

I suspect this is the first of many blog posts on these issues.

Below include some quotes from Kipnis's essay 'Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe' published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2015.

The link to the article:

“somehow power seemed a lot less powerful back then”

“It’s the fiction of the all-powerful professor embedded in the new campus codes that appalls me”

“I’d always thought inappropriateness was pretty much the definition of humor—I believe Freud would agree. Why all this delicacy? Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma”

“Let’s face it: Other people’s sexuality is often just weird and creepy. Sex is leaky and anxiety-ridden; intelligent people can be oblivious about it. Of course the gulf between desire and knowledge has long been a tragicomic staple”

“but what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life?”

“What struck me most, hearing the story, was how incapacitated this woman had felt, despite her advanced degree and accomplishments”

“Get real: What’s more powerful—a professor who crosses the line, or the shaming capabilities of social media?”

“These days the desire persists, but what’s shifted is the direction of the arrows. Now it’s parents—or their surrogates, teachers—who do all the desiring; children are conveniently returned to innocence. So long to childhood sexuality, the most irksome part of the Freudian story”

“The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist”

“Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims”

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Wallace Shawn podcast - Trump is the Boot Man

Summary notes after listening to Wallace Shawn in conversation with Adam Shatz (London Review of Books)

Trump is the Boot Man

- entertainment and violence/sadism/cruelty/darkness
- privilege
- war
unconscious and writing
- when one's writing is smarter than its author
- between dream and waking states
- political awakenings and crises
- activism, observation, participation
- rationalisations to justify ways of life and privilege
- Trump
- the human species as climactic (the best) or the worst

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Pineal Eye

“The pineal eye, detaching itself from the horizontal system of normal ocular vision, appears in a kind of nimbus of tears, like the eye of a tree or, perhaps, like a human tree. At the same time this ocular tree is only a giant (ignoble) pink penis, drunk with the sun and suggesting or soliciting a nauseous malaise, the sickening despair of vertigo. In this transfiguration of nature, during which vision itself, attracted by nausea, is torn out and torn apart by the sunbursts into which it stares, the erection ceases to be a painful upheaval on the surface of the earth, and in a vomiting of flavorless blood, it transforms itself into a vertiginous fall in celestial space, accompanied by a horrible cry”.

Georges Bataille, “The Pineal Eye”, 84.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"And now, like a watchman in the depths of night, he discovered that night reveals the nature of man: those cries for attention, those lights, that anxiety. That simple star there in the darkness indicates how isolated that house is. And in another it goes out: it is a house concealing the love within it".

"At the hotel he had unpacked his case and revealed those small objects with which inspectors try to show that they can relate to the common man: a few tasteless shirts, a toiletries kit and a photograph of a skinny woman, which the inspector pinned to the wall. In this way he made a humble confession to Pellerin of his needs, his affections and his regrets. By laying out his treasures in this pathetic way he was displaying his misery to the pilot. It was a moral eczema. He was showing him his prison".

[Italics by me.]... a moral eczema...

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Night Flight (1931)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

University of Rochester

Good news! I have been awarded the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) scholarship to study for 6 weeks at the University of Rochester, NY, under the supervision of Rachel Haidu. Of course, I am thrilled.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Baudrillard on atmosphere

This quote reminds me of Bill Brown's 'Thing Theory', a paper which I have come to love since my undergraduate studies.

“Objects are more and more highly differentiated – our gestures less and less so. To put it another way: objects are no longer surrounded by the theatre of gesture in which they used to be simply the various roles; instead, their emphatic goal-directedness has very nearly turned them into the actors in a global process in which man is merely the role, or the spectator”.

Jean Baudrillard, “Structures of Atmosphere”, 59.

Taiwan Season: Ever Never

Today, at the Edinburgh Fringe, I went to see the play 'Ever Never', which I thought was a fantastically creative performance not only in terms of acting, but also in its direction and choreography. Each scene flowed into the next with the utmost subtlety. The characters changed roles constantly, reflecting most strikingly family relationships and eliciting those moments where stories and/or memories are created in an effort to imagine the lives, actions, and thoughts of others.

The description of the play is as follows:

"Deeply affected by her father’s death, on her travels she found the aircraft cabin a mysterious space where the past could be intercepted and where fragments of forgotten memories were rekindled and brought to life. Following Co-coism’s guiding principle of cooperatively-devised theatre, Ever Never draws on the experiences of playwright Feng Chi-Chun and the rest of the creative team. An airport and airplane become vehicles where past and present collide; places of real and remembered, love and regrets, happiness and sadness, and loved ones and themselves."


Framing Space through Architecture and Film


5–7 APRIL 2018
Courtauld Institute of Art 

King’s College London

Framing Space through Architecture and Film

Jessica Schouela, University of York,
Hannah Paveck, King’s College London,

We experience architecture and film as media of duration that unfold in time. The encounter of an embodied spectator or inhabitant with a film or a dwelling is informed principally by motion and the succession of one frame or screen (architectonic and cinematic) to the next. These two modes of construction investigate into the three dimensional occupancy and representation of space as it relates to both bodies and objects, framed within curated and mediated spaces. Instantiating an experience of space that is far more than visual, architecture and film activate both sound and touch, the latter being a mutual and relational ‘commitment’ of the body and the world (Jennifer Barker).

Adolf Loos famously writes: “it is my greatest pride that the interiors I have created are completely lacking in effect when photographed”. Does film function differently? How have architecture and film represented each other and in which ways do they, either similarly or distinctly, frame or design space? What happens to architecture when it is filmed and how might a building be described in terms of its cinematic qualities (Beatriz Colomina)?

Moreover, how can film and architecture challenge our perceptual habits? Can film convey atmosphere of space and the built environment (Gernot Böhme)? How might the representation of urban versus domestic narratives (i.e. exterior and interior space) through film result in distinct viewing experiences?

This panel explores the mutually informing link between architecture and film in an effort to not only open up the limits of these methods of representation but also to look beyond what typically gets included within the history of art. Proposals may address the relationship between architecture and film through ontological comparisons, the framing and representation of space, and/or the phenomenological experience of mediated spaces.