Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Wrath of Morrissey Versus the Wrap of Maccie D’s

Every time the newish McDonald’s advert comes on during the adverts between halves at Euro 2016, it is irksome to say the least to hear the strains of Pete Shelley (who grew up about half a mile from where I’m writing this) and his fellow Buzzcocks, and their song, What Do I Get?, whilst a faux-Punk food assistant person of the biological female genus prepares a wrap for a pubescent adolescent, who happens to be in the company of his papa, it seems, seated as they are in a Ford Cortina circa 1978 (which conveniently links, or links conveniently, depending on how you feel with split infinitives, to the era said song hails from) at the window of the McD’s drive-thru, and as the pubescent adolescent fairly drools over the food assistant person as much as you’d imagine him drooling over the wrap he’s just ordered, and as the faux-Punk food assistant person makes eyes back at the pubescent adolescent, which if you think about it really does make her a Punk of the most faux kind because if you had an ounce of Punk sensibility you’d be unlikely to want to work in McD’s in the first instance, and even if you did you certainly wouldn’t participate in your own self-objectification where you’re kind of putting yourself on the same level, metaphorically speaking, as a Big Flavour Wrap.

It is irksome because someone has chosen money over self-respect. Selling a Punk song that was written and performed by a band that had credibility and which was aware of its working class heritage is unforgivable – some things are worth more than money, or at least they should be. You can make a crappy McD’s advert with any piece of crappy music that is spewed out of the pop music machine – The Buzzcocks are not of that ilk, yet decades of resistance have been compromised with one foolish decision where money takes centre stage. And yes, I know that sounds naïve and a tad Romantic, but that’s how things should be. It is distressing to hear of this song, and even The Jam’s That’s Entertainment, being used in a way that is wholly incompatible with their angry-youth origins. And I’m not the only one to think so. Morrissey is also pissed. And so we should be. Not just because we’re both plant-eating liberal humanists (not actually sure if Morrissey is but I’d like to believe he’s that way inclined), but because money cannot be allowed to corrupt every single thing of worth – because if we allow that to happen, how do we place true and meaningful value on anything?

Click the links and tell me if you think these songs are worthy of such misappropriation. Go on – I dare you.


Petition @Stanford University #BrockTurner

Hello,

I just signed the petition, “Letter to Stanford University in Support of Survivor of Brock Turner case.”

I think this is important and things clearly need to change with respect to sexual assaults and rapes on and around campuses. Will you sign it too, please?
Here’s the link:
https://www.change.org/p/letter-to-stanford-university-in-support-of-survivor-of-brock-turner-case

And here’s just one of the problems:


Thank you 


Anecdotally, is the Insurrection Coming? #Brexit

This is an important question and, anecdotally, from opinions garnered from those within both Leave and Remain camps, public opinion seems to reflect unprecedented levels of dissatisfaction felt with politics in its current late-capitalist mode – hence my notion that #PoliticsIsDead (click the pictures if you want, and stuff)

 

So, is the Insurrection on its way? Is there, as the Tarnac community is alleged to have suggested, a Coming Insurrection? It seems wrong to sit by and watch as economies shuffle from one disaster to the next, as has been the case throughout much of the present capitalist model, arguably. But do the people have the will to mount an insurrection?

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I guess we’ll see…


What Would This World Look Like? #Trump #BoJo

Here’s a very short post, for a change. It may be nice to pause, amidst the political goings on of the moment, simply to ponder the following. In a world where it is possible, although not altogether plausible or desirable, for Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump and Boris Johnson @BorisJohnson to become head of state, respectively, what would such a world look like?

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Would it look like this? Might The Donald reach across the Atlantic and smack a big wet one on BoJo’s fleshy lips? Worse things could happen, don’t you think?

#VoteWhatever (it probably doesn’t matter anyway) #PoliticsIsDead

(ooh… Soul II Soul)


The Mystique/X-Men/VAW Conundrum

Contains major X-Men: Apocalypse spoilers…

There’s a really interesting thread running on Goodreads right now w/r/t the recent billboard advertisement showing X-Men Apocalypse‘s Mystique being held by the throat. Its title is: Is the Marvel “Apocalypse” movie poster VAW [Violence Against Women]?

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And although interesting, the thread soon turns into the usual kind of slanging match: “I’m right,” “No, I’m right, you’re wrong,” “No, you’re wrong, I’m right, and you’re a moron.” It goes on, ad infinitum

The crux of the matter turns on whether the image promotes Violence Against Women, or whether it is merely “fantasy violence.” Depending on which side you pull towards will probably reflect your sensibilities w/r/t notions of gender inequality and stuff like that.

However, what is missing from the thread (and I’m considering posting something on there, but am hesitant because of the backlash I envisage) is a discussion of Mystique (a.k.a. Raven Darkholme) and the fact that Mystique is a mutant and can therefore adopt any guise – male, female, or anything else of their choosing (using non-gendered pronouns reflect the fact that I view Mystique as more fluid w/r/t the concept of gender – here’s a really great video kind of on that subject, IYI).

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In X-Men 2, for example, Mystique kicks Wolverine’s ass good and proper, both in the guise of Wolverine and also in Mystique’s traditional blue get-up. Mystique kicks Wolverine in the balls, properly getting his mad up, and then leaves him panned out on the floor after kung-fu kicking him in the head. In this particular example do we view this as Violence Against Men, Violence Against Women, just plain Violence, or Fantasy Violence?

Basically, there are two points I’m trying to make.

  1. I’m not so sure that we can move to refer to Mystique as a woman, unproblematically. Mystique is a mutation, just like all the other X-Men. The fact that Mystique is blue kind of hints that Mystique’s not predominantly human – so how can Mystique definitively be called a woman (especially when Mystique spends time in many other guises)? Mystique’s appearance as a Jennifer Lawrence-type-woman is just another disguise.
  2. Mystique is ultra-violent. Mystique just doesn’t respond with violence if violence is shown. Mystique oozes violence, and will kick anyone’s ass at the drop of a hat. So, if you’re an advocate of violence, as Mystique most definitely is, aren’t you more likely to be subjected to further violence? And, having not seen the film but I’ll take a wild stab at this, doesn’t Mystique willingly take on the big monster thing that ends up grabbing Mystique by the neck? And, so I’ve heard, doesn’t Jean Grey (a human woman who also happens to be a bit mutanty) literally obliterate the monster in the end?

Just because film studios are archaic and can’t get past binary thinking, does that mean we have to sink to their level?


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It does make you wonder what was the inspiration behind the temporary art project, Dismaland…

It’s kind of hard to think…

Oh, yeah…


“…it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission.”

…it’s always easier to get forgiveness than permission.

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In Banksy’s letter to the children of Bridge Farm Primary School, Bristol, the above words appear as a sentiment that expresses the need to sometimes just do things rather than wait around forever for permission before doing so. Now, obviously, there are limits that all decent people would expect to impose upon themselves before doing things that might just harm others, but looking past this to the kind of mentality that seeks its own liberation from restrictive practices seems to speak of the possibilities that are now opening up as a direct result of technological advances.

 

A recent example of this kind of thinking, witnessed only y/day, is that of design-led technology company Red Ninja Studios (@RedNinjaStudios), based in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. Red Ninja held a hackathon with a non-profit organisation whose business is concerned with the care of older people in the community. The optimism shared by all at the event that technology could indeed improve the lives of many older people was boosted by the attitudes of those involved with Red Ninja Studios, where the company ethos appears to be, pretty much: “Make Things Happen.”

 

An anecdote shared y/day w/r/t “making things happen” in the NHS involved new pieces of technology that take so long to be approved for use that by the time they are, they are less relevant and potentially even obsolete. Similar anecdotes exist w/r/t other huge organisations. Perhaps a bit more Banksy/Red Ninja philosophy is required?

 


Engaging with David Foster Wallace’s Hideous Men

Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English

Durham University’s Postgraduate English is a professionally reviewed journal for postgraduate students of English. We have been publishing postgraduate research biannually since the year 2000. It is published on Open Journal Systems, so all submissions are indexed and locatable through scholarly and library search engines.

We publish full-length scholarly articles on all areas of English literature and related disciplines, peer-reviewed by our editorial board of established academics, and book reviews.

In addition, we also invite reflections on postgraduate teaching and academic careers. They can be added to the Forum section on a related website, including interviews with academics, in which recently appointed academics discuss how they made the transition from Postgraduate to paid academic, and teaching tips and anecdotes. We are also happy to publish details of conferences or colloquia aimed at postgraduates.

No 32 (2016): Spring

Table of Contents

Articles

‘Man is the Measure’: The Individual and the Tribe in Modernist Representations of the Primitive PDF
Victoria Addis

 

Voli Me Tangere: Touch and Tenderness in the Lady Chatterley Novels PDF
Annabel Banks

 

Bridging Music and Language in Samuel Beckett’s Ghost Trio and Nacht und Träume PDF
Lucy Jeffery

 

Imagined Surfaces: the ‘Undetermined Capacity’ in Henry James PDF
Yui Kajita
Engaging with David Foster Wallace’s Hideous Men PDF
Alexander Matthew

Intersectionality: #brockturner and the Pity Project of a White, Privileged, Male Rapist, and Why the Law, and educational institutions such as Stanford University, are on His Side (even though they wouldn’t say that to your face)

Should you blame Stanford University’s rape culture for Brock Turner, the rapist? Should you blame Brock Turner’s father, Dan, who appears to regard his son’s rape “antics” as an inconvenience, w/r/t his son’s career? Should you blame Brock Turner, the rapist, himself? The answer would (almost) appear to be no to all of the above. Why? Because after raping an unconscious 18 year old behind a dumpster, and in the process unleashing a lifetime of change upon the 18 year old that only she will fully understand, but that the whole world will have a view on, Brock Turner may have to serve 3 months of a 6 months’ sentence for a crime that could have earned him 14 years behind bars.

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Brock Turner’s case makes clear that the Law, which dispenses the most lenient sentence for a most despicable crime, and Stanford University, which treats such occurrences as a minor irritation, in the way that its administrators barely even acknowledges them [the rapes and sexual assaults], do not work to end the practices of rape culture if you, as perpetrator of such crimes as listed above, are a white, educated, and reasonably well-off male (meaning you can stump up money for a sizeable bail without breaking a sweat).

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The 7,000-word letter detailing events from the unconscious 18 year old’s point of view just made Dan Turner angry. And so he responded in kind. The conclusion to be made here is that women are viewed as worthless by some men, and by some women for that matter. They are also viewed as worthless by the Law and by educational institutions such as Stanford University. If the outrage over this particular case of rape blows over and is forgotten (but never by the 18 year old), then the wider society must also be said to be complicit in this respect. So, will it blow over? Do we just move on? Perhaps consider Leah Francis and the #standwithleah campaign, which, according to a quick Internet search, shows that we stopped standing with Leah at some point in 2014. If we fail to remain standing for the time it takes to end rape culture behavior it will not end, and we can expect many more Brock Turner’s to behave in similarly despicable ways.


Philosophical Enquiry 1.0 #MoneyForAll

Late Stage Capitalism, for all its faults, and there are many, is still the dominant political force in the world. What’s perplexing is that with so much disaffection aimed at the present world structure, dominated as it is by Late Stage Capitalist thought, there exists little in the way of alternative thinking that might lead to a better way of managing progress in the world.

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Such disaffection can be seen in many Western capitalist societies. Examples of this, and this is not an exhaustive list by any means, are: the coming farce of the 2016 U.S. elections, which will evidently be so judging by the proposed presidential nominees, where neither candidate appears to be winning over the masses, despite the hype saying that they are; the EU referendum in the U.K., where so many untruths appear to cloud the issue entirely and where voter apathy could lead to a very low turnout; the battle in France between its workers and their protests against a socialist government that aims to strip away worker rights; the brain drain happening in other E.U. countries who cannot retain talent due to economies stagnating; and the list goes on ad infinitum.

Couple this disaffection with some inventive “economics” designed to maintain the status quo: negative interest rates; 40 year mortgages; prime/sub-prime mortgage repackaging; and what we end up with, at some point in the future, is a system [capitalism] that has to keep reinventing itself in order to hang on, by its finger tips, to the power it so craves. An alternative to such crazy thinking might be to replace it with another kind of crazy thinking. Unlike factional and fictional depictions of anti-capitalist sentiment – Puritanism (English Civil War period) and The Sparrows (Game of Thrones) – where the alternative to excess is rather pious and boring, there is a very simple way to counter a capitalist model that seems only ever to benefit the few, and not the many.

The answer is to pay every citizen a fixed annual salary. In return, each citizen will do a job (probably the one they’re already doing or are already qualified to do). Citizens continue to spend. Businesses thrive. The rich can stay richer than the rest of the population. But, the poverty and hardship suffered by many is obliterated overnight. Money is not real in the sense that it is an abstract concept that is made to feel real because of the mechanics of capitalism, where if you don’t have enough money you’re life can be made to feel pretty crumby. It doesn’t have to be that way. There just needs to be more discussion around the issue, because if we can’t conceive of something it is unlikely to happen. #MoneyForAll

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Politics: Unworkable in Its Current Form

Just two examples relating to the current political landscape are enough to highlight the fact that politics is unworkable in its current form. David Cameron’s tax avoidance is most depressing and marks, in a way, if you think about it, the shift to a terminal phase for “Late Stage Capitalism,” although that probably requires a further post in order to make that point clear (watch this space).

The equally depressing state of U.S. politics is the other such example, where it appears that U.S. voters will end up with a Republican nominee who is to face, amongst other things, charges that his “Trump University” scheme was fraudulent, and a Democrat nominee who, it seems, is being hounded by the F.B.I. with respect to the “email server” scandal.

When you trace back through history to see the efforts of people who wanted politics to be about effecting change for the good of the many, and there were a good number, it is obvious that today’s political climate is not worthy of the name “Politics.” As such, citizens across the globe need to think about solutions to this current problem.


Shielded: @david_cameron

A brief search of the internet (well, Google) with the search term “petition over cameron tax avoidance” seems to falter around the middle of April 2016, where it appears that all interest in the Prime Minister’s financial affairs falls off a cliff. Either this shows a massive shift from anger to apathy from the British public, and if that is the case then I suppose we all get what we deserve with respect to a figurehead who publicly condemns others for tax avoidance activity whilst employing similar tactics with respect to his own financial affairs, or there is something else at work.

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Interestingly, the headline below is dated Friday 8th April 2016 but when you search the internet using the above term the first few pages bring back results dated no later than 13th April, a mere five days after the scandal hit the tabloids.

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In what universe does such a huge news story suddenly stop being big news? In our universe, apparently. Anyway, in an attempt at working towards a kind of politics that ceases to be about the exploitation of the masses for the benefit of the few, here’s a link to a 38 Degrees petition (click this underliney bit) calling for the PM to resign for deception and conflict of interest, which sounds fair enough. Politics in its current form is unworkable and needs a radical overhaul. A Prime Minister who lies to the public is not a Prime Minister, unless the apathy of the public allows it to be so.


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