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Archive for February, 2007

2007 Oscars: Cadbury Eggs and Wearable Envelopes

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Last night’s Academy Awards were bookended by two extraordinarily unexpected events. Yes, The Departed was something of a surprise for Best Picture and, sure, maybe Eddie Murphy got robbed, and, indeed, Melissa Etheridge’s labored tune had no business winning Original Song. But let’s set our sights past that for a while.

First, before Ellen ever appeared in her red velvet tux, Cameron Diaz surprised us all by showing up in an envelope:

Cameron Diaz in an expensive, designer envelope Envelope

The visual juxtaposition is incontrovertible. It’s an envelope. But why? Is this some statement on the concealment of communication? Is she sending subtle hints that she’s available for pen pal relationships?

The second earth shaking moment came when the whole show finally ground to a delayed halt. When the confetti cleared, Noel was declared the winner of the Oscar prediction pool. Yes, Noel. Having picked thirteen winners correctly, he won the golden bag of egg-shaped candy and the respect of his peers.

We can perhaps cite Mesh and his handy faking-the-Oscars guide for Noel’s triumph, but I’m not sure if blame can be pinned on the same for Diaz’s stationary-inspired couture.

A Worthy Metaphor: Cheese Babies

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

This knowledge bite is dedicated to R. David Macey, in the hope that it will someday feature in an epic poem.

Yesterday I learned that cheese — yes, cheese — was a medieval metaphor for conception.

Consider: liquids join together to form a solid after a period of waiting. The result could be Gouda… or a kid.

It remains to be seen if some medieval nuns, enamored as they were with the idea of being spiritually wed to Christ, saw their convent’s (economically prosperous) cheese-making as the equivalent of birthing spiritual children.

Share and share alike

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

There’s a funny component of grad school that seems awfully like kindergarten: sharing. Twenty years ago, as you clutched your new box of 256 colored crayons in your hands, a kind adult would look down at you from lofty heights and intone, reproachfully, “Now, are you going to share?” Alternate-but-amiable courses of action were, in reality, non-existent. Survival meant sharing.

Graduate work, at least in the humanities, seems to operate under the same fundamental assumption. We have been deluged with e-mails from my department, exhorting each and every one of us to share. Submitting scholarly work to conferences is, of course, part of the academic life. But there is a certain urgency layered on top of these calls for papers that I was not expecting. If, heaven forbid, no one from our small department applies to an especially prestigious conference, a bizarre inferiority complex manifests itself. In the professors’ minds, the logic seems to proceed thusly:

I think we’re a good department.
Good departments apply to good conferences.
We didn’t apply to this good conference.
Therefore, we are not a good department.

Heavens! Should such a situation arise, we are sent terse e-mails, asking, “Can anyone tell me why no one has applied to this symposium?” The implication: Aren’t you going to share?

Well, good news for all: kindergarten worked, and I am sharing.

Dear Elissa,

I am writing to inform you that you have been selected to participate in the Seventeenth Annual Indiana University Art History Graduate Student Symposium on Saturday, March 24th….

Please send me an email conirming your participation in the symposium no later than Friday, February 23rd. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.




Foucault Comes to Small Group

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

Last night during our church small group meeting we talked about the Foucauldian conception of truth and power, post-Lacanian subjectivity, and Tim Keller. I like these people.