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Archive for March 2012

ignore this

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Let’s definitely not extrapolate from personal (and privileged) experience…


Not feeling so great tonight at the thought that a) on the one hand someone told me I could potentially get paid £900 for this piece that I am supposed to be writing, a piece that I’ve basically (it seems incredibly clear) I’ve been angling basically my adult life to get, and I got excited, as believe you me the £900 would come in some serious handy…


b) The girl from downstairs, a first-year undergraduate at the university at which I teach, came up last night whilst I was out to ask my girlfriend if she could use out washing machine. Thing is, she had a job interview today and needed to wash some clothes for it. Out of politeness, said girlfriend said yes and then asked her what the interview was for. “Oh, Goldman Sachs. An internship!” Right. “It pays £10,000 a month – it’s a month’s work. I really need this! Thank so you much etc etc etc.”

Look. I’m fine. I live beyond my means and seriously shouldn’t complain and  etc. But still… Jesus fucking christ does that stick in the craw amidst bank machine balance checking and aggressive notes from landlords and all the rest. Hard to imagine, in the end, that the value added that she adds to the world is etc.

Wonder if she got the job.

Strong sense tonight that it’s time to FSU. And  etc.

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March 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

found titles

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As I’m in a bit of one of those self-improvement-via-OCD-meets-CBT type places right now, am tempted to write a fiction daily, however short, that takes its title from one of the Google searches, that according to my stats, led someone (or many ones) to this site.

As with most blogs, I imagine, these are largely searches after pornography.

I’m not going to write pornography.

But still, even those searches / titles could work. So… how about for tomorrow (if there’s time):”the thing girls find pleasurable but shameful.”

Feels right to me….


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March 8, 2012 at 3:45 am

Posted in fiction, google

the satire of our betters

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Not that one should really go in for such things, but I just saw a Gawker post that makes a point pertinent to other things that I’ve been thinking about lately. Only going to name one name here, as it’s a name attached to a current piece, but I’m starting to notice a bit of a trend or a trope that is persistently appearing in a certain, well, caste of writing:

1) one writes an article / piece / novel that is a bit or a lot tone deaf when it comes to the social positionality of the dramas, humorousness, or both invoked

2) perhaps one thus delights / edifies / entertains those readers / viewers how happen to share the social position involved but then

3) one is criticised for the naive / un-reflexive / bizarre / grating (attempts at) drama or humor, perhaps by those who don’t share the same social position, and so

4) one explains / argues that said piece was meant in jest / as satire.

For instance, see this piece by Atossa Araxia Abrahamian in The New Inquiry, this response to the piece, and the original writer’s response to the response.

The trick  – and this runs parallel to what the Harvard kids in the video on Gawker don’t get either – is that the ultimate purpose of one’s piece, the final message, may well undercut any semi-satiric posturing that comes in the middle. That is to say, if in the New Inquiry piece, in the words of the author,

the ‘woe is columbia’ attitude was intended to be self-mocking (um, i guess i failed?) and the main point i was trying to make is that going to fancy liberal arts college actually makes you less competent for the kinds of jobs you get right after college…

it’d probably be better for the penultimate (or is it ultimate?) point not to be that the problem with humanities degrees is that just about anyone – not just the tenderly cultivated products of international schools who end up at Columbia – can get one. As she says in the initial essay linked above:

The reason for the bachelor’s degree’s impending obsolescence has a lot to do with the high costs, and now publicly-recognized flaws of American four-year colleges. It is also an inevitable consequence of just how available higher education has become. With limitless student loans and free-for-all admissions to for-profit colleges, education is no longer a surefire indicator of class or race—a valuable function for the reproduction of both hierarchies—or even intelligence or ability—the supposed backbone of the information economy.

Anyway, it is one example of many, this… But you see how it works, right? Someone calls you on your snobbery or silliness, and you in turn call them, implicitly or explicitly, on their stupidity for not getting the in-joke, the ironic jargon of the quad, the argot of the ivied.

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March 8, 2012 at 2:46 am

“not a particular one, but just some ad with beautiful young people in it having fun”

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From Tom McCarthy’s Remainder, which I’m rereading to teach this week. The protagonist is sitting at a coffee place in Soho and is watching people on Old Compton Street outside:

They reminded me of an ad – not a particular one, but just some ad with beautiful young people in it having fun. The people in the street now had the same ad in mind as me. I could tell. In their gestures and their movements they acted out the roles of the ad’s characters: the way they turned around and walked in one direction while still talking in another, how they threw their heads back when they laughed, the way they let their mobiles casually slip into their low-slung trouser pockets. Their bodies and faces buzzed with glee, exhilaration – a jubilant awareness that for once, just now, at this particular right-angled intersection, they didn’t have to sit in the cinema or living room in front of a TV and watch other beautiful people laughing and hanging out: they could be beautiful young people themselves. See? Just like me: completely second hand.

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March 6, 2012 at 5:44 pm