Archive for November, 2004

04w49:2 Bad Writing, or, Academic Prose

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 49 number 2 (bad writing, or, academic prose)

Helena Echlin’s article which I posted in the last email, has drawn criticism from a friend of mine about how unfair it is for her to pull one sentence out of context in order to build an argument around it. His full reply and my own to it I’ll post on my site later, but for now, I need to send out the link to this article, which involves the charge of “the out of context sentence”. It is based on Denis Dutton’s Bad Writing contest, which awards based obfuscated sentences. The 1999 winner was Judith Butler, for this sentence:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Clearly Helena’s example doesn’t measure up, but as Mark Bauderlein argues in this goodread,

Culler calls it irresponsible to pull sentences out of context … even if we do take Culler’s point at face value, it is a challenge to imagine any context in which Butler’s winning sentence would not be an example of bad writing. Culler’s explanation may give it some sense, but it still sounds windy, pretentious, and clogged.

This article is a review of a recently published book defending bad writing by those theorists Dutton’s contest was parodying. Once again, thanks to Erin O’Connor, who posted this link on her blog today. – Timothy

Bad Writing’s Back | Mark Bauerlein
“The cheap partisan spirit reinforces the point made by Dutton, David G. Myers, Katha Pollitt, and others that the jargon and bloat of theory prose excludes every readership but other theorists – a damning claim given that the theorists purport to labor for social justice.[…] The controversy called for more humor and less hauteur, more admission and less theoretical wriggling. That would require theorists to thicken their skins and behave with modesty and balance, a tough act for people who in their own small universe run seminars, departments, and lecture series with the surety and vanity of pop culture icons […] We should apply the pragmatic test to today’s theorists. What if in the end nobody abandons common sense and adopts the theory habit? Butler aims to ‘provoke new ways of looking’ and Culler repeats Emerson’s dictum, ‘Truly speaking, it is not instruction but provocation that I can receive from another soul,’ but what if nobody is provoked? […] the theorists’ recondite language cuts them off from real politics […] only certain disruptions thwart common sense and alter the world. […] If you propose to explode certain attitudes and beliefs, and to do so by disrupting their proper idiom, then you must compose a language compelling, powerful, memorable, witty, striking, or poignant enough to supplant it. Your language must be an attractive substitute, or else nobody will echo it.”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 29 November 2004 @ 7:11 PM

04w49:1 Academia

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 49 number 1 (academia)

As Steven Pinker said in the Edge interview I sent out in the 04w47:1 posting, “…graduate students are grumbling in emails and in conference hallways about being locked out of the job market unless they perpetuate postmodernist gobbledygook, and how they’re eager for new ideas from the sciences that could invigorate the humanities within universities, which are, by anyone’s account, in trouble.” My recent experiences attending public lectures at the University of Toronto have been memorable but also remind me of how I’m glad to not be in school at the moment. While I’ve anticipated returning to academy to do a Master’s degree for sometime, an hour or so among the mediocrity of the elites reminds me how I’d rather develop ideas over pints than seminar tables. All of which reminds me of Helena Echlin’s article, “How Yale Strangles Literature”, which I first read four years ago when it was first published. At that time I e-mailed it to a couple of friends. I re-finding it for this posting, I came across Erin O’Connor’s blog and I should really thank her, since her posting from last February led me to the other articles below. Rounding off these links, is the article by Scott Smallwood on last spring’s demise of the Invisible Adjunct, a blog now a classic on the subject. – Timothy


How Yale Strangles Literature | Helena Echlin
“In general, students and faculty at Yale do not explicitly espouse theory, or particular theorists. But high theory, whatever its merits or demerits, has validated the use of jargon. People who talk nonsense are now looked upon not as sloppy thinkers, but as sages. The ode must traverse the problem of solipsism … And it is literary theory that has made us see writers as fallible, blinkered creatures, unaware of what they write. The critic’s job is to expose their blind spots and expound their contradictions. This goes some way to explaining the scorn for writers that I encountered.” Commentary by Erin O’ConnorArticle Date, Autumn 2000

The Seminar has no clothes | Erin O’Connor

Belated Apologies | Dorothea Salo
“Which brings me back, in a roundabout sort of way, to Wilf Cude. […] He?s mad at the waste of people?s lives. It?s not just the lifetimes lost to graduate school, nor is it the loss to academia itself (he believes as I do that academia more or less gets what it deserves there, good and bad). He hates the economic, physical, and psychological damage that academia causes attriters and non-attriters alike, the same damage that none of my tenured/tenure-track friends has thus far cared to acknowledge happening to me.”

Required reading | Dorothea Salo
Posting links to a 60-page PDF report on the current state of the American doctoral system.

Ph.D. Program Retention Rates, Again | John Bruce
The permalink for this posting doesn’t work, so the link is to the February archive. Scroll down to February 03, 2004. There are multiple postings on the subject from this month.

Inane Literary Politics… | Julia at Winston’s Diary
A friend writes: “One of the characters in a book by a Vietnamese-American author was indicted by the class for her phallocentric American ‘desire to know’ (I guess vaginocentric non-Americans just want to loll around in loose shoes and ignorance–exactly how is this bullshit supposed to promote tolerance and human happiness?). The character discovers that her mother’s life in Vietnam had been brutal rather than idyllic, and that the Vietcong were as lousy as the feudal overlords, if not worse. I pointed out that it wasn’t the character’s ‘American need to know’ that uncovered the truth, but her mother’s unprompted confessional letter. Was that evidence, then, of a ‘Vietnamese need to tell’? One woman sitting next to me nodded enthusiastically (she hasn’t been fully indoctrinated yet) and said, ‘That’s great’ but everyone else glared at her until she looked at her shoes, suddenly knowing she’d made a gaffe.”

Disappearing Act | Scott Smallwood
“Like the Invisible Adjunct blog, which walked a line between the personal and systemic, her departure is not just about her. It’s yet another signal, some say, of how broken the academic hiring system is. About 45 percent of all faculty members are now part-timers. Each year thousands of people with new doctorates in fields like history and English fail to find the tenure-track jobs they are chasing. In English, for instance, fewer than half of the new Ph.D.’s win tenure-track jobs initially, according to the Modern Language Association. When confronted with those numbers, the apologists, as the Invisible Adjunct calls them, maintain that there will always be jobs for the good ones. But if someone with a Ph.D. from a top-tier college, publications, and writing skills good enough to get thousands of people to start their day by checking what she has to say — if she isn’t one of the good ones, who is? ‘She has jumped through all the hoops that the profession set for her,’ says Ralph Luker, a former professor at Morehouse College and a regular participant in the Invisible Adjunct blog. ‘And we failed to find a place for her.'”

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emailed by Timothy on Sunday 28 November 2004 @ 7:09 PM

04w48:3 The Religious Right and Evolution

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 48 number 3 (the religious right and evolution)


Ronald Wright and Carl Zimmer on Evolution | The Current
Ronald Wright -– Evolution has stopped | For some, it’s profoundly humbling to think that humans are the descendants of apes – and evolutionary cousins to chimpanzees and orangutans. We’ve evolved a long way as a species, but maybe not as far as we like to think. It’s been said that if a Cro-Magnon man from 40,000 years ago time traveled to the 21st Century and was given an up-to-date wardrobe and haircut, you wouldn’t be able to see the difference between him and anyone else on your bus ride home. […] Ronald Wright has been mulling over what this means to the history of human civilizations and the future of humanity. He’s best known as the author of Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents. His new book is called the A Short History of Progress. We recently spoke with Ronald Wright and asked him to comment on one of the last lines of the book, which says our species is ‘an Ice Age hunter only half-evolved towards intelligence; clever but seldom wise.’
Carl Zimmer – Evolution Elsewhere | So humans still have hunter-gatherer brains, and yet they’re playing with nuclear technology. And if we don’t blow ourselves up, we might just pollute ourselves or consume ourselves into extinction. Well, if th at’s not scary enough, here’s another consequence of our slow pace of evolution Â… humans are speeding up the pace of evolution in the rest of the natural world. Carl Zimmer is the author of Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea and Parasite Rex. We reached him in New Haven, Connecticut.”
NOTE: Ronald Wright interview runs 2:07-12:52; Carl Zimmer interview runs 13:16-21:55

Evolution and the 3rd World & Georgia School Board | The Current
Evolution and the 3rd World | Meredith Small is an anthropologist at the University of Cornell in Ithaca, New York. She is also a regular contributor to National Public Radio’s program ‘All Things Considered.’
Georgia School Board | Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859, causing a sensation in Victo rian England and introducing the world to the concept of evolution. In 1925, the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial made a legend of Clarence Darrow – the lawyer who fought in a Tennessee courtroom to have the theory of evolution taught in schools over the objections of Creationists. Almost eighty years later, evolution and creationism have renewed hostilities in some American school boards. In Dover, Pennsylvania, ninth-grade biology instructors must now teach the theory of ‘intelligent design’ which critics say is just a disguised version of Creationism. It holds that life on earth has been guided and shaped by a divine intelligence – presumably God – that it didn’t get this way by the random genetic accidents of Darwin’s notion of natural selection. Meanwhile, in Cobb County, Georgia, they say they don’t teach the biblical Creation story in biology classes but in 2002, the school board found itself under pressure from two sides from parents who wanted Creationism in the classr oom and parents who felt the Bible had no place in science class. The school board’s compromise was to put stickers on science textbooks saying that evolution is ‘a theory,’ not a fact and that it should be ‘approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.’ The school board is now awaiting a decision on a court challenge to that policy. Jay Dillon, a spokesperson for the Cobb County school board, was recently interviewed on the radio program California Politics Today, and we aired an excerpt with what he told them. No one from the Cobb County school board returned phone calls from the CBC.”
NOTE: Real Audio Files; Meredith Small’s interview runs 0-8.13min | Georgia School Board discussion runs from 8:14min

Left Behind Series | The Current
“The Left Behind Series is the most popular book series in the world. There are ten boo ks in all … so far. All of them have made the best-seller lists of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. All of the books are suspenseful, fast-paced books that explore the evangelical Christian saga of Armageddon.

Anna Maria Tremonti speaks with one of the co-authors, Jerry Jenkins.

Then we hear from two critics about the underlying theology of The Left Behind Series. Gershom Gorenberg is the author of The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple. He was in Jerusalem. Michelle Goldberg writes for and she was in New York. ” NOTE: broadcast date 1 January 2003

Jesus plus nothing: undercover among America’s secret theocrats | Jeffrey Sharlet
“Tiahrt was a short shot glass of a man, two parts flawle ss hair and one part teeth. He wanted to know the best way ‘for the Christian to win the race with the Muslim.’ The Muslim, he said, has too many babies, while Americans kill too many of theirs. […] ‘People separate it out,’ he warned Tiahrt. ”Oh, okay, I got religion, that’s private.’ As if Jesus doesn’t know anything about building highways, or Social Security. We gotta take Jesus out of the religious wrapping.’ ‘All right, how do we do that?’ Tiahrt asked. ‘A covenant,’ Doug answered. The congressman half-smiled, as if caught between confessing his ignorance and pretending he knew what Doug was talking about. ‘Like the Mafia,’ Doug clarified. ‘Look at the strength of their bonds.’ He made a fist and held it before Tiahrt’s face. Tiahrt nodded, squinting. ‘See, for them it’s honor,’ Doug said. ‘For us, it’s Jesus.’ Coe listed other men who had changed the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their ‘brothers’: ‘Look at Hitler,’ he said. ‘Lenin , Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden.’ The Family, of course, possessed a weapon those leaders lacked: the ‘total Jesus’ of a brotherhood in Christ. ‘That’s what you get with a covenant,’ said Coe. ‘Jesus plus nothing.'”

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emailed by Timothy on Friday 26 November 2004 @ 6:41 PM

04w48:2 The Proposed Changes to the Canada Council

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 48 number 2 (The proposed changes to the Canada Council)


Is the horse dead yet? | Chris Hand
“What Canadian Visual Artist can compare with the reputations that Celine, Gould or the OSM have on an international level? The past two Canadian representatives to the Venice Biennale have done really bad electro-acoustic music and appropriated George W. Bush’s Christmas Card to the American public as what they thought was ‘cutting edge Canadian Art.’

From this seat, if the visual artists out there would stop worrying about the chump change doled out by the Canada Council, get their acts together and set up a meeting with Liza Frulla (or better still, Paul Martin) then perhaps they’d be able to convince the holders of the purse strings that the Canada Council should be giving out scads of cash.

As I don’t see that happening, ever. The only other way that I can see visual artists making the money that they deserve is by selling it. Part and parcel of the process of selling it, is displaying it, marketing it, promoting it, etc.”

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emailed by Timothy on Thursday 25 November 2004 @ 1:51 PM

04w48:1 The 2004 Massey Lectures

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 48 number 1 (The 2004 Massey Lectures)

Those of you on the Lecture List will have gotten this already, provided here primarily for the American subscribers and people outside of Toronto.


The 2004 Massey Lectures on CBC’s Ideas | Ronald Wright
“Monday, November 22 – Friday, November 26

In his 2004 CBC Massey Lectures, A Short History of Progress, the acclaimed anthropologist and novelist Ronald Wright argues that only by understanding humanity’s patterns of triumph and disaster since the Stone Age, can we recognize the threats to our own civilization. With luck and wisdom, he suggests, we can help shape the future.

Each time history repeats itself, so it’s said, the price goes up. The twentieth century was a time of runaway growth in human population, consumption, and technology, placing a colossal load on all natural systems, especially earth, air , and water?the very elements of life. The most urgent questions of the twenty-first century are: where will this growth lead? Can it be consolidated or sustained? And what kind of world is our present bequeathing to our future?

In A Short History of Progress Ronald Wright argues that our modern predicament is as old as civilization, a 10,000-year experiment we have participated in but seldom controlled. Only by understanding the patterns of triumph and disaster that humanity has repeated around the world since the Stone Age, can we recognize the experiment?s inherent dangers, and, with luck and wisdom, shape its outcome.

Ronald Wright was born in England, educated at Cambridge, and now lives in British Columbia. A novelist, historian, and essayist, he has won prizes in all three genres, and is published in ten languages. His nonfiction includes the number one bestseller Stolen Continents, winner of the Gordon Montador Award and chosen as a bo ok of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times. His first novel, A Scientific Romance, won the 1997 David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the Globe and Mail, the Sunday Times, and the New York Times. His latest book is the novel Henderson?s Spear. Ronald Wright is also a frequent contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, and has written and presented documentaries for radio and. television on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Note: because Ideas is broadcast across Canada at 9pm local, you can listen to it online by going to the ‘listen’ link above and selecting a city in a timezone where it is currently 9pm. So you listen to it a 8pm EST by clicking on Halifax,Fredericton, or Moncton and at midnight EST by clicking on Vancouver, with the other cities in between.

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 22 November 2004 @ 4:16 PM

04w47:1 Steven Pinker

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 47 number 1 (Steven Pinker)

I’m rather depressed lately, not simply because I’m an officially-undiagnosed sufferer of S.A.D, but also because Kerry lost the election, and now the right-wing nut jobs think they have free reign to go to town. And, as of today, FOX News is going to be allowed to broadcast in Canada. I would like to think that the Canadian education system is good enough that Fox’s bullshit will be seen as such, and that it will never quite catch on here, but given everything I’m no longer so sure. I’m also really depressed over the fact that there’s all this talk of religion. I come from the philosophy where that stuff should be kept to yourself. I mean, my personal collection of goodreads includes religious articles but I’ll never send them out on the list, because why should you care? People are smart enough to find what works for them when it comes to feeding the spirit. Anyway, talk of Creationism makes me want to tear out my hair, and so I wanted to pass this on to y’all ‘cept that it’s so short that there’s no point linking to it, I might as well quote it:

Re Creationism, I must point out an unfortunate subtext that’s no longer quite so obvious. Having grown up in the previous iteration of the rural American south, I know that what *really* smarted about Darwin, down there, was the logical implication that blacks and whites are descended from a common ancestor. Butt-ugly, but there it is. That was the first objection to evolutionary theory that I ever heard, and it was a very common one, in fact the most common. That it was counter to Genesis seemed merely convenient, in the face of an anthropoid grand -uncle in the woodpile. – William Gibson, blog posting November 17th 2004

Gibson was commenting on a recent decision by Pennsylvania requiring the teaching of “intelligent design”. He linked to this article before commenting. His latest posting as if this writing is a quote of Martin Luther King’s on American god-zealots.

So in keeping with the sanity of evolution, here are some articles on Steven Pinker, whose work as a psychologist gives us a much more sensible view of reality than “the superman in the sky” theory as I like to call it. Anyone who I talk to regularly knows that reading Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate earlier this year has had a profound influence on my thinking, so it’s about time that I sent out these links to two videos and two articles. – Timothy

An Interview with Steven Pinker | Steven Pinker and
“The main question is: ‘Why are empirical questions about how the mind works so weighted down with political and moral and emotional baggage? Why do people believe that there are dangerous implications to the idea that the mind is a product of the brain, that the brain is organized in part by the genome, and that the genome was shaped by natural selection?’ This idea has been met with demonstrations, denunciations, picketings, and comparisons to Nazism, both from the right and from the left. And these reactions affect both the day-to-day conduct of science and the public appreciation of the science. By exploring the political and moral colorings of discoveries about what makes us tick, we can have a more honest science and a less fearful intellectual milieu.”

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature | Steven Pinker
From the book jacket: Our conceptions of human nature affect every aspect of our lives, from the way we raise our children to the political movements we embrace. Yet just as science is bringing us into a golden age of understanding human nature, many people are hostile to the very idea. They fear that a biological understanding of the mind will be used to justify inequality, subvert social change, and dissolve personal responsibility and strip life of meaning and purpose. In The Blank Slate Pinker retraces the history that led people to view human nature as dangerous, and unsnarls the moral and political debates that have entangled the idea along the way. ” Real Video file, various streamspeeds available. Video length: 1.52 hr, Pinker begins at 10.55min

Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language | Steven Pinker
Why does a three year-old say ‘I went,’ then six months later start saying ‘I goed’? When you first heard the word ‘fax,’ how did you know the past tense is ‘faxed’? And why is it that a baseball player is said to have ‘flied out,’ but could never have ‘flown out’? After fifteen years of studying words in history, in the laboratory, and in everyday speech, Steven Pinker has worked out the dynamic relationship -– searching memory vs. following rules -– that determines the forms our speech takes. In one of his final lectures at MIT Pinker gives the ultimate lecture on verbs, in a rich mixture of linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and a surprising amount of humor. If you’ve ever wondered about the plural of Walkman, or why they are called the Toronto Maple Leafs and not Leaves, this lecture provides answers to these and other questions of modern language. ” As above, this is a Real Video presentation, various streamspeeds available. Length is 1:09:38, Q&A begins at 59:32

How Much Art Can the Brain Take? | Steven Pinker
“Thorstein Veblen’s and Quentin Bell’s classic analyses of taste and fashion, in which an elite’s conspicuous displays of consumption, leisure, and outrage are emulated by the rabble, sending the elite off in search of new inimitable displays, nicely explains the otherwise inexplicable oddities of the arts. […] The steadfast patrons of the arts are the aristocracy and those who want to join them. Most people would lose their taste for a musical recording if they learned it was being sold at supermarket checkout counters or on late-night television, and even the work of relatively prestigious artists, such as Pierre Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet, draws derisive reviews when it is shown in a popular ‘blockbuster’ museum show. Modern and postmodern works are intended not to give pleasure but to confirm or confound the theories of a guild of critics and analysts, to e’pater la bourgeoisie, or to baffle the rubes in Peoria. The banality that the psychology of the arts is partly the psychology of status has been repeatedly pointed out, not just by cynics and barbarians but by erudite social commentators such as Quentin Bell and Tom Wolfe. But in the modern university, it is unmentioned, indeed, unmentionable. Academics and intellectuals are culture vultures. In a gathering of today’s elite, it is perfectl y acceptable to laugh that you barely passed Physics for Poets and Rocks for Jocks and have remained ignorant of science ever since, despite the obvious importance of scientific literacy to informed choices about personal health and public policy. But saying that you have never heard of James Joyce or that you tried listening to Mozart once but prefer Andrew Lloyd Webber is as shocking as blowing your nose on your sleeve or announcing that you employ children in your sweatshop, despite the obvious [un]importance of your tastes in leisure-time activity to just about anything. The blending in people’s minds of art, status, and virtue is an extension of Bell’s principle of ‘sartorial morality’: people find dignity in the signs of an honorably futile existence removed from all menial necessities.”

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emailed by Timothy on Thursday 18 November 2004 @ 8:59 PM

04w46:2 Artist-Run Centres

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 46 number 2 (artist-run centres)

Thanks again to AA Bronson and Andy Patterson for allowing me to publish their articles on the Goodreads site. – Timothy


The Humiliation of the Bureaucrat | AA Bronson
“…wanting a Canadian art scene just like in New York, or London, or Paris in the thirties; as a Canadian artist typically unable to picture the reality of a Canadian art scene except as a dream projected upon the national landscape as a sea-to-shining-sea connective tissue; that is as a dream community connected by and reflected by the media; that is, authenticated by its own reflection in the media; as such a Canadian artist desiring to see not necessarily himself, but the picture of his art scene pictured on TV; and knowing the impossibility of an art scene without real museums (the Art Callery of Ontario was not a real museum for us), without real art magazines (and artscanada was not a real art magazine for us), without real artists (no, Harold Town was not a real artist for us, and we forgot that we ourselves were real artists, because we had not seen ourselves in the media – real artists, like Frank Stella, appeared in Artforum magazine), as such an artist desiring such a picture of such a scene, such a reality from sea-to-shining-sea, then, it was natural to call upon our national attributes – the bureaucratic tendency and the protestant work ethic – and working together, and working sometimes not together we laboured to structure, or rather to untangle from the messy post-Sixties spaghetti of our minds, artist-run galleries, artists’ video, and artist-run magazines. And that allowed us to allow ourselves to see ourselves as an art scene. And we did.” AA’s famous article on the history of artist-run centres in Canada, from 1983.

Preface to “Money Value Art” | Andrew J. Patterson
“If economic dependency on the United States was already a foregone conclusion by the beginning of the 1950s, then Canadian distinction from the expanding American empire had to be asserted in a different domain. The cultural realm provided an excellent opportunity. Beginning with the 1941 Artists’ Conference in Kingston, Ontario, the Federation of Canadian Artists and other arts-funding advocates ‘invoked the nati onal interest as the best strategy for defending and advancing the boundaries of what they understood as culture,’ perhaps with a utopian fervour and perhaps strategically. Indeed, coalitions of visual and performing artists of the time tended not to position themselves as autonomous modernist artists. Instead, they engaged in discourses concerning democracy, culture, nation building, and public space. They worked alongside agrarian and labour activists, proto-feminists, and even popular entertainers. It is worth noting that the Brief Concerning the Cultural Aspects of Canadian Reconstruction, presented to the 1944 federal Turgeon Special Committee on Reconstruction and Re-establishment, resolved that Canada’s National Gallery should be radically decentralized and reconstituted as a network of location-based centres and practices.”

Artist-Run Centre posting | Sally McKay and Guests
“It’s even more imperative that ARCs (or parallel galleries, as they used to be called) re-articulate their purpose, and do it in a language that inspires a new generation. Running an ARC is a ton of work. It requires a dedicated volunteer board with enthusiasm for the future and a vision for the programming. It requires staff who feel invested enough in the institution to put in extra hours making art shows happen on a shoestring. It’s a team effort that, when it works, works great. But inspiration is required and that inspiration seems to be in short supply. Institutions change internally and so does the cultural climate around them. In the 1970s artists needed ARCs because there was nowhere else to show their work. It was a let’s-put-the-show-on-right -here-in-the-barn mentality that drove the long hours and creative solutions to systemic an d structural problems. Now there’s a sort of entrenched misery, a doom and gloom attitude that we will all volunteer our energies, even if its no fun at all, to maintain a system that has become integral to visual art production in this country. But why?”

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emailed by Timothy on Friday 12 November 2004 @ 3:10 PM

04w46:1 John Ralston Saul on Journalism and Public Debate

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 46 number 1 (John Ralston Saul on Journalism and Public Debate)

This is really great. – Timothy


Inaugural Joseph Howe Lecture | John Ralston Saul
“If we look around at the 20 odd western democracies, we can see that they are the best-educated societies civilization has ever seen. […] What’s more, we live more than 75 percent longer than we were living 100 years ago. That means we have a great deal more time. We are not in any rush. […] So here we are with high education, long life, stability and fairness. That suggests that there is no need for enmity. No need for false populism. No need for malevolent division or unnecessary division. There is certainly no need for yellow journalism and false populism. And we have another advantage -– all this remarkable technology. It doesn’t make us think any faster, but it allows us to get the nuts and bolts of life into place a great deal faster than ever before. That means we have even more time to educate ourselves, to live, to be stable, to be fair, and above all to think and to discuss and to argue. ”

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emailed by Timothy on Monday 08 November 2004 @ 7:45 PM

04w45:2 Why We Sleep

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 45 number 2 (why we sleep)


Why We Sleep | Jerome M. Siegel
“Various studies indicate that a constant release of monoamines can desensitize the neurotransmitters’ receptors. The interruption of monoamine release during REM sleep thus may allow the receptor systems to ‘rest’ and regain full sensitivity. And this restored sensitivity may be crucial during waking for mood regulation, which depends on the efficient collaboration of neurotransmitters and their receptors. […] Michel Jouvet, the pioneering sleep researcher who discovered four decades ago that the brain stem generates REM sleep, has a provocative suggestion for the large amounts of REM in immature animals. REM sleep’s intense neuronal activity and energy expenditure, Jouvet believes, have a role early in life in establishing the genetically programmed neuronal connections that make so-called instinctive behavior possible. Before birth, or in animals that have delayed sensory development, REM sleep may act as a substitute for the external stimulation that prompts neuronal development in creatures that are mature at birth. Work by Howard Roffwarg, director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and his colleagues support this idea. Roffwarg found that preventing REM sleep in cats during this early period can lead to abnormalities in the development of the visual system.”
PDF file: 327K

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emailed by Timothy on Saturday 06 November 2004 @ 5:26 PM


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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 45 number 1

John Kerry has called Bush to concede defeat, meaning yes it’s true: four more years. I for one am burnt out by the past year, hope has turned to ash, enough is enough. I know most of the people on this list are lefties, so I’m going to avoid political articles for the next while. No need preaching to the choir, when most of us are Canadian to begin with and nothing we do or say matters. If a particularly good article comes along showing Bush is as guilty of war crimes as we suspect he is, then maybe I’ll post to it, but that’s not likely to happen. The voters have spoken and they’ve chosen George Bush’s vision of America.
Now I figured, if Bush wins, I’ll send a link to that Guardian Article. Published on Oct 23rd, many of you have probably read it already. If you go to Guardian’s website today, looking for that article, you find:

The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

“Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action – an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind.”

The article has now been removed from the Guardian Unlimited website.

The offending sentence is:

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod’s law dictates he’ll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr – where are you now that we need you?

I can’t help but agree with the first part – despite of what the Christian Evangelicals think, God in fact does not exist. – Timothy

A reader’s guide to expatriating on November 3 | Bryant Urstadt
“So the wrong candidate has won, and you want to leave the country. Let us consider your options.”

To remove or add yourself to this list, go here

emailed by Timothy on Wednesday 03 November 2004 @ 12:03 PM