Sunday, November 18, 2007

Salue to Eggheads: WWGSD?

Welcome to our first installment of Salute to Eggheads! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out Salute to Eggheads: Introduction.

Before I begin, I'd like to make you aware of the following:

cash advance

Don't ask me how this assessment is made. I just typed in my URL. I'm not sure if I should be pleased or dismayed by this. Using commonly understood language seems like a good thing, but on the other hand I'm not intending for this blog to be read by children in elementary school. I curse a lot, so it isn't really fucking appropriate for third-graders, you know?

Today's Salute to Eggheads is WWGSD? That is, what would Gayatri Spivak do? She's the one that wrote about the subaltern. I first learned this term and her name in a feminst theory class that was taught by a PhD student who was in both Women's Studies and theater, a combination that I initially thought strange but turned out to be so right (that's for a later post).

I took this class with a friend the summer after sophomore year. The class was mostly upperclassmen. That's not a very Women's Studies way to describe it but "upperclass people" sounds ridiculous, "upperclass" makes it sound a polo match, and "mostly juniors and seniors" is just clunky. You understand the dilemma. Because it was a short class, the workload was very intense, maybe 500 pages of reading a week. Perhaps you're in school right now and keenly aware of what this means, or maybe it's been a while, so let me help you appeciate the difference between 500 pages of this:

She’s almost ready to crack! We can feel it!

Just one day after she broke the law again by committing yet another traffic violation, Britney Spears was back on the road.

Be careful drivers of Los Angeles!

On Friday, Unfitney made a pit stop at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. Though she has two houses in the LA area, she loves to spend time in HOtels.

The mother of two, who can only see her kids with a court appointed monitor, also paid a visit to Bel Bambino baby boutique on Robertson.

She’s probably just buying clothes for Tater Tot and Small Fry, but let us pray that she’s pregnant.

How amazing would it be if Brit Brit were sperminated again????

and 500 pages of this:

"When the connection between desire and subject are taken as irrelevant or merely reverse, the subject-effect that surreptitiously emerges is much like the generalized ideological subject of the theorist. This may be the legal subject of socialized capital, neither labor nor management, holding a "strong" passport, using a "strong" or "hard" currency, with supposedly unquestioned access to due process. It is certainly not the desiring subject as Other"

Notice that the second paragraph, courtesy of GS, has no spaces, no mention of celebrities, no pictures, and lots of quotes, indicating yet something else you need to figure out. The lingo is dense and not easily understood, whereas the lingo in the first is easy to figure out: UnFitney, HOtels, etc.

So needless to say a lot of the time we were both confused as all hell, and not a little bit intimidated by all these older women around us. One woman in particular who was Indian, of the continent, talked an awful lot. I suspect she thought, and we certainly concurred, that she had more of a right to comment on the subaltern than us white folks (note: in that part of the midwest being even half Jewish was really "ethnic," because so many kids were right off the farm, having never seen a Jew or a bagel, not even the Lender's frozen kind). Words like hegemonic and mimetic, names like Gramsci and Homi Bhabha rolled right off her tongue.

We started to consider dropping the class. It was clearly way over our heads. But thank God thank God, we went to see the teacher first, bashfully explaining our hopeless stupidity next to Ms. Bhabha. She sort of rolled her eyes, leaving us both stunned, then stated to that this woman had no idea what she was talking about but was just so enamored by the sound of her own voice that she would never shut up. We both stared at her as though she had just spoken Swahili. She went on to say that she had read our papers, that we did understand what we were learning and when we're we going to start talking in class already?

Can I say the clouds parted allowing the rays of a sunbeam to pierce the gloom? The angels sang, the harps played etc. It was truly a revelation: just because someone uses academic jargon doesn't mean they have any idea what they're talking about. So don't ever assume that when you hear high falutin' language that you can't understand it. A lesson that serves me to this day.

Food tip du jour: goat gouda. I have no freaking idea what "delicately grassy, yet bucky" means as a cheese descriptor, but this stuff is good.

1 comment:

Batwing said...

As Professor Winger, I would just like to say: WWGSD is brilliant, yet has such a simple answer. Spivak would do the deconstruct. Pumpkin slime getting you down? Deconstruct it. Confused by that perfume description? Deconstruct it. Bad sex the other night? De-fucking-construct it, baby. The more passive verbs, Latinate nouns, and words with "ize" in the sentences you produce, the better. It is so much more satisfying than the sacrifice demanded by our man Jesus.