Slash is clearly a word to watch. Slash I do mean word, not punctuation mark. The emergence of a new conjunction/conjunctive adverb (let alone one stemming from a punctuation mark) is like a rare-bird sighting in the world of linguistics: an innovation in the slang of young people embedding itself as a function word in the language.

Slash – The Chronicle of Higher Education

I don’t know if I count as young here, but I use this all the time. Seems to obviously be an outgrowth of the use of the slash in academic discourses, spilling downward. Because where else is the slash regularized in everyday language? 

Kevin Curtis’ Ripoff Report

Similar to the other piece of stereotaxis I published a few days ago, another scrap of speech:

About 4 hour into the job after I laid down the first coat of sealer, I became very thirsty. I was unable to exit the morgue due to floor finish not drying as fast as I had anticipated with the humidity level, so I opened the dor to a small refrigerator located to the right of the autopsy table. I assumed I might find some water or anything to drink as I was dehydrated.

What I discovered, changed my life forever! There were dismembered body parts & organs wrapped in plastic. A leg, an arm, a hand, a foot, hearts, lungs, tissue, eyes and even a severed human head! I guess I was in a state of shock when I rushed out of the morgue because a physician asked me “What’s wrong”?

I told him exactly what I had seen & asked him what they did with so many body parts? He looked very strange & did not answer me. Instead, wrote something down on a piece of paper. I suddenly became a prime “person of interest” where my every move was watched & video-taped.

I escorted a young radiology technician to the morgue as she did not believe me. When she saw the body parts and severed head, she could not believe it either. We told every single person in Radiology what was in the old upright refrigerator.

I immediately noticed a change in the atmosphere. Security guards were all of a sudden around me…walking behind me and I could hear video camera’s zooming in on me as I walked down the hallways that night. Security followed me to the time card machine that night for the first time in 14 months.

Here, the individual is confronted with a “fantasmatic anatomical fragmentation,” something shocking to him, the fragility and dissocited body, a moment where he “all of a sudden, mysteriously, God only knows why, becomes decompensated,” decomposed into a world that no longer makes sense (#, #).

And it cannot be just the body parts: we are in a morgue, after all, where the job  is to dismember the occasional body. There is an immediate change, a paranoia that bears on everyone and everything, where the imperceptible (the noise of cameras zooming, security guards) begins to impinge upon and dissociate reality. 

Though, unlike a law suit against a basketball player, one with a political direction, a man who sends ricin, a biological weapon, to senators and the president, with notes bearing witness to this fundamental experience: “No one wanted to listen to me before. There are still ‘Missing Pieces’" (#).

EDIT: Or, potentially, a sociopath mimicking such an enunciation (#), which only makes the circulation of these signifiers more intriguing, not less …

Kevin Curtis’ Ripoff Report

First, a strict spatial partitioning: the closing of the town and its outlying districts, a prohibition to leave the town on pain of death … On the appointed day, everyone is ordered to stay indoors: it is forbidden to leave on pain of death. … Each family will have made its own provisions; but, for bread and wine, small wooden canals are set up between the street and the interior of the houses, thus allowing each person to receive his ration without communicating with the suppliers and other residents; meat, fish and herbs will be hoisted up into the houses with pulleys and baskets. If it is absolutely necessary to leave the house, it will be done in turn, avoiding any meeting. Only the intendants, syndics and guards will move about the streets and also, between the infected houses, from one corpse to another…

—Michel Foucault, “Panopticism” (##)

Not quite the end of the seventeenth century, but an eerie similarity. Terrorism as the modern plague. A total, city-wide discipline, but updated for our societies of control. Justified or no, haunting in the extreme …

Saginaw man asks for FBI wiretap on NBA player, wills ‘laser proof cars’ to father

I collect scraps of speech like this, though I used to do it at my other tumblr, stereotaxis …

“I leave 25% for family apartments, houses, small mansions in the middle of the land in country with mountain ranges and cultured lands, home grown fruits, vegetables, fish (shrimps), meat, cigarettes, weed, cocaine, beer, liquor and wine, bullet and laser proof cars, trucks, buses, limousines, boats, yachts that goes on and in water, air plain (sic) with inside and outside parachutes and dance and gambling places as (sic) Atlanta all with laser security and security officers (2 woman to 1 man). I leave 10% for hospitals and chemistry labs to work on molecule, atoms, chromosomes, cell death acids, and oxygen on regeneration then I like to be laid to rest in a water chambers (sic) with flowers, TV, and radio.”

In his third Seminar, Lacan speaks of “the sense of the twilight of reality” that characterizes the speech of individuals in the midst of a particularly extreme psychic disturbance (#).

Often, we hear of these as they come to light in legal filings, appeals to the law for restitution of the social order against some corruption,  and, often, fixated on a particular celebrity, a figure that looms larger that life in one’s mind. 

He writes – sues for justice – as if he is already dead, and what we need is research into the infinite decomposition of the world: molecule, atoms, chromosomes, cell death acids, and oxygen. 

Saginaw man asks for FBI wiretap on NBA player, wills ‘laser proof cars’ to father

The Food Channel fetishization of cooking has made it look intimidating …

This post by Mark Bittman (more on his review of Michael Pollan’s new book on cooking below) finally brought in to focus something I couldn’t quite put my finger on, namely, why I dislike all those shows like Chopped, etc, on television. 

Now, I love cooking shows, shows with recipes and instructions and ingredients. I even prefer Rachel Ray’s 30 Minute Meals to all those semi-homemade, professional, and industrial looks at cooking. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, or maybe it’s the scholar, but either way, regardless of the celebrity chef du jour (your Boy Meets Grill, your Molto Mario, your Naked Chef), I really enjoy cooking shows.

Which makes my disdain for most* all the more jarring. When the Cooking Channel, launched I was ecstatic. First, because it gave me the satisfaction of being right. It fulfilled a prediction, which I would tell to all and sundry, that Food TV was going to alienate the initial audience that earned it a devoted following, and that another channel would step in and fill that void and steal their audience. Second, because it started with a lot of actual cooking shows. (I was also hopeful that, since it was Food TV doing this, that they realized precisely what I thought was wrong with their programming and would keep it cooking-oriented. Alas and alack, that did not last very long at all, to my great disappointment.) 

And Bittman’s comment gets at the thing that really bugs me: the programming that slowly seeps in has an entirely different idea of the subject watching it. Cooking shows imagine producers, people who care about the details and are trying to increase their capacities for living in and engaging with the world around them**; shows about restaurants and cake’s that look like animated characters imagine the opposite, consumers, slowly persuading*** us to “outsource all our cooking to corporations” (as Pollan says).

Bittman notes the extremely cynical argument that some make, that it is “a waste of time for anyone making more than, say, $20 an hour.” Talk about life stripped of all the living. I really like Pollan’s writing (and hope to incorporate it into future intro to college writing courses), and I’m glad he’s now covered pretty much the whole food chain. I am also particularly attuned to both Bittman’s and Pollan’s argument that we need “to create a gender-agnostic cooking culture.” It’s high time for that statement to be obvious. 

*I do like Iron Chef, though for a long time I didn’t like the American version. The original was just so far out there, like the Bob Ross of cooking shows. 

**Though my appreciation is not quite so naive as above, simplified as it is for this topic. There are many perfectly justifiable and important critiques of both cooking shows and Michael Pollan … for another time. 

***In the sense of the term John Berger uses it, in his excellent book Ways of Seeing.

Left alone with his judge, he fills the stage with his own sense of apocalypse, a blazing nihilism.

From a review of Sobata Komachi/Yoroboshi, London 2001 (The Observer).

I saw Tatsuya Fujiwara as the titular blind young man in this, my introduction to Mishima and to Nō. For years, I had failed to figure out which play I had seen; as the internet got better, it got easier. That I have looked for an english translation for over a decade will tell you something about the impression this modernized version of an ancient Japanese drama had on me at the time.

I was drawn back to this text as I reflected on teaching Oedipus Rex this week, and fell into a reverie contemplating a modern production of this most enduring of tragedies (in this, a month of tragedies both local and national). Mishima’s stylized yet modern plays, both Yoroboshi and Sobata Komachi (‘a mausoleum beauty’), leaped immediately to mind. 

That I saw this production seems now to be serendipitous, if not luck beyond belief, staged as it was in London for less than a week. As one reviewer noted, it was “written in white heat, played at white heat,” and in that it evokes the terse, bitter retelling of the ancient myth, the curse on the House of Laius.