Quentin's Weeknotes 9/29/18-10/5/18


This week


By contrast, there is something distinct about social sadism in modern capitalism, and in neoliberalism in particular. This is surplus cruelty in a specific sense, sadism supererogatory in relation to the – conjunctural, contested – ‘functional’ requirements of the system, a social formation characterised by the hedged, reversible, embattled but well-documented historical shift away from social punishment as overt – the qualification is crucial – spectacular, sanctioned, performative cruelty.

and perhaps more ambiguously, but hopefully

We build against sadism. We build to experience the joy of its every fleeting defeat. Hoping for more joy, for longer, each time, longer and stronger; until, perhaps, we hope, for yet more; and you can’t say it won’t ever happen, that the ground won’t shift, that it won’t one day be the sadisms that are embattled, the sadisms that are fleeting, on a new substratum of something else, newly foundational, that the sadisms won’t diminish or be defeated, that those for whom they are machinery of rule won’t be done.


Quentin's Weeknotes 9/22/18-9/28/18

This week

  • I attended my father in law's funeral. He was a global citizen, while at the same time a devoted and proud Torontonian. He traveled widely, and with his family lived in Grenada, and Saudi Arabia, using both locations as stepping stones to travel further. But he was born in Toronto, and died there, and talked about the city to me and others with an enthusiastic pride of someone who truly loved it. He read widely, and could speak with great eloquence about history (particularly Canadian and Ukranaian), international politics, literature, music, and art.  He had a PhD in biology, and his passion was raising plants and trees, which he did masterfully both in the family's home garden, and in a farm in Bancroft, Ontario that he reforested from barren scrub. He also raised one hell of a daughter, and was a thoughtful and generous grandad to my son. Those are his greatest gifts as far as I'm concerned. So long, Oleh. Rest in Peace.
  • I along with members of Hartwick College's student Senate, helped register Hartwick students to vote.Technically it was last week, but for reasons that should be obvious, I didn't really have time to take stock until this week.
  • I grabbed an album by the horribly named band "Diarrhea Planet", entitled "I'm rich Beyond your Wildest Dreams". Yeah, their name is terrible, but the music is righteous and fist pumping and beautiful. The song that converted me was "Kids", a chiming, soaring guitar anthem about being young and the terror and sadness of growing up.
  • While watching the absolute horror-show of the courageous testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, I felt so disgusted, and decided to give money to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, Incest National network). Their hotline is always open, and I wanted to give them money to keep it that way.
  • I read Natalie Shure's article about the ways in which the Federalist Society's agenda (they're the group that picked Brent Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Nominee) serves to reinforce patriarchy and violence against women. Essentially, women's equality demands a socialization of the kinds of labor for which women are generally not compensated (particularly around childcare and family work) and so there is an easy overlap between wealth inequality and gender inequality.
  • Harry Matthews, Hartwick's Director of Intercultural Affairs, shows students from the Black Student Alliance around the Black Lives at Hartwick Then and Now ExhibitI attended the Yager Museum's fall reception for new exhibits. I'm really proud of all the exhibits we've put up, and especially Black Lives at Hartwick Then and Now, which I co-curated along with Harry Matthews and Shelley Wallace.

Quentin's Weeknotes 9/15/18-9/21/18

This Week

  • I finished Rebecca Roanhorse's debut novel Trail of Lightning. Roanhorse is an award-winning Ohkay Owingeh (pueblo) author and sets her novel in a post-climate change Dinetah (the Navajo homeland), walled off from the chaos of a world that has mostly drowned. This event also re-charged the supernatural forces of the Dine/Navajo, and the world is thus populated with monsters, gods, and people with astonishing powers based on their clan membership. Roanhorse wrote a wonderful essay on Indigenous Futurism which is well worth your time for its re-configuring of some standard sci-fi tropes:

 the landing of Columbus is no longer the discovery of the New World celebrated in children’s songs and on national holidays, but the start of an earth-shattering zombie apocalypse

  • I watched Frances Ha, the 2012 movie directed by Noah Bambach and written by Baumbach and Greta Gerwig (who also stars as the titular character). I had really mixed feelings about it, the same way that I felt about the characters in Martin Amis's legendary 80s novel Money. Both works feature entitled, relatively priveleged characters whose bad decisions and poor relationships are held up for both criticism and humor. Unlike Amis's book, Frances and her friends actions mostly harm themselves, not other people. And because Gerwig is frankly magical and charming as the lost and rootless Frances, it is easy to find relatable and human moments in the movie, despite the smugness and entitlement that pervades it.

Quentin's Weeknotes 9/8/18-9/14/18

This Week


Quentin's Weeknotes 9/1/18-9/7/18

This week:

  • My son started kindergarten. Yikes!
  • I read the amazing Adam Serwer's pessimistic take on what is at stake in the Supreme Court. Serwer has an amazingly broad grasp of US history and politics, and he focuses his attention on the late 19th century Supreme court which he refers to as the Redemption Court. This court did so much damage by allowing or whole-heartedly endorsing the most violent and repressive aspects of Jim Crow segregation. Serwer points out that courts have never been ideologically neutral, but have often been pushed by the mood of the country, though perhaps that is no longer the case:
The Redemption Court was arguably constrained by the broad public consensus among white people of all political stripes that black people were inferior and undeserving of full citizenship, a consensus that hobbled enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1875 even before it was struck down. The new Roberts Court will pursue its ideological agenda even in the face of majoritarian opposition.
His view of the future is that we are entering a dark time in which an entrenched court will use "the anvil of Judicial Review" to strike down any progressive legislation enacted by the young activists and motivated politicans that seem to be emerging in the base of the democratic party.  I don't dispute the darkness, but I am less convinced of the court's ideological shielding from popular opinion, both because of recent examples that seem to point to holes in the shield and also the long view, taken by Howard Zinn in one of his later published essays that the Supreme Court has almost never been a force for progressive change and we shouldn't fetishize it is some kind of ultimate arbiter. Change comes not from accurate or ideologically neutral interpretation of established law, but from mobilization and power-building.