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Elitists Do It Better Than You

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April 20th, 2007

12:04 pm - Cicero, you're soooo kewl!
Augustine + Cicero = OMG!!! BFF!!!! SQUEEEEEE!!!!

"Can I braid your hair?"


Next, what does Varro mean when he says that there are three kinds of theology: that is, of accounts given of the gods? Of these, he calls one mythical, another physical, and the third civil. If Latin usage permitted, we should call the kind which he placed first 'fabular'; but let us call it 'fabulous', for the word 'mythical' is derived from "mythos", which means 'fable' in Greek.

- Augustine of Hippo, City of God VI.5

I knew that there was such a thing as fabulous theology! Teheologeee iz teh FABU!

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March 8th, 2007

04:20 pm - Shalt not.
I will not write an essay on how Homer was an early conspiracy theorist, no matter how amusing it would be to me personally.

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March 4th, 2007

08:23 pm - hip[ster] coffee shops in/around central london?
please don't hate me.

i'm spending the semester here and am missing new york in an extremely heartaching way, most specifically the dive bar/semi-grunge of my east village neighborhood.

i am looking for a good hip/hipster coffee shop in/around central london--that is to say, one that plays good (read: indie rock/pop) music, one that is ever so slightly pretentious, one that does not charge for wireless, and one that is not a chain. it should be acceptable to sit there for an hour+ with computer/book after only buying one beverage.

i live by russell square tube stop but would travel well into zone 3.

thank you thank you a million times over.

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12:25 pm
This is lovely. I finally found where I belong, haha. Based on the description, at least. Oh la la!

This is an introduction, I guess...And yes, in college my gang used the word "existentialism" to test the degree of inebriation. LOL

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March 3rd, 2007

07:21 pm - The blog reflex.
And let this be our manifesto.

Am I being facetious? Discuss.
Current Location: fishmongers restaurant, over a pint.
Current Mood: Mamatas'd!
Current Music: the glamourous life // Shiela E.

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February 11th, 2007

09:59 pm - open-ended provocations
I want to open some sort of space in which the dimensions and intended dynamic of this forum can be discussed among members. I dislike the appearance of vendettas and quarrels way down on the comment page of a post, as they tend to taint any arguing parties with the distraction of befuddling context and the debilitating rigor of continuity.

IE, AKA, and so, I would like to try to figure out why exactly we/you are here (based on how you people comment, i feel obliged to caveat: petty existentiality aside). I joined the community months ago but then was caught without a computer for about as long, so I'm feeling a little lost.

First of all, I found the level of agitation in the comments to the last post to far outsize the quality of any elitist-ness by any party. Specifically, no one really displayed more than a typical fluency in lingua intelligensia, but everyone told one another to fuck off a lot and swore and accused. I would hate to assume, but I think - based on the tidbit of canon I've seen cited in looking back at old posts - that I've probably outread most of you by at least a little bit, but I like to use that as a final asset, not a first line of defense. Thinking is much more fun than the mimicry of an insult (they all follow the same basic form, you just sub new terms as fits the situation). You all seem to be exploring the ass end of academia, the part where we make a club to compensate for our childhood unpopularity (which is common among many but not all amateur scholars), and find petty ways to exclude or discredit people. the whole point of amassing knowledge and being elitist about it is to enjoy the company of the few others who share the same library, so to speak. what is a discussion on intelligence or knowledge if it's not productive? it's regressive, unintelligent.

3) I'm tempted to get pissed at someone's attempt to enforce a grammar policy. I rarely choose to abide by anything near grammaticality for research papers, but I guess I can't get kicked out of school for that, whereas internet moderators who choose to enforce rote policy with a vengeance can kick me out of their communities. I'll try to comply. Would anyone care to explain the arbitrary nature of the logic statement that comprises a rule, like "use grammar"? I mean, you're asking me to codify/mystify my text. What's the use in it? I guess to sympathize with that, you'd have to open up to sympathizing with Crowley.

cat) Sorry, by the way, for my barrage of random posting last night. I was shitfaced on malt liquor and bored, and now I'm trying clumsily to clarify/clean up my intentions.
Current Mood: crankycranky
Current Music: the monks

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February 9th, 2007

10:18 am - On Humor and Hodgman's Limit.
The Daily Show is finding the limits of its studio audience. NYU undergrads can only understand so much, it seems, and the writers have certainly started to find that event horizon, the actions no longer affecting the observer. The main culprit is John Hodgman, who has been reduced to serving as the antagonist in recent Apple Computer ads. Hodgman is unassuming and this is offputting to a generation who expects flashy marketing and humor. Hodgman, clad in the professorial tweed jacket  and armed with a deadpan delivery, provides the signs of intellectualism, but then seemingly offers parody. But he's much more than that. Hodgman presents to the audience the signs of intellectualism, which the NYU undergrad audience eagerly and easily identifies and recognizes. However, Hodgman takes the traditional humor of the The Daily Show and elevates it to levels of esoteric comic genius, a kind of high brow comedy that is rarely seen in the public marketplace, the kind of humor reserved for New Yorker cartoons and essays.

Ever increasingly, Hodgman has been determining how far he can take the audience. Where Jason Jones regularly goes for crass shock humor and Samantha Bee presents herself as a nymphomaniac (they're married by the way), Hodgman tests the actual content of knowledge that the audience possesses. He is the voice of authority. The knowledge he offers is presented so authoritatively that it very well could be true. And this is his thing, the presentation of the slippage of authority, when does intellectual authority break down over and against itself? Hodgman does not merely go for the outlandish, which he does and does well in his book, The Areas of My Expertise, but this is really no different from The Daily Show's America. It's a matter of what he is using as his baseline for humor.

The analysis of humor goes back even to the Greeks. "What is funny and why?" has been a very unfunny subject for much of human history. Humor, I will posit, requires an initial point of reference. Humor is a reflexive exercise. Nothing can be funny unless there is a juxtaposition to that point of reference. There must be an order, a perceived sense of normalcy. Humor is that reflection within the self regarding the consideration of the comparison. Humor is a kind of light-hearted perversion regarding the established state of affairs in one's reality. See how unfunny that was?

Let me make it even more boring for you: Vaudevillian slapstick is funny because it causes reflection in a particular context for the audience. The audience is an observer. A man hits a man with a bat. This is assault. A clown hits a man with a bat. This is assault. A clown hits a man with a bat on stage. This may or may not be assault. We must ask the question "Beckett or Sondheim?" Some of you thought that last sentence was funny. Why? Because there is an initial reference point OUTSIDE the context of the direct question. You have to know not only who Beckett and Sondheim are, but also understand what it means if you pair "clown" with "Beckett" or "clown" with "Sondheim." Back to the man and the bat. Is the bat aluminum or rubber? Slapstick takes ordinary circumstances and goes to an outlandish extreme to the point that it cannot possibly be "true" or "real." If it became "real", then it would not be funny. Correct? So why do people laugh at "Jackass" and "Borat"? They are both "true" and "real" and there are people who think they are funny.

Here is an exercise for you in the comments section: A knight clad in full plate mail armor walks up to a man and strikes him once with a rubber chicken. Discuss.

Narrative jokes are quite simple and effective because they establish a context. You are at a party and you are in a group discussing X. Within the context of X, you remark Y. The conversation progresses to something something seemingly unrelated to X, topic Z. In the context of Z, you reference back to Y. Everyone laughs. Why? Because pants are often very funny. Sometimes, even, when ants are involved. Let's say you reference back to Y and everyone is appalled. Why? You probably should not have attached Y to the suicide of her brother, Philip. Let's say you reference back to Y and no one knows what you're talking about because you mentioned Brutus after the Battle of Philippi. Now we are approaching what I will call "Hodgman's Limit."

Hodgman's Limit is merely the point at which an audience loses the referential context by which an intellectual comment is considered "funny." Going "beyond" or "outside" a particular audience's intellectual frame of reference arrests the ability of the audience to ackowledge and recognize the mode of reflection intended by the humorist. Hodgman's Limit is wholly subjective and is difficult to quantify. The easiest way is to quantify the amount and length of studio audience laughter. Consider a recent episode of The Daily Show, where Hodgman's "past" is uncovered as a judge on an American Idol-like show. The contestant is Harold Bloom. Hodgman, playing the Simon character, doesn't think he's funny and verbally abuses him. You do not have to know that Hodgman is a Yalie, nor that he took a class with Harold Bloom. However, to know that is really funny. If you do not know who Harold Bloom is, then the joke falls flat. Having Hodgman as a snarky judge on such a show only goes so far in terms of parody and does not engage the live audience's frame of reference. Here we have Hodgman's Limit.

Here is another exercise for you to answer in the comments section: A man in a dress. A man dressed as Virginia Woolf. A man dressed as Virginia Woolf reading Ulysses. Compare and Contrast the humor. Be sure to comment on the matter of puns.

The exercise above for many of you is not funny and purposely so. Some will not find it funny because you don't know what the fuck I'm talking about and you'll think that I'm lording my knowledge over you. Am I? Is this not what Hodgman does? Read further, o reading reader. Some of you will not think this is funny because I am employing a pun, considered by some to be a very low brow form of humor. But where does Hodgman succeed where I fail? Well, first off, Hodgman works in the context of a comedy show. A comedy show must have, say advertisers, a wide audience. It helps to have an engaged studio audience as well.

Consider this recent banter between Jon Stewart and John Hodgman concerning primaries:

Primaries are notoriously unfunny. Caucuses (cauci?) even less so. But New Hampshire has the earliest one... for now. Having been a former non-voting minor of New Hampshire, I appreciate the Massachusetts-based humor in the piece, especially the short coastline and population jokes. However, at 1:30 minutes towards the end of the sketch, Hodgman makes a joke about presidential assassination and a well-known, banal comic strip line with an accompanying picture (and NO one laughs at the hyper-conservative Objectivist joke tossed in there for good measure). The joke gets light laughter. Stewart can hardly contain his paroxysms. cinemama and I were practically on the floor. This joke was not funny - to the live audience. Why? Because the contextual pairing of the "Garfield" was limited in the audience's frame of reference. Hodgman's Limit.

Hodgman may or may not know more than you. That is "John Hodgman, Resident Expert." However, he knows just enough that he can keep the audience guessing. For instance, when asking about a questionable fact, Stewart asks "Is that true?" Hodgman replies authoritatively, "It might be." And that is half of Hodgman. The other half is what "it" is. Hodgman can only function within the terms of the Western Canon of letters, arts, and science. His knowledge is what the audience may have learned/heard about in an undergraduate survey course, but little more. Hodgman takes that one step further. For those who do not or barely have a reference point, the joke is almost funny. As elitist as it sounds, for those who paid attention in school (if you're American), Hodgman is fucking hilarious merely because our frame of reference is more vast.

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December 4th, 2006

09:35 am - Getting in the Christmas Spirit.
Advento incepto, carmen parvum scripsi. (Dedicated to tigermilkdrunk)

I'm gettin' Hegel for Christmas!
Soren Kierkegaard is mad.
I'm gettin' Hegel for Christmas!
'Cause Kant is nothin' but bad.

I took a thesis with merit. Phenomenology!
And then I named its opposite. Phenomenology!
I sublated them like this
All to get a synthesis.
Geist moves History like this. Phenomenology!

Ohhh! I'm gettin' Hegel for Christmas!
Soren Kierkegaard is mad.
I'm gettin' Hegel for Christmas!
'Cause Kant is nothin' but bad.

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November 21st, 2006

11:43 am - There's nothing Nietzche couldn't teach ya...
"Of all that is written, I love only what a man has written in his own blood."


And here's a better taste.
Current Location: wukr.
Current Mood: amusedamused

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October 4th, 2006

02:00 am
For those who love Contemporary art...
... this is society of fans and visitors of Contemporary art museum - KIASMA, situated in the center of Helsinki. Everybody who's interesting in the modern and contemporary arts in common are also welcomed! Working languages: Finnish and English.


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