Category Archives: Fun

Running

In the first quarter of the run I look forward to it getting easier. Legs ache, knees throb, and my breath fades. A breath every fourteen steps becomes a breath every eight. When I warm up, I think, this will be easier.

Pollen from off the creekside grasses stings my eyes. The second fourth is the time of despair. The second wind is not coming. I fear my muscles will never thaw, the cramps and splints will just keep gaining. This is the time when in years past I would stop, defeated, my momentum a pallid joke.

I reach the halfway point and turn.

That turning is solace, and I corner on the gravel. The moon casts pale shadows beneath the acacias. My fears coalesce: this is not going to get any easier. I am halfway, and all to which I have to look forward is more of the same, and in fact a slow, a gradual decline in capability. But what is there to do but keep going? I am breathing every six steps still, and by the time I reach the bridge that will be four. This is not going to get any easier.

And again it comes to me: It doesn’t need to get any easier. This is what there is, and it will do to get me there. Each night my pace up that last hill is stronger, though it never feels any better. And again: It doesn’t need to feel any better.

Blog for Radical Fun Day

Today is Blog for Radical Fun day, dedicated to the radical idea that — as Emma Goldman said to Dorothy Parker — If I can’t dance something nice about a person, I’d rather sit next to you than be part of the revolution. Or something.

I do try to keep the occasional fun thing here anyway, if only to leaven the moaning and rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. I sometimes even engage in forced frivolity at other people’s blogs.

But I think it’s time today to take a serious look at what constitutes “radical fun.” Is it simply a manifestation of the ludic impulse, a neotenous subtype, if you will, of what one might call counter-Hegelian dialectics? Or is it something less straightforward? As it was put recently by Kristeva, albeit in a moderately divergent context,

En prenant le relais de la théologie et de la philosophie, les sciences humaines ont remplacé le « divin » et l’ « humain » par de nouveaux objets d’investigation : les liens sociaux, les structures de parenté, des rites et des mythes, la vie psychique et la genèse des langues et des œuvres. Nous avons acquis une connaissance sans précédent de la richesse et des risques de l’esprit humain ; et cette connaissance inquiète, rencontre des résistances, provoque des censures. Pourtant, quelque prometteurs qu’ils soient, les territoires ainsi constitués fragmentent l’expérience humaine ; héritiers de la métaphysique, ils nous empêchent de repérer de nouveaux objets d’investigation. Les croisements entre ces domaines compartimentés ne suffisent pas à eux seuls à refonder le nouvel humanisme qui s’impose. Il importe que le sujet pensant implique d’emblée sa pensée dans son être au monde, par un « transfert » affectif, politique et éthique. Ma pratique de psychanalyste, l’écriture de mes romans, mes interventions dans le champ social ne sont pas des « engagements », mais découlent de ce mode de penser que je cherche et que je conçois comme une « energeia » au sens d’Aristote : une pensée en acte, l’actualité de l’intelligence.

Or so we tell ourselves. But is this “energeia” all there is to the ludic creative imperative? For as Rosa Luxembourg said,

Marxism is a revolutionary worldview that must always struggle for new revelations. Marxism must abhor nothing so much as the possibility that it becomes congealed in its current form. It is at its best when butting heads in self-criticism, and in historical thunder and lightning, it retains its strength.”

And that observation is as true of self-consciously transgressive ludic display as it is of Marxism.  In the six thousand words below the fold, I will attempt to limn the internal structure of radical fun, drawing on the personal letters of Foucault in their revolutionary translation from French into Demotic, and will attempt to show that the very notion of “radical fun” is itself wholly accomodationist.

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X marks the chromosome

I’m the last person that would want to promote any kind of gender stereotype, and so I’ve put off writing about a certain issue for quite some time now. But try as I might, the problem just seems to be getting worse and worse, and whether I like it or not I think it’s time to say something.

I’ve been around the Internets for some time now, about a decade and a half, and have been genuinely enjoying the explosion of good writing to be found on blogs over the last three or four years.

But it has become increasingly obvious that the truly well-written blogs, the blogs with incisive commentary and thoughtful analysis, the blogs that are truly interesting and reflect a wide range of expertise are almost entirely written — OK, here goes — they’re almost all written by people of one specific gender.

So I have to ask: Where are all the male bloggers?

I mean it’s widely known that males have almost the same capacity for abstract thought as women, and language skills that easily match those of a sub-average woman having a bad day. Men have permeated almost every part of our enlightened modern society, from Death Row to Fox News to the World Bank.

But is that quality some exceptional men have that approaches what for lack of a better phrase I’ll call “intelligence” reflected anywhere in the blog world? No. Almost without exception, the interesting blogs — the varied, wide-ranging, nuanced and thoughtful blogs — are written by women.

Oh, there are a couple exceptions, to be sure. (No, you in the back there. I’m not talking about Coulter. That’s not funny. Sit down.) There are a few Juan Coles and David Neiwerts out there, spunky little troupers who’ve marched chin up into the world of adult discourse, and who can almost match the big girls in quality. In fact, I think almost all of them are on my blogroll, those rare men who have the tits to take on controversial and complex subjects. So where are the rest of them? Where are the male Roxannes, the male Majikthisen, the Armando Marcottes, the Wonkettemen?

I wonder if this isn’t just a reflection of the way society works. We’ve all been to those family gatherings where the incisive, important discussion of issues of the day happens among the women in the kitchen while the men sit around immobile and silent, staring dully at the shiny television screen. It may well be that we’re up against an intrinsic limitation of the male mind here.

I know, I know. You’re a man, and you blog, and I’m being unfair to you. You might be right, though I doubt it, because I’ve seen a bunch of male blogs and found them uninteresting. Men don’t write commentary, don’t come up with new ideas. I’m always looking for blogs to link to for the benefit of my readers, but men just don’t provide me with much linkable material. It’s almost as if there were two different English blogging languages: call them XXHTML and XYHTML.

Still, if your misinterpretation of my remarks hurts your feelings, I apologize.

But let’s take a look at a typical male blogger exchange, which has been slightly disguised and condensed to spare the no doubt fragile feelings of the men responsible:

Blogger #1: Oooh, that New York Times Economist Columnist is such a Bitch. I hate him.
Blogger #2: Oh, get a load of Blogger #1: he thinks he is all that.
Blogger #1: Oh, no, Blogger #2 did not say that. [Little suppressed scream of outrage.] And did you hear what that little Marxist tramp at the Times wrote this week?
Blogger #2: Blogger #1 loves that columnist. I think Blogger #1 is acting like a stalker.
Blogger #1: You take that back. You take that back! I am so gonna sue your little ass!

And so forth.

This male failure to measure up to the standards set by women extends to the blog commenting sphere as well. Even in the rare case of an incisive, well-written male blog post, you are likely to find an appended string of comments along the lines of:

-First!
-First!
-First! Oh, damn.
-First!
-FRIST!!!1!
-BUSH SCKS
-Bush r00lz
-First!
-LOL good post.
-excellent post, and nice design too your blogtexasholdem

Stereotypical though the notion may be, comment strings such as the above do strongly suggest that men talk to one another primarily as social signaling and bonding rather than to exchange ideas. Is it any wonder that male blogs are, at their root, a global “cock party”?

To be fair, the traditional male difficulty with technology may well play a role here, as witness this familiar comment string phenomenon:

“Objectively Pro Saddam”

I hage Andrew Sullivan but that’s a good phrase.
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:45 pm | #

“Objectively Pro Saddam”

I hage Andrew Sullivan but that’s a good phrase.
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:46 pm | #

“Objectively Pro Saddam”

I hage Andrew Sullivan but that’s a good phrase.
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:47 pm | #

Sorry, I don’;t know why that posted twice
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:47 pm | #

Sorry, I don’;t know why that posted twice
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:48 pm | #

Sorry, I don’;t know why that posted twice
SPQR | Email | Homepage | 03.17.04 — 9:48 pm | #

etc.

I confess to some sadness about the situation. The establishment of a handful of well-written men’s blogs on subjects other than the stereotypical “men’s issues” — cars, genital size, hatred of differing political thought — would be a huge benefit to the online world. Until then — until more men can learn to blog like women — I guess we’re stuck with the old girl’s network.