26 September 2009

The Right to Read... Whatever I Want!

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week, "an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment."

I think that censorship is one of the most debilitating crimes against freedom in a modern society - and not just because I love to read. Reading and education fosters critical thinking and debate - both are key to intellectual (and spiritual) growth and fair governance. I know that just reading, without the thinking, doesn't always work this way - but I do think the more you read, the more you exercise your thinking muscles - whether you mean to or not. Reading broadens horizons, allows you to encounter new viewpoints, opens worlds of possibility. Reading is a human right - reading what I want to is a human right. No one should have the right to determine what is ok for me (or anyone else) to read. Banning books bans free thought.

So, celebrate your right to read what you want - go read a banned book this week. Here's a list of the 10 most challenged books in 2008*, in case you need a place to start:
  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  3. TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  4. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  5. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  7. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  9. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  10. Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
*from the Amarican Library Association (ala.org)

Power, Sex, and Shoelaces

Disturbing on even more levels in light of my current Renaissance Orientations class...

Power, Sex, and Shoelaces ...

It could be the definition of fetishistic exploitation...

24 September 2009

Poetic Interlude...

Because I love Mary Oliver...

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

~Mary Oliver, Dream Work (1986)

22 September 2009


So, I have not been cooking much lately. Settling into a new place, figuring out schedules - I am home hand awake when my sisters are gone or asleep. I miss them and I live with them. =( But we do get weekends together - yesterday we tried a new restaurant and went grocery shopping.

I am also adjusting to a smaller kitchen - less counter space means I have to be super efficient while cooking, and I have to plan and prep better. So not how I do things, in the kitchen or out of it. On the up side, I have a gas stove again and it is AWESOME!!

Yesterday at the grocery store, we saw cucumbers on sale. As you can see, we decided not to pass them up. So in two weeks we will have yummy, garlicky refrigerator pickles.

18 September 2009

Thoughts... 'cause that's what I do here...

Measured objectively, what a man can wrest from Truth by passionate striving is utterly infinitesimal. But the striving frees us from the bonds of the self and makes us comrades of those who are the best and the greatest. ~Albert Einstein

Well, I am definitely striving, and I really feel like I have landed in the midst of the best and the brightest... I love my classes and new colleagues... everyone at GWU has been so wonderful and welcoming. I am getting involved with MEMSI - more brilliant people. I feel like every time I talk to someone - in class, at a MEMSI gathering, over lunch - I am blown away. It helps that they love so many of the same things I do... literature, material studies, theory... sometimes I just stop and savor the fabulous-ness of it all.

Ok, blissful gushing over ... on to what I am thinking about in terms of Renaissance Orientations:
I am still ruminating over that ideas that Sarah Ahmed explores in Queer Phenomenology, particularly the idea of objects and our perceptions of them being layered by what has come before - both for the object and the person perceiving. This idea of layering caused me to wonder about action and choice - how they fit into the process of perception and interaction, especially in regard to literature. I am really interested in the idea of literary genealogies... I am a voracious reader - I can't even count the number of books I have read. I know that what comes before layers over each new book~ I make connections, or I am thrown out of poorly researched narratives, because I have read contradictory facts before. This is concept is really interesting for me because I have so many layers underneath the theoretical works that I have read. I am wondering how these previous stories and poems, facts and fictions inflect the theory I read. This is kind of a reversal, for me at least - before this idea I always thought of theory as inflecting other literary text... this is really blowing my mind... How does a childhood obsession with fairytale influence my reading of Foucault? Blowing my mind...