Poseur Alert

“The chapter which attempts to account for the time of plants – their specific hetero-temporality – brilliantly guides the reader through the various seasonal rhythms of vegetal life, which unfolds within the continuity of nourishment and the discontinuity of germination. Agro-business is figured here as the commodification of the plant’s other-directed time and radical passivity, a blithe betrayal of the headless heeding of pure potential: ‘the plant, with its non-conscious affirmation of repetition, prefigures the affirmative movement of the Nietzschean eternal return, with its acceptance of the perpetual recommencement of life,’” – Dominic Pettman, reviewing Michael Marder’s Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal LifeDish debate on Marder’s plant ethics here and here. Update from a dissenting reader:

I posted a somewhat hostile view of your Poseur Alert posts over at my blog, Critical Animal, inspired recently by your calling of Dominic Pettman a poseur. I just thought I would let you know. I generally like your blog, and I enjoy the inclusion of various intellectual pursuits in your blogging. But calling people I like and respect poseurs really wears on me.

Poseur Alert

“What kind of hand job leaves you cleaner than before? A manicure, of course. Why does this joke work? Because of the tension between the conventional idiomatic sense of ‘hand job’ (a certain type of sex act) and its semantic or compositional meaning (in which it is synonymous with ‘job done by or to the hand’). When you think about it, virtually all jobs are ‘hand jobs’ in the second semantic sense: for all human work is manual work—not just carpentry and brick laying but also cookery and calligraphy. Indeed, without the hand human culture and human economies would not exist. So really ‘hand jobs’ are very respectable and vital to human flourishing. We are a ‘hand job’ species. (Are you now becoming desensitized to the specifically sexual meaning of ‘hand job’? Remember that heart surgeons are giving you a ‘hand job’ when they operate on you; similarly for masseurs and even tax accountants.)

I have in fact written a whole book about the hand, Prehension, in which its ubiquity is noted and celebrated.

I even have a cult centering on the hand, described in this blog. I have given a semester-long seminar discussing the hand and locutions related to it. I now tend to use ‘hand job’ in the capacious sense just outlined, sometimes with humorous intent.

Suppose now a professor P, well conversant in the above points, slyly remarks to his graduate student, who is also thus conversant: ‘I had a hand job yesterday’. The astute student, suitably linguistically primed, responds after a moment by saying: ‘Ah, you had a manicure’. Professor P replies: ‘You are clearly a clever student—I can’t trick you. That is exactly the response I was looking for!’ They then chuckle together in a self-congratulatory academic manner. Academics like riddles and word games,” – Colin McGinn, a philosophy professor who resigned last week from the University of Miami following allegations that he sent sexually explicit emails to a female graduate student. McGinn is a Dish Poseur repeat offender.

Poseur Alert

“The animated GIF, meanwhile—whose origins go back to the antediluvian age of dial-up modems and whose natural home is the resolutely non-artistic bottom-feed of Internet image production—rudely interrupts the unbroken sheen of all the slick shit, since to GIF an image is not only to create a loop, but—in very literal terms pertaining to the effects of LZW compression—to apply a verfremdungseffekt, or distancing effect. The shiny mirror finish of HD video is dithered to dust, dots and dashes, and all the smoothing of Photoshop reduced to a crude cartography of color. The v-effekt was one of political playwright Brecht’s theatrical techniques to ensure an audience never get too comfortable: a device to make the abstract immediate and the political relatable. Here, the distancing effect allows the moving image to circulate widely on low-bandwidth connections, bringing it closer to home. To GIF is to reduce a picture to the “poor image” defended by Hito Steyerl; the conditions of its own circulation made visible. ‘The poor image is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence: about swarm circulation, digital dispersion, fractured and flexible temporalities… In short: it is about reality.’

The animated GIF is a Brechtian medium not only in the distancing effects of image compression, but also in that the repetition of a single gesture ad infinitum constitutes a sort of gestus—a symbolic moment that is amplified in context to represent a whole paradigm of existence,” – Jesse Darling.

(Hat tip: Cyborgology)

Poseur Red Alert

The wrong way to write a cover letter:

I was pleased to discover, through my clandestine Alaskan network, that you have not finalized a new law clerk for the upcoming year. I hope you find this letter portentously post facto rather than unskillfully delinquent. I wish to spare you the unleavened hardtack of your sensible, standard cover letter and instead appeal to your irrational masculine avatar through a reflective vignette.

I grew up in suburban Kansas City in a perfect neighborhood on a perfect street in a perfect house.

My parents afforded me every opportunity and expected results. Laboriously, I molded myself into a surprisingly athletic, covertly academic, role player. The Dalai Lama might even have congratulated me on my stubbornly unconditional perspective. Adorned in a passion for the sciences, I followed the tracks to Lawrence, Kansas. Here, I learned to be a Jayhawk.

Bouquets of regimental red and yellow tulips line the campus boulevard like a million Kansas City Chiefs fans cheering you from class to class. Each sunny spring day in Lawrence, with dudes in shorts and sunglasses and ladies in short skirts, seemed a microcosm for the whole four years. The Kansas Greek scene made for an interesting cocktail, one part social one part societal jockey and only one ice cube to cool it down. I sipped confidently from this hearty libation. Overwhelmed by ubiquitous female beauty, animal instinct to succeed prevailed.

Poseur Alert

“The writing of difference (post-modernity’s unthought thought), and teleological pursuits beyond a continually regressive present, is contingent upon self-possession, and resistance to the “order of the same”: essentializing, pre-packaged “norms” based on white, male, or heteronormative experience. Bearing witness to the differend reanimates the relationship between aesthetic labor and the evacuation of political praxis: the slow work of critical assessment amid streams of liquid capital and pop culture.   We undergo this work conscious of the legacies of scientific rationalism and deconstructionism on our thinking and language use, poetic and discursive.  While Derrida saw deconstruction as a creative act of “liberating” language from accrued connotations and an unmediated relationship between signifier and signified, post-deconstructionism (a double-negation) invites self-erasure by the affixing of “post” to all identitarian claims,” – Virginia Konchan, from the introductory essay to Matter: A Journal of Political Poetry and Commentary.

Poseur Alert

“Less representatives of their particular American subculture than creatures of their historical moment, The Jersey Shore cast, in their unsentimental sexual pragmatism, embody the general human disposition under neoliberalism. According to David Harvey, neoliberalism ‘proposes that human well being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms.’ If human well-being includes sexual fulfillment, then sexuality is in need of deregulation, so it may become more responsive to entrepreneurial initiative. The Situation is exemplary in this respect,” – Erwin Montgomery.

Poseur Alert

“I had a theory once, which I also put in a novel, that many nightmares were caused by a common physical need: the need to get up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom. Out of the stochastic stew that sits cooling on the stovetop of our sleep-softened consciousness, a couple of images would be ladled out in a bowl and sprinkled with a special neural Pickapeppa Sauce that made them seem frightening, so as to wake us up,” – Nicholson Baker.

Poseur Alert Nominee

“At the height of the storm, anyone outside will face a fearsome blizzard. Innocent snowflakes turn to painfully stinging missiles, darts and tacks, propelled by gusting gales that scream over the seas and roar through the woods. In other words, high winds produce a crystalline ticker-tape parade of snowflakes: furiously falling and flowing flakes filling the fields, whisking past the windows, gliding to the ground and beautifying the bushes. The wild wind whips the snow into roadside rows and churns roof top snow into a creamy concoction with meandering smoky membranes of snow granules that dance to the edges and cascade down the sides. The storm’s gusty gales whip the snow into car-capturing, truck-trapping, bus-blocking, SUV-stalling drifts. It is among the great storms, one of the atmosphere’s awesome displays of change and violence among the momentous events that over time have shaped and changed the course of human events in ways wondrous and ominous,” – Elliot Abrams, AccuWeather.com. Update from a reader:

I’m pretty sure the quote from Abrams was tongue in cheek. He does AccuWeather’s forecasts on Chicago radio and quite often turns the forecast into a literary exercise, usually pretty amusing.

Another agrees:

Elliot Abrams is a regular on KYW News Radio here in the Philadelphia area.  This type of forecast language is kind of a schtick with him.  Sometimes it’s alliteration, sometimes rhymes, sometimes puns, but always in good fun and without taking himself too seriously.  The anchors sometimes take some good natured digs at him for it too.  So while it may seem a bit dorky, I this “Poseur Alert” is overly harsh in his case.  Here’s another example of the kind of things he does on the radio:

Peter Mark Roget was born in mid-January of 1779. He developed the first thesaurus, allowing us to look up all kinds of synonyms. It also means we could look for words that mean the same thing. What’s coming next? What is just around the corner? What about the future? What’s the weather’s next move? What’s the next step? What about the weekend and next week?

A shot of very cold air is affecting us this week on the strength of face-freezing, collar-clutching, nose-nipping, toe-purpling, thumb-numbing, ice-box bitter, bird-blocking blusters. The icy jaws of winter have opened wide as they bring us face freezing winds from the icy dungeon of Jailer January. This air has crossed the arctic tundra, where venturing out without proper protection is a sure invitation to frozen doom. It won’t be just the glacial frigid gelidity that contributes to the feeling of hyperborean chill, but also the adiathermic biting and piercing hiemal keen and nipping winterbound niveous isocheimal and polar unwarmed infrigidation that numbs our thumbs and freezes our toes.

In short, we’ll face the needles of winter’s icy fingers and the piercing refrigerated ice box blasts of marrow-chilling, teeth-chattering, glaciated, bitter blusters of January cold. There’s no bybassing of the bitterness, no solace from the sun. By the way, it’s gonna be cold.

I’m sure you can dig up a number of other examples off of his AccuWeather blog.