The Title of Chrstopher Hays' book, Twilight of the Elites, made me think of vampires. A silly coincidence, but then I started thinking about how portrayals of vampires as hidden influences on history (like the Authority on "True Blood") may mediate anxieties about actual economic elites. Most conspiracy theories share enough…

Hammett Time


Positively viscous this morning. Viscous should be one of the states in the ever-changing taxonomy of eyes in Dashiell Hammett. His novels are a symphony of eyes, and the eyes are constantly hardening and turning liquid, becoming opaque and releasing into transparency. The eyes rebound off one another, forming a…

An Unexpected Role Model


Like many grad students, my initial impression of my professors (in this case Barbara Herrnstein Smith) was often of them as personalities. The gossipy comments, usually unkind, that help graduate students feel a little less powerless in a structure where they have little formal recognition and their futures are uncertain.…

Daoism 102


Recently a friend asked me to recommend something to read about Daoism. Though I’m not a practicing Daoist, something I think would be difficult to do without spending time either in China or near a large Chinese community, the philosophical ideas in many early Daoist texts are at the core…

Kindling Winter’s Bone


I've been re-reading Daniel Woodrell's novel, Winter's Bone using the ipad's Kindle app. I just discovered that I can get at my margin notes online, which is pretty damn cool. So here's an indirect review of the novel, at least the parts I've finished. If I seem catty about dialect,…

What Connects?


Part 1: Sucks or Rocks? Often I ask students to think beyond whether something is good or bad, or as I put it in my Youth Culture class, to push past whether it "sucks or rocks." "Good or bad for what?" I ask. "Good or bad for whom?" This can…

Note to David Foster Wallace


 I found this photocopy of a note I wrote on the outside of a box I sent to David Foster Wallace. There was a copy of Giorgio Agamben's Potentialties inside, for which he wrote back thanking me. NOTE: This contains a gift, and only a gift, for DFW's edification and…

Down the Rabbit Hole


My partner Liz claims that you never forget your first Hamlet. I think the same thing is true with the first work of philosophy with which you fall in love.  I was a late bloomer in this regard. I’d had a long flirtation with philosophy: a philosophy minor in college,…