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November 10, 2006


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Dear Jodi,

I like the picture at the top left of this weblog. It is neither pretentious nor banal. It's a fine picture.

But I wonder... if it might be "read" differently. Gothfully.

I could be wrong on this--but it is the best I can figure.



Adam Kotsko

The picture is the only possible explanation.

A Google image search turns up no pictures of you where you are not wearing black. For instance, see here:


Or the images on this page (which seem to be suffering from some weird scaling issues):


I'm sure that "someone" who has it out for you personally would have searched diligently for photos of you on the internet. You don't look Jewish or gay, so Goth was the only thing he had at his disposal.


From a total outsider perspective, and by the association with Sinthome and k-punk, I could see all of you as former Goths. And then to see your pose in this blog's picture, I may signify you as such.

Amish Lovelock

This Valve thing is ridiculous! It should be banned!

Amish Lovelock

The blog that is.


Now I'm Goth too? I was "punk" as a young man, well before Goth emerged. Well, at least my name is in auspicious company.


Didn't you have Boyd Rice and the guy who runs that pseudo-intellectual heavy metal site commenting on here sometime back? That's the only thing I can think of, aside from those pics.

Anthony Paul Smith

It's OK Jodi. I think it's pretty clear how those at the valve wore their sweaters (over their shoulders). This is totally just an us v them thing. Totally.


You guys are great. I particularly like the us v. them version: if they wear khaki pants, button-down oxford shirts (or polo shirts--or, better, both at the same time), with sweaters around their necks, then I am a Goth. (I confess to a little possible gothiness on Halloween, but I thought I was just dressing to match my witch hat and black 'hanging with the gnomies' t-shirt.')

The different way the photos signify is interesting. I thought that I basically follow an academic uniform for women left academics. But, maybe it reads differently in different contexts--like the way that a certain lesbian look is indistinguishable from a certain Yankee straight woman look (crunchy, no frills, Vermont).


When I was on the job market I got it in my head that I would wear no blue or white dress shirts (only dress shirts in flat earth tone colors), no suits (though dress jackets), and that I wouldn't wear ties to my interviews. In retrospect it seems to me that this was very much the logic of the signifier and diacritics, as unconsciously I was signifying a difference between the aims and protocols of the corporate world and the aims and protocols of the academic world. Academic dress, in general I think, is interesting. A number of my colleagues dress very causually in jeans, sweaters, and sometimes sandels. This might be taken to suggest a certain sloppiness or disregard for presentation, but it can also be taken to emphasize that it is thought that counts in the academic setting, not presentation. Even more interesting, I think, are differences among disciplines. In my experience, you're far more likely to encounter this casual mode of dress in the humanities and social sciences, where it is often absent in disciplines such as engineering, mathematics, and the various sciences, where perhaps there is a tighter link between capital and academic work. As an undergrad I worked in an office that presided over donations to the University, and I was always astonished as to how much money was pouring into the science departments for research into various technologies that benefit businesses... Millions and millions of dollars from major corporations for anything from better forms of astro-turf to laser and satellite technologies.

Anthony Paul Smith

I generally don't feel comfortable wearing pants in material other than jean. Not that I don't feel comfortable in a mental sense, but physically dress pants, khaki’s, etc are physically uncomfortable. Plus the cuts you can afford are entirely unflattering on most men. Anyway, I wore what I normally do (dress shirt, blazer, jeans) to a conference down south. I was surprised to see that I was way underdressed and that many of the men had buzz cuts. Military buzz cuts. Threw me for a loop.


Spooky, Anthony... I can't say that I've come across the military buzz cut contingent down here in Texas, but this might be a disciplinary difference between philosophy conferences and theology conferences. Or was it a philosophy conference? I'm on the market again this year, so perhaps I'll be moving back North. I wonder if I should wear a tie this time around ;)


APS--what discipline was the conference in? I, too, find this surprising. You would have been completely within the norm among political theorists.

Sinthome--I've wondered if there is a different expectation at large univerities in general. In my small liberal arts college, everyone dresses down (except maybe a couple of junior people who may feel the need to differentiate themselves from thes students). I don't think any faculty teach in flip flops--but a significant number wear sandals when it's warm. Now that I think about it, it might not be the case that very many women teach in jeans. I think the scientists tend to do that more than the social scientists--but I think that's because more of the women in science are younger overall than the women in the social sciences; I also thought it had something to do with teaching labs.

Anthony Paul Smith

It was "inter-disciplinary" and, I have to admit, the buzz cut offenders were from a theology program. Though the program I am in is all mop toppy and hip hoppy, I thought it might have something to do with the Southern aspect, but I don't know. Though, in terms of dress, I was way underdressed. I don’t think anyone else that presented had jeans and the majority were wearing ties. I have a big neck and I refuse to buy a dress shirt that’s going to be huge just so I can wear a tie, so I had to sit that out.

Bob Allen

so you've been scape-Gothed, or Goth-goated. I think you should run with this, have a little fun with it- get a spiky do and black nail polish/lipstick etc.

Virgil Johnson

I think it is your dark musing :) You would make a nice addition to the goth hall. Now, like Bob I think you should play the part..lol


I see some comments about enginnering and sceince disciplines.. A couple of months ago, I participated an international conference held in New York, which was enginnering and medicine related. It was very close to what Anthony said - most of them were wearing their suits and ties and as far as I noticed, I probably was the only one who had jeans so that I even felt a bit worried to be the only one in the flock! I do wear so informally and messy (for instance, I have been wearing the same jeans and jean shirt on me may be more than 2 weeks!) and it is funny that while I do not want to take attention with my clothes, you may become the one who attracts attention - though not in a good way, I suppose.


Or, you could change the picture to one with you wearing an expensive sweater (over your shoulders).

Adam Kotsko

A nice action shot with you playing tennis would really counteract the Goth image.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Jodi, you do realize that was the Troll of Sorrow in drag, right? (Google "Iona Traylor" and see what pops up.) I suspect someone approved the comment mindlessly, as sometimes happens. Also, just because I tie my yellow sweater around the collar of my interchangeable pastel Polos doesn't mean everyone else at the Valve does. Hell, I don't even think Adam wears a shirt most of the time...


Scott--I had no idea it was the troll. I really need to be a more vigilant troll spotter!


Another lie, from a phaggot gimp AKA Squeakman. And Bookmarked, puto

Northrip Gerry McDonaldson

Scott has received orders to "make nice," methinks. How quickly he changes colors, mark you, Cornelious.

Conrad H. Roth

Frankly, I'd like to see more 'pessissistic' people. No doubt the world would be a better place.

Scott Eric Kaufman

Wow, the Troll of Sorrow bookmarked this thread! Me? I wouldn't bother. I can remember where I post comments.

As for my marching orders, well, I do change colors quite quickly. From light pink to pale orange to that periwinkle only Ralph Lauren can create, I change my colors daily. The sweater, however, is always yellow.


I'd take it as a compliment Jodi. I was anti-Goth for a while cuz I was way too punk (and thus was and still am a little embarassed that I think the Sister of Mercy album Vision Thing is awesome), but after a remark by the excellent Infinite Thought I started to come around. Said remark was to the effect that goths make an effort and they often look pretty good. And the sensibility's kind of appealing if one's in the right mood. (A punk band I like very much, the Alkaline Trio, has steadily gone from heart on sleeve sad and wistful to dark and gothy or noir, lots of death and murder metaphors and minor key parts.) One could also look at how much shit people talk about Morrissey ("whiney", "self-absorbed" etc) - which is an index of his genius. All of which is to say I'd take it as a compliment.

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