March 26, 2007

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Meetings Academic meetings are odd. Most academics complain about them. Nevertheless, we tend to act ourselves in precisely the ways we criticize. So, academics complain about boring panels, people going on too long, there not being enough time for discussion. Yet, we go over time and monopolize the Q & A in ways that stifle discussion (in this context, one participant ended up saying something like, "well, as you probably remember from my paper at conference X six years ago"--newsflash: you aren't the center of my universe and no, I don't remember). We do other annoying things as well--like nod knowingly at key points and ask questions in godawful ways ("I have nothing substantive to say, but...." or "what explains the omission of X on the panel, in the discussion" where X is either the questioners dissertation topic or identity category; of course, as I've said before, my favorite comment is in the British style "I admired your paper very much, except for the argument"; I tend to Germanicisms: "You attach three different meanings to the Symbolic in your paper; here they are and here are the implications of each for your argument"). Some people think the solution is alternative panel formats. This is not my view. I'm pretty conservative about such matters and like the boring tried and true reading of papers. Particularly admirable are those academics who can make this work. I heard fantastic papers in DC by people gifted at the art of giving a conference paper. Bill...
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Fuck fuck fuckity-fuck Discussing a regulatory approach to profanity and obscenity online, Susie Bright writes: Who's Afraid of Naughty Words? The Idiocy of NSFW. Who's afraid of naughty words? Not The New Yorker. After the spring-fling scandal about the use of the word "scrotum" in children's literature, the NYer published a satire by Paul Rudnick, which revealed X-rated stories like "The Pretty Little Bunny," (Melissa Rabbit ponders her vagina) and "The Clattery Caboose." (Don't even ask about his prostate!) I laughed my a** off -- but wondered what would happen if I, a simple blograt, ran the same darn thing. With nothing more than the inclusion of those naughty little words, my story would be labeled "NSFW" (Not Safe For Work) in many quarters. Spam filters would block out my sun; millions of readers would be effectively hindered. The New Yorker runs clever, sexually sophisticated stories all the time without such censorship. They say "fuck." They publish critically acclaimed erotic and nude photography. They discuss and illustrate the lives of famous decadent and kinky artists (who can forget the Balthus story?). They deliver a steady diet of grown-up arts and politics which resonates with untold numbers of readers. Nowhere, in all the internet, would you hear The New Yorker described as NSFW. Whether you brought their magazine to the office, or searched their web site online, the firewall/censorship/Dilbert Nightmare of NSFW would never crease a NYer reader's brow. Why is that? Even though NSFW is assumed to have something to do with Sex,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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