Jul 24, 2009


hey everyone, just to let you know, I've ditched this blogspot deal and moved my blog over to my new domain HERE

So please update your whatevers accordingly, as I will only be posting from there from now on.

<33333333 M

Jul 21, 2009

Up from the streets of Agrestic/bitch you don't wanna sweat this

So after watching many, many episodes of Project Runway, I've decided I'd like to attempt sewing some type of garment. And, since I don't have a sewing machine and can't afford to buy one, I'm going to try to do the whole thing by hand. I figure it can't be any harder than knitting something, and would actually probably be a lot easier in a number of ways. It'll take some time, but if I can do it I'd like to be able to work at it and maybe I can eventually make a lot of my clothes from scratch. Obviously by that time I'd get a sewing machine though.
I found these great videos online where this woman teaches you all the basic stitches and everything. Very cute and easy to follow. Good website too, there's a lot of different instructional videos on there.

On the less self-improving side of things, I've recently become increasingly worried about my memory. Now...my memory has always been bad, in the sense that I can never remember people's names or details for a very long time, but these days it seems to be getting much worse. Today I went to an FAC meeting and everyone laughed when I had to ask them to remind me why Zak wasn't our treasurer anymore, even though this only happened a few months ago and everyone else could remember perfectly. I'm still kind of hazy about it, even after they explained it. It was pretty funny, but at the same time its just one instance in a series of similar events that have me pretty worried. It's getting to the point now where I can't complete a series of full sentences without having to stop and ask the person I'm talking to what word I mean to use. And not complicated words either. For the past year or so I've really been struggling with writing, mostly because I can't remember how to write. By that I mean that I can't remember, as I'm writing, what I mean to say. I will get halfway through a sentence and have to stop and think again, and often I can never remember what I meant to write. And then I'll get confused about the whole thing, and not understand what I'm trying to say. I've also noticed that my reading comprehension has pretty much plummeted. I'll watch TV shows, and I can't remember who the main characters are from the previous season, sometimes even if they appear in the current season.
The most annoying part has to be forgetting words. And it probably scares me the most. I think for most people this would seem like no big deal, but with my family history I have to admit it's starting to bother me a lot. My mom has MS, and my whole life she's had a really bad memory. So I automatically associate the two things. While MS is not hereditary, you are more likely to get it if your siblings or parents have it. My mother's brother also has it, and possibly even my mother's sister. So, it's certainly on my mind. However, with all of that said, I'm probably more worried about the fact that temporary memory loss is also associated with lupus. I've technically all but been diagnosed with this disease, but due to the nature of it, it's pretty difficult to pin down. It's a sort of "sister" disease to MS, but its also known to be a disease that mimics many of the symptoms of other diseases and therefore has a huge variety of symptoms. I do have a whole bunch of them, including the "butterfly rash" on my face which drives me crazy. But...I think my mom being so concerned about my health when I was young made me wary of going to the doctor about almost anything. I always feel like I'm being a total hypochrodriac. But with my memory obviously getting worse, I'm starting to wonder if I should rethink that.

Jul 15, 2009

killer tofu

urg...just found out that I can't get into Seneca for only one course. You have to enroll in the actual program. Sucks. I guess I'll have to look around for other colleges that offer a distance course...although for some reason I don't think I'm going to find one. I was really counting on this, as I think it would be the best prep I could have done, save maybe actually working in Robarts or something like that.

On the up side, so far I have gotten 2 out of 2 of the references I've asked for, which is awesome. I thought they were both going to say no, but it looks like I slightly underestimated them/myself. So that's great. Still worried about leaving the last one to this coming year.... :s But still, as usual me being anal about planning totally pays off in the end, and basically everyone else I know who's applying for grad school this or next year has barely started their application. If only I could get essays done this far in advance :P

well...off to finish an assignment....the apartment super is supposed to be coming in to the apartment today and I really want to be gone before she gets here as the place is a mess.

Jul 14, 2009

velut arbor aevo

Well, I don't have much to write about lately (or I do, but can't be bothered to take the time to write something "important"), so I'll just recap whats been going on.

A few days ago Zak and I did an architecture scavenger hunt for an assignment I had for class. It was pretty interesting, we went around basically the whole UofT campus, looking at architectural details that I had never noticed, despite being around these buildings for 4ish years now. And yesterday I went and basically did the whole thing over again because I forgot my camera the first time, and since we did it on the weekend we couldn't get in to the interiors.

The second time I went I decided to make it more of an adventure, so I ended up going through some weird doors and finding some pretty cool rooms.

Here's a picture of the Knox College garden, which I hope my Professor will agree is at least fairly picturesque.

This is a cool composite capital on Simcoe Hall

Really cool old classroom (there are actually two of them) in University College that we probably never use.

awesome staircase in UC that reminded me of the Gehry one at the AGO

This is the Great Hall in Hart House as seen from some totally weird castle thingy.

Outside of the weird castle thingy.

Room at the top of the castle thingy, which I am pretty certain I was not supposed to be in.

Jul 9, 2009

To be honest with you Diane, I am surprised.

So here's the deal. I really believe that the cultural world is absolutely done with Marxism. Ok, not right *now* we're not, but I believe we're in the twilight years. And, I have to say, I will not be sad to see it go.

The other day my Professor was going over architecture around the 1750's, and the central theme underlying basically all architecture at this time is a sort of decline, marked by a stagnation of creativity. All the buildings made in this period (with some exceptions of course) are in popular styles, but show no new traits, no progression. There are no real masterpieces, and no architect is really making strides. All of this, essentially, is how we can tell that the current popular ideology is waning and will soon be replaced with something else that at least seems less derivative. It all reminds me of what Stuart Hall once said about theory becoming what he called "fluent". Basically it's simple: Freud writes the Interpretation of Dreams. Then, a whole bunch of scholars take it up and begin interpreting cultural things like literature and paintings, and as they do this they develop a set of jargon terms. So, in this example, you'd get a lot of scholars using Freudian terms like "Oedipus Complex", "phallic", "the uncanny", and so on. Then, usually, at least one other big name comes out of that group, for this example lets go with Lacan. Then the cycle repeats and becomes more complicated, and a new group of scholars comes out that use both "fear of castration" as well as "lack" or "symbolic realm". Repeat this for 50 to 100 years and see what happens. I, and every other undergraduate student in the liberal arts (or what we should really now just call "cultural studies" and be done with it) knows what happens. You get someone like Briony Fer, whose book me and my friends were required to read for a Fine Art History course about abstract art. Essentially she draws absolutely everything back to two guys: Freud, and Lacan. And this book was written only a few years ago, when we are supposed to be oh-so-much better than those horrible Modernists who believed in the author as hero (another funny thing about this is that, as Harold Bloom pointed out back in the 80's, at least modernists could make reasoned value judgements. Now you have to accept everyone and everything no matter how crappy they are...yeah, not being able to critique bad writers is really going to lead to good things...). She throws around these jargon terms I'm talking about so much that you really can't help but sit back and let it all wash over you, all the while wondering whether she "wants a cracker", if you see my meaning. But the bad thing is, is that you're not wondering much else. Freud writes something half-original, then Lacan takes it up, fast-forward a few decades and scholars like Fer are parroting it back at undergraduates, and the cycle of hegemonic ideology repeats.

So, what does this have to do with Marxism? Well, first off, all of the names mentioned above (even Harold Bloom, the poor chap, although eventually he got out of this particular quagmire) are highly influenced by what Marx wrote. Secondly, all of the above are the details of what is going on within a larger cultural discourse in which Marxism is the umbrella ideology. Sooooo...if all of these terms are so accepted that undergraduates have to stifle a yawn when they read them...you know something is up. Marxist cultural theory is just *begging* us to refute it by any means possible at this point. Because really, how much longer can we keep talking about "alienation" from the products of our labour when we know nothing else? Have you ever met anyone who's said to you "gee, I really wish I could start milling my own corn and...shoe-ing...my own shoes again, I really miss that"...and, if you have, did you believe them? Or, better yet, if you have said that, did you even believe yourself? Can we honestly sit around today and believe that it is possible, today, to go to a way of life that is unglobalized? Without international corporations? Can we honestly, today, say that that is a possibility for the future? Keeping in mind that you are, right now, on the internet?

No, you can't. It wasn't a very good idea when Marx first had it, but it is a completely outdated idea today. It simply does not fit in the world we live in. As Marx himself once said in a different context, it "weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living". His theory was for a different world entirely, and it is time to buck up and pick another one to take its place, or modify it greatly. If we don't, we will be stuck in the same rut for who knows how long, never progressing, only repeating again and again what is told to us by scholars that have come before us. No "original" idea, no truly new forms can possibly arrise out of the current hole in the ground that is contemporary academics. I personally believe that a number of the high art world's artists have realised this, and it leads me to a strange and highly circuitous appreciation of their work. For example, I used to despise, with a great passion, the work of Damien Hirst. Now, however, I believe that just as Duchamp and Warhol did before him, Hirst is making art that makes fun of us all for our own lack of creativity. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I truly think we could all learn a little something from Mr. Hirst. Other than how to blow 200 million dollars, I mean.

Jul 8, 2009

The Attack

So course selection was yesterday, and I ended up with almost exactly what was in the last post. One change, though, was I'm no longer taking Auto and Biography, as it ended up being two days of the week and one of those days was like an hour class on a day I didn't have anything else scheduled. There's no way I'm going to come all the way from Mississauga to go to one hour of class if I can help it. So now instead of that I'm taking Bibliography and Print Culture. This is about the history of the printing press, the history of books and print material in general, and all the things that go along with them culturally.

So I have now successfully begun Phase One and Phase Two of my five pronged attack designed to get me into the iSchool. The entire game plan is as follows:

Phase One - take as many Book and Media Studies courses as you can in one year (CHECK)
Phase Two - take advantage of the Extern Job Shadowing Program at UofT and follow around librarians to see what they do (CHECK)
Phase Three - take one or two college Library Technician courses, one during this coming year, perhaps another in the summer
Phase Four - secure a volunteer position within the Mississauga Library system
Phase Five - get hired by Robarts library, or one of the other academic libraries on campus

The last two are going to be the hardest, although if I can't get Phase Four I will volunteer for the Toronto Library system and become an Adult Literacy volunteer, which is great too.

I'm sending the emails today asking the two professors/teachers to be my academic references :s I hope they both remember me.

What else is going on....well, we move in a little over 20 days from now, that's very exciting. I can't wait to leave this apartment, and apartments in general. We're going to have absolutely no money, so we won't be able to make it look nice, but it's a testament to how much I despise apartments that I really don't care. I still hope that one day I can go back to school and take interior decorating courses. It's kind of insane how excited I get when I see a beautiful couch, or great drapes. haha.

Hmm..other than that it's mainly just the old school work and volunteer stuff. Pride Parade went great, although we only had a few people show up (probably because of the rain, at least to some extent) it was wayyyy too much fun and I'm already excited about next year. The response from the crowd really made it...I've never seen people so happy to see atheists! Awesome.

ok, gotta go.

Jul 5, 2009

bitches ain't nothin but tricks and hoes

-must keep writing in this thing...ahhhh-

So in order to keep up with my promise to myself to write in this thing at least semi-regularly, I'm going to have to go over some school stuff.

1. I got my first "A" in university this past session. I'm considering asking my teacher in that course to be one of my academic references for the iSchool application...but she'd have to send it in in just under a year from now, herself, and she's only a graduate student. But there's no way I'm going to have a prof. that knows my work like she does, or for that matter even knows my name. Ahh, UofT. Although I must say this is the first and only time this school's size has been a bad thing for me.
2. Next round of summer classes starts tonight. Technically it should have started last week, but my professor was "misinformed" about the start date. Extra week off for me :)
3. I finally picked all of my classes for September, aka my fourth and final undergrad year. They include:
  • Critical Methods (this is about one school of thought (eg. New Criticism) or important person (eg. Plato) in the history of lit crit. Who/what we study changes each year depending on what the prof. wants to talk about. Should be a nice follow up from Contemporary Literary Theory with Prof. Mount last year)
  • Mass Media (so I discovered this whole series of St. Mike's College courses that are essentially about information studies, so I figured that will be a good place to start for grad school. This is the primer for those courses, where we study mass media in all of its forms, and it includes a bit about censorship)
  • Biography and Autobiography (English course, self-explanatory. I've been interested in learning more about this genre since I read Allison Bechdel's Fun Home. I hope we will have at least a discussion on this genre's status as non-fiction.)
  • International Art since 1940 (art history course...otherwise fairly obvious. My first and only 400 series course. I really hope it's not just one big essay :s)
  • Cubism (again, art history. I'm pissed that Minimalism isn't offered this year (along with 9 million other FAH courses...) as I feel like I've sort of "collected" all of the modern art courses over the years, and now I will have one missing from my collection )
  • Rembrandt and Rubens (ohhhhh yes. Fan-freaking-tastic. So, the furthest back in art history I've ever gone (and further than I cared to go) was around 1750. Needless to say, I have zero interest in taking this course, and will have to work 20 times harder to get the mark I need in it. I know nothing about this art period whatsoever. The only reason I'm taking it is because it was literally the only FAH course at or above the 300 level that I could actually take. I've taken all of the modern art ones offered already, and all of the other old art periods have prerequisites. I think the faculty knows it's screwing over students so they left one course open for all of us to take in lieu of courses we actually have an interest in. Gee, thanks guys.)
  • Readers and Readerships (another St. Mike's course, I also want to take Bibliography and Print Culture, but I don't have enough room...I'm thinking of possibly dropping Auto and Biography to take it, if possible)
  • Architecture after 1950 (Another course I'm not thrilled to take. At least this will be way more interesting than the architecture course I'm taking right now, which covers the entire modern period (in the very broad sense of the term "modern") from about 1750 onwards....I'm honestly not interested in anything until about 1870 rolls around. At that point, there seems to be a shift in art from what I think of as "exterior" concerns to "interior" concerns. In other words, art stops being about the art object, or some other object extraneous to art itself, and starts being about the inside of the artist's skull. Don't get me wrong, if anything it becomes more "materialistic" (art for art's sake), but it stops referring to the supersensible as its raison d'etre. And so you get this huge influx of theory, and everything suddenly becomes much more complex and has many more possible interpretations. Mucho better than a painting of cherubs or Venus (although statues and paintings of Psyche form an interesting bridge between the two...))
  • Critical Approach to Literature (this is another theoretical ENG course about criticism. This one is a 200 series course, and so it's more of an overview of English criticism compared to the more focused learning in the Critical Method's course. I just want to learn about Formalism/New Criticism etc. as I'm planning on bringing it back in at least one essay this year. The "thing to do" in art history and literature studies is to beat up on people like Clement Greenberg, Northrop Frye, and Harold Bloom. But, as usual, this is dependant on a pretty much rediculous mis-reading of these fellows. So I look forward to arguing against exactly what I've been taught to support for the last 4 years :) )
And that's it! All of that equals 5 credits, and then I've reached 20 and I can graduate! I can't believe I'm in my last year of my undergraduate degree and I'm trying so hard to get back IN to school after it. For three more years, too. If I get into graduate school and successfully complete it, I will have been in the system for 21 years. And I'll be something like 60 thousand dollars in debt to the government. And all of it is just so that I can actually do something I want to do. Well...if at the end I get to be a librarian, it will be worth it :D