I Am Chemistry by Yeasayer

This lumbering behemoth is a 4/4-time hymn to all that is menacing. It’s built around a simple progression of four minor chords and is a haunted house in musical form. It starts out sounding like Dead Can Dance Performing in the Sahara Desert; and when the vocals start, well I can’t quite place who he sounds like but it’s menacing as hell and I love it.

Throwing out highly technical terms for various toxins, the singer describes a poisonous relationship. (Check out the Genius annotations for the song.) At about the 1:30 mark, the momentum stops in order to observe a moment of reverence in the form of a canon pulled from the Church of Evil Daft Punk. As the buzzsaw organ repeats its theme slowly a warble is built-in, until we get to the point of madness. The lyrics then offer this strange inversion: “She doesn’t need my help poisoning the well beneath the rue leaves. She only needs my help pleasuring herself beneath the rue leaves.” Continue reading “I Am Chemistry by Yeasayer”

An Idea for a Silent Retreat

Lately I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed between work, grad school, various volunteering commitments and trying to maintain healthy relationships with friends. Add to that the news cycle of the last year, and it’s easy to see why I’ve been feeling a little run-down. 

I’ve also, because of this fast-paced life I’m in the midst of, spent precious little time really appreciating much in the way of music or movies recently. So, I’m going to design a silent retreat, with media.

The “Retreat” Bit

The retreat part ought to be obvious; my energy is flagging, and I’d like a week or so to step away, slow down, and really recharge.  Continue reading “An Idea for a Silent Retreat”

A Political Debate Show for the 21st Century

This is a proposal I put together for a class on Rhetoric and Composition. The proposal is for a scripted debate show, using actors, with the aim of demonstrating respectful debate among disagreeing parties. 

I intend to update the slide show and to add more explanatory text; however, for now, I wanted to share the content itself.

Duffy and Goldblatt on Writing

“The Good Writer” by John Duffy

I appreciate the openness to something as potentially divisive as ethics and virtue, especially when, as the author rightly points out, there is already an implicit ethics in operation. 
I also appreciate on 233-4 his explanation of Aristotle’s teleology; that is to say, eudaemonia is achieved when one does well what one is made to do. (I am reminded of several recent articles talking about the importance of, rather than telling a child they can do anything, you might want to help them discover their gifts and use that as a starting point for exploring their best options. Example: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/02/18/no-honey-you-cant-be-anything-you-want-to-be-and-thats-okay/) I do think that developing a culture of purpose based on natural gifts can be freeing and ennobling. 
It’s interesting that, in discussing the Christian association that many people have when they think of virtue, he glosses somewhat over Aristotle’s understanding of how we acquire virtue: “good conduct arises from habits that in turn can only be acquired by repeated action and correction, making ethics an intensely practical discipline.” (Source: http://www.philosophypages.com/hy/2s.htm)

Continue reading “Duffy and Goldblatt on Writing”

Is the Global Village Getting Bigger or Smaller?

I’d like to thank Patrick for his insights in particular; his post on You’s take on Cosmopolitan English brought to the forefront for me a challenge of our hyper-connected world: cosmopolitanism challenges individuals to learn from a variety of cultural and linguistic communities. While this is in and of itself a laudable goal, it drives many people to belong superficially to many groups, rather than deeply to one or two. 

Edward O. Wilson, the great biologist, lamented this phenomenon in his wonderful book Consilience. In that book, he argues that increasing specialization within the sciences not only emphasizes competition where collaboration would be preferable, but that this specialization drives scientists into ever shrinking cabals, making them less able to communicate with their peers.

This idea has always stuck with me; and yet, I don’t know how to combat it. It may be an inherent aspect of our world. And so, I wonder if English can be seen as something similar to how Wilson sees science: a splintering set of communities who may or may not be able to communicate with their linguistic peers.  Continue reading “Is the Global Village Getting Bigger or Smaller?”