Weeks 4 & 5: Why Bhabha Isn't on My List

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just a few weeks into the semester, and I've already failed at my promise to blog once a week.  The past couple of weeks have been exhausting as I've struggled to get everything done, and I can already tell this will be another semester of very little sleep.  I've already settled into a (rather terrible) habit of sleeping just a few hours every night, then "treating" myself to a two hour nap on Friday afternoons, from which I inevitably wake up even more exhausted and disoriented.  I spend the weekend trying to study and catch up on sleep, and then restart the cycle of sleep deprivation on Sunday nights.  I have exactly six weeks left to finish reading all the books on my comp lists, so the cycle will no doubt continue until mid-November, when I will most assuredly crash and sleep off the rest of the semester like a bad hangover, rising only to tend to necessities (i.e. eating, teaching, grading).

The past two weeks I've been diligently reading for my travel writing and postcolonial exams.  I'm not sure why (okay, I know exactly why), but I've been putting far more energy into reading for my postcolonial exam than either of the other two, and it's by far the one I've read the most for.  I have just two novels and six theory books left to read on it.  Right now I'm reading Patrick Colm Hogan's Colonialism and Cultural Identity, which brings me to this week's list:

1)  Hogan's use of theory: or why Homi Bhabha isn't on my comp list.  When I was compiling my postcolonial list, I had a lot of difficult decisions to make, and I ended up making the list almost entirely on my own, with some help from standard PhD lists I found on the web.  I wanted to make the list fairly canonical and representative (Spivak, Said, Rushdie, etc.), but I also didn't want to read Bhabha.  I'm sorry, but apart from isolated moments of genius, his work is generally incomprehensible.  I assumed this was mostly a weakness on my part, even though in speaking with colleagues and other candidates I realized that I was far from alone in this estimation.  But this decision was justified today when I was reading Hogan's book, which is well-written, well-argued, and by far the most comprehensible theory book I've read from my list to date.  I've already killed one highlighter marking up his text because it is just full of genius. Seriously. If Toril Moi is my academic crush in feminist theory, Hogan is my new academic crush in postcolonial theory. (Or postcolonization theory, he would say. Seriously. Genius.)

So as I was drinking the Kool-Aid that is Colonialism and Cultural Identity (grape-flavored, natch), imagine my delight at coming to this line:  "On the whole, I find the writings of Bhabha and Spivak terminologically opaque, conceptually imprecise, and empirically lax" (25).  And this statement introduces an entire section in which he rips "Of Mimicry and Men" apart word by word and eventually concludes that what Bhabha has written is not theory.  All I want to say about this is, thank you, Patrick Colm Hogan.  Someone had to say it, and I'm glad that person was someone as articulate, accessible, and intelligent as you.

2)  Nadal wins the U.S. Open.  I realize that's quite a jump from postcolonization theory, but this is the real reason there wasn't a Week 4 post. I have a bit of an obsession with professional tennis and with Rafa in particular, so of course I devoted far more hours during Week 3 & 4 to watching the U.S. Open than I should have.

Seriously, is there another man alive who could pull off that shirt color?  I think not.
I watched every one of Rafa's matches during the two weeks. I'm not kidding.  And with Rafa being my top story during Week 4, I couldn't write my post until after the final.  The final between him and Novak Djokovic was supposed to be last Sunday afternoon, so I was fully expecting to post that night, but then it was delayed a day because of rain (and then several more hours because of more rain), so it was late Monday before I was finally able to celebrate Rafa's career Grand Slam, his first U.S. Open victory, and his third Major victory in a row.  I didn't fall on my knees or roll around on the ground, but I might have teared up a bit when he did.

There's just something about seeing young, hard-working people succeed at what they love that I find so inspirational.

3)  Emma Stone and Easy A.  This weekend I took breaks to see two movies--Easy A and Devil.  Devil was okay.  It was by far the M. Night Shyamalan movie that felt least like an M. Night Shyamalan movie to me, and considering how long it's been since I liked an M. Night Shyamalan movie, that's a very good thing. (This summer the Devil trailer played before a showing of Inception I went to, and the entire audience groaned and booed when M. Night's name appeared at the end of the trailer. I think that says it all.) Easy A was very likable, mostly because Emma Stone is an extremely likable person and plays a smart and sassy heroine. One of the greatest things about this movie is that Emma is intelligent and witty and (unlike Kady in Mean Girls) never compromises her intelligence.

This movie has been compared by some critics to other classic teen girl movies like Clueless and Mean Girls (both of which I've seen countless times and could easily see countless more), but it never quite achieved that level to me, so afterwards my brother and I tried to figure out what this movie was lacking.  We decided it was memorable secondary characters.  Amanda Bynes' Jesus-freak antagonist was just annoying (and was done so much better by Mandy Moore in Saved!), and Aly Michalka's best friend character was certainly no Dionne (but perhaps, unfortunately, more realistic).  As a love interest, Penn Badgley was sweet but lacking.  Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci were great as Stone's parents, however--adorable and irreverent.

Another reason this movie will probably never reach classic status, however, is exactly the reason it should--with the exception of the Jesus-freaks, it does not depend on the same sorts of stereotypes and cliques that so many other teen movies and TV shows (I'm looking at you Glee) do.  This high school felt much more...normal.  Like a real high school, like the one I went to, where people were not always so easily classified but they all still struggled to fit in anyway.  For that alone is the movie worth watching.

4)  "My Mirror Speaks"--Death Cab for Cutie.  Every week there's a song or album that helps me get through the week, that I end up playing over and over until I inevitably wear it out.  This week that song is "My Mirror Speaks," which you can listen to here.  Ben Gibbard has one of those rare talents for writing lyrics that are as much poetry as they are song.

So that's it--those are the four positive things I wanted to share with you that have been going on in my life the past couple of weeks.  I'll try to come back next week with more things to share, but since I'll have four sets of exams and two sets of essays to grade, I wouldn't count on it.


American Puzzle September 20, 2010 at 10:22 PM  

Damn girl! Get on a regular sleep schedule so you don't come down with plague! Love your Bhabha rationale and movie reviews- I haven't seen a movie in a theatre since I left Auburn! Heh. Good luck finishing up the studying and kick ass on those exams- I know you will!! :)

Monita B. September 21, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

Ditto! I really hope you can tackle the sleep thing for real. :-/ Glad you slipped some fun into the comps-reading black hole!

Tawnysha Greene November 8, 2010 at 12:01 PM  

Hi Lacey! I've been thinking about you and hope that the semester is going well and that you are managing to get some rest! Good luck with your exams if you haven't already taken them!

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