Tuesday, October 31, 2006


After giving much thought to Mary's last comment, I have decided to pull my last post. She was right. You just never know who's watching. This is exactly why I try to blog about my own personal life as little as possible.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dictators R Us

Kabila, Il, and Castro

Where do these guys shop? Seriously? I guess the more important questions is this: where do these guys get their governing tactics? But I think to two go hand in hand. If you want to be a dictator, you should probably dress like this so no one mistakes you for the milk man or a good person or something. If you already dress like this, you are probably a dictator. Quick, look at your clothes. Drab green uniform? check. Oversized chest pockets? Check. Huge mysterious looking glasses? Well, two out of three ain't bad, Kabila.

This brings about my next question. Why do these guys dress like this? The entire world knows that they are power abusers, human rights violators, and money pilferers. Yet they still wear the totalitarian uniform, which is a ugly green jumpsuit looking thing. If I were a dictator and everyone already knew that I was an evil and rich autocrat, I would wear a gold sequins tuxedo, ivory clogs, and a top hat made of caviar. Oh, and I'd throw in a monocle with a diamond lens for good measure. I mean, who do these guys think they're fooling?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Cameras and Blue Jacket Night

Last night was another Blue Jacket night and another lovely evening of conversation and libation. As long as I have gone to these meetings, which in the scheme of things has not been a long time, there has been a struggle between those who want to document the entire night on film (Chris Meadows) and those who don't want it documented (everyone else, as far as I can tell). Now, Chris has done a lot of good with his camera, and I think everyone acknowledges this about him. Yet, the novelty of having one's picture taken wears off quickly. And as a scientist, Chris wants a full explanation of why the group doesn't want its picture taken. This is where the problem arises. No one really can give a good, full, or meaningful explanation of why picture taking is so off putting. Well, right here on this post I am going to try to explicate these matters in such a way that it will be fully articulated and iron-clad. I want to be clear that the following treatise is not one written against Chris. Truthfully, his picture taking never does more than kindle a mild but good-hearted and sporadic annoyance. What is at heart of the matter is the absence of delineation on the subject. I will attempt to fill this void with the following.

First, picture taking is great for events such as German fest, special family functions, artful purposes, and the like. Claire and I were just discussing these purposes last night. However, taking pictures at a weekly gathering with the same group of people seems to break the intimacy of the atmosphere. This is a place where we go to shed the albatrosses of daily work, school, and home life, a place where we do not have to be "on." But having a picture taken negates this experience. Suddenly we have to interrupt our current engagements in order to present ourselves to the world with courteous, respectable, recognizable, and overly gleeful expressions. In other words, we must switch back "on," and we are left to transition back to a more natural state on our own. By that time, our interactions have been exposed and we are fully aware that we are being watched and documented. There really is no way to be our normal candid selves after this. Even if one pretends that the camera isn't there, it still alters one's actions through the act of pretending. Thus, a wedge is driven between us by the camera, and the amiable closeness we seek from one another is shattered.

Second, the camera does not just drive a wedge between those who are having their picture taken. It also creates a barrier between Chris and us. Many people say that smoking, among other things, is a defense mechanism employed in order to keep others from getting too close. The camera acts in the same way. If Chris is behind the camera, then he is completely removed from the group function. Thus, we start performing separate actions and lose cohesion with him. Chris becomes the seer and we become the visible objects, but the relationship is not reciprocal. The lack of mutual, interdependent communication separates Chris from us and prevents us from getting too close to him.

Finally, the presence of the camera at Blue Jacket Night creates a sense of hyperreality that is unneeded and, ultimately, unwanted. Pictures are used as ways to somehow augment our experience or, in other words, augment our reality by means of better memories of events. Yet, this hyperreality is actually a distortion of the events that actually happened. For example, our Blue Jacket experience becomes less about relating with friends and more about the representations of the relations with our friends, which are the pictures. As soon as the pictures take precedence, our actions cease to be real and become hyperreal or distorted. This distortion alters our entire actuality to the point that our relations never take place as they normally would. From here, the pictures start to signify our experience, when really they mean nothing; just as the cross would mean nothing without Christ's crucifixion.

The above are my reasons for not wanting excessive amounts of pictures taken at Blue Jacket Night. I hope that they were articulate enough. Though they cannot represent the feelings of all participants, I have tried to cover the main arguments. If you have something to add, dispute, or refute, please post a comment. Furthermore, if you have any comments about the nature of photography in general, please make a comment. Finally, what was posted above should not be taken too seriously. I was just toying with some ideas that were brought up by last night's discussion, and I really don't mind Chris taking pictures. The most important part is that I like Blue Jacket Night and I enjoy the company of all who go there. The friendship and camaraderie is invaluable.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sir Walter Raleigh

I happen to be a fan of the Beatles. Not a huge fan, just a fan. For instance, I don't believe that Paul was killed and the license plate on the Abbey Road cover points to that. I hate almost all of the Beatles early stuff. I want to puke when I hear "I Want to Hold Your Hand." I've heard that the Beatles themselves hate most of their early stuff too, so I guess I'm not alone. However, I do think that Abbey Road, the White Album, and especially Revolver are strokes of genius. I am also in the minority when I say that George Harrison was brilliant song writer. Oh, and I do hate Yoko. But I'm sure you are asking yourself, "Monica, what does this have to do Sir Walter Raleigh, the Renaissance poet, nobleman, and explorer?" Well, I'm glad you asked.

We were reading Raleigh and talking about him in conjunction with Spenser a couple of days ago in my Renaissance Texts and Theory class. The Professor had mentioned that Raleigh was good friends with Queen Elizabeth I. In fact, he was such a good friend that she granted him a wine monopoly in 1583. This means that every time someone in England bought wine, they would pay taxes to Raleigh. This led many people to curse his name.

When I heard this it stuck out for some odd reason. See, I've been really tired lately because of my thyroid. So I have listened to and had the song "I'm So Tired" off of the White album stuck in my head. Some of the lyrics in the song are " I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink. I'm so tired my mind is on the blink. I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink. No, no, no." Then the fourth verse goes "I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset. Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette. And curse Sir Walter Raleigh, He was such a stupid git." Before my class, I just chalked up the random Raleigh reference to the fact the Beatles were on a lot of drugs and doing tripped-out transcendental meditation when they wrote and recorded the White Album. I mean, I only need a couple of drinks before I start making weird references to Joyce. But then, every Joyce reference is weird in some way. Anyhow, now I know the real truth behind the reference in the song. I knew grad school would pay off.

Maybe next semester when I take the John Donne class I'll learn why Eleanor Rigby waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door. I mean really, who is it for?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Quarter Century Landmark

Well, I turned 25 yesterday, October 15th. Normally this is a day to celebrate one's self and reflect on the righteous life that one has had up to this point. I didn't exactly get to do that yesterday because I was busy confronting every single horrible quality that I have.

First, there's sloth. I slept in and had to go to mass at St. Ann's. The highlight there was seeing the Antonio kids, who are always adorable.

Then, I was pretty much in a foul mood because of some stupid "difference of opinion" I had with David the day before my birthday. So, I was also mean to my husband on my birthday. Great. And I'm pretty sure he was regretting marrying me yesterday, which is not a lovely thought to be aware of on one's birthday. The worst part is that what we were "differing" on is not an important issue in the least.

One true highlight is that I got together with some Blue Jacket kids and watched "Strictly Ballroom" at Denver and Chris' apartment. Everyone there was nice, the movie was fun, and Mary made Irish cream brownies, which were very good. This of course brings me to my next bad quality: eating too much, which I did at Denver's and my parents later on.

Everyone was very nice to me on my birthday, which I appreciate but do not deserve. At the end of the day yesterday I really found myself wondering why I have such good friends and family when I certainly deserve much worse. As I said, on birthdays, people usually reflect on what a great life they have lead. Yesterday, I found myself wondering how I've made it 25 years without someone trying to eradicate my existence from this planet. Man, what a birthday. If anyone needs me, I'm moving to a cave at the edge of the Carpathian mountains. I'll be in the Slovakian region near Mt. Gerlachovkain. My new address is:

Monica, The Wicked 25 year old Gorgon-Crone

Cave in the Carpathian MTNS, Slovakian region

Near Mt. Gerlachovkain, 13872

My indentured fury-Sherpa will deliver all my mail.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Corporal Punishment

I've been giving a lot of thought to corporal punishment lately....at the college level...at Purdue University, actually...in Latin classes to be more specific... in my Latin classes to be really specific. The only thing that keeps me from implementing it, besides the law, is that I'm not sure it's fair to flog people who are this idiotic. Does that make me a bad teacher?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Personality tests

There has been a lot of talk in my circle of friends lately about personality tests. In the Blue Jackets group, the four humors test is all the rage. This is the one where you can test sanguine, choleric, melancholy, phlegmatic, or a combination of these. Then, my husband has gotten some people into the Myers-Briggs test, which gives a person one of 16 personality types based on a set of four characteristics. Personality tests are fun because they involve great amounts of human interest, and as I human, must admit that I am mildly interested. However, mild interest is where I draw the line. No single person can ever really be summed up by choosing from 4-16 personality types. And yes, I know that all of my friends and loved ones are well aware of this. So please don't assume that this is about you. Yet, I have heard some people saying things like "well, I do this because I am melancholy." And this is where personality tests start to bother me. Some confuse the identifying type as the cause for their traits instead of the other way around. For example, a person does not like to be the center of attention because they are sanguine. They are sanguine because they like to be the center of attention. No one should ever identify with a personality type so much that they start using said type to explain their actions or situation in life. I also believe that personality test don't reveal anything new even though some act like they do. For instance, I know that I am a moody, overly sensitive, pessimistic person who sometimes experiences brief moments of extreme sadness. I don't really need a test to tell me I am melancholy for that. Just because I happen to be melancholy doesn't mean that it governs my entire life or prevents me from ever experiencing any other emotions.

What I find more interesting than the results of personality tests is the reactions to results of personality tests. I think it reveals a lot about human nature. Most humans, myself included, are eager and sometimes anxious to categorize and identify themselves in order to explain who they are and why they act the way they act. Everyone does it at one time or another. Yet, this can go a little too far if personality tests are taken too seriously. For instance, when I go to a party, I would never say, "Hi. I'm Monica, and I'm over here in the corner clutching my drink and sweating because I am a melancholy INFJ." Perhaps I should though, right? I mean, in an instant that person would know everything they would ever need to know about me and we would never have to experience a friendship because the person already knows me deeply and intimately. Right? Right? Of course not. Maybe I should throw a party like that . Everyone would show up and we would all stand in a line. One by one, people would step up, announce their personality type, and then leave. What fun! Anyway, my point is that personality tests can be fun, but they don't explain anything or tell us anything that we don't already know about ourselves. Alternately, they don't explain enough about us to anyone else to be useful. But maybe I'm just saying all of this because I am a melancholy INFJ.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On the nature of David

Ok, so what's coming next is something that I don't normally do. I'm going to make a pretty mushy post about how much I love my husband. I guess even an old rattlesnake like me has a soft spot.

As some of you may or may not know, I've been pretty sick lately, and not in that "I have a cold that won't go away" kind of way. It's more like, "I've got a medical condition" kind of way. I'll not go on about the details right now because the doctors don't even have it fully figured out. Anyway, since I've been sick David has worked his job at Purdue, my job at Purdue, his job at Ivy Tech, and my job at Ivy Tech. And let me tell you, that is a lot of teaching and tutoring of many people who resist scholarly cultivation at all costs. And he's done it all without complaint, and I love him for it. He's also cooked dinner, done grocery shopping, and washed several dishes. Meanwhile, I've just sat around the house in a tanktop with two fans on complaining about how hot I am and how tired I feel. So, I just want to say how grateful I am to have David. It is extremely nice and comforting to be taken care of by someone who loves me that much. David and I know that it is our job to get each other to heaven. Both of us always joke about how the other got the harder end of that bargain. I know for a fact that he has the harder job though, and he continues to love me anyway.