Sleep, Beautiful Sleep!

I figured out that this weekend, with Carrie’s dad and partner in town, I slept more than any three day period since moving to Canada. I really needed it, and actually the whole thing was quite relaxing, though I am trying not to think about all the stuff I have to do for myself and other people.

Today, before taking them to the airport, we wandered up Mont Royal (the mountain status of which I would question after living in Pittsburgh) to check out a beautiful view of the city and also discovered that it’s an awesome park. The park is open until midnight every day. That’s wild. I used to love taking late night walks in Minneapolis and there it was dicey because the parks were officially closed. Here, it’s legal, safe and lighted. Carrie’s psyched because there are cross-country skiing opportunities in winter. It’s definitely one of my new favorite places in Montreal. Wish I had a picture to show you. The view of the city was indeed stupendous, and it really gives a sense of how big Montreal (and the metro area) are. What a cool city.

As readers may know, philosopher Jacques Derrida died on Saturday. There was a really petty piece in the New York Times on him. I’m not a big deconstructionist, but I think the guy had some interesting stuff to say. I’ve worked up an obit for him that will go up in a day or two on the Bad Subjects website. I’ll link when it’s ready to go.

Book Meme

Aesthetics of Cultural Studies

Friend, former bandmate, political blogger and — oh yes — Paterno Family Professor of English Michael Berube has just edited a new book called The Aesthetics of Cultural Studies, including essays by yours truly, Steven Rubio, Rita Felski, Laura Kipnis), and a cavalcade of other clever people.

And here’s a story to go with it:

Back in February 1999, I was a fresh(er) young PhD interviewing at the University of Pittsburgh for a job in the Communication Department. A number of my then-future (now former) colleagues are interested in aesthetics of various sorts. It’s a thing in rhetorical studies. Anyway, on the interview I found myself in one person’s office being asked whether I think aesthetics is making a comeback. We chatted about it, and I said that if it’s really coming back into vogue for academics to make judgements, I’m all for us trying to figure out the good and the true, but I draw the line at the beautiful.

I still do (go to a conference and look at how we all dress before you challenge me on this one), but I’ve since rethought a few other things — which led to my essay for the book. The other fun thing about it is that I directly rip off Hayden White (“The Burden of History”) at the beginning.

The apartment is relatively clean, parents are asleep and so is Carrie. I wish I was, but hey, at least it’s a chance to blog. I don’t mind waking up thinking about stuff, but I’d rather that it were at like 11am.

Excitement at Chateau Frontenac

Okay, so I just finished the third draft of my SSHRC application, incorporating comments from two grant officers and three colleagues. I think it’s very close, apart from the probably 1 million typos in it. Ah well. After I proof it out loud and impose on Carrie, Tuesday, it will go to the Research Grants Office, and that will be that. In terms of word count, it’s probably about the same as a 40 page paper and it has completely absorbed my September and part of my October. Two years ago, when I started seriously looking at digital audio as an object of research I had no idea that I’d have the kind of resources at my disposal that this grant would give me. Of course, one of the things about SSHRC is that they like to trim applicants’ budgets, but I can’t help being excited just by the possibility. And while McGill’s success rate is quite good in comparison with the rest of Canada, it is by no means a sure thing. But it’s impossible not to dream while putting the application together and it’s probably better in terms of making the writing engaging for reviewers.

With finishing off the tenure file next on the docket, you could say that this is the fall of applications.

In other news:

Carrie’s dad and his partner Diane arrive tonight for the thanksgiving weekend (yes, American readers, Canada has a different thanksgiving), and Sunday we’ll do up a full-on vegetarian feast. It also means a couple of VERY BADLY NEEDED days off for yours truly. We’ll see what it’s like to have guests in the loft. We still don’t have that digital camera to show and tell, but there’s a hole in the wall that separates our bedroom and the living room: the only truly private rooms in the place are the bathroom and the studio/guestroom.

Canadiana/Franglais Update:

Wednesday morning’s cabdriver (what, me late for class? never!) was a retired Montreal police officer, who was very active in his union (which he called “the brotherhood”) and spent 10 winters as a snowbird in Florida until health insurance costs got too high. I got in and even got through a couple exchanges in my broken French (which was an accomplishment). The guy was super chatty and had lots of stories to tell, but my favorite exchange happened at the end:

Him: “You gonna stay in your neighborhood?”
Me: “At least for awhile. The neighbors are nice, the price is right, and although it’s not as hip as the Plateau, it’s a nice place to be.”
Him: “The Pleateau is bullshit. I grew up there. It used to be cheap and for working people. Now it’s not.”

“The Plateau is bullshit.” That’s a combination of words you don’t hear too often in Montreal. Wish I could catch that guy’s cab every time I needed a ride.


OK, off to the obligatory pre-parental-guest vacuuming.


It has come to my attention that the last few blog entries have been cranky. This is out of character and needs to stop. And so, I’ll just provide a poem for you tonight which sums up my feelings about the VP debate.

In quantity of intelligence
Bush competes with the weevil
Cheney’s much smarter
But three times as evil.

Thank you and good night.

The End of 1700 years’ dominion

So the Globe and Mail today ran a story about how Canadian Christian leaders are worried that if Canada legalizes same-sex marriage, it will end the Church’s 1700 year domination of law in Western states. What a delightful proposition, don’t you think?

Those churches will be left feeling marginalized by the state — a state they will no longer see as an expression of a Christian(1) point of view and fulfilling certain Christian ideals, said Christopher Lind, director of the Toronto School of Theology, the federation of theological colleges affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Poor conservative Christians! They will be oppressed because they will no longer foist their beliefs on others. This is absurd; an abuse of the language of civil rights violations where none exist. It is not a violation of a person’s civil rights for the state to support a position they do not. The US government did not violate southern whites’ rights when it forcibly integrated public schools half a century ago any more than Canada will violate the rights of religious extremists by peacefully integrating marriage.

Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada — representing more than three million Canadians(2) through 130 affiliated denominations, ministry organizations and educational institutions — says the redefinition of marriage in Canada would cause conservative Christians to feel stripped of public language with which to express their values on marriage.

While same-sex couples must beware for their personal safety in some quarters before publically expressing their values, conservative Christians are worried about feeling bad because some people call them bigots. So, according to their logic, it’s okay to tell hays and lesbians they’re going to hell, but when people come back and call them bigots for that attitude, that’s oppression. Give break.

On the bright side, the only reason this article exists at all is because it’s looking like Canada is about to rewrite marriage law to support same-sex marriage, and conservative Christians are a tiny, shrill minority. What a cool country.(3)

(1)Yes, Virginia: many believing Christians actually support same-sex marriage.
(2)With a population of about 30 million people, that’s 10% of Canadians, not all of whom support their church leaders who speak in their name. If standard estimates are correct, then about 3 million Canadians (10%) have a preference for same-sex partners. Let’s call it a tie: the Canadian state should not ban Christianity, and it should legalize same-sex marriage. Solomon has spoken!
(3)Footnotes in a blog. I’m such a geek.