Apr 25, 2013

Roth's authorship power trip

Sometime Philip Roth gets on my nerves. He has written an open letter to Wikipedia demanding that they allow him to adjust the page about his novel The Human Stain, which supposedly contains untruthful description of the book.

Wikipedia's first official statement was: I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources.

It shocks me that Wikipedia would acknowledge such an old-fashioned author-centered bias. They have accepted Roth's word that his author-ship equates his author-ity. That's bullshit.

They need secondary sources, as in they can't allow people to edit their own pages - they need a newspaper, site or journal with verifiable information so they can forward any factual challenges. But that's not what the official statement said. At least not only. How come do they need to defend Roth's illusions of authorship?

The original page framed the polemic description with "According to critic So-and-So..." So the articles was not lying. It is true, after all, that said critic has voiced that opinion! Wikipedia was, rightfully, just reprinting what someone had said in another secondary source. Roth should have gone directly to this critic and challenged him.

In sum, it's not Wikipedia's job to act as a sort of middle-man between Roth and the critic in order to determine once and for all who is "right" about their interpretation of the novel. Roth's opinion is now recorded in secondary sources - this newspaper article, for example - so they can now include his views. But they should also be framed by "According to Philip Roth..."

Nov 17, 2012

Writing and Death in J. K. Rowling

My rigorous reading of J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter is not recent - it goes all the way back to my undergraduate thesis on animality in the novels (and how it structures them as a posthuman Bildungsroman). But with the release of her latest - and non-Potter - novel The Casual Vacancy, we may start wondering about some of the regularities of themes and organizations that may be continually popping up. In this case, what interests me is her usual connection of writing to death (and vice-versa).

May 26, 2012

Some more thoughts on "Gattaca"

"But his heart is in the right place..."
I say "more" thoughts because I have been thinking about and discussing Gattaca for years now, and it's certainly one of my favorite films. The persecuted underdog story, coupled with Michael Nyman's beautiful score, always gets to me. I have, of course, also detected in it the Romantic notion that being sick in a sick society is actually being healthy. As such, Gattaca is also a powerful defense of the Romantic idea of the visionary individual who, swimming against the tide - as it were -, is somehow above the law. That, together with the "no gene for the human spirit" BS seems to make for a deeply humanist film (and I use that adjective as an insult). But right now I'm interested in the cues the film presents to warrant a post-humanist reading.

Sex and Fiction in "No Night is Too Long"

In the film, Tim [R] "meets" Ivo for the first time in an elevator.
I, like many before me, first heard of the haunting Barbara Vine (aka Ruth Rendell) novel No Night is Too Long via the BBC adaptation. I caught this almost by chance on cable TV and was deeply intrigued by it. I remember having a certain The Talented Mr. Ripley flashback, in which the overall violent and tragic tone of the homoerotic tension had also failed, for some reason, to repulse me. The plot twist at the end of No Night is Too Long indeed takes it to a whole new level, as does the references (and musical quotes) to Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier. But I had no idea of the mind-blowing impression the book would have on me!

Some thoughts on "Finding Nemo"

I've always considered Finding Nemo to be, at least, bittersweet and, at the most, heart-wrenching. I say that because, despite the obviously hilariousness of most of the content, the film seems to hit a very serious, complex note on its theme. I feel this especially on the very end (I hope spoiler alerts are not needed at this point), when Marlin clearly seems as though he has learned an unpleasant truth about the nature of the coming-of-age process. I bet this comes as no surprise to anyone, but I'll say it anyway: after having turned into a complete paranoid by the violent death of his "wife", Marlin is not willing to let Nemo leave his safe anemone harbor and go to school. It is precisely this unwillingness, we learn, that prompts Nemo to try to prove himself and be captured. By the end, Marlin has come to realize he must let Nemo go, for this is the natural order of things etc., and now he has come to see that the world is not only dangerous and bleak (and now he can tell a joke!). But what is  it exactly that sparks this acceptance in him?

Dec 7, 2011

O animal não tem cabelo como tal

Segundo Heidegger, o que distingue primeiramente o Dasein dos outros seres vivos (Nur-lebenden) é o fato de que, enquanto esses certamente podem ter pêlo (Fell), somente o Dasein  humano pode realmente ter cabelo (Haar). Para Heidegger, o Dasein encontra a sua Verdade e condição existencial no momento em que se olha no espelho pela manhã e é arremessado na finitude da percepção de um bad hair day (Tag-Schlechtes-Haar). O animal não é capaz disso, mas o animal tampouco pode falar. A relação entre um cabelo penteável e a linguagem aparece aqui como num relâmpago, mas fica todavia impensada. O animal, preso em seu Umwelt sem acesso a espelhos, mousses ou pentes, não é capaz de ver seu cabelo como cabelo, somente como algo que cobre seu corpo. A estrutura fundamental de ser-para-o-cabeleireiro (Sein-zum-Frisiersalon) é o que define a característica humana do Dasein e de seu cabelo. O animal, por ser incapaz de antecipar sua própria ida-ao-cabeleireiro, está aprisionado em seu próprio corte e penteado, sem, porém, estar ciente disso. Enfim, somente o Dasein human pode se relacionar com a penteabilidade (Kämmbarenheit) de seu cabelo como tal.

May 22, 2011

A coerção da família

Catherine Belsey, teórica crítica galesa, discute em entrevista a instituição familiar em seu projeto crítico:

A família permanece sendo a grande coerção silenciosa. O motivo pelo qual eu quis escrever sobre a família é que o seu valor foi simplesmente pressuposto. Os valores familiares parecem ser naturais; e a família é vista como um local de aconchego e afeição, o coração de um mundo sem coração. Minha opinião é de que nenhuma instituição cultural é completamente natural, e a família pode ser um local de grande crueldade e opressão. No Ocidente, a família representa o motivo para se trabalhar oito horas por dia, o trabalho valendo a pena ou não. Algumas pessoas têm empregos exploradores, cínicos ou simplesmente corruptos. Mas esses trabalhos são considerados aceitáveis na medida em que a renda derivada deles é para o bem da família que está em casa. Nesse sentido, a família legitima a ordem social profundamente. Enquanto isso, as condições de trabalho podem ser péssimas, porque o aconchego da família compensa pela frieza do mercado.