Thursday, February 25, 2010
Me with the Collier's (Steve, Barby, and Brooke)
To start off I’d like to get a little off subject (can you get off subject when you haven’t started yet?) and mention a place I forgot to mention from New Mexico, the Petroglyph National Monument. It’s a really cool area not far from Albequerque. There are tons of petroglyphs all over a very large area. They all popped up around 1300 BC which was believed to be a major time of change for the peoples of the area. Unfortunately nobody knows exactly what any of them mean, then again I’m not sure that anyone knows exactly what any modern art means. Now I don’t really know much about visual art, but isn’t part of the point to play with form and substance to create something new . . . something that is open to an inherently infinite play of meaning . . . something that’s anti-linguistic (at least anti-structualist linguistic). So maybe all these people writing all these books trying to uncover the meaning of each symbol in the petroglyphs are at some level not giving the makers enough credit.
Everyone always says that Austin is a cool town. Pseudo-hippies, hipsters, artists, musicians, and all sorts of other people are flocking to Austin. There are even some Emo kids there. Emo kids always look sad. I think they should look at this happiness flow chart and see if it can help them. There are 4 former Wataugans from my years in Austin right now. There’s Anna the photographer who makes most of her money waiting tables, Anthony who’s learning studying Arabic and the Middle East hoping to join the State Department, Shannon who organizes and leads girl scouts backpacking trips, and Tamera who is on the campaign of R-Sen. Kay Hutchinson who is attempting a run for Governor. A diverse group indeed.
While I was in Austin I had a chance to see a few different things. There is UT which is one of the biggest schools I’ve ever seen in my life. Its campus was very pretty, but man was it huge. Even larger are the absolutely enormous apartment complexes that most of the undergraduate population lives in. Seriously I’ve never seen apartment complexes this big. Everything really is bigger in Texas, even the people . . . .
Big Tower on the UT campus (the one the snipper shot people from)
Now I guess that only speaks to Houston (and also Dallas) but after a trip to Rudy’s with Tamera I can see how this might have happened. Rudy’s is a BBQ chain attached to gas stations . . . And its awesome! And its cheap! When you go for the first time they give you a quick sample of extra moist brisket, extra lean brisket, smoked turkey, and creamed corn. Then you can pick from among those (and other items). You order by the pound and then they throw in a bunch of white bread so that you can make it into a sandwich if you want. I’m especially fond of the creamed corn, which critics might say is more creamed than corn. The critics would be correct on that count, but taste is in the mouth of the beholder.
Tamera enjoying her first trip to Rudy's
This brings me to a potentially interesting point. I told Steve at dinner my last night (I’ll get to that later) that I would try and fit Foucault into this post. Unfortunately until this moment I had no clue where Foucault fits in with Austin (other than 6th street). But here it comes, the first thing I always think about with Foucault is “The Carceral” where he argues that (the first real utilitarian legal scholar) Jermy Bentham’s influential prison design that created a scenario where one guard could be potentially watching any prisoner at any time without the prisoner’s knowing about it, had created a new power-knowledge schema revolving around the potentiality of being watched at all times. This in Foucault’s mind has eventually led to a society that polices itself, where the individual becomes obsessed with behaving “normally” not just when authorities show up at the door, but all the time because someone could always be watching. And moving from there you quickly create an individual psychology where a person is worried not about getting in trouble, but about being abnormal. Now people have talked about this in regards to sexuality a lot (and some believe that this emphasis on abnormality and the need to understand it both inter and intra-personally created the modern homo-sexuality lifestyle).
But I want to take this idea back to the creamed corn. Have we policed ourselves in terms of what we eat. When you look at the rates of obesity in places like Houston and places like Colorado Springs the disparities are shocking. And looking at them I can only wonder if different localities have self-policed themselves into eating in a more homogenous fashion than we might imagine (and I’m really thinking about the openness of a school cafeteria here). I mean how long can you go as a vegetarian in a Houston school district without feeling abnormal? How long can you really go in a Colorado Springs school district without eating vegetables before becoming abnormal? Now I know Pierre Bordieau looked at this from a very globalized social-class perspective, but what about from a very localized perspective?
Everything remotely interesting left west Texas because the constraints of social enforcers of normalacy were too great. Even the trees couldn't take it anymore.