Saturday, December 20, 2008

One More Cup of Coffee

I finally made it through finals!

...It felt like going to the bathroom in an outhouse during winter.

My first paper was relatively easy to squeeze out in a few hours, even though it was my theory class and I'd only come up with my topic a week earlier. It was about the Dagara tribe near Ghana, Africa, and how they don't have words for "gay" or "lesbian" in their culture because "gays" and "lesbians" are the tribal "gatekeepers," or spiritual leaders who aren't defined by their sexual identity but by their destined role, which is to be the link between this world and the spirit world. I then drew from Butler and Foucault to talk about how "gay" and "lesbian" roles in the West are societal by-products of language and merely performative words for identities that are dynamic by nature, but words attempt to render them static (here I drew from Nietzsche). Then I talked about how the Dagara need the gatekeepers or the village doesn't survive for another year, and how our society may be doomed to self-destruction as a result of the way “gay” and “lesbian” cultural constructions restrict the LGBT community in our society.

It wasn't too bad, for being eight pages. But my next four were much harder, and that's confusing because I'd had those topics lined up practically all semester.

For my film class, I used my abstract for the upcoming UCUR, NCUR, and PCA conferences (I just found out I got accepted to the Utah conference, though!), which deals with the 2003 Bob Dylan film Masked and Anonymous. I talked about Dylan's performance of the song "Dixie" in the film and interpreted it as blackface, talking how it's a recurring motif throughout the film to show the contrasting relationships between “dreamers” and those who homogenize ideologies into societal conventions, rules and standards. I also talked about how how minstrelsy inauthentic representation that is used to affirm authentic identity.

For my comic book class, I wrote about "The Last Temptation of Superman," which talked about Superman and Christ in messianic roles with relations to Greek agape love and its thematic link to world and personal salvation by looking at Jungian femininity and masculinity in Kazantzakis' crucifixion scene and Supes' Black Mercy hallucination.

For my Ethics of War and Peace class, I looked at the morality of Zapatismo and the Mexican Revolution, showing how the Zapatista movement differs from anarchism and resists neo-liberalism more successfully than most "postmodern" revolutions because the EZLN make strategic use of technological communications to gain international solidarity. I also talked about how liberation in Zapatismo ideology is linked with free agency and societal responsibility, which can get side-swept as factors on an intrastate scale.

For my multi-ethnic literature class, I looked at the novels The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty. I love both of those books - the Beatty novel is like the story of my life! - and I did something similar to my film class and "The Last Temptation of Superman." I looked at both of them as neo-slave narratives that deconstruct the "Uncle Tom" archetype of the "Black Messiah" and showed how messianism is deconstructed in both novels as a process of minstrelization, where a repetitious recycling of illusory history is used to objectify, control, and marginalize others (in this case, African Americans). I also talked about self-suicide as self-sacrificial redemption in both.

For two weeks, I had to squeeze out roughly forty to fifty pages about all this stuff. Maybe more...I had a couple of response papers tacked on as extras. Plus I had to study for my film class and watched Stagecoach and Rebel Without A Cause. I wasn't too fond of the first, but I LOVED James Dean and I LOVE that movie. I talked about how masculinity is threatened and exposed as latent femininity by looking at the homosocial elements between Dean and the kid Plato. I love that movie; I need to own it.

But what ended up happening is that for the two weeks of finals I went either seven or eight days staying up all night, and at least a couple where I was up until three. Coffee is the only thing that got me through; the morning I turned in my Zapatista paper, my fingers and butt were completely numb and I was running on two cups of coffee and buttered cinnamon toast. It was practically a cup or two a night, plus the intermediary, occasional green tea blended with pomegranate, soy milk, and brown sugar. Oh - and my back bike tire popping definitely didn't help matters at ALL.

By the time I finished up with my paper about Styron and Beatty, I was so out of gas that I really just wrote it all in one go (surviving on nothing but a little bag of sea-salt potato chips), attached it to an email to my professor, mumbled, "Go with God!" and hit the send button. Then I shut off my computer and nearly fell asleep on the table in the library while I was finally letting the cables sleep.

That night, I blew off all the steam and got drunk with my friends/co-workers. In the morning I had a baby hangover. I totally didn't care - after finals, I NEEDED Johnnie Walker. I got to try some red wine for the first time, too. Sylvia's gin is what got me, though (it usually does). Incidentally, I had no idea that egg nog is really for mixing with whiskey. Cassie's bourbon and my Red Label tasted SO good with warm egg nog. We had a lot of fun; Whitney M. played a few of her band's songs. Sylvia and I also tinkered with the guitar (I did what people called a "soulful" acoustic rendition of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower"). Then we had a miniature snowball fight on the porch outside. Ira and Alfonso made these amazing steak fajitas, too. Later we all hung out on the front porch, and Whitney and I took turns taking drags on a cigarette while we were all freezing and talking about crazy stuff. Gosh...I haven't had that much fun in a long time.

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