July 14, 2004

The Form Is Where the Taste Is

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 9:59 pm


I got home from the 5th HOPEin NYC which is one of the more political and what I like to think of as “attention deficit” hacker cons in the circuit. Attention deficit only because there is no central area for hacking in the gynormous Pennsylvania Hotel where it is held every 2 years in mid-town NYC hell. And then of course there is the inherent distracting nature of NYC streets. Gazillion people, things, and store to distract a wandering mind.

The con was great though. I saw a bunch of friends (great to see you all), heard that in fact, my chicken on a bottle image was a provocative and necessary addition to the aesthetics of my blog (and hence it is back along with the cute sato so the wholesome and not wholesome sit one on top of each other), and the best of all was seeing Kevin Mitnick and the Woz speak. I especially enjoyed Kevin Mitnick. He was a very personable speaker who gave us mad insight into his hilarious personality, deep social engineering skillz, and his distrurbing years of government/FBI reaming. It was good old fashion entertainment and kinda cool to see what is a hacker of such iconic status speak to 3000 + of his kind. I highly recommend listening to the audio.

Now that I am back in Chi-town I am struggling with form. Yes form. Lately I have been thinking lots about the relationship between form and content in relation to how we imagine a politics, or possibility for future change. I am arguing against a whole slew of writers (that is, as hacim pointed out “the dizzzz” in dissertation) who represent dominant conditions as *so dominant and overpowering* that there is no hope (ahem, exuse the bad pun) for politics, and yet these dudes (mostly dudes but some dudettes) tag themselves as critical scholars of capitalism. So really thier critique is a totally masturbatory exercise which is what so much of academics are about so why am I even bothering to dizzz… Anyway, the problem is that I can critique them fine (I have no problems dizzing when need be) but I am having an inordinate amount of trouble writing the second half of my chapter, not because of content, but FORM. I am not sure how I want to say everything I want to say and since I come up some complex theory of the need to deliver your form in a way that makes room for politics, so you know, I need to deliver on my frikken critique. Blargh. Dizzing is easy, constructing is harder…

I first learned of the importance of form while living aboard the R/V Heraclitus through punishment over the way I made vegetables. These two Germans crew members would get really pissed at you if you did not chop vegetables finely so of course being that 10 of us lived in the span of 80 feet, everyone who cooked, which was everyone, became like awesome, little mad-vegetable chopping machines. I mean the choice was easy: fine chopped vegetables or the wrath of the captain and expedition chief. Now my drive to chop vegetables finely was not mere coercion. I fully came to fully agree with those picky Germans (I think some academics that I dizzz might called this self-imposed agreement hegemony or governmentality). But really it is not so complex of a phenomena as finely chopped veggies, kick butt over coarsely chopped ones. I mean, it can mean a world of difference to my taste buds so of course I gave in…

So today in my great form frustration, I turned to the vegetable, making what is probably one of my favorite dishes outside of the double-fried plantain, coleslaw (pictured above). Yep, plain old coleslaw. I don’t make it all that often because the labor is too intense for a feeble academic like myself. It is so labor intensive because I have to shred it to pieces to make the cabbage transform from this somewhat gross lifeless vegetable into a succulent biella-delight. To make it this tastly, I also combine red and green cabbage, shred carrots, and garnish with finely, chopped mint. I then dress wtih ginger, lime, salt, and olive oil, and vaulla, what a fine, fine meal.

I wish my dissertation form problem was as easy as shredding or that I could “shred” through the second half of my dissertation but I think I will have to suffer a much slower and painful process to arrive at a form that delivers on the taste of my argument.

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