Thursday, March 7, 2013

TV: Brooker Wipes "A Good Day To Die Hard"

Charlie Brooker is back with a familiar reboot of his Wipe franchise (ScreenwipeNewswipe, etc). The third episode of his new BBC2 series, Weeklywipe, presents, as 'Wipes are wont to do, a review of notable media from the prior week. The show is nearly identical to the prior iterations but that doesn't matter because Brooker's jocular wordplay and ascerbic critiques of the digital zeitgeist always leave me wanting more.

Below is a fantastically disingenuous review of Bruce Willis' A Good Day To Die Hard. Weeklywipe revives familiar male commentator "Barry Shitpeas" but places him opposite an equally literal female foil by the name of "Philomena Cunck". This is a fantastic lampooning of the talking head retrospective genre, a format littered with who-evers spouting what-ever to a camera crew in a darkened room. Kudos to Brooker et al for making me feel oh-so-smart.

And if that taste has left you saying: "Please sir, I want some more." Here's the whole lot of it thus far:
S01E01 , S01E02 , S01E03 , S01E04 , S01E05

Sunday, February 24, 2013

TV: Utopia

Utopia is a new series from Channel 4 in the UK. Within its genre it is likely the smartest and most engaging show I've seen in a very long time. The show is masterfully done. It's supersaturated color and stunning framing serve as a shocking foil to the ultra-violent conspiratorial mystery playing out in the looming shadow of not one but two apocalypses. Although the shadow of Utopia is largely metaphorical as most of the horror plays out in stark daylight. Previously only the X-Files had delivered a paranoiac vision of the end-times as delivered by the now archetypal secret cabal-of-government-and-private-industry with such compelling conviction. Utopia shows us a nightmarish present but what is really frightening is the future it portends.

Series 1 concluded on February 19th.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Harlem Shake Is Dead. Long live the Harlem Shake!

ThinkProgress has an article on the "Harlem Shake" meme as an example of the co-opting of black culture by mainstream white culture. It's an interesting read and there's no doubt that the appropriation of black culture is so pervasive that it is practically an American value (and certainly an American industry) but I think the author missed something crucial.

What we're seeing here is more than just an appropriation of one culture by another and the subsequent neutering of the idea. We're seeing an active demonstration of the Situationist concept of "recuperation". Anything that could potentially be subversive will almost immediately be recuperated by the dominant culture and stripped of its value. Frequently this is done by commodification but the memefication of cultural artifacts seems just as effective at rendering something meaningless, mainstream and regressive. I'm sure the 99 cents app or ringtone of the Harlem Shake is just around the corner.

This form of suppression crosses all race, gender and (possibly) even class boundaries and comes down to a battle of master narratives. The only means we have of resisting is by continuing to create at a rate that exceeds the dominant culture's ability to recuperate and to juxtapose and re-juxtapose extant works in ways that undermine their existing narrative.

It's a Sisyphean task. Here's to being foolish enough to believe in art, joy and revolution!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

BOOK: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

Recursion in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!

“It seemed to Quentin that he could actually see them: the ragged and starving troops without shoes, the gaunt powder-blackened faces looking backward over tattered shoulders, the glaring defeat watching that dark interdict ocean across which a grim lightless solitary ship fled with in its hold two thousand precious pounds-space containing not bullets, not even something to eat, but that much bombastic and inert carven rock which for the next year was to be a part of the regiment, to follow it into Pennsylvania and be present at Gettysburg, moving behind the regiment in a wagon driven by the demon’s body servant through swamp and plain and mountain pass, the regiment moving no faster than the wagon could, with starved gaunt men and gaunt spent horses knee deep in icy mud or snow, sweating and cursing it through bog and morass like a piece of artillery, speaking of the two stones as ‘Colonel’ and ‘Mrs Colonel’; then through the Cumberland Gap and down through the Tennessee mountains, traveling at night to dodge Yankee patrols, and into Mississippi in the late fall of ’64, where the daughter waited whose marriage he had interdict and who was to be a widow the next summer though apparently not bereaved, where his wife was dead and his son self-excommunicated and –banished, and put one of the stones over his wife’s grave and set the other upright in the hall of the house, where Miss Coldfield possibly (maybe doubtless) looked at it every day as though it were his portrait, possibly (maybe doubtless here too) reading among the lettering more of maiden hope and virgin expectation than she ever told Quentin about, since she never mentioned the stone to him at all, and (the demon) drank the parched corn coffee and at the hoe cake which Judith and Clytie prepared for him and kissed Judith on the forehead and said, ‘Well, Clytie’ and returned to the war, all in twenty-four hours; he could see it; he might even have been there.” (189-190)

Recursion is often used to describe a process of repeating objects (images, words, ideas, etc) in a self-similar manner. Linguist Noam Chomsky posits that the extension of the English language is unlimited because of recursion. The above sentence demonstrates this property of recursion. Faulkner uses embedded clause after embedded clause after sentential complement (my count comes to twenty-eight distinct clauses) to construct this monstrosity of a sentence, spanning two pages in my edition. The sentence occupies, however, far more than two pages of print. It occupies two distinct periods of time and numerous space locations. We begin with Quentin at Harvard in 1910 but we are immediately tossed back to 1864, location indeterminate, positioned amongst miserable Confederate troops. The sentence carries us on a tour of the war torn South, through hill and bog and over ice and snow. We return with Sutpen (and the two headstones) to Yoknapatawpha County to visit with Judith and Clytie before abruptly returning to Harvard and Quentin’s fantasy.

Labyrinthine sentence structure is not the only example of Faulkner’s use of this linguistic property. Recursion pervades this novel. (Even the title is self-referential!) His intentional repetition, perhaps for emphasis, is to be noted. In the above-quoted section he repeats the parenthetical phrase “(maybe doubtless)” twice, in one form or another. This is a technique that he often repeats. Take for example Henry’s struggle to accept Charles Bon’s morality: “I will believe! I will! I will! Whether it is true or not, I will believe!” (111).

Particularly notable is the final, and uncharacteristically brief, paragraph of the novel. This paragraph is so conventionally structured that, after nearly four-hundred pages of recursive sentences, it seems almost terse: “I don’t hate it,” Quentin said, quickly, at once, immediately; “I don’t hate it,” he said. I don’t hate it he thought, panting in the cold air, the iron New England dark; I don’t. I don’t! I don’t hate it! I don’t hate it!” (378).The repetition of the phrase simultaneously reinforces the sentiment and calls it’s honesty into question. Faulkner impresses upon us that this idea belongs to Quentin by using ‘Quentin said’ and ‘he said’ and finally ‘he thought’.

The plot of the novel is likewise recursive. Sutpen's appearance in Jefferson as a dark, mysterious man is self-referenced later by the introduction of Charles Bon (likewise, a swarthy man lacking history). As the plot develops we discover that Charles Bon is more than simply a mirror of Thomas Sutpen, he is actually his progeny. The intended marriage of Charles Bon and Sutpen's daughter Judith would result in a perverse ouroboros, a recursion of the Sutpen gene. The incestuous program is terminated, however, when Sutpen's son Henry intervenes and murders Charles Bon.

The novel is presented through the voice of five narrators: Rosa (pages 7-30; 134-173), Mr. Compson (43-134), Quentin (174-292; 358-378), Shreve (293-345) and an omniscient author (31-43; 346-358). These narrators continually rehash the narrative, adding details or contradicting prior notions. Though no single narrator is particularly reliable their combined narratives present a cohesive story.
The details of Sutpen's history are presented by Faulkner (and his narrators) without regard for chronology in a dramatically non-linear manner. Viewpoints may shift drastically and with little warning. The only clue Faulkner provides for this shift may be italics, a parenthesis, quotation marks (double or single), a dash or some combination of these things. These indicators often have a tendency to spiral inward. One finds quotes within quotes and parentheses within parentheses and is left to guess what effect these signals may have on narrative voice, time and space. Largely, we find that these marks are faithful indicators of the narrative shift. Interior monologues situated in the present are italicized whereas thoughts from the past are set in single quotation marks. Directly quoted speech is presented traditionally within double quotation marks.

I believe that Faulkner's presentation of the narrative in a circular manner, without regard for chronology and without structuring it as integrated units, establishes Absalom, Absalom! as an experiment in time and space. There is not a distinct beginning or end to this novel, we must simply submit to the endless circling inward of the author.


Monday, January 28, 2013

#EDCMOOC 20 Minutes Into The Future: Three Dystopic Moments and One Prime-Time TV Show

20 Minutes Into The Future:
Three Dystopic Moments and One Prime-Time TV Show

Hand and Sandywell’s description in “E-topia as Cosmopolis or Citadel” of three “mutually reinforcing” dystopic moments (202) brought to mind an episode of a classic 80s television program which I feel could be beneficial for the discussion of digital cultures and e-learning. This program is the much revered Max Headroom and the episode in question is called “Lessons”.
There’s nothing subtle about this episode - the connection is clear - but I am haunted by its prophetic nature. Problems clear enough to appear on prime-time fiction television a quarter of a century ago still face us today.

The episode opens with a commercial:

“You know knowledge is priceless. That’s why education is worth paying for. With Pay Education TV’s “Know All” Pack you can buy your child the gift of knowledge. Remember, knowledge is power. Subscribe to Pay Education TV: the bright choice.”

Having earned my MA in Media Studies in 2010 I am no stranger to the steep commodification of education. My interest in this topic is related to my dual status as victim and beneficiary of my private education.

Hand & Sandywell’s Three Dystopias

Cyber Exclusion - “an era of cyber-imperialism” p. 202
This dystopia is clearly presented in the cyberpunk milieu of Max Headroom. Numerous groups are excluded by class. Homeless children are excluded from education through the pay-per-view structure of educational programming.

Global Citadel Theory - “a fragmented universe of high tech citadels” p. 203
Like Neal Stephenson’s burbclaves in Snow Crash, citizenship is very much for sale in this dystopia. This future is marked by ‘private solutions to public problems’ (203). Max Headroom presents a dystopia dominated by television networks locked in neofeudalist competition for the hearts, minds, and dollars of the teeming proletariat.

“In such a world, single corporations have access to more information than any single government, while vast populations of derelicts and noncitizens are fair game for the body banks which collect spare parts of biotechnology.” (Ross 147).
In addition, Hand and Sandywell argue that this stratification will result in an erosion of quality in content. Andrew Ross notes that the network programming of Mad Headroom demonstrates an “increase in consumer gratification [which] is manifest in shows such as Lifestyles of the Poor and Pitiful, Porky’s Landing, and Lumpy’s Proletariat, or else the kind of shows, as Max puts it, that ‘go over nobody’s head.” (“Techno-Ethics and Tele-Ethics.” p.147)
Max further comments on the quality of television programming in, what Ross identifies as a paraphrasing of Portia’s plea for mercy in The Merchant of Venice:  “The quality of TV is not strained, it droppeth as the gentle ratings dropeth, to a very tiny percentage share, and lo! ‘tis none.” (153).

Global Panopticon or “The Electronic Panopticon of Cybernetic Capitalism” -
“[T]he cybernetic panopticon of digital capitalism produces docile minds locked into their screens.” (204).
This dystopia relies on a Foucauldian network of electronic surveillance. As in most cyberpunk fictions, the digital panopticon of Max Headroom is largely defined by its oppotion: the Blanks, or people who are not indexed in any government database. As Hand and Sandywell note, these dystopic “moments” are often mutually reinforcing and such is the circumstance for the Blanks. Because they are not indexed they are excluded from many of the benefits of citizenship and are not protected under the law.
The most present Blank in Max Headroom is Blank Reg, the operator of an unlicensed DIY broadcast network, ironically named “Big Time” television, which is headquartered in a pink bus. Blank Reg is “savior” as “sentimental technocrat” in the world of Max Headroom (Ross 147). In “Lessons” Blank activists are targeted for sharing pirated educational programming with impoverished children.

Works Cited:

Ross, Andrew. “Techno-Ethics and Tele-Ethics.” Logics of Television: Essays in Cultural
Criticism. ed. Patricia Mellencamp. 1990. (138-156).

Max Headroom <>
Season 2, Episode 7 [5 May 1988]
Pt 1 <>
Pt 2 <>
Pt 3 <>

Hand, M. and B. Sandywell. 2002. E-topia as cosmopolis or citadel: On the democratizing and
de-democratizing logics of the internet, or, toward a critique of the new technological
fetishism. Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1-2: 197-225. (p.205-6)
[The full article can be found here:]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

BOOK: Bram Stoker's Dracula

Gay Vampires Or The Construction of the Other in Dracula

Count Dracula’s terrifying identity is constructed, not as a monster, but as an outsider. He is, in every sense, a foreigner to the (heteronormative) Victorian cast of characters that quest to destroy him. Early in the novel Jonathan Harker almost obsessively comments upon the Count’s strange appearance, eating and sleeping habits and even odor. This pervasive xenophobia reflects the historical context of the novel, written for imperialist England.
The Count’s appearance is so profoundly alien that the characters cannot help but comment upon it. Mina Harker’s description of the Count:

I knew him at once from the description of the others. The waxen face; the high aquiline nose, on which the light fell in a thin, white line; the parted red lips, with the sharp white teeth showing between; and the red eyes that I had seemed to see in the sunset on the windows of St. Mary’s Church at Whitby. (292-293)

Although Harker is at times repulsed by the Count’s otherness, and upon allying against Dracula the company certainly demonizes him, the characters cannot help but feel seduced by his features and mystique throughout the novel. In many ways the Count’s otherness, a kind of orientalism per Said, is fetishized by Stoker and for the benefit of his reader. Everything about the Count is established to confirm the Western conception of identity by acting as a foil – a confirmation of binary power structures, of East and West, of good and evil.

The conversion of Lucy is perhaps the most profound example of the Count’s seductive powers. Lucy is posited to be the model of pure, virginal, English femininity; both frivolous and helpless. Lucy finds herself unable to resist the allure of Count Dracula and quickly succumbs to his influence (though Mina, a less traditional example of femininity and a kind of new-heroine introduced by Stoker, resists and eventually overcomes Dracula’s seduction). We find that the only solution to the Count’s seductive grasp upon Lucy is an elaborate and extremely suggestive murder-ritual mirroring phallic intercourse performed with group-sex overtones. The men would rather sacrifice monogamy and the life of one of their women than lose her to a foreign influence.

Throughout the text, though particularly in the early stages of the narrative, there exists an unspoken sexual tension between Harker and the Count. This tension is first made fully apparent when Harker cuts his neck shaving and the Count reacts strongly with desire: “his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury”.
This homosexual desire is manifested as heterosexual displacement when Harker encounters the three female vampires in the Count’s castle:

All three had brilliant white teeth, that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear. I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. (51)

Harker’s passivity, as is demonstrated by his feigned swoon, is a drastic inversion of Victorian gender roles. In every other instance Harker is very much a man-of-action and this instance of passivity, in spite of danger, suggests his (and the Victorian male’s) desire for some kind of passive role in the sexual economy of England. Stoker’s careful description verifies this assertion as is evidenced by the mounting sensuality of the scene:

Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed to fasten on my throat… I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the supersensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of the two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in a langorous ecstasy and waited – waited with a beating heart. (52)

The women-vampires demonstrate an active sexual appetite, subverting the role of the proper Victorian lady, whereas Harker becomes passive and eagerly awaits the moment of penetration. The penetration of the vampire’s teeth on the neck is undoubtedly a phallic image, though Stoker finds it necessary to couch this homoerotic imagery in heterosexual eroticism through the use of the three women.
The unspoken homosexual desire existing between the Count and Harker becomes apparent upon the intercession of Dracula: “How dare you touch him, any of you? How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me” (53; emphasis added). However, Dracula (and perhaps Stoker) is unwilling to permit a homoerotic coupling, vampiric or not. The mere suggestion of such a thing is enough to frighten (and titillate) the Victorian readers.

This unrealized homoeroticism coupled with Dracula’s apparent preference for women throughout the rest of the novel presents a situation equally (if not more) troubling to the Victorian English: bisexuality. The vampire is by nature bisexual and perhaps transgendered. The vampiric act is one of phallic penetration coupled with the reception of vital fluid. (One must note that in many psychoanalytical readings of this text blood and semen are often interchangeable.) Women who have been converted to vampirism become “masculine” through their sexual aggression. Unfortunately, Stoker does not offer us a male vampire apart from the Count so we must rely on his early and unrealized impulses towards Jonathan Harker for evidence of homosexual desire.

The Count’s transgendering is demonstrated during his final seduction of Mina:

His right hand gripped her by the back of the neck, forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white night-dress was smeared with blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man’s bare chest which was shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child force a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink. (288)

This scene presents us with an inverted maternal scene. Dracula is nursing Mina from his breast as a mother to a child (reducing Mina’s sexuality to an infantile status). Stoker further classifies Dracula as other by confusing his gender. Dracula’s protean nature (and sexuality) would indeed be terrifying to Stoker’s audience. In a culture of well defined binary opposites (“brave men and good women”) ambiguity is perhaps the greatest threat.

Works Cited:

Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Signet, 1965.

Stevenson, John Allen. “A Vampire in the Mirror: The Sexuality of Dracula.” PMLA 103.2 (1988) 139-149.

Demetrakopoulos, Stephanie. “Feminism, Sex Role Exchanges, and Other Subliminal Fantasies in Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’”. Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies. 2.3 (1977) 104-113.

Craft, Christopher. “’Kiss Me With Those Red Lips’: Gender and Inversion in Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. Representations. 8 (1984) 107-133.

Nick Heling

Thursday, January 17, 2013

BOOK: The Passion of New Eve

The Passion of New Eve: Bisexuality and Fragmentation through Synecdoche

Angela Carter's novel, The Passion of New Eve introduces the reader to a dystopian vision of America. The social upheaval of the 1970's is presented in hyperbole: conflicts surrounding racial and gender equality are boiling over. Rather than describing this compelling vision, The Passion of New Eve rapidly opens with an enormous philosophical assumption. Our narrator, Evelyn, posits:

Our external symbols must always express the life within us with absolute precision; how could they do otherwise, since that life has generated them? Therefore we must not blame our poor symbols if they take forms that seem trivial to us, or absurd, for the symbols themselves have no control over their own fleshly manifestations, however paltry they may be; the nature of our life alone has determined their forms.

A critique of these symbols is a critique of our lives. (6)
Interestingly, Carter presents this formidable claim on semiotics before the reader has a chance to establish the reliability of the narrator; before the narrator is even named (however, Tristessa is notably present). As we discover, Evelyn is far from impartial. Evelyn harbors a great many biases and assumptions (particularly about gender). His assumption regarding the relationship between symbol and life is subject to some challenging throughout the narrative as demonstrated through the conflicts surrounding gender and its presentation. Carter offers a critique of these symbols and, perhaps, a critique of our lives.

Rubenstein claims that Carter often copes with the issue of gender through synecdoche. Carter attempts to “highlight prevailing social constructions of male power and female powerlessness as, literally, extensions of their genitalia in precisely these contexts of gender-specific anxiety” (106). The gender-specific anxiety Rubenstein references are psychoanalytic in nature: castration anxiety for males and penetration anxiety for females (Rubenstein’s own designated category).
In The Passion of New Eve “the female body depends for its construction on the literal dismemberment of the male body… Castration turns a man into a woman: a complete woman, a woman with ‘all the necessary parts’” (Michie 667). Evelyn’s transformation from man to woman is an act of castration. Ironically, castration by a phallic symbol – the knife. The act, however, is more than simple castration. He is transgendered, it seems, even before the operation. He experiences, in same action, the realization of (male) castration anxiety and Rubenstein's penetration anxiety – both penetrated and castrated by the knife.

Metamorphosed by surgery, Eve[lyn]’s new form elicits an autoerotic response. “I was the object of all the unfocused desires that had ever existed in my own head. I had become my own masturbatory fantasy. And – how can I put it- the cock in my head, still, twitched at the sight of myself” (75). As we see, Carter uses synecdoche to represent Eve’s masculine psychological identify (“the cock in my head”).
However, this moment of autoeroticism (and, again, during Eve and Tristessa’s coupling in the desert) suggests something more than lingering masculine identity. Indeed, there is a strong suggestion of bisexuality. Eve is attracted to himself not only because of his external femininity but also because of his internal masculinity. Carter exposes the fallacy of masculine romantic fantasies of femininity – the desire to be mirrored by the female. This desire is most perfectly enacted by the male in drag, explaining Eve’s lifelong occupation with Tristessa, the secret Hollywood transsexual.

Carter represents bisexuality as a union of opposites, which is perhaps problematic. “The figure of the transsexual or bisexual is a kind of mediating figure invoked to reconcile symbolically these polarized positions” (Rubenstein 106). As a mediator, Carter’s transsexual/bisexual seeks to bridge the gap between the harshly defined genders. However, this gap is established by the rigid definitions presented by Carter. The bisexual and the transsexual must operate between these poles. Neither is afforded the status of hermaphrodite, existing simultaneously as doubly gendered. Instead, each must shift from one gender to the other. Tristessa, the least biologically hermaphroditic is, perhaps, the most genuine of the two because of the destabilization caused by her more fluid gender identity. The bisexual, in this sense, is complementary (as in the hermaphrodite myth) but lacking multiplicity. Each character seems to represent a fairly static state of gender – while these categories may change throughout the novel it is rare that we find them dynamic and fluid in any given scene.

Rubenstein is critical of Carter’s definitions of gender: “Femininity/female is equated with passivity, emptiness, abasement, and terrifying vulnerability, or with voracious, engulfing ‘suction’; masculinity/male is characterized by sadism and sexual violence” (116). Indeed, Carter’s representations are so exaggerated (the nihilistic, sadist Zero; the preposterous Mother Goddess) as to almost seem caricatures of historical and mythical gender.

Eve ponders the implications of gender with consideration for his/her experiences and offers little insight. “Masculine and feminine are correlatives which involve one another. I am sure of that – the quality and its negation are locked in necessity. But what the nature of masculine and the nature of feminine might be, whether they involve male and female… that I do not know” (149-150). Carter (or, perhaps only Eve) is unwilling, or unable, to offer us a category of ‘genderlessness’. We must, instead, deal with a conception of gender located between the poles of masculine and feminine rather than a gender constructed entirely independent of the binarism that seems to be the hallmark of Western metaphysics.

Just as Eve lacks a stable identity, Carter defines Tristessa as having “no ontological status, only an iconographic one” (129). She has no essential characteristics that define her existence, rather she is an icon – a suggestion or a concept. However, Eve’s description of Tristessa is the closest we get to a genderless category: “He, she – neither will do for you” (143). Not two pages later Eve abandons notions of Tristessa’s genderlessness. She thinks of him: “He was a mad, old man with long, white hair like Ezekiel” (145).

Both Eve and Tristessa are “an Other, an object constructed by others – as in a mirror or in another’s gaze – not a subject or self” (Rubenstein 111). Carter’s narrative makes it clear that Eve and Tristessa’s identities (indeed, our own) are not self established but are often ultimately derived from the synecdochal signifier of gender: the penis or vagina. Carter’s synecdochal representation of gender is problematic because this method of discourse fragments the individual, turning the subject into an object. Helena Michie describes this usage of synecdoche as a “semiotic fetish” (663). The two possess “composite identit[ies]” (Johnson 43), assembled from the fragments resultant from the imperfect semiotics of gender.

As Other, Eve and Tristessa are denied identity and means of self-knowledge. Eve reflects on their plight: “You and I, who inhabited false shapes, who appeared to one another doubly masked, like an ultimate mystification, were unknown even to ourselves” (136). Interestingly, Eve and Tristessa are not outsiders as long as they can 'pass' as the gender which their external signs suggest. This works far better for Eve because he possesses all of the physical aspects of femininity. However, Tristessa is met with resistance when her male genitals are uncovered.
Instances of active gender transgression in The Passion of New Eve, particularly Tristessa’s transgression, are met with disgust and violence. Western culture requires that individuals choose a stable sexual identity and maintain it for life. “It is still widely believed that homosexuality and the swapping of gender characteristics are somehow ‘errors’ – that is, Foucault says, ‘a manner of acting that is not adequate to reality’” (Johnson 43).

Zero and his harem react with violent reproach when they become aware of Tristessa’s phallus. They respond by forcing Tristessa into a marriage with Eve. Eve and Tristessa’s wedding is of particular interest when analyzing the signifiers of gender identity. Tristessa is dressed in female garb, contradicting his/her gender (as identified by Zero) whereas Eve is dressed as the groom. Although Eve possesses the requisite genitalia for the role of bride, Zero assigns this role to Eve as a means of degrading Tristessa and Eve. Ironically, Eve is likely the member of this couple that has maintained a masculine identity for the greatest period of time (prior to her/his operation). Gender is actively destabilized in this scene as a multiplicity of gender identities is generated: “it was a double wedding – both were the bride, both the groom in this ceremony” (135).


Carter, Angela. The Passion of New Eve. London: Virago, 1998.

Johnson, Heather. “Textualizing the double-gendered body: forms of the grotesque in The Passion of New Eve.” Review of Contemporary Fiction. 14.3 (1994): 43.

Michie, Helena. “Partial Women: Synecdoche, Semiosis, and the Fantasy of the Whole.” Poetics Today. 8.3 (1987): 661-674.

Rubenstein, Roberta. “Intersexions: Gender Metamorphosis in Angela Carter's The Passion of New Eve and Louis Gould's A Sea-Change.” Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature. 12.1 (1993): 103-118.

Nick Heling

Thursday, January 10, 2013

ARTICLE: How To Talk About the Weather

An overlap between narratology and environmental science?

"It’s important to understand the narrative and the literary genres that often underwrite our ideas about nature."
- Ursula Heise
via McKenzie Wark

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

WORK: Box Brown Movie

Last Thursday, January 3rd, I worked as boom operator on what is probably the final shoot of the forthcoming film from Raleigh based director Rob Underhill. This was my second shoot on this project.

Here's an IndieWire article about the project from back in March:

Check out these exclusive photos hot from the set at UNC's historic Playmakers Theater in Chapel Hill.

Rhizome announces Megapolis 2013 Call For Submissions

We’re looking for performances, presentations, and workshops featuring audio of all kinds to fill our weekend-long festival in New York City, April 19-21, 2013, with our headquarters at the New School. Circuit bending / noisemaker constructions, slumber parties, free-form audio editing sessions, interactive demonstrations, experimental musical practice and theory, film with a heavy audio component, musical performances, subversive audio tours, (un-boring) lectures, and whatever else your brain births.

Firstly, think about this year’s theme: TOURISM.

Like everyone else with some smarts, the New School celebrated the centennial of John Cage’s birth in 2012 (Cage was on the faculty of the New School). In the spirit of this centennial, we mark 2013 as an opportunity to dwell on one of JC’s musings:

“What I’m proposing, to myself and other people, is what I often call the tourist attitude – that you act as though you’ve never been there before. So that you’re not supposed to know anything about it.”



Monday, January 7, 2013

Third Sight, Sixth Sib - Rebroadcast of my work!

My collaboration with Myroslaw Bytz, Third Sight: Gowanus, will be transmitted as part of a Sib Radio Gowanus rebroadcast. Sib Radio Gowanus is a 4 part narrowcast audio exhibit that ran in conjunction with the exhibition "Postcards from Gowanus" which was on display at Cabinet Magazine's gallery in Gowanus between 17th-19th of March 2010. The program hosted a series of sonic artworks ranging from field recordings, drones, micro-sound to ambient and electro-acoustic compositions by US and International artists. Sib Radio Gowanus was curated by Maria Papadomanolaki and was sponsored by free103point9. The entire narrowcast recording will be rebroadcast on Resonance FM in London every Tuesday, 21:30 – 22:30 pm (London Time), starting tomorrow Tuesday the 8th of January. Third Sight: Gowanus is a phonographic document of the areas surrounding the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. Video was gathered and sonified using sensory substitution technology developed for the visually impaired. The resulting sequences of tones were manipulated to create soundscapes. These ambient drones represent, sonically, the environmental state of the canal whose oxygenation levels are a disturbingly low 1.5 parts per million, far lower than the 4 parts per million necessary to sustain life.

LISTEN: Gregory Whitehead's "Pressures of the Unspeakable"

I scream, you scream, we all scream for Gregory Whitehead's "Pressures of the Unspeakable" circa 1992.
> GW speaks on the "Pressures".