Head Above Water

I feel like I’ve slipped a bit.  The work I’ve been forced to do over the past 12 months descends from the directives of academic-intellectual relationships.  Giver-Reciever, etc.  It’s made me lose my eyes; I feel that it sort of deadened me, that is, it has hampered my ability to assess my subject.  Spending twelve months jerking off a history of half-assed, tautological “epistemological revelations” in a subdiscipline that has been ruled by an endless cadre of white, middle-class révolutionnaire has, at the very least, tuckered me out.

But the past 48 hours have been an Inigo Montoyan-level ice-steam bath routine. I finished this fellowship application that required I submit a 3 page brief of my dissertaiton porject; but I haven’t even written a prpposal to my advisors. So, I’ve been thinking a lot recentlyabout questions.

I have questions; one that came to mind tonight was, “who is the enemny here?”

I was at a srot of open reading event, where authors with varying interests and styles all read work, if only to motivate themselves to create. Throughout the night, there was an everpresent ‘they.’  Sometimes it was named (capitalism; oppression; hipsters; people in brooklyn (literally, b/c he equated all of brklyn with his hipater sister by using it as a signifier for inautheticity), and so on.

One person read a story called “Brunch is not a Brooklyn subculture.”  It began with a story from the author’s childhood, when they ventured from their upstate NY home to visit their grandfather in S. Philly. Then there were 400 words devoted to a romanticized account of what summer in s. philly looks like: stoops, hydrants, music, etc.  The hook is supposed to be the pivot to when the author moved to s. philly as an ‘adult,’ and watched all this ‘publicness’ and ‘community’ disappear because of “hipsters,” ‘the internet,” and “gentrification.”

Here’s the icebath.  The author’s origional, inspiring picture of philly happend when they were under 10; they moved to s. philly less than a year ago.  The reason he came was to follow up on a romaticised meoery of his grandfather and some sort of s. philly public sphere.  But, contrary to the author’s latter suggestion that ‘brunch places that serve expensive beer’ are the key marker of gentrification, destroying community by attracting an internet-using, individualized cliente.  Instead, I would argue that conspicious consumption is superceeded by the power of myth in the engine of gentrification. Myth drew the author to s. philly to “take pictures and lean how to fight,” as the opening lines establshed. Myth of a white working class authenticity has gentrified; myth as hsitory has gentrified.

The community you lament as passed (I am willing to wager) you wuld likely find abhorrent.  There is a reason the mummers are routninely criczied for sporting blackface makeup, they also routinely march down 2 street.  The ‘deep roots’ you speak of were hardened through severe racial and ethinic conflicts and violence. Further, what of ‘internal’ community oppression.

I guess I find it so fascinating when people, or ideal types of people, become the enemy. Here, ‘hipsters who eat brunch’ stands for so much.  But binding it all up like that into a targetabble ‘hipster’ package is to ignore the deep processes at work.  Gentrification is something that happens in large cities, and has for a long time.  The villian is money, not hipsters extactally.  It was a performatively self-concious, white dude who is all enamoured with the idea of working at the wooden shoe as somehow resistance enough in and of itself, standing there telling us how the problem is the gastropubs or whatever that have popped up in the last 4 years or so.

If you’re focused on gastropubs, your too late.

And compare this with the postive stuff about west phillia.  Or was it tounge in cheek.??

No, coulnd’t have been.  All the mirroring of ideal, fictional, and actual…and then trashing some random bar as ‘ruining things.’  IS THIS NOT THE SUBWAY FIGHT ALL OVER AGAIN?

It is when it comes to consuption that it becomes intelligible to this social-psychological ideal type.  An bvious Q is wether shopping and consumption are so impt. here that it really is only then that change is truly felt.??


Blah Blah, Whine Whine.

In an attempt to win some fellowship money, I’ve spent the past two weeks or so working on an abstracted version of my dissertation project; the audience here is juding between proposals based on doability, their personal familiarty with the subject, neoptism, etc.  The problem is I have yet to write a dissertation proposal.  I was encourgared to apply for this thing that supposedly is only meant for people who are one hurdle ahead of me.

This is only a problem because ‘an abstract’ is just a boiled-down, highly condensed version of whatever it is ‘an abstract of;’ it might be a scientific study, an archive of diaries…really anything.


I have been searching for questions.  My approach to this project demands that I remain open to unexpected lines of questioning. No a priori assumptions of relevance or motivation; there is a phenomena (tremors), but I deeply believe we know so little about it that any structuring of the inquiry needs to be carefully justified.


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