Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Montauk + 2 thoughts (education and fashion).

On a whim, after a drunken dinner that turned into a very late night, I along with a friend of a friend decided to go to Montauk. Both of us had never been there. Each of us had our own reasons; I like edges, furthest points in a given direction, the ocean, traveling, I have been wanting to take this trip for a few years, and in doing so came away with a sense of relief, a redemption (and these days I'm all about the theoretical implications of redemption in every possible sense). Her reasoning was based on a book by Max Frisch (a Swiss-born German writer) about and titled, Montauk. The premise of the novel is quite romantic, and I love chasing romantic ideas, or having them be the basis for anything, so what better a travel companion? On top of all of this she is a German illustrator here on a Fulbright Scholarship.

The trip was nice. We just hung out and explored. Spoke English and a few German words and phrases. Discussed how it is nearly impossible to write a Master's thesis without referencing Walter Benjamin.

One of the reasons I really wanted go is to see the lighthouse. It's the fourth oldest working lighthouse in the United States, and it sits on the furthest point east of Long Island. So we board a bus from the Harbor to the Village. We notice there is a discount for students, so we present our id cards. German student identification cards do not have pictures on them. This was a huge problem that the bus driver couldn't deal with. She started yelling at both of us. My travel partner explains, "But I'm German..." to which the bus driver interrupts, "I don't care, I'm Russian [at the very least 2 generations of being in America, for sure], am I supposed to bow down to you because you are a German, or because you are a student. There are a lot of students. We're all just people." I couldn't believe this. So reluctantly, I paid the extra fifty cents, and we took our seats. My travel partner and I couldn't really grasp why the driver was so rude. The bus driver pulls over the bus and continues to hold up everyone else on the bus, continuing her yelling at both of us. We tried to explain the misunderstanding, but she just wasn't having it. She opened the doors and told us to get off the bus. And at our suggestion she calls the "cops" (her term). We wait, and everyone on the bus was embarrassed and impatient. Sensing this, she shuts the doors and drives on. No police involvement. We arrive at the transfer station and the bus driver refuses to open the back doors, so we had to walk to the front of the bus. Not surprisingly, she refuses to give me her name, I think she knew she was wrong and over-reacted. We had planned on being able to ask her which bus would take us to the lighthouse. Frustrated, we walk to the ocean front.
Unlike the harbor beaches, this one is amazing, more like my more favorite California beaches (Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay areas) than any of the East Coast beaches I've been to. The waves break right on the shore and crash over the break, creating pools and small streams in some areas. The cliffs look exactly like the Bad Lands in South Dakota.
We ended up just getting dinner, walking around the village, and going to the train station (there are only 2 returning trains from Montauk - 2:51p and 10:38p. We arrive at 9:45 and catch a drink at the restaurant right next to the station, then head home.


Rob just sent me an amazing article published in this month's issue of Harper's Magazine by Mark Slouka. Article is here if you have a subscription (or if you ask me, I can send you a pdf of it). The article focuses on the current "trend" in education being less and less about the humanities and arts and pushing more and more math and science. It's really a heartbreaking article that is so well written that Slouka deserves some national recognition.


also I have been really contemplating fashion again. I haven't really bought any clothes in a REALLY long time. Outside of friends giving me their band shirts, I think my newest clothes were bought for me in 2007. So I'm in the market for new jeans and other articles of clothing. The issue being (of course) not wanting to support in any shape or form people that don't align themselves with either revolutionary causes or sustainability / "green" ethics, along with fair working conditions and wages, and not playing into the roles of being a parrot of mainstream politics and so on. These companies have to exist.

so speaking of Walter Benjamin (as I often do)
the following from the Arcades Project:
"Here fashion has opened the business of dialectical exchange between woman and ware - between carnal pleasure and the corpse. The clerk, death, tall and loutish, measures the century by the yard, serves as mannequin to himself to save costs, and manages single handedly the liquidation that in French is called révolution. For fashion was never anything other than the parody of the motley cadaver, provocation of death through the woman, and bitter colloquy with decay whispered between shrill bursts of mechanical laughter. That is fashion. And that is why she changes so quickly; she titillates death and is already something different, something new, as he casts about to crush her. For a hundred years she holds her own against him. Now finally, she is on the point of quitting the field. But he erects on the banks of a new Lethe, which rolls its asphalt stream through arcades, the armature of the whores as a battle memorial. * Revolution * Love *"
"If a woman of taste, while undressing at night, should find herself constituted in reality as she has pretended to be during the day, I like to think she'd be discovered next morning drowned in her own tears." [Alphonse Karr, cited in F. Th. Vischer, Mode und Zynismus].
"Every fashion is to some extent a bitter satire on love"

and On the Concept of History:

Origin is the goal [Ziel: terminus].
– Karl Kraus, Worte in Versen I [Words in Verse]

History is the subject of a construction whose site is formed not in homogeneous and empty time, but in that which is fulfilled by the here-and-now [Jetztzeit]. For Robespierre, ancient Roman was a past charged with the here-and-now, a past which he blasted out of the continuum of history. The French Revolution viewed itself as Rome reincarnate. It cited ancient Rome exactly the way fashion cites a bygone mode of dress. Fashion has a nose for the topical, no matter where it stirs in the thickets of long ago; It is the tiger’s leap into the past. Such a leap however, takes place in an arena in which the ruling class gives command. The same leap into the open air of history is the dialectical leap Marx understood as revolution.

and Sonny Kay,
via Angel Hair: "Better a fashion show, than no show at all"
via the VSS: "your fashion was famous long before you named it. this sex life was predictable before it was prestigious. is your psoriasis more glamorous than contagious? your fashion was aimless long before you blamed it. before you maimed it, claimed it, tamed and shamed it. distress was timeless, prior to your passing interest in blood tests and cigarettes. atop mount fucking everest."

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