a confederacy of dunces

I finished reading John Kennedy Toole’s infamous cult novel A Confederacy of Dunces a week or so ago, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. A friend gave me his copy to read after we went out one night and apparently I was describing everything as ‘offensive’, or I used the word at least enough for my friend to make the connection that I was another kind of Ignatious J. Reilly. This connection is offensive. I would never get an erection thinking about a dead dog. Ignatious would also never go to the gym. However, beyond personal quirks there are some interesting convergences in our respective trajectories.

The novel presents the story of an over-educated youngish-adult tormented by an extreme inability to fit in. ‘Fitting in’ is not some nice happy regular ‘not fitting’ as in the case of someone who does not fit in to polite society because of a kind of lumpen disposition, i.e. someone from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. No, someone from the wrong side of the tracks fits in precisely… on the wrong side of the tracks or as someone from the wrong side of the tracks. Ignatious has found himself displaced from everyday life without traveling anywhere. In fact, he denounces all travel. His response is entirely reactionary on an intellectual level; he turns back to a bizarre lived medieval scholasticism. This is born of what we would now recognise as depression.

The convergence here is precisely organised around the not-fitting-in-ness that is experienced as a displacement from everyday life. There are various everyday lives so I am not talking about ‘mainstream’ everyday life. Rather it is the general composition of expectations that guide behaviour and our actions in a mundane sense of being unthinking but felt. Ignatious goes to war against expectations be it in the cinema (affective expectations of film), family (social expectations of his mother), work (capitalist expectations of surplus value), and even ‘fun’ (social expectations of levity or non-seriousness). However, beyond this, he uses particular expectations as weapons of impression in his trans-continental battle with his loving nemisis, Myrna “The Minx” Minkoff. So attempts to mobilise and revolt of the black workers of a pants factory or master plan for world peace by filling the armed forces with gays are hyper-cynical moves to impress Myrna. Myrna is a classic bourgie…

You Are A Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer

You didn’t know that
He wasn’t a singer
Of a political rock band

— The Clap “Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer

Who would’ve thought ‘wearer’ could be made to rhyme with ‘Guevara’? (Irony: Watching “Grin Without a Cat”!)

According to the ill-measuring scales at my gym I am 103-104kgs, which is definitely the lightest I have been for now more than a decade. Crazy. I wouldn’t believe it however my body shape is definitely changing. I have always had a bit of a gut and I still do, but at the top of my stomach just below my rib cage I can feel (hard) muscles for the first time ever. That is surprising and it means that my body shape is transforming to yet another iteration compared to previous couple of times when I have gone exercise crazy. I am certainly the fittest I have ever been when even now when I am totally fluey (after a big night out with Mel and Clif on Friday night, after seeing Mel at the conference (and Ben), w00t! lol!) I do sub-6:30 2km ergo times.

My tennis elbow has almost mended itself. I had been doing too much exercise without enough rest time, so my body revolted. The tendons in my left arm that are used to do basically any upper-body pushing or pulling movement had had enough. I had been doing some very restrictive weights for a while now and walking to and from the gym to compensate for the loss of energy burning exercise due to the inability to do my normal weight regime. Plus I added an extra 20 minute-plus walk into my daily routine (ie down Glebe Point Road to buy some apples or something). Now they are feeling much better and it may be almost time to start back on some more intensive weights.

Back to work…

fight for control of your own computer

Max Barry helped a brother-in-law build a PC and then install the OS. On Windows XP:

But what really bothers me is the feeling that you must constantly fight for control of your own computer, because your aims are apparently in conflict with those of Microsoft and half of everyone else who writes Windows software. They want your computer to report information about you, keep ongoing watch over what you’re doing in case you turn pirate (activation, registration, and validation?), show you ads, and lock you out of protected media. If you lose this battle, then six months later you find yourself with a computer so clogged with malware that the only way to make it usable again is to reinstall the operating system and begin the fight again.

Do we need another term beyond Foucault’s biopolitics (bios) or Lazzarato’s Noopolitics (nous) relating to the quasi-biopolitical nature of the ‘war’ fought against ‘infections’ to one’s computer? It is straight up technology and does not pertain to ‘life’ in any straightforward sense, but like an inverse to Latour’s use of the notion of a ‘plug-in’ to describe the constitution of subjectivity, surely the ‘personal computer’ in part now constitutes what it means to be personal on a whole different bunch of levels and therefore the constitution of one’s life as part of the reproduction of much larger population groups is dependent on having a non-infected and functioning PC?