Category Archives: gripes

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For an example of my getting miffed at lack of attention – see here

And for an example of my getting too much attention, from racists, bigots, fools and looneys in rapid succession, see here.

Ha ha ha.

To a certain extent I could understand the lack of reference to a book you’d read but decided to ignore. Fine fine – chronic paranoia aside, I am mostly only sensitive to the ways recognition, or should I say ego-affirmation, is withheld, in the academy, insofar as it relates to relatively weak buying power in the midst of this core global capital urban mash up city of not-so-cheap diners and astronomical transport charges etcetera etcetera. Reckon I am due a raise for putting up with this, but really, rereading Max Weber’s ‘Science as a Vocation’ essay is always a kind of calming reassurance.

But these other, anonymous, right wing, anti-student, anti-education (full fees because students benefit! – spare me, what about employers who benefit much more from the added value corporate leaders ask us explicitly to put into the heads of our clearly automated charges… grrr) lunatic fringe, god-botherin’, Islamophobic, middle of the tarmac, shitbrains… are accurate and informed about very little. Except that they are right of course on the tragic fact that I take myself far too seriously, mum.

PhD students who might dare think for themselves within the CCS are of course subject to show trials. With text/phone-in voting for the verdict. Stay tuned (and thanks for visiting).

Beyond Exoticism

Timothy Taylor has a book out with Duke, 2007, called Beyond Exoticism. I asked him if he’d seen my book Critique of Exotica from 2000 – I note that he cites an early edited version of what became the first chapter – but he says it did not get in. Damn. So I wrote him while I was reading his chapter on hybridity and what he calls ‘Bhangra Remix’.

Of course I told him I thought it a pity he’d not discussed mine, given similarity of title and some themes – so it goes. Pique pique. But then also asked him if he also knew the Graham Huggan book out the year after mine, The Postcolonial Exotic, 2001? And David Toop’s earlier Exotica? All are interesting. Of course then I looked back at Taylor’s book, and saw the Toop volume is mentioned there. That’s good.

Anyway, as I’ve just read Taylor’s chapter on hybridity, I want to start a debate… he briefly discusses work that a group of us have been doing for some 15 years now. So, given his comment that we ‘set aside’ important political aspects of the music (this is not the usual criticism we get), I’m disappointed he didn’t get a chance to see that we have often explicitly discussed Asian Dub Foundation et al., in terms of a black politics, and that we did so especially in the 1996 book (Dis-Orienting Rhythms), again in the two journal collections (that I’ll list below), and again in mine (Critique of Exotica, chapter 2). There, black politics is not at all ‘set aside’, but rather is a very important guiding framework for our work. Sanjay Sharma and Shirin Housee also wrote a very important piece in the book Storming the Millenium that contextualises this discussion. How could all this work be overlooked? I think there are reasons, and will explain below. But before I do, lets admit its true that there are perhaps ways in which someone writing today – seven years after Critique, and more than ten years after Dis-Orienting Rhythms – might need to discuss the shifts in politics occasioned by increased attacks on Asians in the wake of the War On Terror. Such writing is of course underway – and much discussed at our conference in December last year at Goldsmiths. I’m disappointed Taylor does not adequately address these shifts (that some might think of as a shift away from a ‘black’ politics, but I am not convinced – the category black as a political term is not a skin tone), but at least it is a welcome change to be tested on this score by a musicologist, rather than always hearing complaints that we ignore the music in favour of radical leftism.

I’ve some minor quibbles with Taylor’s description of ADF as hip hop, not drum and bass, or as a ‘could have been Public Enemy’. This strikes me as too easy – a kind of imperious assumption that hip hop is the prism through which all parts of culture production must only be seen – a kind of blinding by bling perhaps, and though we do not ignore it, we do address more dexterous translations of hip hop and other influences – not merely as hybrid mash-up. There is a book edited by Dipa Basu that examines just this. Now, its heart warming to see Taylor endorses some of what I say – about commercialisation of exotica and on radical hybridity for example – but I think he misses a lot of the detail because he is thinking these things through the prism of a west coast musicology frame. Nothing clearly wrong with that I guess, but I would have liked to see some involvement with the politics of these issues, not only scholarly comment. That’s black, that’s not. He endorses my question ‘What would a radical hybridity look like?’, but now I want to ask for a radical scholarship alongside radical hybridity. Yep, this is something I am very keen to promote. Can Taylor fire up? Not everyone has to join the communist party or even sign up with Adorno within the academy – but I am concerned that scholarship slides into knowing quietism. And why does he seem to not like Adorno? – saying at the end of the book that he is ‘not ready to follow the Adorno route’. This of course is not necessarily to endorse the fabricated and erroneous versions of Adorno that prevail in universities these days, but I am curious to know why he felt the need to end the book with the usual ‘Adorno-thought- consumers-were- all-just automatons’ routine? I think its good to remember that Adorno wrote his essay ‘On Jazz’ under the pseudonym Hector Rottweiler

But back to the hybridity chapter – I have issues with words. If Taylor had given us something on Bhangra Remix’s non-London roots, or even acknowledged them, this would have been good. Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester are a very big part of the story. There is a sense that the Anokha clubnight that broke the scene commercially was just the mainstream cash-in on a music that was middle and northern England well before then – as Virinder Kalra keeps on pointing out, most of the interesting early stuff – Bally Sagoo, Malkit Singh, Apache etc., – comes from a one mile square block of Birmingham. So I think ‘Bhangra Remix from London’ is not the best term – and describing early Bhangra as ‘a kind of rock/pop played by South Asians in London’ also erases some important specificities, the Melas, the various clubs, the nights at the Hacienda, Sankeys Soap, etc. Debates about terminology were, as Taylor says, all important – and the bands themselves, at least Hustlers HC, ADF and FDM, were first to insist theirs was not ‘Asian Cool’ (Aki said the only Asian Cool he’d heard of was the street protests in Manningham, circa 1995) and I never heard anything on Nation called ‘Bhangra Remix from London’. I wonder why Taylor settled on that term? I know it later became the phrase most often used in the NYC scene – by Sunaina Maira, for example, in her first article for us in Postcolonial Studies 1998, but even there in NYC, Vivek Bald complicates the terms – see his great film Mutiny. My worry here is that musicology becomes scenic (hegemonic) definition, and engagement in politics, or in the politics of knowledge, gets left aside a little if these things are not continually destabilized. And here is the clincher – it demands a radical scholarship, engaged and involved. As Taylor says in the very last lines of his text, ‘the stakes have never been higher if we are to understand the world and leave it for the better’ (p212). For mine, understanding and leaving it at that ain’t the best way to translate an earlier version of this sentiment. Let’s rephrase the terms: ‘The philosophers [musicologists?] have only interpreted the world [music], the point is to change it’ (11th Thesis on Feuerbach – old beardo, my brackets of mirth]

Ah, now I’ve written this out these seem like minor matters of disagreement on the whole. Even jealousy (clearly). And this is not a book review, not yet – I should say there is much in the earlier chapters that is great, and there is a fun chapter, after the hybridity one, on country music that is very cool. The trouble is that here a critique of hybridity that should have been attractive just did not live up to the billing – it marrs an otherwise pretty good book. So let me just clearly say that on the whole I enjoyed the book very much, especially the early chapters, and most of all the commentary on the opera Schehrezade.

Just to be thorough (this’ll no doubt look like harassment, but its not meant to be) I’ll list some of the relevant stuff we’ve done on Asian musics here:

1996 Dis-Orienting Rhythms: the Politics of the New Asian Dance Music. Zed books, London

1998 ‘Music and Politics’ special issue of Postcolonial Studies Vol 1 no 3, (co-ed Hutnyk and Virinder Kalra)

1999 Sharma, Sanjay and Housee, Shirin ‘“Too Black, Too Strong?” Anti-racism and the Making of South Asian Political Identities in Britain’, Jordon and Lent (eds) Storming the Millennium: The Politics of Change. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

2000 ‘Music and Politics’ special issue of Theory, Culture and Society Vol 17 no 3 (co-ed Hutnyk and Sanjay Sharma)

2000 Critique of Exotica: Music; Politics and the Culture Industry. Pluto Press: London.

2005 Diaspora and Hybridity – authors Virinder Kalra, Raminder Kaur John Hutnyk. Sage: London

2005 Hutnyk, John ‘The Dialectics of European Hip-Hop: Fun^da^mental and the Deathening Silence’ South Asian Popular Culture 3(1):17-32

2006 Ali, Sayyid V.Kalra (eds) A Postcolonial People: South Asians in Britain – Hurst, London

2006 Hutnyk, John ‘The Dialectic of Here and There: Anthropology ‘At Home’ and British Asian Communism’’ Social Identities 11(4):345-361

2006 Dipa Basu and Sid Lammelle (Eds) The Vinyl Ain’t Final London, Pluto

Queen’s speech or reading news – you decide.

People will have noticed (but will they, its a bolgospheric doubt we must often have) there are a bunch of alternative news sites linked in the left column of my tawdry souvenirs site. But for the really keen reader, here below are a few more good links from the great great journal Left Curve out of Oakland. These are more or less US/UK specific, but important nevertheless. So, when the Queen’s speech gets you down, click the links… but why is there still a Queen at all? Parasite. At least in Australia we were stupid enough to vote her in – the alternative was snivelling scuzz bag John Howard choosing a head of state for us (join the Government-in-exile, SouthLondonPacific bar Kennington for politburo meetings). We voted for her (democrazy rocks), but in England the Queen is there by default. Nobody voted her in here, but the bills she and her gilded spawn run up have been paid for 50+ years, and she is a major shareholder in dodgy profiteering death-mine-murder-kill outfits like Riotinto. Time for Regime Change in these unfair isles. Of course this should occur along with the impeachment of Blair – and after last night’s Olive Till ‘debate’, the seemingly very nice but ultimately not-that-much-to-say Stephen Frears should also be impeached. If not for Beautiful Laundrette having including a love story about a fascist (Johnny), then certainly for not committing treason-by-popular-demand by having Helen Mirrin abdicate. Three cheers for Olive Till though, and for MA student Carrie-Anne who was the highlight of the night when she thanked Olive’s son for the bursary cheque – not a dry eye in the house. OK, emotive bit over, now to read the news:
axis of logic
dissident voice
Ed Strong Blog
Thomas Paine’s Corner


Metafisaticuffs – I can feel my eyes glaze over in slow motion whenever anyone says the word “ontology”. Its thrown about like a big wet cod, the sort you might find riding a bicycle in a Guinness ad. Ontofukcycle posturing deserves a slap – even happy slappery. Where’s my camera-phone.

Ma T incarnates in my local offie.

Grrrrrrr. Not happy. I’ve just been to the off licence (bottle shop; liquor store) to buy two bottles of beer to smooth the dissertation marking evening that will occupy my Saturday night in the big city, and the smug South African bastard who works in my local ‘Odd Bins’ insults me when I decline to put my change into the cardboard box he has on the counter for some fair-trade charity he has started. I had politely, just said ‘no thanks’ to his request, and then he goes on about how ‘many people have already shown that they care and what was wrong with me…’. Now mostly I’ve given up on responding to this kind of moralistic baiting, and do not rise the provocation unless I’m already a few beers to the good. But having just spent the afternoon working on my Paris talk on travel and work, after having to leave the Migrant Rights rally early… well, still politely, I said I was ‘opposed to charity and think time would be better spent building a political movement that can win, rather than miniscule gestures that just make the charity giver – and in this case the charity organiser – feel good about themselves’. Or something like that. I am not sure exactly why this guy riled me up so much, since I’ve been having this argument for years. I remember recently in the New Cross Inn talking to an Action Aid guy who was also in the Labour Party (he freely admitted) and after an hour of debate got him to burn his Labour Party membership card in the ashtray (some kind of triumph, even if also pretty lame). But to be forced into this kind of reaction everywhere an anywhere – even when just buying a beer or two – on a Saturday night just seems obscene. That and the plethora of pro-war iconography I see about the place these days. Films and plays celebrating battle, brotherhood in arms, the spirit of the blitz, promotions for the latest Imperial War Museum exhibit (from where the Migrant Rights rally started today) and Jack idiot Straw with his veiled campaign to insult Muslims so as to position his middle of the road little Britain conservatism in a way sure to let him be deputy of the moribund aforementioned Labour Party (at least the Tories are so pathetic they cannot contain their internal ruptures when New Cameron came out in favour of forcing all people to get married, even – hush hush – gays). Grrrrrrr grrrr grrrr. Nasty times.

So why do I insist that charity is rubbish? I’ve long argued that it’s a way of deflecting attention from what would be politically required to achieve the very sentiments (the problem is they are just sentiments) that charity-givers might support. Redistribution of wealth; justice for all; equal share of resources and opportunity. If charity were capable of undoing global inequality, poverty, exploitation, inequality, surplus value extraction etc., then I’d be all in favour. But its not. It is the secular version of the Christian aesthetic, turn the other cheek (Bellamy) and ignore the ongoing extortion of those kept on the nether side of capitalist development. ‘Oh but my, we must do something for the poor’ and ‘at least it’s a start’. It’s a start that stops short. We’ll be all happy and fine so, long as we don’t have to see their sorry arses except in a few supplicant charity adverts promising that our few pennies would save said waif from the life of drudgery and privation that our comfy beer-swilling lifestyle means someone somewhere has to endure. I’ve no doubt there is a direct link to my wanting a beer after all this. Of course. But I do think building a political movement rather than a crypto-religious one (give, turn the cheek, embrace the higher power) is the only way that there can be any chance of wresting power from the likes of Bush, Blair, the Democrats/Republicans and their military-entertainment profit regime. Murder death kill will not be stopped, only ignored, by popping a few coins into a cardboard box on the counter of the local shop. Something more organised than that is needed. I loved the red umbrellas at the rally today. Brought to you by the activist-feminist-unionist rabble rousing chorus of red brolly weilding folk that also do serious long duree ground work stuff, such as X:Talk. Read about that in the Feminist Review – but be warned, if you just search Xtalk (without the colon) you get some kind of babbleforum on and on about Jesus, which is the very reason I was looking for beer in the first place. Crikey.

Zinedine Zidane

I want to start a campaign to revoke the Italian Whirld Cup win:

This so-called global version of football that we just watched for a month may be mostly beyond me, since I prefer Australian Rules, where you are allowed to use that stunning innovation of evolution, the opposable thumb and actually grab the ball – ipso facto soccer is devolution, clearly – a game for lower primates, yet more refined than rugger… and global is pretty much code for only the developed world, with a few elite exceptions and the occasional feel-good pseudo-documentary about kicking coconuts in the pacific or old tin cans in Tibet.

Yet, I do get the idea that Football is really about politics and sponsorship deals, not the Corinthians spirit – so despite this, I am moved to admiration for Zidane if his was a retaliation against the words ‘you are the son of a terrorist whore’ or some such (so also says the Mirror just now – ooh, it must be true!). The spurious impact of sending him off for what seems to me to be a legitimate use of the head (he refrained from punching that fool Materazzi, since using the hands is banned – right?) makes me think we should scrub out all results from an earlier stage and play it all over – starting I think from the dubious dive of Grosso in the game against Australia… so replay the whole second part of the cup from that point on… was supposed to be the anti-racist world cup wasn’t it – I recall Beckham mumbling something at the start of the Portugal game to that effect…

As I keep saying, unfortunately I do not really understand the appeal of soccer [unless its a displacement of sociological interest in something to do with the money, capital, corporate power ... I guess]. So I will have to wait for FIFA to realise the wisdom of my suggested strategy – ie playing a great big ‘let court’ and doing it all over again…

Meanwhile, a massive increase in racist attacks in Europe, and especially Britain, goes barely noticed. Something Marco and Zinedine have at least opened up with their playground spat – which we might turn for a moment into a diagonal pass that at least mentions the issues, more than mumbles from the pitch. Who do you need to head butt to start a campaign that achieves something better than more sponsorship deals and pretty faces (David) reading prepared scripts of innocuous feel-good blah blah. The attacks on Muslims in Britain are given an alibi by avowals that this kind of verbal slating on the pitch is the sort of racism that has to be ‘kicked out of football’ – NO – there are worse kinds of racism hidden behind these publicised slurs, and much much more is needed to re-organise our hierarchical, mad, fundamentally war-mongering multi-racist society. The campaign to defend Muslims from racist attacks that mean death and injury requires more than soccer star mumbles – you have to put your hands up. Zinadine should have gone much much further than he did.

Nevertheless, viva ZZ (and is this pic of him butting someone much more deserving?).


New. Just as new Labour was hardly specific in offering anything actually new, the subsequent political formation will have to invent the semblance of something new, of ‘movement’ and transformation, while once again presenting the trick of the same old right-wing ideas as innovation. Those who fell for the grubby hype of Blair’s new broom will be happily swept up in the transition to Brown and not for a moment notice, or think, that the replacement of the figurehead means little in itself. The new Labour project continues to leach off the old idea of Labour while revising every one of its policies and ideals. That this should give serious pause for thought and initiate a reassessment of why Social democracy was so weak it could be hijacked is never raised amidst the false drama of when Tony will go. A focus upon a minor spectacle disguises the rotten corrosion of the core.

Meanwhile, Donations. The ‘scandal’ of donations to the Labour Party for Peerages or passports (the Hinduja bros.) is strangely revealing of the failure of Labour to break with the ruling class system. Why would a government, nominally in charge of taxation, need to go begging to big business? To do so is not primarily a way of securing the Party’s finances but rather a way of deflecting and avoiding the obvious task of a Labour government which should be the systematic redistribution of wealth from rich to poor via mechanisms such as corporate taxation [really?, oops - ed]. As beggars, albeit in a rarefied atmosphere, the Party presents itself as weak and helpless, subject to lager forces of capital in front of which it can do nothing but prostrate itself. It renounces any idea of governing in favour of being the administrative assistant of the super rich. It refuses the very idea of redistribution. Any chance of a favourable pay settlement, workplace reform (safety, pensions) or infrastructure initiative (transport, health, education) can be dodged in a climate of constraint where the minor inconvenience of scandal secures the greater convenience of not having to govern.

Same as ever. 1950. The appeal to traditional British values is a spurious trick designed today to reconcile an overworked and underpaid population with the material austerity of the post- war period at the very time that capitalist profiteering reaps its greatest rewards and the polarization between rich and poor is massively increasing everywhere. No longer is it acceptable, so goes this routine, to pay the price of prosperity by funding a partial mitigation of uneven economic circumstance though welfare and tolerance. Today though, a price must still be paid, and the ‘fair price’ we are persuaded to accept now involves restraint and cut-backs, and the ‘harsh but fair’ removal of welfare from those who might most need it. This austerity is accepted, even actively welcomed by those ‘individuals’ who have been made to feel there is nothing they, or their alleged leaders, can do about it.

The Public Service Type, Them and Us.

I have just watched the latest in a long series of gut-wrenching realistic Motorcycle v Car crunch ads (public service announcement type). One of those designed to remind us that cage drivers are blind. Well, these ads are ostensibly to encourage car drivers to look, but are inevitably more effective as scaremongering that dissuades biking. And why? I reckon the abolition of cars would make the roads safer, and reduce oil consumption, give us more space for trams, buses, trains, and – good thing – footpaths, so though we might still do the group transport thing, you also get more room to jump out of the way of the occasional hoon gunning a ride on one wheel from the lights… Ok Ok, I no longer need to do 100 metres in 6 seconds most days (nor can I) – but less cars would mean we could go with less tarmac dedicated to the auto industry, air-base bomber runways, and high street showrooms (though we do love the jackets used-car-salesmen wear, eh).

Travelling at 180 kpm down the Eastern freeway may have been unwise, but I was made fully aware of this when I stopped at the traffic light at the end of said freeway and the police helicopter overhead was soon followed up by two ‘divvy’ vans careening out of control (it was 6AM, gimme a break, there was no danger, except for the bugs that splat into my face at velocity). This was in the mid198Os, so the fines then were not so harsh, and I got to keep my license. By then we already knew that ‘bikes were bad’ – and these ads have been drumming the point home, ever since, in a way that is just nasty. I do not need to be told bikes are dangerous and that cage-drivers are either dreaming, on the phone, or dimwits – that is a default position, also known as learning to ride. The makers of such public announcement molly-coddle tripe leave me wondering about the coherence of anyone who pics up a camera to do something ‘worthy’ – I mean if any of my students have had to work on such ‘film-making’ because they have not yet got the big break and directed their own feature, I will get them a t-shirt right away (which says ‘I wanna direct’, and then stand them in Soho and wait for the break to run them down – brrmm brmmm).

Moral despair and the protocols of profit make these ads the most dubious, painful and hypocritical (war on terror, war on terror) scenes on tv. Aside from that Top Gear Gas Guzzler geezer that everyone hates so much now, and the news, buy Blair a croquet set.

The pic is the cover of “Outlaw Biker” Magazine. It is no rival to Easyriders (thank Zed – “Zed’s dead”), but the soft porn under guise of tattoo clubs in both does sting a bit. I suppose we can like the fact that they have an article on ‘why nazis are lousy lovers’… another one of those public service announcements. I guess.

CrapEmploye adventures in the left-wing of capital

Hi Ben – over the top then, with gusto. J

CrapEmployee�� adventures in the left-wing of capital: “finally! mission accomplished
Well, yeah!
Sacked via e-mail, on a work account that they then cancelled so fast that I cannot even include the priceless text on this blog until I get the hard copy that I assume has been mailed to me: suffice to say I am accused of ‘terrifying’ and ‘harassing’ my manager, the President and the Treasurer (well, nihil humani a me alienum puto etcetera). However, they did send out an e-mail to all MSA staff, office-bearers and MSA representatives concerning my good self, which is here:
1. Effective as of Monday the 24th of April, the employment of our Policy Planning Officer, Benjamin Ross, ended.
Management has advised Mr. Ross that subsequent to the collection of his personal affects, we expect that he will not enter the premises (specifically all MSA space) as he will neither be a staff member nor student of this University.
We ask that all staff and OBs report any attempts by Mr. Ross to enter the premises and pass on any and all communication with Mr. Ross to their Manager or preferably a member of the Executive.
Kane Wishart
Though neither the Treasurer nor my manager would actually have a conversation with me, my manager, Gerry, did take the time to remove (what he falsely claimed to be) all of my possessions from my office and also to tell me that if I didn�t get out of the MSA space that he would call security.
They make a desolation and they call it peace: Happy days are here again.
On to the next adventure.”

I recommend perusal of the rest of this blog, even after its avowed mission has terminated.

the trick of academic low pay, no overtime pay, and eroded conditions, in an underfunded sector, in a world of fat cattery… leads to charity

AUT – the Union makes us strong and all that – are locked in a dispute with the university bosses and some of the press seem to be doing a good job pointing out the ‘anomolies’ that need to be “rectified”. Here’s a good illustration -

“Lecturers ‘donating’ £10,000 a year to their employers.

A study by the TUC shows that lecturers and others are donating up to£10,000 in unpaid wages to their employers by working long hours. “

See the AUT news release on this at
Also: Big “credits” to all those students at Goldsmiths who attended the Students Union meeting to confirm support for the staff industrial action.

From Riotinto to Iraq – Tim’s big (£) adventures.

Some folks will know of my interest in the Pacific Island called Bougainville – a place where the company Rio Tinto (based at 6 St James Square London) dug the biggest hole in the southern hemisphere (to mine copper, employing anthropologists as advisers on native administration) and who profitted massively until the Bougainville Revolutionary Army turfed them out. The BRA then fought a ten year war against the combined might of the Papua New Guinie Defence Force (PNGDF), the Australian Govermnent (supplying Iroquois choppers and other hardware, supplies, training) and with the participation of (mufti) Australian Military personnel and various mercenary groups. The current situation is complicated but ‘better’ – though there are noises about reopening the mine.

Meanwhile, the plunderer’s interest moved elsewhere, and so BASTARD of the week (month, year?) is announced today in the form of Tim Spicer, mercenary. He’s the pom who organised the failed intersession on the PNG Govt side by the private army of Sandline International (they didn’t even get to Bougainville before their bumbling cowboy attitude got them bundled out of the area, similar bungling in Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea cements their reputation). Now it seems Spicer’s business intersts are looking up these days as he’s made a £62 Million business out of arms deals in Iraq. Lord of War bastard indeed. Murder death kill. Surveillance, counter-insurgency information gathering, communications, ‘intelligence’ and vehicle tracking. Read about it in the words of Tracey Boles of The Times, but keep in mind how this stuff links up – and how the connections between RTZ (copper mining, uranium) and western intersts in the Gulf (oil, geo-politics) and the filthy lucre of the arms trade (guns, supplies, surveillance) manifest in the loathesome person of gunslinger Spicer. The company you keep.

From the Vault -

[Maybe it would be better not to retrieve this from the hungry mice, but then maybe it does document something of the reasons why I left what my crafty friend Sooz calls 'the toxic swamp' that is Melbourne University. Its was written in 1990, the year before I departed for points north].

The Ten Errors of (academic) Convenience.

1) It is best not to think, or at least think nothing new.

2) Follow the prevailing wind, repeat instructions, learn the quoted quotations by heart.

3) Replicate ‘the’ technique, master a single universally applicable theoretical frame.

4) Avoid theory, scoff at theory, go ‘beyond’ theory.

5) Read the ‘latest’ authors first, read someone else new as soon as you discover that the ‘latest’ authors have been read by others.

5a) Read secondary material as a preference (if you must read primary texts, just skim. Better yet, skim the reviews).

6) Publish everything (after ‘hypertextuality’ you should always send your shopping list to some advanced literary journal? Real bright sparks will send your neighbour’s list in their name, after all, authorship is thrift).

7) Get a bank loan to buy a house on the basis of your ‘career’ as a critic. Ha! Show the bank manager your theoretical credentials and the prospectus which sets out how long your chosen and memorized theoretical perspective is expected to remain in fashion. Negotiate an excellent fixed term interest cap on this basis.

8) Avoid having to state your own position by all means necessary. Present your theory as the theory you might hold if you didn’t already see the (as yet unmentioned) flaws. If caught out, remember there are no more grand theories. Call it literary. Be a multiple self.

8a) Admit especially to no specific political position ever, but always allow it to be assumed that you do hold one (and one that is broadly left, liberal, retail). If pressured present two popular but contrary positions, arguing against the obvious objections to this that it is only the phallocentric, eurocentric, logocentric nostalgia for unity, presence and reason that proclaims the invalidation of contraity and the impossibility of peeling both ways. If you are then accused of dualism, condemn the simplistic binary fixations of western metaphysics and celebrate multiplicity, heteroglossia and the pursuit of the marginal. Politics will soon dissolve into the vortex of jargon – but never use the vortex metaphor unless you’re a ‘heavy’ intellectual and French, and dead.

9) Counter all cynicisms with witticisms, and all witticisms with the scathing weapons of cynicism.

9a) Avoid specialization – generalists are superior and they never need to know details.

10) Reject with anger any suggestion that criticism, especially literary criticism, is parasitic. Such accusations offer perfect opportunities for critical review. (see # 6).

11) Label rather than criticize – labels are more ambivalent. Never commit yourself to the necessity of trying to justify an argument with reason, you’ll just look silly.

11a) Make a caricature out of any approach that looks convincing (that is, if you didn’t think of it first, which would be a stupid risky thing to do anyway).

11b) Puns on names are good – like ‘Derridada’ or ‘Giggles-Giddens’. Use obtuse metaphors to dismiss anything significant you dont understand, i.e., “the inpenetrable jungles of structuralism”, the “shibboleth of deconstruction”.

11c) Respond to all criticisms by pouncing on any sentence/phrase/word which you can use to betray your attacker’s basic conceptual naivety – use this to avoid addressing any criticism of your own naivety.

11d) Criticize no-one in power, except where your victim remains anonymous (as in this criticism).

11e) Sacrifice it all for promotion, no worries.

11f) Lists are in again, enumerate.


Because it has become so fashionable to find other ways to pre-sent texts, because everyone can now follow these new conventions (!), because the conventions and symposia of scholarship remain inordinately dull, even as we applaud our tired old innovations, because I can, because you don’t care. Perhaps because the distinctions between irony, humour, cynicism and critique remain vague and blurred, because I really (?) don’t know why I write therefore I read therfore I… Because I like to see my unnamed and insufficiently understood anger set out neatly in all its confused confusion, because I still hope you’ll take it well, I wonder how you’ll take it, I don’t really ( ) care. How – will – you – re – act – to – this – ((do all these diacritical non-letter keys of the keyboard give you the shits too?)) – because I agree with you there is no clear point, no clear light, and why not? (Because of the essential dysfunctional logic of capital economics?). Because its like hopscotch, which I’ve never played but I appreciate the complexity, because it is so, because it could easily be otherwise. Because it covers up something I’d rather avoid, postpone, not write (why write?). Because there is no continuity here, now, none – no cause, be – cause, be brave. Because I like the slit slit slit of rhyming slangs, because of discord, wholesale, planned or accidental. For all this and more, for all of us, for all. Echo – because it sounds and returns (hollow, as from the hills). Because we’ve got it all right here, all right here, all night.


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