Artist, speak up

David Wojnarowicz

Image via Wikipedia

In a recent post, I explained that artists have no particular insight into what their work means — and in fact are often profoundly mistaken — and so we should stop asking them so often to explain the meaning of their work. Though seemingly directed at artists, that post wasn’t about artists at all — it was about the rest of us and our unwillingness to take interpretive risks, our profoundly undemocratic desire to rest secure in the shadow of authority.

Talking about the meaning of your work as an artist is demeaning – it reduces the artist by forcing him or her to reduce the possibility of meaning in their work. But that doesn’t mean artists shouldn’t speak out, and speak loudly. There are lots of things artists should and even must speak about — the meaning of their work just isn’t one of them.

[Continue reading] »

Artist, hush

If you’re around me for any length of time, sooner or later you’ll hear me declare that artists should never talk about their work. This may seem a little ironic in an art world where artists are expected to produce an artist’s statement before they are even considered for a gallery show, when artist’s talks are the best way to draw an audience to a show, when visiting artist lectures are a mainstay of the fine arts curriculum, and where much of the appeal of the art world is the chance to meet and talk with artists about their work. But it’s true.

All of which does a great disservice to the art audience, the artists, and to art itself.  [Continue reading] »

Dear Companies: Stop Doing That!

Stop

Image by misteraitch via Flickr

Sometimes I get fed up. It seems like every day companies are acting more and more cavalier with my time and attention, wasting an ever-increasing part of my day to accomplish absolutely nothing.

Last night I reached into my mailbox to find a plain white envelope, probably five inches by eight, no logo, no return address, just an expanse of white with my address slightly off-center. Out of the mailbox and whoosh! straight into the trash. I know what it was — a Cox cable ad. The third one I’ve gotten in the last week or so, packaged exactly the same, ostensibly so I wouldn’t know it was a Cox cable ad. Even Cox knows I don’t want to see a Cox cable ad.

The thing is, I already get Cox cable — it’s provided by my HOA. Which is nice, it means my TiVO can record The Daily Show and the occasional movie on TCM. So I’m not going to pay again for service I already get. Meanwhile, Cox is spending what, a buck or two a month, sometimes more, to send me mailings that will never entice me to buy. If I wanted cable, of course I’d call them — who else is there?

Anyway, it got me thinking about the myriad ways companies waste my time, and the money they spend to earn my ill will. Here then, in no particular order, is a list of 10 things companies just shouldn’t do. [Continue reading] »

Anti-Anti-Women's Studies (An Open Letter to Jan Oller)

Feminism ephemera

Image by cathredfern via Flickr

My former colleague in Women’s Studies, Jan Oller, write an op-ed piece in a local alternative weekly attacking WMST as a discipline and supporting recent budgetary decisions to terminate the program. Since I don’t have a current email address for him, I’ve decided to post my response here as an open letter. I hope he sees it!

 

Jan, 

I don’t say this very often, but after publishing your anti-WMST piece in this week’s Citylife, you oughtta be ashamed of yourself. First for very personal reasons: you’re trying to take jobs away from nearly two dozen people, many of whom you know and were, at one time, friends with. Let that sink in a bit before we move on to more substantial issues. Next time you see me, I want you to look me in the eye and tell me why you issued me a great big “fuck you” in the pages of the Las Vegas Citylife.

The more pressing issue here is how profoundly and painfully dishonest your piece is. You’ve done, in fact, the exact thing that both you and I have spent so many years trying to help students learn not to do: to abstract and generalize about a group as a whole from the behavior of a limited number of persons at very specific moments. In a department of roughly 20 people, there is one hardcore immigration rights advocate and one hardcore prostitution rights advocate, both of whose activism flows directly from their own research. [Continue reading] »

Teaching WMST While Male

LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 24:  (FILE PHOTO) Perform...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I was asked by Laurenn McCubbin, the curator of the show Feminist/Las Vegas which opened at the Barrick Museum last night, to write a presentation for the opening reception of the exhibition. The show is intended as a reaction to the casual sexism that is the bread-and-butter of Vegas tourism and nightlife. Since my interaction as a feminist with Las Vegas occurs first and foremost in the classroom, I decided to write about being a male Women’s Studies professor, and how that effects both my students perceptions of me and the rest of my day-to-day life. This, then, minus any on-the-fly edits I might have made in the performance, is what I ended up saying.

I hear a gasp behind me as I step through the cluster of waiting students and unlock the classroom door. Up until just that moment, I was just some guy, another student maybe, or some other professor. But when I step up to the door and swipe my key card, it comes clear: I’m the professor. The Women’s Studies professor.

The dude Women’s Studies professor.  [Continue reading] »

New Prices for “Don’t Be Stupid”

I’ve lowered prices for both paperback and e-book copies of my book Don’t Be Stupid: A Guide to Learning, Studying, and Succeeding at College!

Paperback copies are not only $14.00 US (previously $17.00) and the PDF version is now only $10.00 US (previously $14.00). A version formatted specifically for Kindle is also available for $9.99 from Amazon.

 

Discovering the Male Gaze

Cover Girl (film)

Image via Wikipedia

One of my former students sent me a link to an article he’d come across recently called “Worthless Women and the Men Who Make Them”. The post, written on a “daddy blog” called Single Dad Laughing is a few months old and, judging from the over 1800 comments, almost all hyperbolically positive, spoke to a lot of people, men and women. The author, Dan Pearce, argues that the biggest force keeping women down and making them feel bad about themselves is the unreasonable expectations men place on women about their bodies and appearance, expectations that women can never live up to leading to feelings of worthlessness. Having made his case, Pearce calls on men to change the way we look at women, to celebrate women for their individual beauty rather than for their conformity to an impossible, marketing-driven ideal. And he calls on women to help us out.

Which is where it all goes terribly wrong.

But hold that thought for a minute and let’s talk about the central argument about the way men look at women. Basically, Pearce has discovered the male gaze. A key aspect of feminist theory, the male gaze reflects the way that male power is brought to bear on women through the disciplining of the female body. Essentially, men look and women are looked at – and so it behooves women to be what men want to look at, since that gives them some modicum of power in a male-dominated world.  [Continue reading] »

“Don’t Be Stupid” Now Available on Kindle!

Don't Be StupidMy book Don’t Be Stupid: A Guide To Learning, Studying, And Succeeding At College is now available on Amazon’s Kindle, and for only $9.99! Although I’ve been planning on “eventually one-day when I have time” reformatting the file for the Kindle, it wasn’t until my family gave me a Kindle for Christmas last year (thanks, everyone!) that I got really motivated to do the work.

See, the Kindle is, in a word, great. I say that as a guy with more than a thousand ink-and-paper books stuffed into his apartment. There are 7 bookcases in my living room! I love traditional books — but I love my Kindle, too. I love that I can load it up with books and read whatever I happen to be in the mood for wherever I happen to be, instead of making the fraught choice of which of the 5 or more books I’m currently reading to put in my bag when I leave home in the morning. I love that I can instantly grab a sample or even the full text of a book I decided I wanted to look at (so long as I’m in a wifi area, which these days isn’t asking much). And I love that I can search and annotate and look things up and do all the other stuff that electronic text makes possible.

I won’t give up regular paper books — I have a stack of about 20 on my sofa right now waiting to be read. But the Kindle is really convenient, and I think it’s perfect for students who need to carry three, four, or more books with them at any time. And I’m all about making life easier for students.

Check it out: Don’t Be Stupid: A Guide To Learning, Studying, And Succeeding At College

A little New Orleans street jazz. Listen to her BLOW!

Click here to download:

NOLA_Street_Jazz.wmv (55273 KB)

Posted via email from Dustin M. Wax

“Day of the Dead” Show at Blackbird Studios

"Day of the Dead" Show at Blackbird ...
Image by dustin_wax via Flickr