After more than a month of silence, I return to this blog which once I updated so religiously. Why have I been gone for so long? Well, I have several reasons.
The first is that I was working on my thesis. I swear, it’s like a turd that refuses to come out. I strain and strain, but it resists my valiant efforts. I think I used to write effortlessly, but I wonder if I manufactured those memories out of the haze of nostalgia.
The second reason is that I was working on a paper that I’m going to present at the annual conference of the Canadian Anthropology Society/Société Canadienne d’Anthropologie (CASCA) in–damn, it’s only three days away. Where did the time go? Not to worry, the paper’s finished. It uses data from my thesis research but it’s not just a distillation of that project, its focus is slightly different. I’ve titled it “The World Wide Diasporic Web: Blogging and its Role in the Experience of Transnationalism Among Filipinos Online”. It’s about my search for Benedict Anderson’s imagined community among Filipino bloggers, which would mean that community would have to be transnational. It’s also about governmentality and the presence of the state online, though I never actually use the g-word. Anyway, I’ll put up the paper after CASCA. If I decide to bring my laptop, I may do some live conference blogging, though it’s possible I’ll be too busy anyway. Man, last year’s conference was fun.
The third reason is that I’m applying to do an overseas development internship in the Philippines under the auspices of the Canadian International Development Agency. I don’t plan to do anything but paid internships since I certainly can’t afford six or more months of no steady cash flow. Anyway, I’ve been researching different organizations and reading some stuff about development (so far it’s just one book by Colin Leys, one of the big theorists on the subject–signed by him, I might add). Applied and development anthropology have always been one of my interests and I’ve got a few ideas about how they might be accomplished in this context, but I still need direct experience in development efforts. Not to worry, I’m also planning to read plenty of critique of development stuff and have skimmed James Ferguson’s The Anti-Development Machine before. I admit, I also want to visit the Philippines again and have someone else pay for the plane ticket, but I honestly am interested in this other stuff.
And the final reason I haven’t been updating this blog is because my brother just bought Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It’s a video game set in the early 1990s in a fictional city clearly meant to be Los Angeles. Actually, it’s about the general West Coast experience and has analogues for San Francisco, San Diego, and Las Vegas, as well as ample representation of the hick towns just outside LA. It’s really quite good, though I preferred the previous game set in Miami in the 1980s. The music was certainly catchier, this one is mostly rap and hip hop. It’s odd that there’s no grunge but I guess that’s too far north in Seattle. I could quite easily analyze this game for the racial politics behind it–the main character is a black gangbanger from Compton (“Ganton”) who the player directs to commit multiple violent crimes and often to kill white police officers in LAPD uniforms; it takes place in the same period as the Rodney King beatings, the OJ Simpson trial, and the LA riots; and let’s not forget that most of the game’s players are white and middle class. I could analyze all this but I almost always play the game to decompress and have managed to will away my higher faculties during playtime. The more intensely I work, the more intensely I procrastinate, and there’s something somehow cathartic about killing cops over and over. It sometimes feels like I’m just doing my thesis on the PS2, especially since there is an endless supply of cops and they just keep coming over and over until I eventually get killed by a SWAT team or someting. I’ve yet to accomplish it, but if you make yourself enough of a menace the cops will call in the army to bring in their tanks, and since you can hijack almost any vehicle in the game (it’s called Grand Theft Auto, after all), then it’s sweet freaking rampage time pour moi. I can’t wait until I get a tank. Perhaps Zizek and Plato were right, there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who kill and torture and those who dream of doing so.
So that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve got several drafts of posts already lined up, so I’ll have a bunch of posts up soonish (I might wait until after CASCA to put them up). Actually, one of them is titled “Why anthropologists are a bunch of wankers”, which I wrote when I was in the middle of my thesis-loathing period. It’s actually got some serious analysis in there and I may still put it up sometime. But, until next time, dear reader.