Thoughts after the last lecture

Hi everyone,

I am taking this opportunity to thank you again for being such a wonderful bunch of contributors to the paper, and for allowing the multiple rhizomes I’ve put in front of you to develop as they usually do, i.e. rhizomatically. From my perspective, the lectures have been a pleasure to be part of, with so much discussion taking place and so many interruptions creating a pattern that helped generating knowledge in uncontrollable ways. I know some of you did not like this way of conducting lectures. If I displeased you I think I managed to hit the target I always had in mind: that of creating a pause, of forcing an interruption of an accepted and acceptable (maybe respectable?) model of learning, and even of generating a moment of rage. My teaching philosophy is that thinking happens in fits and starts; it does not follow prescribed trajectories. We hold onto one idea now and the next minute we drop it as if it were an useless rag. We think we have isolated the meaning of one thing and then suddenly we realize that we’ve run the wrong race and change our perspective entirely. Another part of my teaching philosophy is that I must present myself in front of you with my weaknesses, not only with my strengths, because otherwise it would be unfair to you all, who are only given the possibility of seeming weak (because in order to be able to teach somebody – so the principle goes – that person needs to be weak, without knowledge; a disciple, not a master). I know I’ve managed to do that.


The one thing I mentioned in the lecture today and couldn’t remember was related to “Google bombing,” and here‘s an instance of it, taken from Wikipedia. The idea behind it is to generate enough content to destabilize the ranking system of Google. It’s a joke, no doubt, but one that reveals a lot of truth about the working of ranking systems.

And here‘s another link to an article about the latest update of Google’s Penguin, and about its “victims.”

With this in mind I wish you all the reserves of luck the world has in stock and even more than that, if possible.




  1. Goldie

    It has been a good course, thank you.

  2. pdic099

    Not sure if this matters or not but you haven’t adjusted the due date of the last assignment on Turnitin? If that doesn’t affect whether or not it can be handed in then I guess it doesn’t matter, but just thought I would post this in case.

  3. Baudrillard’s ‘The Animals Territory and Metamorphosis’ seems an indictment on the barbaric abuse of animals by human beings, and also echoes our position as the most dangerous animal on earth at the top of the food chain. The ignoble behaviours of men toward animals, Baudrillard reminds us, are not a means to an end but more a present-day encounter with bestial torture. He argues that the certain death of animals set up for massacre on the factory chain line is potently more shocking than men on a sweatshop assembly line locked into a cruel, capitalist, zombie trance. Baudrillard insists that we cannot simply do what we want with nature. Animals need more space to be raised a natural and healthy manner for their well-being and mental equilibrium. He observes that animals are objectified and subjected to a point of powerlessness and have no way of protesting against the industrialised organisation of their death. He discusses at length the wholesale slaughter of animals for human consumption and believes that industrially bred animals need a certain dignity for facing their inescapable and preordained deaths.

    Bauldrillard points out that the paradox of our outward sentimentality toward animals is rather a sure sign of the distain in which we hold them. There is a gross impurity and lack of kindness by mankind in dispensing with animals so blithely as a source of protein. There are alternatives which are better for our health, so the carnage is totally unnecessary. He argues that our slushy mawkishness has become a degraded form of bestiality, or obscenity, and even a conspicuous pornography.

    All the violence we level at animals is reabsorbed by us, he says. And this forms the monstrosity of our bestiality. Such savagery graphically mirrors the evil genius of the extermination of our fellow humans in the Nazi death camps, and the more recent vile acts of genocide around the world. Along with the inhuman medical experiments performed on living victims by Hitler’s depraved and psychopathic doctors during World War Two. The mass gassings of Jews at this time also reflects the suffering we continue to inflict on animals sent to ruthless slaughter to whet our carnivorous appetites.

    We seem trapped and transfixed by our bloodthirsty, meat-eater’s madness. The animals we mark for premature death are trapped too and they remain alienated from us by their silence, says Baudrillard. They cannot speak or ask questions and, in this numbing silence, we come under the spotlight of new thinking and are being closely analysed, and condemned, as the beasts of man’s burdens continue to be silenced.

  4. Beaches were often chaotic, hostile, alienating sites of transition, rebirth, and death for new immigrants arriving on foreign shores. Linda Hardy’s bold introduction and imagery to Natural Occupancy (1995) suggests that the “marginal zone of first contact” on the seashore becomes a space for metaphoric first footsteps into the “heart of darkness” while also representing “settler politics of colonisation”.

    Hardy’s anecdotes are a collection of romanticised and sensational beach stories about settler landings on foreign shores as they become reborn into a new identity (219). The stories are laced with fictitious and salacious eroticism. Especially the flaring erotic passion of Jane Campion’s The Piano with lovers locked “flesh on flesh” and the yearnings of, soon to be, gratified bodies. Although Stewart’s “sexual jealousy” seemed more a fit of vengeful aggression unleashed on a wife who had betrayed him, and his severing of her finger with an axe was especially cruel and premeditated. For a sensitive female pianist, this sociopathic rage and her disfigurement were synonymous with mutilating her music.

    Hardy’s stories are one-sided accounts of invasive expatriate colonial settlers about to stamp their culture all over the local natives, by force, in a new land. With the discovery of a lot of dead bodies in the bush, there is sniggering at the native cannibalism and with it the suggestion that they need civilising, taming, and humanising. The author does not altogether make clear what she means by ‘natural settlement’.
    Perhaps this refers to the fact that the English out-manoeuvred the French and Dutch by raising the Union Jack to plant their stake in the ground, on land already occupied by native Maori. The winner takes all is implied as the ‘natural’ consequence of conquest where belligerent weight of settler numbers, soldiers, and the persuasion of superior armed force became the deciding factor. And Hardy dismissively refers to the rather clinical dealings with the natives as merely ‘transactional rather than sentimental’ (220). In fact, it is a revelation when Hardy finally makes the glaring admission that the natives have been defrauded of their land possession: “… the natives did not know what land they sold …” (221). Even Wedde’s fictitious genealogies are not particularly helpful. Or, even a satisfying read as they tend to conceal the full story. The natives are referred to disdainfully for not dealing in land in a way that coincided with the colonial point of view.

    There is reproachful and bullying settler voice aimed at Maori, who were accused of selling the same land over and over to get trade but, in the same breath, the colonisers claim to have as much ‘right’ to the land as The New Zealand Company. The author again misses the opportunity to put the Maori point of view: that no one owns the land.

    Hardy, in her entertaining style, is content to focus on the settler poetics of colonisation with the romanticised settler viewpoint, and voice, as she grapples with the ‘erotic and aesthetic inadequacy of European culture’ (214). There is no mention anywhere of colonial guilt, and the chaotic beachhead landings too early for considering the deterriorialisation of greedy, wealthy bankers poised to stake a claim for new territory and migratory debt. But you can feel them lurking in the background. Though Hardy’s narrative voice does partway serve to reterritorialise and reconfigure the politics of racial and cultural domination and resistance. The voice of Maori is notably absent from the author’s colourful and entertaining narrations. Hardy’s emphasis is aimed at the politics of racial and cultural domination and resistance being displaced and refigured in terms of an erotic and aesthetic deficiency in European culture. Nevertheless it is a diverting read, both thought-provoking and perplexing.

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