Thursday, March 22, 2007

Chris Ware, Cameras, and the Psyche

Just a quick link to the Obscene Machine Blog, where Chris Ware shows what happens when cameras start messing with the psyche! The Tex[t]-Mex project is nothing more and nothing less than a sustained (some might say obsessed) interrogation of what happens when words and images are simultaneously deployed in the interest of telling a story--in the case of this book, the "seductive hallucinations" and ethnic mannequins that pass for "Mexicans" in America. What one gets is a semantic, semiotic, ontological ménage-à-trois that tests the wits of all--as if the various and sundry superpowers of a literary critic, art historian, visual theory maven, and existentialist philosopher had to be brought to bear in an instant (someone call a psychoanalyst quick!). Ware's work calls our attention as it is an example of an art that forces our aforementioned mix of simultaneously deployed critical methodologies and it advances said quad-cluster of skills at the same time--imagine a cocktail of Remedios Varos [2] and Jacques Derrida, some odd cloned fusion or Man Ray and Roland Barthes and you begin to, wait for it.... , get the picture. These issues are at the heart of, or, to hone the metaphor, infect the retina of Eyegiene--my follow-up book to Tex[t]-Mex.

Andrés Martinez, Kelly Mullens, and the Los Angeles Times

Now these are the kinds of scandals Mexicans and Mexican Americans should be getting into--a gnarly, salacious, untoward, perhaps even tawdry, newspaper-public-relations-celebrity-we're-in-cahoots, or, in this case, in-bed, -together scandal! Here's the skinny. The LA Times has its own version here. Martinez's version of the facts are here! Holy Citizen Kane, Batman!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

KPBS, Tex[t]-Mex, and the Radio

I did a segment with Tom Fudge of THESE DAYS on KPBS Radio
this morning in support of my mini-tour for Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucination of the "Mexican" in America--a direct MP3 download/podcast of the show is available here. Later in the day I briefly appeared on KPBS's Full Focus, but that had everything to do with our impending CSU strike and little or no (save for the camera) to do with the hijinks in Tex[t]-Mex.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

If "Mexicans" are Synonymous with Dangerous Dark Sexuality then "Africans" Equal Savages

A certain irony occurred to me even in the days when I was home in Laredo, Texas, watching Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies (waiting for flashes of Maureen O'Sullivan in the lagoon sequences). Whenever the drums sounded, I knew that danger was in the offing, and that, pretty soon, the mise-en-scene would be filled with dark, screaming, bone-wearing, spear-hurling, face-painted "Africans." I knew also that Tarzan would find some way to sooth the swarthy beasts (being half-ape himself). Tex[t]-Mex unearths amazing and late, great, Eddie Said on Tarzan--well worth the read!

The irony? I was always sort of a radio-loving, morse-code parsing goober. I knew intellectually that the drums were a form of proto-longrange communication system and that far from ominous, dark, occult, and hence evil (recall: I am a recovering Catholic), said rhythmic rumblings were nothing more and nothing less than a Nextel antecedent, some early incipient form of long-distance text-messaging: "Trzn 8nt cool," or something like that.

The image above, 1950s sensation-pulp by Ron Turner, is a fine entry in this field of Africanesque figuration. Thanks to for the headsup!

Semiotic psychic enemas for the foregoing materials is to be found in the critiques of Bogle, Gates, Marks, and Golden.

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