“Mind power Swede, mind power…”

by zunguzungu

Just as inexplicably as when Ralphie’s father received his major award, it seems I’ve been honored with Cliopatria’s “Best Writing” award for a history blog. I definitely feel honored. You’d be doing yourself a favor if you went to Cliopatria and spent some time clicking around; the history blogosphere is rich and deep, and I feel humbled that they let me join their club.

clioawards2008

But enough about them talking about me, let’s have some of me talking about me. If I’ve learned nothing from the interblogs, it’s that shameless self-promotion under the guise of sober introspection is the way things are done, and who am I to blow against the wind? Plus it’s the New Year. So after you’ve finished checking out The Edge of the American West, Northwest History, Tenured Radical,
Walking the Berkshires, and Wynken de Worde, here are a few of the posts from the past year that I’m sort of not completely horrified by.

I’ve been writing a lot about photography lately but I’m still close to it to be able to look objectively. On the other hand, back in the sturm and drang of the days when President Palin seemed like a plausible future, I’m interested to see how hysterical I got about how horrifying it was that she didn’t even understand that the “The Bush Doctrine is About Lynching,” as I so pithily put it. I wrote some follow up posts because that initial post seemed intemperate, angry, and imprecise to me at the time, and maybe it was, but looking back, I still think there’s a real connection between the notion that who “we” are gives us the right to selectively ignore the law and a long American tradition of vigilante justice. From an aesthetic point of view, I find this piece on the link between Raleighs’ BBQ chicken sandwich and the flypaper doctrine in Iraq, to be much more satisfying though.

On the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, I wrote “We are Hiroshima” about the Hiroshima Carp baseball team, the Hiroshima Peace museum, and the experience of seeing the movie We Are Marshall which was filmed in my hometown. This post “Young Englishmen, Black Boys” is my thrashing through the kind of blem space that continues to animate my dissertation, the weird and ambiguous ways that childhood and primitivism get all mixed up as “development” became an argument against colonialism. And this, though still somewhat ponderous, is the closest I’ve come to being able to explain why John Ford fascinates me so much, the weird way a “post-colonial” Irishman is exactly the right person to be printing the legend of the American West. This post has gotten me more hits for the worst reason; I made the mistake of including the words “African p*rn” in the title, and learned that even if you’re using it as a metaphor for the ways we construct pleasurable spectacles of other people’s suffering, google will have no mercy on you. And finally, I often pretend to be a real-life graduate student in an English department, but I only occasionally blog like it. Yet this — “Franco Moretti and the Chinese Novel” — is a piece of writing about literature I’m actually still fond of. I wrote this on John Steinbeck. And let’s not forget TV: The Office and The Wire.

Be well, and throw a shoe with me at that dog of an old year. Yes we can!