Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Book Notes: The Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train

Year of publication: 2015

My rating: 4,5 out of 10

The Girl on the Train belongs to the category of trashy mega-bestsellers of the Gone Girl caliber. The “girls” in both titles are my age but the titles are not imprecise. These are not Bildungsromane. The adult protagonists live the results of the female development that pursues infantilization. The three female narrators of The Girl on the Train are not just infantilized. They are infants. These women refuse to reach at least the toddler stage and learn to form and retain memories. Their helplessness and neediness can only be compared to that of an infant. And the symbolic mother from whom they demand constant nourishment and comfort is, obviously, a man.

Men are needed to mother the infant-women but, at the same time, they are an object of intense rage and resentment if they fail to bring the nourishing tit to the screaming infant-wife the second she demands it. The men are all-powerful, mysterious forces who sometimes choose to torture the infants by keeping the crucial tit away. This process could not be more similar to the psychoanalytic description of the relationship between an infant and his mother’s breast. And, of course, the consequences of the breast staying away for too long are the predictable oral-stage traumas.

As trashy and devoid of any artistic merit as they are, these bestsellers are an important cultural phenomenon. The moribund Gender Studies programs could be reinvigorated if they started with a course on what actual women actually read, talk and care about so massively. There is absolutely nothing in today’s gender theory that would even remotely try to address the issues that preoccupy women today. Feminist theory (theory, not practice) has grown completely irrelevant to the majority of women. These bestsellers that I keep reading – in spite of their long-windedness, poor quality, and extraordinary repetitiveness – are enormously more valuable than the mountains of recent publications on gender that I study for work.

I can’t give The Girl on the Train more than 4,5 stars because the author is inexperienced, clumsy, and drags things out like’s she’s paid by the word. There is definite value in the book, however.

Pop-psyching Germanwings

It sounds like the Germanwings tragedy is about to be buried in a barrage of meaningless pop psych terminology :

Prosecutors investigating the Germanwings crash have said there were indications the co-pilot hid his illness from his employers.

If it’s a mental illness, you can’t conceal it. A person who is so crazy that he flies off his handle in the middle of a flight would manifest some symptoms before getting on a plane.

But the pop psych verbiage has entered the common usage and colonized minds. As a result, the employer did treat this malignant fellow as someone with an equivalent of a chronic common cold or persistent acne, and here is the result.

The Germanwings Tragedy

Gosh, people, did you hear that the co-pilot of the Germanwings flight seems to have crashed the plane on purpose? What was your very first thought when you hear that?

And did you hear that some freaks were posting disgusting messages, saying that the Catalan victims pf the crash deserved to die?

That’s some horrible shit right there.

Religious Freedom Bill

Can anybody explain to me the “Religious Freedom bill” in Indiana?

Please no links as I can easily find links myself but I’m too beat. Just a simple, brief explanation.

Thanks.

Obama Snubs NATO

Obama is pretending that the NATO doesn’t exist.

This is an effective way of telling the NATO countries how interested the US will be if they are attacked.

He’s phenomenal on the economy  (we are at almost full employment while look at Europe and its fumbling with the crisis), and on foreign policy he does what the voters want him to do. People in the US seem to have very little interest in anything happening overseas. I cannot blame them since any involvement will just bring pouting and discontent.

I believe that the NATO block richly deserves being left to fend for itself, yet I feel bad for Ukraine that is stuck in the middle.

Lessons in Positivity

24% of Russians consider their country to be the world’s leading economy. And that’s in spite of the dramatic inflation, soaring unemployment, collapsed social safety net, and the war.

11% of Russians believe that their economic well-being is the highest on the planet.

19% of Russians believe that their country is in the top 10 in terms of protecting human rights.

Of course, this is positivity bordering on complete, total, utter, bubbles-of-saliva-coming-out-of-your-mouth idiocy, but still.

The survey does not specify the percentage of the respondents who were drunk or on drugs during the survey.

What Really Happened at Yale

And now that I’m done kidding, let me tell you briefly what is really behind the Yale kerfuffle.

The graduate student union (GESO) is not managing to get recognized as a union by the administration. It hasn’t managed to get recognized for way too long. And to compensate for that,  the union foments these ridiculous outbursts to pretend like it’s doing something.

I know how this shit works only too well.

Fresh Drama at Yale

And here is another round of fresh, juicy drama from my alma mater:

On March 6, professors and graduate students in Spanish and Portuguese arrived at their department mailboxes to find an anonymous letter expressing grave concerns about their department. The letter, which said it was written by a group of graduate students, was also passed along to several top administrators.

“The graduate students of Spanish and Portuguese wish to make known the level of discontent that we feel as a result of the highly negative atmosphere that has been created in our department,” the letter read. “Many issues related to Spanish and Portuguese are blatant acts of discrimination and harassment.”

Yes, and the very first issue I’m seeing is the poor writing skills. When I was a graduate student at that department, my writing in English also sucked something fierce, so I can identify. Oh, the beautiful days of writing pompous, drama-queenish missives in horrible English! I’m having a great day today, the Chancellor approved my tenure, the Research Grants committee meeting went beautifully, my sister is celebrating her birthday, so I can wax nostalgic over the memories of my wayward youth.

I understand that Yalie angst is not to everybody’s liking, so I’m putting the rest of the post under the fold.

Read more…

Kremlinbots

And now somebody is trying to break into the blog.

Stupid, annoying Kremlinbots.

Anti-Semitism in Russia

The neo-Nazis in Russia have been emboldened by last week’s conference of neo-Nazi leaders from all over the world held in St. Petersburg:

Vandals have painted a swastika on a memorial to  Holocaust victims killed during World War II in Volgograd, in an attack that one Jewish organization said was inspired by a congress of far-right parties held in the country this week.

This is, of course, one of many attempts to deface the memorial since it was put up in 2007. As Putin tries to make his regime more attractive to the country’s growing neo-Nazi movement, anti-Semitic outbursts are becoming more frequent: 

“The history of our country shows that all outbreaks of anti-Semitism in Russia happened only during the times when the ruling powers permitted Judeophobes to openly show their hatred of Jews,” the Russian Jewish Congress said in an online statement. “Impunity has been interpreted as a call to action.”

This analysis by the Russian Jewish Congress is spot-on. In July of 2014, while meeting with a group of Russian rabbis Putin openly expressed his admiration for Goebbels, the chief ideologue of the Nazi regime. As a result of Putin’s flirtation with Russia’s neo-Nazis (whom he needs to fight in Ukraine, as they form his most trusted source of volunteers in the war), anti-Semitic attacks have been on the rise in Russia:

Neighborhoods in and around Volgograd — the site of major battles during World War II — in the past few years have also seen swastikas painted on houses, posters praising Hitler pasted on bus stops, and young men wearing swastikas marching during an Easter-time procession, state-run Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported.

It is worth noting that, originally, Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine was justified by repeated claims that there was a neo-Nazi government in place in Ukraine. Since then, there has been no evidence whatsoever of Nazism being on the rise in Ukraine. Russia, however, is experiencing a major strengthening of its formerly quite weak neo-Nazism.

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