It's another glorious morning on the Berkeley-Oakland border. On today's schedule: dissertating and grading. Just like every other day!
I've realized that this blog has gotten awfully earnest, and that it's been a while since I posted a hilarious photo of my environs (à la inappropriate Keats). I've actually been in hot pursuit of this photo for months, ever since I saw this ad on the side of an AC Transit bus. I'm pretty slow on the draw with my cell phone camera, so for a long time, every time I saw the ad the bus would pull away before I could snap the photo.
I finally managed it recently by lingering in the crosswalk to slow the bus down. Yes, I am that devoted, because it is basically teen Melanctha, and it's ingenious. Voilà:
The ad is for a teen dating violence hotline, one that looks like an admirable initiative, actually. You can see how it has "Melanctha" all over it. "HOW DO YOU KNOW?" reads the copy, which, of course, is the question in "Melanctha." The fake dialogue given to the teens even mimicks the question ping-pong between Melanctha and Jeff, the indefinite deferral of knowledge:
Teen Jeff: WHAT DO YOU MEAN?
Teen Melanctha: WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT DO I MEAN?
Why you ask me that, Jeff Campbell, when you know already what I am always saying to you?
The pop psychology subtext of this ad might be that miscommunication causes relationship problems ("drama"). But the ad explicitly makes the relationship into an epistemological problem, "how do you know?" -- the problem of other minds, conducing to language's capacity to create a naturalist (in the Zola sense) closed system ending in a spiral toward violence.
Dial down your drama, people. Do it for Gertrude Stein.