Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Words, Censored

My source in China tells me that this blog is now censored by the Chinese internet and he cannot view it.

I just want to say ... Mark, that has made my MONTH! It has enabled me to realise a dream in a way I had not imagined, with an unexpected rapidity.

For almost eleven years, from the age of thirteen when I read my first Robert Ludlum, I thought that joining a secret spy agency would be cool. Then, at the age of twenty-four, one of my friends was offered a job at MI5 and turned it down because it didn't pay so well.

My entire goal of going to London was to work in a London Museum. Then I was offered a job at the Geffrye Museum and I turned it down because it didn't pay so well.

After this, the aforementioned friend and I decided that we were cool for the jobs we had turned down, not the jobs we had accepted, and I discovered that goals were sometimes useful to obtain simply to teach you that your priorities have shifted a little.

Lately I have been aspiring to be taken seriously as a subversive intellectual, and faster than I expected I was told the Chinese Government Internet Censors have denied my web-based writing to their people. Sure, I may be the victim of a censorship program simply picking up a banned word used innocently, but who am I to argue with censorship when it makes me feel all anti-something big and evil?

I am not sure how much higher I should aim right now, because I keep on overshooting my goals, but secretly I am hoping one day that I will be anti-something big and evil enough to go on just one date with Chas Licciardello, and then I can move on to the Benevolent Dictator of the World goal that I held at age five.

The Word, Wikipedia, Truthiness

I know my blog is now unavailable in China because Mark was replying to a little riff I emailed yesterday about Why I Love The Internet.

I had resolved that one of the reasons that I loved the internet was because it has created both monsters like Wikipedia, and monster killing heroes like Stephen Colbert (you may know him as one of my two crushes from a former post) and the guys from Chaser, in all incarnations, especially the Newspaper and the ABC TV Show.

As Literature cannot exist without the spectrum of authors from Rowling to Joyce, as narrative cannot exist without the tension of a hero and a villain, so something as chaotic and distracting as the Internet cannot exist without unique internet authors and narrative structures such as Wikipedia and the Blogosphere, Chaser and YouTube.

One of the many references to Wikipedia that has caught my eye is Stephen Colbert's The Word segment on Wikiality, packaged for my attention by Norman at onegoodmove.

For those without QuickTime, from the copyright infringing giant


I have long held a vague distrust of Wikipedia, which I must admit I had not run across until I read this little gem of a Chaser moment called Wikipedia's run by a bunch of *censored* from Shane at Chaser.

I went on to enjoy Wikipedia for the fan-written entries - the X-Men costume timelines and the Buffy flashback chronologies - but the entries that purport to explain more serious matters disturbed me. I have been called (by a very nice English Professor on Tuesday) a structural humanist, which kinda means I believe that structures serve a purpose in forming the reality of any given human. It also means I like structures, whether to serve them blindly (the authority of the properly reviewed, edited, written, published and discussed word) or to create freewheeling criticisms of them (the language of the war on terror as created in sound bites for public consumption). Thus I think Wikipedia is, well, truthiness incarnate.

Stephen Colbert coining Truthiness, The Word that has become a phenomenon, again from


Discussion, Criticism and Constant Evaluation

This evening I went to a talk entitled Literary Lessons and the Student Experience. The discussion centred about the changing face of teaching the Humanities in American Universities and ended up, surprisingly enough, right in the middle of the only War I currently care about, the War on Non-Critical Reading of Words. Professor Dubrow and Professor Best ended up addressing topics such as plagiarism arising from the 'buy-an-essay' internet black market and the evolution of technology in the classroom being driven from both ends by student and teacher proficiency and resulting in a redefining of publication, assessment and peer-reviewing.

I really perked up when we started discussing the role that the Humanities have in keeping critical thought alive in education, particularly to counteract the media saturation of the technological adept generations. I even got over my usual reticence in public lectures to ask a few questions of the speakers and the audience.

I believe passionately that words are too powerful, when wielded by those with intentions, not to be guided by structures that allow for discussion, criticism and constant evaluation. I believe that guiding words through discussion, criticism and constant evaluation is the point of education, is the particular beauty of a Humanities inclination, and has long been the path to new ideologies and theories that can shape the human experience into possibilities unimagined.

Thus the discoveries and discussions in the last few days have meant that I am glad I have said something that has offended one structure of evaluation, I have enjoyed having a structure of discussion to both write within and against, and I am incredibly pleased that my points of structural criticism are current and topical within my area of study.

The Point, Positive

However, lover of books and literature that I am, I must fall back on a sobering passage from my very first Hemingway novel, started a week ago and vastly enjoyed since then. In Bimini Roger Davis engages in a fight on the 'side of right' and wins, but reflects to Thomas Hudson, while he nurses his wounds and watches the loser gurgle blood, that

'Being against evil doesn't make you good. Tonight I was against it, and then I was evil myself.'

No matter how much structural criticism I aim to engage in, the ultimate goal must be a positive suggestion for action.

Thus I urge everyone, prepare the world for my next goal of World Domination and call Chas, give him my number ...