The Protagonist Writes: How To Become A Successful Blogger?

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The main protagonist of the book I am currently reading is a Nigerian woman named Ifemelu who lives in the US. Amongst many other things, she blogs about race and racism in the host society from her perspective as a Non-African-American woman.

The title of the novel is ‘Americanah’ and it is authored by a Nigerian writer named Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I first encounter Adiche online when she spoke on Ted Talk about ‘The Danger of a Single Story’in 2009. Her talk inspired me so much and begun following her works since then and brought me to the novel in question.

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The Unfocused Mind @ Work: Mind Wondering Around While Reading

As part of The Study Game, I was reading Judith Butler’s work entitled Bodies That Matter this morning. The Study Game refers to the exercise I perform where I retrace and relive the years I have spent in graduate school by studying the texts I have read one course at a time.

Like Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity, Butlers work on Bodies That Matter is very difficult to understand. I did not fully grasp the ideas conveyed in these text when I have first read them while still in graduate school and little has changed since then. As I revisit these texts, I still do not understand them.

As I have said, I was reading Bodies That Matter this morning and to put it via Candidly, I do not have any clue what Butler was talking about or at least I find it difficult to discern the connections of the different ideas being addressed in her work. I can sense a barrier almost so palpable between myself and the text. It is like hearing a conversation in a different language. When we do not understand the language being spoken, we hear a nose instead of a conversation.

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Friends on Netflix: From Watching To Studying It

In the beginning, I was just merely watching the sitcom hit in the 90s entitled Friends. The more I watch it, the more I find myself to be studying Friends and treating it like a case Study. In this blog post, I intend to reflect upon my ‘addiction’ to watching Friends, but also how this addiction has made me immune to the humour of my favourite sitcom.

Since ‘Friends’ becomes available on Netflix, I cannot stop watching it. Last weekend for instance, I have spent the whole Saturday watching its episodes after episodes. As much as I do not want to be disrespectful to the experiences of those individuals who are actually struggling with their substance addiction, my watching behaviour last Saturday mimics addictive behaviour if not a symptom of addiction itself. I have lost control and this has already happened in the past.

Unlike the more structurally scheduled programmes on local television channels, Netflix offers us relatively more choices and freedom to watch what we want, when we watch them, and how much of it we want to watch in one sitting. As David Brook once wrote in his book entitled, The Social Animal: ‘freedom without structure is its own slavery’ (2012:58). While my face was glued on the screen watching Friends the whole day last Saturday, I was quite aware that I was being a slave of my own freedom.

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Scent: Repulsive and yet Desirable

Source: Scent

People who lose their sense of smell suffer greater emotional deterioration than people lose their vision. That’s because smell is a powerful way to read emotions.- David Brooks on Social Animal (2012: 16)

The sense of vision is overvalued. It has been suggested that vision is the site of knowledge. To see is to believe they say. Some would even go further as to claim that to see is to know. Convention has it that vision is the most superior sense of all, while other senses such as hearing, touching, tasting and yes smelling are all considered inferior to vision and therefore marginalized.

Unlike the superior sense of vision, the other marginalised senses including but not exclusively the sense of smell cannot be a reliable reference, because how could we verify that what we smell and how we smell are exactly the same thing? For example, imagine looking at a lavender, we can all provide an accurate and homogenous description of it. Although we all know the smell of lavender and would all could agree that what we are smelling is indeed a lavender, the emotions and experiences that the smell of lavender triggers are different from one person to another. While we can reproduce what we see, we cannot really reproduce what we smell nor translate them.

Vision is objective and transcendent, because it requires certain distance and detachment to see the object of gaze objectively. Sense of smell on the other hand is said to be subjective and situated because in order to smell, one has to establish proximity to the object being smelled. Like sense of smell, sense of taste also requires proximity. These two are intertwined. The smell  is so palpable. How many of you who have not eaten a soap and yet claimed that something taste like a soap?

Our civilization has organized smells based on the desirable and good smells from the repulsive and bad smells. We are preconditioned to like the good smell such as the smell of a flower which explains why perfumes are mostly flower scented. We are instructed to reject the smell associated with the uncultivated nature as body odours, sweat, animal extractions both by humans and non-humans.

Tradition dictates that when we encounter repulsive smells, we should reject and contain them. However, it is exactly those what we believed to be repulsive smells are the smells to which we are drawn. The flowery scents of the perfume we buy is just a decoy of the smells we find repulsive, because those repulsive smells that we find most exciting. In other words, when a woman wears a lavender scented perfume, it is not really the smell of the lavender that a man (or another woman) finds exciting, but the natural smell of body secretions of a woman (or a man) we are trained to find repulsive.

You do not believe me? Check the article written Laura U. Marks entitled ‘Thinking Multisensory Culture’. In that article she claims that: ‘The base notes of perfumes, similarly, are often sexual or animal odours that we have learned to find noxious in themselves, yet are seductive when masked. A fine meal or elegant perfume both recalls and refines our animal and vegetable nature. Smell, the chemical communication, is uncanny because it reminds us what we have in common with pigs – and with mushrooms’ (2013: 146). Of course, this article cannot stand as evidence on it’s own, but that could be a lead for further investigation.

References

Brooks, David. Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012.

Marks, Laura U. “Thinking of Multisensory Culture.” Papenburg, Benita and Marta Zarzycka. Carnal Aesthetics: Transgressive Imagery and Feminist Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013. 144-157.