Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Ghosts of Electricity

don't open e-mail from me about "beach photos"- it's "phishing"

fromBarrie Thorne [email address redacted]
toMary Hatfield Henderson et al [email address redacted]
dateMon, Jun 27, 2011 at 6:58 PM
subjectdon't open e-mail from me about "beach photos"- it's "phishing"
Important mainly because it was sent directly to you.
hide details 6:58 PM (20 hours ago)
Dear folks on my gmail "contacts"list,
Alas, I have somehow been hacked. If you get an email from me asking you
to see some photos from the beach, DELETE IT.  If more mayhem occurs, I'll
take appropriate action. 
My apologies,

Barrie Thorne
Professor  of Gender & Women's Studies and
 Professor of Sociology
University of California, Berkeley

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Selections from "Thai Travels" No. 4

"...I experienced a series of highly visceral hallucinations. I felt as if I flew high above the jungle upside down. The trees, the banana palms, the noisy yet euphonic hum of insects, the replicative green - everywhere green - whirled around me with dizzying splendor...Jiminy Cricket served as our guide. He taught us the ways and protected us from the gravest dangers we may have encountered. Undoubtedly my view of the jungle has been permanently altered by meeting it under such tumultuous circumstances...

"I had already seen the muddy river below my dangling feet. But now we got deep in the muck. Our captain fancied that he was a Jack Sparrow, he heard voices, he talked to himself and he led us down the current feet first. I was prepared to dunk my head in the drink, I was ready to drown.

"The day had not yet ended and my venturesome delusions now took shape as avatars - tigers first, and then ultimately elephants. I feel no shame admitting that I am terrified of anyone who is capable of tearing my face off and eating my flesh like so much lettuce. The tiger, he is capable, but the tiger can be approached...

"The next morning, the visage of the elephant became my delusion's North Star. We were all entranced by their gentle comic majesty. Sympathy for these enormous beasts anguished me - normally my soul harbors few warm feelings for animals. I deal with them as a technocrat deals with reams of collected data. I analyze rather than pet...[The elephants] took us on slow, stuttering roller coaster ride through the jungle.

"My sister and I rode on a houda atop the elephant. Her name was Wan Pen and she was a hard working 31-year-old. She climbed like hell. She ate using her highly articulate trunk. My feet were on her back, occasionally I placed my foot behind her ear. The jungle around us made way for these hulking wanderers. Again the resounding buzz of insects surrounded us, but this time Wan Pen's ears flapped back and forth to ward them away...

"The long chain of visions that Chiang Mai induced in me ended while visiting a working silk factory. These little slugs - born to transform - provide, in their yearning to become another, a fine fiber that Thais (among many other peoples) weave into threads. We wear these threads for fashion and comfort. After examining the worms in their various stages of development as well as the fibers, the threads and the wooden machines that women work to weave the silk, I entered the adjacent retail shop that sells the finished goods. My dream ended with the stark juxtaposition of a hot silk factory and an air conditioned retail shop. Nearly every shop I have entered in my life has had a sweat shop behind its wares, but the connection had never been so clearly dramatized. I felt a vague sickness; a hangover of unearned luxury infested me like opportunistic mold."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Selections from "Thai Travels" No. 3

All photo credit to my sister, Katherine Bruens:
hey, look, that's me with a tiger

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Selections from "Thai Travels" No. 2

"...the [Chao Phraya] river bisects the city and feeds the many canals that cut through neighborhoods like so many veins and arteries...after getting on a long tail boat...[w]e sped down the river taking in views of the city. It's a truly splendorous way to travel.

"Our first stop was Wat Arun. An ornate Buddhist temple stippled by statues of cows and Gods from the Hindu pantheon, Wat Arun dares one to tumble down its pyramidal step formations. Near the end of our explorations of the vertiginous structure, I glimpsed a Buddhist monk working as a clerk behind the counter of the Wat Arun gift shop. This image inhabited me with a bemused sense of sweaty irony. I find it fatuously unsettling how easily Buddhism has taken to the highly commercial culture of modernity.

"The long tail boat than took us into a labyrinthine latticework of canals innervating Thai neighborhoods that alternate seemingly at random between wooden shantytowns and opulent villas...we stopped at a large orchid farm populated by gorgeous airborne flowers. I looked up at the opal sky, overcome by delicate blossoms with the mouths of insects..."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Selections from "Thai Travels" No. 1

"My uncle lives on the outskirts of Bangkok. I slept the hot, humid night away without a blanket. When I woke up, I went outside into the morning drizzle. While I observed the orchids, the drizzle turned into a downpour. I sat on the covered porch to watch the hard rain drench the tropical plants. A few peals of thunder anointed the day...

"A shirtless Thai man ran down the street in the rain. He got into a van and revved the engine for several minutes. The sound of gunshot echoed through the neighborhood. The van had backfired. Just then, the rain stopped, as suddenly as it started."