Tuesday, June 28, 2005

aaah...attraction

For those of you who don't me this about me, I've been a die-hard video game fanatic since I was a young kid. For those of you who have a similar disposition or know people like this, you know what the ultimate fantasy for us is.

No, its not all the major systems. No its not Electronics Boutique gift certificates. And although having a multi-player arcade game like X-Men in your house comes close, the ultimate fantasy has to be, meeting a someone whom you are attracted to, and is just as much into video games as you are.

Normally I would have something psychoanalytical to say here, like "according to Zizek, etc. etc. etc..." But honestly, my mind is still bubbling over the fact that I met a beautiful girl the other day who is just as into video games as I am!

It was interesting, seeming to finally find at least the object of so many simple fantasies. How many times has a gamer pined over a girl who understands his addiction when his girlfriend yells for him to turn the game off and come to bed, or pages for him to get his ass home from his friends house. Oh how wonderful to finally find someone who understands the concept of save points, and that in most games, you can't just save the game anywhere? Or how about a girl who will see the incredible social value and esteem in collecting all the trophies in Super Smash Bros. Melee or kicking everyone's ass at Perfect Dark?

At a friend's birthday party we were talking casually for a while before, someone across the room admitted openly to how they are a Lord of the Rings geek. People laughed and other people started admitting to their own geek vices. (I have several, Star Wars, Star Trek, Video Games, Comics, Bollywood movies, anything about Guam, whoa, there's plenty more...) Just for fun, I asked this girl, what's she a geek about? She said a little embarassed, actually I'm a video game geek.

AH! Bliss!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Europe on my mind

I was giving this white guy a ride the other day from campus. His roomate is a friend of mine in my department, so that's how we had met and we were on our way to the beach to go kayaking with our mutual friend. I told him that I came from Guam. He asked a few nervous questions, and then admitted to not knowing very much about Guam. I told him that I'm from a colony, and the benefit of that is that you get to feel whatever you want about us, we are supposed to be at the disposal of your desire or disinterest.

He asked me how far Guam was from the US. I told him, several thousands miles. "It must be pretty isolated then, huh?" he asked. I told him, not really. West of Hawai'i there are actually lots of islands, Guam is the largest in a chain of volcanic islands in the Marianas, and its surrounded by hundreds of others in Micronesia.

He apologized saying, "Well I guess I can always blame this on my geography classes." We both laughed. He continued, "But I do know lots about Europe, though."

The laugh intended to come out of my mouth, instead got caught as I realized something. Given the makeup of the school system on Guam, today and my own experiences in education, one could easily call it a colonial school system. The emphasis is most definitely not local and not regional. We do not connect to Asia or the other islands the way we do to the United States (and its disowned parent Europe).

Without laughing, I depressedly replied, "So do I."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Everything you wanted to know about Guam but were afraid to ask Zizek

I just turned in an article that will hopefully get published in an anthology next year! The article was 21 pages long, with massive, almost jaw shattering footnotes. In homage to my Zizek influences I made references to the following films throughout the paper,

Hitch
Monty Python's Life of Brian
Cry Freedom
The Matrix
The Fully Monty
Brassed Off
Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde
In & Out
Samurai Champloo
The Usual Suspects

By the way, the title of my article is "Everything you wanted to know about Guam, but were afraid to ask Zizek." To sum it up in a few words, would go as follows, democracy, leprosy, family and radical resistance. Kao gaiinteres hao? Wondering where and why I discussed those films in this paper?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

ESPN apology

I just finished listening to the ESPN apology to the people of Guam on Tony Blaz's positively local show. Lana, achokka' maolek yanggen todu ma hungok este, na'ma'ase ha', na'ma'ase sinembatgo.

If one wants to know why things don't change very often in Guam, or why Chamorros are such a deeply colonized and proudly coconut people, note the response of Tony Blaz and recall other instances where Guam was scandalized and an apology was tenured and where once loud cries of Biba Chamoru! or MANLALALU HIT MAMPOS! were to be heard, now all is suddenly quiet on the Chamorro front.

After the contrite and effortless apology from the skel at ESPN, we hear Tony Blaz attempting to articulate the feelings of the entire island, and whenever someone attempts to do this, one will eventually return to the fundamental trauma of Guam today, "We're Americans too!" Which of course, Tony Blaz did cry out during his statements. Things remain the same precisely because of moves such as this, whenever a rupture takes place, where a more fundamental change might emerge, the rupture is instead sealed up nicely with some patriotic plaster.

The apology is nice and is great for when you're talking to people in the states or the diaspora, about how a supposedly pathologically inferior place such as Guam got something from the United States proper to apology ("umbee, in na'apology Si ESPN, kao un hongge?"). But ultimately it is something which costs nothing, and it costs nothing because we make it cost nothing. We are confronted with something like this and rather then spending time with the rupture, trying to figure out this trauma, we instead follow our first impulse (which is always on behalf of the colonizer) which sees moments like these as crucial point to assert or attempt to prove Americaness.

But for all of my haolefied Chamorro readers out there, this assertion never means as much as you hope, because of the form in which it is ennunciated, the Americaness it is meant to bring out or prove is always already in doubt anyway.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Terminator vs. Whalerider

Yet another paper that I'm hoping by ranting about on my blog I'll gain some extra special insight into.

Most of us from the Pacific are familiar with the films Whalerider and Terminator. For those of you who aren't, Whalerider is a charming tale of cultural change, perserverence, survival and hope. It takes place in a Maori village where the people aren't doing so well and look for someone to come and lead them out of darkness. In the story, a little girl, Pai is the main character who is the one who will "ride the whales" and lead her people, but no one knows this at the film's beginning and she is constantly misrecognized in this role because of the androcentricity of her culture which prevents her from learning the old ways. By the film's end her grandfather, who was the biggest obstacle in the proper recognition of her role, sees her for what she is and accepts her. But the story ends not with her accepting the role as the savior of her people, but instead accepting a newly defined role which her presence, ascension and acceptance have created. The film Terminator doesn't require as much description. In the future, machines are wiping out humans, they send back a terminator to kill the mother of the human resistance leader before he is born. The human's send back their own protector. Lots of fighting, action, etc. Ultimately the mother survives and we learn in fact that the protector who was sent back is the father of the human resistance leader in the future.

What could be the impetus for putting these films together? For me it has to do with indigenous expectations, which is something which works both ways. Non-indigenous people, which are those who have the power to name themselves as either indigenous or non-indigenous as well as name those who are indigenous have expectations of indigenous people. I encounter them all the time. While giving a talk which was largely political and historical on Guam's colonial relationship to the United States at UC Riverside, I was asked by a white student, "what is you culture?" I was unsure how to respond to this question, so I asked her, what did she mean and that if she means what I think she means then I can't answer her question. She rearticulated it in that other people who had come to talk from different indigenous groups had each shared songs or dances from their culture, and that did I have any songs or dances to share with them?

I could feel the indigenous expectations slamming against me, conforming and forcing upon me choices. Everything I said up to that point hinged on my response to this question. Everything would basically mean something depending upon how I responded to this question and how I dealt with these "indigenous expectations." If I did not perform something which met the requisites of her fantasies then I could be dismissed as meaningless, as yelling without knowledge, as talking without speaking.

For those interested in what this is like, watch the film Naked Lunch. When Ian Holm's character speaks in Tangiers, but his lips and his words don't match up, it is something akin to that. The indigenous person moves their lips, yet the words spoken, the voice is almost always that of the colonizer themselves. A difficult and sucky place to escape. When I was asked what my culture was, I attempted to occupy the position of impossibility with regards to the questioner, in a vain attempt to force some form of recognition on her. It did not work, and no doubt what she perceived, was me moving my lips and her voice filling in the dubbing saying, "nothing to see here."

But when I said indigenous expectations works both ways I meant it. Part of being a colonized people is being forced to hold before us the gaze of the colonizer, and to both have it look upon us and mark us, but also look through it and imagine and expect through it as well. This is where the two films come in, as we as indigenous people must reckon and confront of we are trapped within our own expectations of culture and artifact. For me that's why reading Terminator and Whalerider together might yield something important, because it might be something which would allow us to shatter enough just for a moment, the expectations which are imposed on us about ourselves, yet we often shoulder enthusiastically and reaffirm in nonetheless exciting and poetic ways.

I'll speak more on this later.

Go Yu-Gi-Oh!

Every once in a while I surf around Google, usually seeing what Guam sites are out there. What kind of weird combinations I can type in and find out there. I would regularly type in "Guam" and "blog" to see where my blog lands on the list. Nowadays I end up somewhere near the first listing.

Other favorites to type in are Guam and philosophers. So I've typed in Zizek and Guam and Derrida and Guam, and so on. Last week I typed in Derrida and Guam and I came across something pretty cool. A list of someone's favorite Yu-Gi-Oh sites had my blog on it. Now that was one of those wonderful finak'cha'i.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I want a girl...

Lacan is famous for his philosophical one liners such as "there is no such thing as a sexual relationship." Zizek's most exciting point is that he connects these "zingers" with pop culture artifacts. The other day I came across one myself.

Lacan said, "what does it matter how many lovers you have if none of them gives you the universe?" I was reminded of this while listening to Weezer's blue album. Track two, "No One Else," is a nicely Lacanian love ballad. The chorus goes taiguini,

I want a girl who will laugh for no one else
When I'm away she puts her makeup on the shelf
When I'm away she never leaves the house
I want a girl who laughs for no one else

The underlying message of course being, I want someone who reveals their laugh, that thing which is unique to them to me alone. Someone who will only lie to me. Someone who will only write for me sections of life most beautiful fiction, love. The makeup is a key term. I want someone who is willing to cut their self in order to meet the requirements of my fantasy space (such as in Vertigo or Main Hoon Na).

Sadly, the singer's girlfriend is prone to giving away her universe to other people, by laughing at what other people say as well.

My girl's got a big mouth
With which she blabbers a lot
She laughs at most everything
Whether it's funny or not
And if you see her
Tell her it's over now

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The infamous white doctor

Everyone on Guam is familiar with the example of the "white doctor." For those of you who aren't or who have forgotten about it, I'll refresh your memory.

When people on Guam want to position themselves as being people who are "really" aware of what's going on, or not colonized dupes, they invoke this story. We all do this. If we want to talk about the inferiority complexes of Chamorros or even other brown people on Guam, we bring in to hypothetical doctors, one brown (usually Chamorro) the other white. If a Chamorro patient has the option to see either of these doctors, they will almost always pick the white one.

The problem is however, that this story gets told as a sort of token. It gets told precisely so that what the story seems to question does not get questioned. People who tell this story, would probably want a white doctor nonetheless, even armed with the insight this story is supposed to reveal.

The dynamic here is stretched to cover nearly everything in Guam. Whatever comes Eastward from the United States enters Guam drenched and dripping in superiority. Whatever in Guam is identified as having its origin Eastward in the United States sits above all things tainted as local in terms of value. Whatever problems exist in Guam are defined and redefined as being local and the antidote for them lies in non-local things. To hear this point articulated one need only have a discussion with nearly anyone on Guam. From water privatization to "calling in the Feds." The colonization of Guam is maintained through these binary oppotisions which hold difficult to subvert or question values on local (bad,inferior, corrupt, dark) and non-local (good, superior, democratic, ethical, white). Decolonization of the mind (perhaps the most important) lies in learning to invert them and look awry of kitan them.

Here's where the basic crux of Guam's continuing colonization lies. Can the critique which seems to be present in that story, be widened, be transformed to reflect the larger political, social and ideological tendencies in Guam? Or will it just remain at this meager unproductive level, where one says something precisely to avoid confronting the thing you are talking about?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Fight Water Privatization

The Nasion Chamoru has come out forcefully recently opposing the privatization of GWA and it is time for other concerned people of Guam and those of us in the diaspora (stateside, but nonetheless concerned and angry) to do the same.

For months and years the Chamber of Commerce, the CCU and the majority of Guam's media have pushed hard for the privatiztion of nearly everything on island. Where does this mentality come from? It boils down to neocolonial forms of domination and control. Around the world, other peoples are facing similar struggles as corporations and First World government seeks to plunder and control their natural resources. While some of their situations may be more severe, the basic fight is the same, who shall control the wealth of the land? The Federal government already controls Guam's sea waters and much of our fresh water, now the local colonizing representatives in the government and the media are seeking to ensure that the rest of Guam's water be given away as well.

Can GWA do it without privatization? Of course it can, provided it gets the support from the government and public.

It is time to put an end to colonization, it is time to stop reproducing that cycle of degradation we are all educated with, which forces us to think of everything local as being inferior (especially the government) and those all problems need to be fixed by bringing in the Feds, or bringing in a white person. I'm looking for ideas on how not just to fight the privatization of GWA, but also get it the support it needs. I would appreciate any input people can provide.

Naomi Klein ta'lo

Un nuebu na tinige' ginnen Si Naomi Klein


Published on Tuesday, June 7, 2005 by the Los Angeles Times
Torture's Part of the Territory
by Naomi Klein

Brace yourself for a flood of gruesome new torture snapshots. Last week, a federal judge ordered the Defense Department to release dozens of additional photographs and videotapes depicting prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

The photographs will elicit what has become a predictable response: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will claim to be shocked and will assure us that action is already being taken to prevent such abuses from happening again. But imagine, for a moment, if events followed a different script. Imagine if Rumsfeld responded like Col. Mathieu in "Battle of Algiers," Gillo Pontecorvo's famed 1965 film about the National Liberation Front's attempt to liberate Algeria from French colonial rule. In one of the film's key scenes, Mathieu finds himself in a situation familiar to top officials in the Bush administration: He is being grilled by a room filled with journalists about allegations that French paratroopers are torturing Algerian prisoners.
Based on real-life French commander Gen. Jacques Massus, Mathieu neither denies the abuse nor claims that those responsible will be punished. Instead, he flips the tables on the scandalized reporters, most of whom work for newspapers that overwhelmingly support France's continued occupation of Algeria. Torture "isn't the problem," he says calmly. "The problem is the FLN wants to throw us out of Algeria and we want to stay.... It's my turn to ask a question. Should France stay in Algeria? If your answer is still yes, then you must accept all the consequences."
His point, as relevant in Iraq today as it was in Algeria in 1957, is that there is no nice, humanitarian way to occupy a nation against the will of its people. Those who support such an occupation don't have the right to morally separate themselves from the brutality it requires.
Now, as then, there are only two ways to govern: with consent or with fear.

Most Iraqis do not consent to the open-ended military occupation they have been living under for more than two years. On Jan. 30, a clear majority voted for political parties promising to demand a timetable for U.S. withdrawal. Washington may have succeeded in persuading Iraq's political class to abandon that demand, but the fact remains that U.S. troops are on Iraqi soil in open defiance of the express wishes of the population.

Lacking consent, the current U.S.-Iraqi regime relies heavily on fear, including the most terrifying tactics of them all: disappearances, indefinite detention without charge and torture. And despite official reassurances, it's only getting worse. A year ago, President Bush pledged to erase the stain of Abu Ghraib by razing the prison to the ground. There has been a change of plans. Abu Ghraib and two other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq are being expanded, and a new 2,000-person detention facility is being built, with a price tag of $50 million. In the last seven months alone, the prison population has doubled to a staggering 11,350.

The U.S. military may indeed be cracking down on prisoner abuse, but torture in Iraq is not in decline ? it has simply been outsourced. In January, Human Rights Watch found that torture within Iraqi-run (and U.S.-supervised) jails and detention facilities was "systematic," including the use of electroshock.

An internal report from the 1st Cavalry Division, obtained by the Washington Post, states that "electrical shock and choking" are "consistently used to achieve confessions" by Iraqi police and soldiers. So open is the use of torture that it has given rise to a hit television show: Every night on the TV station Al Iraqiya ? run by a U.S. contractor ? prisoners with swollen faces and black eyes "confess" to their crimes.

Rumsfeld claims that the wave of recent suicide bombings in Iraq is "a sign of desperation." In fact, it is the proliferation of torture under Rumsfeld's watch that is the true sign of panic.
In Algeria, the French used torture not because they were sadistic but because they were fighting a battle they could not win against the forces of decolonization and Third World nationalism. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein's use of torture surged immediately after the Shiite uprising in 1991: The weaker his hold on power, the more he terrorized his people. Unwanted regimes, whether domestic dictatorships or foreign occupations, rely on torture precisely because they are unwanted.

When the next batch of photographs from Abu Ghraib appear, many Americans will be morally outraged, and rightly so. But perhaps some brave official will take a lesson from Col. Mathieu and dare to turn the tables: Should the United States stay in Iraq? If your answer is still yes, then you must accept all the consequences.

Naomi Klein reported from Iraq for Harper's. She is the author of "No Logo" (Picador, 2002) and is writing a book on the ways capitalism exploits disaster.
© 2005 LA Times
###

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Striptease in Guam

I just stumbled across this while searching for articles by Robert Underwood online. I just skimmed through parts of it, I'll have to read it more closely again.

http://rlenelive.com/Chamorro%20Related%20Articles/Chamorro%20Language%20&%20Culture/Ana%20Hill%20Thesis.htm

Derrida and Yu-Gi-oh: Mina'dos

Largely inspired by the post I made here several months ago, I'm working on a paper for next year about Jacques Derrida and Yu-Gi-oh. I've been kicking around the idea for a while, discussing Derrida's ideas about friendship with Yu-Gi-Oh, and its wonderfully memorable characters like Yami-Yugi, Joey, Setu Kaiba, Pegasus, Marik, etc. and incredibly repititous dialogue (yugi "heart of the cards" Kaibi "no! this can't be real!" joey "let me at'em!" tea "c'mon guys." The limits of Yu-Gi-Oh match in strange ways the world that Derrida creates in his texts on friendship such as The Work of Mourning and The Politics of Friendship.

It wasn't until this last week that I actually started writing it and there are two reasons for this actualization. First, I saw a call for papers which explicitly stated possible papers could deal with Derrida's ideas about hospitality, and the welcoming of the other who's arrival is not expected. When reading the call for papers I made a connection between Yu-Gi-Oh and Satoshi Kon's Millenium Actress. But even this wasn't enough. It wasn't until I watched V3.3 of the Return to Battle City, that I realized how productive a paper on Yu-Gi-Oh and Derrida could be. With Yugi and Kaiba facing off in the next to the final match, atop Kaiba's duel tower, we see clearly who and what they are meant to represent. In the ways that they connect to those around them, such as Kaiba and his privileging of the close family link only (to his brother Mokuba). Or Yugi's links to his friends. Or what about the way Kaiba and Yugi relate to their paternal figures? The way that Kaiba vanquishes his adopted father, and the way that Yugi cherishes and embodies the wisdom of his grandfather. Or what about their relationship to the "past?" Towards the end of their duel Kaiba and Yugi discuss "the past," and what it means to them.

From the discourse created from this most recent episode that I watched, as well as my previous ideas about Yu-Gi-Oh, I think I might have a pretty decent paper to present next year.

Oh and one more reason to connect Derrida and Yu-Gi-Oh. Apparently, Yu-Gi-Oh means "friendship."

Friday, June 03, 2005

ya-hu yu-gi-oh

Hu fakcha'i este gi un synopsisi i mina'tres na season Yu-Gi-Oh. Pine'lo-ku na este hafa kumanta-na Si Kaiba despues di inikak gui' gi as Yugi.

The dead body lies in a vessel covered by sand and dust—
Gold also lies there, and also a sword
The body wrapped in a sheath of time—
The corpse does not bear the king's name
In that time on the battle field of the soul—he cries out
A poem of war
A poem to a friend
Guide him to the place where long ago souls crossed.

Bula na ya-hu put Yu-Gi-Oh, hinasso-ku na bei fangge' put Guiya gi un papet confrensia. Pare' siempre. Takfiha hafa kumekeilek-na Yu-Gi-Oh gi fino' Chamorro. Kao un tungo'? Kumekeilek-na "gina'chong" pat "inabok." Pues gigon un tungo' este, mas komprende'yon Yu-Gi-Oh ya sa' hafa todu mangga'kuentuso put i balin yan i fuetsan inabok.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

support anti-privatization efforts

For those of you who want to support the protection of Guam's water rights, and fight the patriotic privatization agenda, there is one small way you can do it. Guam Water Authority has some car stickers that they are offering to people to show their support for Guam's most beleaugered public institution.

(I seriously think that if GWA waved more American flags, no one would hassle them at all)

Here's the email I got, check it out if you're on island:

"GWA Can Do It! say NO to Privatization."

A vehicle bumper sticker with this message is available from GWA (Harmon office, upstairs; see Doris [647-2603]).

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