From the Bezoar of the Belly

A Bezoar is “a mass found trapped in the gastrointestinal system,” and as Google Health (who knew?) adds, it’s “swallowed foreign material (usually hair or fiber) that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines.” It’s also the provisional title I gave to a tumblelog: bezoar.tumblr.com. As the name suggests, this quick and dirty tumblelog (see kottke for clarification of “tumblelog”) collects an amalgam of disparate ephemera that somewhat tangentially relate to my interests, such as the video above. It’s kind of a multimedia mixtape.

I haven’t posted much here lately, but do head over to the Bezoar for lots of interesting stuff. For the curious, things have been a little slow around here while I have been developing an article for an upcoming number of Architectural Design, guest-edited by David Gissen (Spring 2010 issue; Architectural Design, Territory: Architecture Beyond Environment). The article is about the work of François Roche/R&Sie(n), and, broadly, about eco-materialism in architecture as an alternative to sustainability. Just to print a little teaser, one of the early paragraphs reads as follows (note that this might change throughout the editing process):

François Roche’s work fits, albeit uneasily, into the production of a milieu of artists and architects (several featured in this number) united by an inquiry into the contradictions of modern nature: a partly-human artifice upon which we materially depend, extending our being and life, but also foreign and strange, not to mention privatized in myriad forms.[2] (Water systems are the classic example of this). The creations of Roche, along with Stéphanie Lavaux and various other design partners over the years—most recently operating under the “R&Sie(n)” monicker—seesaw between attempts at overcoming alienation (the condition of being expropriated from our own means of laboring in and with the earth), and also heightening it.

Needless to say, I’m excited for this article because it touches upon a lot of subjects I have been interested in the recent past (some of which begin to be addressed in this older post).

In addition, I have been in the process of getting a draft of my dissertation prospectus ready (Yes!). For the heck of it, I’ll share an intro paragraph here. Again, the caveat applies that this is an early draft and could change after my committee takes a whack at it. In this “nutgraph” I am referring to California cities and their proposed or established post-military parks.

In this project I propose that a number of these neo-Picturesque parks overlaid onto former military spaces create a mutually-supporting geography of private economic gain and imperial power. These parks seductively employ symbolic references to military heroism in a purportedly public landscape, situating memories of by-gone place and faux montages of Arcadian nature. This new geography is opportune and opportunistic. The zones I want to study are cleavages where visitors might get the thrill of stumbling upon something that they interpret they weren’t supposed to see—Cold War secrets lost amidst a ruinous landscape, for example—and yet it was planted there for them all along. How ideological landscape features and visitors come to find one another, while boosting private investment, will make up the substance of this study.

Meanwhile, other things are in store, like a book review for Historical Geography. I am also beginning to prepare a summer (yeah, summer!) course for 2010, provisionally titled Cities for Sale: Global Real Estate and Urban Politics (with apologies to Chester Hartman for cribbing from his book City for Sale). Needless to say, the months ahead look pretty busy! Stay tuned for new material… Just add the RSS feed to your reader. New updates will also be announced via Twitter (just ask to follow and I’ll unlock it for you — if you’re not a marketing bot) and, of course, Bezoar…

For now, I’ll leave you with something else from the Bezoar collection: an index of national pride.

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