To the stars

This imaginative conversation between Paul Miller (DJ Spooky) and Judith “Jack” Halberstam would be interesting based on the sole fact that the two authors have created alternate personas for themselves. Paul Miller has, at least for the sake of Rhythm Science, formed two alternate personalities in Ad Astra and DJ Spooky. Ad Astra is only mentioned in passing, but DJ Spooky is the true author of the book, and everything in Rhythm Science comes from this perspective. Judith, on the other hand, is not using her alias or alternate persona in the interview. She is answering the questions from her perspective as an educated, female, feminist. How different would the answers be if she answered from her drag king persona “Jack”? In order for this imaginary conversation to work, we need to make a key assumption as to who the two participants will actually be. Paul Miller may pull information and opinions from a different archive than DJ Spooky, and Judith may interact completely different if she projects masculinity through her Jack persona.

To simplify things, I will work under the assumption that the DJ Spooky persona and Judith Halberstam will be interacting based solely off of the text that I have just read. The beginning of this conversation would probably be a little awkward, because in a way, DJ Spooky seems to be a product of the trend of “re-masculinization.” Rhythm Science has a combative tone, and DJ Spooky speaks with absolute authority. He doesn’t pose questions or use passive phrases like “I think”, “I believe” or “it seems.” Rather, everything he states, he wants taken as truth.  Additionally, DJ Spooky only seems to draw from masculine sources such as William S. Burroughs, Paul Kammerer, and The Wu-Tang Clan. It should be noted that all three of these influences represent male violence on some level. Burroughs was convicted of manslaughter, Kammerer killed himself, and C.R.E.A.M. depicts the way Wu-Tang members would pull guns to take and steal from others (admittedly there is much more to these influences than just violence).

This tone could lead to a rift between Judith Halberstam and DJ Spooky, especially when discussing “idiocy” and “stupidity.” Rhythm Science takes an aggressive stance towards idiocy, saying “the idiot is a zombie, a character straight out of Thriller…The person without qualities who cannot say ‘I.’ The person whom others speak through. Who has no central identity save what he or she knows. And what they know is that they know there is nothing else…” While Halberstam is also aggressive in describing stupidity (she directly calls Bush a stupid brat) she also admits that she believes “’stupidity does not stand in the way of wisdom, it is actually another form of it.’” This means that “idiots” may not be zombies (beings with no brain activity or drive other than feeding on active brains) but rather people who feel alienated from intellectual culture.

This is where common ground between the two conversation participants can emerge. Both DJ Spooky and Judith Halberstam are likely to agree that 1.) Stupidity is a form of power and 2.) The only way to break down stupidity is for people to access different archives and think differently. Rhythm Science addresses this in terms of music by explaining how the DJ creates new and creative material because “perhaps they have access to so many different cultural products as raw material…” The general public does not know how to get these “raw materials” such as isolated instruments and all of the other mixing tracks that goes into making a single song. If the masses had access to this archive of “raw materials” maybe more people would act as DJ’s. This thought extends to Halberstam’s notion of Feminine Masculinity, and breaking down traditional gender roles. She believes that giving young girls access to the same gender norms as young boys. Instead of focusing on “make-up, hair, dolls [and] high-heels” girls should be encouraged to be assertive, playing sports, or “fixing things.” Exposure to these elements would create a different archive of knowledge for women to be empowered and operate outside of patriarchy.

Question posed for class discussion:

Since Derrida claims that the archive is institutional by nature, does having access to different archives really break down the power of stupidity? Would an “idiot” know what to do with access to other archives to learn and grown?

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