Psychology professor and her two cats write po-mo article on “multispecies inquiry”

July 18, 2018 • 2:00 pm

This is just for grins: I don’t know whether the journal Qualitative Inquiry, where this travesty was published, is taken seriously (it is, however, a SAGE journal); but I am pretty sure this article is NOT a joke or a hoax. The article is free, and may not even require the legal unpaywall app; click on screenshot below to see itL:

Susan Naomi Nordstrom is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, and Amelie and Nordstrom are her cats; or rather Amelie, whose illness and euthanasia dominates the article, was her cat. It’s not clear why the cats are coauthors given that they didn’t actually write the article.

The article is simply the story of how Amelie got sick and, after some extensive medical interventions, Dr. Nordstrom decided to have the cat euthanized, which was of course devastating. That is all there is to the story, but it’s couched in postmodern gibberish, supposedly embedding the story in “the theories of Haraway and Rautio”, which actually add nothing to the narrative. Here’s the abstract, which gives you a flavor of a publication for which the author got professional credit:

All the wordplay doesn’t obscure the fact that is is simply what many of us have gone through: bonding with a beloved pet and being devastated when it becomes terminally ill and has to be “put down”.

You can read the article for yourself; here are just a few ways that Dr. Nordstrom tricked out her personal story with postmodern academic-y trappings that, in the end, fail to transform her drayhorse into a Thoroughbred:

When Amelie, Susan’s cat companion of 15 years, recently died, a friend asked her, “Can you imagine the past 15 years of your life without her?” Susan quickly responded, “No. I cannot think my life without her” as she petted her other cat companion, Coonan. The following Haraway (2008) quote resonated in their mourning bodies: “I am who I become with companion species, who and which make a mess out of categories in the making of kin and kind. Queer messmates in mortal play indeed” (p. 19). Our mortal play of subtle tunings and tendings—tuning toward and tending to affective dimensions between species (Rautio, 2017)—dominates our multispecies life together, or kin-making. A narrative of our multispecies living together moves beyond the confines of the narrative inquiry literature that is centered on humans, those “storytelling organisms who, individually and socially lead storied lives” (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990, p. 2)

Had enough? Wait! There’s more! (emphases are mine):

Coonan (a much younger cat) frequently tried to play with Amelie (a more mature cat). Amelie loudly hissed and growled when Coonan tried to play with her without her consent. Susan reprimanded Coonan by saying “Consensual Play, Coonan. Consensual Play.” Coonan meowed apologies after such incidents. Gazes, sleep-dreaming together, time spent relaxing on the couch together, and so on created different affects within the system and created a sense of equilibrium in our communication system. We moved to Nebraska together and then later to Tennessee with each place shifting our system. New homes, different climates, different human schedules, and other humans shifted our system. These shifts provided ways of knowing our multispecies equilibrium.

Consensual play! Apologies! But wait! There’s still more:

We tune and tend each other in our rhythmic practices of living–dying together. We have come to realize that we are never fully cat or fully human. We are both cat and human moving between constructs in assemblages together. We move through tunings and tendings. No singular being is centered in our multispecies life. We are multiple.

What is the sweating professor trying to say? Or does she just like alliteration? Does the meaning go beyond “I have two cats whom I love”? If so, I don’t know what it is. Later Dr., Nordstrom says she didn’t intend to write the story of the death of her cat, and of her life with both cats, but was urged to do so by her friends and colleagues. They should have known better! And so she justifies her stories with the thinnest of rationales:

Why do we take the risk of authoring our life together? Why does Susan not take sole authorship as she should in a neoliberal human-centered academy? Why do we write evocatively rather than argumentatively? Why do we refuse domestication? We write our kin story to infect narrative inquiry. Our kin story, our becoming with, suggests that “companion species infect each other all time” Haraway 2016, (p. 115). We are concerned that human-centered narratives forget the response-abilities we have to each other, humans and nonhumans alike. We worry what that does for our living and dying together. In a world in which we must stay with the trouble, where we must live and die together better, stories matter a lot and how we tell those stories matters. Haraway wrote,

It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts think thoughts, what descriptions describe descriptions, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. (p. 12)

We must write our living–dying together, our becoming with, to create different ties that may very well create a better and just world for both humans and nonhumans. For as Haraway wrote, “We become-with each other or not at all” (p. 4). It is for this reason that a human and two cats author together—our becoming with happens together and, consequently, so does the writing of our life together.

Now I don’t want to be churlish here: I, too, have lived with and loved cats, and held a beloved cat in my arms as the vet put him to sleep. It was so devastating that, for only the second time in my life, I fainted. (The other is when I dropped a 500-pound oak desk on my big toe, completely severing the bone.) But I don’t gussy up that that story with academic theory and cringe-making wordplay and try to publish it, pretending that it has some significance larger than the already significant lesson that we can love our animals so hard that their deaths are as devastating as the loss of a friend or family member.  I don’t try to “infect narrative inqury,” whatever that means.

Journals like Qualitative Inquiry, which are willing to publish stuff like this as a serious contribution to intellectual discourse, are seriously damaging the humanities, if they haven’t aren’t already irreparably damaged by this kind of lunacy.

And I still want to know why the two cats are authors.


Serbian gets Kim Jong-un haircut

September 9, 2017 • 2:30 pm

The first version of the video below, in which a talented Serbian barber uses his talents in the WRONG WAY, was taken down from YouTube; but when it was up it had the following explanation:

As tensions mount worldwide over North Korean missile tests, one Serbian barber has decided to commemorate this uneasy period in global geopolitics with his unique form of artistic expression and social commentary. Mario Hvala, a barber at the House Damian Hair and Make up shop in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second-largest city, has a penchant for celebrity portraits, employing client’s scalps as his preferred canvas.

Huffpo also highlighted it and said this:

A bizarre dream by a Serbian barber led to a hair-raising cut for a customer.

Mario Hvala of Novi Sad, in northern Serbia, recently dreamed that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and his staff visited him in his living room.

“When I woke up, I decided to do this hair tattoo,” he told Storyful. “And it came out looking pretty amazing,”

The complete haircut took five hours, and Hvala added to the absurdity by playing North Korean music throughout the whole thing.

Well, I found the short video had been re-posted, so here it is. I hope that guy’s hair grows back fast, as Kim is gonna get a five o’clock shadow. And I’m sure this kind of haircut would be a capital crime in the DPRK!

Headline of the season

December 24, 2016 • 2:45 pm

This is from Fox News; click on the screenshot to go to the article. It’s true, funny, and the “Jesusnapping” was probably conducted by an atheist.


And the story in its entirety:

Police say a woman stole baby Jesus from a Nativity scene in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and dropped the figurine off at a hospital with a note explaining that the baby had been “neglected” by his parents, “Joseph and Mary Christ.”

Police say 49-year-old Jacqueline Ross told them it was a joke, but they aren’t laughing.  She was identified from surveillance video and is jailed on charges of theft and institutional vandalism.

Police say she went to the hospital early on Dec. 4 just minutes after stealing the $2,700 figurine from Payrow Plaza.

Police say she left a note with the porcelain baby that read, in part, “Child has broken right foot which is been (sic) neglected. Parents Joseph and Mary Christ got a warning.”

Ross doesn’t yet have an attorney.

Here’s a photo of the creche; Baby Jesus has been returned, but note that his right foot is missing. Why couldn’t God heal amputee Jesus?

Photo: Bethlehem Police Department

h/t: jjh

The FBI and terrorism: a satire

September 21, 2016 • 2:39 pm

This clip was produced by a group of Israelis who did satirical cabaret, making fun of sacred cows. (The language is Hebrew with English subtitles.) The cow in this short video is the FBI’s attitudes toward Islamic terrorism; the Boston FBI locale and Chechen perpetrators make clear that this is about the Boston Marathon bombing. (The video was also made in 2013).

This film, in fact, couldn’t be shown on Israeli television, which by and large is so Regressive Leftist that it wouldn’t countenance this kind of satire. But it’s funny, and certainly has a grain of truth. Malgorzata found it and put the subtitles in Polish, which you can see, if you wish, by pressing the cc button.

The Holy Spud awes Canadian seniors; CBC said it could be a “sign from above”

September 5, 2016 • 2:00 pm

Canadians are acting badly again, and here I’m referring to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who should know better. From the CBC, we have a story about a Holy Potato. The text is indented, and the figure captions are from the website.

A cook was cutting potatoes at a Quebec seniors’ residence when he decided to slice one lengthwise instead of across, as he usually did.

What he saw inside is being called a sign of a divine presence in the building.

“He saw it was a cross and he said, ‘It’s a sign,'” said Émilien Morin, president of the residents’ committee at Le Mieux Vivre Residence in Grande-Rivière.

“He thought it meant ‘I’m here’ — a religious sign.”

The sacred spud was discovered Aug. 22 at the Gaspé Peninsula residence by cook Alain Lévesque.

“He couldn’t believe it,” Morin said.

The potato will be on display in the dining room where all residents at the seniors’ home in Grande-Rivière, Que., can enjoy being near it. (Submitted by Gaston Lebreux)

I love the figure caption above (my emphasis). But wait—there’s more!

Morin said the residents are devout Catholics and sought a way to preserve the potato.

Jeannette Moreau, a residents’ committee member, is currently housing the potato in her apartment as it dries.

Morin says the potato-drying process could take up to a month, adding that the spud has started to darken but the sign of the cross at its centre is still highly visible.

He doesn’t want people to visit the vegetable until it’s fully dried and ready to be displayed in a custom-made display case.

Morin said the potato will be on display in the dining room where all residents can enjoy being near it.

“It makes them feel safe,” Morin said.

Alain Lévesque and Émilien Morin have been instrumental in preserving the potato. (Submitted by Gaston Lebreux)

Now here’s the bad part in an otherwise amusing article (amusing for nonbelievers, that is): the ending of the article:

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 1.35.21 PM

Seriously, CBC? “Might be a sign from above?” “Divine?” Given that they have a naturalistic explanation, why on earth would they raise the possibility that God made these markings? Who’s in charge of this article?

I sent this to friends in Montreal, who said the only thing to be done with this spud is make Holy Poutine, which could be offered to Québécois as a kind of communion.

Here’s another Jesus potato, along with 21 other images of Jesus in food from BuzzFeed, including my favorite, a Jesus banana:


Someone call Ray Comfort: his apology for the banana video was premature!


h/t: Snowy Owl