Posts Tagged ‘Santa Cruz’

James Clifford

11/20: I could not help feeling something– Enlightened? Scolded? Emboldened? Lonely? – as I made my way back home from Santa Cruz across the treacherous hwy 17 mountain pass, foregoing the picturesque hwy 1, recommended because of its coastal sunset. I sought the heavy traffic as a taste of the bigger and blunter, and perhaps to drown out moments of incompleteness. By the time I passed the summit, barreling into Silicon Valley at madcap speeds, I felt fleshy and weighty all over again, whistling theme songs of westerns.

James (Jim) Clifford

Who is Jim Clifford? Or better, who is he anyway? as academics who have not published enough put it. Recently, for the past 10 years, Jim has been considering the predicament of heritage and culture along the North West Coast, in fact, in our very own backyard, on Kodiak Island, Alaska.

I pulled into Jim’s round about 1PM, and we headed to a Thai restaurant ordering the same meal all around (pork curry with colored tea) so I could feel what he was tasting. From there, we got off to a good start, explaining StudioPolar‘s new affiliation with Energy and Resources Group (ERG), an academic unit at UC Berkeley founded through current science advisor to President Obama, John Holdren, who was picked off by Harvard after winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, we have been expecting the next Harvard draft-pick to be recent co-Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kammen. I explained to Jim that if you google the following words: Energy Czar Kammen — you get recent media on Dan’s appointment to the World Bank, where he was made Energy Czar on renewables.

We both had a laugh, with Jim asking “where’s the Interpretation Czar?” Jim is the Interpretation Czar.

With the ice broken, riffing in various directions, speculating whether Weber’s world view turns out to be only partly right and yes, partly wrong, I could not go further without taking notes, selecting an abandoned envelop, as it turns out, and starting to scribble for good measure.

Note-Taking on Abandoned Envelope

One phrase in particular, which I got a kick out of, was what Jim called Casually Aggressive Generosity, in memory of my working back East among K Street lobbyists, and their soft-graft. And in connection with this, Jim had sent me previously a hilarious excerpt from Samuel Beckett‘s Molloy, about one such miss-fire of interpellation for which we have placed a link here: Beckett_Molloy .

We talked on topics of globalization and considered Neoliberalism as a bigger system than {simply} policy of the 1980s and 90s, rethinking the limits of interpellation and domination, by taking into account the incorporation of new power regimes or (collective) bodies that matter: the U.S. system creating niches that empowers smaller power-bases which the system subsequently must work around (both bad news and good news).

We carried on our discussion on to complex engagements, social roles and particular histories while walking through the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) campus, mentioning Immanuel Wallerstein‘s recent article in the New Left Review with a link here: Wallerstein-Structural Crises.

UCSC campus walkway

Colloquium at 261 Social Sciences Building

We ended up at the social sciences building sitting in on professor of anthropology at Universidad de Granada, Spain, Juan Gamella, speaking at length on demographic change among the Romany, named Gitanos or Cale, of Spain.

: noon. Descent into Steinbeck country, hwy 1 down the California coast, is nothing less than a wash-up on the shore of the subconscious. Come to think on it, I remember reading John Steinbeck, along with John Muir, in the context of their views on American Indians and Mexicans as humans of fatigue and lacking energy.

Energy and power are practically interchangeable. We speak of horsepower as a technical measure of energy, but also of the power of the state. This conflation of energy and power in language, is partially metaphorical, but arises because both meanings involve the ability to do work, to command labor. To be powerful then is to accomplish things, to turn energy and work of nature and humans toward physical and political purposes. Our classic example is Muir’s flippant encounter with locals in the Yosemite Valley in Mountains of California, and Steinbeck’s greeting with the locals while traveling with Ed Rickets through the Sea of Cortez. At any rate, I had flights of fancy under the Golden Gate Bridge, followed hwy 1 down devils slide, encountered unconfounded traveling symbols and et ceteras along the shoreline. Let us go check in with James Clifford

11/15: 7:35 AM. I have a theory for everything as I hit wide across the bay, heading from Berkeley to Marin, spending Sunday on the Tiburon side of Richardson’s Bay near the Audubon’s Lyford House. Early Monday, coffee from the Bus Depot Cafe in Mill Valley where we noticed something new: clamping down on electricity use of patrons (computer and cellphone recharging), with a lock-box on electricity outlets. We have been interested in how much accessible wattage is provided to consumers in the public sphere and are willing to say off the cuff that accessible electricity for the upper-middle income earners is socialized energy (airports, coffee shops, museums), while for workers, energy use is privatized by commutes and residential usage.

My father, electrical engineer Peter Mason, designing lighting for transportation systems when working for Bechtel in the 1960s/70s explained his unconscious assumptions about how much candlepower (unit of light produced by pure spermaceti candle) to build-in for travelers of public systems. He was annoyed with the Metro system in Washington, D.C., for example, when they decided on reflected lighting –the stations are so dark you can hardly read. This was the basis of decisions he had made on lighting — the candlepower enough to read morning newspapers or novels. His travelers are a literate audience (versus, well-lit public areas are less dangerous). What then, about the rest of us, using Iphones no longer needing extra energy?

We were in Moscow over summer and I could not help but take notice of the lighting systems in their subways, perhaps with designs of a comparative study on candlepowers available to users of different public systems.

11/11: Heading down to Santa Cruz on the 15th to ask a few questions of anthropologist James Clifford. Re-starting the book and thinking it would be a good time to check in with Jim, since he has written oodles…

Read Full Post »