METHOD Issue Three, Spring 2011
Creative Director Robert Alvarez, Managing Editor Ally Cuervo, Assistant Creative Director Christian Bachrach, Deigners Alexandra Alvarez, Asher Lipsett, and Leo Mardh, Contribitors Charlie Alderman, Eliza Fisher, Dema Paxton Fofang, Chachi Hauser, Emily Ibarra, Jason Katzenstein, Benjamin Petrie LaFirst, Alyssa Lanz, Laura Lupton, Issy Magowan, Yelena Niazyan, Harrison Schaaf, Emily Schubert, and Lida Wu.
Dear Reader, Welcome to the third issue of Method Magazine. In our first issue (two whole years ago), we asked the question “Who are we?” In our second, we focused on the space we occupy by asking, “Where are we?” And now, we submit for your consideration, our next question: “What are we?” If the cover doesn’t explain itself, this question manifests in the theme of “meat.” We are flesh and bone, but how does our corporality determine our existence? Our interactions? We are physical beings; we are sexual beings. To whet your appetite: “Of Test Tubes and Tutus,” an article by Yelena Niazyan, explores the body in the classroom and the new popularity of incorporating dance in non-dance classrooms. In “Show and Tell,” Ally Cuervo considers tattoo culture and what it means to those who mark their bodies. We curate artwork by Elizabeth Sonenberg, painter Vivian Ho, and Jason Peters, an inmate at Cheshire Correctional Institution and student of the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education. Photographer Laura Lupton and makeup artist Emily Schubert experiment with removing flesh from its corporal context in a photo shoot (naturally) titled “Flesh,” and Dema Paxton Fofang interviews BDSM anthropologist Margot Weiss. We hope you enjoy our primal cuts and keep coming back for more. Sincerely, The Method Editors
2 METHOD MAGAZINE
Where’s the Beef? p. 4: Slaughterhouse IV by Chachi Hauser p. 16: Of Test Tubes and Tutus by Yelena Niazyan p. 22: The Wesleyan Meat Market by Benjamin Petrie LaFirst p. 28: Show and Tell by Ally Cuervo p. 46: Riot Grrrl: An Interview with Kathleen Hanna by Emily Ibarra p. 52: Flesh: A Photoshoot by Laura Lupton and Emily Schubert p. 58: The New White Meat: Whale. It’s What’s for Dinner. by Lida Wu p. 62: The Curated Projects
a. Elizabeth Sonenberg
b. Vivian Ho
c. Jason Peters
p. 86: Bondage and Barbecues by Dema Paxton Fofang p. 94: Mobile Technology by Eliza Fisher p. 97: “Jackie.” A short story by Charlie Alderman p. 101: Lamb to the Slaughter: Illustrations by Jason Katzenstein
3 METHOD MAGAZINE
4 METHOD MAGAZINE
SLAUGHTERHOUSE IV SO LYK CHACHI WALKED AROUND ‘The City’ AND TOOK AMAZING PICTOS WITH HER VINTAGE NIKON TO DEPICT THE WAY MEAT IS TREATED. KEWL, AMIRIGHT?
A project by Charlotte Hauser
5 METHOD MAGAZINE
6 METHOD MAGAZINE
7 METHOD MAGAZINE
8 METHOD MAGAZINE
I. livestock for slaughter purposes only
Cigar smoke and kicked-up dirt hang in the air, I choke on it but attempt to stifle my cough. I am one of three females in the crowded room and my presence is certainly noticed. An older man rapidly calls out numbers over a feeble microphone. Men with baseballs caps and cowboy hats sit in worn foldout movie seats elevated on bleachers. When they stare at me I feel as if I am more of a spectacle than the animals. One by one the bars are raised with a clank and a heifer is goaded out into the small dirtfloored square below us. One man laughs as he prods the creature with a cane so that it spins, allowing the audience a thorough view. A large sign over the pen reads “Price Per Pound.” I take refuge from the thick air in the adjacent cafeteria. It is a small diner with a long counter and florescent lighting; today there is a corn beef special. The two older women behind the counter are familiar with the few clientele. They make small talk about the weather and the moistness of the corn beef. As I walk to my car I can hear a cow groan, a chicken yelp. I pass the trucks and the stables and the “Calf Unloading” signs. I am ashamed of my prospective dinner plans but I know when I get back to the city I will be just in time to meet a friend at Shake Shack.
9 METHOD MAGAZINE
II. Rafiqi’s fresh, fast, & tasty
In a vertical city of concrete and chaos two uniformed men stand all day in a confined smoky space, perspiring yet friendly. One man continuously tosses a pile of shredded chicken upon an expansive and well-used grill, grease jumping up to meet his shirt sleeve. The other tends to a thick slab of grayish lamb, slicing long strips, placing them in each gyro. The two men oversee a mobile kitchen located on 23rd and Park in the Flatiron district, a neighborhood bustling with business people by day and inhabited by no more than urban tumbleweeds, abandoned trash tossed in the wind, by night. It is part of a chain called Rafiqi’s—a gallant smiley face sits within the Q of the logo—that employs several of these carts catering to the workingman during his lunch hour. The food isn’t exactly visually appealing, yet the wonderful scent that pours out the cart is enough to overcome the presentation. I stand in line among the suited New Yorkers; the man beyond the window takes my five in his plastic-gloved hand and prepares for me a generous helping of delicious street meat.
10 METHOD MAGAZINE
11 METHOD MAGAZINE
12 METHOD MAGAZINE
III. one-stop kosher shopping
A woman with white hair tied loosely in a bun wheels a squeaky shopping cart through the dairy isle. It is a quiet morning in a supermarket with no music, not even Lite FM softly humming over the speakers. An older man with a youthful demeanor steps out from a back room full of boxes to greet me. He is animated and forthcoming; I don’t say much but he doesn’t seem to notice. He tells me he has been a butcher for forty years, beginning at age thirteen making bicycle deliveries. I imagine him peddling through picturesque suburbia, newsboy cap perched on his head, delivering to faithful customers. I don’t know why I glorify it so much, maybe it’s something nostalgic in his tone of voice. He tells me how slowly he learned the trade, his superiors teaching him the basics—“the trimmings,” separating red from white—later graduating him to more complicated techniques. He explains that most of the meat comes pre-wrapped now, vacuum-sealed and ready for sale. I detect a sadness in his voice when he says this but perhaps this is just me; something about slicing through a hefty slab of fresh meat is just more romantic.
13 METHOD MAGAZINE
IV. roast duck one whole unchopped $11.00
“South Shore Ducklings” reads the label on each cardboard box. There is a stack twenty-some high and I don’t begin imagining what the contents might look like. Beside the boxes are piled many bags of rice; the walls are completely barren with the exception of one handwritten sign presenting price listings in both Chinese and English. In the window there is a gruesome yet somehow delicious display of ducks hanging from hooks, their long necks twisted and helpless, their skin crisp and gleaming. In addition hang several chickens; their heads thrust wildly back and arms thrown to the sides as if frozen in the moment of their dramatic end. A woman enters the shop and exchanges pleasantries I can’t understand with the man behind the counter. He has a stern tone yet he smiles as he dismounts a duck from its hook, wraps it in brown paper, and hands it to the customer. I gaze through the large glass windows, past the lifeless ducks, out at the heavily populated street. Next-door is a seafood market where a sly cat, flirting with cliché, stands guard beside a bin a freshly dead fish. This is my city but it doesn’t matter; in Chinatown I am the foreigner.
14 METHOD MAGAZINE
15 METHOD MAGAZINE
OF TEST TUBES AND TUTUS PROBING THE INTERSECTION OF DANCE AND ACADEMIA
Written by Yelena Niazyn
The lights dim, against a blue screen background, four dancers slowly circle one another, spiraling inward until all but one are loosely held in mutual embrace. The triad sinks, and then, the single dancer walks, in measured steps, away. Keeping this deliberate gait, the departing dancer wraps around first one seated figure and then another, who rise and follow her. The new three-some fold at hip-hinges, touch at tangential points, begin the first breath of an undulation.
Body Languages is part of a rising trend on this campus, where in dance and more traditionally-considered academic coursework comingle. In addition to biology through dance, last year’s students could take Delicious Movements for Forgetting, Remembering, and Uncovering, a course that explored post-war Japanese experience through dance. In 2009, there was Japan and the Atomic Bomb, as well as Tropical Ecology and the Environment. Dance also meets with the rest of academia outside of the bounds of these aforementioned interdisciplinary classes. This semester, the Human Skeleton, a 300-level anthropology course, brought in a dance professor to conduct an “embodiment session.” Likewise, dance professors invite nondance faculty members to lecture for single-day modules.
What I’ve just described both is and isn’t mitosis— the process by which chromosomes in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell separate into two identical sets contained in two separate nuclei. It is in so far as it is a representation, but it is not in so far as it is a representation—both because a representation of something is not the thing itself, and because The Mitosis Dance is not aiming to simply mimic the biological process. The dancers are Wesleyan students participating in Body Languages: Choreographing Biology—a course co-taught by Katja Kolcio, an associate professor of Dance, and Manju Hingorani, an associate professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Taught in the spring of 2010, Body Languages required students to “develop their ability to interpret, investigate and communicate the subject of biology through physical movement study and choreographic composition.” Like in any other introductory biology course, there was a textbook, Cell Biology and Genetics Biology: The Unity and Diversity of Life, lectures, and exams. But there were also movement studies, physical exercises, and final performances.
Interdisciplinary coursework isn’t exactly a rarity on Wesleyan’s campus. The College of Letters and College of Social Studies were born back in 1959. By the 1970s the University was home to the Center for the Humani-
16 METHOD MAGAZINE
Of Test Tubes and Tutus
Photography by Issy Magowan
17 METHOD MAGAZINE
Of Test Tubes and Tutus
Corethrellidae. A beautiful name for a family of parasitic organisms. Midges—the adorable diminutive given to these dyadic winged flies—feed on the blood of frogs. The relationship between the two, Anura (the tail-less) and Diptera (the two-wings), is one of a delicate balance which could be upset by a mecurial environmental reality. In the spring of 2010, in the rainforests of Guyana, Wesleyan tropical ecology students hung fragile, white traps amidst the branches of equatorial trees. Each trap contained a speaker emitting the forlorn croaking of a Guyanese frog at a particular amplitude. In the evenings, the students would collect the traps to determine at which of these amplitudes the midges were most likely to find their male, amphibian mates. And, sometimes, during the day, these students would embody the Anura-Diptera exploitive relationship through movement.
ties and African American Studies program—making us one of the first high learning institutions to wholeheartedly embrace interdisciplinary learning. Entire departments—American Studies, Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Russian and Eastern European Studies—require majors to take courses across the disciplinary board. Some departments, the College of Letters immediately comes to mind, essentially specialize in the crosslisted course; last year’s Diasporas, Transnationalism, and Globalization, taught by Khachig Tölöyan (one of the pioneers of the ever-interdisciplinary, nascent academic field of Diaspora Studies) sat under the jousting umbrellas of American Studies, Sociology, English and COL. History professors include fiction literature on their syllabi; government professors assign economic theory. And some subjects, in and of themselves, are interdisciplinary by nature: sociology courses swim through social theory and psychology in the same lecture; environmental studies melds chemistry and biology and politics.
The class, a 300-level biology course, was helmed by Barry Chernoff, a professor and director of the new College of Environment. But co-teaching the class were artists from the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange. The company was founded in 1976 with the aim of using dance to “address topics of cultural, social, and historical importance.” In 2003, Lerman was invited to work with the CFA and Wesleyan faculty to explore the social, political and ethnical consequences of genetic research. The collaboration culminated in the 2006 performance Ferocious Beauty: Genome, which premiered at Wesleyan before touring the country. Lerman’s work in the university would include dance-major only intensives and co-taught classes outside of the Dance Department.
But the idea of merging dance and physics or biology seems to stretch beyond even the elastic borders of the liberal arts. Dance is one of those select disciplinary nectars, along with film, that most Wesleyan students feel (or at least feel they’ve been told) they must sip before they graduate. Nearly every senior I know has either taken a dance class, been in or helped with a student dance production, or watched a friend perform. Some of our dance department’s basic tenets drift through our collective college consciousness, leaving half-understood vocabulary behind—the untrained body, site specific performance, nonrepresentational movement. We’ve watched Wesleyan dancers cover themselves in blue tape and Christmas lighting, arc suitcases in the thick darkness of a late spring night, pass out eggs in giant bunny ears as dusk settles over the silent CFA. But for many, none of these performances are quite as incomprehensible as the Feet to the Fire program, a multidisciplinary examination of critical environmental issues held throughout the 2007-2008 academic year. Where does science meet movement? And why, exactly, might that intersection be worth our time?
Before Lerman’s initial project at the University, the dancer was scheduled to meet with several science professors. While Laura Grabel, the then Dean of Science, was herself a dancer and saw the exchange as a way to merge her two, previously divided worlds, not everyone in the department was quite so taken by the idea. Michael Weir and Laurel Appel, both biology professors with no dance training of any kind, were scheduled to meet with Lerman for forty-five minutes. Appel remembers dreading the meeting; she
18 METHOD MAGAZINE
Of Test Tubes and Tutus
because they could not see, hear, or feel one another. Lerman goes on to point out the apparent absurdity of entering a situation where you can’t properly see, hear or feel your peers and calling it education. Kolcio, who studied Political Science in graduate school before entering Ohio State’s Somatic Theory in Cultural Studies program, believes that embodiment studies, these interdisciplinary dance courses, best attract students who feel as if something has been missing from their academic experience. Specifically, the corporeal form we inhabit daily. Hingorani, according to Kolcio, faced a difficulty similar to Appel’s. The former was troubled by the lack of creative thinking in her lower level biology classes. Going back to Appel’s vocabulary: the “context” was too drily academic; it lacked real imagination.
couldn’t imagine how they could possibly carry on a conversation for forty-five minutes. But then they did. Appel found Lerman’s enthusiasm catching. More importantly, she relished the sorts of questions Lerman asked. Questions like “Tell me what the world should know about what you’re doing and why,” made Appel think about what she was doing differently. Lerman’s questions did what Appel was always trying to do in her classrooms, that is: change the context of student thinking. Soon after that initial meeting, Lerman offered to work with Appel’s students. By mid-decade, Appel began to present a new topic in embodied learning to all sorts of her classes—from the introductory to the advanced level. Though Lerman and her company dancers initially taught the modules alongside Appel, the latter was eventually able to presents most of the dance material on her own.
Introducing dance into the equation prompts students to, in Appel’s view, begin asking better, more creative, questions. What exactly happens when a bond breaks? Does one side of the cell wall let go first? Is there a break or a disintegration? Is the process catalyzed from within or from something outside of the cell walls? Kalcio believes this mode of inquiry helps students realize that when we describe a scientific process like mitosis we inherently privilege some aspects over others in the course of the description. While making choices in the arts is most often an explicit process, the “difference in science is that we assume our choices to be true”; and in so doing stop thinking and imagining and simply recite by rote. It’s such rote learning—the privileging of supposed “scientific truth” over creative, scientific inquiry—that embodied learning aims to get away from.
A typical dance module might include an attempt to model the structure of DNA. Lerman and Appel begin with questions like “what do you think of when you think of bonds?” Appel likes these sorts of questions because she believes that by envisioning these biological structures students form more personal connections with the scientific material. Lerman’s kind of questions help the students “remember what they already know, and connect it to their pre-existing association with the material.” The students use their bodies to make material basic DNA structure. As the module continues, Appel adds additional constraints to the structure, heightening the level of representational complexity, so that by the end a “more robust model of an actual molecule” appears in human form.
The trouble is that I and, I’d venture to say, the majority of students at Wesleyan have done some pretty solid learning in stadium-seating style lecture halls. True—the best courses I’ve taken here at Wesleyan were small seminars. And then there were classes where discussion was hampered by the sheer distance between speakers—constant interruptions asking someone to speak up aren’t exactly conducive to fluid dialogue.
Liz Lerman tells a story about giving a lecture at the University of Maryland. She asks how many of the students have ever been in a band (the course is on music as a form of social protest) and then if those students thought that the set up of the classroom—a typical stadium-seating lecture hall—would be conducive to practicing music. The answers come in a troika: no,
19 METHOD MAGAZINE
Of Test Tubes and Tutus
20 METHOD MAGAZINE
Of Test Tubes and Tutus
of a regular lecture class. Neither was it something he thought he could easily bring to his other academic work. Essentially, though he believed the tools in this class to be extremely useful when applied—particularly in breaking his old patterns—he found it difficult to get himself to apply them outside of class. Jeremy Isard, one of the students on the Guyana trip, spent most of the time in the inter-disciplinary tropical ecology class largely disengaged from the embodiment work. It was only after the midge/frog exploitive relationship embodiment dance that something clicked. That is, it required a whole-scale immersion of a type not typically possible in a regular college-semester setting.
Which is to say that Lerman had a point when she asserted that the lecture hall isn’t the optimal medium for learning. But I’m not convinced merging dance with science courses, and expecting students to pick both dance and biology or physics up in equal amounts is feasible or somehow a more complete way of learning the material. Though the philosophy behind embodied learning is clearly enticing, the practice is far from perfect. Each of the professors I spoke with, as well as Lerman herself, claimed that their biggest problem with these interdisciplinary courses has been constraints imposed by time. Covering all the material, or even near all of the material expected in an introductory biology class, while simultaneously introducing non-dancers to dance is no small feat; but doing it an bi-weekly hour and a half sessions, I would argue, is bound to leave holes somewhere. Lerman attests that the reason many artists don’t do this kind of work is the old fear: “pretend to be a tree.” The two biggest things keeping students back from embracing the process, argues Lerman, is, first, that it reminds them of their childhood—they feel too “silly” to really get into the process. As Lerman writes in her new book, Hiking the Horizontal (Wesleyan University Press), “One of the challenges of participatory art-making is that you frequently have to teach people the skills they need to make the dance while they are doing the dance”—without those skills, learners feel as if they’ve regressed to childhood. Second, they might think that the embodied learning lacks depth. And certainly depth is something hard to harvest when classes are only forty-five minutes long.
This is not to say that continuing to explore this kind of cross-departmental work is not a worthwhile venture. Perhaps though, dance, when combined with the sciences or other academics, is more supplemental than essential—particularly when the depth necessary to make it something more than just representational mimicking requires more time than a usual college course allows.
The world of academia is most often ruled by a— in the simplest sense—Cartesian logic: I think therefore I am. The corporeal is something we seldom consider. Supplementing our work with dance might, if nothing else, remind us that the bodily is just as vital as the cerebral. As the discipline’s cerebral-nature is inherently creative in practice, it may inspire a fruitive creativity when practiced in conjunction with other cerebral activities.*
Scott Shoemaker, a sophomore who’s wrapping up Lerman’s Ways of Knowing seminar, found the course’s methodology most engaging during the three-day, presemester intensive. Each day would begin with a guest lecturer explaining the most difficult of cosmogony-related topics and continue with some six hours of dancing. For Scott, the class had less legitimacy when it met for short bursts during the week. Embodied learning, for him at least, demanded a mind-set that wasn’t as easy to slip in and out of as it was to slip in and out
21 METHOD MAGAZINE
Written by Benjamin Petrie LaFirst
THE WESLEYAN MEAT MARKET. OPEN MONDAY THROUGH SUNDAY, TWENTY-FOUR HOURS A DAY THOUGH EVERY HOUR SEEMS TO BE LIMITED SERVICE. WHETHER YOU’RE A THIGH MAN OR A BREAST KINDA GAL, INTO SAUSAGE OR FISH, OR JUST LOOKING FOR A FRESH, FIRM RUMP TO ROAST, YOU’RE SURE TO FIND IT HERE, IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT AND THE SELLER’S WILLING. PERHAPS YOU’RE EVEN ONE OF OUR MANY VEGETARIANS, PREFERRING TO CURL UP ON FRIDAY NIGHTS WITH A BOWL OF YOGURT & GRANOLA TO WATCH BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. IF SO, PERHAPS CONSIDER YOURSELF LUCKY, BECAUSE IT’S HARD TO SHOP AROUND ON THE WESLEYAN MEAT MARKET WITHOUT GETTING A LITTLE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS.
22 METHOD MAGAZINE
The Wesleyan Meat Market
23 METHOD MAGAZINE
The Wesleyan Meat Market
So I cringe a little bit when I hear of a couple living together or planning to make a GRS group. You may love each other from scalp to sole, but in 6 months you might find yourself truly appreciating having your own space to sleep in. In any case, a little distance helps keep a fresh perspective; absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Butcher shop puns aside, exploring romantic and sexual possibilities on a small liberal arts campus, even one as progressive and accepting as Wesleyan, can be an emotional and social challenge. Whether you snuck out of Johnny’s dorm after a night of less-than-conscious decisions or Jane just dumped you after two years of highheat, heart-melding romance, chances are overwhelmingly positive that you’re going to run into hir again, especially at a school of 2,700 souls and 2 square miles.
“Hearing of a couple living together” brings me to the second of the four D’s: Discretion. Discretion in relations, sexual or romantic, might qualify more as an issue of taste than practicality. But on campuses this small, one person’s walk of shame quickly becomes another’s talk of shame. People love to gossip and get up in other people’s business; for proof, look no further than the ACB. You may have had your eyes closed during that hot and heavy, vodka-fueled make-out at Eclectic, but the people around you probably didn’t.
So unless you want to spend your (or their) remaining years here guiltily ducking your head in Usdan or hurrying through Olin to hide your shame in a nice dark stack, you’re going to have to face up to jilted hook-ups and relationships gone rotten. Thankfully, four years of painfully butchering my way through the Wesleyan hook-up scene and watching others do the same has left me with no small bit of impartible wisdom on the subject.
Strikingly, I’ve met multiple gays here who prefer to remain on the down-low. Here… at Wesleyan. The school whose reputation for embracing all strains of cultural, sexual and political queerness seems to be the sticking point of every college review. And the reasons they all cited? The desire not to be talked about, particularly by a gay male community perceived as collective of “bitchy gossips.”
Illicit and romantic escapades are of course always indeterminate and dynamic in character, varying from person to person, but I’ve pinned down four essential “D”s at the heart of successful relations(hips) in a small social scene. Hence I’ve formulated a credit-worthy crash course in small school sexual etiquette with a lengthy title fit for Wesmaps: The Four D’s: Getting Down With Desire Without Being Dependent or a Douche.
Truth values of the sentiment aside, they bring up an important point. As one friend so eloquently put it, in small communities like Wes “you can’t whip your dick out without stepping in your own shit.” So having some discretion about relationships and hook-ups can restore some important feelings of autonomy and privacy. And of course, secrets can always be surprisingly seductive…
The first D: Distance. Sometimes Wesleyan can feel suffocating - limiting yourself to a universe of two (or three, depending on what you’re into) doesn’t help. We’re all familiar with those campus couples; the ones whose hands seem to have suffered some horrible Gorilla Glue mishap, rendering them totally incapable of independent public appearance. Spending too much time with the same person and group of mutual friends can potentially preclude you from individual development or a broader network of fruitful relationships. Especially at our age, affections change and people get sick of each other. Tight-leash relationships can accelerate the process.
The third “D” is the one I’ve chronically lacked during my time at Wesleyan: Direction. You’re not going to make good choices, at Wes or in life, if you’re not certain what you’re looking for. I arrived here with relatively little experience in dating or hooking-up, entirely un-used to being the object of another’s desire and completely uncertain what
24 METHOD MAGAZINE
The Wesleyan Meat Market
25 METHOD MAGAZINE
The Wesleyan Meat Market
26 METHOD MAGAZINE
The Wesleyan Meat Market
I personally wanted out of a relationship. This uncertainty caused more trouble for me here than anything else and even lost me a couple of wonderful friends. It’s totally irrelevant what you want–sex, love, boys, girls, friendship, money or simply to be left alone- but immeasurably important to know that you want it. Otherwise, others can so easily impose their own desires and expectations upon you. Without your own ground to stand upon and a clear set of personal objectives, it’s all too easy to fall into submission. The only thing more important than direction and expectations is the ability to effectively discuss them with others: our fourth and final “D”. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in four years of shopping around the Wesleyan meat market, it’s the importance of communication. Effectively communicating desires, pleasures and expectations forms the foundation of any solid relationship, be it amorous or sexual. Alternately, nothing will make you more enemies on campus than deceit, omission and misunderstandings. Even if what you have to say hurts or embarrasses (“I think I’m gay”; “I don’t love you anymore”; “I can only come when I’m thinking about your roommate”), people would rather be slapped in the face than stabbed in the back. So buck up some courage and say it out loud, because no one ever stays pissed at someone for being honest. Ultimately, success in the whirlpool of small campus hook-ups stems from living exactly as a Wesleyan education encourages you to: critically, conscientiously and carefully. Whether that means embracing the sexual liberty and empowered individualism of slut-hood, holding out ‘til you find that dreams-made-flesh partner, or denying the complex frivolity of crass and carnal pleasure altogether, everyone stands to benefit from more careful shopping on the Meat Market. And remember: any butcher worth his salt always wraps his meat up tight. Use a condom! *
27 METHOD MAGAZINE
SHOW AND TELL ALLY CUERVO RECOUNTS A MIDDLE SCHOOL EXPERIENCE IN SUCH A WAY AS TO MAKE FUN OF HERSELF AND HOPEFULLY SHED LIGHT UPON HER CAPTIVATION WITH TATTOOS.
Written by Ally Cuervo
deep on her pelvis, hiding from conservative Muslim parents), and then Maxime’s large upper-thigh encircling tribal thing, followed by Georgia’s I-can’t-evenremember-what, and so on and etc. I felt like an extra on some kind of weird version of The Wave, with new indoctrinees marching over to our cafeteria table everyday, freshly branded, the usual story being “FriendThat-Already-Has-A-Tattoo came with me to get it!” No two peoples’ were the same, but there was something uniform about them nonetheless. Though much ink was spilt (mostly in places where parents wouldn’t find out), by the summer, the Kewl Tattoo Kraze of ‘04-‘05 was pretty much ‘totally over’. Domina (Patient Zero) may have been the worst case, with a weird Gothic “D” on her other hipbone and a Chinese character that apparently (ironically) meant “control” on her shoulder-blade. Flash forward to another afternoon, towards the end of the ninth grade. Domina and I are hanging out after school, being BFFs and all. I don’t particularly remember her acknowledging any regret over Mariah, Namesake, or Control but she must have said or implied something that made me come to her rescue with the statement “they’ll be a testament to your youth.” Domina and I both were pretty happy with this line; I remember her trying to pawn it off as her own at a party a few weeks later. The memory of that year, the year when a bunch of 14 and 15 year old kids I knew got tattoos, will be with me forever, in a way I would venture to call quasi-traumatic. I am almost positive this project was not inspired by some kind of survivors-guilt, or desire for closure, or a personal need to ‘redeem’ The Tattoo. Probably not.
I guess I ran with a ‘fast crowd’ in middle school. We drank beers, smoked cigarettes, fucked around with Kurt Cobain’s death certificate on MSpaint until it said our name on it instead of his and (while I was busy spraying myself with Lysol so my parents wouldn’t smell smoke on me) some of my friends got tattoos. I remember joining my neighbor and BFF, Domina, by the back of my house one dusky afternoon in the eighth grade. She had told me (probably over AIM) that she’d gone to the mall near our neighborhood to get it done, did I want to see it? I did. I sat down on the street-side of my gate and watched her approach, giving her a cigarette when she reached me—an implicit exchange for the opportunity to be the first to see. I remember her lightly tugging down on the belt-loop of her jean miniskirt to reveal, in the hazy light of the setting sun, a butterfly. With the soft pink-andpurple hues in the background, and the denim and Domina’s bronzed skin in the foreground, the whole thing smacked to me of Mariah Carey—a figure who did not quite fit with the pop-punk zeitgeist of my tweenage years. I’m pretty sure I raised an eyebrow at Domina, who did not notice (busy trying to strike a balance between giggly excitement and a weird ‘casual’/‘deep’/‘adult’ attitude: “it hurt like a motherfucker!” … “It doesn’t like mean anything.” … “I mean I guess it represents freedom.”). Fads and epidemics have a lot in common. For instance, as a general rule, they both have a propensity to be intense and short-lived. On the heels of Domina’s butterfly came Zarmina’s egyptian eye (low and
28 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
“Ultra Kickass X-Treem Grafitti Party Fuck You Mom And Dad” by Austen Fiora
I received something around eight responses to my wesleying.org post. Very few people emailed me back solely expressing their interest in being included in whatever my poorly worded request to speak with them and take their picture implied. Most, actually, told me quite a bit about their tattoos in the body of their emails, which made me excited to meet them and also prompted me to send an email to methodmagazine@ gmail.com saying that this project was going to be ‘super awesome’ and I was ‘totally down’. When I think about how I cannot look back on anything I wrote or said or did over three months ago without cringing, it becomes all the more confusing as to how anyone can commit to something as permanent as a tattoo. I emailed all the tattooed people back saying that I had found a photographer that would take their pictures, and would they like to meet me and the photographer before we did the actual picture-taking and talking about tattoos. If they would like to meet us, we
In the fetal stage of this project I had negative interest in anything that resembled a butterfly on a pelvic bone or non-descript Chinese calligraphy that phonetically sounded out “Sarah” (though the owner thinks it means ‘control’). That said, I also realized the futility, and also the inherent subjectivity and consequently the stupidity of trying to track down The Best Tattoos on Campus. Rather blindly, I decided to post an ad on the info-zone that is wesleying.org. It read something like: DO YOU HAVE A TATTOO I WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT AND ALSO TAKE A PHOTO WONT TELL YOUR PARENTS ABT UR TATTOO PROMISE And was accompanied by a picture of Gucci Mane.
29 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
ing off as accusatory (“why did you do that?” “Do your parents know?”). Feeling defeated, I decided I’d just let them talk, and began most of the interviews by pointing at their tattoo and saying “so that’s cool…” and kind of hoping they would take it from there. They did. *
would be at a particular place at a particular hour on the coming Wednesday and they should come. Most of them came. I said hello to them one by one. The photographer also said hello. I tried not to say much until I felt that everyone that was going to come had arrived, because I did not want to have to repeat myself. I thanked them for coming, and also shared what I think came off as an insincere appreciation for tattoos. I realized at this point that I felt somewhat insecure about the fact that I was the only person in the room without a tattoo. I then made a stupid comment about how I might just have to go to a tattoo parlor and get some tiny dot put on my skin in the name of ‘field research.’ This statement was met with a resounding assurance that this was probably not a good idea as most parlors charge a minimum of $60 a session. The photographer suggested that we take a look at the different tattoos, to get an idea of the photos that needed to be taken. There was an awkward moment when maybe a lot of clothes were coming off and was everybody okay with this but it was fine; everybody was. For some showing meant a simple rolling up of their sleeve, for others it meant taking off a shirt, pants, or a bra. As they were showing, everyone also told, reciting small blurbs that were maybe slightly amended to fit their audience, fellow tattooed people. There was laughter and ‘knowing’ comments and a lot of earnest appreciation for the work adorning everyone’s bodies. We saw a compass an astronaut a great white shark a very small turtle two treble clefs behind two separate ears belonging to two separate persons lots of cursive the chemical make-up of dopamine and the coastline of Oregon. Once everyone had taken clothes off and put clothes back on, I reiterated my excitement over the coming Saturday and everyone filed out of the room. I told the photographer I was excited and they said that they were also excited and then we left and the room was empty save for a book I forgot there that I went and picked up the next day. Over the next week, I tried to think of questions to ask them, but all my ideas kept com-
30 METHOD MAGAZINE
THE VISUALS Photographed by Harrison Schaaf With commentary from the subjects
31 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
32 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Allee Beatty ‘13 For me, tattoos are a reminder of my past but also a projection of where I want to be. Growing up I remember scraping my knees and getting scars and things like that; to me tattoos are more pictorial representations of what’s happening with me, my mindset or my philosophy about certain things in life. I feel like I carry them with me as parts of my past. I have Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam for a lot of reasons. I found myself meeting a lot of people that led me to do important things in my life, for example my ex-girlfriend, with whom I came out with- I don’t think I could have done it without her… I felt that in looking at the Creation of Adam I’d been touched by some divine force, changing the path of my life... As corny as it sounds I felt like I’d been touched in a special way, like my life sort of opened up before me and I saw this moment just in the perfectly simple gesture of the hands meeting.
33 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Mike Levine ‘11 It’s the chemical structure of Dopamine, which has been found to be a sort of common denominator in a lot of diseases of control like Schizophrenia, drug addiction, Tourettes, Parkinson’s, and Attention Deficit Disorder. Its an interesting symbol of self-control because these people don’t have the ability to choose, for instance if someone has Parkinson’s they can’t just say “I’m going to move,” someone who’s schizophrenic can’t just say “I’m not going to think about this anymore,” and someone with ADD can’at just sit down and say “I’m going to do this.” I think while you do have control it’s important to respect it and exercise it; for me this tattoo is a nice reminder of that. I work in a lab that does drug design with the dopamine transporter; I’m interested in drug addiction and how drugs like cocaine and amphetamines work. We design drugs that are supposed to block cocaine from working, and hopefully will be used as a potential aid to addicts.
34 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
35 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
36 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Claire Stolowitz ’11 I have three: a treble clef behind my ear, an arrow on my arm and the Oregon coastline on my back. The arrow on the crook of my arm is my medical humor tattoo, and I guess at the same time also my most serious or meaningful tattoo. I have an autoimmune disease, my body is sort of confused, and what this disease does when you’re sick is your colon becomes lined with ulcers, which is kind of a suck-fest, the reason being that your immune system thinks your colon is a foreign object and tries to attack it. I know, it’s actually retarded, just phenomenal… I’m in remission right now and I’m really well medicated so its fine, but when you’re sick its like terrible. Anyway, for a long time I had to get blood tests every two weeks, though now I’m on a system where I get an infusion. So every eight weeks I get an IV full of medication infused into me, which is fine, but you can only get stuck in the arm so many times before you realize you kind of have to have a sense of humor about it and so, yeah, that’s kind of what the arrow refers to. It makes nurses laugh and doctors find it kind of snarky and for me it’s about having a sense of humor about illness. It was sort of like telling myself “it takes up this much space, and that’s it. Also sometimes people assume I’m a heroin addict.
37 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
James Lawrence ’12
I was visiting a friend in Brooklyn, got drunk wandering around The Village. Went looking for gay bars, didn’t find any, but we did stumble upon a very attractive tattoo artist who lured us into her shop at around two am. Clyde Frogthat’s Cartman from South Park’s stuffed animal- seemed like a good idea at the time, still does. Took about two hours total, and afterwards we left and wandered home, was magical, really.
38 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
39 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
40 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Alex Bernson ’11 At Wesleyan, I’m the manager of Espwesso. When I came to Wesleyan as a Junior I had no idea that I’d be able to do anything particularly coffee related here. I met Micah Fiering my first semester, and he had been working on this proposal for a student-run cafe for awhile already and had gotten initial funding but didn’t know a thing about coffee, so he brought me on to actually make it a reality. We worked on it junior year and over the summer, hired and trained the beginning of this year, and Espwesso opened its doors in October. The word is marqaha – medieval Arabic for the feeling of ecstasy you get when drinking coffee. The first people to really spread the drinking off coffee were the Sufis in the Ottoman Empire, like the whirling dervishes, and they would drink coffee to stay awake at night and perform religious ceremonies, so its literally the religious ecstasy you get when drinking coffee. When I was first getting into coffee I was reading a book and found that story in it, and it just like blew my mind that there was a word for that and have been kind of obsessed with it ever since. [on the wrist] I got it there so it’d be visible for me. I don’t care that much about it being visible to anyone else, but I got it there so that I would see it all the time. And its also cool because when I’m making coffee I do everything with this hand; when I’m pouring a latte or I’m tamping a shot its always right there.
41 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
42 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Charlotte Hauser ’13 It was pretty impulsive. I guess it stemmed from my long-standing desire to get a tattoo as well as my belief that whatever the tattoo was it needed to have some kind of “fuck you” significance. I had recently turned seventeen and was in the midst of looking at colleges and SAT tutoring. At the time all of this pissed me off more than I can totally explain now; it was a period when I hated high school but I also loved hating it. So all the SAT bullshit got me really riled up, got me to thinking that we are all just numbers, pre-packaged and set on a conveyor belt, ready to be marketed and sold off and live some shitty predestined existence, and one night I had a few too many glasses of bad wine at an Indian place that never carded us and I decided it was my night to finally get a tattoo. And so we marched, some eight of us, to a tattoo parlor on St. Mark’s that doubled as a cheap sunglasses and bong shop. They didn’t card me, didn’t make me sign a single form, and soon I was in the back room with my friends—apparently not very good friends because no one tried to stop me—hunched over the back of a chair, needle placed on my back. The tattoo artist made the lines too close and quite a bit shaky. He asked me what numbers I wanted and I said the first to come to mind: my birthday and my area code. For some reason it no longer matters to me how poorly it was done or how stupid my reasoning was, I really love it.
43 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
Naya Samuel ’13
The total was $130 with tip, which was a great because it’s big and I went to a really nice place in the city and the guy that did it was really sweet. It was awesome. Like he consulted me, he sketched it out, he even designed it sort of, which usually costs a lot more money. He was really cool about it. I had a few sketches of what I knew I wanted, like a compass rose or like an old-ship-y [laughs] compass, so I just brought him a couple of pictures and he worked off those and sketched it. For the first week I was like “this is ugly;” I’d look in the mirror and just think, “What is this thing?” That feeling went away, thank god, and I’m in love with it now. Sometimes I’m still surprised by it, especially since I don’t actually see it that much because is on my back. Sometimes I walk past a mirror and am like “Oh God.”
44 METHOD MAGAZINE
Show and Tell
45 METHOD MAGAZINE
“This place looks like the office we used to make our zines in,” laughed Kathleen Hanna, poking fun at the horribly outdated ‘70s style loft that she and her friend Sini were set to stay in on Pearl Street for the night. “All that’s missing is the giant Xerox machine.” In today’s day and age, the internet seems to function as our primary mode of communication with the rest of the world; Hanna’s work in music, art, feminism, and activism in the 90’s is the product of a completely separate cultural generation. Incredible cultural revolutions have occurred since Hanna’s earliest days in Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement she helped pioneer. The catalyst for these influential movements sat in front of us in jeans and a red-and-white-striped blazer, ready to be interviewed, snacking gingerly on carrots and making jokes about a fixture in the closet that looked like a catheter. As a female with ambitions to pursue music professionally, I had a lot of personal investment in speaking to one of the most powerful voices in punk music and the feminist community. Admittedly, the prospect of sitting down with her was a bit unnerving at first. Thankfully, all apprehension was immediately placated as Hanna imparted her passion for speaking to people of our generation. “I’m interested because I was a student too,” she told us, “and now I’m 40 and the ‘90s are back and people are interested in my work, and if people are interested I want to share. One of the things I want to talk about with Wesleyan students is how my work has always been completely hybrid, how I’ve always aimed to break down false dichotomies. When I was in college, we were all talking about binary oppositions and the whole idea of ‘it’s either right or wrong’ or ‘you’re either a man or a woman,’ ideas I’ve always tried to break down.” Naturally, Hanna’s work in feminist activism and fighting gender binaries remains relevant today. My conversation with her came at the perfect time as the day after the interview was the day that I started playing with my band, Long Brown
47 METHOD MAGAZINE
Hair. Obviously, with a name like that, we were immediately labeled as a “girl band,” which made me notice how annoying it is that it is such a novelty that girls would want to form a band and play music.
of to do. I made fliers that said my work was censored; I took my anger and put it into a flier, and then I hung it up all over campus and I picked a random place on campus to meet and a bunch of people showed up. A bunch of us were doing photography and none of us felt comfortable hanging our work on campus anymore. We thought, ‘ok, well if they’re not going to give us our own space, we’ll fucking make one ourselves.’”
It was this very backwards-thinking double standard that set Hanna off herself, inspiring her to spark change while she was at college. Hanna recounted a formative moment while studying photography in college, which opened her eyes to the restraints on artistic expression dictated by assumed male superiority. She had created a series of blackand-white prints all centered around sexism and body image to be displayed at her college’s student art gallery. Three days later, all her work had been taken down without her permission. “I was really pissed and no one would give me an explanation as to why my work had been taken down,” reflected Hanna, “so I just made fliers; that’s all I could think
Hanna’s ability to identify a problem in her surrounding environment and demand change is exactly the attitude that has made her so successful. “You can’t just sit around and wait for somebody else to write the song that you feel like should exist; if you need a space to show your art, put it up in your apartment and invite your friends over,” she emphasized. “Start with where you are and do what you can and people will see that you’re engaged and excited and will want
48 METHOD MAGAZINE
to be around you, they’ll want to support you. And that’s how you build a community.” It amazed me to sit across from someone who had truly embraced the idea that success comes from knowing what you want and fighting for it. Being just slightly younger than she was when she started Bikini Kill, it was important to me to hear about her first experiences in the public eye, and how she managed to develop a strong feminist voice in a male dominated art world.
names and phone numbers and started calling people. About ten or fifteen girls showed up and it was all just pretty incredible; everybody just started talking about stuff that they just never felt comfortable talking about before. Stuff about sexual abuse, stuff about questioning sexuality, maybe not all on the first meeting but like, ‘when I go to a punk show I feel like this,’ or ‘when my boyfriend’s band comes over and they act like I don’t know anything,’ and then somebody else going ‘well I want to be in a band too’ and then them arranging to meet the next day. So that was sort of what happened and we kept having these meetings, and my friends and I had been making this little zine called Riot Grrrl.”
“Well it started when my band, Bikini Kill, and my friends’ band, Bratmobile, moved to Washington D.C. for a year or two,” she recalled. “We were hanging out with this band called Nation of Ulysses and some of us were dating some of them, but we wanted to hang out with more girls. So, we went around to punk shows with a clipboard and asked girls if they would be willing to come to an allgirl meeting, just to talk about feminism. We got a bunch of
The zines, Hanna told us, were one of the more effective ways that she and her friends were able to express themselves. In fact, she mentioned that one of the greatest challenges she and other feminists during the ‘90s faced was
49 METHOD MAGAZINE
I didn’t know anybody who said that. But now, a lot of people who didn’t go to meetings will say ‘yeah I was totally a Riot Grrrl.’” Listening to Hanna, I found it hard to imagine what it must feel like to have started what began as a small movement with friends, all sharing a drive to stir shit up and cause change, and have that tagged as something that was able to reshape the future for so many people around that world.
opposition they received against all-female spaces. “That was probably one of the biggest bones people had to pick with us,” she commented, “the fact that it was separatist. And I didn’t really understand what the big deal was, because there are all kinds of spaces in society where you walk in and no one has the courtesy to write ‘all-male’ on the door, and even if you walk in and there are two women there or you’re there with your four friends, you just walked into an all-male bar, you just walked into an all-male restaurant, you just walked into an all-male meeting. It happens all the time, and so I thought we were at least being courteous in saying ‘this is an all-women’s space, we’d like to keep it that way.’”
In December, I went to an event back home in Los Angeles called A Riot Grrrl Christmas, where local bands and “Riot Grrrls” in the area meet annually, play music, and talk about the Riot Grrrl Movement and how they relate to them. Driven both by a need to tangibly experience Hanna’s influence for myself, and by the feeling that I, too, had a strong personal connection to this culture, I was absolutely blown away at this concert. It was clear that the girls who attended the event really understood what Hanna and her friends were trying to say through their music and activism, and were wholeheartedly invested in perpetuating the ideas behind the Riot Grrrl Movement into the future.
I began mentally applying what she was saying to some of the experiences I have had in the past few years, and realized how tragically spot-on she was; not only is it hard to be a female filmmaker, musician, writer, etc. without it being pointed out for your gender, but the challenges extend to women trying to enter into any male dominated environment. In retrospect, it wasn’t just what Kathleen Hanna had to say that made her so impressive, but rather the fact that she was willing to say it when so many others just don’t have the courage.
With both a tone of humility and completely validated pride in her accomplishments, Hanna also reflected upon her influence in modern-day culture. “I see the stuff that we did in the ‘90s totally reflected in those magazines, I see it in bands, I see it in girl bands that don’t have to so much wear their politics on their sleeve like we did,” she commented. “We chose to do that, and part of it was because no one else was doing it, and that didn’t mean at all that we didn’t love the other girl bands at the time that were doing things that were more poetic, more complicated, more problematic. I just wanted to say it outright because no one else was saying it, although I felt like there was an atmosphere perpetuating the idea of ‘don’t just say it, because if you do you’ll get in big ass trouble.’ And, as we found out, we did get in big ass trouble; people did not respond in the loving way that I thought they would. But I see it at shows when there’s tons more women, whereas when we first started, if there were three girls at a show, that was a lot. Part of our mission was to create an audience for ourselves, selfishly, and we’re not the only women who did that. There was a big community of women and queers who did that, so I’m not saying I did it all myself, but I feel like a lot has really changed and I feel like that’s a lot to do with the Riot Grrrl movement.”
Hanna soon pointed out that her willingness to say the unsaid was one of the most appealing aspects of her work to girls all over the world. It seemed like no matter what the social circumstances or cultural differences were, all that girls were waiting for was someone to encourage them to talk freely about their concerns and opinions. Hanna talked about an interview she had with LA Weekly, where she admitted to exaggerating the number of actual Riot Grrrl groups in existence at the time. Funnily enough, she explained that she subsequently did see numbers of Riot Grrrl groups form as a result of this exaggeration. She explained that “it started to be this thing where a lot of people in a lot of different places coming out and saying, ‘I’ve been waiting for this. This is mine.’ And people took it over in their own scenes, and that to me was what was really remarkable; it was just a matter of giving permission.” The irony of it all, Hanna noted, was that neither she, nor any of her friends, actually ever intended for “Riot Grrrl” to become a form of identity. “We would call the meetings Riot Grrl meetings, but we would never say ‘I’m a Riot Grrrl’. 50
Hanna also touched upon the fact that the ways in which people both share and take in information has evolved tremendously from the early ‘90s to now, especially with our growing reliance on the internet today. Because she also currently runs her own blog, we got into a discussion about the internet, the lack of control one has over their online audience, and the innately impersonal nature of the internet. “For me, [my blog is] a great self-expression tool and a way for me to turn my friends and others onto stuff that I’m into. But yeah, I think it’s totally different than a fanzine,” Hanna reflected. “It’s interesting for me as someone who wrote fanzines when I was 20-22 years old because I felt a very specific way at that time, and still like a lot of my writing and agree with some of it, but not all of it. It’s awkward because we wrote fanzines before we knew the internet was even going to exist, so when we wrote them they were really ephemeral and really specific to our scene.” Hanna was able to commiserate with us about the perils of displaying one’s work publically today, and how it seems that no matter the medium or target audience, people always feel the need to say something unnecessarily judgmental. As it related to Wesleyan, I talked to her about the ACB and about the fact that so many talented people we know seem to have been slandered on it, even if the original intent was to give them praise. From Kathleen’s perspective, it is a phenomenon that can’t be controlled, but is something that should not prevent someone from living their lives and pursuing their dreams. “Before the internet, everybody had some complaint about Bikini Kill: we were too feminist, we weren’t feminist enough, my skirts were too short which meant I wasn’t a feminist, blah blah blah,” she reflected. “And as a 19-26 year old I was really hurt and offended by that stuff; I was trying to do something positive and good, and couldn’t understand why people didn’t want to support me. And when the internet was developed, you could go to like fucking Pampers.com and find some stupid-ass argument about pampers, and I was like ‘oh my god, this is not just my problem’. This is just a thing where people get bent out of shape about dumb shit, it has nothing to do with you. So sometimes, when people write mean shit about me on the internet, I just go on Pampers.com and I’m like ok it happens everywhere, it’s not just the Riot Grrrl scene or the feminist scene. It happens at fucking Pampers.com and Tide.com too.”
So, there you have it. If you take nothing else away from reading this, I highly recommend considering the benefits of the Kathleen Hanna mindset: do what you want, aspire to make a difference, and ignore the people who tell you that you can’t succeed. Had Hanna let the opinions of others get her down, it’s despairing to consider the untapped potential for positive change the world would have missed. At the end of the day, everyone worth listening to faces opposition in his or her lives. *Images taken from the Spring 1994 issue of Wesleyan’s queer zine, Diva.
FLESH Photography by Laura Lupton Makeup by Emily Schubert
52 METHOD MAGAZINE
53 METHOD MAGAZINE
54 METHOD MAGAZINE
55 METHOD MAGAZINE
56 METHOD MAGAZINE
57 METHOD MAGAZINE
THE NEW WHITE MEAT WHALE. ITS WHAT’S FOR DINNER.
Written by Lida Wu
WHEN THE SLOGAN “PORK: THE OTHER WHITE MEAT” WAS COINED, PEOPLE COULD BREATHE AGAIN, LIKE A TABOO HAD BEEN LIFTED. WHETHER THAT TABOO WAS KASHRUT, HALAAL, OR PLAIN HEALTH-CONSCIOUSNESS, THE PIG, AN ANIMAL SEEN UNFIT FOR CONSUMPTION IN SO MANY CULTURES, HAD REGAINED ITS APPEAL. NOW IMAGINE YOURSELF AS AN ADVERTISING EXECUTIVE WHO HAS BEEN ASKED TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE: REPEAT THIS PROCESS, REPLACING THE PIG WITH THE WHALE.THERE ARE NO RELIGIOUS TABOOS SURROUNDING WHALE, AND YET IT POSESSES A CERTAIN SACRED QUALITY, ONE THAT HAS PROMPTED A SERIES OF CULTURE WARS. IS WHALE RED OR WHITE MEAT? DOES IT MATTER?
58 METHOD MAGAZINE
The New White Meat
there was no system put in place to decide how many whales or species each country could claim. Because it is more cost effective to kill one large whale than it is to kill six small whales, it is the largest whales, such as the Blue whale, that are closest to extinction today.
In 1918, a whale banquet was held at the Museum of Natural History in an attempt to convince Americans to start substituting beef and other meats with the more economical whale. While being served a lunch of whale pot au feu and planked whale steak à la Vancouver, the chef explained that among the many ways whales could be cooked, they could be made into stew, pot roast, or even into “Deep Sea Pie.” (i) The luncheon had little influence on America’s eating habits; perhaps a point of reference would be Herman Melville, the author who brought the whale as we know it today into cultural consciousness by making it human, even sacred: “When you come to sit down before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes away your appetite.”
America has always attached a certain stigma to the whale that has prevented it from becoming integrated into its cuisine. Part of this stemmed from prejudice that whale was for the poor and uncivilized; even in the midnineteenth century, Melville informs us, “Only the most unprejudiced of men… nowadays partake of cooked whales.” This is not to say that whales were never eaten in America. There were occasional experiments, such as the popular “doughnuts” that consisted of either bread or biscuits dipped in boiling whale oil, as well as “pilot whale,” either in the form of balls of whale meat with a bit of pork added in or brains fried as pancakes. (iv) Sailors often ate whale to experience the exotic, taking the opportunity to try new things while away from home. Still, whale meat wasn’t usually seen as anything special, let alone something to seek out solely for eating purposes.
There are no religious taboos surrounding whale, and yet it possesses a certain sacred quality, one that has prompted a series of culture wars. Why is whale still eaten? How is it prepared? How does it taste? In the American fishery, whales were only ever meant for extracting oil and bones—not for eating. Why, then, are there countries such as Japan and Iceland whose whale-based meals can be traced back thousands of years? Why is there a cultural divide?
Across the ocean in various arctic regions, the Inuits have historically celebrated whale hunting as a bountiful gift for the community. Traditional harpoons, some of them hundreds of years old, as well as the preparation of the (typically Bowhead) whale, remain unchanged. Former Mayor of the Alaskan village of Nuiqsut, Leonard Lampe, says, “It’s about respecting nature. It’s reminding people and crews that we live in a unique land and for a creature this size to give itself to the community is a real honor.” (v) This is similar to what is suggested in MobyDick: that whales, while threatening, are a force of nature and meant to be revered. The inuits also celebrate the whale through consumption; because whale meat spoils quickly after its protective blubber is removed and exposed to warmer air, it must be either preserved or eaten quickly. (vi) A few typical Inuit whale dishes are muktuk, raw and frozen whale blubber, mimakiag, a fermented mixture of whale meat, blubber, blood, and tongue, and “tied-in-the-middle,” boiled whale blubber
What does whale meat taste like, anyway? Different sources say it has a “dark, gamey taste, like beef, but richer,” is “both gamey and fishy,” and has the “absence of a fishy taste.” (ii, iii) At the risk of stating the obvious, the only way to truly know what whale tastes like is to taste it, which becomes more controversial every day. The (mainly Western) idea of “save the whales” is not the reason Americans didn’t eat whale originally—in the 1930s, a stranded whale was seen as unsightly and dirty. Not until decades later would the whale be seen as in need of human protection. Although every country bordered by a body of water has had a whaling industry at some point, very few are still whaling today. Much of this has to do with the environmental concerns that have been mounting during the past few decades. When whaling was at its peak,
59 METHOD MAGAZINE
The New White Meat
the only country whose whaling industry exists primarily for the consumption of its flesh. Its whaling industry is over a thousand years old, but was most prominent during the 17th century, then revived during World War Two, when food was scarce. Ironically, U.S. occupants encouraged the Japanese to take advantage of this cheap protein source. (xi) Japanese whale dishes are diverse: the meat, blubber, and tongue can all be grilled, fried as bacon, eaten as sashimi, dried and salted, marinated, pickled, or used as flavoring for soup.
that has been threaded onto cedar bark and dried. (vii) However, the most unusual has to be their ice cream, akutaq, which uses either whale, seal, or walrus oil. Most cultures with active whaling industries share the same level of economic and social prosperity as the U.S. (viii) The past few years have seen somewhat of a “whale revival.” Iceland’s top chefs have deviated from the traditional; Reykjavik’s restaurant Lobster House now offers Minke whale sashimi with a wasabi crust and a shot of ginger tea on the side, as well as whale ceviche and schnitzel. Their most popular dish is, ironically, “Moby Dick on a Stick” whale brochettes. (ix) The idea is not to simply expose tourists to whale cuisine, but rather to change whale from a nostalgic comfort food for the older generation into something everyone will want to eat.
Why is it so immoral to eat whale when we slaughter millions of cows, pigs, and chickens every day? The Lefoten islands in Norway are a small community that relies completely on whaling. According to one islander, “People… give the whale a soul. They make it a kind of human being… if you humanize whales, you dehumanize any human being that touches the whale god.” (xii) The whale controversy will not disappear. It remains a sore subject that has roots in both historical and cultural differences. Is whale “the other white meat,” or is it bloodier? It can be said, pardon the pun, that depending on your stance, the whole issue is a “matter of taste.” *
Like Iceland, Japan is also trying to revive the taste for whale by serving whale meatballs, burgers, spaghetti, and Chinese stir-fry in cafeterias, as well as inviting schoolchildren to watch the butchering process, allowing them to “learn that these creatures gave their lives for humans to live, and they (the children) were then sincerely grateful for their food.” (x) However, Japan is
i. “WHALE MEAT LUNCH TO BOOST NEW FOOD.” The New York Times. 19 Feb. 1918 ii. Shoemaker, Nancy. “Whale Meat in American History.” History Cooperative 10 (2005). History Cooperative. Apr. 2005. 15 Dec. 2008 iii. “No matter how you slice it, whale tastes unique.” Planet Ark. 23 May 2002. Thomson Reuters. 15 Dec. 2008 iv. Shoemaker, Nancy. “Whale Meat in American History.” v. D’Oro, Rachel. “Alaskan Thanksgiving Feast: Whale Meat.” CBS News. 18 Nov. 2006. 15 Dec. 2008 vi. Whale blubber, as it turns out, is rich in Vitamin C and therefore a staple in the Inuits’ diet. Maybe if most sailors had known this, they wouldn’t have had so many issues with scurvy. vii. Duncan, Carl. “DESTINATION: Western Canada Lonely road north.” SFGate. 02 Mar. 2003. 15 Dec. 2008 viii. Ibid. ix. Michaels, Daniel. “Supersize Me: Whale Meat Resurfaces on Iceland Menus.” The Wall Street Journal. 2002 Sept. 08. 15 Dec. 2008 x. Watanabe, Haruko. “Whale Meat Again in Wadaura.” The Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan. 2007 Aug. E007. 15 Dec. 2008 xi. McNeill, David. “Japan and the Whaling Ban.” Zmag. 14 Feb. 2007. 15 Dec. 2008 xii. Toolis, Kevin. “Eat it or Save it?” The Guardian. 27 Oct. 2001. 16 Dec. 2008
60 METHOD MAGAZINE
The New White Meat
A K U TA Q
o r WHALE ICE CREAM
ingredients: 1 pound dried reindeer fat 1 cup whale oil 1 pint salmonberries 3 cups blackberries 1 cup sugar
instructions: A d d w a t e r t o r e i n d e e r f a t a n d s e a l o i l t i l l f r o t h y. A d d b e r r i e s a n d s u g a r. Store until frozen.
61 METHOD MAGAZINE
THE CURATED PROJECTS
ELIZABETH SONENBERG Interview by Alyssa Lanz
FOR HER SENIOR THESIS EXHIBIT, DEHISCIENCE, ELIZABETH SONENBERG EXPERIMENTED WITH RISING BREAD WRAPPED IN MESH WIRE, CHEESE CLOTH, AND OTHER MATERIALS TO CREATE VISCERAL, TEXTURED, AND LIVING SCULPTURE PIECES.
M: Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? E: No I didn’t know. I sort of thought I wanted to build my own major and do aesthetic theory and do my own creative project. It’s interesting to see where I ended up because I was very invested in “ideas”. Theoretical ideas. I was in art classes but I would sort of make didactic work that would express some theory that I was interested in and I didn’t care about the material at all and then something happened to me--that you guys don’t need to know about--but it changed how I view my work and the use of materials.
METHOD: What was the main idea behind your thesis? ELIZABETH SONENBERG: I was thinking a lot about using materials that have their own life force that would then decay. About the boundaries of our body and ways we can make it fluctuate. M: Can you explain the title of your show? E: Dehiscence is a botanical term describing the process by which a plant extricates its seed from itself, usually when the plant is about to die. It explodes its contents out. There is also wound dehiscence, where something in the process of healing bursts open prematurely.
63 METHOD MAGAZINE
M: How did you arrive to the use of bread as your main medium? E: It just came to me as an image- bread rising out of steel. The reason I stuck with it was because it was such a full material. I’ve played with yeast to inflate plastic structures allowing it to inflate these structures creating organic systems with inorganic material. I’m interested in bread composition and the way it rises and the way it decays, there’s a huge dialogue with the flesh which is historically really present—and about being a woman and thinking about domestic things, which I am less interested in, but the work inherently talks about.
steel mesh, cheese cloth) and then you knead the dough and you stuff it inside and close it up with wire so it rises out of the cage creating this strange morphology. And then this amazing guy Dennis who has worked as a baker all his life as, works at the Taste of Italy bakery on Newfield Street. I was storing my bread and found at that they had this oven that was 6 feet long, so two nights before my thesis was due I went there mixed a shit ton of dough and put all this in the oven. M: What are some other mediums that you have worked with in the past? E: I was working with mold. Which I wish my thesis had more of, living materials. Played around with mold, seaweed, growing yeast on to sand, trying to figure out how to use agar (which is used in Petri dishes). A lot of things that are hard to put into a gallery space at a University... I would have had to put it things glass cases because of bio-hazards. I’m not too into putting things in glass cases. I was working with these bacterial or fungi
M: What was the actual process of creating your final installation? E: It was actually really nice because Wesleyan—and shout out to bon appétit and Usdan, and Michael Strumpf—let me use their kitchen and flour and yeast and whatever I needed. In order to make the bread sculptures first, you make the armature (out of chicken wire,
64 METHOD MAGAZINE
kingdoms like Kombucha mushroom. Thereâ€™s a tradition in china where they are traditionally brewed and they grow upon one another and they never stop regenerating and they are passed down in a family when someone gets married. I liked the replication of self, and was thinking about mutation over time, working with trying to embed things into the daughter mushrooms, like obstacles that become integrated into the organism.
mitted to a final show with a month to spare, and then had some serious doubts about what my show was communicating. I ended up getting rid of a large portion of my work and making an entirely new third piece in the last three weeks or so. The stems on the tall wall. There not where I would like them to be, but I excited about continuing to work with that type of display. M: Were there any particular emotions you were hoping to illicit from your viewer? E: Oh god I hope not. I have mine, you have yours.*
M: Looking back at your thesis what are you most proud of? E: Iâ€™m most proud of being decisive about making a new piece together right at the end of the process. I had com-
65 METHOD MAGAZINE
VIVIAN HO Artistâ€™s statement by Vivian Ho HAVING GROWN UP IN HONG KONG, ARTIST AND WESLEYAN STUDENT VIVIAN HO EXPLORES THE MARKETS OF HER HOME CITY THROUGH A SERIES OR COLORFUL AND VIBRANT PORTRAITS.
But I found these objects and their way of death beautiful. They might look silent but they are not. I try to include their eyes in my paintings to show the seemingly thoughtful side of the corpses.
Where I grew up, meat is not sold in a grocery store, but in an open market, still vividly bloody and loud and messy. Animals are killed in front of the consumers for maximum freshness. One moment you point at this fish swimming in the tank and decide to have it for dinner, the next moment it is on the chopping board, beheaded, getting its scales removed.
It was painful for me to watch, painful for them to die. Yet, their death is so beautiful. If everyone is going to overlook it, I want to capture it in its most poetic way: the moment of the loss of life for our consumption. Freshness of flesh. Freshness of death.
It all happens within seconds. Very neat. You can still see the heart pumping, the body breathing.â€?
These unwanted parts, these guts and blood, were once what they are all made of. Mingled together. Forced separation of their bodies. Robbed of their own identity. *
The swimming fish in the tank is all body parts, all priced accordingly, awaiting to be consumed in different ways. The dead animals are often just dismissed as dirty, need to be cleaned up and washed.
66 METHOD MAGAZINE
67 METHOD MAGAZINE
68 METHOD MAGAZINE
JASON PETERS AS A STUDENT OF THE WESLEYAN CENTER FOR PRISON EDUCATION AND AN INMATE AT CHESHIRE CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION, JASON PETERS BRINGS A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE TO OUR CURATION OF STUDENT WORK. HIS ILLUSTRATIONS USE THIS ISSUE’S THEME OF “MEAT” TO INTERPRET HIS OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCES.
The Wesleyan Center for Prison Education was founded in September of 2009, and aims to offer college courses to incarcerated individuals “in order both to enrich the lives of those who are systematically denied access to educational opportunities and to enhance Wesleyan’s academic community.” The Center currently enrolls nineteen men at Cheshire Correctional Institution and, over the course of two years, these students have pursued a broad curricular sequence of Wesleyan courses in the humanities and the natural and social sciences.
University. The Center will soon admit additional cohorts of incarcerated students at Cheshire Prison, as well as create a second college campus at York Prison for women in 2012. We are proud to curate the following illustrations* by one of the members of the first class at Cheshire Prison, Jason Peters. Currently 33 years old, Peters has been incarcerated for 16 years and is in the second year of the program.
This year, the Center was formally approved by the Wesleyan faculty to extend beyond its initial two year pilot phase to become a long-term facet of Wesleyan
*These illustrations have been commissioned specifically for Method Magazine.
69 METHOD MAGAZINE
70 METHOD MAGAZINE
71 METHOD MAGAZINE
72 METHOD MAGAZINE
73 METHOD MAGAZINE
74 METHOD MAGAZINE
75 METHOD MAGAZINE
76 METHOD MAGAZINE
77 METHOD MAGAZINE
SWERVE(D) SWERVE(D) IS A DIGITAL COMMUNAL DATABASE THAT SHOWCASES WESLEYAN STUDENT ARTWORK, INCLUDING PROSE, POETRY, 2D, 3D, PHOTOGRAPHY, SOUND, AND VIDEO. FOR MORE, VISIT SWERVED.COM.
78 METHOD MAGAZINE
Elegy 1 By: Nate Mondschein Heroine’s hero was Mid labor, split tooth Grin and all, before I left her side One-ton teeming full of promise, “heaven Is an eagle’s pit-stop, and Hanukkah’s a bold faced lie” She were busy Spitting light out picture frames Busting its seams, so I never really saw her leave.
79 METHOD MAGAZINE
Extroception By: Leia Jane Zidel Exteroception Let us say of desire, it lends fletching— it is a word I cleave to as if to sleep passively and wake, healed The emerging from the unassuming life— to this— I am not a barrier to myself— And still, cannot remember how you lured me to my periphery— I superscribe my fight for clarity on you, as if your body, the page— press you and mark Your voice— the arrow— from the low of your throat, you call to my body, transported— Later, another says to me I have the face of a muse
80 METHOD MAGAZINE
81 METHOD MAGAZINE
82 METHOD MAGAZINE
83 METHOD MAGAZINE
84 METHOD MAGAZINE
85 METHOD MAGAZINE
BONDAGE AND BARBECUES AN INTERVIEW WITH ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF AMERICAN STUDIES AND ANTHROPOLOGY MARGOT WEISS
Written by Dema Paxton Fofang
WHILE POPULAR CONCEPTIONS VARY DRAMATICALLY IN THEIR ACCURACY, BDSM IS A DIVERSE AND HIGHLY ORGANIZED PRACTICE FOUNDED ON THE CONSENSUAL EXCHANGE OF POWER (BDSM STANDS FOR BONDAGE AND DISCIPLINE, DOMINATION/SUBMISSION, AND SADOMASOCHISM). TO MANY, THE WORDS BRING TO MIND FEMININE DOMINATRIXES, PORNOGRAPHIC ASSOCIATIONS, OR PULP FICTION’S ‘GIMP.’ IN REALITY, BDSM CULTURE REPRESENTS AN ENTIRELY UNIQUE APPROACH TO SEX AND SEXUALITY; IN ESSENCE, THE SCENES CONSTRUCTED DURING BDSM SESSIONS PURPOSEFULLY CONTRIVE ALTERNATE SEXUAL REALITIES, WHERE PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL POWER (DOMINANCE) CAN BE MANIPULATED THROUGH CONSENT AND LIMITATIONS FOR PLEASURE.
Method Magazine was able to sit down with Margot Weiss, a Wesleyan University Assistant Professor of American Studies and Anthropology, to discuss issues around BDSM and her experience studying BDSM communities while conducting ethnographic research as an anthropologist. Professor Weiss has written extensively on the subject throughout several articles and book chapters. Her first book, Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality, is set to be released by Duke University Press.
had a statement that said maybe I’ll work on people who refuse to take a sexual identity. I was interested in the possibilities of non-binary, non-labeled sexuality -- like Michael Stipes’s (lead singer of R.E.M.) “labels are for food” thing. But I was in an anthropology department so I needed to find a community or some place to go to do fieldwork, and there was no place to find these people; they were everywhere, they were my friends…but where would I go? You can do all sorts of ethnographic projects, but it’s easier if you go somewhere and stay there for about a year and do that kind of ethnographic research. So, I decided this wasn’t a good first project, but I was interested in those kinds of questions: what was transgressive or subversive or disruptive about sexuality that wasn’t organized in normative ways. I had done gender studies in college, so I knew about SM, but I didn’t know much about SM. I had really only read Pat (Patrick) Califia and other SM practitioners and advocates talking about how radical and transgressive SM was. And it’s a community, it exists somewhere and you can go there, and I thought, ‘ok this might be the thing’.
METHOD: When did you become interested in writing about BDSM culture and what prompted the study you did? PROFESSOR MARGOT WEISS: When I was in college at the University of Chicago I did research on the coming out narratives of gay, lesbian and bi youth. I was interested in the repetition of that narrative over and over again, that every coming out narrative was structured in exactly the same way. I was working on that through college and after college, so when I went to graduate school I wanted to keep working on sexuality. But I wasn’t really sure what to do. So when I applied to graduate school I
86 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
Illustrations by Jason Katzenstein
87 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
first event I went to was a play party. It was billed as a slave auction, but it was also a goods auction. There were all sorts of SM toys being auctioned off, and then there was a play party after the event. When I walked in, everybody there was 45-55 years old. They were white and not from San Francisco, they lived in the suburbs. A lot of heterosexual men who were married to bisexual women…
On the formation of identities through SM practices: W: Well, I was influenced by people who were talking about SM as really transgressive. So Pat Califia (now Patrick Califia-Rice) says, “if I had a choice between being shipwrecked on a desert island with a vanilla lesbian and a hot male masochist, I’d pick the boy” and the point of this is that even though at the time Califia is a lesbian, her, now his, SM desires trump her sexual orientation. This is how people were talking about SM. It was a place where gender was a free-for-all, where you can take on roles and performances.
M: Who were at the event? W: Yes. Everyone was just hanging around, talking, eating burgers in side rooms, chatting and catching up on stuff. It was not the radical scene that I had imagined at all!
M: A non-gendered sexual pleasure. W: Right. And so, Foucault also, towards the end of his life, participated in SM in San Francisco and radical drug cultures.
M: Like a barbecue! W: It was like a family barbecue on a Sunday afternoon. It was really…nobody was in, like, chaps and riding off on a motorcycle.
M: Were they entwined? W: Kind of entwined, because he was interested in experiencing his body outside his subjectivity. So for him, SM was a practice that de-genitalized sex. And for him, genital sex is a whole disciplinary mechanism that’s produced and reproduced; SM, because its not genital, it’s about flogging somebody’s back, all the surfaces of the skin and the body, opens up new sensations, so it’s not about “sex-desire” but about bodies and pleasure.
M: Not the popular conception. W: No, and not my conception either. So then I became interested in thinking about the relationship between the claims that SM is really radical and the practices and practitioners who make up the community. So that’s actually what my work became about. But I was initially interested in SM for precisely what I argue against in the end.
M: He must also acknowledge that it’s beyond biological sex, sex for reproduction. W: Absolutely, it’s also most often not about orgasm. It’s not goal directed sex, it’s about experiencing sensations. It has a rhythm and a pattern but it’s not a hetero intercourse-orgasm pattern. So it also goes outside the temporality of normative sex. So I went to San Francisco in summer of 2000. I had no idea what to do and I was really nervous. I really just had to go and talk to people on my own, which took me a while, a couple weeks of paralysis, before I could actually do anything. But I started sending emails to different local Bay Area SM listservs, and tons of people wrote back. So then I had endless numbers of people to talk to and events to go to. The
M: Do you think it was always a more leisurely, barbeque environment? Or was it more intense and radical when Foucault was practicing SM. Did those people grow up and calm down? W: It’s a historical shift from SM being primarily gay men with some lesbians, leatherdykes who were important to the men’s scene, and those were the people with whom Foucault interacted. But that was a scene where people didn’t have a lot of money, events were held in the backrooms of bars. It wasn’t the hyper-organized, developed scene that you see today, where there are workshops and classes and membership organizations. It was a much smaller scene, a much more urban scene, and re-
88 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
M: So would you describe the culture as being “mainstream” now? W: That’s a good question. In a way it has become mainstream, you certainly see more representations of it and the people who are in SM are more mainstream. But even if you get mainstream representation of SM it still carries that mark of pathology. Have you seen Secretary (2002)?
ally a men’s scene. What happened was HIV and AIDS in San Francisco, the gentrification of the city, which made it very difficult for sexual minority organizations to exist there…and the big change was the internet. Technology in the Bay Area, as one of the original hubs of the internet, allowed all these people to get online really early. They get online, and they’re searching “bondage” or “flogging,” and they’re finding chat groups and saying, “Let’s meet in person. Let’s go to this burger place,” and that’s the first munch.
M: I haven’t, is that with Maggie Gyllenhaal? W: Yes. Well, members of the SM community were really happy that there was this sort of mainstream movie about SM. But she’s a cutter, and she uses submission in the context of an SM relationship as a way of managing her own pathology. So even when SM is represented it’s often represented as… M: Not entirely healthy… W: Yeah, as this sort of pathological sexuality. People in SM communities are really worried that SM has become too mainstream. M: And that would be a bad thing? That it loses its edge. W: Yeah. That it’s not sexy and radical and out there and against the law. M: Part of the pleasure is the risk aspect. W: Absolutely. And what’s happened in the scene is the development of rules and regulations. There are very elaborate consent negotiations that happen, check list forms of negotiation that make people feel safe to play. But at the same time, SM has to be risky enough, or what’s the point in doing it. It’s about being a radical sex practice.
M: And instinctively, that’s how you sought to find these communities. W: Yes, and what happened was that from the mid-90s onwards, this huge influx of people who are predominantly straight, professional class, computer workers who found SM over the internet, flooded all these organizations, and that’s who the community is. There are still alternative communities, but they’re much smaller, much less central than they were.
M: I thought it was really interesting to look at SM as a performance art, something that requires skill to perform well enough. So that someone can be taken out of the thought that they are in a contrived environment and be convinced that they are being tortured or in an interrogation. W: In that way, what helps is that SM performances rely on broader normative roles. So if you want to do a gender
89 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
and was the archivist for the main organization. I was doing work trying to get their archives to a more stable location.
play scene, or a slavery scene, you have the iconography of slavery or of gender inequality, or something that has a real world reference, and it’s the play between those real world roles that everybody knows, and their performance within a scene that’s supposed to be safe and therefore not the unconsensual forms of inequality you face in the real world.
M: That was probably invaluable. W: Definitely invaluable. So I got to know people and kept working with people; I had close relationships with some people in the scene. And the people who didn’t want to talk to me just didn’t talk to me. If I was in an event with 500 people, I didn’t stand up and announce I was there, but in most settings I was obviously there and I had done all this work in the beginning where I would stand up at a munch and say “I’m an anthropologist and I’m doing research.” I was always nervous about how people would respond, but I was really relieved that people were so welcoming.
M: This reaches further back in our conversation, but given that first meeting you went to, would you say it was easy as an anthropologist conducting ethnographic fieldwork to study this culture? Did they accept you? Were they excited to have somebody studying them? W: Yes for the most part people were hoping that I would dispel all the negative stereotypes about SM practitioners. They were overly optimistic about who would actually read what I wrote and the great reach that my book would have; that it would be, you know, a best seller. And so a lot of people wanted to talk to me because they thought I would make it clear that they aren’t all abused as children or pathological in various ways, which is the way that they’re represented. They didn’t always have the same motivation that I had, but that’s the way that ethnographic research really goes.
M: You mentioned that working as an undergraduate student you found that there were almost homogenous ways in which gay and lesbians came out. Did you find that there was a general means in which people entered the BDSM community or found it? Was it through a partner, maybe? Or was it a self-initiative. W: That’s a great question. There was more diversity in people’s coming out into SM stories because it’s not a codified story in the same way as the gay and lesbian stories. So, for some people, they lived in San Francisco or near San Francisco, they saw some flyer or a notice or had a friend, and they went to an event and said, “Oh, this is cool.” And they stayed. Some people talked about how they had always had these desires. When they were a little kid, they tied up their neighborhood friend or did self-bondage. When they finally found the community they realized they weren’t alone. That’s much more of a traditional coming out narrative. Other people had a partner who was really into SM, they themselves weren’t but they would occasionally go just to be a supportive partner and to socialize. People’s relationships with BDSM really varied. Women’s stories and men’s stories were also different. Women emphasized how SM was appealing because of the emphasis on consent and the ways you have to actually verbalize your desires: “I want
M: That sounds in some ways ideal, to have conflicting agendas. W: It’s not a massive community and I was there for three years, so I was around a lot. I would do a one-onone interview with someone and they’d say, “You should come on Friday to this thing,” and they’d introduce me, “She’s an anthropologist and doing a blah blah blah,” and at some point, maybe a couple months in, everybody knew me as the anthropologist so they’d be like, “Oh good the anthropologist is here! Let me show you this thing!” M Is it unusual for anthropologists to study BDSM culture? W: Yes. I think they get a lot of curious students on email lists, psychology students who want to do surveys, but not people who are just hanging out at various parties and going to classes. I also joined several organizations
90 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
for different people, but I would say he is unusual. For nearly everyone it’s sexual or sexualized or erotic, but it’s also often differentiated from sex, which people usually associate with intercourse or some sexual practice that’s genitally focused, not a four hour session that’s about flogging and caning. So there are debates at play parties about whether there should be sex allowed, and that means genital sex.
you to do this…I want to do that.” M: There’s a lot more control. W: Yes, and actually owning your desires and pleasures. M: How would you describe the differences between a more professional BDSM organization where you pay someone to be the dominant versus the free, more informal organizations? W: My research wasn’t about professional SM at all, except insofar as the professional dominants were personally interested in SM so they were also in the non-professional community. There are some professional houses that are more associated with the non-professional community; they were founded by people who were in both communities or had close relationships. And there are some that are not, that are outgrowths of other forms of sex work, using that term broadly. It’s a huge debate whether professional domination is sex work. M: What do you think? W: Well, I would call it sex work but…The issue is that it’s illegal if it’s sex. So the key issue is defining what they’re doing as not sex. As far as I’m concerned, sex work should be entirely decriminalized, so I’m comfortable extending “sex work” to this exchange.
M: When someone like this heavy bottom leans towards practices that are more masochistic or violent, are there generally accepted limits to what can be performed and how do they work within legal confines? Or do they not care at all as long as it’s consensual. W: In SM, part of the reason there are so many classes and books is to teach you body safety. So if you’re really into canes, you need to know where you can hit someone and where you can’t, how to control the cane, what the skin will do right at the time and ten hours later. These kinds of bodily techniques are really central to the knowledge practices of SM. So somebody like him (heavy bottom), he’s interested in testing the limits of his body, which requires him to find a top who’s willing to do that with him. The legality of SM is an open question: in part from the development of feminist efforts
M: Do you think that people who practice BDSM would describe themselves as having sex? W: That’s a good question. Some people do and some people don’t. So for some people BDSM is the epitome of sex. But for other people it isn’t at all. I talked to a guy in his mid-twenties who was a really heavy bottom, a masochist bottom, really heavy. SM for him was like a marathon. M: And runners do experience a rush of endorphins post-race. W: Yes, it was about how much he could take. Each play scene was about going further, pushing himself further. He said it wasn’t sexual at all. He experienced his sexuality in a totally different way, but he experienced a kind of high, like marathon running, from SM. It’s different
91 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
ity in the scene.
to legislate against domestic violence, you can’t consent to assault. It’s not a possible defense. You can’t say, “Yes I was beating this person, but it was consensual.” That can’t be considered in a court. So because of that, much of SM is illegal if it’s understood as assault. This is where it gets really tricky. So when a play party is raided and cops come in and arrest everyone…
M: So has the mainstreaming of SM made it more safe or created more guidelines, or has it most just made SM practices more…boring? W: (laughs) Well, people don’t really think it’s boring, but they’re sure that it used to be much better. But that is always how subcultures work. People are always sure that back in the day it was really hardcore and now it sucks. There is that nostalgia going on. I think the former scene wasn’t as codified, in part because it was smaller and people also knew each other. There was more one-to-one networking. So if you were interested in SM, you would have to know someone who would bring you to a place and if you wanted to be a top, you’d have to be a bottom for many years and work your way up. There was more of an apprentice system, more community based controls. Now it’s much bigger much more open and easy to find. Instead of that one-on-one control, there’s a class you take that teaches you how to use a cane safely and responsibly.
M: Does this happen often? W: There were three big cases of this while I was doing fieldwork, but it doesn’t happen often. Organizations are really worried about it so they have everyone sign indemnity forms and consent forms when you come in, to try and ward off that kind of prosecution. But it’s difficult because of the basic legal questions. The SM community agrees on many things, and safe, sane, and consensual is the motto of SM. What counts as edge play or overly risky play is a matter of debate, but there’s a limit to what heavy physical play is safe to the body. M: But there isn’t a strict limit like, “I’m not going to break your leg!” W: Well that would be really extreme, really extreme and weird and unusual. We’re talking about floggers that are made out of soft leather, canes, not like hitting someone with a desk. So tools, toys that are specially designed to provide pleasurable as well as painful sensations. I suppose it would be possible to negotiate a scene that would be really extreme, but you would have a hard time finding someone who would do it. Really, what you’re talking about in a heavy scene is a scene that goes on for a long time, and there’s bruising, maybe cutting. Not long term physical damage. You don’t want to go to the hospital after, you want to have a nice time (laughs).
M: As a top, or a dominant, is there a sense of pleasure from that role generally? Would they also describe it as sexualized even though they aren’t the one’s being physically affected by the performance. W: People in SM describe it as an exchange – this is why I use the term “circuit” in my ethnography. What’s important is the link between the top and bottom, and whoever else is in the scene. For the top there are feelings of control and mastery, the pleasure of pleasuring someone else and being in charge of someone else, of being trusted in that way and responsible, which is really profound. And also experiencing that person’s pleasure as your own. It’s not like you just stand there, hit someone, they feel good, and you’re done. You create a kind of connection, or it’s not good SM.
M: And that wouldn’t be fun for months! W: So that’s one of the more inaccurate representations of SM. And many BDSM practices aren’t physical, many practices are about psychological power and dominance. Many kinds of role play, like boss-secretary play, don’t have anything physical in them. But it is SM because it’s about power and inequality and eroticizing that inequal-
M: Looking at future demographics of SM, do you think there’s a younger population of growing practitioners and have the older populations continued to practice SM? Do those populations mix? How would you describe the various
92 METHOD MAGAZINE
Bondage and Barbecues
So, I’m not sure if it’s growing or not, there are still a lot of younger people who are into SM, but I’m not sure if they would build the same kind of community structures that you find now. Maybe they’re actually building something else online or in other ways, and that will replace the current communities.
communities? W: People in the scene are worried that there aren’t any young people who are joining up and the sense is that younger people are interested in fetish scenes and other alternative sexualities but they’re not as interested in SM. So the organizations have started new sub-groups for under-35 people, to try and recruit younger members.
M: It’s hard to believe that someone seeking that kind of pleasure would suddenly not exist anymore. W: Yes, that’s absolutely right. In that way, people have always done SM but they haven’t always called it SM or developed highly elaborate rules and communities and identities organized around these practices. Those things change.
M: And why do they think that is? Would be related to the recent diffusion of pornography, which might make SM less appealing as a risk, more commonplace? W: I’m not sure. Their theory is that when young people – and I’m talking about people in their twenties and thirties – go to an event, they see all these old people who they don’t want to play with, so they leave.
M: Maybe people just don’t want the “mom and dad” aspect of SM. W: Probably not! The organizations call the under-35 groups “The Next Generation,” and even that is a little dorky (laughs). It’s like a Star Trek thing. *
M: So that it hasn’t really built momentum yet. W: That’s their feeling. I’m not really sure about that. There are certainly younger people who were in the BDSM scene in San Francisco. My sense is that younger people cross more borders, so for someone in their 40s or 50s it’s important to join an organization and be located in a particular community. Many people who were younger were in multiple communities. SM wasn’t the one thing for them. There were multiple things. They liked SM, but it wasn’t the one focus of their sexual self.
Secretary (2002) is the subject of Margot Weiss’s 2006 article “Mainstreaming Kink: The Politics of BDSM “Representation in U.S. Popular Media” in Journal of Homosexuality, 50(2/3): 103-130.
93 METHOD MAGAZINE
“BLAAAHHJKESOIHDLR” by Christian Bachrach
94 METHOD MAGAZINE
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY A NEW KIND OF PROSTHETIC
Written by Eliza Fisher
WHERE’S YOUR CELL PHONE? IS IT IN YOUR POCKET, IN YOUR BAG, OR ON THE TABLE NEXT TO YOU? CHANCES ARE IT’S NOT FAR. YOU’RE PROBABLY SO USED TO RUSHING OFF TO CLASS OR CAVORTING WITH FRIENDS AT A PARTY, COMFORTED BY THE ALMOST-NEGLIGIBLE WEIGHT OF THAT ELECTRONIC DEVICE. YOU MIGHT NOT NOTICE IT NESTLED IN YOUR JEANS, BUT WERE IT NOT THERE, YOU WOULD KNOW. AND WHILE YOU MAY NOT BE THAT PERSONALLY CONNECTED TO YOUR IPHONE 3GS, SERIAL NUMBER 1234567ABCD, YOU ARE QUITE LIKELY ATTACHED TO WHAT IT DOES FOR YOU AND WHAT IT REPRESENTS. sensory-motor capacities that control movement and posture. The brain, then, effectively represents the size of the person’s body as the body plus the tool. Simply put, our bodies adapt to the technology with which they come into contact. Such reasoning, in collaboration with the effects of drunkenness, then explains why, during Spring Fling last year, a certain friend of mine loudly bellowed, “where’s my phone?” twice within a minute, while he was, in fact, holding his phone. In a similar case, British researcher Sadie Plant claims that since the surge in the popularity of text messaging—an act involving high thumb usage—many young Japanese have started pointing and ringing doorbells with their thumbs. When technology is as pervasive and portable as it is today, human flesh reaches a new level of unity with the devices that seem so antithetical to it. This harmony concerns not only the purely corporeal, but also the mental and emotional relationships between people, their senses, and their communities.
Sure, most cell phones and other mobile devices are rather interchangeable, and we could all likely go without them, but the convenience of their functions and portability has made them almost a necessity for keeping up with society. The fact is that our bodies have new companions—cell phones, headphones, digital music players, tablets, and cameras. In crucial ways, mobile technology is increasingly becoming a part of our own flesh and our own minds, expanding our perceptions of our bodies, our memories, and our senses. While medical technology such as prosthetic limbs, pacemakers, and implants constitute an admittedly more substantial alteration to the body, the sheer ubiquity of cell phones, iPods, headphones and the like amounts to an entirely new level of inseparability between human bodies and technology. Studies have shown that when a person uses a tool, even if only for several minutes, that tool becomes a part of the person’s body schema—the
95 METHOD MAGAZINE
music players, the tablets into near-nothingness, a sleek few ounces neatly tucked into the back pocket. This sort of physical abstraction of technology, which is generally paired with faster processing and increased capabilities, makes it easier and more common for cell phones and the like to become our indispensible messengers, memories, entertainment, and companions. Thus the more and more physically abstract the tools themselves become, the more and more they enter our own corporeality. Obviously, we are not our phones, nor our iPods, nor our Flips. Yet, whether we carry around electronic devices in order to listen to music whenever we please or to instantly communicate with others, the average person’s flesh, blood, and brains meet daily with technology on a new and profound level. Tools like the iPhone or the Kindle require less physical interaction than working with pen and paper, or even with the desktop computer, while enabling greater mobility in performing important tasks of communication and memory. These articles of convenience become articles of social necessity, and it becomes a given for us to have our cell phones on our persons at almost all times. As a result, mobile technology constitutes a much more seamless integration between our bodies and the functionings that lie beyond their limits. Whether this means that the body is enhanced or that its importance is displaced is a matter of dispute.
In Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud noted, “with every tool man is perfecting his own organs, whether motor or sensory, or is removing the limits to their functioning.” Such an observation is only more evident today, as today’s mobile technology constitutes a more substantial and more seamless extension of the senses. The digital music player stretches the aural experience to the nearly-invisible limits of whatever one can download, while lightweight headphones can make you forget you’re not naturally hearing the music in your head. The pocket-sized digital camera constitutes a memory nearly as precise and mobile, and perhaps more long-lasting, than that of any person. Smart phones give the mind immediate access to the masses of information available online, while projecting voices across oceans. Writer Clive Lawson gives clarity to this power of technology when he writes that technical objects can be regarded as “extensions of the human organism by way of replicating, amplifying, or supplementing bodily or mental faculties or capabilities.” With mobile technology, this extended sensory power can almost become a part of the human. Our expectations about our abilities become modified. We need no longer fret about finding an address or trying to figure out what song is playing on the radio, since—to borrow Apple’s phrase—there’s an app for that, and it is almost as immediately accessible as if it were a part of our own minds. Unless, of course, your phone breaks. I have a friend residing in New York City who was renowned among our group for his promptness, until one unfortunate week when his lost his iPhone. He was late to nearly everything the entire time he was phoneless—he couldn’t even figure out the subway system! It didn’t take long for us to realize that he isn’t naturally punctual or good with directions—he just used Google Maps quite a bit. This sort of reliance, though, is increasingly becoming the norm, and it is not necessarily a bad thing—how can you fault someone for using a tool that is at his disposal? The constant redesign of technology, rendering everything faster, smarter, smaller, and sleeker only hastens the integration of mobile electronic devices with the body. We design the cellular phone, the headphones, the digital
Personally, while at times I feel shackled to my electronics, I prefer to take a stance of positive inevitability. All kinds of technology, mobile included, are increasingly vital to our society, and I don’t think that will change any time soon. We can lament our dependence and the potential shallowness of online communication, or we can be grateful that we have so much power at the tips of our fingers. The bottom line is that I might feel helpless, lost, disconnected, or frustrated without my phone and laptop, but my identity, my values, and my personality will not fundamentally change.*
96 METHOD MAGAZINE
98 METHOD MAGAZINE
99 METHOD MAGAZINE
100 METHOD MAGAZINE
LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER ILLUSTRATOR JASON KATZENSTEIN REINTERPRETS ROALD DAHL’S ADULT SHORT STORY, ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN HARPER’S MAGAZINE IN 1953.
“Listen,” he said. “I’ve got something to tell you.”
And he told her. It didn’t take long, four or five minutes at most and she sat very still through it all, watching him with a kind of dazed horror as he went further and further away from her with each word.
101 METHOD MAGAZINE
Lamb to the Slaughter
Everything was automatic nowâ€”down the steps to the cellar, the light switch, the deep freeze, the hand inside the cabinet taking hold of the first object it met. She lifted it out, and looked at it. It was wrapped in paper, so she took off the paper and looked at it again.
A leg of lamb.
102 METHOD MAGAZINE
Lamb to the Slaughter
She might just as well have hit him with a steel club.
103 METHOD MAGAZINE
Lamb to the Slaughter
She carried the meat into the kitchen, placed it in a pan, turned the oven on high, and shoved it inside.
104 METHOD MAGAZINE
Lamb to the Slaughter
They were looking for the weapon. “Personally, I think it’s right here on the premises.” “Probably right under our very noses. What do you think, Jack?”
105 METHOD MAGAZINE
Lamb to the Slaughter
“Goodnight, Mrs. Maloney. And thank you.” And Mary Maloney began to giggle.
106 METHOD MAGAZINE
"Meat," the third issue of Wesleyan University's culture, student life, art, and entertainment publication.