Rootless Cosmopolitan

Matthew DeCoursey's Blog

Matthew DeCoursey

Matthew DeCoursey
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
December 30
I am a Canadian academic. I have been wandering, and have settled in Hong Kong. I find that Open Salon draws me in, using time and energy that I need for my regular work. I stay away from months at a time, but I come back.


Matthew DeCoursey's Links
This week, the famous British company Cheek by Jowl performed Macbeth in Hong Kong. I went to the show, to a workshop run by the company, and then to the show again. It is a great piece of theatre, even though it betrays the text.

The venue of the performance,… Read full post »
There’s no denying it. There are fair questions to ask about the study of literature. Other fields can say, we found a vaccine for polio; we have found more resistant strains of wheat; we can build bridges and make planes fly. What can we say? Nothing of that kind. And it… Read full post »
SEPTEMBER 11, 2010 10:38PM

Park 51 and the Experience of Emotion

The current fuss over the Park 51 project leads me to think about emotion and rationality. Really big emotional events like 9/11 can be hard to think through, so I want to think in principle about emotion and rationality through something much more everyday, and then turn to the big problem.… Read full post »
AUGUST 20, 2010 8:51PM

My Hong Kong I

My Hong Kong is first of all a village. I live on the second floor of what is called a "village house" in a tiny place called Tung Tsz (Dung Dzhee), east of Tai Po in the New Territories.  This is the view from my roof terrace:

 Roof terrace, Tung Tsz

The building in… Read full post »

AUGUST 7, 2010 9:29PM

On Racist Animals

People who don’t have animals may not know this, but dogs and cats discriminate by race and by sex. My dog Adriana has nothing against Asians, but she loves white people. When I had a cast party after a show at my place, a group of students arrived, including one white… Read full post »

does anybody know of an intelligent blog on gender issues that would be worth reading every day with breakfast? 

 I don't know what happened to Broadsheet. Most obviously, Kate Harding, the most intelligent of the contributors, left, but at the same time all the others went trivial. I wonde… Read full post »

Many women seem to have a very firm belief that "men love the thrill of the chase." That is, men take great pleasure in pursuing a woman who is elusive. It strikes me now that I have never felt this, though I'm middle-aged, and have only heard of this from women.… Read full post »

 (spoiler alert)

These two blockbusters have something in common: they are both greatly about images of manhood. Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight features a vampire-man, Edward Cullen. What is distinctive about him as a romantic hero is that he desperately wants to kill the heroine and drink he… Read full post »

JUNE 5, 2010 4:54PM

Why expect Obama to be an actor?

Isn't governing enough?

 The US system and public have absurd expectations of presidents. The system of checks and balances means that a government cannot get its program through without elaborate and time-consuming rituals. I know what the purpose of the whole thing is supposed to be, but from… Read full post »

APRIL 23, 2010 7:22AM

Gingrich on Orwell's socialism

Newt Gingrich wrote to day in the Washington Post:

""Socialist": Creating czar positions to micromanage industry reflects the type of hubris of centralized government that Friedrich von Hayek and George Orwell warned against."

 How on earth does he manage to not know that George Orwell was a sRead full post »

APRIL 2, 2010 10:44PM

Hatred of Men II

Since writing about misandry in marywollstonecraft a couple of months ago, I’ve been watching the news on the Internet, and, you know, the situation is worse than I thought.

Consider the flap over Sandra Bullock and the supposed Oscar curse. If by some insane chance you missed it, the general i… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 28, 2010 1:07AM

Canadianness: Return to My Native Land

I’ve just come back from Toronto. My department here in Hong Kong quite usefully sent me there during the Winter Olympics, leaving me free to contemplate the significance of hockey and curling, and notice how people behave at Tim Horton’s.

Americans often write that Canadians are polite. W… Read full post »

JANUARY 14, 2010 8:50PM

On Directing Plays in Hong Kong

Macbeth poster by C. DeCoursey


After weeks of overcast weather, we have one of those cool, sunny days that make winter in Hong Kong worthwhile. It’s time to write about something pleasant.

I’m a specialist in Renaissance literature in the first instance, but since joining the academic workforce, I’… Read full post »

JANUARY 12, 2010 9:39PM

Mary Wollstonecraft

Just in case you missed it, I've been posting on gender issues over at Mary Wollstonecraft.  Mary Jo Koch (Redstocking Grandma) who coordinates the site, was having trouble getting people to blog regularly there. She asked me for my post, "Excesses of Feminisms Past: Some Context." So that one i… Read full post »

(spoiler alert)

Along with everyone and his dog, I’ve been to see Avatar. Before I went, people told me, You must go to see the visual effect. Forget the story. The story is simplistic and not worth worrying about. So, I thought I was going to see something visually amazing, but… Read full post »

Whenever anyone brings up the concept of objectification of women in a blog, there are long and endless wrangles about what the idea means, and whether it is valid. One old-line feminist response to this would be, "Those men just don`t get it." I want to argue here that the concept… Read full post »

If someone is kind enough to request a repost, I feel I should oblige. Kellylark, perhaps you would comment.

 The recent thread on pornography begun by Amy Tuteur is generating more heat than light. Now that I have appointed myself Open Salon's historian

Read full post »
OCTOBER 23, 2009 10:58PM

"The Rules" and Hatred of Men

I’m 49 and divorced, dating again. I work with young people 18 to 22, mostly young women, as my employer is a college of education. I can claim some perspective on the dating game.

That is why it worries me when I read destructive nonsense about dating on the Internet. The… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 10:37PM

Sex ethics

Whatever else, the traditional model of sexual morality has the advantage of simplicity. No sex until marriage, then only with your spouse. The line between the two is very clearly marked with a massive ceremony. If you’re gay, then just don’t have sex at all.

For most people in the riche… Read full post »

SEPTEMBER 24, 2009 3:38AM

"Cougar": Women as Big Cats


In Broadsheet recently, Amanda Fortini got onto the topic of metaphorical names for categories of people. As she points out, quite a few women have objected to the label "cougar" as a name for a woman who has a relationship with a younger man. She defends it, asRead full post »

In a big way, the alternative American media--Salon, Huffington Post, Daily Kos--is exactly like  the mainstream media. And that is in attention to issues.

I'm glad to see positive attention being paid to Iranians on these sites, and I'm impressed with the quality of the coverage. But why Iran?… Read full post »

Thanks to a bout of flu (not swine), I am now getting around to reading Malcolm Gladwell’s last book Outliers. It is about the nature of success, and what tends to produce it, in terms of family background, hard work and culture. Something about it strikes me, that would not, I… Read full post »

If you lose a knight from your chess set, you can use a penny instead--and that has implications for the nature of meaning. Ferdinand de Saussure pointed out that this means the signifier itself makes no difference. Only the place of the sign within a system matters. To make the issue… Read full post »

FEBRUARY 7, 2009 11:25PM

Similes are cool; metaphors are hot

Look at these two pictures:

orangerubber ball
The shapes are similar. The colours are clearly distinguishable but not entirely different. You will realize that the one on the left is a fruit and may realize that the one on the right is a plaything, so you know a few more things about them.

Similarity… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 3, 2009 2:07AM

I do not think in language

There is something strange about me. When I was a little kid, I went to French immersion school. That whole thing was new at that time, and at the Y other boys asked me questions about what it was like. The most common question was, “Do you think in French?”Read full post »