02 April 2009

the Jay Cutler Era

This evening marks the dawning of a new era for the Chicago Bears. Today, the Bears made what may be their most audacious move in team history, trading their first round picks this year & next year, plus a third round pick (this year) & Kyle Orton (all round nice guy, but not a great dog name) for Jay Cutler & a fifth round pick.
Jay Cutler's addition to the Bears will mean that fans in Chicago (not to mention Bears management) will finally have to take a sharp, critical look at the rest of the team they're fielding.

For years now (how many years since Sid Luckman {hell, i'd take a Jim McMahon} was in town?) Bears fans have been able to look at the quarterback position as the source of all of our woes. While i was a long-standing supporter of Rex Grossman (going so far as to even name my dog after him), i always had the sense that he wasn't a real answer to our problems, but the Bears management had put so much into him, wagered on him, that i wanted to believe.

Now they've got a bona-fide, honest-to-goodness quarterback in Jay Cutler. Tomorrow, the Bears will have to start to realize that they haven't had a viable Wide Receiver since, what, Willie Gault? Their line seems a bit shored up this season, assuming Chris Williams pans out, but it's still cobbled-together & kinda old. On a bright note, they do have pretty good Tight Ends. Hooray, we've got good tight ends (note, several, not just one, so whenever we're in a 2 TE set, look out world).

Their defense, the erstwhile strength of the team, is all but gone. Tommie Harris may never be Tommie Harris again. The rest of the D-Line is on something of a precipice, they could work out, but didn't get it done last year. Linebackers, well, Brian Urlacher... John Madden loves him. He's good, isn't he? And Lance Briggs (is he still with us? did he successfully escape? {NOTE: this blog is quite possibly the worst informed blog on the planet, i literally know nothing of which i speak}). Once you get back to the D-backfield, we're fairly lost. A lot of players who've proven they are players, but not recently.

Finally, Devin. Oh Devin. I can only assume you were a real thing. That you, indeed, are...ridiculous. There were all sorts of reasons that we gave for you not returning half a dozen kicks for TDs, but i've still got faith (Bears fans need a good deal of this).

Ultimately, i think if Devin (or some combination of Devin & Manning) can pose the scary-ass danger they did up until this season, and the Bears can start most drives between the 40s & Jay Cutler doesn't arrive in Chicago and realize just how low the bar is set here, and the defense behaves as a Bears defense is meant to behave and if the coaching staff doesn't coward their way toward a long sequence of losses... we might actually be okay this year. I am feeling fairly optimistic, but, then again, i've had this same feeling each of the last 20 or so seasons, so don't trust me on this...

01 April 2009

unBecoming Animals

I'm interested in a distinction that i don't actually see Steve Baker making very often in his book, The Postmodern Animal, namely between representations of animals and actual animals used in representations of animals (what i might call representative animals). My initial interest in this question stems from looking at Gunther von Hagens' Bodyworlds exhibition and wondering to what extent the bodies (animal and human) presented there in fact are 'real', that is, are we seeing dead bodies when we look at the pieces or representations of bodies (the assumption of the question being, of course, that the answer matters).

It seems to me that the lack of this distinction in Baker's book might be the very definition of 'the postmodern animal'. Baker lays out the progression of animality from the 19th Century 'symbolic animal' to the 'modern animal' (which for him doesn't exist, but i would like to think of as the industrialized animal), through to the postmodern animal (p. 20), where the distinction between representative animals and representations of animals breaks down to some extent. For Baker, this eroded distinction gets most interestingly questioned in works like Olly and Susi's in which representations of animals are placed 'on the border' where they will (hopefully) be interacted with by the animals depicted. Sharks bite pictures of sharks and deer urinate on their own image… which reminds me of this one time… in Copenhagen…

But in a case like Olly and Susi's (or Mark Dion's Library for the Birds of Antwerp as another example) the answer to the distinction seems obvious, at least until you start thinking about zoo theory in which even the living animals become representative (and perhaps representations). Far more challenging, I think, are works like Damien Hirst's This Little Piggy and The Physical Impossibility of Death in which actual dead animals are preserved in formaldehyde and presented in glass casing. And this is where the connection to von Hagens' work comes into play. The most common question asked by critics of the Bodyworlds exhibit is 'why not just use platic molding to recreate the human interior'. In other words, if we, as good little postmodernists, are going to dissolve the barrier between actual animals and representations of animals (see zoo theory as a starting place for this), why then does Damien Hirst need to cut an actual pig in half for his artwork, when a realistic molding would accomplish the same thing (and essentially, be the same thing). (Plus, such a rendering by Hirst would demonstrate much more 'artistic expertise' than cutting an animal in half and dunking it in preservatives - and therein lies the answer to my own question, methinks).