Door Agents

Latour has long used the door as an illustration of the ‘missing masses,’ drawing attention to the overlooked but active roles nonhumans play in organizing everyday relationships. Doors, he argues (with help from hinges), solve the ‘wall-hole’ dilemma, keeping order by allowing for selected things to pass through walls at sometimes, but not others. My door, however, also has the power to sign. No, not in the semiotic sense of carrying meaning, representing ‘home’ or ‘privacy.’ I mean the power to sign for things. Tracking packages a few weeks ago, the internets confirmed that my book was at my house, accepted by a mysterious ‘fd.’ Yes, accepted by my Front Door, without so much as a single doorbell ring to alert me of the event. My door, it seems, has been quietly standing witness to deliveries and signing for packages in my absence.


The 2010 Winter Olympics are long over, but a lecture on copyright has me thinking back to two cases of controversial slogans. In a game of trademark taboo (please tell me I can still use that word?), Lulu Lemon, created a line of unofficial Olympic clothing in support of a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011.” Clever marketing plan for capitalizing on the Winter Games? Yes. Funny? Definitely. But also yet another example of the absurdity of current copyright laws. While the words (barely) falling between the lines – Winter, Olympics, Vancouver, 2010 – seem in themselves strong examples of the direction of intellectual propoerty laws (under exactly what conditions can seasons be taken out of the public domain?), it is the Vancouver Olympic Committee’s successful trademarking of “with glowing hearts” and “des plus brillants exploits” from O Canada that truly scares me. What better illustrates market logic seeping into the public sphere than the suggestion of removing the national anthem itself from the commons? While the trademark ostensibly prevents only (other) commercial use of the phrase and I am hardly one to defend nationalism, I am left contemplating the implications of so directly ‘protecting’ what should belong to all with the logic of exclusivity, of the very possibility of classifying a season as “intellectual property”.