I am now running a Student Innovation Fellowship blog, and over there, I attempt to define ‘innovation’ – a concept I really struggle with.
Right now. I am writing this blog, cooking some chicken, and listening to music. For me though, now is a rather large amount of time, when I think of all my movements compiled into a ‘now’ point. I set my timer for 40 minutes a few minutes ago. The timer is ‘now’ running, but I set it in the past… part of my continuous now moment. Now however, does not always work this way. Now is subjective… and as soon as I can say the word ‘now,’ it’s then.
Edmund Husserl, in his essay, “The Constitution of Temporal Objects,” from his book The Phenomenology of the Internal Time-Consciousness tells us that our experiences begin to “blur and draw together” the further we move away from them. The ‘now’ I had when I set my timer, is beginning to blend into a past. A past that, tomorrow morning, will be one blob of ‘last night.’ And all my ‘last nights’ eventually blur into ‘last month’s nights’ and so on. “Blur and draw together.”
This morning I walked to my coffee shop and on the way, read an excerpt from Marcel Proust’s epic novel In Search of Lost Time, which used to be called Remembrance of Things Past. In the 2nd chapter of Swann’s Way, Marcel remembers his childhood home.
At the house, the setting is always grey and the time is perpetually 7 o’clock in the evening – bedtime for the young narrator. Later, Marcel tastes a petite madeleine dipped in tea, and this sparks more memories for him.
And this whole narrative causes me to think about the house where I grew up. that tiny green house in Huntington Beach. I remember that house as fondly as I might a family member. I remember it with such vividness – the color of the carpet in the dining room – the claw-foot bathtub in the bathroom – I had not ever considered to attempt to remember it the way Proust’s character does. And so:
If I stand in the street and look at the house, it’s morning. It’s time fore school. White fog is rolling in from the ocean and blanketing everything. But if I stand on the porch and look out, it’s daytime – sunny and bright. Each room of my little house contains a different set of memories – the living room is filled with Christmas, string games, blanket fort building, Saturday morning cartoons, and uncles. My parent’s bedroom is all spankings, reading Star Trek books with my dad, and brown quilts.
And so I wonder whether or not I remember more about my childhood than most people. If so, why do I remember so much so vividly? If not, why don’t more people talk about their memories from when they were little? Why does Proust have this singular memory of bedtime and the staircase, and I have hundreds of memories all over my house?
As I delve deeper into the study of time, memory surfaces again and again. It is such a subjective experience, both broken and powerful. Would that we could put Proust and Husserl in a room together and see what happens….
As I prepare to dig deep into my dissertation, I have learned a lot about my own writing process(es) – one of which is podcasting.
Let me explain:
In order to stay healthy and brain-stimulated, I run several times a week. When I run, I don’t like to listen to music. The beat forces my pace and this frustrates me. Instead, I podcast. I don’t listen to funny podcasts because laughing while running is also not wonderful. Instead, I podcast educational materials. Recently I have discovered the material theorists dream – The History of the World in 100 Objects sponsored by the British Museum.
Not only has this lead to several hours of fascinating discovery about significant bits of history of which I was unaware, it has also (today) lead to some rather large bits of inspiration. In podacst 015: “Early Writing Tablet“, broadcast on 5 February 2010, the narrator says, “Of all mankind’s great advances, the development of writing is surely the giant. I think you can say, it’s had more impact on the evolution of human society than any other invention.” The episode, which I have linked you to above, goes on to talk about one of the first discoveries of writing in Uruk. The writing is record keeping – and the record is about beer. Suffice it to say, this program is worth a listen.
As I listened to this short episode, I realized that I don’t have to do much to connect the theoretical lens that I am using to frame my dissertation to the study of writing. Writing is so immensely important to humans, civilization, and the labor we put into making those civilizations work, almost any object, space, or even software can be linked to how important writing on, in, or about is crucial to deciphering how to better ourselves, and the civilizations in which we live.
It has been a long time since I posted. I keep meaning to. I have a lot to say. I read Adam Banks’s book Digital Griots over a month ago – but I just keep on reading, and not blogging. So I took a moment to snap a few photos of what I have been doing and where my thinking is going, and I thought people out there might want to see how I am going to pull off my comprehensive exams in October.
As you might already know, I am a highly visual person. I’m that person who can draw a map to someone’s house based on directions over the phone, leave the map behind, and still make my way there, no problem. So I decided to map my thoughts as I read for my comprehensive exams.
Below is a wide shot of the map as it is developing (if you zoom, you might be able to make some of the details out).
The map is split into two sections – Materialism on the left, and Visual/Digital on the right. The idea is that the ideas from both with begin to meet in the middle and I will make my biggest connections right in the center.
Here is the left – where I have been spending most of my intellectual time. I want to get the material theory down first before I start applying it to the digital.
And here is the right. As you can see, I haven’t hit this too hard, but it’s coming.
So there you go – feel free to steal this idea and use it yourself. I bought a 7ft roll of paper at the art store and thumb-tacked it right to the wall. And I use pencil so I can erase and move. Ideally, I would have painted the wall with whiteboard paint, but I don’t own, so… paper it is! The plus side is that I can roll this up and take it places later, and if I need to start over, I can just take it down and replace it with new paper. Hooray!
In my last entry, I talked briefly about Terry Eagleton and my foray into Marxism. I’m just getting started, and I must openly admit that I have not actually read Das Capital or The German Ideology. That’s coming this summer when I take Ted Friedman’s Post-Marxism course. Thank goodness my buddy Nick Sciullo will be there to tell me when I’m saying something crazy (or to get me to just say even crazier things than normal).
This time around, I read an excerpt by Marx called “Social Being and Social Consciousness” – in which he talks about the relations of production and of material productive forces. What I find myself most interested in is how he addresses consciousness: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness” (31). To me, this is a reminder that Marx is not lucky enough to be smacked in the face by post-modernism every time he opens a book, or has a coffee house conversation. And as I begin this journey, I need to keep in mind that the rhetorical situation surrounding the information I’m sponging up.
Moving from the speck of Marx above to Engels’s micro-discussion of Vulgar Marxism, and Realism, I am caught by his use of the term ‘real life.’ I’ve always struggled with the designation of the real – especially when I am informed that I don’t live in the ‘real world’ – as though somehow my status in academia means I don’t eat, sleep, or need to make a living since my life is somehow less ‘real.’ That quibble aside, Engels brings in important historical distinctions that include the real: “According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimately determining factor in history is the production and reproduction of real life” (39). Later on the page, Engels (thankfully) defines realism, saying that it “implies besides truth of detail, the truthful reproduction of typical characters under typical circumstances” (39). This, however, does nothing to clear up my issues with the way we, today, use the word ‘real,’ except in that even the academy must produce and reproduce in real ways that relate to relations of production and labor forces. Especially when we apply this to the ways in which we create and provide labor in the lower division composition classrooms.
But I’ll save that conversation for another day.
I just changed my ‘about’ page to reflect the changes that are happening in this blog.
I formally welcome you all to my comprehensive study response blog – where I will write my thoughts on the readings I am doing for my comps.
Just to give you an idea of where I’m going with this – my comprehensive exams are divided into 2 categories: Material Theory and Visual/Digital Rhetorics – all with emphasis on Critical Pedagogy.
I have no idea what I’ll write my dissertation on at this point, but I have been told by a reliable source that I’ll figure it out as I read – and think she’s right (thank you Laurissa!).
So I decided, in order to create a solid base, I would begin by reading some post-Marxist theory. I’m about 7 sources into my list and so I’m going to break up my thoughts on those seven into several entries. Below, I address a little Eagleton.
Patterns I’m noticing that I am most interested in in the vein of post-Marxist theory have to do with production/reproduction, value, and the myth of individual freedom.
Terry Eagleton, in the intro to his book Marxist Literary Theory, says “Part of the crisis of Marxism would seem to be that it is no longer easy to say what counts as being a Marxist, if indeed it ever was” (3). This claim makes me feel a lot better because I’ve never known what people mean when/if they claim to be Marxist. Marxism, Eagleton explains, is a body of work, not a man. It is not just Das Capital, and it does not actually solve anything. He also claims, curiously to me, that “If postmodernism is right, then Marxism is wrong.” I assume this has to do with the structural nature of Marxism and its birth in the Modernist traditions.
What I’m wondering at this point is – How is Marxism at play in our developing futures? – I will come back to this question again when I get to Jameson – I’m sure you ‘Marxists’ out there may know what I’m going to say already – you’ll just have to wait.
So that’s what I’m starting with now – but this week, I will cover Marx/Engels, Benjamin, My New Crush Raymond Williams, Alick West, more Eagleton, and some Frederic Jameson.
Please feel free in joining me on this journey into my comps and I welcome any of your perspective shifting questions, or comments about my thoughts.
This week we moved into feminist rhetorics, and our featured readings are kind of brilliant:
Royster, Jacqueline Jones. “A View From a Bridge: Afrafeminist Ideologies and Rhetorical Studies” – From Traces from a Stream
Licona, Adela. “(B)orderlands’ Rhetorics and Representations: The Transformative Potential of Feminist Third-Space Scholarship and Zines.”
Although I found a lot of worth in Royster’s piece, like the fact that she begins with a story to base her theory on, and the fact that she taught (teaches) here in Atlanta – I am so fascinated by some of the things that happen in Licona’s article, that I am going to focus there. This post plans to be a little off from my more traditional posts (the end of the year is getting to me) – so put on your blog-post-seatbelt and hold on.
First I want to address Third-Space. Licona defines Third-Space as “a location, third space has the potential to be a space of shared understanding and meaning-making” (105). And while I agree that there needs to be a designation of space for ‘other’ people to gather and talk and make their voices heard, I can’t help but wonder if our country is founded on too many binaries. Why third space? Why can’t we have fourth and fifth space too? We have two political parties, and people only ever talk about getting a third. What of a fourth or a fifth? We talk about race in terms of black and white – but anyone who’s ever woken up in the morning knows that this binary is false. I have no solution for this term ‘third space’ – but I view it as problematic.
Here’s the crazy part:
As I was reading Licona’s article, I began to think about dystopian futuristic science fiction. It’s pretty much the most entertaining genre ever created. Licona’s use of parenthesis creates a visual break in many of the words she uses in this article. The parenthesis cannot be heard: only seen. Further, Licona discusses intersexuality and “how the biomedical profession has, historically, occluded feelings, expressions, and experiences of sexual ambiguity” (107), which is largely true (and I believe Haraway addressed that last week). And then right after this, Licona talks about Haraway (eureeka!) and talks about the hybridized cyborg…
This is where my brain went:
It’s the future – but not that far – 2113, let’s say. Humans have long since legalized gay marriage. In fact, they have legalized polyamourous marriage too. People have names that contain parenthesis – names that must be both seen and spoken – names that give their identities such nuanced meanings that almost everyone wears their name stitched onto their clothing (this is also a display of subject-specific-superficial consumerism). And while at birth, almost everyone is designated as either male or female, as they get older, they are given a number based on extensive psychiatric evaluations through social interaction and testing. The number indicates their placement on the sexuality scale. You may be a straight male who sometimes admires the physique of other men, but not sexually (M9) or a fully lesbian Female who is disgusted by men and does not even feel comfortable in the same spaces (F1). Or perhaps you have decided to surgically alter your biological sex from Female to Male, yet you are still mostly sexually attracted to men (TM3). These labels may also be monogrammed onto all your belongings as a part of your consumer identity, if you should chose to have this displayed. There is even an option for those who find themselves to be sexual chameleons – that’s why there is the LCD- identifier – allowing your sexual identity to be displayed as it changes.
The above system was designed through a conglomeration of government and corporate sponsoring that the people accepted gradually. Many thought it would be utopian. Many felt more comfortable being able to identify each other – parenthetical names indicate a longing for deep conversation, for example. But then the (M5) and (F5) designated humans began to form a coalition and prove that they – the most open and willing to move through the sexualities, were dominant – somehow better. Because humans love hierarchy. I’ll let you imagine what happens next.
— Anyway – that’s what I was thinking about as I was reading Licona. I am not a fan of Zines. I had a bunch of friends in zine culture, and I get it. I’m just not a fan. So I’ll leave you with the craziest response blog I’ve ever done. I wonder if it qualifies as non-linear. Or stream of conscious, maybe? Hm.