valerievisual

Readings, and Related Inspirations


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Memory and the Formation of Internal Time-Consciousness

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.

William C Carter update

This is the edition I am reading.

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….

 


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Inspiration in a Podcast

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.


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Parenthetical Visuality and Third Space – 8150

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

and

Licona, Adela. “(B)orderlands’ Rhetorics and Representations: The Transformative Potential of Feminist Third-Space Scholarship and Zines.”

taken from mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu

taken from mcclellandinstitute.arizona.edu

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.


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Intertextual America – 8150

This week, I decided to move away from the materialism and commodification of the university system I’ve lately become obsessed with and talk about a topic that’s a little more fun: intertextuality.

What is intertextuality?

If you ask Frank J. D’Angelo in 2009, he would tell you that intertextuality is deployed in a series of related ways. In his article “The Rhetoric of Intertextuality” published in the Rhetoric Review in 2009, D’Angelo informs the reader through the use of various definitions, that intertextuality can be adaptation, retro, appropriation, parody, pastiche, or simulation. And while this is an interesting and useful reading of intertextuality, it feels incredibly shallow, and… well… D’Angelo is not very cool. “The Rhetoric of Intertextuality” feels like my grandfather wrote it, and that’s only after he consciously decided to not know much about popular culture for at least ten years prior. His examples too often feel bizarre, and a little out of left-field. And I find it irritating that D’Angelo begins each section by using a dictionary definition – a technique I tell my students not to use since dictionaries don’t have context. And while D’Angelo has some great ideas, and I really really DO think this article is useful pedagogically, I think he’s reaching in a lot of places. When he’s talking about adaptation, and the way we make one work into various commodities like film adaptations, action figures, electronic media, and so on – is this really adaptation? Isn’t it just commerce gone awry? Then, I’m not sure why retro is separate from adaptation. Isn’t making something retro (or as D’Angelo tells it, recycled) just a re-appropriation of older ideas?

Wait – didn’t I say I’d be moving away from commodification? It looks like I lied.

However – if you sandwich D’Angleo with Baudrillard‘s essay “America” – intertextuality becomes beautiful. It becomes the way in which we look at space – and as anyone who has ever studied anything space related, “to examine space” is a BIG statement.

Taken from eswinfield.blogspot.com

Taken from eswinfield.blogspot.com

By ‘sandwich,’ I mean I read the “America” excerpt, largely had no idea what it was about, read D’Angelo, and then went back to “America.” Then I said, “Oh. I get why this is cool.”

Baudrillard takes the vast, ’empty’ spaces of America and laces them intertextually with other concepts like silence, magic, objective, technology and primitivity. Reading “America” is like being reminded of all the things I’ve ever taken for granted. I grew up in the desert, and I always thought it was ugly. And then I left. And when I came back – I realized how much of what Baudrillard laces together here is the closest thing to an accurate description that I may have ever encountered. Silence is a big part of living an a desert. Before the Phoenix metro area got so large it takes more than 3 hours to drive out of it, we could drive 2 hours in any direction and be in almost any climate – totally disconnected, in technology-free, magic-like spaces, sometimes with no objective other that to just go. How very American.

It ACTUALLY looks like this - taken from www.sonoran-sunsets.com

It ACTUALLY looks like this – taken from http://www.sonoran-sunsets.com

And now I think I might get it.

Intertextuality is an illustrated (sometimes) version of metaphor.

Right?


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The Unavoidable Logic of Empire, a Letter – 8150

Dear Capitalism:

You offer me whatever I could imagine. When I couldn’t find the right orange socks for my Velma costume last Halloween, you reminded me that I can get any color accessory I could imagine at American Apparel. When I wondered what a minor key rendition of “Call Me Maybe” might sound like, you delivered Ben Howard. When I wanted to watch a television show about a succubus, instead of the same run-of-the-mill vampires and werewolves, you gave me Lost Girl.

I love you Capitalism.

I consume, I discard, and I consume again.

But my love for you stops there.

As a committed pedagogue with an aspiring career in critical pedagogical scholarship, I don’t appreciate your move to commodify my institution. If Henry Giroux is right in his 2004 article “Cultural Studies, Public Pedagogy, and the Responsibility of Intellectuals,” when he claims “that pedagogy represents both a mode of cultural production and a type of cultural criticism that is essential for questioning the conditions under which knowledge is produced, values affirmed, affective investments engaged, and subject positions put into place, negotiated, taken up, or refused” (63), then I’m not willing to give up this unique space where I can give my students a variety of lenses through which to interpret our cultural milieu. Yet I am also constantly faced with the following question: what is higher education supposed to be accomplishing? Is it getting students ready to enter the workforce? Is it preparing them to be good producers and consumers within an economically capitalist system? If that’s the case, then the way that Rachel Riedner and Kevin Mahoney define Neoliberalism in their book Democracies to Come: Rhetorical Action, Neoliberalism, and Communities of Resistance, as “a way of defining work in relationship to culture that secures a workforce for capitalism” (19), this means that commodifying education – to deliver a product that our student-consumers pay for – is a very real occurrence. Just today, as I was writing a response to an article published two weeks ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education called “The Second-Chance Club,” I discovered that the featured school, Montgomery Community College actually calls their students “student consumers.” I balked. I do not appreciate the glitzy, attractive cage you have built. I do not appreciate how you have infiltrated my overly-ideological, arguably ignorant utopian fantasy that my classroom can be an ideal site for resistance and questioning. I am not bought and paid for in order to deliver my students a good in the form of a letter filled into a box at the end of the semester.

Later in the second chapter of their book, Riedner and Mahoney point out that “when we use modes of address, we are connected to social relationships that produce relations to capital” (20). I know this is a lower-case ‘t’ truth. I know that my material being is so wrapped up in consumer capitalism and market economy, that no matter what I say or do, I am enveloped in it. I cannot imagine my life without you. I cannot imagine a Zapitista lifestyle. I have never seen it.

So tell me, capitalism. What is your kryptonite? Is it fluency in multiple languages, as Gramsci argues? Is it a continual dialogue with students about modes of discourse, modes of power, racism, gender, working conditions… what do I do to quit you?

How do I quit you in my classroom when I love you so much in my closet?


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Follow-Up to Cintron’s Gang Walls – 8150

Today in class, we discussed the Cintron piece I mentioned in my last blog. Coincidentally, on my train ride home, I listened to last week’s This American Life podcast – about a Chicago area high school, Harper High School, who have no choice but to deal with gangs and gang violence. Things have changed drastically since Cintron’s book, Angels’ Town was published in 1997.

Grab your tissues and have a listen:

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/487/harper-high-school-part-one

The above is Part 1 of a 2-Part series. You should be able to link the 2nd part next week. Or if you download the podcast, mine uploaded today.


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Marking the Public Sphere – 8150

As soon as I began to read “Gangs and Their Walls” by Ralph Cintron (1997), I thought about my own experiences growing up on the West Coast, hearing about gang violence, knowing several gang members, and even having a couple of ‘tagger’ friends (tagging is a MUCH different practice than gang related graffiti). In his paper, Cintron discusses gang graffiti and its placement in public spaces – its “manifestations of desire and frustration” (164), and how gangs are an alternate sub-altern group that do not fit under the same systemically voiceless rubric as do women, as Nancy Fraser discusses  women as subaltern in her text “Rethinking the Public Sphere.”

I couldn't find one of the images from the text, so here is some random gang graffiti - taken from people.howstuffworks.com

I couldn’t find one of the images from the text, so here is some random gang graffiti – taken from people.howstuffworks.com

This week, we also read “Community Literacy: A Rhetorical Model for Personal and Public Inquiry” by Lorraine Higgins, Elenore Long, and Linda Flower (2006).  This paper is an interesting look at how local discourses can be fashioned so participants at a community level may have a voice in their everyday lives and ‘problems.’ In four parts, the authors define the problem(s), and discuss how to transform these problems into discourses where community members can take action for their own well-being, in their own lives, through writing and communicating among many embodiments of the levels of the hierarchical system.

It’s a little difficult to connect these readings to each other, though there are many ways this could be done. Even so, as usual, I’m going to take these off to play in the deep end of the pool and talk about something that has always been of interest to me: tattooing. In order to bring this into the conversation with some relevancy, I turn to the first section of the Higgins, Long and Flower piece: “Assessing the Rhetorical Situation” in which the authors claim that “problems are not empirical entities ‘out there’; they are, as so famously argued in the exchange between Lloyd Bitzer and Scott Consigny, interpretations” (6).

The first problem I seek to identify is the problem of the body as both public and private space. Like the wall of a building, or an underpass, or even the side of a cargo train-car, the body is both privately owned, and considered fit for public view, presumably while one is clothed. Like a wall, the body poses something of a problem area as it is both and neither belonging to public sphere. We see Fraser, for example, address women’s issues this way. When the body is marked in some way that is ‘other’ than what the dominant public sphere deems suitable, it may fall lower on the scale in  “societies whose basic institutional framework generates unequal social groups in structural relations of dominance and subordination” (Fraser 66) – societies like America. Like the problem of domestic violence, or women speaking in public, the marked body hovers somewhere not quite public, and not quite private.

This piece was done by Sammy Bockleman of Birch Avenue Tattoo in Flagstaff, AZ - taken from www.birchavenuetattoo.com

This piece was done by Sammy Bockleman of Birch Avenue Tattoo in Flagstaff, AZ – taken from http://www.birchavenuetattoo.com

Bear with me as I make all this up pretty much on the spot – feel free to provide insightful feedback:

Until recently, and still arguably today, people that are tattooed are generally viewed as rebellious, often drug users, or even violent. Women with tattoos are sometimes assumed to be ‘loose’, or otherwise tainted. Google “Tattoo Women” and you get an entire page of hypersexualized women with chest tattoos. Depending on the nature and degree of tattooing, people are denied jobs, asked to cover parts of their bodies (sometimes rather creatively), or assumed to be less than a contributing member of society. Bodies of Inscription, by Margo DeMello and Bodies of Subversion, by Margot Mifflin are both scholarly books entering a discourse on tattooing, anthropologically in American and Canadian culture, and gender specifically, respectively.

Another issue I face in being interested in the rhetorical space of talking about tattooing, is in my inability to uncover ‘why’ people get tattooed. Popular reality television shows like L.A. Ink or Ink Master spend much of their time discussing the deep meaning and/or memorialization behind every tattoo they feature. As a result, as common argument I have heard is that people with tattoos should not have got tattooed if they didn’t want to divulge all the inner (private) meanings of their tattoos. It is as though the ‘norm’ of the public sphere is somehow transformed into a public body with permissions to interrogate, gaze at, and even touch a person who has chosen to get tattooed. Further, it is not uncommon to hear phrases like, “What will you do when you are older?” ; “How will you find a job?”; or “Don’t you know you are stuck with that for life?” – as though the tattooed body is somehow now in a prison from which the marked cannot escape. Somehow, because their body is less private according to the ‘norm,’ is it more of an inescapable prison than it was before it was marked?

Unlike communities aimed at building a literacy for a perceived common good (though Higgins, Long and Flower tell us that common ground is very hard to come by), tattooed people do not automatically form a common culture based on their tattooed status. There is no ‘local public’ for them to seek out. What would be interesting however, is to find (or create) an empirical study based around how two tattooed strangers might approach and greet one another as opposed to how someone ‘normal’ and endowed with the right to interrogate, gaze, or touch, engages a tattooed person. Again, this likely varies depending on the degree and nature of tattooing involved parties possess. Is there a public code one tattooed individual adheres to with another tattooed individual? If so, is this code understood, as a covert gang sign, color, or graffiti symbol might be understood in Cintron’s article? Where does one learn this code? Is it transferable?

As you can see, I am unsure exactly how this all ties together, but I have yet to see much work done rhetorically on this topic, though there is a particularly interesting piece by Sonja Modesti called “Home Sweet Home: Tattoo Parlors as Postmodern Spaces of Agency” (2008) which addresses the parlor as the space of agency and Megan Jean Harlow‘s “The Suicide Girls: Tattooing as Radical Feminist Agency” (2008), which addresses reappropriation of the body via tattooing in a subcultural third-wave feminist group called ‘The Suicide Girls.’ Neither directly address the public paradox of the tattooed body, or the particular nature of the tattoo, though there is rather extensive anthropological work on both gang tattooing and prison tattooing available for your reading pleasure.

I ask then, if a local public cannot be identified, how do we develop a common rhetorical capacity for tattooed people to express the myriad reasons for inscripting their flesh? How does the larger public sphere, the dominant culture that determines the ‘norm’ negotiate all the varieties of tattooed individuals? Do we bracket tattooing and pretend like we can’t see the ‘neck blast’ on our poetry professor? Do we pretend like we are not taken aback by the knuckle tattoos on the manager’s manager in the customer service department of the phone company? Are tattooed people to be shut away and relegated to telemarketing so ‘normal’ people don’t have to look at them? What – in a quasi-public/private situation as the appropriately exposed parts of the body – are we supposed to do to direct discourse that reduces discrimination in this context?