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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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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A Quick Dip in the Visual Rhetoric Pool – 8150

I lieu of writing out a whole response on the topic of Visual Rhetorics, I am instead making my annotated bibliography available here in digital form.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Or feel free to continue the conversation we have in class here on my blog.

Visual Rhetoric Annotated Bibliography


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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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Agency – The Necessary Illusion? – 8150

I am pretty sure I did a lot more staring at a wall and breathing out rather heavily than I did actually reading about agency this weekend. I’m glad I read Nedra Reynolds‘s article “Interrupting Our Way to Agency: Feminist Cultural Studies and Composition” (1998/2009) before I read Marilyn M. Cooper’s “Rhetorical Agency as Emergent and Enacted” (2011). Had I read them the other way around, I probably would have thrown down Reynolds and just shouted “COOPER DECREES THIS CANNOT BE!”

It took me a bit to come to the above conclusion however, and a lot of freaking out the guy next to me at the coffee shop as I voiced out-loud when I did and did not agree with Cooper.

In the following lines, I will attempt to encapsulate my thoughts on our two readings without falling down any rabbit-holes.

Beautiful Rabbit Hole - taken from www.astonrep.com

Beautiful Rabbit Hole – taken from http://www.astonrep.com

The Reynolds article features an argument centered around tactical rhetoric for marginal, subaltern and otherwise oppressed peoples (898), made up of “multiple and competing subjectivities while also allowing for the possibility of ‘resistance to ideological pressure'” (897). This, by general definition would allow for the existence of the subject. In this way, the subject acts consciously, and the agent possesses agency in using the interruption of the dominant hegemonic force as her lever.

Cooper however, explains somewhere near the beginning of her article, that “a workable theory of agency requires the death not only of the modernist subject but of the whole notion of the subject” (423). [Italics mine]. This took me a minute to wrap my head around, and I’m not sure I agree with her. While Reynolds begins her essay denying postmodernist and poststructuralist theories that suggest that subjects cannot ‘possess’ agency, Cooper claims that the subject is not even part of the equation here. She explains that freedom is not necessarily freedom from constraint, but conglomerations of decisions influenced from several dynamic angles, always moving and changing (440). At this point, I find my ideographical understanding of freedom to be disrupted, and am forced to rethink my notions of ‘freedom.’ If my choices are always already influenced before, during and after I act, perhaps Carolyn Miller IS correct when she “argues that it is agency that is a necessary illusion” (439).

Early on in the article, Cooper rejects the claim made by Rickert that “The subject is inescapably defined by an agonistic relation to the object/other” (423) claiming that “any theory of agency that depends upon a notion of the subject is thus hamstrung at the start, struggling with how to account for any action that is not either determined by or resistant to semiotic, social, political, and material others or orders” (423). According to this claim, Reynolds’s argument is thus ‘hamstrung from the start.’ This I can agree with, but not necessarily for the same reasons. Reynolds does not account for the dual agency involved in persuasion – she does not discuss the need for the dominant players in cultural discourse to have agency in their own reactions to the interruptions she deems important. It appears that if the dominant players simply reduce interruption to belches and farts, they are then rejecting the interruption-as-agency and thereby rejecting the subject interrupting. According to Cooper’s theories, Reynolds has succeeded in nothing in relying on interruption this way.

Cooper does make a curious turn in the later pages of her article. She appears to be content with replacing the subject with the agent (441). By this logic, subjects are necessarily static, and agents are necessarily dynamic. Since I have never thought of a subject as being static, I have a hard time understanding why this distinction is so necessary.

Another bit I take issue with is the fact that Cooper does not acknowledge the passing of time in questions of agency. Reynolds observes that in the case of an occurrence of interruption at a conference, “the results of the interruption were not immediate, but they have been productive” (901), while it does not appear that Cooper, in her theories of agency in persuasion working in multiple directions, has accounted for the change in agent/subject over time. I can’t help but think of the metaphor of seed planting as I think about time and agency.

Taken from ideas.time.com

Taken from ideas.time.com

What I wonder then, is how/where the passage of time might fit into the neurodynamic intentional arc featured in figure 2 on page 429 (I cannot seem to find an illustration online), which begins with short and long term goals, and moves around to learning. And while I pretty much shouted to the hills how I don’t really believe time to exist, this weekend someone reminded me that in physics, space and time are inextricably linked, so I am currently retracting my denial of time, and will revisit this issue at a later date.

I have plenty more to say, but I’m going to leave you with the above, and bring the rest of my thoughts to class. The moral of this story is that I’m learning that no one who theorizes about agency can seem to agree on what agency is, what it does, who can and cannot have it, or what it is for. Great googly.


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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?


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Exploring Service Learning in Writing Programs

On this leg of my journey toward Doctoral Candidacy, I read two books:

Going Public: What Writing Programs Learn from Engagement by Shirley K. Rose and Irwin Weiser

Taken from Amazon

Taken from Amazon

The Activist WPA: Chanigng Stories and Writing about Writers by Linda Adler-Kassner

Also taken from Amazon

Also taken from Amazon

Both texts deal in service learning, a concept I find quite interesting, though not directly relevant to what I am interested in looking at where writing programs are concerned.

However, one can never know when these incredibly great ideas might come in handy.

Below is a short set of questions and answers relating to these texts:

1. What is/are the explicit argument(s)?

In both texts, the explicit arguments are that we (writing instructors, educators, everyone) need to prepare our students for the 21st century. Sometimes the authors discuss this in terms of civic duty, and sometimes they talk about skills students will take with them to find a job. Going Public specifically suggests that we need to make visible the infrastructures of writing and writing programs so that the students, and the general public can navigate the best ways to obtain what it is they need to know, or be able to perform (do).

2. What is/are the implicit argument(s)?

In Going Public, I got a sense that the collected authors reject the idea that there is a collective consciousness, and thus a viable culture of homogeneity we (the American public) should all be striving for. In The Activist WPA, though Adler-Kassner argues for a student’s ability to understand his or her individual influences, it is not clear where Adler-Kassner stands on the idea of cultural homogeneity as she argues that our speech affects the way the public views writing and the teaching of writing. By the end of the book, I was unsure what theoretical direction Adler-Kassner was coming from.

3. Why are these texts useful to rhetoric and composition?

Going Public is a useful look into service learning and how service learning can make regional writing programs more relevant. The Activist WPA fulfills much the same purpose, though Adler-Kassner’s message seems to be much more basic with suggestions as to how service learning can help fulfill the shift in the way we tell stories about our writers and writing instruction.

– Certainly both texts may be useful to my position in the field in the future if I decide I want to take my work in the direction of service learning.

4. What are the limits of the texts?

Both texts have the same limits I saw in Rose and Weiser’s The Writing Program Administrator as Theorist: Neither of these texts addresses New Media, computers and composition, or GTA training. Also, if we agree with what Rose and Weiser say of theory in the book I just mentioned, the articles in Going Public as well as Adler-Kassner’s book The Activist WPA, are not grounded firmly in any overtly identifiable theories. Further, Adler-Kassner’s book does not answer her introductory questions about assessment to my satisfaction. When I reached the end of her text and re-read her opening questions (also posed in the conclusion), I had to go back and search for her assessment ideas. They exist, but they solve no assessment issues I can identify.

5. What counts as evidence?

As with the 2002 Rose and Weiser text, the authors in Going Public lean on past scholarship and rather heavily on case studies. Adler-Kassner leans rather heavily on stories and story-telling in The Activist WPA.

6. What connections can I make to past texts?

In Going Public, I chose to focus on only a small number of essays: Chapter 5 “A Hybrid Genre Supports Hybrid Roles in Community-University Collaboration” because of my focus on collaborative projects and my interest in materials, Chapter 8 “Students, Faculty, and ‘Sustainable’ WPA work” because of its use of ‘Business as Usual’ metaphorical comparison and Chapter 11 “Coming Down from the Ivory Tower: Writing Program’s Role in Advocating Public Scholarship” because of its use of materialist theory (though not overtly) and its connection to public view.

Interestingly, now that I think about it, Chapter 11 has a lot of overlap with Adler-Kassner’s The Activist WPA in that her main occupation is in changing public perception. Though while I claim the use of materialist theory (which all arguably use), materialist theory is not explicitly discussed, nor thoroughly used. I claim the use of materialist theories because of the ideas all the above authors in question give credence to what Ronald Greene describes in his article “Another Materialist Rhetoric” as “a materialist rhetoric [which] marks how governing institutions represent, mobilize and regulate a population in order to judge their way of life” (27). In all 3 texts I have covered, materialist rhetoric has a place and a sway in the way the authors discuss their decisions in writing program administration and teaching.

I can feel an interest in a deeper/greater understanding of materialist theory(ies) growing in me and taking root. Where to go from here??