Sunday, September 25, 2016

social media is people!

not a selfie, but so very much about
self, self-identity, choice. there's
a great story about my determined 
choice to be photographed in THIS
dress. MINE! 
... messy, icky, less-than-ideally *curated* people. Following my interest in conceptions of "self" that have shifted through time*, on into our selfie loving cultures, I am currently collecting resources on the contemporary ability to "curate" selves through social media. Of course, we have always been curators (of selves). What I am interested in exploring is the emergence and uptake of seemingly helpful discourses reiterating the everyday claim that we choose to be in certain ways; we choose to represent ourselves strategically. Cue Goffman, but wow ... there are many fine voices articulating this by-now quite obvious reality.

What gets me is how we in Rhetoric and Composition (and in Writing Studies, Digital Media Studies, Digital Humanities, etc., etc.) are exploring and teaching curatorial practices as forms of sound rhetorical knowledge that we should possess, that we should be wise enough to obediently practice. I am interested in these helpful discourses even as I find many reasons to resist their pedagogical desire.

All of this is to mark the beginning of my work on the next book, C'est Mwah! I am referring to my book on selfies and the constellating images, films, screen moments, and discourses that help shape our investments in taking selfies, sharing selfies, and dissing selfies. Me? I'm pro-selfie, but it's complicated. More in the book. 

*it was Diane Davis who finally helped clarify my thinking. Her work on rhetoricity has been generously instructive in ways words cannot describe. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

things i learned about myself at the conference(s)

I love conferences. I have always loved performing. People often say that they enjoy my performances, so I like to think it's time well spent, and, lucky me, getting to do this thing I love!

Also, I like people. I enjoy my professional relationships; however, I am a trained extrovert, so it doesn't always come easy. That's what this post is about.

Over the last 2 weeks, I've presented 3 times in 2 different cities. It was a lot of travel, bingewriting and freakout editing, and it was all jammed togeth in a tough schedule. These are not ideal conditions for anyone, but for a trained extrovert on the tail end of some difficult personal losses (both parents, both very recently) and in the midst of career uncertainty, it was extra tough.

I learned quite a bit during this tough time. Rather, I re-learned many things about who I am, how I am, and just what I think I'm doing as a social, professional being. Because this is about the learned/re-learned stuff, please know that these lessons have been a long time coming, have a long history, and may have nothing at all to do with these particular conferences and the lovely people in attendance; it's more about me in social/professional life, in general. So, what did I learn?

1.) I learned that I really, really care - a lot - about what I present, and how. I love live performances, and I want to move my audience. I read often the social media posts of colleagues who are "writing it on the plane," and my head explodes. I mean, that is really so nice for you if you can do that, but ME? Impossible. It's true that as a university professor (and actor), I can "think on my feet," but there are limits. Knowing my limits is good. So no shame. No shame if you can't dash off a brilliant performance script. Also, not everyone wants to hear about my process of composing. I too share on social media the nature and status of my projects, but, again, limits are good

2.) I learned that I have some particularly awkward relationships. When in proximity with the person(s) with whom I experience strained co-existence, silence is my best friend. See, I'm a person who can't stand to think that I've wronged, annoyed, or upset you. I also want to be liked. This sometimes translates into MY DUMB VOICE filling a void between us that really, really, really just wants to be a void. I can do silence. It's not easy because of all that longing and, well, once a hairdresser (see "trained extrovert") ... But yeah, silence. More silence. Because, like weirdly gushing to a celebrity you happen to meet, this strange bleating is never well met. If it's weird, just zip it. 

3.) I learned that if I am seemingly neglected in some group situation, I am still amazing. I enjoy a cocktail or a meal, even alone; I can step out of the flow (and demands) of embodied sociality for a bit. Chill. And if, in that moment of feeling/being so alone, someone or a small group invites me to their thing, I have learned to give it serious consideration. I may, in some momentary bout of sadness-distancing bravado think, "Sure! Yes! ... Let's do this!" and it may go well, but if I am very deeply troubled by the current state of affairs, I may end up whining rather than being my lovely and amazing self. So, be amazing, alone or with others; if I'm too troubled, solitude is the answer. Hopefully, I can go and be amazing (hint: I can*). 

These are just a few of the things I've learned. I think that if I am able to internalize this learning, I will do better socially and professionally. Yes, I'm unhappy to have to re-learn this stuff at all, but when your life throws you around for a while and you're generally untethered due to chance operations that leave you not quite yourself, you will have to re-learn, as well. I'll be here.

I want to close with some hip, podcasty-slash-oldtimey radio voice of wisdom, to tell you that you will be okay. I hope I will. I hope you will. And remember: 

1.) Limits are good.
2.) If it's gonna be weird, just zip it.
3.) You are amazing.
4.) i love Allie Brosh and hope she sees the essentially transformative nature of this post, that i'm not gaining financially (at all), that i'm using a tiny portion of the whole work, and that i've got a trackback link, below. she deserves all the lurv!

* originally drafted with an exclamation point but bonnie.
image source

Sunday, February 14, 2016

just because

I begin with this trailer because YES. It serves as an absurdist vision for the notion that this work I'm doing is relevant, important, interesting. It is, mind you, but the notion of it is absurd in ways I recognize in light of life and death, dreams of the good life, all the aspirational hopes of seeking (or avoiding) love and partnerships. Generally, absurd is how I've been feeling, and some of this, yes, involves the recent (and ongoing) job market season. But so absurd.

By now, I have gushed a bit about having a contract for my book. Finally! You can read a bit more about it, here. I love the title's most recent iteration for how it accurately reflects the ethnographically derived meanings the book shares. Cruel Auteurism: Affective Digital Mediations Toward Film-Composition. It's a mouthful, and I could honestly drop the post-colon stuff. I may do that and will plan to initiate that conversation with my editor very soon.

I have many conference presentations upcoming, so in addition to completing the book (it's 3/4 drafted), I'll be working on a talk about new citation practices for the Modern Language Association's (MLA) sponsored panel at the 2016 Conference on College Composition and Communication. My title? "How Do I Cite the Stephen Hawking Hologram?" Can't wait.

I have had the great fortune of seeing 2 proposals for the competitive 2016 Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) conference. I will be exploring a.) Selfies as feminist reclamation of image-power *and* more!, and b.) Shaming in social media as a function of commonly held myths about "luck" (think positive!). I worry the shaming of those who articulate -- in the fullest sense of the term -- within social media their various struggles, from the mundane to the collectively political. I worry that many teaching rhetoric teach that we should be "above" what many see as "whining" and instead pretty much stick to constantly shaping "the brand."

I've been busy with many other life pursuits. I had talks with colleagues about revising that long languishing screenplay (and have taken real steps toward reanimating that project), and I have a friend helping design a web presence for my alt-ac cinematic pursuits. 

More on all this very soon. In the meantime, can't wait for House of Cards, can't look at anything at all involving the actual political events of the moment (debates, weird media tricks to support this or that candidate), and so on. Yeah no. I'm in for indie films (The Lobster (!) ... Rams (sublime) ... Swiss Army Man ("the farting corpse movie")), and popular culture (House of Cards, Game of Thrones, ...).

I end with 2 final clips. First is a an interview featuring "the" Daniels, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert about their whimsical first feature, Swiss Army Man ("the farting corpse movie,"), this year's Sundance Film Festival delightful surprise. Just because.