Tuesday, July 31, 2007

dashed lines project


via work/space, via Touch, we find a "taxonomy of dashed lines" that prompts me to recall my own little invention (maybe someone's done it already; i don't know).

i like the way you enter a nice, fresh hotel room and see that triangular-origami move the housekeepers have made on the toilet paper roll. when i have guests, i do the same in the guest bathroom. i try to do it just for us (and use the roll that's under the sink so as to avoid making the origami move every time someone uses the toilet; rarely does my husband get what i'm going for, however, and so i have to redo my taper more often than i'd like).

so i was thinking that i could create a toilet paper roll that had a "built in" triangular shaped edge. here, in the image, above, the dashed lines represent the "tear spot," which is to be used for creating that lovely tapered effect.

apparently, there is a little invention already out there, the meruboa, which claims that "just pulling a lever makes the head of toilet paper triangle."

i'm not alone. there are a lot of people who like this little move.

i still like my idea. there is, however, the issue of keeping the edge from looking cheap and serrated, but i imagine that i might find a sophisticated paper-maker who can finesse the job.

status moves and social space


over at Wind Farm, i was inspired to think, once again, about the fabulous book Impro, by Keith Johnstone. i keep meaning to write about his conceptualization of school settings as places where creativity is "educated" out of us. i'm especially taken with his awareness of status moves in (all) human interaction; as i read him, all gestures and communicative moments are about status. it's all about status.

since Dave Pollard has done such a nice job of summarizing --my apologies for the scary clown or harlequin -- if that's what it is -- image/nightmare that heads up the post; maybe it's just my coulrophobia, and maybe you'll be fine with it, and if so, go here for more (it's worth it).

here is a brief bit from an Amazon review (by Sami Meittinen):

Keith Johnstone is a visionary in the field of improvisation theatre. His concepts of status hierarchies are ground-breaking. They show that humans, like animals, are at ease with each other when the underlying status hierarchy is understood and undisputed.

However, all kinds of interesting tensions are created when the status hierarchy IS disputed. For actors, this concept from Keith's book is golden:

1) If you want to be seen as a natural performer, you need to know your status in relation to the other humans, and even things around you.

2) If you want to create interesting drama, you and your co-actors need to manipulate your statuses in interesting ways. These dynamic movements and challenges are interesting and funny for the audience.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

shiny

you know that if you're seeing this showerhead again (my dream hardware), i'm feeling shiny about something. today, it's that i have only 4 more days on medication and then (fingers crossed), hopefully, this h. pylori bacteria will be washed clean from my body. i'm very, very hopeful. i'm one kidney surgery (scheduled from August 8th, between semesters) away from being almost brand new (i must allow myself . . . must inhabit this language, these images).

recently i watched Serenity (had enjoyed many of the Firefly episodes) and learned that the term "shiny" is not my own unique move. i guess i knew that, but i'd never seen it normalized within a paritcular discourse as it was in Serenity. ironically, i recognized it when (Adam Baldwin as) Jayne (a fairly macho character, if only bunglingly so) speaks of weapons; i'm not happy about that, but there it is. i may have heard super-hunk Nathon Fillion (the ship's captain, "Mal") say it and wish the association could be more easily located there (some of you will know what i mean). here is a pretty nice fan site.

more importantly for readers here, the "shiny" of which i speak is about my attempt to tidy up by categorizing my links. it's interesting to see how they measure up; clearly, i spend a lot of my time thinking about or pursuing work in film (via the sheer volume of the "film" links emerges the "clearly").

Saturday, July 28, 2007

this feels good












i have nothing to say today.
like getting lost in a big city.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

anonymity is the new fame.

this is a motto i'd like to inhabit,
if only from time to time.

to imagine the living out of it
is enchantment, and i'm after it,
(she says, ironically, given the public
proclamation of her new motto.)



gimme shelter



i'd never seen Gimme Shelter, but last night watched the last 1/2 hour or so. amazing. loved Grey Gardens (and the musical, as earlier posts attest). wow. the Maysles brothers know what they are about. there is one shot, in the penultimate (did i just say "penultimate"?) scene . . . the concert goers are leaving the field, the scene, looking sort of blissed out but not quite as high as the night before, which had been more than sufficiently revealed in the film. the Maysles frame a shot of a small group of people heading off down a dusty road, blankets and other concertgoing-necessities in hands, in bundles. someone is carrying a very large, blood-red flag, just a field of blood-red. the camera is magically *just the right distance* from it and the flag fills the screen, the field of our vision, and it seems to linger but is more likely the slow-motion effect of flag waving while moving in a particular direction. i imagine that this was simply a "lucky shot" but it was used to such powerful effect (not the sort of clunky flag-waving of Les Miserables, a show i love, but find also a tad bit intolerable, at times).


so that Maysles shot: "the impossible art of fatal mistakes," as Baudrillard would say . . . and i'm dying (that was my initial word choice, which i see as, um, quaint and obliquely interesting) to read and write about it in the context of filmmaking, finding these moments. speaking of just such a moment, a couple of years ago, at the Sundance Filmmaker Labs, i had the lucky and mind-blowing experience of meeting Philip Seymour Hoffman and got to gush about a tragically mysteriously wondrous moment in the masterpiece, Magnolia, where, in a scene w/ the dying Jason Robards' character (Earl Partridge), Hoffman, the hospice worker actually gives him a cigarette upon his cancer-addled request. there is this moment. i'm thinking, "holy shit, he just gave him a cigarette, . . . how tragically loving and compassionate and insane . . . " but then when Hoffman's character ("Phil" ) goes to light it, he, in Hoffman's words (i asked him if the move had been scripted by Paul Thomas Anderson), "fakes it" by miming a lighter in his hand and even makes a tiny "tschhhk" sound as though actually lighting the lighter, the cigarette. Robards' character then pretends to smoke. Hoffman says it was "something we found" in rehearsal. it becomes, in the film, a serious moment. blew me away.

we have got to make/have room for these "fatal" or maybe more accurately "happy" mistakes.

back to the Maysles' fine work: thinking that documentary film is the most important thing i can involve myself in. but that's dangerous, because my narrative film project feels equally if not just "differently" important. what's really important is to be working on a film project AS I WRITE THE BOOK about film discourses in rhetoric and composition studies (from now on, i'm going w/ "Composition"). making, thinking about, worrying, and screening my films over the past 4 years has inspired the writing i'm doing (although i'd love to simply make films, which is never "simply" anything but a fantastically engaging/enraging experience, overfull of affective registers that play out in the mind but also seriously on/in/through the body).

screening my films since my campus screening in 2004, the NCTE screening in 2004, CCCC's 2005, MLA 2005, CCCC 2006, RSA 2006, CCCC 2007, and PSU 2007 has honored me with access to conversation with audiences, talk and wonder and worry that compels me to think through the work and to continue to strive for an aesthetic i've always been after (minimalist, ambiguous, smart) and an ethics i/we can agree upon as valuable for our work as *writing* teachers or *compositionists*.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

while i was lucid


before taking my potent antibiotic "cocktail" this morning, i managed to do appreciable work on the book. i'm hoping to leapfrog through this treatment in ways that also allow me to work. pretty happy with where things are going.


for those who are following my progress :)

image by kaja dutka

Friday, July 20, 2007

can't wait . . .


. . . for this, The Darjeeling Limited . . . because Wes Anderson is probably the most sweetly engaging filmmakers working today. attention to detail, in terms of characters, set design, mannerisms . . . unmatched. there's a trailer, here.

i am a little concerned about this poster, however, its crowded composition, which is often a tip off to something that's overdone. i keep hoping that Anderson's "magic" won't fade or wear off or implode. the American Express commercial worries me in this way, although it's actually very good, for an advertisement . . .

so but what isn't a commercial? i think i have faith. i hope.

one of the funniest lines in a Wes Anderson film is, for me, when Steve Zissou (Bill Murray in The Life Aquatic) is looking at the video of the albino dolphins who run "reconnaissance," swimming w/ his ship. Zissou is asking his tech crew member if the dolphins can hear/see and generally check up on the activities of other characters on the ship. the technician pushes a button or two on an antique-looking keyboard, ostensibly asserting a command. nothing. the dolphins swim about with their camera/tech gear mounted to their happily unrepsonsive heads. Zissou watches silently. says, "son of a bitch, i'm sick of these dolphins." timing impeccable. comment unexpected and subversive regarding cultural coding pretty much compressed into our dna. i mean, who hates dolphins? it's dry and very, very funny. Murray's delivery perfection. watch.

this calls forth a dolphin story. first, you have to know that i don't win many things. that damn Presidential Fitness Patch they used to give, drawings, awards, roles. but. when i was young, maybe 5, my parents took me to a Florida managed fun facility called Floridaland; this was pre-Disney, which we actually visited before it was Disney. my father had heard the rumblings about this giant park soon to be built by "a crazy man" near Kissimmee (i remember entering the town and trying to read the Welcome to Kissimmee sign -- sounding it out -- and being sort of enchanted by the name; what did it mean? it felt like something very personal, unlike Disney later felt/feels to me).



back at Floridaland ( i just found a sort of tragic website -- tragic if you love themeparks, which i do not, but still tragic in the shabby yet hopeful appearances -- w/ pictures; see http://www.lostparks.com/ or, more exclusively pertaining to Floridaland, http://www.gethep.net/road/floridaland.html ) . . . we watched a little dolphin show in this sort of pathetic brown pond. i think we sat on something like little league-type bleachers. there was a very cheerful and exhuberant MC w/ a tinny sounding mic, and he was calling out for a volunteer. i honestly do not remember raising my hand; maybe my parents did. they once volunteered my sister Carrie and i to participate in a rodeo event -- we were sort of horrified about going to the rodeo, but we were kids, so no amount of resistance mattered. had to pay to enter this HORRIFYING event where you have to try to "catch" a young bull by securing him about the ears and/or tail. i was, like 4. seriously. terrified. definitely "a supposedly fun thing i'll never do again". recalling my Floridaland adventure presents me with a far less traumatizing -- magical, actually -- memory. somehow i was chosen. someone walked me down to a little platform and i was then led into a tiny boat, a simple paddle boat without a motor. the motor, you see, was a dolphin, a very obedient dolphin who swam once or twice around the pond, pulling me behind. did i wave, parade-style? was i afraid? no, i think i recall something like pleasure, but i don't recall exactly how i felt about it. i think that somewhere my family has some super 8 footage of it (which, needless to say, i would love to have). somehow, thinking about Wes Anderson's work, this scene comes back to me as filmworthy.

from the lost theme parks site, a bit about the dophin show (notice the trainer's resemblance to Doris Day): "And what western town is complete without its... porpoise show? Here Floridaland jumped back to the Florida theme. Note the small, ground level lagoon and platform . . . their budget is once again showing."

notice that in both the picture above and in this one, we see some -- oh, i don't know -- manifestation of a long-cherished dream that plays out as a fascination with using one's legs to prop up hoops through which dolphins jump. what to do with that?

so but, Wes Anderson. sept. 29th. hopefully, the anticipation -- not unlike a child's excitement prior to a trip to something like Floridaland or Disneyworld or whatever -- pays off. i have faith.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

did you just say?


i may be posting less frequently -- or lucidly -- over the next few days (maybe up to 2 weeks). i have been working to figure out what's been wrong w/ me (since at least March) for a while now. some docs said "allergies." others said "acid reflux." finally, my gastroenterologist (who resembles in his manner a bigger, buffer Owen Wilson; he wears cowboy boots and has a great way about him) ordered a s***l sample (nice). when he told me he wanted one, he asked, "you game?", which i thought was really funny. and i told him that, yes, i thought i could cowgirl up.

so they found that i have this hideous h. pylori bacteria. merde. i mean, come on. supposedly, it's something most often found in people who live in developing countries. says it comes from . . . oh never mind . . . suffice it to say that i feel sort of dirty and embarrassed (but not enough to stop me from writing about it. freak). Meanwhile, over at Wind Farm, Chris is sharing images of his buff and superfit bod. Iwas just there, and the contrasts to what you find here are, well, interesting, f/w/th're/w.

but so i guess it's good that they found it and can cure it, but they tell me that the treatment of *serious* antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors will make me "sicker than a dog" (the nurse's exact and terrifically comforting words). said "you have to get worse to get better." so there's that.

i'm hoping to have plenty of lucid moments for working on my book, an article revision, 2 grant proposals, my manifesto submission for Kairos (a version of "remove to dispense," which i screened at PSU), teaching and grading (i have warned my students that i may be loopier than usual) . . . and i hope to get all better soon because i want to be healthy (relatively) as i head into my surgery on August 8th.

actually, i'm remarkably happy to have a diagnosis after all this sick feeling unwellness and generally tired and cranky being.

but so, look here for posts from a girl who may be a little silly in the next few days.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

groovy


i don't want to say anything too groovy, but it seems that the universe (or immersing oneself in desirable webs of public discourse) delivers. today, i got a phone call from Stephen Goldsmith, one of 3 curators for The Temporary Museum of Permanent Change, an imaginative project that wants to sort of document the changing shape of Salt Lake City as it undergoes massive rennovation. it hopes to gesture toward this documentary space by inviting artist/participants to seek, discover, and/or create art from rubble and scenes of change (can you say, "Heaven?").


naturally, given my interest in a.) art, b.) change, and c.) museums, i was delighted by Stephen's call. it seems, he says, that there may be something for me to do in the way of manifesting the museum-as-presence. Stephen had spent some time at this webspace and imagined that i might do something at their webspace . . . web design (?), writing?, working with artists? . . . i'm not sure exactly sure, but it all sounds fine and good and i'm honored. we'll be meeting soon to discuss the details.

just look.



Tuesday, July 17, 2007

writing is?


lots of talk about a new article on how we teach writing in first year courses in college. seems we've been working to move beyond this sort of limited contextual space for some time in order to greater reflect and enrich our work via interdisciplinary trajectories that coalesce, it seems, sometimes, in a vibrant and diverse first year course sequence. sure, it's not always vibrant and it's especially compressed when we view it macroscopically, via generalizations, and this means that it's available for critique on the basis of these abstractions. i wish i could see the critique (and sometimes do) in terms of micro-operational potential, but what i see is the question of disciplinary authority wanting to wall it/us in. not a vapid concern, exactly, but one that nearly always (already) -- sorry John M. -- leads to confusion in/of terms, confusion that enables the phantom notion of a "more realistic" idea about writing that we can teach (this "more realistic" -- in its *alternatively universalistic* . . . "the next big thing" . . . potential -- undoing the questionable critique of the universalism that we allegedly already bring to the teaching of writing). what we can't escape is that writing (literacy) changes . . . is contextualized differently even within the same contexts. i have for years now tried to think about our work through the concept . . . metaphor . . . reality of chaos and a dynamic systems approach to writing and the teaching of writing; rhetoric via rhetorical theory/practice as a sort of strange attractor that generates the fractal reality of an unstable and indeterminate yet discernable (over time) "coherence." but that work didn't really capture imaginations and as i read it now is certainly "problematic," to say that least (although i stand by it). and it did not capture imaginations as does this recent move to greater disciplinary authority (as i'm reading it). and that's fine. i understand it, given our investments, jobs, concerns for each other, moves to resituate writing as a complex and valuable skill rather than merely a gatekeeper. i get it, but i can't exactly get with it because of what it does to my ability to think about writing in complex terms (ironically, something i think that this new article wants to be after).


so but everyone is calling this article the harbinger of "the next big thing," and i'm just not seeing it (all that white noise disabling my ability to see the seeming certainty regarding our next big and most successful disciplinary move -- the article is being discussed in terms of a "seismic shift," recalling Hairston's "Winds of Change"). so that's nice for my colleagues, but it's difficult for me to see it in these terms. probably something to do with feeling jealous and neglected (can't deny that, or that the article is doing quite a bit for the authors and their status, which is nice, but there's François La Rochefoucauld). i hope it's more about how i see rather than jealousy or whatnot, which i must cop to. i hope it's more about how i imagine what writing is. or what it can be. or that i can only see it as potential rather than something we can name and know and own. and it seems that it's almost always trouble to talk with certain authority about what writing is. Frank D'Angelo once said to me that we have 3 trajectories determining FYC: 1.) those who claim to teach rhetoric, 2.) those who claim to teach composition, and 3.) those who claim to teach writing. the latter group, he said, is the "most dangerous." and i think it has to do with these generalizations that evolve through these discourses to the level of accepted truths; sure, you say, that's how disciplinary discourse operates, and that's fine, except that what i'm not seeing (yet) is anyone calling some of the article's major assumptions into question (i.e., a discourse of inquiry applied to this "next big thing"). i wish i could see that (i saw a hint in 2 recent WPA posts).

maybe it's that i've been vibing out on such sophisticated rhetorical work recently at PSU, that the resonance of so many localized pedagogical moves are playing back in my mind as forms of resistance to disambiguating discourses that seem to derive from thinking in terms of disciplinary authority. so, for example, i wish i could see/hear us talking about what i heard Michael Salvo discussing at PSU, a "waveform alphabet" that sees audio-text imagistically; it seems there's something there for us in terms of delivery (in a performance-culture, the space w/in which rhetorical efficacy manifests (?)). Or thinking in terms of the audio-scripted performances of analytical work regarding film and visual rhetorics that Karen Springsteen delivered so well. Or imagining the value of social networking sites that operate by visualizing the literate practices of participants as Madeleine Sorapure shared with her audience. these things feel more like something i want to invest in.

so i suppose what i'm writing about here is in many ways a path to my concerns (it is my web space, i guess), which are almost always articluated in terms of what they are not (mostly about disciplinary authority). it's fine that others are invested in these concerns . . . it's probably important that they are . . . and so i suppose i should withdraw my critique of the widely praised new article that forms the exigence for this post. but my concerns obtain, f/w/t're/w. i hope that's okay.

image (waveform frequency cartoon)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

my toy prize


this is the tiny toy prize i got from a box of sushi-inspired bandaids i bought at the airport in State College, PA. i think it's actually a tiny eraser for a very small pencil.

image taken w/ my cell phone. sadly, you can't make out fine detail on the suckers.

i want to believe

i love David Lynch. i have not loved all of his movies. when i first saw Blue Velvet, i was in Atlanta after a summer-long retreat to a little cabin in North Carolina, where my former hairdressing colleague and friend (and crush) Alfredo and i tried to evict our demons by working together at the salon by day (i didn't have my NC license, so i was a "shampoo girl," which i sort of loved in the humility it conferred, humility that was useful to my project of overcoming ____________). we would go hiking in the evenings (magic). back at the cabin, i would sit alone outside on the hill at night, smoke a single marlboro light, and try to stay within myself and out of Alfredo's orbit, which i had been drawn to for so long (i had, i told myself, more important work than making a man who was engaged to a wealthy woman he did not love fall in love w/ someone trying so hard to overcome _____________). it was a fabulously liberating summer, despite my desire and maybe even because of it (that humbling desire for an impossible love that forces you back into yourself).

so after my retreat, i went to Atlanta to see my sister and her husband. i was a little out of it because i felt i had been sort of protected by Alfredo, Alfredo's cabin, his dog Maggie (was it?) and our shared committements ( i think we sort of did fall in love, but we kept it all very cool and worked separately on our stuff; plus, the absent fulfillment fed my self-pity angle -- in the most therapeutic terms -- it was about humility, the kind of humility that allowed me to love being a waitress all those years. i loved refilling a cup of coffee). so now i'm in Atlanta, and the first thing Carrie and Frank (ha!) do is take me to see Blue Velvet. i think i made it to the Frank/gas scene before i, a.) asked for the keys to the car, b.) asked the theater manager for a refund (he gave it), and c.) sat outside, shaken, until Carrie and Frank emerged, elated, vibrating with pleasure over what they'd seen.

i. did. not. understand. i think i was a little angry. and i was fearful for my stay in Atlanta, which wasn't so bad but was difficult.

years later, i watched Blue Velvet and must admit that i did not feel a sense of belonging in the supercool club of viewers (many of my friends) who considered it a work of genius. the film still disturbs me in a very non-pleasurable way (mind you, i like a somewhat disturbing film. but. not. this). later, i enjoyed Wild at Heart and fell MADLY in love with Mulholland Drive (see earlier post on the Lynchian homage to Godard). still waiting to see Inland Empire.

i understand cinematic violence, how it can do things that are not wholly w/out merit, how it's problematic to cycle notions of causality between a film and actual scenes of violence. but i don't deal well w/ cinematic violence at all, and so i miss out on discussions of the brilliance of some of Lynch's work and, say, Quentin Tarantino. still, there is violence done well (ach, that rings crudely in my ears), and so Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction work whereas all Kill Bill iterations were/are just awful, un-processable in any pleasurable way. i hear friends talk of the brilliance of Grindhouse and can't bring myself to it. heard that as a filmmaker i must see Sin City . . . didn't finish that either.

one friend was at the Sundance Filmmaker Labs when Martin Scorcese was there (it's simply unacceptable to say it, but i'm not a big fan of his films but enjoy tremendously hearing him talk about filmmaking). apparently, at that time, Scorcese was asked about the violence. he said something like, "there are 2 kinds of violence in the world. i choose to create violence on film," which is pretty good. but i still struggle w/ it.

it may be about the lens i bring to violence, having experienced a fairly nightmarish violent event in my 20's. some ghostly affective residue hovers over/around/through (Grover?) my experience of cinematic violence; i simply can't take it.

i began this post as a way of talking about Lynch's work with Transcendental Meditation. i remember trying to "astral project" when i was a pre-teen. my parents had bought some books (this was in the early-mid 1970's), and i read them, which lead to other, similiar books, and i was completely taken with the idea of "flying" about, disembodied spirit vibing out pleasurably and travelling to places where real life would likely never take me, like the lobby of the hotel in Amsterdam, where David Lynch talks to the press about TM, that fabulous old-world mirror framing his disucssion:



but i'm also thinking about what "diving within" may mean. because i'm not sure i've ever done it, although i do meditate (spotty and infrequently), but maybe i'm just "not doing it right," . . . although i recall feeling *almost* as though i was elevating toward that magical astral highway, but then my mind's voice would recognize it -- "i'm doing it" -- and find me laying in my bed, not elevating in the least but playing a game in which i am seeking to escape my body, my life. i'm all for it, especially at certain times when my body/my life are not cooperating with my sense of the "pure bliss" that TM and other meditative techniques promise. but so.

i'm not writing to be (or because i want to be) skeptical. i can't help it. it seems naive and dishonest to avoid it. i'm writing to say, more hopefully, that i want to use meditation in the ways Lynch describes; i want to transcend. i want the kind of expansive experience certain interactive art projects are after. it's problematic, however, this belief in and desire for transcendence (?)

but the wanting has got to be -- is surely -- worth something.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

catching the big fish (lynch)



i'm pretty sure that there are many philosophical "reasons" for not wanting to vibe with this book, but i can't buy into them in this moment. i picked up Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity (Tarcher/Penguin, 2006) last night at Borders, where I began reading, there, in the store, started reading (wearing, i might add, sensing it's vague relevance, serious frump -- grey-striped tank top, baggy drab olive shorts, clunky dansko clogs . . . hair in a messy ponytail, crooked glasses "resting" on my un-made face) and i fell in love.

this morning, i read Lynch speaking on Eraserhead, "my most spiritual movie" (33) and his search to discover what helped the sequences to cohere (maybe "cohere" isn't exactly it, but he does speak of seeking "a key"). he says, only slightly surprisingly, "So I got out my Bible and I started reading. And one day, I read a sentence. And I closed the Bible, because that was it; that was it. And then I saw the thing as a whole. And it fulfilled this vision for me, 100 percent." And then, what makes this passage so precious, Lynch adds, "I dont' think I'll ever say what that sentence was" (33), and I sincerely hope that he doesn't even as he has sort of obliquely (i hope) constructs my desire to hear it.

even more magical, for me, is the chapter (they are very short chapters, pithy and to the ambiguous but rhetorically effective point) on fear. Lynch talks about working on a film set, about the need to abolish fear, which is so often vibrating ghostly beneath the surface of my experiences on film sets; in fact, i'm at the point in my "acting" career where i'm ready to forget about the attempt, however sad my acceptance of this decision has been/is. it's simply too soul-demolishing (which may not be all bad -- my soul has massive fields in need of destruction and re-animation). recently, the stress of even a simple audition for what would have been a charity case piece of work (little $ or recognition . . . i just wanted to work) sent my stomach into fits of rage from which i am only now emerging (2 months after the fact). and it's sooo sad because there have been (inmylittleactingclass) moments of what i can describe confidently as transcendent joy, illumination, and a precious feeling that i'm getting close to getting it right in terms of my performance . . . and even a sense that it *is* (the work) about more than my ego (is that even possible?). maybe i'm just awful, but i don't think that's exactly it. but so, rejection, absent validation, and a feeling that i can never be tiny enough to be in any filmic event . . . it's all just destroyed my dream, mysillylittledream. and here is why Margo Martindale is my heroine and why her performance in Paris J'Taime wrung every fluid from my body and deceptively ethereal cloud of "good sense" from my soul as she presented them to me fresh and shiny and new and sort of sad but still shiny. so but anyhow, Lynch says, of fear and its destructive force on the set, "If I ran my set with fear, I would get 1 percent, not 100 percent, of what I get. And there would be no fun in going down the road together. And it should be fun. In work and in life, we're all supposed to get along. [here is the stuff i simply adore] We're supposed to have so much fun, like puppy dogs with our tails wagging. It's supposed to be great living; it's supposed to be fantastic" (73) (emphasis mine).

vibing w/ a slightly more subdued affect is the final vignette from Paris J'Taime, mentioned above. I wanted to include a bit of a review that gets at a sense of it: "Paris, je t'aime ends on an unexpectedly wistful note (though it could also be hopeful, depending on your perspective) with [Alexander] Payne's "14ème Arrondissement." Margo Martindale, a middle-aged American postal worker, wanders around the city alone, detailing in a voiceover what she did during her vacation in awkward, self-taught French. [. . .] It's not sexy or stylish or glamorous or any of the things you might assume Paris would be before going there. But of all the segments that comprise the film, it comes the closest to depicting honestly what it feels like to fall in love" (Christy Lemire, AP).


sadly, the trailer, available at the website, shows one microsecond from "14th Arrondissement" and instead features more of the bits w/ the bigger stars (the cast lineup *begins* w/ "Natalie Portman," who is neither alphabetically nor in terms of talent, the main attraction, alhtough she is good, fine, but. just. not. "it."). and this is tragic because some of the more allegedly luminous stars' performances are less than ideally enchanting from a film wanting to be about the city known to enchant. i won't name names, but i do find this missing tribute to Martindale's superb and moving work to be, well, fairly disenchanting. note: it is beyond easy to find images of NP on the web. however, even at imdb, it's incredibly difficult to find images of Margo Martindale. this is somehow quite sad.


so, but thank you Alexander Payne. thank you, David Lynch.



Friday, July 13, 2007

"drink!"

i like it when doctors finally throw in the towel and tell you to go ahead and drink every day. it's like they want to say, "i can't really help you, so try to enjoy your life."

i'm exaggerating. but it's true that today, my nephrologist, who concurs w/ my urologist that i should do the retrograde endopyelotomy, told me that he thinks i should drink every day.

well, there you go.


i choose Louis Latour Pinot Noir. but then there's this lovely Goats Do Roam (ha) red from South Africa that i just *love* (read about the "controversial" rhetoric of its name). i had something at Christa's a couple of weeks ago (she calls GDR "the goat wine," which i think is hysterical). so i was at a little party at her newly ikea'd home (it looks fabulous); i hadn't planned on drinking wine until i heard Christa say, "it starts out strong, and then . . . . flowers in your mouth," and so naturally i was in. that was a lovely red wine (the thing my doc thinks i should be drinking, which is just okay by me). and it's not about lowering cholersterol or anything like that . . . just about enjoying my life and not worrying so much. sure, there's xanax for that, but that's a drag. i love my red wine, especially with friends. and while i doubt i'll take to drinking every day, i'm happy to have my kidney doctor's blessing.

speaking of blessings, i'm actually glad that my nephrologist -- let's honor him by sharing his name, Dr. Stephanz -- thinks i should have the surgery. he's been conservative about it, but he finally told me today what he's never said in quite these terms, that "one day, your kidney will block up, so sooner rather than later [re: the surgery] is best". i don't think i was ready to hear that 5 years ago. i certainly wasn't *able* to hear it when they diagnosed the congenitally absent kidney when i was 29, 15 years ago. now, i'm fine with it. the procedure, meanwhile, has evolved, and i should be up and around w/in a week after it's done (probably scheduling, then, for some time after summer session ends and fall begins). My urologist, Dr. Platt, will do the surgery. it's probably just about time. i'm ready, and Dr. Platt thinks it will help me to control my d.i. much more elegantly than i have in the past (or present). that will be wonderful.


now . . . drink.

but first, to be fair to my web space's theme, i want to say that my wine choices, including my choice to drink wine, is so much a part of my socialization into a particular kind of arts/media culture (obviously). the look and feel of a certain piece of stemware somehow resonates an aura of something i want, something i want to participate in. i remember drinking a *very* dense-to-the-point-of-being-chalky-w/weight dark, dark red and very dry wine w/ a friend in Tampa, late one night . . . hurling myself forward with a gesture that wanted to expel it from my mouth -- and fast -- but holding it together, just barely, wheezing my way into an ability to say, "wow, . . . um, . . . that's dense" (it was actually something a bit less delicate, the thing that i said). so now i've found my reds on my own (?) and understand the pleasures of cultivating a taste for a particular wine. that is, i find it sort of special -- given the webs of discourse that bulk up a sense of mystery or superiority around/about a wine (like a cab) -- when i find or sense that i've discovered (?) a wine that i am genuinely excited about, even if it's all in a label or a myth generated my clever intellectual businesspeople or something in the sound of a name . . . "Louis Latour" (i must recall the name from Bow Wow Wow, right? Bill D?) . . . or some adventure novel. i often choose wines as i used to choose albums, by their covers, so it's all about initial impressions (conversely, with wine . . . "flowers in your mouth" . . . it's often about latter or more lasting impressions). i have informed myself enough to know where to begin when i'm searching for a nice red wine, but there's something in a label . . .

i may have to begin some serious analytical work regarding the labels i choose and why. w/ my new drinking schedule, i should have an article out on the subject quite soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

refocus


motivated by recognition of my sloth and fear, and, encouraged and reanimated by some much needed and appreciated advice from colleagues i respect (G., Anne, Dennis, Madeleine), i'm dedicating myself to the book. this means, first, a schedule of writing every day toward the book (among many other things) and near-constant meditation on its manifestation rather than the debilitating discourses of doom i so often activate from my playlist.

this morning's work extended some of the atttempts i began to make over the past year. i see that much of what i've been doing -- reflection, public writing, conference conversations -- has been moving me toward a realistic sense of possibility for the book and even a greater sense of clarity regarding what it is i think that this book can do.

here's one thing: a new and i think better title. Beyond Words: Film-Composition's 'Invisible Galleries' (borrowing the latter term from legendary film critic André Bazin). i use Bazin's term to gesture toward an emphasis on affective intensities of experience w/in filmwork as i trace key discourses (I begin with Suspicion, Hopes & Fears, gesture toward Momentum, think about Narrative, worry Morals, problematize Culture, and finally work with/in Rhetorical Analysis and - maybe most importantly, for me - Production), discourses that have shaped how we think about and use and produce filmwork in Composition. necessary for thinking through such a frame, however, is the work of problematizing a sense of affective intensity as "free flowing affect" that operates beyond discourse (thanks, Dennis) and instead imagine reflection (which may/should take place in classrooms) as capable of rendering the affective as a kind of emotional register -- emotion as intensity "owned and recognized," (Massumi 88) that is available for analysis (in this case, in supportive social networks defined by classrooms we attempt to create as, "supportive social networks"). i'm thinking that this recasting of affect as "qualified emotion" (Massumi 88) maintains a possibility for engagement that is capable of helping us to teach writing "beyond words" as critical and desirable rhetorical work. this seems, then, to get at some of what Anne was going for in her talk at PSU, responsible art projects that do rhetorical work even as they gesture toward the ethical (i.e., production of both engaging and, for example, nonviolent new media texts).

this is a quick gloss, but it's hopefully articulating a sense of something we both want and need. comments, including correctives and resources, are both welcomed and encouraged.

be gentle, please :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

obviously


i'm interested in what's sort of obvious. i like to make films that foreground or privilege the obvious and make of it something that is nice to see. i think this is why i worry presentation so much in terms of delivery. because it's delivery that makes, well, presentation. intellectually, it's nice to realize that this is what i'm about. creatively, it's also quite important to recognize and draw from it, from that thing you're about, from that thing found/experienced in a particular orbit of coolness where you find yourself vibrating with pleasure. my acting coach, in my first class, asked us, "do you know what you're truly about?" . . . and i think i thought she was asking if we were/are willing to do nudity.

done laughing?

i was being serious. but it is funny, and it's true that that's how my life in Utah frames up my viewfinder. because there were quite a few younger actors in the group, i simply assumed . . . and it's likely that our teacher was speaking at least in part about nudity, but i'm more certain now of what she meant (or, i'm more certain now of what it meant/means to me).

it may take forever to figure out what one is about. that's okay. i'm glad to have a strong sensation of knowing (epistemophilia) at 44 . . . feels as though i might now do something. maybe not The Most Important Something but something i can feel very good about. and this is not to say that i have not done things i've felt good about; i felt good about publishing in College English, even if my article was not universally loved, read, or recognized. i felt GREAT about my first documentary film, proposition 1984, and i felt fabulous about my little cellphone movie, metro.

here is a moment. a moment i find shortfilmworthy. @ PSU, full belly, post-luncheon (god, how i hate the word "luncheon"). peaceful. post-Marilyn Cooper's talk. questions. answers. vibing out on the conceptual. then -- people asking questions about theories of complexity and chaos and wondering if ANYONE, ANYWHERE had written about these things in terms of pedagogy . . .

. . . that was fun. i did. not. say. a. word. here's what i was thinking as i sat, exquisitely unable to speak or move or slink away from the moment:

1.) no one has read my article.

2.) no one likes my article.

3.) no one knows i'm here.

4.) everyone is avoiding mentioning my article because it's horrible (it's, um, not ?).

5.) i should cite myself.

6.) i should not cite myself.

7.) i should not say a word (see #4)

i think that i must re-create that moment. i wish i could hire Margo Martindale (see Paris J' Taime and her sublime performance that immobilized and expanded me both at the same time . . . i was a blathering mess of crazy and soul-refining tears). maybe i will do it. write it up as a short and contact her agent. obviously.

Monday, July 9, 2007

in my dreams . . .










. . . this is me, drinking champagne in my strapless white gown.


(it's actually my niece, fiona. if you've been to this web space, you've seen her before. she is in this image capturing an affect i wish i could inhabit right now.)

there you go


after the plenary session this morning -- briliant Jimmie Killingsworth and Geoff Sirc -- a man approached me, a man who had been in my session yesterday. he asked how i was feeling. he knew i had been ill because we had changed order of the presentations -- thanks again to fabulous and really smart Susan Wells and Chrisopher Carter -- to let me go first because i was not feeling well, courtesy of delta and all-around performance anxiety. so he said -- honestly, i think he was actually trying to empathize w/ the problem i was addressing in my paper, but it came out so wrong -- so he said, "film doesn't really have a place in academics." said he sees it as more a part of an "MFA" program . . . which is, what? not academic? not rhetorical work? and again, not academic? i suppose i could see his comment as wanting to align my film w/as "art," and that's nice. but still.

also, during the session: the delightful Lillian Bridwell-Bowles wrote me a note during one of the other talks. this was after my talk when i went to sit in back because i didn't think i'd make it through the whole thing; she wanted to comment upon what i'd done, to say that she thought i need not have argued, that my point was self-evident (she said this in the most supportive terms; we simply agree, and i think she was also sort of getting w/ my sense of dilemma about how slow we are being to take up this work).

but so, thinking about this morning's comment ("film doesn't belong in academics" -- FDBA) i am again reminded that, yes, i do have something to argue. i may simply shift now to making my arguments via my films, and maybe, if i have time to make them really good, i can advance the project (or just infuriate the FDBA tribe like they frustrate me; oh, agonistic rhetoric, you).

or write the damn book and get a better job.

or stop.

or, do like Godard said and engage in making "the real political film," which he imagined as "the home movie." that's fabulous, engaging intensity and language and reserving a sense of its efficacy absent a public audience. somehow, i want to vibe on that for a while.

heading down to lunch for more insults :)

there, now . . .


around 5:30 a.m. i was thinking that, as Anne was saying last night, there may be something troubling/problematic about affect (the term i'm assigning to her reading of certain kinds of experiences we inhabit as we participate w/ certain kinds of digital art, pieces that invite an audience to experience it through the body and to highlight that visceral experience as part of the work -- "Osmose" is one example). Anne wondered about the extent to which we support/validate/promote *certain* affects with certain gaming practices, namely, violent ones.

in talking to Dennis about Massumi's problematically "free-flowing" affect that is beyond or somehow distinct from language/discursive practice, i began to see that emotion ("managed intenisty") may represent the discursive method by which we engage ethically (and promote ethical reflection upon participation in/with) with certain kinds of expression events (production, spectation, and participation). when Lynn Worsham writes about emotion as "managed" or constructed, i read a critique that wants to move us beyond affect to, simply emotion (these terms are rough; it's early, and, well, the conceptual slippage is high). but w/ Anne's reading and Dennis' discussion, i'm seeing something far less sinister in emtion as Massumi's intensity "owned and recognized" . . . something far more promising in emotion as managed intensity, despite my desire for unmediated affective experience, a desire i continue to, um, desire . . . a desire i want to insist upon as necessary. i'm thinking that this managed intesity (emotion) may be most promisingly willing to invite reflection/contemplation within social networks (which are in many ways, dynamic, self-organizing systems and therefore capable of "managing" emotion, given particular forms of ethical socialization/structuration). in short, it seems to me that it's this complex networked conflict between affect and emotion that seems to make ethical human conduct/social "contracts" or codes possible, thereby enabling aesthetic experience even as we discourage or self-organize for ethically responsible (i.e., nonviolent) participation in expression-events (violent gaming, provocative imagery, etc.).

none of this is new to anyone, i'm sure, but i'm feeling a greater appreciation for these distinctions as they relate to our abilities to experience aesthetic pleasure even as we ourselves distinguish certain kinds of aesthetic pleasure as more or less desirable (and as we "train" ourselves and possibly others -- conscientiously or rather more unwittingly, via circulation -- to make these distinctions repetitively).

this now seems to me to be far more the point in art/textual criticism; an ethical project rather than "merely" power moves to control the event/object/aesthetic experience (or gain fame).

ca va?


image ("city sqare," by Alberto Giacometti. 1948)

Sunday, July 8, 2007

phew


i can not believe how stressed out i got before this PSU presentation. i am starting to think that inasmuch as i want to argue for the desire for/valuing of affective intensities of filmmaking as rhetorical work (and thus to do more of it, in classrooms, out . . .) the stakes feel too high. i have given hundreds of conference *papers* and not felt this much anxiety. i *love* that i am invested and that it feels important; it drives me, the work. maybe the problem is that i so want to produce for my audience (and for myself) The Moving Aesthetic Experience (i do) . . . and somehow, there it is. desire. desire to produce or otherwise participate in the moving aesthetic experience, especially so if it moves beyond traditional academic discourse, beyond traditional *anything* (why do i want that? do i think i'm special? no. my ideas superior to received tradition? my vision transcendent? no.) . . . Geoff Sirc said to me, after my talk and after some generally lovely praise for both the film and the paper, "why do you so dislike your words?" . . . which is both a fair and very good question i'll continue to worry. because i want to.

the best conference ever . . .


this had better be it. usually, when i travel to a conference at a city of interest to my husband, mike (aka, "my crew"), mike comes along too and is there to do his own thing but also to help me w/ carrying equipment and all around mental/moral support. here i am at the Nittany Lion Inn . . . PSU, home of Joe Paterno, football coaching legend. you should have heard the young Chem freshperson/"mensa kid" (literally) who sat next to me on the plane when he began to talk about how people here consider/revere/worship Joe P. wow. so but mike didn't come along this time because he's teaching, it's pricey, etc. i've done this alone plenty of times. it was a mutual decision (mike is fabulous), i'm an adult, blah, blah . . .

so i'm alone, carrying a lot of tech stuff (and had to cram purse-type things in w/ my other stuff, so no purse, which is really awfully and embarrassingly disorienting), and wouldn't you know that on this trip, i get a little sick from nerves (all day) and need about 5000 bathroom emergency trips (sorry) and that in Atlanta, supposedly a 2 hour layover, we are asked to change gates SIX times (not inspiring confidence that anyone in the airline knew what they were/are doing) and leave 2 hours later than planned (none of this helping said nerve/stomach/headache/stress issues), and no mike around to calm me as he so often can and does. a lovely woman chatted w/ me at one of our gates, and she loaned me her cell phone to let me call home if only to connect to a friendly voice because i was down, a little panicky. ick. oh, so why no cell phone? some weird resistance; we use one, sparingly, between us, and plus it costs less for mike to call me (roaming charges) . . . that may have to change. but then i started thinking about how completely childlike i was being (still, i'll defend it because this was a horrible day -- just. too. much.) . . . about how my line home has created a dependency that's troubling, about how, when faced w/ seeking to get by and possibly even to connect w/ strangers, i was delightfully surprised and ended up by chance talking w/ Laura (the cell phone loaner) and her daughter Brittany (who joyfully told me about her trip to Florida and even showed me her bandaged foot -- a coral incident) and Elizabeth, who is at this conference; she helped me by talking w/ me about the conference, her paper, film and rhetoric, as we were waiting at what would turn out to be our last gate. yes, she helped, but by this time i had taken a prescribed (for nervous stomach issues, which often present on stressful days like yesterday) robinul forte, so i was chilling out and my internal organs were righting themselves (why can't they behave?!).

8 hours sleep (w/ earplugs . . . noisy kids), and now i'm up and ready to go see what's what, who's who, etc. i present later today, at 5:00. this should give me time to try to have a decent lunch of some lean protein (no food yesterday . . . even my beloved Delta-feature treat, those Biscoff cookies, weren't making my life happy, like they usually do), time to go get into the flow of the conference, and generally see that life is okay, even mine, even though i had thought about turning around and heading back to Utah during one very low point in Atlanta. so i'm here. it could be cool.

none of this speaks very well to my web space's theme. i am mostly up, feeling okay, and needing to share. if you've indulged me so far, why? (and thanks).

note: i use this showerhead image often; it seems to remind me/us of something a friend told me long ago, "everything is fixed in the shower." reductive, yes, sometimes feeling exactly right, also yes. plus, i love this showerhead. so simple and clean and bright . . . something i'm going for . . .

Thursday, July 5, 2007

silenzio


i'm having a moment. converging concepts from several projects. now, silence.

in an earlier post, i shared my sense of the intertextual relationships between Godard's Le Mepris (Contempt) and David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. the connections coalesced for me (many of which i had been sort of nonconsciously vibing on throughout my viewing of LM) in LM's final line, delivered by Godard playing a film director who says (in French and translated by the on-set translator portrayed in the film w/in the film) "silenzio." when we find traces like these, moving from one film or expression-event to another we recall or manage in our consciousness, it's beyond description, the experience of it, the high (i wish i had a better word. better not to speak of it?). it's like this other experience i keep having.

so now, thinking about the expression-event i'll be presenting at Penn State next week, a project that wants to be "merely" a film absent contextualizing discourse or Deleuzian "order-words" (but can't; i'm not an idiot . . . i'm about the desire for it), i'm thinking about silence . . . been thinking about it all along. and i'm reading Cheryl Glenn's Unspoken: A Rhetoric of Silence and blissing out on Walter Murch's explication (in Chion's book) of European contempt for the development of sound in film and thinking about the (frequently) disambiguating functions of sound (in film and far beyond) . . . and something is coming together, something that is bringing me back to - or for the first time - my sense that the book i want to write much more than the historical-review-type book i've been "working" on (not that much) is a possibility and a desire and a space that i want to inhabit.

so it's been a pretty good morning.

and i'm thinking that there is something to consider, especially in light of the digital filmmaking going on in some composition and/or rhetoric courses, and i'm looking at the
Final Cut Pro timeline and the ease w/ which i can manipulate sound and silence, and i wonder if we (those of us who teach rhetoric and composition studies and writing and whatnot) realize the potential to do important and pleasurable and powerful rhetorical work via image and especially, i'm thinking, sound, silence, and just how easy the multi-track nature of working in fcp can be toward enhancing the intensities of our expression-events.

below is an image of a basic fcp timeline. the top (above the dark middle line) is for video tracks (you can import video, stills, etc, and you can layer or superimpose image and/or text and video and do pretty much everything). the bottom tracks are for audio. the line breaks you see in the horizontal color fields indicate where an image or video or sound file begins and ends (or where you've cut one in editing with the razor tool, pretty much my favorite thing; this is also where you would insert whatever sort of dissolve or transitional move you want to make; i have learned that overuse of the cross dissolve is embarrassing, btw). working with the video and audio tracks, we create what Michel Chion refers to as an "audio-vision" . . . retrieving sound, or revaluing it compared to the primacy of image in film (as does Murch in his famously poetic proclamations, esp prgphs 8-13) emphasizing the ways in which film meaning/experience is contingent upon the relationships between image and sound/text (or silence, . . . which is/can be so powerful and moving in film).


this is all so basic. and not.




. . . and then, it's probably been written (anne, cindy, gail, jeff, johndan, geoff, . . . ??)


image 1

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

i'm going under

this will be fascinating. i'm going to have a retrograde endopyleotomy. told ya. fascinating.



here's the deal: born w/ one kidney, it's a mess. when they found that i only had one, they said it looked blocked and that i needed a procedure (not as neet as the endo . . . huge incision. that was 15 years ago). i shopped around for doctors who didn't think that i needed the procedure and found them (the kidney *function* is pretty good, they said, and still do). but i can't help thinking that i need to fix it "for real" and that maybe function will improve, or at least not degrade with time. so now, years later, it seems time to correct the problem, especially as this is my one and only precious kidney. essentially, the problem is that it narrows where it connects to the ureter, pressure builds; it's ultimately not good, and i worry about it all the time. the narrowing of my ureter is a bit higher than the one in the photo; see in the photo a gradual tapering from kidney to ureter? mine's not like that. picture instead an overfull balloon on a very tiny string. we're going for something closer to that gradual tapered look (it could be as simple as a haircut!).

i need to schedule it for a time when i can take just a few days (recovery is, luckily, supposed to be pretty fast). not sure when i'll do it. first, a check w/ my nephrologist and maybe a test or two.

fascinating, right?




image

godard and lynch


as i was preparing my CCCC's presentation/homage to Jean-Luc Godard, i noticed in viewing his Le Mepris (Contempt) a variety of intertextual references to David Lynch's Mulholland Drive. sure, Lynch came later, but i'm not worrying that. so, an homage to Godard in MD; that's what i was seeing . . . maybe a more simple identification.


for me, something registered in the last scene of Le Mepris (although i had been sensing something throughout), as the final scene looks to the vast, blue ocean and ends w/ the director's comment, "Silence" (Godard, LM's director, playing a character --the director of a film -- in LM, concludes the film, saying "silence" in French; the character's on-set translator converts to Italian and delivers the line, via megaphone, 'Silenzio'") . . . a jolt . . . recognition, the many blues in MD (especially "the key") . . . it was a great moment for me as a film fan.


now i find that i was/am not alone in seeing this (and more).


i guess if you're a movie person, you've already covered this, but i enjoyed (back in February 2007) feeling as though i'd discovered something.

Monday, July 2, 2007

one more, for the kids

i talk w/ my students about how "the children" are often invoked in support of some argument or cause and that sometimes the rhetorical work done "in the name of the children" really has little to do w/ children but w/ some alternative interest (so listen up, read carefully, "think about it"). i like this video for how it opens w/ a bit that maybe speaks of my little lesson (and then, i just like it) :



oops. nothing, really.

. . . it's just that i can't figure out how to burn a dvd (i love Jemaine's low-tech "camera-phone" too) w/ macbook pro. imovie is insane (how to move beyond the templates?). so is the other i-whatever . . .

i don't understand mac-the-ripper.

i may just run my film through my dv cam, like always. i can't stand projecting w/ the mac and having to look at stuff from the desktop. this really shouldn't be an issue. maybe it isn't, and i'm simply naive. stupid.

i'll cop to all of it.

so since really sophisticated technology is making my brain hurt, i'll move on to some low tech fun -- more from Flight of the Conchords:

Flight of the Conchords

okay, i hope you're watching this new HBO show. i just started last night. especially liked Hiphoppopotamus' rapping bit on those damn infected monkeys, which, sadly, does not appear in the clip below (from HBO.com, who are unlikely to inform me that uploading this video isn't cool because the site tells you to go ahead and do their promo work by embedding at my site; i'm game). The character, Jemaine Clement, played by Eagle Vs. Shark lead man, uh, Jemaine Clement, performs this brilliantly funny "rap" w/ his band partner, Bret McKenzie, aka "Rhymenocerous". btw, i saw Eagle vs. Shark at Sundance '07; very funny. here, from episode 3:

conventions


my horoscope for JULY 02, 2007: Something's gotten into you today, bonnie. An iconoclastic imp inside you is determined to tear down every convention still existing, especially those in the art world. Why are you so furious with orthodoxy? Did you dream that an imitator stole one of your ideas and made a fortune with it? If you were an art critic, we could expect you to sing the praises of the vanguard today...


. . . which is funny given what i think i want to be doing. and i'm reminded of conventions i appreciate and how certain moves to create new sorts of objects i/we appreciate have been assimiliated into the archives and become something we know or love or think and talk about together (the things and the moves). or, in my case, things i imitate out of my romantic need to pay homage (and thereby, at least in part, feel as though i participate in its vibratory orbit of coolness).


in first grade (i entered one year earlier than other kids. big mistake), my first report home was that i would not "color within the lines." come on, that's funny, and it's why this image (above) keeps reappearing here; it keeps feeling relevant and funny in its functionalism (because this scrap is probably viewed in the MoMA -- albeit on the bathroom floor -- thousands of times/day, but maybe just not so).

Sunday, July 1, 2007

language and/of film


i've been wanting to make films that project some vibe, some desire, and i've wanted to do it with images and music and very few words. at the same time, trying to talk about this desire to do this work (the means of support for doing it), i'm caught in the trap of using the term language to talk about words, and that's not quite right, not in terms of how my sources are using "language" and not necessarily in terms of how i'm approaching it (make time for Deleuze).


i understand also that images and music register as language, but not in quite the same way (and certainly not within rhetoric and composition studies because of how we privilege written discourse, despite rhetoric's more expansive potential/reality) and probably because of the overdetermined nature of written/verbal/lexical discourse (words) and also because of the particular nature of image and music i'm toying with.


i'm going for gestures in film work that attempt to do new things w/ image and sound, even if only things that get at new forms of what Michel Chion calls "synchresis," which is "the forging of an immediate and necessary relationship between something one sees and something one hears" (that sound usually being something other than the sound *actually* made but later edited into the timeline) (5). much of what we "know" or think we know about image and sound is about synchresis; we *think* we *know* what a bullet in the gut sounds like, but maybe, from film, we know only the sound of a lead weight dropped from an extremely high place onto/into an overripe watermelon (i am making this up . . . i don't know how the sound is made, but it resonates with something i've experienced before).


Chion goes on to talk about "added value," which is sound "at the most basic level," and that value comes via "text, or language, or image"(5). He claims that cinema is primarily "a vococentric or, more precisely, a verbocentric phenomenon," (5) a claim i so want to resist. But Chion does qualify to say that film *privileges* voice, and so here we see a distinction to a certain kind of film (documentary, narrative . . . not so much experimental films, shorts, films that attempt to go beyond convention) . . . and so i feel better. i'm also thinking about the term "added value" and considering that value is *added*, which is not to say that value does not always already exist in a scene prior to or absent sound (of course it does because of the value or power or resonance or affective provocations of image). and i'm back to intention, rhetoric that is overtly intending something for an audience, which is fine, but what of the recognition that our intentions can never be fully realized or managed or controlled? it's in that tinyspace where i find potential for nonsententious discourse and other potential affects and a space for play and possibility and something new (i know, it's romantic, but, absent that desire, why make films?). and i want to say to Chion, can we talk about how sound, like or as language, is also or may be, via Massumi, subtractive, how it overdetermines the affective experience of spectation in ways that we might consider if we are after that shinynewthing? and i think he'd be okay with this because again i suspect he's talking about making "successful" films which is to say films that pay out.


Chion critiques Chris Marker's "Letter from Siberia" (1957) (which i have not seen) because of this sort of unconventional attempt. so now i really must see the piece because just reading about it i have to object and also because i loved Le Jetee (1962) and what it did with unconventional image-flow via stills and montage and voice. Chion critiques Marker because of how Marker's LS "leads us to believe that the issue is solely one of political ideology, and that otherwise there exists some neutral way of speaking" (7). identifying w/ the *desire* for a neutral (or . . . what? . . . other?) way of speaking, i have to resist Chion, even if i recognize that there is little hope for such a space; it's the desire that must remain open, and so films like Marker's (if it does what Chion says it does but certainly for LJ) are important and necessary. Marker was by some standards successful; Kevin Hagopian, writing for the New York State Writer's Institute "Film Notes" insists that "[. . .] his [Marker's] impossible-to-classify work is central to an understanding of the French New Wave, not as a set of themes, but as a rich tapestry of forms and styles." and clearly i am drawn to the "impossible-to-classify" comment and also find irony in Hagopian's claim that this sort of work provides the key to understanding a "movement" or trend or set of textual conventions. still, theses "conventions" were often about resisting mainstream convention and despite circulation that made of them familiar moves, in their time . . . you see where this is going.


i find in Massumi the language of desire, and i find it also in Deleuze (what little i've read and what i've learned in coversations about my work w/ my friend and colleague, Christa Albrecht-Crane). i'm hoping that when i present my work at the upcoming PSU Conference on Rhetoric i will be afforded some room to account for the conceptual slippage, especially given that these are ideas "in progress" (which ideas aren't? . . . you get my meaning). and maybe i'm naive to be overly-confident, but it seems likely that my audience will at least share in my desire and thereby enable some "dangerous" ideas time and space for contemplation.