INT. OFFICE - DAY
Saturday, August 30, 2008
INT. OFFICE - DAY
Friday, August 29, 2008
the visual rhetorical elements are simple and masterful at the same time. like, Marjane's hairline. the hairline is key -- women are required to keep it covered and when it isn't, as when M pulls her scarf just a bit back, she is/the women are challenged and sometimes threatened. so the hairline is key. in the Iran of Satrapi's story, the hairline marks a place on a woman's body where power disputes are foregrounded, where they play out visually and display (or conceal) a woman's identity and her power(lessness).
and, . . . FABULOUS from the feminist perspective is when M marries. the visual apparatus used to create the narrative structure shifts from moving animation to a series of static, framed photo album shots, as if to foreground the constructed nature of the conventional rituals of marriage rather than to "animate" them.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
i've been patching away at this for a couple of years, sort of ethnographically working out my theses as a filmmaker and writing/reflecting as i go. today, i reviewed earlier versions of my introduction as well as drafts of the proposal i hope to complete soon. both the intros and the proposals seem fairly useful; i won't be deleting much, more like refining. generally, i'm tracing a history of discourses on film in Composition. i am creating a dialogue between these historical discourses and more contemporary discourses and practices.
1.) most of our historical engagment w/ film has emerged from our hermeneutic traditions (analysis trumps production; here, i have to note that i just came across a 1970 annual "roundup"-type College English piece ("Counciletter: Charting Our Course") within which, in the notes section, we find this:
Canadian Council of Teachers of English
but we were still debating taste, how to teach morals, values, taste (did i mention taste?), narrative, and other analytical practices. go figure.
2.) our discourses on film register powerful affective engagements with/distancing from film. that is to say, few are "neutral" in their linguistic attempts to register readings of, pedagogies involving, . . . really, any and everything to do with film. this notion supports work i want to do with contemporary theories of affect. i am especially eager to explore "the primacy of affect in image reception" (Massumi), theories on affect and/vs. emotion, etc.
3.) they seem to connect us to existing academic discourses (i.e., taste, morals, narrative, gender). i see very little in the earlier discourses on film that is ideationally speculative or rhetorically generative (beyond said ties -- so, yes, speculation on how film V teaches narrative strategy X, but not so much on how we might make film Y say Z).
currently, i've done most of my research on early discourses, beginning in the late 1930's and up until 1970. i'll update as i go (and as i can imagine taking breaks to do so or if some Genius New Idea presents itself. wait! they are all Genius ideas. right. remember that).
* we sing and dance and drink mead
** a term i've borrowed from André Bazin
i'm always a little shocked to learn that i have an audience beyond my particular circle of friends, family, and academics. And i am especially delighted to hear from readers beyond that circle, readers who comment, agree, disagree, and in some way perhaps take issue with my comments, coming as they are from my limited perspective. More specifically, though, i'm happy that we're talking about this documentary because i am currently planning a course in documentary filmmaking; i find this recent exchange incredibly telling regarding the always already complicated nature and fluidity of documentary films, the various ways of reading them. i mean, as a rhetorician, it's all the usual suspects -- purpose, audience, context . . . and but then, in a more cultural studies-oriented rhetorical
i am grateful to Vladimir and Marika for engaging with me in this conversation. i encourage you to see the film and join us. below are a few clips, serializing bits of the film. YouTube user, "DAXUREvsPUTIN," who appears to be Georgian, posted several, under the heading "Why Democracy -- Russia's Village of Fools"; i will post the first 2 (with brief comments) .
clip #1. i love seeing Morozov swimming (one lap) and enjoying zucchini (cucumbers?) and the whole morning ritual, all presumable just before we meet Oleg. i find Oleg's arrival and the story that evolves around it it especially moving. as a filmmaker, i can't imagine how honored Kirtadze must have felt for being able to capture that footage. she and i discussed it. it was not planned; she was simply there at the time, the documentarian's good fortune. also, if i recall correctly, Kirtadze said that Oleg later left the village. In my attempts to confirm this memory, i searched for information on Oleg and found at least 3 different livejournal pages from what appear to be his account. i get the following message:
This journal has been suspended.
clip #2. Here, i am especially interested in the attempt at establishing of authority through images -- Morozov proudly shares pictures of himself and his colleagues on the Board of Trustees. We witness/hear a phone call in which a member of Parliament proudly reminds Morozov of the very same pictures. In many ways beyond but including studies in the use of visual rhetoric toward establishing and maintaing authority, the scenes are priceless, if unnerving. Later in this clip, toward the end of the featured meeting, Morozov instructs the people on the kinds of questions they should be asking, given his authority (i.e., "have i understood this correctly?" which obviously leads to a "yes" or "no" answer from the authority figure and then possibly a corrective lecture -- watch until the end for just such a lecture on hierarchical authority vs. democracy). After Morozov offers his corrective advice on the nature of acceptable inquiry, he "invites" more questions. an unbearably tense silence follows until
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
how did this happen, you wonder? i'm not sure. first, came the switch from fresh to frozen. next, it was Prego instead of fresh. soon, it was Lean Cuisine paninis and me, too busy attempting to keep up with "my career." but it wasn't always like this . . .
growing up, i imagined that i would be that woman, growing her own veggies and toasting her own oats and whatnot for her beloved vats of multidimensional granola. i would have already received my gold medal for swimming, and i would "keep up" -- she says, having never actually arrived -- with daily yoga, running, and other athletic feats, for whenever i could not get to the pool. actually, by now, i would have had my own pool in my backyard. enclosed, heated, private. with lush deck chairs and a steam sauna off to one side of the pristine white deck, never itself absent a lush pile of delicious white towels the size of king bedsheets. everything would smell of fresh linens, even if it was in part the chlorine making that crisp impression.
oh right. vegetables . . . i know. i too was rather enjoying the scenery, but so . . .
i b*tch about these things, but i don't do so to bash my veggie-growing/canning colleagues. i am, instead, inspired. or maybe it's more accurate to say that i admire you.
why don't i simply . . .
oh, right. it is true, i have a massive yard, which i had hoped to fashion into a magical wonderland for my loveable dogs and my angelic children. but i have neither dogs nor children. so. a garden? maybe it's time (i don't even know when people plant, so there's that to figure out).
maybe best, for now (one day at a time-style), to liberate my impossible garden and continue to enjoy the vicarious pleasures of seeing what my colleagues have produced; it's a habit, a professional inevitability, watching everyone grow and evolve and write amazing things and make stuff and *produce*. as Chauncy Gardener says, "i like to watch."
Sunday, August 10, 2008
there was the "lovely" moment when the NBC commentators described one passage in the opening ceremonies of The 2008 Olympic Games (©?) -- lovely though it was, still, a disturbing political/propaganda spectacle -- where a group of superhappy Chinese children handed over the flag to black-clad soldiers who then goosestepped their way toward a sort of flag altar, and so but Brian or Matt or Bob told us (thanks, guys!) that "see, here, the children metaphorically hand themselves over to the care of the state . . . " as if we were superlucky to witness a "live cinema" (Bob's refrain) version of the happy ending to an enchanting bedtime story.
there is so much to say about the visual rhetoric at play in the opening ceremonies. i couldn't possibly know where to begin. i long to be able to say that it was simply lovely, but the images, especially coupled with the commentators' scripted banter that served to scaffold the propaganda . . . well. i'm not sure i have the energy to take it all on.
and why the head-exploding repetition of "8/8/08"? . . . we get it. it's magical. The Olympics is happening on a date in which a number repeats THREE TIMES! must be a Christian Olympics, after all! seriously. just go to YouTube to see the tortured interpretations and predictions (some, based on "the prophecies of Nostradamus") [long, heavy sigh]
what prompts me to write, which is to say, what prompts the evolution of these tangents on media
huh. now it's a "war." damn.
but so, when do we call a war a war? i hate to sound naïve (and maybe someone will correct me with a matrix of linguistic markers that create a spectrum maybe starting with taunting and moving on to the use of something more overtly damaging). but so while it's not the first time that worries of this kind have surfaced in/for me, i am especially sensitized following my decision to watch the taped opening ceremonies of The 2008 Olympic Games (©?) (see above). but so, as for the rhetoric of "nearing war," when does the hurling of bombs at and use of weaponry against one another not constitute war? the opening paragraph of the piece, written by Anne Barnard, explains that
The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet republic of Georgia moved toward full-scale war on Saturday, as Russia sent warships to land ground troops in the disputed territory of Abkhazia and broadened its bombing campaign across Georgia. (Barnard)
so maybe the entrance of "warships" confers upon the tussle the far more emphatic terms? and sure, the descriptive terms "full-scale" and even (in the title) "all-out" serve to qualify "war," as though perhaps war is already in effect, but i can't help seeing the language as just a little bit kinked.
maybe i get it. people need to care, and perhaps the news on the "conflict" to date has not sufficiently outraged the people. still.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
composition -- humanistic, humane, (read Mike Rose) pragmatic, sometimes vital, and culturally relevant (read Mike Rose), drew from many fields as a way of shaping its theories of writing. that made sense, especially if we agree that composition is/has been interdisciplinary and if we concur with ID scholar Julie Thompson Klein that interdisciplinary projects work toward solving problems that have not been or cannot be adequately addressed using the theoretical and methodological apparatus of a single discipline. writing fit here. why were Harvard students underprepared? if "top-tier" students weren't writing well, what might we do to help all students, even or especially those who were/are less-than-ideally ready for academic life/work? big, troubling (ID) problem. [i love that an interdisciplinary -- ID -- problem is also an ID problem].
so we labored to find ways. intedisciplinarity made/makes sense. rhetoric made sense. rhetoric is everything, at least ID. so, where are the limits?
that teaching formed our initial or emerging states of coherence meant that our evolution would seem to be contingent upon work that focused upon teaching, or, say, work that was contextualized by teaching, or work that gestured toward teaching. funny, rhetoric was historically about teaching. teaching to live in the world (not just the classroom). teaching effective language/communication skills. teaching ethics, etc. so too, today. so but i keep hearing about the "constraints" and "limits" that are so "crippling" and otherwise frustrating, but, well, turning to teaching makes sense (to me) -- we do teach writing as context-specific; we teach and maybe practice an awareness of rhetorical efficacy that is contingent upon contextualizing discourse. that we've "used" the classroom seems to me not so much a limitation but a kind of (at times) liberating move. in early stages of my dissertation, i was just wandering like a madwoman (sorry, Joe), vibing out in the heavy, polymorphic theoretical universe i'd discovered. but why write that thing? why share my vibe? to what end?
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
as i explore the history of our scholarly discourses on film, i see a missing consideration of editing and/as revision, and i will surely take up the call to explore it in the final chapter(s) of the book on which i've been slowly making progress. if my earlier thesis holds, then this absent element from our talk on film's uses in the composition classroom seems reasonable; why talk about film editing in a class on written discourse, and especially in a class on written discourse posing as "correct," "clear" and "graceful"? ... artists!
borrowing the term from André Bazin, film-composition's "invisible galleries" (i'll explain my use of the term in my book ... and now. you. cannot. wait) intimate a more powerful role for editing/revision/composition, and currently we are in a position to be making films rather than merely studying, talking, or writing about them.
ever since i've been making films, the relationship between revision and filmmaking -- revision as writing, revision as composing/filmmaking -- has fascinated me. editing is, for me, the place of (film)writing, and i find that when i start, i don't want to stop. the sports analogy is the "zone." i'm often there when i'm editing. and even if the film is ultimately special only for me -- even if the response at the screening is less than WOW -- i still have that time, that experience of having made it, of having figured out how to (begin to) create the e/affects i'm after. and there is learning and all kinds of groovy self-actualization and discovery and intervention (into clichéd ways of thinking/being) happening there.
last night, i watched a documentary on editing. many Big Hollywood Directors talked about their work with their editors, and it was magically revealing to see the extent to which they realized that the editors were, as the early 20th C. had it, the filmmakers. i felt a little a.v. girl/geek pride for my editing comrades (hear that, Brad? Josh? Matt?). i see from my list there that those names are all male; the early 20th C. editors were almost exclusively female, until sound came along and men began to see the tech-y cool factor as opposed to the allegedly simple cut-and-paste labor that they'd considered "women's work," a kind of weaving or knitting project for the little ladies. grr.
Friday, August 1, 2008
The message of this new approach is significant, albeit disconcerting. It suggests that we live in a society thoroughly encoded by photographic images. And it suggests that these images are not the innocent, natural products of an objective lens but vestiges of human consciousness. As such, they can be exhumed and examined like archeological shards - ''appropriated'' is the art-world term - to yield evidence of the culture from which they come. For today's artists, the ever-expanding world of photographic images is a more important subject, and a more meaningful one, than the world we experience first hand.
Grundberg goes on to argue that