Sunday, September 23, 2007

(un)responsive . . .

what does it mean when you post at someone's webspace and don't get a response? it doesn't have to mean a thing, of course. i was just sort of wondering how this feels for a student in this newmediaeconomy where we are supposed to be almost totally open to email and blogs and discussion boards and other forms of "open" communication pretty much 24/7.

i remember once, in grad school, when i thought i'd pretty much figured out Luce Irigaray via a series of connections to chaos theory (oh, my lord-y, am i saying this publicly?!). seriously, and this is kind of sad, i-called-my-professor-at-home. right? i was thinking: clearly, this was the discovery of the academic century. and so why not? i could even work with her to mark this momentous occasion (champagne?) and we would then set out together to mine the implications of my clever find. what a dork.

to my professor's credit, she did ask me to write a question for JAC's (then) upcoming interview w/ Luce Irigaray, and i was honored to do so. years later, i stumbled upon a Stila lip color called "Luce," so i bought it and sent it to my professor, sort of dismantling my past "moment" with a cosmetic offering that marked a desire to make over my silly endeavor with a colorful tincture.

it was a lovely brownish pink-y red. i don't know if she liked it or not, if she wore it or gave it away or simply ignored it. she emailed to thank me. but i never got the sense that she understood what it meant, my gift.

note: the Stila shade, "luce," is pictured in the lipstickschmear, above.

Friday, September 21, 2007

"do you ever think . . .

. . . that they are just reading too much into things?"

raise your hand if a student has ever said this to you or to a class in the context of a discussion (i'd say "asked this" but it's really a statement, a rhetorical question). it happened to me yesterday. it happens a lot more in Utah than it did in Florida or in Arizona (conservative states, to be sure, but still . . .). i have over the years tried to find temperate ways of responding to this question. yesterday, i responded by telling my student that, "no, if this is your argument, it's weak" (she was asking if this "they read too much into it" statement could form her thesis in a summary/analysis paper addressing an essay about sexism in Sesame Street). i tried to frame my response as a matter of "what goes on in college," but also "what a thinking person does" and "what being a critical consumer of cultural texts is about" and "what being an intellectual human being/citizen is about" . . . etc., etc.

all fine, with a bit of frustrated harumphing from my student and a small handful of other students. but then, i had to admit to her that, yes, there are times when i (we) simply must "turn it off." and maybe this is what distinguishes me from the serious scholars i know and respect and work with and have been admonished by (apparently, if i buy into anything "3rd wave" i'm not a real feminist). wow. it's funny how some of the greatest minds become so settled in their convictions. oboy. is that the mark of a "great mind"? a firm and unwavering conviction? because if that's so, i'm screwed. t-o-t-a-l-l-y screwed.

but so maybe she (my student) can/should write from that (weak?) thesis (??)

so but what i meant when i told my student that i sometimes turn it off is that life is hard and complicated and that if i lived through my convictions to their fullest potential, i would probably be alone, on a craggy knoll, eating lettuce and meditating -- heartfelt prayers for a humanity i can't imagine, in any of my most sincere intentions and efforts, affecting -- unto eternity.

is this a naïve ambivalence without value? i'm not so sure. i'm planning to read a paper my colleague recently gave on Levinas as a way of intellecutalizing my hunch, and then to read Levinas and think about it some more, and in the meantime, make the art i enjoy making and try to sometimes just watch The Hills because that's my guilty pleasure (Lauren, come on, stay away from Jason. and Heidi: Spencer? Really?!) and maybe say a thing or two in the margins of a paper that maybe helps a student along and love my husband (the other night, he sat reading the Phil Steele Football "Bible" while i scanned the Victoria's Secret Catalogue; intellectuals, we be) and then sometimes watch The Hills Aftershow at 5:00 a.m. because facing the day's roster of intellectual projects to which i feel compelled is simply just too much at 5:00 a.m. and i need to "turn it off."

Honestly, i think that when i mentioned i'm on Team Lauren, i may have won over a few students :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

shiny new flakes . . .

i feel great, just like this (left). fall is here in Utah, and it's my favorite time of year. i love the anticipatory moment of curiosity regarding the nature of my outerwear; light sweater or simple layers? shell or wool coat? break out the UGGs? (i finally broke down; they are simply the best winter boots, despite looking a little Clan of the Cave Bear'ish and not at all as sleek as those pictured, left; can one *really* feel like that? i like to think so).

we'll be taking a traditional "leaf tour" soon; we actually do that. it's pretty nice. the canyons here may as well be Switzerland. when i moved here, i didn't imagine that we would have such great mountains (Phoenix had "hills," which were then "mountains" to us. now, we know better).

i'll be working on my new film soon. i'll be talking to student and other novice filmmakers along with veteran independent filmmakers who will talk to me. i'm interested in what people are doing outside of mainstream cinema (although i am most certainly a dork for mainstream cinema). i'm also planning on learning more about my camera. for my first documentary, it was "point and shoot" as i could, as i could get access, find time, travel, etc. i "found" some decent footage and am proud of the work, but i once screened it for 2 women who work intimately with the Sundance institute, and they had all kinds of things to say about my shots, my naïve use of negative space (which, while not intentional, i could defend as a move that aligned w/ the film's dystopian themes of Orwell's 1984).

one of the things i like about filmmaking is thinking about how i will/might/someday talk about the film in my pithy Q & A. i can't actually approach this kind of thinking until i am well into the process, but it's still pretty cool. and, i mean, if i don't dream of speaking from that podium, i am not being honest (this is our culture, at large, but it's also a cliché, a convention that attends participation in film culture). it's quite a pleasurable activity, inventing clever ways of talking about what amount to lucky finds and/or mistakes as "revolutionary" filmmaking moves. and what's truly fascinating about this activity is how it's often quite simple to discover ways of justifying the moves, which makes me wonder about the moves themselves, about the possibility that my subconscious is asking or compelling me to make them for the very reasons i am after-the-fact discovering. i like to imagine that David Lynch would agree with me here; in his book on meditation, he talks about the creative imagination in just this sort of way.

in a piece i wrote for Composition Studies, a piece that evolved from both my CCCC's 2007 and my PSU 2007 talks, i consider Jean-Luc Godard's "revolutionary" use of the jump-cut in just this way; many will describe it as a novice mistake, but i like to think of it as Godard's techne, his ability to discover the available means . . . in the sense that with his limited funds and crew he did what he could with what he had in order to move the narrative forward (sometimes, backward) in time. and it worked. and he was/is considered a genius. and there's nothing to say that the move wasn't in some Wimsatt and Beardsleyean way intentional, even especially if we are talking in Lynchian mode about the subconscious exerting its will, expressing its desire through the filmmaker's conscious activity.

Monday, September 17, 2007

oh, very mature!

they asked. i had mentioned that i'd be more available, w/ more office hours, after i get my kidney stint out tomorrow. one student asked exactly what that was. so i drew a diagram and told them about it. the word "barb" raised a few hackles, i could see. but hey, as my dozens and dozens of readers will know, i believe in the value of expression, getting things out there. and, especially when it comes to pain and the body, there's something awful about keeping it in.

in 1994, as i was preparing to have a craniotomy for a life threatening brain tumor, the only thing i saw when i closed my eyes was saw gleaming toward skull and it freaked the f*ck out of me. i could not stay in my head. i had to talk about it, write about it, midnight call about it to anyone who would listen. i had a supercool group of friends back then , and many of them gave good ear (Todd Taylor shaved his head in solidarity . . . i love you, Todd).

i guess it's that slightly somber time before you know you'll be having a procedure; you know that you are the "subject" and that you will give up all control. there's something terribly lonely in it, but it's also sort of luxurious to bathe deeply in that self-pity and fear, something terribly goth about it (heard "How Soon is Now?" on XM last night, the Smiths' theme song that is perfectly suited for this moment i'm trying to describe).

anyhow, i'm tired, excited about a procedure that is also a little scary (remember those "barbs" that have been holding the stint in place? well, they have to come back out . . . and that can't feel good) . . . so i'm rambling out of fear and excitement and because, damn it, it's my webspace.

very mature.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"marketable" (?)

M dot Strange wrote me an email recently in which he said that he had once made a shirt, wrote on it "professional" as a way of establishing his pro filmmaking status. i love that.

he is in NYC this week meeting w/ some people. this time, his shirt reads "marketable." i love that too.

i can't claim to be nearly as cool as M, with his str8nime and subliminascope (see below) productions. and, well, not everyone loves it but maybe a small (?) group of friendly fans.
relative to why i'm publishing references to his work here: i identify with the DIY spirit and practice shaping M's work. i mean, we have to be thinking about what self-publication means, now, in time where we find it's possible to make things of amazing complexity with New Media technologies. we have to think about it because it's one (obvious) thing to publish great stuff in the best journals--"better," books--but if you "simply" makelittlefilms, maybe that's not so impressive. i don't know; this seems important. but so for now, i'm ID'ing w/ this (the clip, below), simply enjoying it, a series of responses to M's We Are the Strange that do double-time explaining his production mode, "subliminascope."

for what it's worth, i see some pretty obvious (and amusing, if tragic) analogies to how some people in Composition view New Media productions. either way, it's not intended to be a serious critique; it's funny. watch:

here's the truth: i must admit that i have never watched We Are the Strange in its totality. i have, however, enjoyed watching the various clips available on YouTube, reading the stories surrounding WATS, gazing at the amazing images M creates, and talking w/ M about art and education.

i'm responding to a DIY thing in digital filmmaking. i'm not a gamer, not so much into things that are bizarre and head-explodingly frustrating . . . but i make films and appreciate people who find a way, a techne, ("the available means of persuasion . . . ") especially if it means finding a way that does not sell itself out to those powerful forces taking on the work (and rewards) of defining the artform in a public way (i.e., studios, curators, etc.). still, i will break if it comes down to it (let's be honest), so maybe all the more reason for me to appreciate the radically new, the radically independent (reminders).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


so yes, we're in. but i feel as though my head will soon explode. the news. so sad. you see, i have a lovely panel with Geoff Sirc and Rylish Moeller.

we're talking "composing virtual desire."

and of course so but we're all very happy but so the thing is: our panel has been placed in the last slot on the last day of the conference. i hope some of you will be around (?).

again: we're all very happy to have been included and there were of course thousands of entries and so we are of course very, very lucky to be sure, but come on, DESIRE gets last? this has got to be meaningful. and if so--because it is so--well, merde!

how can you/they/we put DESIRE last? it's too sad.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


i love M Dot Strange. what he is doing to make art is beyond me to describe. i especially love M doTs "manifesto" and hope he agrees to let me interview him on camera so that we can talk about:

"Everyone...I mean everyone pretty much knows the world is broken...Everyone...pretty much like all the a_dolts in the world are broken...they are unhappy...they are lost... Yet they think they know what is best for art... they like to jam it into an entertainment package so they can attempt to define it and critique it... They are dying...wasting away... trying to steal time and energy from lively sprites of specularity... I've seen the blatherings of disempowered critics online... I've seen them offline... I've never met them in person... They hide in dark holes...they get hella knocked out by Uwe Boll... Now is the time for they're irrelevance...they're obsolescence... They don't matter and they know it...Desperation...Oh... Read the writing on the blog... I'm like...professional... and so are you... The MCP doesn't look so scary to me...User revolt... Throw the information disc back upstream... Yeh probably about time for some cr8zy art manifesto...yeh...I'm already on it..."

i hear retro Comp-y-ness here, and i like it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the rhetorical allure of smoking

kafkaz responded to an earlier post about my Pavlovian-anticipated desire to own a particular lighter i'd seen in a film. she gave me the language i was looking for, language that might aid my search. she told me that what i'm looking for is a "single-action ignition lighter."

SINGLE-ACTION IGNITION!!! holy freakish associative logic! now, i want that lighter more than ever, and i was never even a big fan of Westerns (one exception: Jim Jarmusch's brilliant Dead Man). so maybe it's more of a James Bond supergadget desire. one of my early and most beloved film experiences was going to see a James Bond film -- The Spy Who Loved Me, i think it was -- in a theater in Gainesville, Florida with a group of friends i was just then getting to know, a group very different from the punk crowd i usually hung with; i went with a few "art people," and there, in that theater, you could smoke while watching films. so we watched Bond do a lot of cool stuff. we smoked and flirted and laughed at the elaborate lives we both resisted and desperately wanted to adopt. taking on lifestyles of the Bond variety, we realized, would happen only within whatever imaginative spaces we might conjure. and so since it would be interiority driving the possibility, smoking helped because even for a harcore smoker, THAT much smoke (a theaterfull) was getting us all a little high.

yes, this association works. understanding it, even in small part, makes it even more fun, not less; and here is the question regarding our ethical responsibilities when we (claim to) teach rhetoric. maybe this is the work of my RSA project. i want to talk about our ethical repsonsibilities, but i can't help hearing (already) articulations of the traditional route (a perspective that may catch a break at RSA, but a view that obtains, generally speaking, for many teachers of writing and rhetoric). that is, "we are beholden to sort out for our students what are acceptable forms of participation in a particular rhetorical scene," which means, i think, a rejection of human desire, however interpellated -- or *because* it's so "obviously" constructed (for us). and this means, i think, that we invite people to live as though trapped in tiny spaces where their "morality" is overdetermined in ways that promote "questionable" or "undesirable" (i.e., violent, sexist . . .) thought, behavior, and being. i keep thinking that the cathartic route is far more valuable; it is for me (and, then, it's waaaaay more fun). we'll see.

stand up straight & let me get a look at you

It's awards show Sunday, so i'm giving Margot. I'm through with the wishfulness and angst and regret, and Margot, more than an...