Wednesday, November 28, 2007

. . . but it bears repeating . . .

"take joy in your digressions. because that is where the unexpected arises . . . if you know where you will end up when you begin, nothing has happened in the meantime. you have to be willing to surprise yourself writing things you didn't think you thought. letting examples burgeon requires using inattention as a writing tool.* you have to let yourself get so caught up in the flow of your writing that it ceases at moments to be recognizable to you as your own. this means you have to be prepared for failure, for with inattention comes risk: of silliness or even outbreaks of stupidity. but perhaps in order to write experimentally, you have to be writing to 'affirm' even your own stupidity. embracing one's own stupidity is not the prevailing academic posture..." --brian massumi [sic]**

come on!

via Bill DeGenaro (thanks, Bill).

* outstanding. and beyond it's essential brilliance, i think here about our colleagues who think us provincial and weak because we watch t.v.; from now on, i'm referring to it as a strategy, a "writing tool."

**why do i hate capital letters?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

i've had a lot of good luck lately with regard to conference acceptances and publications. so it came as a bit of a shock (hello, ego) when i got my RSA rejection. i had presented at RSA only once, have been a member for just over a year. but i guess i thought that what i was doing was pretty cool (a film called "i'm like . . . professional" about digital filmmaking and privileging the naïve object, a film featuring M Dot Strange of We Are the Strange fame).

well but so no. and this is fairly liberating because it means that i can repurpose -- are we sick of this word yet? -- the film; it can be by and for me, (by and) for much broader (cooler?) audiences.

maybe academe isn't actually ready for cool (even still), although i used to think there was some of it vibing in tiny pockets if you were lucky enough to find them (like when i first read Berube reference Elvis Costello; that was a good vibe, even if it eventually faded). i guess it's still possible to find it. but so the narcissicm. right? one tiny rejection and academe is not cool enough for her. ha.

and then, to be honest, RSA intimidated the crap out of me. maybe "intimidated" isn't right. more like, "wow, this is really so much about ancient rhetoric. i had no idea." which is all fine, but i'm not as well versed and not as much invested/interested there (of course, of course, but you know??). i'm more comp-y w/ a cultural studies/film/personal/visual/affective thing going on. but comp-y, to be sure. for the reasons we recall: for Mike Rose helping returning veterans and other "underdeveloped" students; for Sondra Perl's "felt sense" and how it movitates and remotivates our personal/political projects, our investments and our sense of agency; for Sherrie Gradin's reanimation of "expressivism" via the Romantic poets and their rhetorico-politico-cultural (jeez, bonnie!) aims. not for this: in one session i attended at RSA, there was during the Q & A (after a session in which one particular paper invited us to be in the moment with the ideas, silently agreeing to much of what was said even as we felt convicted about our less-than-lovely inclinations as agents within institutional life), everyone in the room seemed compelled to argue about the precise meanings of Levinas; it felt like a competition when the paper of note simply wanted to enable us to dig it (if even for a tiny moment). and the argument was there. and the delivery was there. it was all there. and then it was not.

sure, one distasteful conference experience and a rejection do not say much. but they say something. and, well, combined w/ my felt sense about RSA, i'm thinking that rejection is fine. appropriate even. i'll likely go (hey, it's Seattle), hear others' brilliance. sit silently. wonder about what i'm doing here (as usual). i'm not whining, mind you. just trying to capture the affective in this moment (and to recall others). because it's part of what i'm about in my film work and my desires for it (which means that, again, rejection from this particular academic venue may be what i need, what i've needed).

so but i hate it when others do this, whine about rejection, but i figure i'm up at 4:22 ("the morning breeze has secrets to tell you; do not go back to sleep" -- Rumi), so why not see where it goes? i've even chatted w/ M via email about his disenchantment over a less-than-ideal Sundance reception. i encouraged him to move on, to see that just getting your film in is/was massive (and, um, from my perspective, having been rejected . . . ) and that there are some good people at Sundance who know what's what. so. take my own advice. and, maybe this time, don't think about my filmwork as something that sort of "luckily" is "hot" in academe right not (which, um, apparently it is not, for reasons i've described here -- rejection -- as well as this). but as something that has worked for me in this context for a while and maybe now needs to work in other contexts. liiiiike . . . the free form film festival (i want to do stuff w/ them) or the various cell phone film festivals (i LOOOve the way cell phone movies can achieve serious arthouse effects w/ their grainy ambiguity) . . .

it's like when i got fired from my first major job as a hairdresser/make-up artist in the Very Best Salon -- tres chic -- on St. Armand's Circle (Longboat Key, Sarasota, FL), Les Ciseaux. here was Colette, grooming me to be a serious part of her team (and just out of beauty school!). but my bulemia had gotten me a few local modeling gigs, and i had confided in a co-worker that i wished i had more time to go out on auditions and put my energies there. so but of course, she told Colette, who fired me. said she was trying to build something and if i wasn't committed and needed to go model, then go. needless to say (we all know how this narrative goes), the modeling didn't work out. i ended up in some truly horrific strip-mall salons (one was even called . . . uh . . . gross . . . Mantrap!). finally, quit the business i'd loved and was working in McDonalds. at 26. clearly, went back to college. just last year, i was in Sarasota for a job interview as a WPA at a locally famous art college (should i have taken that job?), and i went by to see Colette, to sort of apologize for being such a foolish girl, and there she was, gracious and lovely as always. it was refreshing. cleansing, . . . dare i say?, healing.

so but this is going on, right? eh. who cares? it's n-o-t-h-i-n-g. RSA is for grown up academics. for scholars. and i'm toying around with film and image and finding myself and still hanging around the edges of academe. and this is fine. good, actually.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

perspective (linear vs. retinal)

via Panofsky, i find this charming observation from Wilhelm Schickhardt:

"I say that all lines, even the straightest, which do not stand directe contra pupillam [directly in front of the eye] . . . necessarily appear somewhat bent. Nevertheless, no painter believes this; this is why they paint the straight sides of a building with straight lines, even though according to the true art of perspective this is incorrect . . ." (34).

and then, the delightful "conclusion" at which Schickhardt arrives, . . . "Crack that nut, you artists!"

come on. that's hysterical.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


"the arbirtrariness of direction and distance within modern pictorial space bespeaks and confirms the indifference to direction and distance of modern intellectual space; and it perfectly corresponds both chronologically and technically, to that stage in the development of theoretical perspective when [...] it [arbitrariness?] became a general projective geometry" (Panofsky 70).

as i read Panofsky, i keep finding space for vibratory pleasure and intellectual confirmation regarding perspective as "symbolic form," which works for me as a concept capable of articulating (again, for me) a sense of what i try to do w/ images. because even as i want to avoid (over)conceptualizing the images i use and bring into contact with other images and sounds and texts, my situation as a rhetorician compels me (right? doesn't it?) to at the very least have something handy to say about them, about what i do and why, about why it may be useful to work with students via images. and i so often do not want to make this move, this articulation.

i recall that after my PSU presentation "beyond words," in which i wanted to argue for the sharing our our multimodal work absent an overly obvious and carefully structured contextualizing discourse, Geoff Sirc said to me, "that was great. why do you hate your words so much?" (by which i believe he meant to say that my capitulation -- my paper presentation that blathered itself during my screening as a nod to how little we've progressed in our work w/ image-events in rhetoric and composition studies -- well, my nod to how far we have not come was actually quite nicely done. so but thanks, but . . .).

i'm surprised at myself for having avoided serious engagement with discourses on aesthetics for so long. and well, there is a lot to read. but also: this distancing choice, which in itself feels somewhat arbitrary, leads me back to Panofsky's comment (above), which feels as though it's moving in the direction of ambivalence, and that move feels right to me (maybe via homi b.), even if it seems rhetorically purposeless (but is not, i continue to insist or, um, imagine).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

happy, happy!

thanks, people (and monsters) . . .

the magical "21st Century"

okay, so i've posted the nicey pictures and we've enjoyed Steve's video. but there is more to say. and i want to preface what i am saying by noting that i am not in this to deride NCTE. it's about making an observation. about how our rhetoric ("our" writ broad, including but operating well beyond NCTE) doesn't reflect our reality (duh) in ironic and even humorous (if not crazy-making) ways.

one must at the very least observe and reflect. and to be clear: i don't usually go to NCTE, and so maybe it's not worth mentioning or maybe my ethos isn't fully established. but wait . . . i did go to NCTE in 2004, and even then, similar issues were troubling me. and, then again, this isn't so much about NCTE as it is about how our (again, "our" expansively construed) grand pronouncements about the state of things are so often, simply, sort of ridiculous in light of the actual conditions these pronouncements are wanting to project. and *i'm all for grand*. performance. but i'm also for, um, performance (in its actual, live state of being, in its status as a live event rather than merely an idea that seems timely).

so we all know that if you work with film or video or even want to show a dumb PowerPoint presentation (okay, ppt can be cool, if used w/ some design principle that goes beyond -- or beneath -- their *flashy* templates) we have to haul our own equipment everywhere. and yes, it's lovely that we can now order equipment in advance. but. um . . . at CCCC's in March, poor XXX (name withheld to protect the, um, innocent) had ordered the projector for his first big film event . . . got to the room . . . discovered the absent setup . . . hustled to find one. eventually had to pay $75.00 to get one from the a.v. group C's had hired to respond to his original request. in 2007. "21st Century"-style.

so, okay. NCTE 2007. for our featured session on the rhetorico-aesthetic uses of film/video to document the nature of writing, we had a projector, and we had a screen. as for sound, we were told -- via flurry of flustery last minute emails -- that nothing could be done. so, XXX2 had to haul his own PA system in so that we'd have sound (and it may be true that Kathy Yancey helped fund the shipment, which is cool of her, as she is always cool), and that was all fine (maybe not so joyous for XXX2, but we had worked it out in advance, as good teachers who are used to fending for themselves have learned to do "in the 21st century"). so we are checking our stuff and realize that there is no light panel/switch to be found. we call our a.v. guy assigned to our room, ask, thinking he'll be able to accommodate our **very simple** request to simply turn out the lights during our screening and bring them back up for our talks.



"right. can't turn out the lights. all on one switch." XXX2 suggests we find a bb gun to shoot out the bulbs (very steampunk!). but alas. no bb guns. and the ceiling is like 150 ft. high.

2007. national convention. look at the convention book, covered with images of desks with superimposed screens on chalkboards (imaged here, on the header) wanting to suggest the hipness of teaching in "the 21st century!" but. um . . . "we can't control the lights."

you wackos with your newfangled ideas.

i don't know. am i complaining about nothing? i don't think so. when i run the Screening Room at Sundance during the festival, my main job as Theater Manager is to orchestrate the "big picture," and i am especially concerned about ambiance. a film event is an event . . . an immersive experience. and in support of the filmmakers who have their work/lives on the line, i do whatever i can to help create an honorific and anticipatory vibe that reflects the serious nature of the event/experience. anyone who works in film will tell you that LIGHTING is key, and the simple act of being able to screen a film IN THE DARK is essential to creating the scene, the potential for "the primacy of the affective in image reception" (via Massumi). the vibe matters.

what's more, most filmmakers are quite aware of how the dark frames the lit images of their film, of how the dark creates the space within which bodies experience the film, its 360 sound, its lightwritten textual/aesthetic meaning. at Sundance, we rehearse how films are introduced and plan the aftereffects -- timing on when (during credits? . . . just after?) it will be most effective to begin to bring the lights back up (and how fast we do so) for the q & a. generally, we rehearse this, but sometimes we rehearse the staging effects for an individual film. sometimes, a filmmaker will make very specific requests regarding this timing/vibe, and we acccommodate. and it's not a seriously complicated technology, the light switch.

once, at a meeting w/ our Sundance superiors, we were reporting on the year's festival and had a few things to say about how to better enhance/ensure/maintain our ambiance. given that we work at the resort, w/ one 164 seat Screening Room and no major celebs/press/insanity just beyond the doors (i.e., we are not in Park City), we imagined their response,

"WHAT? you've got AMBIANCE?!" (at Park City, it's pretty insane, so while they try for ambiance, it's often a scramble to get and preserve it).

but so yeah. we do. it's our thing. and just about every filmmaker, actor, producer, etc. who visits our theater comments upon it (Sam Elliot liked it so much I got a nice big hug from him . . . as he whispered "thank you so much" in that gravelly-sexy voice of his). so yeah. ambiance. experience. event. affect. kairos. it's all part of the rhetorico-aesthetic scene. remember delivery?

so again, i'm not trying to diss NCTE, in particular. i'm more about observing/commenting upon our rhetorical flourishes regarding "21st Century" biz because it sounds kinda sexy, but it's the thing that gives rhetoric a bad name (as in used car salespeople bad rhetoric). it's fantasy, facade, and the sad thing is that the performers are prepared to deliver, but the missing elements keep holding them up.

i'm talking about expansive preparation for *the event* . . . NOT . . . let's patch something together at the last minute for this national convention presentation in the magical "21st Century." oh sure, as teachers, we know the scramble-f0r-it mode. but it's 2007. come on.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

nyc, november 2007

nyc, nov. 2007 . . .

steve krause has posted the video (ncte stuff).

here's my view (to see larger, double click on
image above the caption to watch via picasa):

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

catching up . . .

i've not been ignoring you. i've been so busy w/ grading and preparing for NCTE that i have not been writing here. i know. tragic. too tragic.

i think this will make it the 7th conference presentation at which i've screened a film. i like it, but the stakes feel somewhat dangerously high, so i get awfully nervous/sick. i'm hoping to avoid that this time. i like the film, and i like the postcard* i made to distribute, and i know what i did, so i can talk about it with relative ease.

Mike is joining me. we'd planned to spend some more time in NYC seeing shows (we are goofy musical theater lovers). wouldn't you know that the stagehand's strike would go into full effect the week of our planned trip. anyhow, we're planning to see at least one non-union show, Xanadu (you heard me).

* here is some grainy (really grainy) video i just shot of my promo material (aka, a postcard).

and the back . . .

Sunday, November 11, 2007


my new little niece, Matilda. Emily (my sister) was scheduled to have her c-section delivery on Wednesday, but shortly after yesterday's baby shower, the water broke. a few hours later, . . .

i get to see her (and Fiona, Cassie, and John) in December, when i
visit Chicago for the holidays (yay!). so far, Matilda seems to have
impressively cute dimples ;)

i love being an auntie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"grimm" sizing details

straight from the Brothers Grimm Ashputtle (Cinderella with the gore, the bloodied stepsisters' feet), a fit recommendation for the "luna rosa" boot (pictured first in the previous post) (via

"Fit: If boot is difficult to slip on initially, place a plastic bag over your sock for easier entry. Tear away the bag once the boot is on your foot."


so beyond being a little shocked, i'm trying to imagine this. when you "tear away the bag," does it all come out? what if a little bit of plastic remains? too bad? does it mock and torture you? (i'm guessing, "yes"). and, well, if it's so hard to get the foot in, how about getting it out? i'm just saying.

serious business

i will write (maybe more seriously) again when i emerge from underneath this pile of papers and when i am not preoccupied with boots (current top contender, left).

why does it seem so important to have the right winter boots in in the West? is it simply a local competition? is it something about knowing that we actually do not belong here (if only for water issues, but, um, . . . )?? am i unwittingly compelled to work extra hard at performing my cowgirl self who does? belong, that is. i don't know, but it's become a bit of an obsession. i suppose i could be engaging less benign obsessions.

when i do find them, i'll post a picture here, for those of you following bootsearch '07 (do i hear "new reality series"?)

i am actually hoping to find a particular boot (see right), but they are currently unavailable in my size (i hear you weeping).

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...