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.