Monday, September 3, 2012

becoming the book

yu-cheng chou,

Yesterday, i responded to one of Cheryl Ball's FB status updates regarding her current sabbatical and book project. i used the response as an opportunity to see with greater clarity how our driving concepts are (re)animated, (re)mediated within real and virtual spaces. Cheryl offers a perfect lens through which to read this possibility, her identity fluctuating luminously across a variety of screens, from all points (inter)national, and always radiating a sense of wonder and emerging possibilities for our rhetorical work, for our bodies, for our hopes, for our professional identity, and so on. 
So but when i read her post, in which she states her intentions for getting to work on that book, i can't resist seeing the obvi Cheryl truth, the one that we see in various live and virtual spaces in routinely delightful ways. Cheryl is her book. Book as ethos, as tool for encouraging creativity in others, for garnering interest from potential students, colleagues, and funding agencies, and so on (all the stuff a book "does" as an academic and professional function). i will read Cheryl's "book," but i wonder if i already do.

Some of the early responses to Cheryl's post encourage, along the lines of "just do it. shut off your 'life' and get it done," and this should seem like perfect advice.

And but full disclosure: My own single-authored book is struggling to breathe under the weight of a heavy teaching load, my role as the lead for UVU's ePortfolio work, and personal matters, among other things & to say the least. i keep hoping that a more reasonable workload will aid me in the process, and i do love the book. But i see it differently and worry less as time and uncertainty and etc., etc. keep pushing it around so that it keeps seeming quite far away. But so importantly, @ the same time (and supporting the quasi-claims i am making here), it feels very close and very true. See, each of my conference presentations and publications since 2004 
involve the subject of the book (what i've been calling "film-composition") ... and if i look carefully it's simple to see traces to the mid-to-late 1990's, to the dissertation, to my thinking about chaos and emergence. And but the live performances, audience exchanges, palpating experiences of watching as they watch, the publications that emerge from the encounters ... they all feel so terrifically vital (shout out to Byron Hawk!) , and but when i resettle into my routine teaching-and-being-on-campus life, "writing it up" is beyond destructive. Maybe i am simply not feeling generous with the affective intensities i've been so thrilled to experience in the work, but then, aren't such affects "unassimilable" (Massumi 27) in ways that assuage my convention-driven guilt? Am i simply (simplistically?) rationalizing? i don't know, but i do know that i read an awful lot (since grad school) about scholarship that deadens, publications for the sake of having published, and so on. So i can't help wonder if maybe it will be best (for me) to let the events have been the events, the live performances as sufficient. In my deepest bones, this beat is correct.

nb, one prominent Rhetoric colleague told me once that i should not be expected to publish, given my "teaching university" status, but she has been known to condescend, and her comment did nothing to lighten my load but instead simply galled me, fw that's w).

Saturday, August 25, 2012


So i've just completed the latest revisions to my c.v. It's fine looking, i suppose. Alotta lists. Alotta work. But so also just happened: i'm posting a response to a friend's Facebook post about a long-ago audition, in which he reflects upon the advice of the Director ("go home and listen to Frank Sinatra"). i'm empathizing from the perspective of a girl who's studied acting since her early 40's and share my disaffection for the process. All of this in the span of a short 1/2 hour. Convergences? Epiphanies? Who can say? (certainly, i cannot say, not here ... not in public!). 

What i think i'm writing about here is my ennui regarding auditions, and i'm doing so by thinking about how the c.v. is a kind of "first look," which is all fine. Except that i have this radically over-entitled belief that i needn't be auditioning at this late stage in my career. And this of course compels me to question many of my choices, past and present. And, well, after last night's complete indecision regarding whether or not to drive up the canyon to The Owl Bar for a little social interaction but worrying that without Mike, who rarely drinks and usually ends up doing the driving after such outings ... well, in the hangover of that uncertainty, i cannot say that i'm much in the mood for indecision. 

But then, isn't my work as a rhetorician and compositionist and DIY filmmaker, teacher, and wanabe "creative" about exploring a smattering of possibilities all at the same time? ... and feeling comfy doing so? i think the answer is "yes," and so i'm reposting the image, above. i'm looking at it and crushing myself to accept and even attempt to radiate what she's putting out there. A girl can try, and sometimes, she believes it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

summer teaching ...

All kinds of economic factors mean that i am teaching the Summer B Block class. This is a compressed semester of 7.5 weeks, my favorite way to teach Introduction to Writing. i have so many projects up in the air, but i am choosing to focus almost exclusively on my teaching, for now, because the past year has been so full of family drama, travel, conference presentations, publication preparation, more travel, teaching demos and research talks, and difficult decisions. i am not entirely sure that I've decided correctly, and i do have some regrets. But the shiny, joyful news is that i have met and worked with some truly remarkable people, i continue to learn, and i am hopeful about the upcoming year and what it may bring (in some respects, it's "rinse and repeat," and i do like the shiny new!).

i had been planning to begin shooting for my new documentary, NOMO, but i have put that on hold. i am focusing on the teaching (didn't i tell you?!), for now, so but my creative and improvisational energies are there (say! that reminds me ... that article on improv. maybe soon). the book? or webtext? or documentary? ... we are still confused, where to begin? i make slow progress; i wonder if it's going to happen without serious revisions to my teaching schedule, and this compels me to think about the upcoming "season," so i'll be done, tidy up the main console in this empty classroom (it's "Virtual Friday" of Week One. i'm here to see any students who haven't yet attended while my other students are designing their blogs at their homes or other workspaces). 

Fascinating, right? If you've read this far, you are a good listener, and frankly, i have been needing to do some sort of public writing that moves beyond the level of a tweet or status update. And but yes, i realize that this post doesn't go much farther, but at least it's framed up as a "blog post," and that means i've gotta be motivating myself for something bigger (cue Liza!).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

the interrotron

As a former TV News intern, eyeslits-shut photo loser, and failed-actor-who-believes-in-her-talent-but-sucks-at-auditions-due-to"camera-freeze" (part fear, part freakout, part how can i emote realistically to a camera 30 feet away?), I want to think about being, filmed or photographed, about what are for some people OBVI shifts in disposition, appearance, and freakish dispossession of self that seems to occur when on camera (and aware of it -- see headshot, a topic i've contemplated previously). 

Watching Morgan Spurlock's 6 minute trailer(ish) bit on Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope, I lasered in on his nod to documentarian Errol Morris' tool for encouraging emotive face-to-face interviews that have become Morris' signature style. The tool is the "interrotron."

images via Steve Hardie
The interrotron lets a filmmaker appear in a frame into which the interview subject speaks. In effect, the subject speaks "directly" to the filmmaker, radiating an intimate realism that is often missing when a filmmaker asks a subject to simply "talk to the lens." In the latter scenario, subjects often appear to be highly aware that the actual person asking the questions hovers just above or otherwise off-center of the lens. And so, eyes shift, heads adjust and readjust, and the easy sense of fidelity to truth jolts haltingly, flailingly forward (see bad auditions), unavailable for meaningful resonance with audiences.

I will be building on this initial post, researching the interrotron and perhaps attempting to rig one up for my own work, not only as a documentarian but as an academic interested in performances of self. This may involve many experiments with the camera that will teach me how to better perform with/on it, and I may be soliciting tapes from you. Watch for it! Also, I hope (!) to interview Chris Crocker. I got to chat with Chris at this year's Sundance Film Festival. After screening his film, Me At the Zoo, I asked him as we walked out toward the lobby ...

how i prefer to be seen on camera,
unaware of it, completely
Chris, you're obviously amazing on camera. 
I. am not. How do you do it? 
You're either good with the camera, 
or you're good with people. 
(strange beat. 
we grasp at what to say)
I'm good with the camera.
(something ... something ... 
... flattering about his people skills)
Your hair is fabulous!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

kathleen fitzpatrick, "tech innovator"!!

The Chronicle of Higher Education recognizes Kathleen Fitzpatrick's amazing work in Digital Humanities scholarship ... and how her networked approach got DH noticed at the MLA (among other great things!). For many, the recognition is sweet validation, for others, it's "doi!" ... and for some, it's a worrisome hint of potentially wider institutionalization of some specifically innovative, tech-infused pedagogical work. Discuss ...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

digital humanities ("how to")

I'm happy to have found a lovely blog radiating a sense of what is meant by "digital humanities" (DH) and "digital scholarship." 

Lisa Spiro, Director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITTLE), has created an inviting web presence at Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. Check it out. Discuss ...

Friday, February 17, 2012

"This is so limited, it's unbearable" (Sirc)

Sirc's review essay, in which he laments the constraining and lauds the occasionally brill views and enactments of writing pedagogy. Discuss.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

owning it

I never post pictures of myself, eating. So first, you're welcome. Second, to answer the obvi  "why now?" I can assure you that I have not altered my policy but have instead acted upon the joy I associate with the happy situation. See, these were guilt-free fried oysters from scrumptious Steelhead Diner in Seattle. They are, officially, Flash Fried Totten Inlet Pacific Oysters with Kashmiri Curried Cocktail Sauce, from the brunch menu ($9.95). I was celebrating, living it up, you know, like someone who is not pretty freakishly and shamefacedly obsessed with dieting and body issues and whatnot ... like someone who had recently shared her first bit of "installation art."   

Frankly, I still can't believe that I was supported in this effort, and I am intensely grateful for my friends and colleagues who made it so. It was one of my favorite moments in life, putting it all together, seeing the curiosity as the installation assembled, readjusted and revised and scramblingly came together as "a piece." Of course, I had done my work on the front end. I had done the "rhetorical" work of discovering a purpose, thought carefully about the gallery context, and appropriately integrated audience awareness. And, as one experiences in any creative process, all sorts of affective intensities and associated gestures showed up throughout the process; all, delightful, if at times maddeningly complicated. Like desire. The piece was essentially about desire. And pleasure. Thus, the happy oyster-eating shot (hey, now!).

More on the installation + publication plans + conference reflection (CW 2012!) ... soon.

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...