Monday, December 23, 2013

on holidays (radical change version)

One of my favorite lyrics is in "White Knuckles" by the conceptually joyful band, Ok Go. Before I share the lyric and why I love it, I must reflect upon the title. Titles first. If they are good, if they have cleverly compressed the song's intention, its key conceptual valences, even better. 

2013 has been a white knuckle year. I've written about the challenges of giving up my tenured position in order to move to Illinois and the embrace of family. Surely, I have compressed in that shared public reflection. I can't imagine how long it would take to render a sense of the multidirectional affective experience of (any or all) of it. 

I began my 2013 reflection hopefully, on 1/1/2013. Signs of discomfort began to emerge, here. Even more, here. And then this webspace wanted a clean'ish slate, a "renewed purpose," so I tried to shape it just so.

So the lyric: "Nothin' ever doesn't change, but nothin' changes much." Perfect ... approaching a 5th Noble Truth-type deal. I want to write more and more about it, but it is likely unnecessary. Maybe what I need is reflection upon happiness and change. How to find it, how not to lose it. And so on. I could end up there. But first, to add context, which may or may not clarify, my perfect lyric is embedded in this pithy verse:

So just how far 
[a beat]
is far enough?
Everybody needs to sleep at night.
Everybody needs a crutch.
But couldn't good 
[a beat]
be good enough?
'Cause nothin' ever doesn't change,
but nothin' changes much.

What to say? I'm still challenged by the "how far?" the "good enough" and "nothin' changes much." I can say it no better. 

But relative to the ongoing reflection I do (and sometimes perform) regading social media, here, I can see developing this post so that it reflects my sense of the value of public reflection. Becuase frankly, writing (even quick hits via social media) has helped me through the move and the change and all that continues to disrupt whatever sense of calm attended tenure, a small but close circle of friends, and the impressive moves I'd carefully made to resurrect my value as a faculty member at my former institution. 

So, yes, the public writing helps, but just as compression works for "White Knuckles" (as public performance), it also renders my challenges in familiar narrative moves and usually in only those that were/are likely to keep my audience reading, caring, helping, and not turning away because "THAT is not done via social media," or "you really shouldn't _____________." It's a long story, the story of how social media emerged, helped and ruined people, and obtains as a primary venue for moving (us) through our lives. I'm still in, but even this small bit of reflection sharpens my sense that unless we are werqin it as carefully crafted performance, we may fail. How to sustain the sanity-sustaining value of it, then? Is it possible? Desirable? I wonder if -- when I find my place, the place where I don't feel compelled to share my stories publicly -- I wonder if then I will get it "right." Or simply write. Oh gads, see that's "clever," which is just gross. (but so if The Clever requires explication, see the bold passage in previous post, and THANK YOU for staying with me)

 ... and since this is my holiday reflection, 

merry happy!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

you mean you're not coding?!!

"var red = [0, 100, 63]; var orange = [40, 100, 60]; var green = [75, 100, 40]; var blue = [196, 77, 55]; var purple = [280, 50, 60]; var myName = "b. kyburz"; letterColors = [green]; if(10 > 3) { bubbleShape = "circle"; } else { bubbleShape = "square"; } drawName(myName, letterColors); bounceBubbles (); 

yes, this ... animated name (the link takes you to the animation) is what you get for an hour at CodeAcademy. and it's kinda cool(ish), but to then leave you without access to knowledge of how to embed this into an html language frame so you can actually share it without advertising CA would be better. of course, i can figure it out, but Project Runway's on soon. priorities.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the proposal is away ...

 The proposal is away. 

No, i'm not celebrating too soon, but i am celebrating. You see, in composing it, i see much more clearly the real, true possibility for the project. You knew this. About writing proposals. This is how it works. 

i continue on in my 4 course load, so simply completing the P is worthy of an LBD and a cocktail, i'd say. And then, it's a vision, this image, of my life as a profess-ah. Sure, i've been a professor, had tenure, gave it up for personal reasons. but so, renewed and revised in my vision, i continue to seek my ideal scenario for living this life. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

renewing purpose

screenshot from screencube

I am writing this post to clarify the deleted title subheader, which previously read "thinking about representation." For while I continue to think about representation, this webspace has a variety of purposes that are so "kind of ..." (inquiring and exploratory) that it makes sense to simply lead off with that title and then craft appropriate post titles.

What goes on here? Many inquiries and even some assertions, but to be specific, here you will find:
  1. the rendering of experience for audiences who may care to read about them,
  2. bookmarks to important texts and sites i visit and admire,
  3. posts that reflect my sense of what is going on in the field of Writing Studies,
  4. reflection of works-in-progress,
  5. thinking about my work in film-composition as it happens from within and across 2 ecologies -- academia and film communities.
All clear? Kind of? ...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


draft (gaps!) image of reflecting cube, screencube
Since writing about writing my book and all my grand plans, I have done a bit of revision, sought and received helpful feedback, and then put the work aside as I work on more immediately pressing "transition" matters. Settling into the apartment. Wondering if an apartment was the right choice. Looking at houses (!). Kinda freaking out with all of the demands of moving to a new place, a place so massive and busy and very very different from my prior home, where, along with lovely, life-alteringly beautiful experiences I had faced some difficult-to-overcome challenges. And but it was nevertheless home (for 14 or so years). 

I will be seeing a new therapist soon, so read no further if this is just the sort of thing you find the internets ill-suited for. I get that -- np. But so I'm using this space to think about these selves we present, the rhetorical moves toward presenting our best selves, marketing of self, and denials/repressions that attend the strategic.

I'm seeing (I think) that the freaking out is aided by the matter of my allegedly "smart" rhetorical choices. See, as part of my "clean slate" move, I have been sharing mostly the highlights -- the joys, the hopes, the cocktails, the family fun, the hopeful sense of a shiny clean slate. I dare imagine that many of us working even marginally in rhetoric and composition and even perhaps not specifically at all (but maybe) with social media and its rhetorical dimensions would advise our students to do the same. And yet, I've been thinking about how my idealistic views on the move sometimes conflict with the complicated realities of upending a life and attempting to start fresh elsewhere. So, do the strategic public presentations of self (hey, Erv) complicate or heighten the anxieties we face? That is to say, by publicly articulating the shiny new, exclusively, do we diminish attentiveness to matters that we might perhaps face (and share) more honestly/critically? In our drive to present only a self that a colleague, friend, family member (whatever) would want to know, work, or hang out with, it seems that we may also strategically slate certain events and experiences for suppression/repression. Thus, more anxiety. 

So but if our articulations matter in terms of shaping experience, then how do we attend to the bugs, the heat, the humidity, the petty confrontations, the not-so-petty confrontations, and so on? If we mediate the shiny as if to highlight it in ways that determine our sense of immediate experience, what then of the dirty everyday? To radiate the less-than-ideal is seen as careless, intellectually shallow, rhetorically irresponsible. 

I've been changing up so as to present the shiny. I have been admonished (and I've done the same to, for (?) others) for the public whining. But ... 

That's all I've got. Oh, and today the weather is delightfully cool, the new roofing construction at the apartment has been only minimally invasive (gotta gear up for winter!), and preparing to head back to a 4/4 load is certain to sharpen my organizational skillz. WIN!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

an anniversary (update)

[and wading toward writing about trauma, less about The Event] ...

So I suppose we gained some local and national notoriety, but my great book never materialized. In fact, I have always found it profoundly difficult to write about trauma. And when I do write about it, it is usually with some exploitative motivation. I suppose I fancied the notion—just as many students perhaps believe that they will be rewarded with “A’s” for their disclosure—that in divulging the severity of my suffering I would be karmically reciprocated with fame and fortune. It is likely that this is because we live a culture that values fame above any other virtue, thus making it difficult for us to write about our trauma without conjuring images of made-for-T.V.-movies, guest appearances, presidential medals, what have you. Perhaps this is because “mass produced images guide our presentation of the self in everyday life, our ways of relating to others, and the creation of our social values and goals” (Kellner 18). Hopefully, my inability to write about trauma is encouraged by some inherent morality or transcendent intelligence I have yet to realize, despite the fact that I watch a lot of TV (especially HBO). As well, I like to believe that I have subconsciously resisted transcribing the events of my various traumas because I do not wish to exploit them in the name of fame or prosperity. Do I avoid writing about trauma because “the pace, the extension, and complexity of modern societies [have] accelerate[d], [so that my] identity becomes more and more unstable, more and more fragile” (Kellner 233) similar to the postmodern identity Douglas Kellner imagines? Do I imagine my identity as so “fragile” and “unstable” that I will have nothing of consequence to say? Will this fragility give way to total fragmentation in the writing of my identity and its trauma? Is it simply that “subjective identity is itself a myth, a construct of language and society, an overdetermined illusion that one is really a substantial subject” (Kellner 233)? Or, more hopefully, am I so invested in postmodern ethics that I don’t trust my “self” and its motivations? For you see, I have never been able to truly inhabit that clich├ęd sensibility we hear of from Great Writers, you know, the claim that they are writing in order to share their difficult experience for the sake of educating others and improving the human condition. For one thing, I never bought it. The personal stories-cum-E! Specials; the tabloid universe; the self-promotional biographies . . . all just leave me with a sort of edgy feeling I can’t adequately describe without recourse to foul, excremental, or otherwise lowbrow discourse. Something fairly sleazy in the business of it. Something more humanely dignified, perhaps even something usefully meditative and generative in silence, as Cheryl Glenn and Pat Belanoff have recently suggested. And, well, I see that I am here positioning myself in superior relation to those who would articulate their trauma; am I sincere? Do I believe what I am saying here? Or is all of this simply the familiar nature of writing about our own lives . . . the white lies, the obfuscation, the ostensibly earnest cultural critique?
On the first day of school following the (boat wreck) summer of 1973, my fifth grade English teacher, Mrs. H____, asked me to stand up in front of the class in order that I might narrate the events of July 10th. I had no idea that she would do this. But, being an obedient student, I stood and began to tell our story. Within seconds, I was fighting tears, and soon I could not fight. I was hysterical, standing alone with my trauma and exquisitely unable to speak; I made those throaty dry-heave noises one makes when one is nauseated but unable to express the sickness. Mrs. H____ waited patiently, hoping perhaps that I might compose myself so as to facilitate a happy ending. None would come. She soon told me to please go to the bathroom and freshen up. Since the time I wrote of “this bleeding toe of mine,” I have written on only one other occasion of our boat wreck. As a graduate student, I was required to engage in ethnographic research as part of a course in Research Methods. I chose to study a growing poetry subculture in Ybor City, Florida. As part of my ethnography, I felt compelled to take on the “emic” or participant observer’s perspective. Thus, I had to both compose and read aloud my poetry at a public event. My first poem, “V-2 Days and Nights,” was written in response to some stunningly horrific CNN footage of a Bosnian war zone. I read it at Open Mike and found that some folks liked my writing. I was asked back as a featured poet in the Thirsty Ear Poetry Series on three occasions. Several “poems” oozed out . . . horrible heartbreak stuff and pretentious literary “play.” But I also pushed myself at that time to confront trauma; I wrote about my brain surgery, reflecting upon the words and actions of a kind nurse and juxtaposing them with my mother’s remote concern. I also wrote about the boat wreck in a poem entitled “Watersport,” and while it may not be a masterpiece, I find it instructive to reflect upon the fact that I took 24 years to write seriously of those traumatic events (no “bleeding toes”).

As I write this now, I realize that this is the most I have ever written about any of the traumatic events that have shaped my life. It has been both enjoyable and only nostalgically tragic. I feel ready. But I can claim this readiness only for myself. As a teacher, then, this writing has been instructive, although I’m not sure that I can say exactly what I have learned. Will I return to assigning personal essays? If so, will I enact a caveat? If not, should I continue to promote the values of writing (about) trauma even as I neglect to engage them pedagogically as part of my curriculum?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

new year's day 2013

test shot. screencube
2013, hello. 

i am glad to see you. 2012 was productive and challenging ... like, crazy. As you know, i was unspeakably happy to stage my very first immersive installation, screencube, at our MoMLA gallery in Seatlle. Seattle, btw, is an outstanding city; i could see myself visiting often. Especially fantastic was The Steelhead Diner,  Metsker Maps, and this nearly underground bar i visited with Mike, who was invited after bumping into Cheryl E. Ball just following a publisher's party. My cocktail of choice was the "Dr. Cocktail," something of a lemon-infused martini with a splash of soda. Amazing. The bar was dark, small, crowded, intimate, ... and, and this place has everything (cue Stefon).

Speaking of Cheryl, as you know, she edits the outstanding online journal for digital scholarship, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. She and i have been exchanging email for the past few days because, as you know (given that the issue will be published in your time!), the installation will "appear" as a publication in the journal, along with the other gallery pieces that comprised our performance. There will be writing about this process (of converting cinematic works into webtexts). 

This writing emerges from writing i've been doing since i started making digital films in 2004 and publishing them as part of their contextualizing webtexts in 2009. Why write about it? Why not, say, make the documentary, instead? Good question, and i may do both. But so first, the book i've been working at since i started "writing" cinematically? It wants and needs to grow up. 2012 has done much to help me grow up (some of it, as you know, has been very, very shaky and rough). And but the book needs me; i've heard that the field in which i work may also want, need, and enjoy the book. So, you will likely be the lucky year that sees me cramming that plan into my life's time, teaching load and personal drama notwithstanding

More conceptually, the book is done waiting, and the 2012 drama emboldens. So beyond a straight up history -- how we have talked about film in our field -- which i will shape through the lens of affective discourses (hope, fear, etc.), the book longs to materialize as a kind of ironic play. It insists upon its own irony as a print book about what i've been calling film-composition (an aspirational and playfully, historically "serious" term that illuminates a discussion of film as a kind of writing we have longed to fully engage in our field for many years; more specifically, film production -- even if "merely video" -- in the field of rhetoric and composition). But don't worry; it doesn't languish in irony and snark because you see, there are some p-r-i-t-t-y sexy ways of thinking about the relationship between print and film (the glaringly obvious: think for one second about the allegedly "in crisis" critic/filmmaker relationship, and if this is insufficient as a prompt, read David Denby's Do The Movies Have A Future?). 

Still lost? To put it simply, my experiences resisting print in deference to cinematics unspool complex dynamics that are instructive and sometimes hilarious! The book insists (and i have argued since i shared these thoughts at a New Orleans' CCCC conference, in a presentation entitled "image.pleasure"), that this resistance is essential. However, at certain stages in the production cycle (aka "composing process"), i/we must write words, even if only minimal text files as overlays that, say, identify a person speaking in a documentary, or open a new section of a short, conceptual film. More expansively, i am called upon to write words for the webtexts i publish. And what i've lived through is a profound complexity (a euphemism), a  tension between print and film imaging that is painful, maddening, confounding. Nevertheless, the book insists that this procedurally induced tension is immensely productive, despite my long beloved agreement with Brian Massumi's assertion that in light of the intensity of affect associated with image reception, "will and consciousness is subtractive." i mean, i will agree (obvi), but i will argue, in a particular formulation, that print (as "language," as driven by "will and consciousness") is "subtractive" (29), and this may seem a fairly harsh critique that dismisses  print in favor of cinematics -- not my point, because see "subtractive" need not screen as damaged, wrong or less than. In many ways, the harsh, brightly lit damage of language (esp print, in my formulation) lights up space for reflection, pedagogy, and most importantly, revision. It does this by reducing the complexity of the imagistic intensity of cinematics, and while i/we may mourn this compression (i do), we recognize the essential language function in it. So see, even if the work of film-composition desires a less clearly defined set of guiding objectives (it does) than "writing it up," "the article," or "the book," and instead first desires pleasure (it does), the writing serves. Of course, here, i could go all groovy on you. Talk about how film-composition is writing ...  that the term "writing" as a signifier for print language (words) is outdated. Don't worry. i do all that in the book.

But i go too far. The point is that you are my time. For the book, for new projects (my remix project on the matter of privacy), for continued personal shinymaking. 

2012 gave me a little space; you, YOU, however, are immense, and i love you ...

do your best ...

I'm starting a new job as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University this fall! I'll be teaching Digital Stor...