n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

a little more snow this past weekend

Friday, February 23, 2007

m-to-c haiku notes, yood, feb 22

I. hour one

moving out flow, a
certain type of abstraction
scientific beast

nevertheless, be wary
start to move away;
anguish and suffer
curves and motion through the street
shifts in perspective
took over in trench warfare;
missing a left hand
but not emaciated;
dissonance for us

color energy
what is the artist feeling?
horses are not blue;
a little absurd
approaching painting, tracing
his 90 degrees
serving the perceived:
colors could mean by themselves
(the interior world);
we don’t search music
for a real subconscious mind

developing tastes
versus your prejudices:
schools of thought and art

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

i gots the style

Been working on the style and voicy stuff, and although I still have some work to do before bedding down, I'm all happy with my assignments and thought I'd inflict a little on you all.

Before I lob the ball, this is what I taught my grammar students down in Ecuador, and is perhaps the easiest way to teach grammar: in every basic sentence, there are three slots. Whenever you make a compound sentence of any kind, you double the number of slots per sentence (or more than double it if you are compounding more than one sentence). A basic example:
Root sentence: The dog ate my homework.

[slot 1] The dog [slot 2] ate my homework [slot 3].

Slot 1: While peeing on my rug, the dog ate my homework.

Slot 2: The dog greedily and noisily ate my homework.

Slot 2: The dog, a vicious bugger full of lice, ate my homework.

Slot 3: The dog ate my homework while peeing on my rug.
By using these three slots, you can usually grow a sentence almost endlessly large without actually making a compound sentence (two sentences joined with and/but/because/etc); instead, you just add information about the nouns or verbs.

Now... onwards. The two particular types of sentences we are talking about right now in Style and Voice are called "periodic" and "cumulative" (also called "running"). The gist of these two sentences is that the periodic sentence heavily utilizes Slots 1 and/or 2, whereas the cumulative sentence utilizes Slot 3 and/or compound sentencing. These two styles might really push the slot possibilities to the far extremes, and not just add a single phrase like the above examples.

By doing this, cumulative sentences seem to gain speed, rush forward, trace the edges of the mind in real-time, pile information forward, use language in positive repetition, whereas periodic sentences suspend the action for as long as possible to gain weight, mystery, anxiety, and so forth. Good stuff.

So, here's our assignment:
Write a letter to your neighbor explaining that you accidentally killed her pet. The letter should be six sentences long and follow this pattern: 1. periodic, 2. cumulative, 3. periodic loosening, 4. cumulative reversing to become periodic, 5. any architecture you wish—provided it’s 12 words long, 6. a compound statement in the “simple” Hemingway manner.
And here is my first stab at the task:
Dear Ms. Trotwiler,

Although, as I understand it, we have long shared a close (some say too close) communion, held together by the near tangency of our astrological signs—a ‘fact’ I have recently discovered, via some very gentle sifting of your slightly disheveled personal files, might not be as accurate as I had thought, being that you actually came into this world twenty-seven minutes after the time you had previously claimed, which puts you firmly into the seventh house of Mars rather than the heavenly Saturn you claimed—and although this communion has blessed me with some very transcendental opportunities to enjoy your hot tub while marveling at the very stars you claimed were present at your birth, I have to say I was dismayed when, without any warning, you chose to extend your trip. I am a busy person, and have many many chores to perform, not to mention the vast quantities of papers to read, write, or gestate upon under the guise of the added wisdom, and certainly not mentioning the three jobs I now keep at the gas station, the laundromat, and the Ihop just around the corner, a job which we both know I find loathsome, particularly when my manager asks me take the hours of Thomas, your son, who, even at ten years my senior, still smokes too much, well, let’s say ‘of something’ to always stumble in at precisely the hour he marks on the sheets.

Since, while under the excruciating agony of such a huge steaming pile of work, I made the admirable attempt to understand, or understand somewhat, how at your age, Florida—that blessed nation-unto-itself, which I’ve been told is warm and balmy with palm trees at this time of year—might have attracted you to extend your visit for three months, I am sure you will make a similar attempt to see what might have caused me to, with considerable trepidation, release Monsieur Tuft from the binding confines of his Victorian Wooden Dome Birdcage, and I’m very sorry indeed that he fled through the window, out past the Schmitt’s house, and onto the electrical wires before circling three times and settling to the ground under the rear of the cement mixer just three seconds before it produced the new Schmitt patio. He was a very unhappy bird without you, and I believe the mishap might have been something having to do with your mistaken stars, since as you know, Mars is the warrior planet and betides such conflicting times as those that might have just neared, but I really must say I am sure, or at least reasonably sure, that while being buried, quickly and without malice, underneath a mountainous pile of cement, might not have been the most agreeable way for Monsieur Tuft to die, at least I am certain he did not suffer long.

And I am most ready to admit that it might be unpleasant—perhaps unpleasant in way similar to gratuitously caring for another’s household items for three months while straining under at least seventy hours of work per week—for you to look out over the neighborhood and see the Schmitts happily gorging themselves on hamburgers and fudgesicles while the faint knob of Monsieur Tuft peers forlornly from his new perch, but I think you will probably survive. Let me know if you need this coupon I have for a free séance, as I would be happy to help you get in touch with Monsieur Tuft.


Your Neighbor
Yep, only six sentences and I'm sure I've made some mistakes and it could be tightened or what not, but twas quite a bit of yippee.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

mirror of a mirror of a mirror of a mirror of

So, yeah, I mentioned that I'm taking notes for art history classes, right? Well, this work is for the SAIC Learning Center, and is passed off to students who have some sort of disability (usually processing) that prevents them from being able to take solid enough notes. Anyhow, this semester both the classes I'm note-taking for are part of the first-year art survey class. But one class is the first half, "Ancient to Modern," and the other is the second half, "Modern to Contemporary."

The Modern-Contemporary one is taught by Professor James Yood, who has a voice remarkably similar to that of Wallace Shawn's (who played the squeaky little genius-who-died in The Princess Bride). He's pretty awesome although he speaks at a breakneck pace I find hard to keep up with; he's not particularly funny although he has his moments, but he's willing to put his personal perspectives and appreciations out into the open when, say, talking about Munch's passion for the babe. I haven't fully decided how well my own ideas coincide with what he says, but I suppose it hardly matters since all I'm there for is to take notes, and then give them away.

Getting on, the Ancient-Modern class is taught by two grad student TA's, and here where things are getting a little weird.

Last semester, I took notes for this same class, but that one was taught by Dan Merkle, who I think is actually more affiliated with the film department. He's an odd choice for a AH-Survey lecturer, and does a fairly broad spread that emphasizes some fairly inexplicable (or incomplete?) choices, although I have to admit he's utterly hilarious and all-out-there. One example of his odd choices was how, in his lecture on Greek art, he neglected to even mention Plato at all... bizarre considering how Plato's theories helped to create a basis for art criticism for a very very very long time (mimesis). Anyhow, at the time, I decided to add a few of my own comments into the notes I was taking, probably naughty, but it's hard for me not to sometimes. Other times, when I take notes, I miss things and put in ellipses, or of course shorten up ideas so I can pack them all in, and I always end up using a few little quirks of my own writing: hmmmmm, and so on, somewhat, etc. Not to mention the fact that sometimes I really make some mistakes.

At the end of last semester, the TA who is now teaching the class I'm taking notes for asked me if he could get copies of my Merkle notes, as he was feeling panicked over having one month to come up with fifteen 3-hour lectures on a massive spread of Art History. He offered to bribe me with alcohol at the bar he runs with his boyfriend, and who am I turn that down? (I would have given them anyway.)

But this Thursday was the first note-taking overlap, since I started three weeks into the Merkle lecture... and it was the other TA giving the lecture, and suddenly I was having an acute sense of deja vu. Not just a little deja vu, but an embarrassed kind of deja vu. I flicked over to my old notes, and realized that the TA was reading my notes verbatim. At one point in this lecture, I had shortened up a part of Merkle's lecture by typing (it was an accurate paraphrase): "...and then Cronos cut off his dick." The TA read this exactly from my notes. And then blushed and said, "I'm just reading Merkle's notes here."


So here's the thought of the week: what happens when you take notes based off your own notes?

Plato would spit on my shoes.

big meanie in yellow

I've been busting a scoot with the readings, which quite frankly I'm loving like a puppy in tumble, although it is time-consuming and exhausting at times.

But last night I decided I'd had a nice long week alternating between slackerdom and theoryguru, and decided to treat myself to the company of a couple of friends. We started drinking beer at Exchequer and moved on to drinking beer at another place in Pilsen... a long blue bar with flickering camel neons all over the place, men lifting their sweatshirts and showing their new dominican tattoos (the dude looked at me strangely when I asked if I could see too, but really, I guess he didn't know me), and: one big meanie in yellow.

Her name was Janet, and the yellow was polar fleece, but she seemed to be the resident pool shark and after forty-five minutes of her hogging the table when I wanted to play with my friends, I put down quarters and hoped she'd just let us play without having to "win" the table. I hate places where you have to "win" the table. What a stupid idea, the thought that you have to play someone who is good, maybe a shark, certainly a piggy table hogger, in order to have your own few minutes of fun with friends. That is, if you can win.

The big meanie in yellow was the type who demanded you play her in order to win the table. So, when my quarters came up, I said casually, "so, slop goes until the eight ball?" which, for reasons of laziness, unhoned nascent talent, and in general good old-fashioned funtimes, is my favorite way of playing pool: tender on the "calling things out," emphasis on luck of the draw, and gentle on the rules.

But Big Meanie said, "no slop," in an offhand mumbling kind of way that caused me to repeat my question and add plaintatively and charmingly, "wouldn't that be okay?"

At which point, Big Meanie turned to me, closed the distance between us to six inches, looked me in the eyes and completely seriously and dictatorially said: "There will be no slop."

All went silent, my blood rose, I popped the eight ball 1/4 of a millimeter from the corner pocket and then smirked my way through the game by refusing to take a real shot unless my stripes were totally and completely in the clear of eight-ball mishap.

Big Meanie wasn't so thrifty, and I swear to god, when she hit that eight ball in the corner pocket, I haven't seen a person tuck so much tail in a long time. Two people approached me afterwards and asked me if I had really "won" the table. (I lost both games I played afterwards).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

letter from...

You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored.

--Martin Luther King
Last night, I was reading from MLK's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" for my Style and Voice class and I found it difficult to concentrate on the style and voice because the message delivered in the body of voice seemed so...

Outside, in my backyard, is near about six inches of snow; and although my downstairs neighbor has a dog, not a single footprint disrupts this drifted sweep of small space. Each of the radiators in my new apartment makes a different sound: in the dining room, a sound like a tea kettle; in the kitchen, a rattle like someone shaking a broken engine part; in the living room, an occasional hiss; and in my room, just the occasional fizzle like seltzer hitting the water. Yesterday, the snow kept coming down and I got hungry for something sweet, preferably chocolate, but instead peanut-butter cookies worked just fine. c2 made bread, and gave the majority over into my holding; today, I shared it with my classmates for novel writing, and we chewed it over while talking about criticism as an attempt to create someone else's ideal. The snow is grey on the outside, slushed up from cars driving around, but up on the subway platform, it wings in blizzard as the train approaches, tampens down under the heat.

I am dealing with shutting off the gas at my old place, and I’m freaked out because I don't have the key and the landlord isn't picking up and the gas company people say they can't disconnect unless someone is there to let them in. My previous roommate is leaving the country for a couple of weeks and so I am stressed about the utilities that are still in my name. I am also nervous about all the reading; it's like watching someone approach and not knowing how to greet her. Speaking of which, there’s at least one person who recently turned away from me rather than say a simple hello, and another person I’m dodging rather than simply saying I will not. In past month, I've been blown off twice, and offended at least two people. I don't know what job I'll have this summer, and I'm unclear what I'll do once I have this third degree; maybe move to Alaska where at least while lonely, I feel attached, Romantic style, to the landscape. But this is only one maybe. The truth is I have no confidence in my ability to make it. Give me storms on water, and I'm finally a cool cat, but out here, it's downright befuddling.

In his letter, MLK writes: "All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority."

He writes: "Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily."

He writes: "Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively."

And very notably, he writes about "tension," about bringing hidden tension to the foreground in order to transition it into a productive tension that forces the hand of status quo. All over, there is tension, palpable, tender. But it is underneath, as if distance worked in layers and not in linearity.

I haven't lost anyone to death, not to murder, not to bombs, not to terror, not sickness. All the deaths in my life occurred when I was young or even before I was young. I have been lucky (and this is me knocking on wood... right now). I have lost friends though, lost ideals, lost beliefs, trust, love, self-respect; I've tried to make things better that won't be bettered; and even these very smallishly-tiny losses led me to want to learn about how people deal with trauma, how women raped and those who experienced concentration camps, jails, death or revolutions have dealt with mourning and loss.

According to Hans-Jost Frey, "One mourns less for what was than for what can no longer happen now," and as Eric Santner says, “Mourning without solidarity is the beginning of madness.”

Knowing very little about this, I can only receive glimmers of what is going on. It's hard to believe we are engaged in war, that every day bombs explode in marketplaces and somewhere between 50-80 people die as a result. These are not "our" people; these are "their" people. That is, it appears a self-inflicted wound. Why would Iraqis expend so much energy killing off their own?

I imagine the weather must be very hot over there. I wonder what it's like walking down a street... how common an experience is it? Outside, as I mentioned, I've got snow, and inside, as I mentioned, delicious heat. But what are the realities of inside-out over there, and why is this something we don't really know? During Vietnam, America was somehow confronted with the actions of war—through pictures, or press releases, or something like that; whatever it was, there was a felt rumbling. How and why is our moment different?

Palpable tension, not the kind that is hidden. What does it matter if our Democratic Senate says, "bad Bush, bad bad Bush" and rebukes him if nothing truly changes? Why all the resistance to a timetable when it is the only strategy that makes sense? Where are the summits and the serious calls to all Islamic leaders to meet with our leaders and speak about what it is that everyone truly wants? I can't make heads or tails of all the names in play over in Iraq (sheepish), but what I can tell is that there are a number of people with a stake in this, and a number of people we seem to want to destroy. If these leaders have all this power to mobilize (or rile, or stir, or mob, or threaten, or whatever) people, then why haven't we tapped into that power, and instead just hunt and hunt and shoot and launch our stupid helicopters and offenses and open up hostilities to Iran (who may well be courting it, but what do we know since we haven't even engaged with them)?

All these carbombs trucked on into the marketplace, where the poor people go to work, and the poor and middle class folks go to find food; it's like explosions in Safeway or Deals Only. Certainly not a place for "negotiation." So what then? Tension?

I am interested in how firmly MLK tied himself to nonviolence (this is me afterall, someone with an occasional bloodthirst). Christianity aside, perhaps it's because he saw the irreparable length of "productive" time it takes for one to recover from loss, death and despair. With all these people who walk down the street, this street, that street, ride in the back of trucks looking for an unavailable work, who go to mosques to find silence and don’t even find it there—mourning/repair is an item of the future, an unavoidable one.

This is crazy. It is utterly crazy. No sense, absolutely no sense. There is no sense in it, and I can’t get it at all. And worse yet, there is no solidarity and so only madness, and all of us hidden in radiator tension feel no means of bringing things to the forefront to create some, any, new possible option(s). So?

USSR Anti-War Poster

everything in its zone

"It's very experimental. We don't have any books on feng shui for monkeys."


did you know i used to think html stood for hatemail?

noodles and snowhappy balentines day.

oh, how many people find this strangeday more evil than an earwig in heat. but this year, i have two balentine loves:

1. my bestest of friends, ms. martinez, and she doesn't know it yet, but i'm going to give her a call and let her know she's my across-the- world date. not to get all cheesy and mushy, but friendlovemunchkins are better than any date.

2. snow and snowstorm, fatty flakes flicking, sheets of pileup along my window, dragon drifts between the cars, trudges of slowness, trickles in the eye, clinging solidity to the boots, deck furniture nearly covered, wrapped up cookie-baking, coffee and lampposts as white confetti gauge.

out the kitchen window

Sunday, February 11, 2007

at the center of

my kitchen windowi think this is what i've been thinking about, aroundabouts, not as aroundabouts as the writing about the idea explained by the people writing about the idea, but aroundabouts the idea of what i'm playing. hugely funny that the title i decided upon for last semester's gallery exhibit was "no origin," which seems to be a part of these theories. the thought of no point of origin, no beginning and thus no narrative, but overlap--strange slides, dimensions, lack of patterns, time in different dresses. anyhow, this weekend has been a synergy of wine, supplement, Cartesian Duality, form/content, nebulousness. oh, and Frankenstein (can't really seem to wedge that one in neatly). i'm off now, but i think i'll be chewing on this for awhile and working to explain to myself.

the picture up above includes the pot of homemade chicken noodle soup i made in a fit of procrastination this weekend. mmmmmmmm.


Saturday, February 10, 2007


i want to go to AWP. and i want school to pay for it.

and i hate hate hate blogger for forcing me to change to their new stupid system and spend time updating my template and html. and what's with that horrible navbar up above. it took me a few months to figure out how to get rid of it, and now it's back. fuck.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

what have i done?

snowsnowsnow, view from my back balconyin conclusion: this semester is going to kick my ass.

in summation: i've done this to myself willingly.

oh well, i've decided it's time to buckle down and get some work done. and lots of thoughts on that process. for example: the work i did before coming here was stronger than the work i'm doing now; and, the work i did this summer is likewise stronger than the work i'm doing now. perhaps it has nothing to do with ineptitude, and everything to do with the fact that i'm not isolated. this worries me. can i create strong work with community and friendships surrounding me like everything i ever wanted? does the only thing i ever coveted and nurtured beyond family--friendship--stand in the way of a necessary lonliness that forces the desire to communicate via writing? sometimes i feel a choice looking at me and hinting in the direction of purposeful hermititude. but nobody should have to choose between one form of connection and its other, so maybe it comes down to finding a system that incorporates both of the worlds i need.

anyhow. this semester is going to kick my ass. i think i'm looking at reading at least a couple hundred pages a week plus student papers, very little of which will be "light." actually most of it looks theory-heavy and/or time-exacting. and now i have two note-taking jobs too, which i need for the mula, and enjoy for the fact that i get to sit in on art history lectures (which i love love love), but i don't know. i'm going to have to schedule and be responsible unlike last semester which was weighted to the opposite extreme.

i'm excited though. it's going to get me thinking again. my brain is ready; look, it's a yawning chasm.

here are some terms from the latest reading: verb-style, noun-style, anaphora, parataxis, hypotaxis, asyndeton, polysyndeton, chiasma, periodic style, running style, pointed style, "plain" style, balance, suspension, parallelism, isocolon, epanaphora. did you ever expect that so many terms about syntax/voice could be read about in the course of one week? not me. i like it though.

my favorite for the week is running style, which is a style that started in reaction to the periodic style and is noted for the way it "imitates the mind in real-time interaction," and develops sense as it goes rather than through cause-effect prereasoned relationships (any connection to the bildungsroman?). by the way, it is often polysyndetic, imbalanced, lays traps, is hesitant and repetitious, and overabundant with the parenthetical asides. i.e. much of my writing finds its way through this vein, but interestingly, it appears to be the predominant style of our times... never thought that one through.

here is Nabokov on Gogol (two of my favorites, although after this reading, Gogol must make up for much):
I think it more reasonable to forget that Gogol's exaggerated concern with noses was based on the fact of his own being abnormally long and to treat Gogol's olfactivism--and even his own nose--as a literary trick allied to the broad humor of carnivals in general and to Russian nose-humor in particular. We are nose-gay and nose-sad. The display of nasal allusions in the famous scene of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac is nothing in comparison to the hundreds of Russian proverbs and sayings that revolve around the nose. We hang it in dejection, we lift it up in glory; slack memory is advised to make a notch in it and it is wiped for you by your victor...
now, if i'm getting this right, and that's quite a big if, Nabokov is famous as a stylist because he swaps back and forth nearly seamlessly between different modes:

in one sentence he uses noun-style (the style academics and bureaucrats are known for, officious and weighty, laden with prepositions and roundabout phrases/clauses) and in the next he is practically prancing in verbstyle (he has a propensity for the gerund, for non-direct forms of verb). he very obviously uses hypotaxis (creates ranks and relationships, hierarchies of information, cause-effect relationship), and is thus also within the realm of polysyndeton (lots of transition words like when, and, because, if, and so forth). he also tends towards some aspects of periodic style (he ponders, sets you up for a particular direction; he's thought about this beforehand, indeed so have his characters and perhaps even the letters that make up the characters) but then he waggles around inside these borders to play with the running style (from moment to moment) and indeed other means of organizing blips. our russian friend writing in english, well, he plays with language in the form of anaphora and all those other big words, sets a rhythmn, and at least in the novel of his i have completed (Pale Fire), it's very purposeful the choices he makes--if his language is being technicalia-extremus and round-aboutsy, it's because his characters are as well.

anyhow, i think this might be fun.

but yes, what a bunch of work looms before me this weekend, and what a harkening back to letterpress-toil it tells me i must commit myself to. and to commit, one must trust the choice is right on all ends, and to that end i hope.

to focus [on this] or not to focus [on that]. ug

brolaw = genius

I've been slack and lazy, but here is the Xmas-card my brother-in-law made for my mother & cr (yes, that's right: my mother).

front of xmas card
inside of xmas card

Monday, February 05, 2007

lesbian, you lesbian

been thinking about the disillusionment of loving women. wondering if i'll ever be something beyond a symbol or ephemeral pass. women into women treat you the worst; women into men but with the idea of woman somehow lodged in their head are happy with the idea of disrupting their own lives; and woman into you as a self are carried away by either your or their own ghosts. nobody seems very skilled at, or willing to see each other at her worst/best, or better yet, at all. thinking of shaving the head, giving the idea up, and attempting with real dedication to move beyond the excruciatingly silly idea of fucklove. [haha]

Sunday, February 04, 2007

drama queen superbowl

Twas pointed out to me that "fistfight" might be a tadpole hyperbolic. Possibly. Yes, it's possible I am just a drama queen of obese proportions, but doesn't one have to have vivified interaction with the elements in order to keep entertainment levels high? heh.

It’s very cold outside, the kind of cold where my nose-ring sticks to my nostril hairs whenever I step outside for more than three seconds. I went grocery shopping yesterday (finally), and even wore the dopey ninja-meets-fleece hoodie my mother gave me for xmas this year. I previously snorted at it, secretly thinking I would look thief & yuppie both if I wore it anywhere but the most apexy of mountain tops. But I was very thankful for it as I carted my twenty bags back from the grocery stores.

So, classes started this week and I have been leagues of exhausted getting back into a schedule and figuring out what I want to take from this semester. I’ve finally settled on a few classes: style/voice, friction/fracture, and novel workshop.

The novel workshop was a new choice; I originally signed up to take a class on publishing, which sounded fabulous--a combination of practical experience working with artists, and a larger consideration of publishing trends/etc. But the class turned out to be much more specific and focused than that. The class was to be co-taught by Sally A and Kenneth Goldsmith (who runs UbuWeb, this incredible storehouse of avant-garde and border art that would probably otherwise be lost). But the first day, we didn't get a syllabus, an overview, or a real sense of what would be there to cohere the class. It sounded more like a two-project pony; one project being Kenny's deal, which was to create a portal dedicated to the storage of Kay Rosen's artwork, plus the collection and generation of creative/critical response to her work. But Kay Rosen is already fairly well published over the web and I am more interested in the type of web work that collects newer voices and establishes collaborations, themes, publication potential. So, Kenny talked about this project for half of the class, and then introduced us to UbuWeb for the second half - and I was disappointed because it was largely a lecture, and a lecture of the type that involves the teacher click click clicking through a series of hyperlinks that might be just as accessible on our own time. I was a bit annoyed; we didn't introduce ourselves, talk about our interests and approaches, or generate any thematic touchstones for the class. And the second project was going to be with Sally--a book-collection of prints, but we didn't really talk about it. On the syllabus we finally got the next day, only one class was dedicated to the exploration of small-press production, and I decided to drop the class right off.

Instead, I'm taking that Novel Workshop, which I think will be interesting - a different teacher and a different approach to project. Beth Nugent (my advisor and secret mentor) is teaching the class, and she is very, um, scornful?... of traditional workshops that often leave the student participators stumped or with no strong sense of how to continue working on a project after having received such a huge amount of varied or contradictory feedback. Actually, I had vowed never to take another workshop in my time here at the Art Institute, not because I've had horrible experiences, but because I don't ever get the sensation that I've participated in something that will take me to a new point. I'm pretty frustrated with writing right now - with myself, with the choices I seem to be facing. And so, maybe a nontraditional class that discusses some of these very issues might be the best choice for me.

Then, the Style and Voice class is the one where I "nearly got in a fistfight," which was far more in my own head than anywhere else. The reading got me all riled up (plus I've been feeling feisty, mean, ferocious, I don't know why) and I was mentally chewing out one of the theory authors for about a half-hour before class, which probably set me in the contentious space. Also the first week or so of class seems to be geared towards unearthing the political and ideological structures imbedded in language, which of course draws on the rhetoric and composition background I've got a smidgeon of experience in, but haven't really engaged intellectually for a good couple of years. But I still gots lots to say!

That is, it seems to me that America in particular has a fascinating approach to language/English that seems pretty fascist. I mean, the strong sense that there is a Correct way to write/speak, or an Incorrect way to write/speak; that grammar is key, and writers either "make mistakes" or "get it right." Realism has been the standard-bearer for years in the States, and only recently have alternative ways of approaching narrative/ prose/ thought/ collaboration started cropping up again in semi-mainstream media. Fundamental to my way of seeing language is this belief that there is no correctness in language; instead, there are degrees of appropriateness and expressiveness, the first of which is entirely dependent on context and the latter on voice. So my fake-fistfight was with a friend who was defending Strunk & White's style-guide, which uses imperatives and drops explanations for their grammar/style imperatives, not to mention never really distinguishing between style and grammar when dashing out suggestions that stretch far beyond suggestion into the territory of correct and incorrect. I get really pissed off with grammar guides or anything that gives instruction this way because one can find these rigid approaches and attitudes manifesting in classrooms, workshops and responses all over the place, and it locks people into static and frigid perceptions of communication and interaction.

However, another friend in class brought up the idea that it's fun to have rules, because then you can break them. I think she phrased it that "it's more interesting to be one of the wolves than any of the sheep." I liked that, I have to say.

And then another friend in class brought up the question of whether it's "better" (he acknowledged that better wasn't the right word, but that he meant the question to stay unanswerable) to know the rules and choose how to interact with them, or whether to come from a place outside of rules (native talent seemed to be implied) and simply do your thing in a form of ignorance about the so-called rules. An interesting question but I think it implies that there is a place outside of structure(s), and I disagree with that. But I have to say sometimes I'm not sure whether it's better to write with awareness or better to write within the nonjudging realm of dream. Anyhow. I think it's going to be an interesting class, and I expect to be putting up some different styles and playing around with them before too long. Here's an example of my current favorite voice:
One day atter Brer Rabbit fool 'im wid dat calamus root, Brer Fox went ter wuk en got 'im some tar, en mix it wid some turkentime, en fix up a contrapshun w'at he call a Tar-Baby, en he tuck dish yer Tar-Baby en he sot 'er in de big road, en den he lay off in de bushes fer to see what de news wuz gwine ter be. En he didn't hatter wait long, nudder, kaze bimeby here come Brer Rabbit pacin' down de road--lippity-clippity, clippity -lippity--dez ez sassy ez a jay-bird. Brer Fox, he lay low. Brer Rabbit come prancin' 'long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz 'stonished. De Tar Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low.
Okay, and the last class is going to be Friction and Fracture, an exploration of visual-textual hybridity. I'm pretty damn excited about this class, because I think it's going to approach some of the questions I was left with after taking the Text Off the Page class... and of course, introduce more to chew on. It's a fairly theory-oriented class, although I think it will look at historical approaches to the mixture of text with other media. Our conversation doesn't seem to be limited to simple text-image mixture, but to film mixtures and audio-textual mixtures and so forth. But so far we've tackled the idea of "supplement," in a Derrida sense of the word -- when something is a supplement, what does supplement mean, and what comes along with this term. But I think in general, the class will examine any hierarchies created by visual/textual mix and why this is such an item of interest right now in the art world when it's been around for a very long time.

All the more exciting is that, because of this class I believe, I had a dream last night that was visual (as one might expect) but then every person and character and dialogue in the dream also included text next to it/her. Like a thought bubble, but the text and the action/people didn't match-up, and so there was a strange disjunct between. It made me happy. Although the dream was kind of scary for other reasons.

And then there's the class I'm going to teach... such little cuties in class, I think it will be fine. I dropped The Handmaid's Tale from the reading list and am feeling better about the workload I'm going to load up on them.

So, those are my classes and today's the superbowl and I'm going to do work, but I'm also going to get out my camera and load up my memory card so I can show pictures of where I'm living and so forth. But I'm not going outside. It's too cold out there and I'm a big lazy bum. I had a friend come over last night, and it was great - company without movement, although Friday I went out for some beers with a class that wasn't my own. People I like quite well. I like beers with people. People with beers. Go Bears, Go People with Beers.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

but not now

a lot to say... about the last week, about wierdisms, about things, about classes, about this crazy country, and so forth... but not enough time. i will have to come back and be specific, but in the meantime, today i nearly got into a fistfight about syntax and grammar (and implied, yet obvious, power structures and establishment of em/power/ment relations between various peoples).

(not really a fistfight, but it was tense and i noticed people in class--because, yes, it was in class--were looking somewhat nervous.)

i told this dude that what he said was condescending (when he said that the text assumed that people were "smart" enough to [pick up on the identical imaginary context that the author intended us to imagine, but that really wasn't there]), but it was also kind of embaressingly fun to be out-n-out whatever-i-thought.

that makes two times i have used that term "condescending" in the past month. but really, i sometimes wonder if people believe that maturation is simply learning how to say shitty things behind the rhetoric of diplomacy.

anyhow, i've been feeling like a maverick, like chewing up people's innards, but only if they have politeness or naivete in place of some semblence of actual. it's probably not fair, but i'm just a tad bit impatient and/or prone to fall for the troll. oh well, and now i'm off to sleep for a few seconds. but i'll write more later.