The Longest “Aside” Ever: Showcasing Failure

[I didn’t realize how massive this would be until I started putting everything together. Sorry/Godspeed to you, lonely reader.]

Grades are important, and anyone who claims elsewise is lying and/or is holding onto some serious economic privilege. That said, there are points where it’s not simply enough to do something for the sake of the grade (or, elsewise, economic gain).

The performance of academia requires paranoia to function, both in reading texts and in experiencing the reading/writing process. Specifically within this paranoid performance there is a requirement of historicization. This is so that writers/texts may be checked for fluency within technical traditions (ie. the humanities have different style/tone requirements compared to STEM, and vice-versa [or such is the manifestation, anyways]). Thus while reparative experiences in their decontextualization are a useful (even necessary?) reprieve they aren’t inherently as capable of providing the academic-social clout paranoid experiences provide.

Tl;dr: Most of the time passion projects aren’t academically (or economically) viable, but it’s still worthwhile to keep up with things that are “just” straight up enjoyable.

So with that in mind here’s a breakdown of several blog posts which never fully came to fruition for #ENGL496 for one reason or another. I’m posting these drafts in their unedited form to showcase the absolute clusterfuck that can be/is ~the reparative reading/writing process~, so any one of the drafts can be read independently of the others without marring the effect. Additionally these are presented in the order they were drafted (as opposed to the order they would need to have been posted in order to Make Sense) so as to make explicit one of the most un/fortunate circumstances of their failure: ideas don’t tend to come to fruition in linearity.

Each failed post is marked by a line break, and includes:

  • a title formatted as “[whatever I saved the draft as in WordPress] or [whatever I’d probably call it now],”
  • a(n unedited) draft (including, but not limited to: sentence drops, comma splices, oddly placed/formatted references, etc),
  • a planned source set, and
  • a short explanation of why [x post] didn’t make the cut.

Want to skip the next 3000-odd words? You can take an easy pass by checking out this comic instead:

Works Cited

(though: more implicitly than explicitly)

All of the sources found in the “Planned Source Set[s]” below.

Barthes, Roland. The Pleasure of the Text. Trans. Richard Miller. New York: Hill and Wang, 1975. Print.

Kosofsky Sedgwick, Eve. Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity. Durham & London: Duke U Press, 2003. Print.


Water as Signifier

or

On dys/fluent knowledge [1/3]: Water as Signifier

I am Capable of historicizing my thoughts. Of enforcing Fluency. There is Nothing Truthful in such an experience. The Event of my dysfluency–of my dysfluent thoughts–is where there is even a modicum of truth. I’m struggling with the (seeming) dichotomy of dys/fluency (because lbr it’s a lot wibblier than that).

The Pool

  • The reparative reading requires ~fun shit,~ or at least ~stuff-ness~ which either doesn’t require context-in-immediacy or inherently rejects contextualization for sense-making (ex Why Do I Like To Use The Same Sources Over And Over In New And Awful Ways?)–
    • Paranoia keeps us safe
    • In considering the reparative experience as a body of water: there is a fluidity and
      • Paranoia is the [material reference–landmass, boat, etc] which contains or elsewise exists in relation to a reparative ocean. While it’s fun to visit oceanside beaches on occasion, and deep sea diving is an adventure, there are inherent risks associated with water. Left alone to float in the middle of an ocean humans fucking die, either due to salination, starvation, drowning, etc, and thus it’s only advisable to visit the ocean when you know you can leave again and return to land.
        • To pull this down: even a body of water as small as a pool can be dangerous to someone who doesn’t know how to swim.
        • To pull this out: the reparative experience is fun/exciting/… reparative/etc, but it requires a frame or tether to a paranoid experience in order to be experienced in a safe way. It’s really easy to lose sight of what’s actually important (what we need vs what we desire?)
      • To reference The Mindful Body: the self cannot exist wholly independent of the social body or body politic. While each body may be examined separate from the others, in order to be a whole it inherently requires intertextuality/context from the other bodies.

Planned Source Set:

Why it didn’t make it: For this post to work in brevity I would have needed to effectively cut the Source Set down to 1) a post where I explicitly address “Touching Feeling,” and 2) Zizek. So, really, the entire project is something I’m content to continue avoiding like the plague.


that Aedh and Pater bullshit

or

What if Plato’s Cave was actually a castle made of Jello?

Here’s a metaphor: Have you seen Cloudy with a chance of meatballs? Okay movie. There’s this point where Flint Lockwood (the protagonist) brings Sam Sparks (a meteorologist researching the food rain) to a jelly castle, but there isn’t a door. In order to get to the inside of the jelly castle (where everything’s fun and great and there are seemingly boundless possibilities {though only kind of because there’s a machine outside of the jelly castle that needs maintaining and… that’s important but not right now}) the characters need to pass through a jelly wall. This seems to be painless for them, but they do need to momentarily hold their breath to pass through.

Delicious_Jelly_Palace

Basically what I’m describing here is an imperfect Cave. I get that. I find Plato to be about as accessible as self-sustained flight (so: not accessible at all, just to be clear) so having my own conceptualization of this (admittedly very useful) analogy is important to me. As an aside, though, I think it’s important to be able to explain my coursework and any difficulties I’m having with said coursework to one or both of my parents because, as they’re some of the most important people in my life and they absolutely deserve to have that access to at least some of what university has given to me/allows me to experience. Since I can barely explain the Cave to myself, how am I supposed to try and explain it to them (fun fact: I tried once actually, with my dad, using the Matrix–neither of us get it, yet)?

Prior to taking any sort of formalized theory class my parents would have conversations with my brother and I about our duties to our community. About how working peoples needed to stay together so that they may have even a chance at fighting against unfair systems. They taught us that pride is impossible to rid oneself of, but that there too is pride in being capable of asking a community for help. Though neither of my parents knew it (or, frankly, know) it they were instructing us in a working man’s theory by which we could orient our experiences and choices. So I was actually super excited to take a Topics section in English literary theory. In the end: although I found the material interesting, and found that I understood what was being explained to me (at least on a base level) there were aspects of the class which I found

3 days ago I was prepared to drop my theories of speech and dysfluency seminar because in the metaphor above I saw both the outside and inside of the jelly castle as a kind of “my brain before instructed theory.”

I think–or hope?–in attempts to be helpful a number of people have been reminding me that I’m “only [yet or just] an undergrad” and that I don’t have to worry about any of this quite yet. The worry here (for me) being that theory makes sense and as a disabled person I don’t have time in a day to experience something I love unless I’m getting paid for it. I have anxieties as to why my experiences within theory-based classrooms aren’t the same as my peers. For example: seeing my peers breeze through Plato while I stress over even basic concepts is Super Fucking Concerning for some reason(???)–I guess all in all I Am just Concerned about my relationship to theory as an undergraduate, because I worry my enjoyment here has a shelf-life. What am I going to do when I no longer have the time/energy/resources to experience this?

So I’ve got two things kind of floating around in my head in response to this specifically: W.B. Yeats’ “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” and Pater’s  Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) (which I’ve looked at before here).

[…]

But I, being poor, have only my dreams;

I have spread my dreams under your feet;

Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

and

“To burn always with this hard gem-like flame, […]” (Pater 210).

“What we have to do is to be for ever curiously testing new opinions and courting new impressions, never acquiescing in a facile orthodoxy […]” (Pater 211).

Planned Source Set:

  • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,
  • W.B. Yeats – “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,”
  • Walter Pater – “Studies in the History of the Renaissance”

Why it didn’t make it: With the addition of the excerpts from Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and “Studies in the History of the Renaissance” I realized that the labour necessary to flesh out this idea wasn’t #worthit in the long run–while I’ve been getting pretty comfy with loss-of-context this semester the magnitude of loss here seems/seemed to great. Additionally this post just didn’t age well for me, and a number of aspects are definitely not accurate anymore even just 2 months down the tube.


Punching Nazis is an act of kindness

or

The Violence of Kindness

  • kindness is expressed through actions (because, y’know, everything is expressed through some type of action or another)
    • what are the affects of kindness
    • the embodiments
  • the protection of others is an act of love
  • diversification is important tho so ???
    • but the point here is that kindness is diverse, it’s just a matter of moving/shifting perspective

Planned Source Set:

  • bell hooks – All About Love,
  • Zizek – The Parallax View,
  • [x] video game (but probably Wolfenstein),
  • Jesper Juul – The Open and the Closed

Why it didn’t make it: It only has anything to do with dysfluency if you take it at a systemic level, which isn’t something I feel entirely prepared to do (just yet). I’m also pretty sure it actually requires one or more explicit Zizek references, which immediately turns it into hard pass.


I am sitting in a room is a fucking meme

or

On dys/fluent knowledge [2/3]: Memetic Codification of Lucier’s “I am Sitting in a Room”

  • I am sitting in a room as a dysfluent text:
    • there comes a point where it honestly just starts to sound fucking ridiculous–/there’s a point where it stops making “sense”
  • I am sitting in a room as a fluent text:
    • while it wasn’t a convention at time-of-production, it could now reasonably fall into the meme of ~every time someone says [x] the track speeds up~
  • In that which may be conceived as the negation or removal of fluency there is yet possibility for fluency through genre/convention

Sources:

Why it didn’t make it: A lot of the thoughts here found their way into my seminar presentation (albeit using different sources), so it became redundant.


I wanna cite Barthes for smth

or

Steve Rogers’ Dysfluent Body: Fight Choreography in Marvel’s “The Winter Soldier”

Thought of while reading pastellegeek’s post on The Winter Soldier.

that suplex in TWS:

  • Here For It
  • Here for the Spectacle
  • even: the spectacle is the point (!!!)

Dysfluency:

  • Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe Steve Rogers trains in boxing, but very little of his actual fighting style seems to take from a boxing tradition. More realistically his fighting style can be described as mixed martial arts, which in this context is a fancy way of saying ~he just does whatever works in the moment~.

Fluency:

  • Steve Rogers Gets Shit Done

Planned Source Set:

Why it didn’t make it: It’s been awhile since I’ve had time to enjoy the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I became concerned that my thesis rested on conjecture/bad recollection. Additionally, this post relies on all 3 of the “On dys/fluent knowledge” posts in order to provide context for a couple topics, including: dys/fluency existing as a spectrum/amalgamation/cloud/pool as opposed to a label of pass/fail, embodiment/bodily movement as text, and rhetorical analysis upon/of the body-as-text.


The house as metaphor

or

“This was once revealed to me in a dream”: Nightmare Journal within the Method of Loci

As a (primarily?) visual thinker I have a couple visual metaphors I return back to with some regularity. One of those is in the line of the method of loci (ie. the memory palace technique). If anyone’s thinking my visualization is something akin to the videographic representation of this method on BBC’s Sherlock, though, I’m here to disappoint: my visualization is a cottage, nestled in wooded seclusion next to a huge ass fucking gorge. The relationship of my cottage to both the forest and the gorge is important, as it situates me squarely within a system of resource-of-safety (the forest) and resource-of-risk (the gorge). This conceptualization is what allows me to consider the risk of a specific project/train of thought.

The cottage is my Self, in that I’m the only one who is able to gain access to all of its information. That being said, others provide me with tools and plans with which to guide my construction. The room which contains information on/(explicitly) from Derrida and deconstruction, for example, is one of the few rooms which makes the cottage “bigger on the inside” in that its use of space cannot be explained by looking at the house from the outside.

Tl;dr the visual metaphor of a cottage is super important to me, because it not only allows me to not only run quick risk analysis on new ways of thought (the tools and plans by which I construct the cottage) but also allows me to store information in a (literally) structural and relational way (a skill I find super useful when writing essays, for example) (though I do wish I were better about labeling rooms/remembering names…).

So with all that: I had a nightmare last night, but I stg it began as a dream.

Somehow I knew that I’d crossed the gorge, and had no way to get back to my cottage. I was being shown an honestly lovely little house adjacent to a corn field, and at the end of the walkthrough I immediately decided to purchase the house and move in.

Suddenly it’s months later and I’ve moved all my stuff into the new house (by magic? idk how I got this shit across the gorge, but whatever). I walk through the house and marvel at how cool all my stuff looks in its new home. Then fast-forward again, and I wake up one day to find that somehow I’ve been living in a house (for months!) where none of the windows or doors close. People I don’t know have started squatting and refuse to leave. None of the floors are level, to the point where some rooms are just straight up pits. Then, once I’m done my walkthrough of this fucking hellscape, one of the squatters screams that (ofc) there are locusts coming over the corn field in thick clouds.

So I fucking panic, scrambling around to find some kind of safe space in this entirely opened-up house to take refuge from the locust horde.

C6fjZJ7WgAEiRDw.jpg large

Suddenly, in the corner of my eye, a bathroom appears where one of the pit-rooms had been only moments before. I push the squatters into the bathroom with me, and get them to stuff the bottom of the door with towels while I get into the tub. When I realize what’s happening I immediately accept that struggling is going to get me killed, I start letting the water run/drain at its own pace, and I wake up in the throes of a panic attack.

Easy take on this: don’t cross the gorge ever? omg?

More realistic take: Given the right stimulus/under the right kind of duress I’m Capable of constructing safety for myself. This ~dream~ house was not constructed by me, and inherently I was unable to trust the knowledge used to construct it. With that said, given enough time I absolutely see the opportunity to learn from a previous homeowner (thinker) (explaining metaphors is tiring).

I’ve been having a lot of anxiety lately about being too referential/not referential enough in my writing, and this nightmare has pulled into focus that neither of those positions is true–given enough time I can absolutely hit a referential medium of learning to exist within someone else’s knowledge system, but it still requires that I be willing to carve out my own space (ie… a bathroom… maybe…) within that system. Pretty sure that I’m in the process of coming to the realization that ~theory~ (whatever that is) is (probably) my academic wheelhouse. Close (paranoid) reading is something I can be good at, but supplementing my own skills with the skills/tools/resources of others allows me to Be Better. Basically: I’m seeing the new, broken house as the social body and rather than my old house as my Self it’s rather a frame of reference by which I am/was(/am) able to conceive of my Self.

Basically: (I’m trying to) accept that there’s nothing I can do to curb this new-found passion/love/move, while understanding that with all of the [~stuff~] I gained in Knowing the constructed frame within which I feel most comfortable and safe I can continue to build those safe spaces wherever I go.

“Teach a man to fish,” and all that.

Planned Source Set:

  • Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams,
  • Nikolai Berdyaev – The Divine and the Human (for the footnote)/Twitter user JonathanMurden (for the Tweet proper),
  • BBC Sherlock (???)/Westworld (???)/smth that eloquently summarizes the method of loci so I don’t gotta,
  • Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Margaret Locke – The Mindful Body

Why it didn’t make it: I didn’t/don’t want my blog to explicitly turn into a hot mess of a dream journal, despite the fact that that’s already implicitly what it is.


Untitled

or

On dys/fluent knowledge [3/3]: Musical Dysfluency

General breakdowns:

  • Style–Separate from genre in the same way a similar tone may be struck amongst a group of people, if not a subject matter–ex. covers
  • Space–ex. Live vs studio recording/s
  • Sight–ex. Listening to a song vs watching a music video
  • Time–ex. The speeding up or slowing down of a sample

Planned Source Set 1:

Additional notes if using Source Set 1:

  • How does the reversal-as-expression of the trailer videography enforce fluency?
    • Splicing in and out of forward/backward narration as possible explanation for the moments between moments.
  • What are some common tropes of zombie narrative?
  • What are some common tropes of the video game trailer? How does the Dead Island trailer address or subvert those tropes?
    • Specifically to above: how does the audio track (ie music, background noises, etc) subvert genre zombie game trailer convention/s?
    • What is lost in this subversion?

Planned Source Set 2:

Additional notes if using Source Set 2:

  • Silence/stops as text
    • Smth about tutting or voguing? Probably not tho
    • More likely smth about popping or freezing
  • That which is lost and/or gained in covers/working with materials prepared and/or originated by others
    • Construction of style
    • Embodiment of style/embodiment of tonality

Why it didn’t make it: Un/fortunately the Dead Island trailer literally makes me sob uncontrollably, so I tried to take the idea of breaking down genre constructions and apply it to another source. In the end, though, I figured my knowledge of dance was/is inadequate to do the topic justice. This just became emotionally inviable.

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One thought on “The Longest “Aside” Ever: Showcasing Failure

  1. Daniel Martin

    Am I the lonely reader??? I’m so paranoid that I actually think this reference is about me. This material is a pleasure to read, especially from within the context of our work this semester on dysfluency, theory, and literary representation. I especially appreciate your comments about how your enjoyment of theory might, possibly have a shelf-life. This is a refreshingly honest statement.
    I’m thinking broadly about how to respond further to your project here. On one hand, it seems to me that one of the problems that this failed blog project addresses is the excruciatingly mean-spirited demand of the Other. Universities are rampant with such demands — to write well, to be articulate, to be critical, to be analytical, to get good grades, to submit all assignments on time, to format Works Cited entries correctly (okay, this last one is somewhat in jest). A finished project — an essay, a course assignment, an article, a book, a novel, a final exam — is, in many ways, a capitulation to the Other’s demand for fluent (and let’s face it, paranoid finished products). There’s no getting around this.
    And yet, this pressure to capitulate is also the dilemma of the person who stutters. This is why in my own work, I’m drawn to thoughts about narcissistic tensions in stuttered speech. There’s something pleasurable in the desire to spew my at-times gnarled speech at other people, even though most of the time I bury it behind performance.
    So, what happens in an intellectual milieu when the pleasures of dysfluency (fragments, “failed” projects, halted inspirations, blocked productions) confront the Other’s demand? Do professors buckle down and dig deep in the work of demand in the name of intellectual rigor and scholarly labor? That buckling down is the nasty side of demand? Or do they open up a space for the dysfluent by taking risks in the opportunities for students to express their learning?
    I want to congratulate you on having the courage to write this project. The material on reparative readings is excellent, as far as I’m concerned. Is there some way to think about intellectual failure as potentially reparative? I also like the material on your dream. University discourse typically has no space for the “talk” of the unconscious, but perhaps reparative interpretations can do the work of allowing a space for dreams.
    Final point, don’t forget Jordan Scott’s thoughts about the “ache for speech before dreams” (blert 43). I still struggle with how to interpret that line, but I also get the sense that it’s referencing the stutterer’s paradoxically-realized sense that dreams introduce a fluency removed from the ache of embodied dysfluency. In your dream fragment, I see something similar at work.

    Like

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