25 February 2009

Damn it, I need to yell sooner

After watching Obama's 'not-a-state-of-the-union-speech', i stuck around for Bobby Jindal's "Republican Response" and had a thought, as The Daily Show suggested, Jindal sounded like he thought he was addressing a class of 1st Graders, rather than the general American public.

Now, i've never been one not to talk about the American pubic as if they were pre-pubescent spoiledRotten children, but, seriously, when he followed up Obama's speech, the first serious (if a bit pie-in-the-sky) speech coming from the white House in at least a decade, Jindal just sounded embarrassing.

It's hard work, though, being the arbitor of all that is prescient & cool. The Daily Show takes at least a full day for news to filter down and while i'm sure there are blogs and other 'significant thinkers' satirically stating the state of the state for us, they aren't, i think, quite as sweet-ass-cool as i am.

In other news...
I've got a sense of what my 'prelim areas' will be... Finally. So, evidently, people in my "situation" need to choose 3 'areas' that define their areas of knowledge so that they can then, in turn, sell those areas to future employing universities...

Anyway, i've 'recently' becomed obsessed with the idea of "the fragment" and until today i wasn't quite sure what i meant by that. I mean, i know that i want to think about ideas of the archive and the aphorism and 'the fragment', but so far i wasn't sure how to fit that into a (sort of) system of thought. But i think i've got it... (Prelim 'areas' consist of 3 categories of thought that overlap in your area).

The Fragment
the two areas i've had pretty well sorted out until now are:

1. Fragmented Bodies - This is an area i've been interested in for some time. As a fundamental area, this is related to zombies, as well as 're-constructed bodies' (like Frankenstein stories & cyborgs) and dead, dying, and decomposing bodies (i'm thinking here of things like Brakhage's Act of Seeing With One's Own Eyes, or similar {ha})

2. Fragmented Cities - Looking, similarly, at decomposing cities, first and foremost through the lens of Urban Exploration, the practice of exploring (and to some extent explaining) industrial spaces that have been abandoned or remodeled. Additionally, the idea of 'fragmented spaces' comes into play (though i'm not sure what those spaces might be)... Places that are, essentially, altered (or 'othered'?) in their experience. Places like tourists sites might be a good place to start

finally, i've figured out a 3rd area that actually makes sense to these other areas and i connect it to particularly the Urban Explorers in area 2, through the idea of 'supermodernity' - which i've discussed before.

3. Fragmented Narratives - Looking at an updated 'narrative theory' that follow's up on Robert Bird's ideas of 'all is narrative' by looking at abstract art and postModern narrative, exploring the way 'time & narrative' is explored in things that might consider themselves 'non-narrative'.

Now, for something completely different...

10 February 2009

Can Zombies Eat the Recession?

So, i've done a good bit of writing 'outside the blog' today (this is the problem with telling people your goals, btw, you suddenly find you have people you have to justify yourself to {at least if you're a neurotic quiffler like me} and you sound less convincing than if you just assert things willy-nilly), but i felt this post was... prescient, today.

Yesterday (which we'll call Monday for the sake of argument), in a class about sovereignty & the distinction of man vs. animal vs. 'savage' Professor Peter Paik posed a question about the possibility of the end (or at least the beginning of the end) of the American economy, which is to say, and end to infinite growth of an economy based on the creation and purchase of endless amounts of stuff (i think of George Carlin whenever such a conversation arises).

Today, our United States Senate passed a Stimulus Package amounting to over $800Billion of new spending and tax cuts. And the question naturally arises, "whabuwhey?" In talking to friends and others about 'the Recession' (by which i mean talking to my TV whenever Anderson Cooper comes on), they (he) often assures me that the Economy need only get 'back on track' and then everything will go back to normal. This is troubling to me, not only because, to me, everything kind of seems normal now, and the 'track' people seem to refer to as something to shoot for is undeniably unsustainable. It seems fundamentally logical to me that an economy cannot just continue to produce more shit for people to buy, even if, for a really long time, people continue to buy it, thereby securing their own jobs at companies and organizations that are producing different shit.

It simply makes no sense. And so, i would submit, a solution that is already really quite underway. Our economy (and really the global economy) is moving toward a 'service economy'. Now unlike things, the limitation on services you can buy is only limited by time (and so, somewhere down the road, this to must fail). But i think there is some importance here in basing most of our economy on selling ephemera. Watching Movies, Seeing Tourist Attractions, Drinking Whisky (i guess, technically, a thing, but it's really the effects i think most of us purchase)

Do you see where i'm going with this? I did, but the, umm, ephemera is making me want to sleep. Mostly, i wanted to wonder aloud why it's in the interests of media corporations to report recession so uniformly. Badbadbad financial news, 'Stay-Cations', 'here's how to best get the jobs that nobody is hiring for any longer, you Sad Sack'. On the most basic level, you keep tuning in to hear the latest worst news, (and really, what else are you doing at 2 in the afternoon?) but looking one corporate level up kind of unhinges that argument. News organizations are not in the business of increasing viewership... they're in the business of helping their parentOrg make money, and telling people there isn't going to be any money left come next Tuesday every Wednesday (the 'slow' news day) kind of inhibits folks from spending money on whatever it is they're selling, no?

Anyway, "i can't figure it all out tonight, sir. I'm just gonna hang with your daughter..."

Oh, and speaking of fiscal matters. If anyone dropped some money on the floor of Curtin Hall (1st Floor, by the Central Stairwell) today (Tuesday, around noon), let me know...

09 February 2009

7 Days of 1000 Words

During an AA meeting in 8th Grade, Dan Wallace (ahem, i mean "Mr.") told us that the best thing to do with your goals is to write them down & tell them to people. Well, my on again/off again goal over the last few years is to read 100 pages a day and write 1000 words (though, because i'm a total pussy, i make little deals with myself like 'today i'll write 1750 words and just read 25' or 'if i read 200 pages of comic books, that'll count for today)...

Today, Roman Numeral J reader(s), i invite you to join in a mini-verbal revolution & take on the 1000-4-7 challenge. You needn't start today (in case your today is tomorrow), but start. Write 1000 words, post it to the internet, stuff it away in your sock drawer, or send it off in a letter to yourself (or someone else), just write. My sense is (and i'm not sure i'm write) that the world can't be hurt by more people writing & expressing themselves and might very well be helped enormously by it.

For my own part, though i have a vague notion of writing more often on RNJ generally, i will publish the majority of each day's fodder here online over the course of the next week as an example. Some days it won't be pretty, as i'll be wanting to go to sleep and won't yet have written my daily quota, or 'won't have anything to say', but i think too often (and here, maybe, i'm preaching to my ENG 102 students as much as i am to myself) we look at writing as an end-result of "inspiration" or 'muse', but really, what it amounts to, is a habit.

A couple of personal ground rules, i guess, might be in order. First off, the "per day" limits run (for me only) from the time i wake up in the morning to when i fall asleep at night, so reading (my personal goal also includes the previously mentioned 100 pages of reading/day - which, really, wouldn't be a bad idea for you either, would it?) and writing done after midnight surely count if i'm still up. Any reading or writing done after first falling asleep, but having awakened in the middle of the night can go toward either day (though, assuming i succeed in my goal will generally be counted toward the next day, to get a head start). Also, no 'working ahead' or 'behind' is allowed, as in promising yourself on Tuesday that you'll catch up with the missing words tomorrow... If you miss a day, ok, just start over with the 7.

Let's see, new to the site is a link to Robert L. Gard's whisky endeavor. Rob is a friend of the blog & true expert in the field of all things of the brown booze (though, as far as i know, Rob has never been to the Dundee Dell, a shortcoming in the scotch field that, i think, maybe even living in Scotland, working at a distillery can't entirely overcome).

Ok, well, i started off with a bit of a head start for the day, so i will sign off here from my call to ball-points. Just a couple of final tips, don't word count too often lest you get bogged down in counting words, rather than writing. And, the biggest best piece of advice i can give is avoid worries about 'not having anything to write' just now. Even if you just write the same word 1000 days (i can almost guarantee you won't do this more than 1 time), some really famous poems have been comprised of just 1 word repeated over & over and in the act of such writing, you draw attention to the act of writing itself (think Michael Snow's Wavelength, but on paper)