I'm Chuck Tryon and I'll probably spend a lot of time writing about popular culture, since I teach cultural studies at Georgia Tech. I may also spend a lot of time writing about politics, since I have an overdeveloped sense of righteous indignation. We'll see how it goes.
drivin' n' cryin'
Sunday, November 16, 2003
A Better World Through Blogging
Like almost everyone else, I've been thinking about submitting to the CFP on blogging (now that the deadline is fast approaching).
Right now, I'm intrigued by questions about the social and political effects of blogging. Anne Galloway has linked to Adam Greenfield's pessimistic reflection on whether or not IT have made the world a better place. He challenges readers to answer the following questions:
Is the planet as a whole detectably better-off in the wake of a decade of decentralized, low-cost-of-entry information availability? Are we better informed, less superstitious, more open-minded, more curious, stronger, less afraid? Do we make better choices?
My initial response is a slightly ambiguous yes. I'll grant that corporations are getting richer and fatter. I'll admit that the current global tensions have produced an increase in superstition and nationalism. But I do think the grassroots possibilities of IT, including blogs, have at least kept some of our bullies at bay (the "Star Wars Kid" is one example). Even though the FCC voted for deregulation, public outcry has encouraged Congress to consider repealing the FCC's decision. Blogs and online news sources have helped disseminate information that mainstream news sources have either buried or distorted.
This isn't the question I really wanted to address here. I'm still trying to think about the temporal linearity of the blog and how that informs the way we "think through" blogs. It does seem to privilege the ephemeral, the right now, over the eternal, the past. One of the results is the number of political bloggers (of all positions). I know that part of my attraction to the blogosphere was reading Salam Pax and others who were blogging about Iraq. I don't think that all blogs or bloggers privilege immediacy over the long-term (Matt's discussion of the digital archive is one example), but I'm fascinated by the temporal construction of blogs. I'm just not sure where to go with it.
Posted by chuck at 01:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
In the original incarnation of the chutry experiment, I reflected (scroll down to March 16 and 17) on what I found to be a fascinating use of blogs, the first hand accounts from journalists, soldiers, and civilians on the war in Iraq, the most famous of which is, of course, Salam Pax. I was struck by the fact that the immediate publication associated with blogging seemed perfectly fit to the immediacy of first-person narratives about the war. I'm less wide-eyed about the medium now, but I have recently come across a blog published by a U.S. soldier that struck me as particularly fascinating. The soldier, who publishes under the identity "moja," is frequently critical of U.S. policy and in many of his posts carefully weighs the consequences of our actions in Iraq, while often expressing sympathy with the Iraqi citizens (including Salam Pax). Perhpas most interesting is his reflection on what is permissible for him to say, a question that comes across in an exchange with an ex-Navy Seal. Moja writes that the ex-Seal
feels that as a soldier i should keep quite about all of my political beliefs...i, as a soldier, feel that i do have the right of free speech with in the realm of the army...there are things that i can not speak about...my chain of command...the president...their decisions...and the like...
These questions frequently come to the surface in Moja's blog, and through his ambivalence about U.S. policy, he provides an intriguing perspective on the situation in Iraq. As with other "front bloggers" (I prefer that term to "warbloggers"), there has been some debate about the authenticity of <...turning tables...>, but it's still an interesting read.
Posted by chuck at 01:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
Happy Endings and Afterimages
I'm still thinking about issues pertaining to the temporality of blogging and had the good fortune of coming across an interesting definition via Jill's blog: In weezBlog, Elouise Oyzon writes,
Blogs are a first person narrative in real time.
Can't wait to see how mine turns out. I do so hope it has a happy ending. Don't we all?
I certainly like this definition and the way in which it plays with the two forms of immediacy (personal and temporal) associated with blogging. There's an interesting wrinkle or two here, one that I keep trying to grasp. First, I'm struck by Elouise's mention of the much desired "happy ending." Much of the writing I do (I won't speak for anyone else) anticipates certain conclusions (finishing an article or book, securing a happy relationship, getting a tenure-track job), some of which--of course--entail new beginnings. Then again, as Margaret Atwood reminds us, there's really only one way of ending a story. But this sense of anticipation seems structurally crucial to my blogging, and may be relevant to others.
I'm also working through some of the contradictions raised by the attempt to capture "real time," the temporal immeidacy of blogging, and the project of the archive. In Mary Ann Doane's latest book, she comments on the tension in recent technologies of representation between the desire for immediacy and the wish to archive. Doane comments that
"The obsession with instantaneity and the instant ... leads to the contradictory desire of archiving presence. For what is archivable loses its presence, becomes immediately the past" (82).
In this sense, I'd like to add to the notion of blogs as "first person narrations in real time" the concept of the after-image, where what appears to be instantaneous, present, might actually be marked (perhaps usefully) by delay.
There is certainly something imprecise about imposing a visual metaphor onto the textual medium of blogging, but in a strange way, I think it fits. Both film (in its original form) and blogging are characterized by similar desires--the desire to produce a stable representation of the present. Both are characterized by their sequential structure, although film's sequentiality (24 frames per second) is much more structured than the blogger's. And, of course, blogging is much more explicitly characterized by a subjective frame of reference than the motion picture camera, which advertised itself as an objective image of reality. Hmmm....I still have lots to think about here.
Posted by chuck at July 30, 2003 03:08 PM | TrackBack
After-image, and archive become physical memory. All moments past, are the context/the environment for the present. One need not have them forefront in the present moment (this particular frame or blog entry), though they do provide the context and inform the present if you have the key.
Anyhoo- nice to visit these thoughts before midnight. Thanks.
Posted by: elouise at July 30, 2003 04:07 PM |
Permalink to Comment
Maybe I was taking the term "real time" a little too literally before. Still, the point I'm intrigued by is the fact that both blogs and films engage this intersection between sequentiality and the archive in complicated ways.
Also, I found it kinda cool that the thoughts you post at midnight were time-stamped at 4PM....
Posted by: chuck at July 31, 2003 11:52 AM |
Permalink to Comment
further complicating the issue- the notion of the present depends upon where the reader enters the stream. Whatever the current entry is, becomes a frame of reference. Depending upon linkages, for example, entering the blog via a category sort, the sequence is no longer necessarily chronological. So unlike film, the story had a non-linearity.
BTW what do you teach? Although I am a professor of information technology, my background is in the fine arts - animation, and printmaking.
as to the time shift - that's just freaky
Posted by: Elouise at July 31, 2003 05:57 PM |
Permalink to Comment
Good point...I liked the observations you made on your blog about how the various possible reference points in a given narrative--in this case a blog--will inform interpretation.
I can imagine some alternatives for film: perhaps an alternate-reality film with bifurcating timelines, a character either catches or misses a train, and based on that, her world changes dramatically.
The other alternative, and a better one, would be a film on a perpetual loop. Your interpretation of the events on the film change depending on when you walk into the room.
I teach freshman composition with an emphasis on digital studies, but my dissertation is on film, and that's what I'd like to teach most.
Posted by: chuck at July 31, 2003 09:32 PM |
Permalink to Comment
Nice. I like the notion of loop. It'd be an interesting piece.
Given digital capabilities, a series of scenes could be played in random order. Perhaps watching the audience order the events would be informative by itself - what shakes out as preferred resolution?
Posted by: elouise at August 1, 2003 08:26 AM |
Permalink to Comment
I like both--each can do interesting things. There's an interactive film, Tender Loving Care, that allows teh audience to make certain choices, often with unexpected results. The film is narrated by a psychologist character (played by John Hurt) who analyzes your choices.
The random loop, of course, takes more control away from the viewer of the film in the presentation of the film, but the viewer might compensate for that in her interpretive work. Or it could be just a total jumble.
Posted by: chuck at August 1, 2003 12:58 PM |
September 07, 2003
"Blogging and the Everyday" Paper Notes
A few disorganized thoughts: Like mcb, I'm working on my article for Into the Blogosphere. Because of my research on cinematic time, I became intrigued by the relationship between blogging and time, especially the ways in which blogs are used to assimilate our experiences. I'm still struggling with a number of difficulties, including the very pertinent question of determining which blogs will be the object of my study. Right now, my tendency is not to focus on a single blog (which seems reductive), but to perhaps focus instead on what I might call the "immediacy meme" that has been floating among the Wordherders and friends for some time. By focusing on a "meme" rather than a single blog, I think I will better illustrate the importance of hyperlinking to the development of concepts within blogging communities (but I'm not sure about that).
When I borrowed (stole?) George's description of blogs as "writing to the moment," I was intrigued by the complicated temporal relationship he was describing between immediate experience and assimilated experience. George is, of course, writing about blogs that have a biographical quality to them and asks,
In what narrative do we imagine we're participating? How does the importance of previous events change as later events occur?
Bloggers don't know how their narratives will turn out; therefore, when I write about this article, about my teaching, I do so without knowing how those narratives will resolve themselves. A second complication: from which point can the author/the reader make that determination? Now that I have written about my course blog's unexpected publicity, at what point does that narrative end? At the end of the semester? After I've (hopefully) earned a tenure-track teaching job? At the end of my career? Even later than that? I know these questions about deferred meanings have been around for a long time, but I think blogs raise the stakes in an intriguing way.
Of course as Dave reminds us, this concept of immediacy is itself something of an illusion, in part because these representations of experience are always mediated, in part by the technology itself, and Dave's discussion of blogs as a form of life-writing are far more developed than my own.
There is something about this illusion of immediacy that seems to speak to the social role that blogs seem to have served, especially here in the US. It's my understanding (and maybe others can back me up on this) that blogs gained a boost of popularity in the aftermath of September 11, with the traumatic experiences of that day finding their articulation in part through a medium that lends itself to very immediate personal reflections.
Certainly my interest in blogging as a medium was piqued by their use in articulating first-person accounts of the war in Iraq. The first person narratives of the war, particularly the observations of Salam Pax, were more powerful because of the appearance of immediacy that blogging provides. In fact, the treatment of Salam's blog in the press and in other blogs points to this desire for more authentic representations. But now I'm beginning to feel my definition of "immediacy" slipping away....Against what inauthentic representation am I now defining immediacy? Against mainstream media representations? Against all other mediation? How does one define "immediacy" in the first place when there are so many registers available? Can "immediacy" be defined without some opposite ("culture" to Derrida's "nature") to make it visible?
Final aside: Why not write on weblog narratives about the war?
Posted by chuck at September 7, 2003 02:35 PM | TrackBack
September 27, 2003
Myopia, or Writing and Everyday Life
One of my favorite things about blogging is that whenever my thinking feels stalled or when I become too caught up in the frustrations of everyday life, I know that I can rely on one of my fellow bloggers to provide the spark that re-energizes my thinking. One of the blogs I visit regularly to get my focus back is weezBlog, and her most recent entry on blogs as first-person narratives articulates something that had been eluding me. She writes:
The sad thing about a real time narrative is that one cannot skip the boring bits, or jump to the denouement...at least the unfortunate protagonist can't.
Someone else may pick up the thread after the fact and sagely nod their head and say, "Yup. Saw that coming in post number 58. C'mon, you couldn't figure it out by 107?"
We're kind of myopic here, us real-time characters. Doing the sling and arrows thing. Sponges of outrageous fortune. (I do wish the omniscient one could give a clue sometimes, tell me that the outcome will be just fine...just wait a few turns, and all the disparate threads will resolve themselves).
I like the idea of connecting myopia to the everyday--that we can't see far enough ahead to know where our stories will go. Last week, when I was in the middle of my grading marathon, I could barely see beyond the stack of papers in front of me; grading (especially when you have 75 students who all deserve for their papers to receive careful attention) requires a tremendous amount of energy and leaves me with little time for reflection. I couldn't fast-forward to the "more interesting" stuff, whatever that will be, even if I wanted to.
Now I'm in the process of putting together applications for tenure-track jobs (revising my job letter and dissertation abstract, that sort of thing), and that feels like a different kind of vision. I still can't see too far ahead (who knows where my current road will take me?), but I'm having a difficult time concentrating on anything nearby, too. To extend the vision metaphor, maybe it's a bit like hyperopia (seeing things far away, but not up close) in that I'm barely able to absorb what is taking place around me, leaving me to feel my way through a day's events. Or maybe things are moving so fast right now that my vision is blurred a little.
Or maybe I'm concentrating on all the wrong narratives....S and I watched Lost in Translation (IMDB) last night, and we both really liked it. The film focuses on Bob (Bill Murray), a washed up actor filming commercials in Japan, and Charlotte (Scarlet Johansson), a recent philosophy graduate traveling in Japan with her photographer husband. Because they are both facing some uncertainties about their direction in lfe, the two of them develop an interesting friendship. In ways, it really captures this sense of boredom and frustration, the feeling of not knowing where your story is going to go. I'm still sorting through the film, and I may be too scattered to write a full blown entry about it, but it's definitely well worth seeing.
Posted by chuck at September 27, 2003 09:49 PM | TrackBack
I liked that movie too.
Posted by: v+ at September 28, 2003 06:59 PM |
Permalink to Comment
"Translation" is really sticking with me. It really captures well that sense of lives in transition.
Posted by: chuck at September 29, 2003 01:07 AM |
Permalink to Comment
Your use of hyperopia (seeing things far away, but not up close) made me do a bit of dictionary searching. I always thought the antonym of myopia was presbyopia. There seems to be an intrigute nuance between them. Haven't quite been able to sharpen the focus on what that nuance might be.
Posted by: Francois Lachance at September 29, 2003 10:33 AM |
Permalink to Comment
I got my term from a thesaurus, so yours is probably more accurate. Hyperopia didn't quite sound right. Now, even though my terminological error was an accident, the big question is: how to make sense of the distinction.
Posted by: chuck at September 29, 2003 11:23 AM |
September 30, 2003
Television and Duration
I'm still reading Margaret Morse and thinking about the blogging and the everyday paper. In her discussion of nonplaces, Morse discusses television, specifically Raymond Williams' understanding of television as "flow" (although she articulates her understanding of "flow" against his) as "the pure juxtaposition of unrelated segments" (229). As Morse explains flow, it seems like there is a similar process going on within blogs (or blogspace). There are two major similarities that I can recognize:
The relationship of unrelated elements within blogs: Even though I have been using this blog primarily for research, I also write movie reviews, discuss my teaching, and dabble in politics, but I'm guessing that most blog readers don't read my blog from beginning to end.
The relationship of unrelated elements between blogs: Like a television remote control, blogrolls, almost invariably navigated by clicking (a mouse instead of a remote), allow a viewer to bring together disparate elements.
I'm not sure how this connects to my notion of the everyday, but I think there is a relationship between blogging and television that can be triangulated through how the two mediums construct time. I'm also trying to wrap my head around the connection to "nonplaces" and the suggestion that television offers a "derealized" space, in part because it depends on a notion of "real" space that I find difficult to define.
I'm still thinking about the "media and democracy" points, too, especially in light of the ways in which blogging has functioned as an "alternative" media during the war and the recent allegations regarding the "outed" CIA agent.
More on that later, but now I'm going to take a break and watch my beloved Braves beat the Cubs.
Posted by chuck at September 30, 2003 09:24 PM | TrackBack
Safari just quit in the middle of a long post--ESPN's MLB GameCast crashed it--as I was rubbing in Kerry Wood's double.*
Anyway, my point--now much truncated--was simply that re: your second point, interblog navigation is far more structured than using a television remote. A TV remote shifts between shows that have no relation other than they are both on at the same time. But in a blog, you're typically either following a link in a post or a blogroll, so there's some articulation of the two sites (linker/linkee). You can of course eventually produce disparate or unrelated elements, but the initial relation is stronger.
*I lived 3 blocks east of Wrigley during Kerry Wood's rookie year, at a time when there wasn't a whole lot else to look forward to about the Cubs. His starts were electrifying.
Posted by: Jason at September 30, 2003 10:17 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I posted this entry just minutes before that double. These Cubs are starting to remind me of the 1991 Braves, with their amazing young pitching staff (I remember a game where Wood struck out something like 18 Braves players)....
I think you're right about that distinction and knew that interblog navigation can be a bit more structured (the links are often explicitly connected). TV isn't completely disparate, though, because the TV viewer will usually know something about the channels and programming schedules she surfs (even if she has satellite TV).
I'd also add that even though I know roughly what I can expect on the various blogs I watch, the entries are still partial and fragmentary, sometimes unpredictable. But, yeah, the analogy is more nuanced than my original entry suggested.
Posted by: chuck at September 30, 2003 10:34 PM |
Permalink to Comment
Nice splicing of baseball and the TV-blogging comparision.
How often does the viewer "write to" television?
Even with blogs that don't accomodate a commentary mechanism, the surfer can turn writer and record a linking. One, of course, can write about television and even refer to a specific broadcast. Retrieval of the referenced work has an impact on the sense of time and immediacy. Obviously, the social construction of the archive is factor in the rereading of blogs just as it is with television shows.
The blogsphere has a broadcast stream and an archive. Hence the various types of splicing or linking: the triangulation offered by Jason and chuck with the ball game and their learned discussion on temporality and blogging; the link offered by chuck to the work of Margaret Morse.
Recapture of the record. Blogging as sieve. Two directional: from broadcast stream to archive and from archive to broadcast.
What a catch by the batter! What a run by the pitcher!
Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 1, 2003 11:52 AM |
Permalink to Comment
The communication between TV and viewer is almost completely one-way while blogging usually two-way. I suppose one could consider channel surfing as a kind of "writing" in that viewers who don't like a certain program can change the channel or can rewrite a narrative by watching only part of it (such as Native Americans who change the channel halfway through a Western, before the heroic white man comes to save the day).
One of the riteria here might be that writing "to" or "in" television would require that you write in the same medium (TV) rather than in print; otherwise it's something else, it's writing "on" TV. Perhaps Tivo and VCRs are other technologies for writing "to" TV.
I think this is why Blogathon interested me so much: publishing entries every half hour seemed awfully close to a simulation of the temporality of the broadcast with its clearly identified intervals.
Posted by: chuck at October 1, 2003 12:20 PM |
Permalink to Comment
Allow me to finesse my point about the two-way sieve. The temporality broadcasting and a regular publishing schedule are alike in that they involve transmission at regular intervals. The way that copying technologies have been deployed and regulated affects how in the social imaginary the semantics of "circulation" get mapped to the products of television. To place into circulation and to broadcast are similar gestures.
The dyanmics of reception, production and translation at at work no matter where the critic/theorist begins: writing as the performative and recording the writing. The on/to distinction doesn't quite work for mean. Even before the advent of multimedia, the written word could be voiced and the recited word recorded as a transcription. Such possibilities are inherent to how most natural languages operate in a combo of visual and auditory sensory modes.
Cultural artefacts are multi-temporal because human beings possess the ability to process their environments and themselves in multimodal sensory fashion. Human attention is directed, diverted and enticed. And that has less to do with the medium per se and more to do with social contexts and learnt behaviour that give rise to the habits of consumption, translation and reception.
Blogging has shown lots of people that they push, pull and splice. So has the rip, mix, burn experience of sampling and generalized access to digital recording technology.
It is perhaps difficult to imagine a world of readers who cannot write. It is easier to imagine a world where a shortage of writing supplies affects the numbers of readers who can write. It was not always where the "everyday" including the pen and paper pad in almost every household.
On a tangent, you might want to take a look at Elouise's blog entry on "praise".
There is there a theme about fluency and the degree to which a critical language for talking about multimedia is not terribly wide spread. That triangulation you are looking for may reside in language expressed in a given medium and expressed about in another medium about a given medium (aka as expertise of the appreciators). The existence of such languages surely affects the temporality of the experience.
How different is it to speak of cricket or baseball after having played the game?
Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 1, 2003 02:47 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I'm a little off my game today because of the comment spam, but I think my phrasing in the last comment may have been a little confusing. I like the connection to Elouise's discussion of "fluency," and I think that's where my struggles with this paper exist. I'm completely aware of the fact that the language I choose for talking about blog entries (whether I draw it from film, TV, the "digital") will certainly affect how I articulate the temporality of blogging.
I think you're also right about cultural artifacts being "multitemporal." When I've talked to students about certain blogs, their experience of them is often quite different than mine. Where I've grown with a blog, reading it daily, sometimes for weeks or months, they read multiple entries at once, leading them to read a much different narrative than the one I follow. Not sure I'm making this example clear enough.
The "tools" question seems particularly pertinent in this comparison. Blogging tools are available to anyone who has regular access to a computer. Of course a blogger also has to have a certain degree of computer "literacy" as well. The kinds of TV sampling you describe might require greater technological resources.
Posted by: chuck at October 2, 2003 12:42 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I don't think you were off your game. It was just a ploy to see if I would come back and engage -- especially since I have been thematizing the productivity of the interval (interaction followed by immersion followed by interaction) in a comment to an entry by Jason Rhody
Why not approach the paper as an interview with Elouise or Jason? Do like the sciences and share a publication credit.
For an example see what Stephen Ramsey and Geoffrey Rockwell did recently (June 6, 2003):
Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 2, 2003 03:46 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I definitely *like* the idea of writing a blog paper collaboratively. It makes more sense in many ways (especially given the collaborative nature of thinking in/through blogs), but I'll probably do this one alone since I have a fairly imminent deadline, and I'm not good at managing such things.
I wrote this comment off the cuff, so I'll have to go back and look at the exchange with Jason (immersion/interval sounds right up my alley) and the Ramsey/Rockwell paper....
Posted by: chuck at October 2, 2003 06:05 PM |
October 21, 2003
The Future of Blogging
I've been planning to reflect on some of the questions raised by the Perseus White Papers' The Blogging Iceberg, in part because I think it speaks to some of the concerns I want to address in my "Blogging and the Everyday" paper, which is constantly shifting focus as I continue to write, read, and reflect. Warning: random thoughts ahead. I mostly wanted to collect some links to some really interesting posts.
I won't address the many critiques of Perseus' methodology, other than to note that by ignoring non-hosted blogs, I'd guess that any information about user demographics would be considerably skewed (as would the percentage of abandoned blogs). I'm intrigued by the growth rate, although I think that is also hard to predict, especially given the unpredictable role that AOL blogging tools will have, but more than anything, the survey indicates to me the extreme difficulty of making too many quantitative claims about blogging.
Instead, I'm more intrigued by what blogs are doing (how people are "using" or understanding them) and what they will or may become. In that regard, I'm especially intrigued by David Weinberger's discussion of the future of blogging. I think he's probably right that distinctions between high traffic bloggers and "the rest of the world" (note: Clay Shirky's discussion is highly relevant here) will probably increase to the point that their sites will begin to look less like blogs and more like something else, a perpetually updated op-ed page, perhaps. Now that I've gone back to re-read Liz's post about this topic on Many-to-Many, I think she articulates what I'm trying to say quite well:
The big difference, to me, is that when you’re at the top of the “power law curve,” you’re in broadcast mode. When you’re at the tail end, you’re in private diary mode. But in the middle, that’s where the interlinking and dialog and community-forming are happening. Those are very different modes of communication.
In my experience, my status (presumably somewhere in the middle) has provided me with the "dialog" and "community forming" that Liz describes, and now that I think about it, that experience considerably regulates my interpretation of blogging as a medium.
Unlike other observers, I'm not sure how much more popular blogs will become, in part for some of the reasons that Alex Halavias describes: (1) blogging takes time away from other forms of communication, work, and entertainment; (2) only a limited number of people write for pleasure (and many of those people prefer not to write publicly or choose other mediums for their writing); and (3) blogging is still intimidating for many non-techies, something I didn't initially realize when I incorporated blogging into my freshman composition course this semester.
I'm somewhat optimistic that blogs may be of "increasing value" to democracy, but I don't think this value will necessarily be recognizable in campaign blogs (although I think campaign blogs are very important) as much as it is in blogs as alternative media or media filters. Blogs that create coalitions of citizens invested in various political issues (copyright law, anti-war protests) seem to have more potential in creating long-term alliances.
As an aside, I also found the discussion on aldon of the research on "blogging as a genre" intriguing, but I'm still tempted to reserve the term medium to describe the blog itself (or the various "levels" of blogs) and genre to describe various types of blogs (academic, personal, journalism, political, etc). Obviously most (perhaps all) blogs don't fit into such discrete categories, and I have mixed feelings about categorizing blogs, anyway.
I believe that my project will be operating in this mid-level space, for the most part, the spaces where academic bloggers are making connections, exchanging ideas, and sharing experiences. Now what any of this has to do with original topic, blogging and the everyday, I'm not sure...
Posted by chuck at October 21, 2003 03:01 PM | TrackBack
Your title seems to recall Michel de Certeau
_The Practice of Everyday Life_. Was that the intent? Seems plausible since you end with a typology of practices:
- making connections
- exchanging ideas
- sharing experiences
Reminds me a bit of George's categories of moves in the game of conversation:
I like the way you sandwich exchange between connection making and experience sharing. The making of connections can be done solo. The sharing of experience is ab ovo a solo action (the autobiographical entry/comment). Both of these (story telling, sharing, and connection making, linking)do not require the structure of interpellation and acknowledgment for their completion. The exchange in a sense marks a type of dialogue where the bloggers are likely to tip into the spiral of an economy of the gift and experience vertigo. It is a moment that may become emulated in other social and discursive spaces. I suspect the formula "in doing X you helped me do Y" will catch on. Imagine a generation raised on feedback loops of such civility.
Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 21, 2003 04:59 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I didn't intend the title to echo de Certeau's, although I was certainly aware of his book. I've been skimming it over the last few weeks, though, just to see what he's doing with the concept of the "everyday."
My title was intended to bring Benjamin's treatment of "the everyday" into relief, drawing from Peter Osborne's reading of him in _The Politics of Time._
I like that you break down each "move" that I described into a discrete activity (the comparison to George is unexpected, but I think it works). I was using the terms in a far more general sense, and it's useful to see the specific implications of them.
I'd still suggest that sharing experiences--in the best sense--should be understood as a reciprocal act. I don't feel like I can share "an experience" unless someone gives back/has already given back.
I found it interesting that you transform "exchange" (which in a classical economy usually implies *unequal* exchange) into exchange as giving, but I have experienced the latter several times (Liz's entry bringing together Weez's thread on narrative, for example).
Glad you reminded me to go back to de Certeau!
Posted by: chuck at October 21, 2003 11:08 PM |
Permalink to Comment
I had that tonic ironic reading of "share" -- the popular culture connotations of the social-worked to nth degree term where sharing is often a power ploy. I also realize that I read "experience" as the "narration of an experience" i.e. I had reified. Sharing stories aligns with the other products: ideas and connections.
I was attempting to locate the moments of reciprocity in the space occupied by many many non-reciprocal gestures. I think the way the technology has been taken up in the culture of blogging there is on the side of the "call" or invitation the possibility of articulating links and talking story. On the side of the response, there is an intriguing triangulation: readers witnessing the interlocutors acknowledging each other and readers wondering if the connection between interlocutors also continues elsewhere via face to face encounters or private email. This state of unknowing allows, at least allows me, to relish the secondariness of commentary, that is to openly move from observation to speculation. [I see or sense X and wonder if it may be related to Y]. It is the very possibility of so easily partioning and repartioning the discursive space (by timed entry and by multiplication of interlocutory personna) that produces what to me is a renewed civility that favours the politeness of pointing.
Posted by: Francois Lachance at October 22, 2003 12:12 PM |
Monday, June 23, 2003
Once You Use MT, Everything Else is, Well, Empty
I've decided to follow the pack, so to speak, and participate in the blog collective Wordherders. The major benefits include the cool opportunity to particiapte in a collective of other academic bloggers and to use the far more flexible blogging program, Moveable Type. I'm in the process of transferring archives (and hopefully comments) to my new home. All new entries will be posted to my MT account, which you can find at http://chutry.wordherders.net/. Please change your bookmarks and I hope you enjoy the new blog. Thanks to Jason for making Wordherderes work!
Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Okay, my sense of righteous indignation has been tapped (probably because of spending a little too much time in my apartment). The House recently voted to permanently end estate taxes in 2013. According to Republican Dennis Hastert, the repeal protects typical American families, you know all those families who have estates in the top 1.5 percent of the U.S. population. The result is that the Republicans are stealing, I mean, reducing revenue by $162 billion through 2013, you know all that useless revenue that goes to unnecessary programs like Head Start, Americorps, and even Homeland Security. Fortunately, the bill isn't likely to pass the Senate. According to the AP story,
A law passed in 2001 eliminates the tax in 2010, only to resurrect it a year later, a quirk forced by Senate rules designed to prevent lawmakers from deepening budget deficits.Wow, imagine having rules about budget deficits. How quirky can you get? Next thing you know, we might get really quirky and go back to the responsibility of the Clinton administration when having a budget surplus was considered economically beneficial. But that's just me; I'm kind of quirky that way. Okay, I feel a little bit better now.
Tuesday, June 17, 2003
The Man Comes Around
Inspired by George's entry on new music and needing to break free from my apartment for a few minutes, I walked up to Wuxtry to buy a couple of CDs. Unlike George, I was lucky enough to find the CDs I wanted, the White Stripes' self-titled 2002 release (pretty rockin' so far) and Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around, his most recent American/Lost Highway recording.
I've been planning to get the Cash CD for a couple of months, but I don't get to record stores very often. I really enjoy the new music he has been producing for the last five years with producer Rick Rubin; their interpretation of songs by other artists is usually interesting and sometimes quite powerful (especially their recording of "One" by U2). Speaking of covers, I just got to the White Stripes' version of "One More Cup of Coffee," and it really works; I'm not sure I would've thought it, but I like it.
I'll have to go back and try to catch some of the Protest Records songs that George mentions. Alas, my modem is way too slow.
Wed. 6/18 Update: The White Stripes are playing a free concert by the big granite rock just outside the Perimeter. I'm thinking about going. Anyone interested?
Update Part II: I didn't realize the local commercial radio station sponsoring the concert was referring to the event as the "Big Rock." I just didn't mention the big granite rock's more common name because said slab of granite serves as a memorial for non-Union men from a war that took place during the mid-nineteenth century, and mentioning the slab of granite by name might trip up advertisements for products I don't like.
Because my car is now officially dead (I may have a replacement, a 1989 Camry, in a week or so), I've been more or less trapped in my apartment. Even though MARTA (the Atlanta mass transit service) claims to be "Smarta," it's not terribly convenient and the busses don't run after 11PM, making it hard to catch late movies. One of the results of this immobility has been the inability to get out and participate in town halls and protests like I normally would. I have--for nearly a year--participated in TrueMajority and Moveon.org's online petition activities and knew several others who were involved in the phone blitz to express their disagreement with the recent war against Iraq. I know these grassroots uses of the Internet are nothing new (I've been on the ACLU list for a while), but they do introduce some interesting questions. On the one hand, a small amount of labor can make a lot of noise, as the recent anti-war and anti-deregulation activism suggest. It also allows people who are either immobile or busy to sustain political participation without having to physically attend a rally or event at a certain time or place. On the other hand, I do think there is tremendous value in the extra commitment required for attending a rally or some other public event. I've usually felt more rewarded by my involvement in the town halls and rallies that I attended than by my emails and faxes to various public figures. I think my question may be why I'm privileging this physical, embodied participation over online participation. In both cases, I am "sending a message" about my politics. With my online participation, I often get feedback from my Representatives and Senators in letters (I averaged about one every other day in Illinois).
I didn't really intend to take this direction with this entry. I'm more interested in thinking about how these online grassroots organizations change the political landscape, if at all. An organization like Moveon.org has definitely grown quickly, enabled in large part by the "connectedness" of the Web, the potential for information to spread very quickly to a large audience. I'm interested to see what they'll be able to do long-term with the collective they have organized.
Monday, June 16, 2003
Mezza, a Movie, and a Moth
Finally had a chance to go back to Mezza, a wonderful Lebanese restaurant in the Oak Grove neighborhood. I went originally a few months ago, and I've been craving it ever since. It's a tapas style restaurant and S and I ordered falafel, fried eggplant (which I really like--the tahini gives it a terrific kick), chicken shawarma, and beef stuffed grape leaves. It's one of the best meals I've had in a long time (and, yes, I know I said that last week after I went to Mambo--I've been eating very well lately).
After Mezza, S and I went to see The Man on the Train, the latest film by Patrice Leconte, who also directed The Widow of St. Pierre and Girl on the Bridge. In Man, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the two male leads, played by the popular French actors, Jean Rochefort (the planned lead in Terry Gilliam's doomed attempt to film Quixote, documented in Lost in LaMancha) and Johnny Hallyday. The plot begins with Milan (Hallyday) arriving by train to a small town where he is planning to rob a bank. Because Milan has no place to stay, he crashes with retired poetry teacher, Manesquier (Rochefort). Both men have reached teh end of their careers, and the film focuses on the regrets they have about the lives they've led. Both men fantasize about switching places, what it might have been like to live the other's life, and in one funny sequence, Milan actually does substitute as a poetry teacher. I don't know that I have much to add about the film. It was beautifully shot, with a prominently gray palette, reflecting the overall tone of the film. It was also cool to finally get a chance to get back to the Garden Hills cinema, one of the better screening spaces in the city.
Finally, as I type this entry, my floor lamp, now located next to my office window, seems to be attracting a moth. Not much to add there; I just liked the alliteration.
Saturday, June 14, 2003
Virilio and Marker
I've been a lazy blogger lately, and I am feeling a little guilty about it. For the most part, I've been trying to work through some ideas for a couple of articles I'm trying to finish. I'm most excited about my paper on Chris Marker's Sans soleil, especially after revisiting Manovich's The Language of New Media, especially because his notion of a "database film" so clearly applies to Marker's postmodern update of many of Dziga Vertov's techniques for seeing and thinking through cinema.
The connection I'm working through right now is a passing reference Manovich makes to Paul Virilio's book, War and Cinema. Manovich writes:
Virilio went on to suggest that, wheras space was the main category of the nineteenth century, the main category of the twentieth was time.In Sans soleil (released in 1982), Marker, through the persona of Sandor Krasna, makes an almost identical observation; in fact the phrasing is nearly identical. I'm wondering if anyone out there might know the history of this observation or if there is any kind of relationship between Marker and Virilio beyond the fact that they likely know the other's work. There's certainly an interesting connection to be developed here, specifically in terms of their politics, their questions about how our technologies affect the way that we live in the world.
Monday, June 09, 2003
David Bowie at the Drive-In
Went to see Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars at the Starlight Six Drive-In last night, after a great dinner at Mambo (scroll down for a review), a terrific Cuban restaurant in the Highlands. The screening of Ziggy Stardust, directed by D. A. Pennebaker was part of the Atlanta Film Festival, which started this weekend and runs throughout the week (I might be seeing a lot of movies over the next few days!).
I had never been to a drive-in movie before, and it was a fascinating experience. I can certainly see the appeal of watching a movie on a giant screen in the great outdoors, especially with the nice, cool late spring weather. Ziggy Stardust also seems like the perfect drive-in type of movie, with the nostalgia for the 1970s "innocence" meshing with the nostalgia for the past when drive-ins were far more common. It was also striking how minimal the pyrotechnics were for the Ziggy Stardust concert tour, especially when compared to more recent "hypermediated" concerts by artists such as U2, which feature fireworks, light shows, and video screens.
There was one surreal moment when I glanced in my rearview mirror and saw a scene from The Matrix Reloaded (which I still haven't seen) being projected on a screen directly behind my car. The deep focus shot, of a series of doorways opening into an infinite regress of rooms, was a pretty cool one, but it was completely trippy to glance into the mirror while listening to Bowie's Ziggy Stardust evoking the future of "space travel" in 1973 while singing "Ground Control to Major Tom" in 1973 and seeing a "present" image of the future of an infinitely deeper cyberworld in my car's rearview mirror (at a drive-in theater, which at once evokes the future and the past).