Assembling these patched words in an electronic space, I feel half-blind, as if the entire text is within reach, but because of some myopic condition I am only familiar with from dreams, I can see only that part most immediately before me, and have no sense of how that part relates to the rest. When I open a book I know where I am, which is restful. My reading is spatial and even volumetric. I tell myself, I am a third of the way down through a rectangular solid, I am a quarter of the way down the page, I am here on the page, here on this line, here, here, here. But where am I now? I am in a here and a present moment that has no history and no expectations of the history.
- Shelley Jackson, Patchwork Girl
One of these days my writing process might actually catch up with the rest of me, but until then I continue to be stuck drafting my densest papers with pen and paper like a caveman. There's some fundamental connection between my ability to write an essay and the motion of my hand.
I have been asked to condense Baudrillard's thoughts on historicity into a paragraph because the professor grading the paper is not familiar with him. I moved past my urge to hyperlink him to the Wikipedia article in a footnote and there's attempt number three.
Attempt number two was just writing "nothing is real and everything is permitted" but then I remembered I'm writing about Skyrim, not Assassin's Creed.
Jokes that are only funny to me now appearing everywhere.
This post brought to you by Instagram and my inability to figure it out, but my general enjoyment of watching three-second phone photos go from utter shite to slightly less shite as the filters scroll through.
Apply for a WestJet Credit Card (they will pounce on you as you pass them for the third time because your flight has been cancelled and you’re ping-ponging between check-in and customer service, and their kiosk is situated ideally in the middle of Air Canada’s ping-pong court).
Apply for a WestJet credit card while the attendant remarks on how you look like you’re eighteen years old, but still doesn’t ID you.
Buy a pack of cigarettes.
Buy a pack of cigarettes for twice as much as the gas station a fifteen-minute walk outside of the airport.
A gas station which would probably have the brand you want, but aren’t going to go to, because navigating the roads in and out of the airport are bad enough in a car, let alone on foot.
Buy a pack of cigarettes while the attendants remark on how you look like you’re seventeen years old, but still don’t ID you.
Go through security.
Go through security twice.
So, the mixed blessing of a cancelled flight this morning: Air Canada rebooked my flight automatically, to one departing about six hours later than originally scheduled. At some point I realized I didn’t have my ID, because it was sitting in the scanner, because the government of Alberta wanted the information last night, and I had completely blanked on taking it off the glass. Happily, I had about five hours left after the mob of rescheduling to go back to my apartment and grab my ID. This would have been impossible had the flight not been cancelled, and I probably would have been screwed trying to get on.
But maybe they don’t ID for boarding anymore, either. I wouldn’t know, seeing as how I’m on my ass and waiting another three hours for boarding.
That is the one silver lining.
It’s a bit thin.
The flight was cancelled because they overbooked it and then couldn’t find a big enough plane to accommodate everyone.
That was the look on my face, too.
Meanwhile, as part of the rebooking process, they refused to change my flight to any direct-to-Toronto trips, because I was going through Montreal originally, and heaven forbid they disrupt my layover schedule. That would just be rude.
They gave me a ten dollar meal voucher, instead.
Very kind of them.
I like airports, more or less. Security is nerve-wracking but having been through a couple of American airports, Canadian security is practically a breeze. Belt, laptop, phone: into bin. Slide bin. Step through scanner. Step through scanner without feeling like security is going to shoot you, and I’ve never had anyone in a Canadian airport grope my ass, as protocol dictates.
But other than that, I like airports.
The wifi is even free when it works nowadays.
I particularly like the blend of people. In the same line-up of everyone trying to get to (Montreal/Toronto/Texas/Edmonton/Vancouv
Just don’t see a blend of people like that in very many places.
This may be karmic, the flight was cancelled immediately after I tweeted about how unimpressed security was with my carry-on Bag of Holding, which has a million pockets and no, I assure you, is not hiding liquids or stabby objects in a hidden pocket somewhere.
It’s a blend of people, by the way, who make a strange sort of mob. You had the people whose faces were turning red and they were about to start shouting and getting angry, who were immediately defused by those who are more inclined to smile and nod and thank Air Canada for the inconvenience and just tell them where to go so this can be sorted out, thanks.
Like pulling a plug on a kettle about to boil, before emotions get too contagious.
The Halifax Airport also smells of lobster and coffee, depending on where you stand.
You can see the war between eReaders and books being passively waged here, too. For every eReader there’s someone with a book; and for every book there’s someone with a laptop (hi).
And for every Santa hat or reindeer antlers I’ve seen there has been, inexplicably, someone in a beaver hat.
Also enjoyable: while applying for a WestJet credit card (I don’t know why), attempting to answer the question of ‘occupation’. Specifically what I plan to do when I graduate.
‘Student’ leads to questions of ‘where and what do you study’ and ‘English’ shockingly brought back a comment of ‘so you plan to be a professor?’
I’ve had many conversations the past few months about where an English degree will take a person, and what it means to intend to become a professor anywhere. But all of those have taken place in an academic setting. The conversation goes in a completely different direction in an airport.
So I laughed at the professor comment, went ‘no’, and when asked what else I could possibly plan on doing, I said something about video games and technology and editing.
‘With an English degree?’
With an English degree.
‘So what would that be called, video game… maker?’
‘There’s nothing wrong with being a professor, you know! They make good money!’
Oh, fine, put me down as professor then, it’ll fit in your box.
Anyway, by tonight at some point I will have my feet in Toronto and be around some favourite people, and it’s not as if there isn’t a Starbucks directly across from me right now, or as if I didn’t pack a thousand pages of reading to do between now and when the plane—allegedly—takes off in three more hours.
Look, look, a real post. I wrote a real post.
Gleek: You just watch a room full of 500 people sweat and be afraid.
Lunar: And this will forever be the day Adrien decided that being a college professor might be an enjoyable career.
Lunar: Hear ye hear ye.
- - -
A very science-fictiony reading spree, apparently.
I bailed on an office Christmas party to go book shopping and I don't regret it one bit.
A project for a class has had me thinking about common spaces, and what constitutes a common space. Where they are allowed, where they are not, how they operate, what brings people together and disperses them afterward, and how these things function. Specifically, because I am me, I started looking at how text functions, and whether or not a book -- a physical, tangible object, with weight and presence in the world -- can work as a collapsible (temporary) commons in one way or another, and what would happen if...?
I'm approaching ideas of subjectivity, the commons, and what people carry with them into spaces but would not necessarily ever share in those spaces. This is a bit of a catch, since it means getting people to share what they never would otherwise, or at least what they wouldn't say if the opportunity wasn't explicitly presented, but it's also an experiment, and so far it's had great results.
For the past few weeks I have left a book in the English department lounge, collecting submissions as people pass by, writing whatever they want to in it: questions, ideas, quotes, problems, secrets, loves, hates, desires, worries, goals, dreams, favourite poems, favourite recipes, stories, visions, anything.
The idea behind this was originally to avoid online submissions because this is an internet where confessionals and anonymity sometimes rule. Postsecret, LJSecret, FML, TFLN, these are all places where people can go, and be other than themselves, and say whatever they want. I was interested in what happens when that online community is not there, and how this book would be.
And then, today being what today is, submissions began coming in through email and Facebook nevertheless, and so I am opening this up for online submissions all around.
Comments here can be anonymous; they can be as numerous as you desire; they can reply to other comments since, in theory, this is a common space; they can say whatever you like, as long or as short as you like, and be about whatever you desire. IP logging is off. I don't mind if you're a friend who has been reading this blog for the ten years I've been blogging, or if you're here because someone pointed you to the URL.
Comments shared here will be printed off and added to the book itself; if you have a font specification, a preferred format, somewhere you want it in the book (front, back, upside down, middle, someone stapled the inside of the front page already but these things could be layered, as a heads up), whatever, just let me know and it shall be done. Colour is possible, too.
For the actual insert that's in the book itself, hit up the cut. Otherwise, participate at your whim and fancy! I present on this on December 2nd, and the critical essay is due December 12th, but I envision this continuing on into 2012 and so there is no set, absolute deadline.
If you are not comfortable commenting, I can be messaged, or emailed, or tracked down over AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Skype, GChat and Facebook.
And a great thank you to everyone who participates!
( Read Me/Write Me InsertCollapse )
Decompression is going well. Am tucked in the foothills of Alberta, about thirty minutes east of the Rockies (waved hello), in a little valley around which the storms pass but rarely hover over. Makes for quite the view from the deck. There are puppies and a bar; tomorrow there will be shooting at the range (the gun kind, not the archery kind, though I did try to talk them into that), and Monday there will be riding on the trails.
Missed this. Didn't realize just how much until I was back, but I've missed this place. I love the coast and being in Halifax, but walking in the hills and watching the storms, hearing the hawks and coyotes again, has been something else. The sky's kind of cramped in Nova Scotia.
Coffee's good here, too.
By Mary Louise Pratt on May 21, 2011
I find violence very unsatisfying as an object of study. We intellectuals use the term all the time as if we knew and agreed on what it is, what the term refers to. But in fact I think the concept of violence doesn't have contours for us -- perhaps that is something we can discuss. Violence has scenarios, like the ones we have been discussing, it has nodes, but I'm not sure what its contours are. It is an abstraction. And at the same time, it is unsatisfying when we analyze violence in the concrete, as a thing that is either present or absent. Doing this also almost always feels inadequate, in part because violence is always potentially present.
The main topic I'd like to talk about today, however, is language and violence. In our common sense, we often speak as if violence and language were mutually exclusive. We think one begins where the other ends: when people stop talking, they start fighting, when they stop fighting they start talking. We see violence and words, violence and language, in complementary distribution. We also think of violence as often that which is beyond language. People often describe war as being beyond words. But violence actually is almost always accompanied by language.
One of the reasons why language cannot grasp violence, I think, is that it is usually embedded in it. When violence occurs, it seems to rely much of the time on a discursive accompaniment that assigns the violence its meaning. Such verbal framing marks the social character of violence. Anthropologists say that aggression is biological, violence is social. It seems to me that very often the accompanying language gives violence its social meaning, gives it its social character. So even though violence might erupt when dialogue stops, language is usually there as an accompaniment to violence. This is also true in the case of torture. Elaine Scarry's famous book, The Body in Pain, describes torture as the thing beyond language, that which breaks past the possibility of language. But in fact, as testimonial texts reveal, torture is almost always accompanied by a verbal commentary that assigns it a social or interpersonal meaning. For example, torture may be accompanied by interrogation, and the relation between them works both ways. Torture can be an instrument for interrogation, but it's just as common I believe that interrogation is the alibi or the pretext for cruelty.
When trying to grasp the ability of language to wound, to destroy, and to harm, Riley specifies and emphasizes the absolute importance of something that linguists have never figured out what to do with, which is the reality of inner speech; the reality of language that goes on in the head. Inner speech, Riley argues, is the carrier of linguistic injury. She states, "Injurious speech echoes relentlessly, years after the occasion of its utterance, in the mind of the one at whom it was aimed... The curse does work." She reflects eloquently in her work on the effects of what she calls "this sonorous and indwelling aspect of vindictive words." "Repeated over time those words can in-grow" she says, "embedding themselves in the hearer until the message is no longer felt to come from the outside." This for her is the crucial way that words can wound. Riley notes that words of love and beauty can also indwell and have the same capacity to repeat themselves in the mind but she says "Love's work pales in comparison with Hate's work because hate injures and injury requires healing." Language, on the other hand, is indifferent to that distinction. Language operates, as she says, "with a deep indifference as to where the side of the good may lie." So there is no function within the linguistic system that distinguishes between the word of love and the word of hate. The need for and the possibility of linguistic healing then, is probably the clearest evidence of the reality of linguistic harm. And that is what I have to say.
by Keetje Kuipers
The deer come out in the evening.
God bless them for not judging me,
I'm drunk. I stand on the porch in my bathrobe
and make strange noises at them—
if language can be a kind of crying.
The tin cans scattered in the meadow glow,
each bullet hole suffused with moon,
like the platinum thread beyond them
where the river runs the length of the valley.
That's where the fish are.
I'll scoop them from the pockets of graveled
stone beneath the bank, their bodies
desperately alive when I hold them in my hands,
the way prayers become more hopeless
when uttered aloud.
Just as well, I've got nothing to tell you:
I won't go inside where the bats dip and swarm
over my bed. It's the sound of them
shouldering against each other that terrifies me,
as if it might hurt to brush across another being's
But I carry a gun now. I've cut down
a tree. You wouldn't recognize me in town—
my hands lost in my pockets, two disabused tools
I've retired from their life of touching you.
And of course I am afraid, because the transformation of silence into language and action is an act of self-revelation, and that always seems fraught with danger. But my daughter, when I told her of our topic and my difficulty with it, said, ‘Tell them about how you’re never really a whole person if you remain silent, because there’s always that one little piece inside you that wants to be spoken out, and if you keep ignoring it, it gets madder and madder and hotter and hotter, and if you don’t speak it out one day it will just up and punch you in the mouth from the inside.’”