Luckily its raining tonight so I can pretend I have an excuse not to go outside (and it will probably rain tomorrow). Yes, I've returned to that mindset that seems to infect all of LA - if we go out in the rain we'll melt. I think it's partially because the rain is truly cold here in a way it's not in the midwest - I never liked to be wet in Austin, but it was occasionally bearable because it was muggy and you didn't feel totally frozen after a second of getting dripped on. Here the raindrops are little frozen spears of cold. However, on my drive home it was kind of beautiful to see all the streetlights and rear car lights reflected in the water on the streets - vibrant reds and yellows and greens splashed all over the pavement.
The Comp Lit grad student symposium made me feel like a bit of a country bumpkin come to visit my slick city cousins. They use terminology like swords - everyone identifying themselves as devotees of this theorist or that school, all of them tossing out glittering terminology, stresses on the ends of words making them estranged. And while the graduate students who presented this morning had interesting projects, the way they sought to ... theorize about their projects? Lost in a nest of words.
here, some phrases:
how can we think our bodies through digital & is there a body of digital?
how do we actualize digital media
is there a techno-bio integrated circut?
the tactics of nonexistance
identification and masochism
display of the censorship of sovereignty
So that was the morning. And then the afternoon was the guest speaker (who acted as a respondant to the submitted papers in the morning) discussing his perspective on Longing in New Media, particularly notions of longing, melancholia, and new-media-art ....
I can't quite decide if what I saw today was laughable or inspirational - in some ways it was watching a circle jerk in progress, as the guest speaker encouraged us to go back to our Derrida and our Lyotard and our Heidigger and see what they had to say about new media, and yet at the same time decried any worth in 'mass' movements - calling them common (seriously, he talked about how he wasn't interested in the 'common' but in the 'incommon' new media).
It raises the question. Just what does French theory have to do with absolutely everything ever? Why is it imperative that I read my Lyotard? The answer to that, I think, may be what influences my view of this year and the rest of my career. Am I going to try to get into this club that returns to psychoanalysis even when they don't have to, who deploy the terms in such a manner as to make them into another language for those who aren't in the know? Is this the kind of academic I want to be?
I know what Mr. Jenkins (and those on his side of the fence) would say - it doesn't have everything to do with everything. That you don't have to spend a semester reading Whitman to say something meaningful. That having a circle jerk conference about what French philosophy and psychoanalytic theory have to say about the uncommon media appearing as new media in the world is pretty ... limiting. And it's a very small conversation.
So, the chance to say something big, that is then looked at by all the small elites as something to thumb ones nose at, or the chance to say something small, but will break weak minds like water running over it. I don't know.
Then there was the movie, which I will try to recap in some detail later - not necessarily the worst robot movie ever, but not the best either.
it was a long long day.