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The rantings of a Southern Bitch-Diva

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I could only do two walks this week- couldn’t put running shoes on due to “egg” on my food where something hit the blood vessel on the top of my foot just wrong. But tomorrow, I will walk even if only for 20 minutes.

See more progress on: Go for four power walks this week
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I’ve gathered together all the scrawling Flowers scribbles, in multiple b&w composition notebooks, and tomorrow plan to start typing up some of it. I’ll worry later about drafting more sections and even later about editing.

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Anyone following these short and not so short bursts of writing will have by now realized that I am focusing most of my readings on the visual and performing arts, though right now my focus is a bit more on the visual arts, which I have less familiarity with. I read about exhibitions that I will not be able to see not just to torture myself, but because outside of going there or spending money I don’t have for show catalogues, it is as close as I can get to experiencing the art. Besides as a writer, I am fascinated by how art gets framed by text.

What follows is rough, there are some dropped words and the writing needs to be tightened, but I’m too damn tired right this minute to fix the errors I actually have caught (we won’t speak of the ones I miss even after reading a piece over and over and over again).

Take the Money and Run is a show in Amsterdam co-sponsored by de Appel, Witte de With and Christie’s (two art galleries and an auction house).

Some very big names in the art world have donated work to be auctioned off. The auction will benefit new projects and programs. This show’s work supposedly manages to reflect “within the context of the auction upon the relationship between the economic and the symbolic value of art.”

The three curators, members of de Appel’s staff, have invited the artists to make a new work on A4, in which the changed value system within the art world in these times of financial crisis, is being brought up for discussion. After being exhibited, the conceptual works, texts, drawings, promises, understatements, ideas, visions and performances will be part of the “Two in One” auction taking place at Christie’s on 20 May. The project is an empathetic critique from within, in which de Appel and the artists assume the simultaneous role of contemporary collaborator and critical inquirer.

Of course, I would have to see the work to be sure, but my bullshit meter is dinging. Does having a performance called “Strip the Auctioneer” the night of the auction by Christie’s really equal to a “critique from within?” Mind you, it sounds like a grand good time, but it could as easy be called a publicity/fundraising stunt if fraternity boys raising money for the hungry and homeless did basically the same thing, we wouldn’t call it art. (I know, I know, the frame is a key piece of what makes it art puzzle, but still it is important to remember the cleaver/joke/stunt is not unique to the art world and not necessarily any more thought provoking or worthy of critical comment than the fore imagined frat fundraiser).

It sounds more like what flaming lefties like to call co-optation. Basically, the idea is that capital is a wiley bugger and quick on its feet and takes what was a critique, what was a form of resistance, swallows it, digests it a bit and pukes it back up in a slightly shifted form that it then uses to sell records, gizmos and yes, even art.

Perhaps, my problem is with their use of the word “empathetic” before “critique from within.” I think that is what has my bullshit meter ringing like I’ve hit the jackpot. The sassy, working class Southerner in me translates “empathetic critique from within” as “we have to talk about the market and symbolic value of art, because that’s what all the smart shows do when looking at the issue of economics and how it relates to (runs) the art world, but because we really, really want Christie’s to help us raise some cold hard cash, we have declawed all the catty critiques (don’t want to mess up the guests’ nice clothes) so they can be friendly, fun, festive events like “strip the auctioneer.”

Of course, I’m pulling all of this out my ass based on a small scarp of curatorial writing, but unless “you’ve got the money, I’ve got the time” to get me over there to see the show we won’t know if I’ve I’m right on the money about Take the Money and Run.

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Genius: The Modern View is an Op-Ed piece by David Brooks. One reason I am counting it as one of my readings and writing a little blurb about it is that I want to share it with my students in the fall and writing helps cement something in my memory. Another reason is that relates to one of my art projects, An Exercise.

Brooks gives a quick gloss of what the latest research is finding out about this thing we call genius.

The latest research suggests a more prosaic, democratic, even puritanical view of the world. The key factor separating geniuses from the merely accomplished is not a divine spark. It’s not I.Q., a generally bad predictor of success, even in realms like chess. Instead, it’s deliberate practice. Top performers spend more hours (many more hours rigorously practicing their craft.

Brooks points to two points that summarize the latest research, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.

The most interesting nugget/pearl of wisdom is that practice, practice, practice “delays the automatizing process.”

The mind wants to turn deliberate, newly learned skills into unconscious, automatically performed skills. But the mind is sloppy and will settle for good enough. By practicing slowly, by breaking skills down into tiny parts and repeating, the strenuous student forces the brain to internalize a better pattern of performance.

What seems to be key (I say seems because I haven’t seen the research and take any science findings reported in newspapers with a salt shaker worth of salt) is “the ability to develop a deliberate, strenuous and boring practice routine.” I have to quibble with Brooks characterization of it as boring.

Having had long spells where I have worked in a similar way on my writing (I am in one of the spells right now, in fact) and performance skills, I seldom am bored by the hours and hours I spend paying close attention. Exhausted and depleted, sometimes, yes. But I rarely am bored. I find it satisfying to pay close attention trying to catch mistakes (though some always get past me), arranging and re-arrange the words, reading a section over and over and over again to find the small things that need fixing.

I am trying to balance the hours and hours I spend on pieces with some short writing assignments. Bishop Bishop’s Off the Cuff Daily Doses are an attempt to conceive, write and edit something in under an hour. It also is a type of practice, an attempt to hone my ability to community by focusing on time.

Last quote from Brooks piece, “the brain is also phenomenally plastic. We construct ourselves through behavior . . . it’s not who you are, it’s what you do.”

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In It’s Official: Models Look Good, a fluffy promo piece disguised as a piece of journalism with only the faintest hints of a whiff of a trace of art criticism, Guy Trebay suggests that muses must be silent and that fashion models are “perhaps the last silent film stars” because they do not speak but are compelling to look at.

Trebay’s article for the New York Times, with a webpage title of The Silent Faces of Fashion, is a teaser piece for The Model as Muse, which opens May 6 at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Curated by Kohle Yohannan and Harold Koda, the exhibition seeks to “expand the way we see a fashion photograph to include the model” and “to examine the relationship . . . between high fashion and the evolving ideals of beauty through the careers and personifications of iconic models.”

The show, from what I can glean from Trebay’s article, is a largely non-critical reframing of fashion photography that tries to turn our attention away from the art of the photographer and toward the art(iface) of the model with a little gloss of critical curatorial content. Models are often unrecognized performers whose sometimes considerable talents contribute to the fashioning (pun intended) of the photographs we consume. I appreciate the efforts of the curators to acknowledge the work done by the models. Regardless of our opinions about how these types of performances impact culture- from disparaging feminist analysis to laudatory blogs- models are performing for audiences, and we could have meaningful conversations about the formal, social historical and deconstructable qualities of those performances.

Trebay’s linking of fashion models with silent movie stars is not outlandish and helps re-inforce the idea that acting without speaking caught on film (photographic or cinematic) is a type of performance that we can discuss critically. (By critically, I do not necessarily mean negatively). Trebay, unfortunately, does not speak critically about the models’ performances. Instead, he trots out a mistaken understanding of muses in his glib conclusion that actually undermines the attempts of the curators to create a place for the work that models do, which is a type of performing.

It cannot be accidental that Kate Moss, the most persuasive contemporary example of a model as an artistic catalyst, has assiduously guarded what she says throughout her career. Ms. Moss is no dummy. She knows that the basic requirement of her particular job is silence. A model is a muse to the precise extent that a model is mute.

For Trebay, a muse is necessarily silent, a cipher onto which we can project our fantasies, and a model’s silence is what confirms her muse like status. Trebay’s ideal model is not a muse, s/he is an absence, an erasure, a void that we then fill. She, the author made no mention of iconic male models, waits for us to act on her. “These gorgeous and petted and idealized creatures are passive — their beauty that of a butterfly pinned to a collector’s tray.” In saying this, Trebay contradicts his earlier argument about the non “passive thump” of models when he indulges himself with a little hyperbolic fashion-speak “Models are locamotives . . .Models rocket. Models explode.”

A muse is not a blank space to fill, but an active, separate force that causes us to move, act, speak. Muses do not wait for us; they act on us. To back up my claim, I turn to Wikipedia: Muse comes from the Greek mousa which not only means a type of goddess but also the common noun literally meaning song or poem.

The Muses, therefore, were both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike, whence “music”, was “the art of the Muses”. In the archaic period, before the wide-spread availability of books (scrolls), this included nearly all of learning.

and a bit more to prove my point

The Muses typically are invoked at or near the beginning of an ancient epic poem or classical Greek hymn. They have served as aids to an author of prose, too, sometimes represented as the true speaker, for whom an author is merely a mouthpiece.

The Muse moves us. S/he does not wait for us to look. S/he cannot be pinned down like a butterfly. We could possibly speak of models as muses, but only if we reject Trebay’s conclusion of necessary silence. Trebay muting of muses is not amusing. To speak of models as muses, we would have to acknowledge their performances as active forms of work that that cannot be reduced simply to passive objectification. They are performers. Their work affects us and that work and its affects could be spoken about meaningfully and critically. Let’s turn the volume up and hear what their performances have to “say” to us.

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* * *

n It’s Official: Models Look Good, a fluffy promo piece disguised as a piece of journalism with only the faintest hints of a whiff of a trace of art criticism, Guy Trebay suggests that muses must be silent and that fashion models are “perhaps the last silent film stars” because they do not speak but are compelling to look at.

Trebay’s article for the New York Times, with a webpage title of The Silent Faces of Fashion, is a teaser piece for The Model as Muse, which opens May 6 at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Curated by Kohle Yohannan and Harold Koda, the exhibition seeks to “expand the way we see a fashion photograph to include the model” and “to examine the relationship . . . between high fashion and the evolving ideals of beauty through the careers and personifications of iconic models.”

The show, from what I can glean from Trebay’s article, is a largely non-critical reframing of fashion photography that tries to turn our attention away from the art of the photographer and toward the art(iface) of the model with a little gloss of critical curatorial content. Models are often unrecognized performers whose sometimes considerable talents contribute to the fashioning (pun intended) of the photographs we consume. I appreciate the efforts of the curators to acknowledge the work done by the models. Regardless of our opinions about how these types of performances impact culture- from disparaging feminist analysis to laudatory blogs- models are performing for audiences, and we could have meaningful conversations about the formal, social historical and deconstructable qualities of those performances.

Trebay’s linking of fashion models with silent movie stars is not outlandish and helps re-inforce the idea that acting without speaking caught on film (photographic or cinematic) is a type of performance that we can discuss critically. (By critically, I do not necessarily mean negatively). Trebay, unfortunately, does not speak critically about the models’ performances. Instead, he trots out a mistaken understanding of muses in his glib conclusion that actually undermines the attempts of the curators to create a place for the work that models do, which is a type of performing.

It cannot be accidental that Kate Moss, the most persuasive contemporary example of a model as an artistic catalyst, has assiduously guarded what she says throughout her career. Ms. Moss is no dummy. She knows that the basic requirement of her particular job is silence. A model is a muse to the precise extent that a model is mute.

For Trebay, a muse is necessarily silent, a cipher onto which we can project our fantasies, and a model’s silence is what confirms her muse like status. Trebay’s ideal model is not a muse, s/he is an absence, an erasure, a void that we then fill. She, the author made no mention of iconic male models, waits for us to act on her. “These gorgeous and petted and idealized creatures are passive — their beauty that of a butterfly pinned to a collector’s tray.” In saying this, Trebay contradicts his earlier argument about the non “passive thump” of models when he indulges himself with a little hyperbolic fashion-speak “Models are locamotives . . .Models rocket. Models explode.”

A muse is not a blank space to fill, but an active, separate force that causes us to move, act, speak. Muses do not wait for us; they act on us. To back up my claim, I turn to Wikipedia: Muse comes from the Greek mousa which not only means a type of goddess but also the common noun literally meaning song or poem.

The Muses, therefore, were both the embodiments and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike, whence “music”, was “the art of the Muses”. In the archaic period, before the wide-spread availability of books (scrolls), this included nearly all of learning.

and a bit more to prove my point

The Muses typically are invoked at or near the beginning of an ancient epic poem or classical Greek hymn. They have served as aids to an author of prose, too, sometimes represented as the true speaker, for whom an author is merely a mouthpiece.

The Muse moves us. S/he does not wait for us to look. S/he cannot be pinned down like a butterfly. We could possibly speak of models as muses, but only if we reject Trebay’s conclusion of necessary silence. Trebay muting of muses is not amusing. To speak of models as muses, we would have to acknowledge their performances as active forms of work that that cannot be reduced simply to passive objectification. They are performers. Their work affects us and that work and its affects could be spoken about meaningfully and critically. Let’s turn the volume up and hear what their performances have to “say” to us.

* * *

Spooky Action at a Distance just opened in Australia. (For those who wonder; no, I don’t have magic teleporting powers, I live vicariously through eFlux and Art Agenda email announcements). Spooky is a double joint joint effort bring together artists Anat Ben-David and Martin Bell, and curators Adi Nachman and Andy Mac.

The title of the show is taken from something Einstein once said about Quantum Physics, “spukhafte Fernwirkung,” which the curators translate as spooky action at a distance. In the exhibition statement, the curators imply that the process of collaborating on this show was somehow like the “strange, instantaneous, connection between particles, that persist even when they are separated by great distance.” The title does not seem to relate to the finished works in the show; it somehow is trying to illuminated the work to brought the works together.

The lovely thing about many exhibitions these days is that they put video snippets online. Samples of Anat Ben-David’s collection of videos called Band was online, and so in a small way I got to experience a bit of the exhibit even though it is in Australia. I enjoyed the samples from the videos, but I am not quite sure that they live up to the curatorial hype or perhaps the curatorial commentary limits the possibilities of the work.

Ben-David basically makes 7 music videos for 7 different bands. She composed and recorded the music as well. Using the magic of splice and dice ‘em digital editing, she plays every role in the videos- sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four musicians.

Band represents an ultimate virtual experience in terms of the construction of an invented reality. The installation aims not only to show the finished results – the completed clips – but to reveal the artistic process of creating a fictional world integrating digital technology and the body. The members of Band are multicultural, multinational , multilingual and fictional. The characters serve as vessels that absorb culture and regurgitate a new language. Different national identities and cultures are mixed up. The intended effect is that of a parallel universe, where things seem familiar, but are nevertheless strangely and slightly rearranged.

That isn’t quite what I got out of it. There were many lovely moments, and some sections that worked really well in terms of being art that is like but not quite a music video, and there was no small amount of humor, which I appreciate. This may seem catty, but I actually am not trying to be catty when I say that overall it wasn’t particularly strange or unfamiliar, rather Band seems a bit like European music videos from the 80’s. It reminds me of the part in the Kate Bush video for Running up that hill where the head of the male dancer is pasted on a bunch of women’s bodies. Ben-David’s splicing and dicing is much better than that, though one of the joys of watching the clips is to notice where the splices are quite working and the images are not perfectly aligned. The aesthetics of the videos almost seem like a crazy cross between of the 1980’s film based on Tama Janowitz’s Slaves of New York, which I loved in high school, and PJ Harvey’s look in the early 90’s.

Her work isn’t in an alternate universe: it is firmly situated in our own universe where video and film before video from early on in their histories has played with editing that allows a single performer to play multiple parts in a shared frame. We are accustomed to what used to be uncany cloning and duplication. At a base level, what Ben-David is doing technically and aesthetically is not particular new, innovative or original. The annoying curatorial chit chat about how Band is the “ultimate virtual experience in terms of the construction of an invented reality,” (it isn’t), gets in the way of our seeing what the work might be beyond its fancy dancy tricks.

I would have to see the works in full (and watch them many, many times) before I could really begin to formulate a reading that gets us out of the dead end of the curator’s conclusion that digital tricks are kind of spooky. In the second video clip, which may be my favorite, the artists plays two almost but not quite mirroring characters who stand behind lighting stands that obscure most but not all of the time the characters’ heads and faces. Instead of their faces, we see giant circles of brightness almost like after images from looking at the sun, presumably from the lights themselves, though we cannot be quite sure that that is the case. Lights normally turned on an object to be photographed are turned out to, in some senses, shine on the viewer. It is glaring, enough to make us squint a bit if we look at it long enough. (I’ve been looking at it for a while, and my eyes hurt a bit). In some sections, her head is close to even with the bright circle- the circle could be resting on her neck, but in other images, her head is behind the black canisters that hold the shining light- so if we consider the bright circle her face, then she becomes an insect with head protruding forward from the neck. This is repeated but shifted in the last section where the circles of light rest on the characters’ necks, but the lighting canisters extend backwards behind the circle like the elongated head of an alien or bug. The splicing as the piece progresses becomes purposefully uneven, one side of the image is taller than the other. Ben-David creates and points to an imperfect doubling.

I do not yet know what all that means, but it adds up to much more than spookiness. I am too tired to suss it out now so I turn it to you. What might all that mean besides “wow, digital doubling (tripling, etc) is sure damn nifty and far out?” If I sound snarky, it is because in writing this I realized how much content in just that one selection was getting washed out by the glaringly bright curitorial framing. We have to squint to see what is there.

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I did a few readings today that I will write up tomorrow, but today has been very long and fairly stressful day, and I’m about ready to go to sleep.

But in this time of pandemic panic about swine flu, I wanted to give y’all a little gift. This “reading” is more an art listening experience. Stephan Zielinski made music by feeding the amino acid sequence of the Swine Flu into an algorithm he coded which he posted on his blog.

I think it is an interesting way to respond to all the news and rumors. It is a simple thing, this piece of electronic music, but it might give us the time to pause to look past the fear mongering- some of which might end up being justified, but much of it just keeping us hooked on the sky is falling news reports. By turning it into music, breaking it down, Zielinski reminds us that virus is something to study as well as protect against- and while the deaths are tragic, there also is beauty to be found in the DNA of a virus. Viruses perhaps being what set off the chain that lead to us.

For your anti panic pandemic music needs, I present Stephan Zielinski’s Swine Flu Hemagglutinin: amino acid sequence as ambient music

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Blogademic is an awkward, fugly duckling neologism, the kind that would have to have pork chop tied around it’s neck to get the dogs to play with or even eat the damned thing. Yet, it seems to be accepted in some blogging circles, though I had never come across it until today. This may be because I have had only the most cursory interest or knowledge of the blogosphere, another ungainly portmanteau. (Full disclosure: I did not know the word “portmanteau” previous to my word searching web surfing and in all likely hood would butcher its pronunciation). Blogosphere, with its very own Wikipedia entery, seems to be accepted enough to no longer technically be called a neologism, while blogademic (like its kissing cousin blogademia) is a new pair of shiny patent leather shoes that hasn’t been worn enough to be broken in enough to earn the right to be charted in Wikipedia’s definitional content constellations.

If that paragraph did not give you a sense of what you, dear reader, are in for then I now will take a moment to warn you, “Here be rhetorical dragons.” Or perhaps I should warn you of the patches of quicksand found in this bog of a blob about blogs.

I came across this word in Douglas Harrison’s article Scholarly Voice and Professional Identity in the Internet Age, written for the otherwise overwhelming poking your eyes out would be a more interesting and useful way to pass the time, NEA journal Thought & Action.

Perhaps, I am being just a tad hyperbolic. Southern Hyperbole is an important, misunderstood and understudied rhetorical device. Yes, it is going to be that kind of entry, full of digressions, over the top descriptions and long, winding road sentences. Boring academic journals bring out the borst- best and worst smashed together- in me. Ooh, back to the subject of neologisms, borst is a nonce word, perhaps my favorite type of neologism. There is a method to this madness which will become clearer many train wrecks of words later.

I can across Harrison’s article while sitting on the can, otherwise known as the library, so there is an extra special, dare I say, flavor about this being in my sh*t to read folder. My use of the bathroom as a reading room might make many English folks feel quite at home there, at least according to my reading of Watching the English by anthropologist Kate Fox.

Unlike many of the articles in Thought & Action, which I have been reading despite their narcolepsy inducing properties because I actually am interested in pedagogy and unions, (this is why the journal and one of my husband’s godawfully dense mathematics theory books are the only reading materials in the bathroom, so I will be desperate enough to read/skim the articles, anyway, as I was saying, unlike many of the articles, I enjoyed Harrison’s piece.

I enjoyed his piece, not only because the writing was refreshing brisk compared to the other articles I had forced my way through, but more importantly because it stirred up more than a few trains of thought for future writing projects. I have begun to strategize my project in lieu of thesis, which includes a laughably short theoretical essay to frame the project (I wrote more for my undergraduate thesis, which included a creative project, than they will require for the MFA project in lieu of thesis). I also am in the woolgathering stage for the proposal for Book Works.

The most interesting train of thought that pulled out of the station to chug around my mental tracks was about the norms of academia, the things that make academics a noticeably distinct class of people. Academia assumes an ideal of an unemotional intellectualism that speaks in a distinct language that often only other academics (in the same field) can understand. I found his discussion of the ways that blogging academics partially subvert the power of rank within academia, to focus on the ideas, interesting. He quotes Robert Boynton’s suggestion that blogging “makes real the very vision of intellectual life that the university has never managed to achieve.”

But despite the power of the subversive “carnival of ideas”, as suggested by Harrison’s reading of Henry Farrell, this in between space, not fully following the class codes of academia or the norms of pop culture communications, causes “status instability” and no small amount of anxiety for academics like Harrison who spend time blogging. I’m willing to argue that the chattering class, which includes people of all sorts of political persuasions from left to right (my slight contempt is all inclusive), is a distinct class with its own codes and norms within the unacknowledged class system in the United States. Breaking those codes makes committed academics uneasy.

Often the entries or posts that generate the most readable comments threads or the most rewarding reader responses are also the instances in which I am farthest from my scholarly comfort zone—territory where I have to convey not only an intellectual command of my subject (no discomfort there), but also an emotional authenticity that will resonate with that segment of my regular readers who experience the world through the prism of evangelical religious affect. At this point, things start to get more uncomfortable. In these cases, I am unnerved to some extent by the depth of my own psychospiritual connection and response to this artistic tradition. For example, I wrote a while back about “moments of grace” I’d encountered through the works of a popular group of gospel performers. With Wordsworth’s spots of time in mind (but not explicitly referenced), I wrote of moments “of understanding or feeling that sweep over us in and through a given artist’s work … moments that merge intimations of faith and feeling and beauty in a way that gracefully verifies what the apostle so famously described as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Hoped for because felt, unseen but intuited.” Genuine as these sentiments are, I can’t escape the feeling of publishing them at my own professional peril in an academic culture that is often skeptical of certain expressions of affect or sentiment.

I think there is value to insider speak, which most industries and fields of specialization have, as long as acamedics remember that knowing a specialized language does not make them smarter than people who do not speak that particular language. Most academics wouldn’t understand two airplane mechanics on a roll. This insiders’ language is critical in minutely specialized fields with science, which is why we desperately need good science writers to interpret the esoteric jargon and present the research findings in comprehensible English that does not claim that those findings are fact. Something written in an academic style is not truer than something written for a popular audience. Academic writing is just as prone to error, bad rhetoric, false assumptions and twisted logic; what makes it distinct is that it takes readers longer to figure out whether or not a piece of writing is a crock of shit. Academic discourse, despite its stated distain for emotion and sentiment, is on a constant low boil. Emotions and subjectivity bubble under the protective coating of faux objectivity.

Objectivity is best understood as a form of fruitful intellectual play; let’s pretend for a while that we really and truly can be objective and see what that turns up. This pretense is useful; it does provide information that is meaningful. But it is not the only way to generate knowledge and it has limits. If we looked closely enough, we could find cracks in the laminate of objectivity covering pretty much any piece of academic writing.

I’ve waxed on and on about this because one of things I dislike about academic discourse is how emotion is devalued and denied as a tool for generating knowledge. Emotion, often gendered female and/or working class, is suspect. I am not advocating that emotion is a better or truer way to uncover knowledge, but that is part of even the supposedly objective processes of the academic. This denial of emotion’s place in knowledge production is responsible in some part for the anxiety and ambivalence that academics like Harrison feel about the intellectual work they do blogging.

From one point of view, my uncertainty bespeaks the success of my training as an academic; I am on guard against sentimentality lest my own emotional investments erode the intellectual integrity of my writing.

I find troubling the notion that an emotional investment erodes the intellectual integrity of a piece of academic writing. If this were true, then all academic knowledge is suspect and lacks integrity. I have yet to met an academic without a significant emotional investment in their field of study. A truer statement would be that the appearance of an emotional investment causes uptight, emotional repressed academics to judge that piece of writing as suspect and less true than a piece of writing that tries to erase the traces of emotion that generated a particular understanding. Academic writings are palimpsests; the emotions that bring an academic to the page are scraped off leaving only ghosts. Those of us who see these ghosts can be written off as superstitious.

Harrison does suggest that commitment is vital to the production of knowledge.

And I continue to believe that real learning and civilized discourse do not take place without the ability to make oneself vulnerable at times—without, as James Baldwin notes in the quotation with which I began, “risking oneself.”

Despite this statement, I wish Harrison had a little more chutzpah, was a little less apologetic about his blogging and the more varied rhetorical styles he allows himself in that space. Harrison’s annoying ambivalence points to how powerful the norms of academia are. For once, I would like an academic to bravely say that emotions- commitment is an emotion by the way- played no small part in how s/he came to understand something and that writing that points and uses those emotions can be just as rigorous as writing that denies the emotions that helped produced a particular understanding.

It’s not especially surprising that higher education has yet to comprehend and respond coherently to the comparatively recent changes that new media has introduced. But the academy must find a way to account for new kinds of intellectual labor as organically related to professional identity as academic blogging. Otherwise, it will likely continue to be mistaken for a dirty little secret waiting to be discovered and used against the blogging academic.

I’d suggest that academic blogging will continue to be a dirty little secret as long as academia is unable to acknowledge the old kinds of intellectual labor that it denies.

* * *

part of An Exercise. I was able to do crunches and significantly modified push ups tonight. Which was wonderful. I did not try to go for my previous number of reps, because just the positions for the crunches and the modified push ups puts a small bit of strain on my calf- which I need to do in small doses. The push ups really were a series of upper ward facing dog poses with the legs flat on the floor, because I cannot put my weight on my right foot (the calf can’t take the pressure) the way I would need to for a full push up. I concentrated on using my upper body strength versus my abs for the reps. So the now I’ll roll out the data log:

1 hour project work (meeting about NWSA workshop)
2.5 hours art promoting
30 minutes project work (Tedious details for getting Saving you from the same old same old set up at the FloCAS show)
20 minutes reading performance writing/experimental prose
5 minutes writing (about above reading)
10 minutes writing (An Exercise free write)

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