Saturday, December 23, 2006

Finishing a paper

I've spent the last two days revising and cutting a paper that I plan to send out to an unnamed journal (I just realized that the blogosphere could be corrupting blind review!). I've been having a lot of success blogging my way through tough spots in papers over the last year or so, but this paper was moving along pretty nicely. I thought I was close to sending it out today, but I ran out of time, and realized that the conclusion is pretty weak.

I am applying a couple of Scott McCloud's set of concepts to Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore's The Medium is the Massage, but my ending just fizzles. I have two main sections in the paper--each one applying McCloud--so what I probably need to do is make the final section much more of a synthesis section: show how closure and word-picture relations work in the last 10 pages of the MM rather than keep the two concepts separate. I think I was stumbling towards that kind of synthesis, but I think if I really foreground what I am doing in the conclusion, that will strengthen the final section. The final 10 pages seems very much subject to subject or aspect to aspect--a distinction, I am also realizing, that could probably be strengthened in the paper. I think the final 10 pages is about subject positions and identity--that's what I am calling the scene--so the question becomes, are the transitions following any sense of chronology or inter-relatedness (subject to subject, this than that), or are they just aspects of identity: observer of the maelstrom, additional identity (who are you), get it or dont' get it? Hip or square? Probably aspect to aspect. As for word-picture relations, one of the two-page spreads has the Poe "Descent into the Maelstrom" that McLuhan loved, with an additive image--business man surfing. The image is jokey and silly, and doesn't precisely illustrate the saying, but it does invoke a later book title for McLuhan: culture is our business. The Alice in Wonderland sequence has both additive, perhaps duo-specific, although the numbered silouttes is interdependent; readers could figure out the game without the Alice quotation, but the Alice quotation brings a lot to the panels. The setting of the New Yorker cartoon adds a lot to the message of the text, making it vital to the overall message--interdependent? Very much self-contained; ending with a comic might be a strong clue to read this book as a comic.

Okay, I think I have this worked out, and am seeing other possibilities for strengthening the essay--10 a day is an amazing process.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Life list

1. Write two books: McLuhan for Compositionists: Working the Interface and Understanding Games, subtitle to be developed. Start with "Fathers playing Yu-Gi-Oh with Sons."
2. Go to Africa: try to do good work there. Follow through on Darfur E-Monument as a starting point for action.
3. Make a film about curling, quality of life, national identity, and buddies.
4. Let Griffin find his path; avoid conflict; follow zen parenting.
5. Achieve greater inner peace and happiness: live in the moment(s).

I drafted this list during the summer. Sunday November 18, 2007, I committed myself to going to Africa: Kenya then Sudan. I hope I can do some good there; just seeing how excited my Sudanese friend Joseph is about the trip helps me believe that good is already being done.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

CW proposal

Gotta find some time to write a CW proposal. Been reading Ulmer's Electronic Monuments, been wanting to do something with McLuhan's War and Peace in the Global Village, been inspired by a students' project on the forgotten war in Afghanistan, so I am trying to think through a MEmorial for the Darfur region of the Sudan and the Sudanese Lost Boys.

Been watching some videos tonight, and the narrations tend to make the same claim that Ulmer is making in EM: that issues and events get lost in the society of the spectacle. What puzzles commentators on Darfur is that this spectactle is among the most attrocious, the most violent of the late 20th early 21st century, yet it garners so little attention.

Thinking about something like "Link Farm to EM: MeMorials for the Global Village." Wondering what it is that an EM or MeMorial will do that the PBS reports and videos, websites, newspaper articles, etc., haven't been able to do. Wondering about the policy component; wondering what the state of ND can do that the world has not been able to do, because we have these boys in FM, and they are having a more comfortable life, but a very difficult life full of memories, longings, and a sense of helplessness. Seems like I need to ask this question in the presentation: what can these MeMorials do?