Monday, September 28, 2009

The long slow pace of MEmorials

I just had an interesting talk with Niles Haich, fellow MEmorialist. He showed me some new pages on his MEMorial, which links Teddy Roosevelt (existing monument) to the contemporary environmental movement (disaster-in-progress). His new pages include a teaching philosophy, in which he realizes that "speak softly and carry a big stick" is an appropriate image for his developing identity as teacher. He also composed a September 11 memorial with his students this fall (2009), and he shared a "playlist profile" of Roosevelt with his students.

Niles, in other words, continues to return to his MEmorial, and he continues to use it. Roosevelt functions as a wide image for him--a career compass, just as Ulmer suggests it would. Niles articulated his experience something like this: "A memorial is supposed to be a place to help you remember, a place to go back to and re-visit, and even as Ulmer says, a place to theorize."

What struck me is that Niles is using his MEmorial like a defiant garden. He could have easily abandoned that web site like most students abandon their websites, but he didn't. He continues to tend that garden, and it grows slowly, now and then. It grows in new and different directions, but it keeps coming back to key themes (chora). He used a social networking tool (Blogger) but he doesn't need a large social network to give his project value.

Ulmer promotes "flash reasoneon" in Electronic Monuments, he offers up his genre and this kind of flash / image based reasoning as an appropriate means of engaging the 21st century public, but I am beginning to think that the crossing of "electronic" and "monument" has resulted in an anti-electracte genre that, never the less, partakes of the electrate.

Put another way, I should definitely abandon my virtual peace garden in second life. It makes no sense. It is expensive, no one goes there, it is hard to maintain,

and yet,

for all those reasons, I want to hold onto it. I want it to be a defiant garden. I want to not give in to the logic of speed, the trendy, the social network. I'm happy being an occasionally visited node. I want to remember where I am from and where I am now (both sides of the Peace Garden) and I don't want to abandon this cause, because I do too frequently abandon projects and move on, and because Peace is too easily abandoned as abstract and difficult to attain.


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