Thursday, September 18

foreshadowy snippets

next thursday I'll be more than halfway to Minneapolis. there is a conference. once there, I will present something (the something I didn't quite get around to blogging about in this post). I will hopefully meet some other fascinating scholars who share my geeky interest in copyright/authorship/ownership/remix/etc. I even have plans to sneak into blog-friend Gina's studio and say hello, if I can (did you know she's writing a book? it looks very lovely).

as seems usual at these times when I have so much going on and so many preparations to make in the run up to a small journey, my list (pile? collection? backlog?) of things I haven't yet blogged about but very much ought to is expanding beyond control.

I could make an exceedingly random photo essay using some of the photos currently saved in my blog-drafts file. that might be interesting.... but I think the photos deserve their own less-random accompanying text. forcing them into one crazy blogpost together is not what I want to do with them.

what I do want to do with them is...something else. maybe I don't know what that something else is yet, since presumably if I did, I would not have so many unfinished blog-drafts piling up. there are too many ideas for blogging. and I don't always remember all the ideas well enough or long enough to get back to them and make them fully intelligible to other humans. if I were better at remembering, and/or deciding, and/or writing in my sleep, this pile of drafts might be smaller and my blog might also be, on the whole, more interesting.

one of these old saved drafts (from mid-2011, says the blogger timestamp) has had (for who knows how long) nothing in it but the following quoted material on the subject of false memories. mid-2011, I should note, was a little while before Jonah Lehrer went and ruined his career by making up things and being lazy. he has, since that whole scandal two years ago, lost much of my respect and largely disappeared from the public eye. blogger and I kept this quote around anyway. today I've come back to it and now it is no longer languishing as a lonely little draft.

revisiting the quote and its link of reference, I was a little surprised to see that Wired has so far sustained not only this, but all the rest of Lehrer's old columns as well.

"A memory is only as real as the last time you remembered it," he writes. but that's not the beginning. the piece starts with a rambly story about drinking Coke at a football game. it isn't his story to tell, though. it's not his memory--it's totally fake. apparently "we can’t help but borrow many of our memories from elsewhere," and "This idea, simple as it seems, requires us to completely re-imagine our assumptions about memory. It reveals memory as a ceaseless process, not a repository of inert information."

processes. mm. I like thinking about things as processes. the never-ending kind are the most attractive, for some reason.

Lehrer goes on about memory and marketing. who knows why I saved this whole excerpt for my blog way back in mid-2011. today it still speaks to plenty of my own half-formed ideas on narrative power and cognitive malleability.
It’s the difference between a “Save” and the “Save As” function. Our memories are a “Save As”: They are files that get rewritten every time we remember them, which is why the more we remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes. And so that pretty picture of popcorn becomes a taste we definitely remember, and that alluring soda commercial becomes a scene from my own life. We steal our stories from everywhere. Marketers, it turns out, are just really good at giving us stories we want to steal.
stealing and inventing... honesty and accuracy... "borrowing" and "forgetting" original source material. hmmm. falsified memories, fabricated quotations? oh the foreshadowy connections we might want to draw between the words this talented science writer is using, the themes he is dancing with, and his eventual semi-tragic, very disappointing downfall.

in my drafts file, two additional words accompany the pasted set of quotes from Jonah Lehrer's old Wired article. those words are "graven images."

I have no clue what I was thinking when I added them to that tiny seed of a blogpost idea.

I have a few clues about some of my other standing drafts. some of them wouldn't be so hard to flesh out into something useful, if I'd just sit down and write.

there are photos of:
  • piecrust (filled with cheese, noodles, spinach)
  • a stack of textbooks from last fall (English 680: digital studio)
  • important Texas landmarks (the Alamo and the capitol building)
  • a stand of trees in the middle of Idaho
  • art and architecture from Chicago
  • a box of yarn (mostly shades of pink)
there are also scrambled snippety notes about desire and calculus, about teaching and failure, disciplinarity, technological shifts, and the Management of Digital Rights. I want to blog about secret codes and the meaning of The Period Store and informally conducted surveys. there is a draft containing only the words "decidedly analog," and someday I'll figure out what to write about that will fit that title.

Sunday, September 14

broken in

Friday, September 12


these are my folders full of sketches. (I want to say folderfuls. like handfuls or bucketfuls or something. can we make folderfuls a thing? okay, cool.)
fat, overstuffed, manila folderfuls. I am pretty sure this is most of them. others might be scattered around various other notebooks or piles, but these here constitute the closest thing to a sketch archive that this disorganized amelia girl keeps. the sketches are mainly sorted according to the size and shape of the paper they were drawn on. it would of course make more sense to categorize the things by date or by theme, but I just have this feeling they'd take up too much space that way. they take up enough space already. 
plenty of these things have been digitized at this point. don't ask me which ones. don't ask me when.

there are too many. I have been blogging one every Sunday since 2009.

the digitized versions don't weigh anything... I don't think... (or do they? do stored gigabytes technically have any mass?)

but as I wondered how much the paper-and-ink collection might weigh, I realized that I had the tools with which to answer that wondering.

my little kitchen scale says the whole pile weighs eight pounds and almost twelve ounces. there are entire human newborn babies that don't weigh quite that much. and these are only most of my accumulated sketches. I wonder how many sheets of paper are really in this huge pile. I'm not going to count them though.

there is an almost-memory I keep thinking about, from somewhere in my almost-tween years, when I was a young girl scout. mum and I were visiting neighbors, hawking cookies. I noticed all the similarities in every doorstep conversation, every description of the caramel-nut-cluster Juliettes. I may have even commented, in a clueless, judgey, childlike way, on how silly it seemed for this articulate parent of mine to be so, so tiresomely repetitive.

this memory (half re-upholstered with inaccuracies after all this time, I'm sure) adds to the shame I feel about having eight pounds of sketches to choose from and yet redundantly posting at least a handful of them more than once. as if someone might have missed them the first time. as if I couldn't bear the thought of those particular sketches not being seen by as many eyes as possible. as if the internet is in need of even more multiples of even more images of mediocre quality. none of these as ifs are true. I am not worried about my silly sketches being missed or being lonely. I have no excuse at all for littering my dear blog with duplicates. as yet un-remedied proof of my carelessness is openly available here in exhibits 1A1B, 2A2B, 3A, and 3B. and there have been more cases; sometimes I do catch them and replace the repeats before too much time goes by. but who knows how many I have yet to notice.

tiresome repetition is all in the eyes and ears of the beholder though, really, which is a thing I recognize much more maturely now than I ever did as a not-quite-tween-year-old. if the doorsteps are new and the neighbors lucky enough to be unspoiled by your cookie-spiel, you probably don't need to worry, no matter how clueless your selectively-perceptive daughter might be.

the internet is not a series of separate doorsteps. this blog makes a very different and less forgiving context than a neighborhood, I think. reposting stuff--even if from bouts of inattentive blogpost scheduling, and even if my distracted, forgetful brain does give the stuff a new title--feels intolerably lazy. I might owe my tiny audience here an apology or two. or my tiny audience may not have noticed, since one random ink sketch per week most likely doesn't count as high-priority web content.

nevertheless: I am disappointed in my distracted, forgetful self. one day I'll automate the sunday scribble posts entirely, and then things like this won't keep happening. 

Sunday, September 7

duck face

Friday, September 5


has any one ever written about how headphones have done for music what widespread literacy and silent reading practices have done for books? i.e. make them very private, internal experiences instead of communally shared ones?

speaking of headphones, there is this new podcast (maybe I'm too into podcasts, who knows) by Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel) called Reasonably Sound, and the newest episode is all about those fancy noise-canceling headphones. the most interesting bits focused on what sorts of biases and assumptions about the world, its contents, other people, etc. had been baked in to the technology. that was his phrase: "baked in." listening to the episode on my way to campus thismorning I learned that noise canceling headphones take all the noise of the world and reverse its own wavelengths to insulate a wearer's ears in a bubble of whatever they want to focus listening on. that is a very interesting technology.

what counts as noise and what counts as signal is always an interesting question. the cicada chorus outside usually fades away while I'm not paying attention to it. if there's more important audio input happening somewhere, that stuff gets tagged signal and everything else doesn't matter so much. it's still there though. ambiance and texture.

we have this cool ability to zoom in and out like that, mushing ground and figure, text and context.

for the writing lab practicum I'm taking this semester, we've done a bit of reading on the differences between polishing writing as a product vs. perfecting writing as a process vs. empowering writers as writers. does the process ever end, leaving us with a solid, finished, unimpeachable product? of course not. and can a writer be a writer with out any writing (whether we mean the verb writing or the noun writing)? your identity can't breath in a vacuum. everything you are (have been, can be, will be, might be) comes about as a slow event, just like all the other everythings.

despite all the never-ending, brain-stretching, headachey expanse of work this phd thing has in store for me, I am trying to make time for random and non-academic periods of creativity. this blog sort of counts, maybe. the weekly Starcustard ritual Chris and I have engaged in counts too. but really I mean analog creative efforts. messing about with paper and cloth and glue and yarn. making things. growing thingssticking stuff to walls.

I live in my own head so much of the time, listening to the noiseless (hopefully signalful?) words of my own unvoiced thoughts. headphones aren't to blame for this bubble. maybe the crafts and flower pots and randomness won't quite pop the bubble either, but they might give these quiet, interior brain-spaces some different ground, a different frame, or at least a few stimulating bits of new context.

Sunday, August 31


Friday, August 29

fall semester, 2014

last week at this hour large parts of me were dreading the pressure and obligation of classes and campus. maybe I've been too busy to think about all that this week. or maybe the dread was unfounded and silly.

maybe both.

I have surrendered my life for the next four months to many, many things. it's exciting for now, and I'm hoping I don't get strangled by difficulties later on. there will be so much reading. so much theory. so much mental chewing-on-things and so much hurrying about from classroom to classroom, wearing different hats, looking through different windows.
I'll manage. I must.

English 680 Gender, Rhetoric, and the Body with Dr. Jenny Bay 
we'll be working with a few local social service programs in this class: Food Finders and WIC. our first readings have covered the connections between athletics and rhetoric, some thoughts on violence as related to gender and race, and a lot of fascinating theory about pain, torture, war, and language. I think this is the class I'm most excited about.

English 680 Professional Writing Theory with Dr. Patricia A. Sullivan
and here we will read and read and see if we can figure out what makes professional writing what it is, or what we want it to be, or what other people might want it to be. discussions about these disciplinary definitions always seem to go around in circles, but somehow I don't hate them for that. it's kind of awesome that we have the power to define and redefine what we do, who we are, and what it means, isn't it?

English 624 Issues In Composition Studies: Modern Period with Dr. Patricia A. Sullivan
once upon a time I had a semester of Modern Rhetorical Theory, but I am not very sure that it was in any way the same thing. maybe it was. if so, it was at a less-intense undergraduate level anyway, less flooded with primary texts from Ramus and Whately and other such folks. that was a long time ago. I blogged a few times about that class. it was my first introduction to rhetoric. and I wrote an essay about the Bible. crazy. I'll try and pay more attention this time around, in any case. I'll try not to blog too much or too boringly about Ramus and Whately and other such folks while I'm at it.

English 681 the Hutton Lectures In Rhetoric And Composition
there are all kinds of rumors about who will be the invited speakers for this lecture series. Dr. Blackmon is keeping us in some suspense about the schedule, so I don't have much to say here yet.

English 502 Writing Lab Practicum with Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan 
did I mention I've been hired at the writing lab for this year? I have dreamed of this day, and the silver platter of fate (upon which have been delivered most of the other great things I've been lucky enough to participate in) has finally obliged to hand me a job as a tutor. my first week has been pretty fun, and this class will make sure I keep enough professionalism and strategy mixed in, as well. writing lab work will probably contribute to 59% of all my rushing around this fall, but I am pretty sure it will be worth the craziness.

and now, I think I'll go sit on my back porch and continue with all the reading...

Sunday, August 24

destroy the old self

a new semester starts tomorrow. ready?

Thursday, August 21

voodoo blue and flame metallic

I still need to take proper photos of my new little apartment. but it needs a little more preparation than this thing did to count as photo-ready.

this thing, all "blue flame metallic" and shiny, is my new mode of transportation. it is less than half as old as my old car was when I acquired it five years ago. twelve whole years younger, now. and it runs, which in itself is a vast improvement compared to the status of my car last week. we don't even need to talk about the quality and quantity of paint here or the CD-player to realize I have massively upgraded.

before I trekked over to sign a good chunk of my savings away for this thing, I got to spend nine whole days in a carless (or car-free, depending on which sort of spin we want to put on the situation) cocoon. this wasn't as awful as someone so used to having a car around might expect. there's a sort of herd-immunity-esque entanglement to this modern, connected life I live. even if I ever did decide that from this day forward I would never again set foot in a regular four-wheeled sedan, I don't know that I'd be able to keep such a vow. there is too much that seems to expect and require us to use this mode of moving ourselves and our things around in the world. for nine days I didn't have a car to drive, and for a full seven of that I didn't even own a car at all, having sold the poor, dead thing to a junkyard for $200... but despite my being technically carless, my world was anything but.

so much infrastructure supports this car-full society. I was remembering this quite strange string of moments and thoughts from four years back. but for fossils and asphalt and rubber and traffic laws and assembly lines and departments of motor vehicles... well, everything could be so different. our footprints could be so otherly-shaped. my brain can't shake the shadow of all this privilege that lets me transform my carlessness--a very slight lack of freedom--a very slight inconvenience--into a shiny new(ish) blue Ford Focus within less than one week. one week of carlessness. it seems like nothing (though it isn't, and privilege comes with its own costs).

possibly my longest stretches of carlessness have included time spent in other countries. traveling abroad with a car is not a thing most people even think about doing. as an undergrad I didn't own a car. I let my driver's license expire while I lived in England. who needs to drive at all when you live on a small island with excellent trains?

before I came back from that island (ten years ago! ten!) I spent a long afternoon at a hair salon for the sake of looking a little more cosmopolitan upon my return to the states. it was copper that time. pretty tame, not too garish.

but this time it was blue. just at the ends. nothing too obvious, no, of course not.
and it's so non-obvious in most lights that I'm not even sure it shows up properly at all in most photos.

voodoo blue, they call this color. it is a color of hair dye that most people very happily do without. I could have, too, but maybe this minor, counter-culture-esque fashion choice will somewhat counteract the major, herd-mentality-esque surrender of buying a new car after one mere week without one...

Sunday, August 17

oil and water