Friday, September 5

grounded

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.

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