Tuesday, September 30, 2014

agent as object. yes, I can only think and act under the influence

Judith Butler when discussing the doctrine of constitution, makes a distillation from phenomenological ("more radical") viewpoint that "takes the social agent as an object rather than the subject of constitutive acts."

The notion of me as an object vs the subject screams Roland Barthes' "Death of the Author" in a nicely explanatory way. An object moves only under the influence of another force outside itself; it does not stand up and walk away of its own accord. There are attributes, perhaps geno and phenotypical, inherent to the object that may impact the basis of its movement but the movement is a direct result of something else which in turn was acted upon by something else...

And to compound that we, me as object has a multiplicity of forces moving me.

As I write rebuttals in opposition to some of Plato's extremist notions, i.e. the separation of the body from intellect with the body being highly problematic and bad and the mind, the intellect, being the good, the reasoning reasonable, I am left to discover that my entire rebuttal mirrors what I've only just read in Bonaventure. So did I independently derive my notions or were they shaped hundreds of decades after Bonaventure's thinking had spread through Western philosophy. Barthe's argument would surely hold in my case that I am surely infected with Bonaventure's notions that have become embedded and remain in culture. Sigh. So I am an object writing under the influence of an amalgamation of cultural, historic, and sociological phenomenon. I cannot even claim the words to be my own since they where acquired through exposure to others already operating under the influence of language.

I am lost as sole originator because I can only function under the influence. Even within the first page of Butler's essay, I now find her pushing on the object that is me.


Thinking and working under the influence with my blood cultural and historical levels off the chart, I may be chargeable by the thought police as not author just object. No matter that I might isolate myself I am simply not a discrete autonomous object.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

that simply cannot be right! there is no match made in heaven that would every place me with PLATO. Dang it all.

OMG. I ran a language style matching comparison between my blog post titled without unruly regret and chapter 10 of PLATO's Republic. I intended to use the results as a silly set up for a philosophy paper I am preparing to write in which my argument will be -- THERE IS NOT A CHANCE IN HELL I WOULD MARRY PLATO. Clearly I will throw out the obvious of temporal and geographical displacement, language, social class issues etc. It is really just a fun vehicle in which I can argue against a few points of his thinking that ring hollow (irk me) but with a humorous twist and academic compliance dragging it out to ten pages of supported and cited argumentation (sigh)...hmmm, perhaps like a marriage.

Anyhow, I used a psych/linguist software that analysizes writing styles in terms of relational compatibility. This was meant to be some of my outside humorous data to support my argument (the paper). I will still use it, but I had not assumed compatibility. As a matter of fact I was sure that the nature of our writing and thinking was in absolute opposition. He does irk the heck out of me. THE DAMN PROGRAM says we are mirroring one another at the high rate of 87% (90% is off the charts high -- maxed out). DANG. I guess I'll have to change my argument as to why Plato and I should marry after i channel him back from the dead.

In Synch: Language Style MatchingAre you and your Special Friend on the same page? Are you clicking? In synch? Seeing eye to eye? Communicating effectively?
Your LSM ResultsThe LSM score gives us a sense of how similarly two people are using language. It can indicate how synchronized their use of words is.

Your LSM score is 0.87Compared to other general writing samples that we have analyzed, your LSM score is far above average. To give you an idea, most LSM scores for general writing samples range between .60 and .90, with the average being around .78. The more the authors of the two samples are thinking in similar ways, the higher the LSM....


Upon further reading I discovered that I can salvage my argument by one of the primary researchers in this field, Dr. Molly Ireland. '"We think of similarity and synchrony as good for relationships,” Ireland says. And usually they are. “But of course matching another person’s mental state won’t bring two people closer together if both are thinking about how they can destroy each other.”'-- Ha. Perfect. She will definitely be cited in my argument.

Ha. The more I read the more clear it is that i miss read the intent of the mechanism...basically it shows engagement, like thinking. It is independent of liking or disliking...The research indicates that in a conflict the more the two people match language styles the more likely they are to arrive at an impasse. That is PERFECT to support my argument. AMEn...At some level however I am still misconstruing her research and need to do more homework (why? besides my silly Plato paper, this totally relates to my research agenda for my PhD)! Bam.

TEST YOU AND YOUR PARTNER, a friend or your frenemy. Enjoy.

blah blah blah....thoughts while reading between centuries, between classes

I may in fact be learning more within the temporal and disciplinary tweenness rather than in any one course. The course content dances together oddly and reasonably creating something more fair than foul.

Griselda Pollock in Agency and the Avant Garde derives from Roland Barthe:
Writing is not a personal property or expressive medium for the creative self. It is cultural, social, historical, a field of codes and conventions in which meaning is produced through the play of its signs, within its traditions, through its connotative systems over which no one person can claim mastery. 
Yet this is seen much further back than Barthe perhaps to Augustine...the Augustine, De Muscia VI, might argue the autonomy of the man and free will and such, but still...
Whatever I make out of anything which I have seen, I make by means of memory...(and of what is not seen)..comes from mental movements arising out of other mental movements which are contained in memory. (admittedly pulled out of context)
It seems pretty straight forward that memory stores  and it is going to store all that is experiential and code based "cultural, social, historical, fields of codes and conventions...signs, within its traditions...connotative systems over which no one person can claim mastery." Thus all making comes from an assemblage of the re-membered both at the reasoning cognitive and the direct experiential levels, as well as incorporating the undercurrent baselines established by communal living. "No man is an island." Making is a hybridization of all that is directly and indirectly stored in memory.

Though I am still trying to wrap my brain around these notions because I am pretty sure I slept my way through my reading of Augustine and only now upon rereading am finding him of any interest.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Responsive textabation #2
Theory to practice; practice to theory; it's messy

She, Griselda Pollock, lost me at…
…I have to work out to WHAT I shall be referring if I use the word Van Gogh.
Griselda Pollock, “Avant-Gardes and Parisians Reviewed” (pg 319)
How she intends for this statement to function vs how it functions within me as reader co-creating the text with her probably differs. Not only does this statement reveal the death of the artist/author, it strips artist/author of any residual humanity. The quote functions to highlight the dehumanizing dilemma of authoring (ha) a text or an analysis of an art object or artist when holding tightly to a theoretical model of approach. The situation is made humorous as she reasserts herself, her agency, her role as interpreter, through the repetitive use of the word “I”, which appears three times in the short string of text. The quote functions to reveal how unstable structuralist/post-structuralist theory can be in practice.

—- end of requested response ——
Writing is not a personal property or expressive medium for the creative self. It is cultural, social, historical, a field of codes and conventions in which meaning is produced through the play of its signs, within its traditions, through its connotative systems over which no one person can claim mastery. (pg 323) 
 A beautiful summation of how these theories play out and ring with a “truth”, yet in practice of analyzing the entity that channels an object/text, the non-claiming producer becomes dehumanized. The artist or object simply function as an X variable in an equation. Finally, moving beyond the dehumanized, Pollock arrives alongside of Raymond William’s idea of art as practice for her approach. Sigh. She wore me out as I sat on her should working together through the problems of various theory driven art writing approaches and finally to arrive at a satisfactory approach method via the practice of art.

Anything we can read as a coherent
ensemble of messages constitutes a text.

Gerald Rabkin, “Is There a Text On This Stage?” (pg 151) 
After a real world discussion of the complexities of authorship, ownership, interpretation and text in the realm of theater, Rabkin revisits the basic notions of structural and poststructural ideologies concerning what is the text. He derives the above quote from these notions and sets this quote as a baseline from which he can then distinguish between a work and a text as they relate to the actual theatrical performance. In this case he is setting up the text as the performance from which the audience will read and the script as a work, a source document from which the performance was generated. The source document, the script, remains legally connected to the one who penned it, the playwright. For Rabkin to create a viable conversation around these topics in theater, he must at least temporarily throw down a line on the stage to define what is the text that is being read. Tomorrow he can draw a different line and we can begin again in this exploration.

—- end of requested response ——

 It is an interesting dilemma of where the text is even located when there are so many intermediaries between the source document (script) and the final reader (ticket holding audience). Who is generating the text for the audience’s reading—the playwright, the director, the performers? Is the audience reading a reading of a reading? And to whmo is the script actually written for? If one considers the structure of the script, one may question who the intended reader is—the director, the performers and stage designers, the ticket buyer? For whom is the work constructed, penned? So interesting.

Monday, September 22, 2014

textual + physical influences. if i were to pick again tomorrow, the list would shift about a bit. at the moment of writing this is what i called to mind.

Five nonfiction texts (scholarly sort of) – In order of exposure

1. Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. New York: Zone Books, 1995. Encountered – 2005
I read this while drifting maplessly afoot through Paris’ historic district in a lame imitation of Walter Benjamin. I would stumble onto cafes, enter, and consume croissants, hot tea, and Debord. Every margin became filled with comments about my own experience in within the microcosm of my affluent neighborhood in the suburbs of Houston. At the time of consumption I had no idea the text was applying Marxist theory and philosophy to American culture. I had no idea that it was a seminal text for the Situationalists, I just recognized that he was calling a spade, a spade, and speaking into my lived experience. The book is significant for me in two ways: it inflamed my interest in the observing of patterns of agency in culture, and the form in which it was written, though critical, seemed to not take a dry academic approach to the topic. 
2. Gergen, Kenneth J. The saturated self: dilemmas of identity in contemporary life. New York: Basic Books, 2000. [In process of reading Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community, 2009] Encountered – 2006
In this text, speaking from the domains of social psychology, specifically around the topic of agency/identity, Gergen grasps and plays with notions that we are not an autonomous, free-willed selves, that there are manners in which we form agreed upon structures that we work within. He addresses the fluidity of agency within the context of ongoing cultural conditions and shifts. This text actually is highly related in terms of social psychology to Debord’s text, just more focused on the individual. So what? This search for patterns in human function, agency, and the relationship to the larger structures of other and otherness just frankly fascinates the crap out of me. Here is a research academic in the social sciences presenting his data, ideas, musings, etc in a softer narrative form that is atypical of my stereotypes of the high and dry academic past (and often current). This is important to me because the idea of producing high and dry is one I don’t want to spend my life pursuing. I prefer the nitty gritty where the theorist does not separate himself from his work nor from the reader. 
3. STAR/WAM/BAM SO RELEVANT. Pennebaker, James. The secret life of pronouns. New York: Bloomsberg Press, 2011. Encountered – 12/2013
Damn. When I found this, it screamed this is “my lucky day.” I had stumbled upon a methodology for my research (Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC)). The horror of reading every artists’ writings over the last 100 years to hunt for some patterns within the body of texts (subjectively) kept me at bay from pursuing questions about the nature of the writings that seem a part of so many visual artists’ practices. Hmmm, if I were a fast or even average reader, that might drop the sense of horror, leaving me with only the subjectivity of pattern hunting within the texts. Pennebaker, a psychologist and professor at the University of Texas, has been studying the patterns of function words (those words that lay between content words). He and his grad students have developed software that analyzes patterns in writing. They have developed and continue to a database identifying many of the patterns correlated to likely meanings. They have found relationships to texts and rates of physical healing, job acquisition, overcoming trauma, deceit, social hierarchy, personality type, affluence, etc. Win. The methods and software are available for scholarly use, available to me. I emailed Dr. Pennebaker (“Dear Famous Professor”) earlier this week about my ideas for study and ask if I might cyberbug him with questions over the next five years. As he is of retiring age (perhaps soon), he replied and gave me his personal email address. Even better the next day he was interviewed on NPR. Here again is another researcher in the softer sciences who wrote a book in which he does not stand outside of his own research waggling the size of his authority and knowledge with language of his priesthood. Instead, he humorously and personally parses out his academic research findings, study methods, etc. His is a style I might hope to match. 
 4. Wolf, Naomi. Vagina: A new biography. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2012. Encountered – 2014
Yet another text written in a very intimate style presenting a wide variety of studies on the current female condition with relevant historic backstory right down to some language studies as to the origin of the word cunt. Her main topic, which she supports with current medical, cultural, and historical studies, is the “vagina brain connection.” Alongside these studies she is unafraid to layout her own personal experience within the context of the issues addressed. The personal and academic are blended. Wolf is a social critic and activist. This is relevant to me because my writing style probably will not match that of an art historian, nor is it my burning desire to do so. 
5. Dan Ariely. Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. Encountered – 2014
Another social theorist, Ariely, a professor at MIT and now at Duke, working in the dominion of psychology and behavioral economics, presents experimental data on human behavior without divorcing himself from his own text. You read his text and akin to all of the aforementioned researchers writers, he makes you laugh, cry, blush, and look at some damn interesting experimental outcomes. He does not distance himself from the reader but engages as though in direct dialog. Like all the works mentioned, the reader can easily extrapolate the findings to their own observations and research interests. The priestly exclusionary language and structure is set gently aside to allow others access to the domain of behavioral economics. 
Five initial artists’ whose bodies of work clicked something in me that allowed my move from designer to maker. The first encounters with this whole batch was in 2004 while in a mandated Contemporary Painting Art History Class.

1. William De Kooning. The numbered women paintings, 1950-53.
2. Philip Guston. Bad Painting period, 1970s.
Both De Kooning and Guston’s work gave me some kind of odd permission to make bad art. The idea of this kind of cultural permission granting set me free. I had to make a lot of bad art to get to the more formative works. Without De Kooning, Guston (to an untrained designer lacking a background in the high arts) and the likes, I would not have begun. So I partially blame an art historian at the University of Houston for moving me from a consistent livable wage to an impoverished wage I associate with migrant workers. Though she gets credit for giving me permission to finally walk in my own skin. Amen. 
 3. Robert Rauchenberg. Combines, 1955+, and his black paintings, 1951.
The idea that a painting didn’t have to involve paint or that it could be embedded with the everyday was shocking. I simply didn’t know it was an option. So my first work as artist (not for school) was a series of black paintings involving tar, nails, mattress pads, and found ropes. Hmmm. I like to say that Rauschenberg heavily influenced it but then again I did just returned from three weeks in Europe with my mother-in-law (former). Even today much of my work still harkens back to black paintings, I just happened to have moved away from tar toward remnant combine tractor tire tubes. 
 4. Marcel Duchamp. Three standard stoppages, 1913-14 (and of course all of his work).
 While Duchamp was still painting but moving continually away from being “as stupid as a painter” his work that incorporated random chance I found provoking. Not quite as random as Duchamp, I am still at the mercy of materials that don’t allow me the precision or control that a designer might require. There is no cmd-Z, no infinite undos of the digital. Always my work incorporates an element of chance with an unknown outcome. 
5. Womanhouse. California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) Feminist Art Program, 1972.
This goes back to Rauchenberg and away from Greenbergian thinking on purity of medium as well as allowing the personal to enter in to the work and not holding to any specific materiality but harnessing whatever work for the ideas at hand. Specifically it introduced to me the use of materials that were metaphorically personal or descriptive of my condition. 
6. Eve Hesse. Sculpture beginning with the works done in Germany, 1964-1970. Frankly Hesse’s work tapped my need for the tactile, the repetitive and the use of industrial materials to convey feminine forms.

Unread but expect it and author to be useful in my studies at Tech is Stiles, Kristine’s Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. California, University of California Press, 2012.  


Bonus books : who can only eat 5 potato chips?
Annie Dillard. The Writing Life. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1990. Encountered – 2005. 
Merton, Thomas. Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the Vocation of Writing. Massachusetts, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 2007. Encountered – 2009.  
Annie Lamont. Bird by bird, some instructions on writing and life. New York: Anchor, 1995. Encountered 2013.  
Brown, Brene. The power of vulnerability: teachings on authenticity, connection, and courage. Sounds True, 2012. Encountered 2013.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A responsive textabation #1
Author as object. Author writing under the influence [cultural, historical, social, etc]

I've a need to re-enter my blogging practice. In this case I shall simply dump a responsive reading assignment. The task at hand was to pull a quote from the text, explain how it functioned in the author's argument and to give a tad of context.

TEXT #1 Roland Barthe "The death of the author"

literature is that neuter, that composite, that oblique into which every subject escapes, the trap where all identity is lost, beginning with the very identity of the body that writes.-Barthes (pg 2)

This quote functions however I damn well read it since I now occupy the privileged space of meaning maker becoming the texts defining author. Perhaps I exaggerate a tad, nonetheless, I consume the text into my here and now. This consumption, this mulling over, this reading, builds a mechanism in which I layer a multiplicity of understandings derived simply from my own shifting dominion of self, context, and language overlaid upon his string of words. Barthe who penned the quote experienced his own detachment, death, in its writing. He was buried under language’s power to perform independently of him. The author and his intent is but a residual fragment, “a gesture forever anterior”, an assemblage of pre-exisiting signs, a “void process” locked in cultural histories distant from my own. As reader author, I choose to hunt for Barthe and his residual “readymade” of meaning and only in this choice may a “remote imitation” of his intent reenter the text. My own textabation now ransoms me not as meaning maker but as obsolete. These strings of text I thumb out are no longer able to act upon my here and now, my reality. As you birth its meaning, I am lost.


TEXT #2 Sally MacArthur. Towards A Twenty-First Century Feminist Politics of Music. “How is the Composer Composed?”

…use the matrix…they are told…they are told…fed…a diet…tossed with a hefty dose…to…condition…upon some…system, which had to be justifiable…progress…derived from…prompting…doctrine…dominance of…being indoctrinated…in the…endless reproduc[ion]…of…training…locked into static conventions…the…repetitive…the…narrow…the…deterministic…the…normative…
access…is buttressed…by privilege…reinforce(ing)…status…and the dominant…produces the composer; and the composer produces the dominant…endlessly…ignor(ing)…the…creator…as...enclosed…in…a… homogenized…system.
The new…the autonomous…is oblivious…and forges…necessity…in..elitist and hierarchical…to avoid risk…to seek…safety and predictability…new…is replicating itself…ceasing to become…removing the possibility…of trajectories of…unfolding.– Sally Macarthur (pgs 41-45)

This assembled fragmented quote of sequentially pulled keywords condenses the author’s descriptor of the current conditions and conditioning of the “high brow” artist as a result of their emersion in the academy. She argues that the academy’s ongoing rejection of relatively current “isms” reshaping our understanding of creation, construction of meaning and its intersection with authorship, has impeded the institutions capacity to train artists to be truly innovative. Pinpointing weaknesses in poststructural and postmodern approaches that remain strongly binary, she outlines excuses for the academy to brush them aside – Barthes’ death of the author that privileges the reader, Foucault’s sidestep of meaning, Grosz’ remnant male/female, author/text attachment to positive/negative constructs. Macarthur proposes that striping the composer from under the privileged label of the rational, all-knowing, author and promoting the composer instead as one to be “continuously…under construction” will allow an unfolding of alternatives within the “high-brow subsector” of art music. Using poststructuralist notions of the dissassemblage of the author, she looks specifically to Deleuze’s “machinic (re)assemblage” for a metaphor and method. Unfortunately she fails to logically link the machinic assemblage to her well-crafted pedagogical closing example, a shame because her example is a fine alternative practice to compose the composer for innovation.