Category Archives: Student Blogs

Choice vs. The Right Things To Do

It’s not easy, to consider every little detail about a character from the very beginning, that much I’m sure anyone who has attempted writing a story would agree with that. But occasionally you run across a moral dilemma, that’s less of a dilemma and more “do I let the character do what I expect them to do, or do I have them do what’s expected of them”?

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For instance, I expect Lawrence Fishburne to only offer me the truth, nothing more.

 As I belt away at my story having completed my literature review, I had experienced this very engagement as I work around the climax of the story. To elaborate at this point, the main character finds the artifact that virtually everyone had been trying to get their hands on for the entire book (and then some). His enemies want it, his companion wants it, and he wants nothing to do with it…..at least he initially thought. However, he slowly begins to witness the impact this artifact could have on society if it’s left in the hands of the enemies, and not the gods who created it. Naturally, he resolves to give it back to the gods……until he finds out that there’s an ancient conspiracy going on with them, and suddenly the villain doesn’t seem so villainous for opposing them. Huh.

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 And I wish it didn’t take 10 straight minutes for the Matrix Reloaded to recognize this.

 But this is where I believe most writing soon becomes organic, depending on the type on the conflict at play. There is an inherent loss I feel, in making a plot revolve around a character acting a certain way. Cause let’s be real, people are people and will make impulsive decisions and regret it immensely. That’s just how life goes at times. I considered that my main character, while not a selfish individual by any means, would rather keep himself out of as much conflict as possible, regardless of the repercussions. That’s not a fatal character flaw, or even a negative trait. It’s simply how I believe the character would respond to a situation, and that makes the story almost as much of a surprise to me as I feel it will a reader, even though I’m the one writing it.

I have an idea of how my story will end, but it’s not necessarily up to me to decide it. Sure, I’m the one writing it and have the most creative control as a result, but the interactions of my characters, including their thoughts and feelings throughout the story, are ultimately the biggest factors behind the things they do, and whether it’s in the name of the right thing, or the freedom of choice, it’s the conflict that’s what makes people keep reading.

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Wouldn’t be much of a writer if I couldn’t.

Back From A Short Break~

Hello from the other side of Spring break ^.^

For those wondering, I had a very relaxing break for the most part. I got to spend some quality time with my family. We went to some museums in the city and out to eat most nights. Because of work and class, I haven’t really had the time to relax and just be with my family and enjoy their company. I think being able to spend this time with my family and with my friends, too, was necessary in order for me to keep moving forward. I don’t think I realized just how stressed I have been until I was spending time away from all the places/things that stress me out.

This break allowed me to reflect on more than just my work thus far and my progress; I reflected on myself as well and on my own goals. I’ve had a lot of setbacks in my personal life that have had a huge impact on my work and how I view myself. It really wasn’t until this break where I didn’t work or go to class that I was able to feel the real gravity of everything I’ve gone through. Honestly, I’ve had a shitty year and a half and the last few months have just been the cherry on top.

Anyway, I reflected on my circumstances over break and came to the conclusion that, regardless of all that nonsense and not despite but because of all the people who didn’t want me in their lives, I’m going to complete my work and live the best life I can. I can’t change anything that’s happened. More, I have so many great opportunities at my fingertips right now. I can miss what I’ve lost but I shouldn’t linger on it. Doing that keeps me from writing, keeps me from what I love and from what loves me.

So, now that the mooshy stuff is out-of-the-way, let’s recap what work I accomplished over break. First and foremost, I completed my section on memes, shitposts, and gifs. Most of the sources I covered in this section are from my independent study I had last semester wherein I researched memes and complexity theory. The bulk of this section focuses on the trajectory of memes and on how they’ve been viewed research vs. how they act in online spaces. I cover some of the more “researchy” angles on memes in the start of this section before delving into more contemporary thought on the medium. Most of this contemporary thought comes from the articles I sourced last semester (in our first thesis course) which identify memes as art objects and connect their creation and propagation to a kind of resurgence of Dadaism in contemporary culture. Essentially, I wanted to first ground memes in theoretical research before exploring some of their, in my opinion, more profound connotations.

Additionally, I touch upon shitposting as well. To be honest, there is not as much research on shitposting as there is on memes. Much of the research focuses on the negatives of shitposting as well, particularly how it has contributed to furthering far right agendas (because it’s a popular kind of posting on sites like 4chan and Reddit). Not really what my work is about. Also, I find the definition of shitposting on Know Your Meme to be a little inaccurate. Outdated, perhaps. More than anything, I found myself kind of making a case for expanding our understanding of shitposting to include more absurdist humor sentiments. Right now, it seems to be understood as more of a nuisance than a statement. That narrow mindset keeps us from exploring possibilities. Also, it frames this new form of expression as inane and meaningless cause it’s “stupid” from the start without proper consideration of other possibilities. The definition becomes a cage. At least, that’s what I believe and what I kind of make a case for in this section of my paper before seguing into the Degenerate Art 2.0 section of my thesis.

So, here’s the part where I tell you I got horribly, disgustingly sick towards the end of spring break which, unfortunately, impeded me from completing the last section of my paper. I did start it (and I am planning to have it completed by this weekend) and I do feel like I have a good direction for it. So far, I’ve started this section off by reiterating how often new forms of digital content creation like memes, digital art, and Eliterature are cast aside, dismissed, or somehow identified as less than traditional mediums. I want to emphasize this lack of recognition and acceptance from authorities before clarifying that I don’t believe there are any specific oppressors other than the state of contemporary culture. I don’t want to compare anyone to or put anyone in the place of the Nazis, who created the term “Degenerate Art” when they first vilified Dada works. Rather, I want to focus on the Dadaist “spirit” of these works themselves and on how, in many ways, these kinds of works are acting as a way for this generation to reclaim a sense of identity–both personal and collective.

These works are our resistance to the powers that be that wish we’d shut up and stand in line. That wish we’d continue to subscribe to ways of thinking and to dreams that are no longer realistic. These often nonsensical, nihilistic, and “absurd” emergent forms of content creation are how we respond to the nonsense, uncertainty, and absurdity of current affairs. “We’re all mad here”, you know? It’s like these new mediums are ways for us to reassert and well as reinforce who we are and where we stand in these times. These mediums are in-temporal, perhaps, but they’re meant to express this moment in time for us. They’re not meant to be these lasting artifacts. Hopefully, they aren’t. Hopefully the world changes. Hopefully we change. Hopefully everything isn’t always going to be so awful and absurd.

While I firmly believe these works are representative of self and of the world we must conceive of ourselves within, I do believe they are just representations. These new forms of representation represent this time now. They represent us how we need to be represented now. But, I don’t know if we’ll always be in these objects or if we always should be. In a recent studio visit with digital artist Alex Saum, she said, “Works of art are always representations. They aren’t me.” Since I heard these words, I’ve been struck. I think I forgot that my thesis is about self-representation. It’s not just about self. Actually, it’s about how we express and convey self in the digital age. It’s about how these new digital artifacts act as conduits for conveying who we are to the world and for ourselves. These works are heavily inspired by us and our experiences but they aren’t us. Dada was a response. What’s happening now is also just that: a response. We embody Dada. We embody resistance. We are what is reclaimed.

From this little spiel, I hope it’s clear that, though I didn’t complete everything I hoped to complete over break, I am certainly reinvigorated and impassioned from break. I didn’t waste my time not thinking about thesis. In fact, I feel like I have more purpose and direction than I’ve had these past few weeks. My thesis adviser is always asking me why is this work important. Well, this work is important because it’s about us and, more, about how we are experiencing this world right now. We are this moment. We are Dada. We are in every meme and shitpost we make but we are also so much more than that and isn’t that absurd?? Isn’t it so absurd and nonsensical to be who we are in this moment? Isn’t the world such a mad place to be a person in right now? What seems to make the most sense is that nothing makes sense. So, why not make a meme?

****

~Till next time~

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

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Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Well, well, welcome back everyone! Spring break was more of a high-speed week instead of a break. But you know what? I’m glad it was. A couple of weeks ago I wanted to give up what I was trying to do for my thesis and start a new topic. I was face to face with an issue that I did not know anything about, the scholars behind it, or the history of it. I was being asked questions from family members that I couldn’t answer and were given answers and opinions from them that I didn’t even ask for. My professor told me to keep going with it. Reluctantly, I did. I doubted myself. Was I smart enough to handle a topic like this? What did I get myself into? Well, this post is to happily tell you that I have hit the jackpot. I opened the door to not only a topic but another world that I can never return back to earth. (Sorry for the mushy-gushy stuff.)

I have gathered so much information and notes from the readings I have been doing that I could not fit it into this post. I would have to make five posts. For time’s sake, I’ll put the links to the different documents of notes I have created for each reading at the end of this blog under the section “Documents: Thesis Notes.” I also have notes on YouTube videos and a documentary as well! I am also proud of myself because it’s been a long time since my mind has been able to think in this way. Creating new ideas and connecting points to readings and my own experiences. After doing some more reading and research, these were the ideas that came to my head, which, I think, is formulating my Burning Question.

  • Why choose between African American Vernacular English and Standard English? Why pick Standard English over African American Vernacular English? What are the benefits (if any)? What’s the consequence?: Losing your identity. (Thought about while reading The Language of Identity by Sonja L. Lanehart)

 

  • White society standard-proper or “Standard English.” Reality: You’ll never reach the white society standard no matter how proper you speak, you’ll always be black. Instead of trying to tear away something that is going to be part of you anyway, just embrace it and learn that there is a deep and enriched history behind it. It’s not just a bunch of words put together that makes no sense. You take away that, you take away a part of not only you but your ancestors and the black community. (Thought about while watching Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin: A Conversation (1971): YouTube Video)

 

  • Sometimes I hear other people speaking “improperly” who are not African American and for the most part, they are not as criticized or ridiculed for it. And if they are, it’s kind of a slap on the wrist, but for black people, it’s a slap in the face.

 

  • Sometimes black English has no words. It’s more than just sounding improper. The way I speak will not be the sole reason or the main reason why I won’t land a job or be successful in the professional world. Hair, skin color, names, money, class, status, all of these other things have more weight to whether or not I am accepted in a particular profession, school, academic setting, etc. than the way I speak. You can’t just say, “Speaking black will not land you a job.” That makes absolutely no sense. I don’t have to open my mouth for a white person to look at me or my name and judge me and not give me whatever they want to give me merely because I am black. People will judge you and automatically think you know less than you do just because of your skin color. So if that is the case, I say accept the way you speak and stop putting down people who do.

 

  • Question: What are the consequences when you remove your language as a black person? My answer: You lose your identity, you lose a part of your history, you lose that sense of community and culture…you lose your blackness. Mind you, my answer is not to say that every single black person in America speaks the same way. However, I am hurt when I hear people say that when black people talk “ghetto” or “improper” then they “make us all look bad,” etc. Even a black person who speaks Standard English will still sing R&B the way it is, which is cutting off the ings at the end of words. That’s not improper, it’s artistic. When you discredit the black language, you are disproving your grandparents, their parents, music, history, art, international connections, movies, television, poetry, literature, and much more! You are cutting the cord to something that belongs to you, and instead of embracing it, you are trying to not only get rid of it, but you’re throwing it in the garbage to be turned into such a negative aspect of the American culture.

Now, I know that Dr. Zamora is going to have my fine tune these ideas more, but I believe I am more grounded with this topic than I was two months ago. After the break, I also had to start thinking about how I am going to put my thesis into a form, which is my methods section. Back in November, when I first started becoming interested in this topic, I was in North Carolina for a funeral. My brother, father, Nana, and Papa stayed with my Aunt Jesse (who is my Papa’s sister). We were sitting around the kitchen table, and I was fascinated with something. I started to pay attention to the way they were speaking. Specifically my grandparents and Aunt Jesse. People who speak Standard English will believe they are not talking correctly. However, putting aside the fact that they all have Southern accents, they were, in fact, speaking African American Vernacular English or Black English.

This is what I heard my entire life. This is how I picked up my own accent and way of speaking. Even the laughs, hand gestures, body movements, all of that is Black English! I want to document or record myself and my family sitting around the table and talking. After church on Sunday at dinner or when we’re all hanging out. There is a very beautiful rhythm when we are speaking together that I want to capture the rawness of that. On the other end of that spectrum, I also want to record myself in a setting outside of the comfort of my home. Such as work, school, or in front of my professors and classmates. I want to capture how wonderful and actually better it is when a person knows how to codeswitch and speak more than one dialect. (Just an idea!)

Last night I was talking to one of my classmates after class, and I asked her how she was doing since we haven’t spoken all semester. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey girl, what’s up? How are you doing? We haven’t really talked in a while.

Her: “Girl, I be stressin’!” 

Simple conversation right? We laughed after she said that because I understood her! Now, in Standard or “proper” English, this is what she said, “I am under a lot of stress.” Even while typing her sentence in the blog, a red line came under “I.” The system wanted me to say, “I am stressing” or “I will be stressing.” This was me speaking my dialect to someone else who speaks that dialect. I felt comfortable. I didn’t have to try too hard to think about what I’m going to say next. I also did not have to be concerned about whether or not she understood me or if I understood her. Now, in the classroom setting, we both speak Standard English. (She does more than I do actually.) But the class was over, and we knew that we had the green light to code switch into our natural dialect.

Also, I attempted to write another proposal, which I already sent out. I can’t wait to receive feedback on it because this one is definitely more developed than the first one.

I am still studying and researching, but I am ready for some methods and writing! (I think) Here are the documents of notes and also if you want to listen to the videos from my family in NC, I put a private YouTube link below so you can listen and enjoy!

See you all tomorrow!

Documents: Thesis Notes

Sonja Lanehart: The Language of Identity

Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children

Nikki Giovanni & James Baldwin: A Conversation

Key Words and Phrases

Talking Black in America Documentary Notes

Video Links

Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin Video

NC Family Conversations 1

NC Family Conversations 2

NC Family Conversations 3

NC Family Conversations 4

NC Family Conversations 5

Things are Heating Up

General Question: How’s everyone’s thesis process going?  😊

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Google Images 

The more I dive into my deep reading, the more excited I become about my thesis and the whole process of studying a topic that has become close to my heart, almost like a child. (Mind you, I have no children, but I do have a lot of nieces and nephews.) I am very protective of this topic of AAVE (African American Vernacular English); but beyond that, I am curious about it. I want to know it’s “favorite color” or “what makes it itch,” I want to know every single detail and as much as possible. Studying and taking notes more this past week made me realize that I forgot I was in a class for this and eventually will receive a grade for this. I am working hard to produce something pretty awesome for my own pleasure and ambitions. With that being said, let’s dive in!

So last week I was relieved to know that I am on the right track! (Phew). The reading list that I had in my previous blog was a good start to building a Literature Review. Obviously, between working full time and going to school full time, I can’t read 20 pieces of literature in seven days. So for now, I started with four new readings and one continuation.

  1. Bell Hooks: Black Looks, Race and Representation: This book had so many interesting points when it came to talking about black people and the way their representation effects not only their lives but how it’s metaphorically embedded in their DNA when it comes to their clothes or music. However, that representation is considered cool or current, but when it comes down to history or what a black person deals with daily, it’s considered everything under the sun except being cool. Within the first chapter, I saw a lot of great points that she made that could be used in my thesis (possibly), but I don’t see this being a book that is the main part of it. Here are the points that could be used for my thesis:
  • “We have to change our own mind…we’ve got to change our own minds about each other. We have to see each other with new eyes. We have to come together with warmth…” -Malcolm X
  • Every aware black person who has been the “only” in an all-white setting knows that in such a position we are often called upon to lend an ear to racist narratives, to laugh at corny race jokes, to undergo various forms of racist harassment. (pg 16)
  • And that self-segregation seems to be particularly intense among those black college students who were often raised in material privilege in predominately white settings where they were socialized to believe racism did not exist, that we were all “just human beings,” and then suddenly leave home and enter institutions and experience racist attacks. (pg 16)
  • While it has become “cool” for white folks to hang out with black people and express pleasure in black culture, most white people do not feel that this pleasure should be linked to unlearning racism…(pg 17)
  • As long as black folks are taught that the only way we can gain any degree of economic self-sufficiency or be materially privileged is by first rejecting blackness, our history, and culture, then there will always be a crisis in black identity. (pg 18)
  • Internalized racism will continue to erode collective struggle for self-determination. (pg 18)

2. Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Freire is a brilliant scholar and based off of this book I truly admire what he writes about. However, like Hooks, I feel as if this is not what my thesis is going to be surrounded by. He spoke about oppressors and oppressed and how these groups work in the world of class, power, race, and identity. I can see this being apart of my thesis literature review, but for a Doctorate Degree. His points and topic would broaden my specific topic of AAVE too much instead of helping focus on one thing. These points I found interesting:

  • The “fear of freedom” which afflicts the oppressed, a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of the oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed, should be examined. (pg 46)
  • The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. (pg 47)
  • Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility, (pg 47)
  • Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion. (pg 47)
  • However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable for running the risks it requires. Moreover, their struggle for freedom threatens not only the oppressor but also their own oppressed comrades who are fearful of still greater repression. (pg 47).
  • The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They can not see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched. (pg 59)

3. Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom: This book has so many points and pieces of information that I have a separate Google Doc just for Delpit. (Click Here to see it). There were specific quotes that I would like to mention here because they made me think about my “Burning Question” and I feel like I am getting closer to finding out what it is.

  • The children in Trackton, in short, read to learn things, for real purposes. When these children arrived in school they faced another reality, They were required, instead, to “learn to read,” that is, they were told to focus on the process of reading with little apparent real purposes in mind other than to get through a basal page or complete a worksheet – and much of this they were to accomplish in isolation, Needless to say, they were not successful at the decontextualized, individualized school reading tasks. (pg 63)
  • Those who have acquired additional codes because their local language differs significantly from the language of the national culture may actually be in a better position to gain access to the global culture than “mainstream” Americans who, as Martha says, “only know one way to talk.” Rather than think of these diverse students as problems, we can view them instead as resources who can help all of us learn what it feels like to move between cultures and language varieties, and thus perhaps better learn how to become citizens of the global community. (pg 69)
  • Rather than teach decontextualized operations, she would typically first pose a “real-life” problem and challenge the students to find a solution. (pg 65)
  • To give some background information, Delpit gave examples and quoted other scholars and teachers; they were making the point that black students learn in a different way than white students would. There needs to be a purpose for learning and using it for real-life situations. Black students do not have a disadvantage because they speak AAVE, but rather it is the concept of learning differently. Here is the example I thought of:
  • My favorite TV is A Different World (About students at an HBCU (Historically Black College)). One of the characters, Lena James, comes from a rough neighborhood in Baltimore but comes to college to receive an education. She is having trouble with calculus until her professor, Dwayne Wayne, is able to relate calculus to something she is passionate about or something she could relate to. It is present that she speaks AAVE but is certainly not dumb or “less than” because of it. All the professor had to do was relate it to the student, and she succeeded. (The part I’m talking about stops at 31 seconds of the video. Also, I apologize for the bad quality!)

 

So far, I have two main points for my thesis. The first one comes from the quote I made in my previous blog about people or specifically students who can speak in more than one way, as an advantage. The stigma that African Americans speak “improper” is considered “less than” but in reality, they know how to speak in two ways (or more), which would be AAVE and “Standard English.” The second one is that AAVE is not acceptable in an academic setting but what about if the language could be accepted in the classroom, would there be a change in grades, behavior, and confidence in the students? Delpit and her fellow scholars say yes.

3. Felicia R. Lee: Lingering Conflict in the Schools: Black Dialect vs. Standard Speech: This article

4. Alice Lee: Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive: This article

For next week, I’m going to write about literacy and multiple literacies and why it’s important for my thesis. Also, a few scholars that I will be talking about will be Elaine Richardson, Sonja L. Lanehart, and more Lisa Delpit. I also will be talking about a documentary that I found about Black English! It’s the first documentary about AAVE, and I can’t wait to share my notes about it!

‘Til Next Time!

(Also: If you want to watch A Different World, it’s on Prime Video!)

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Google Images

Back on Track~

Heads up! This is going to be another brief post because your girl got back from a late shift a work and she’s tired >.<

Hey~

Welcome back ^.^

Getting Back in the Game

So, this week I made some progress! And, after a week of stagnation, it feels good. I was definitely fixating too much on the Metalworks section. It wasn’t until I polished the section a little more this weekend that I was finally able to move onto to my piece de resistance: Memes.

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actually me

Now, the Metalworks section stressed me out. I believe this is because I felt like I had less information and research to draw from in comparison to other sections (which is true). I practice metalworks myself and I am comfortable in the studio but when it comes to theory and to ideas around best practices, I feel out of my element. Basically, I feel my practical skills are far more developed and nuanced than my theoretical know-how–which makes me self-conscious. I felt like I was out of my depth.

When it comes to memes though, I feel more in my element. This is a subject I have been raving talking about for years now. Specifically, I have been interested in whether or not memes, gifs, and shitposting constitute as a resurgence of traditional Dada ideals of non-sense and nihilism. (My thesis adviser is very patient with me lol) So, while I was a little unsure of exactly how to start discussing memes, I knew that I could. I could go on and on. Actually, I referred back to all my sources I discovered and wrote about in my independent study last semester. Reading through these sources and my annotated bibliography (that I really fleshed out last semester) helped refresh my memory and provided me with some direction. Also, it reading through this content reminded me how important it is to define my terms. Just because I’m very familiar with my subject matter, doesn’t mean anyone else would be.

So, to that end, I’ve referenced Dawkins (1976), Knobel & Lankshear (2007), Shifman (2013), Miltner (2014), Cannizzaro (2016), and a butt-ton of others to start off the party. I think I want to provide a brief history of the medium and what other researchers have said of the medium’s purpose/use before I delve into my own thoughts on how the medium can be this tool that can subvert traditional power structures as well as a way for us to communicate our life experiences as well as re-establish a sense of self in an otherwise nonsensical world. Some of the collected research touches upon these ideas I have but no formal research has really delved into it (maybe that’s because this is such a subjective topic??). I’m planning to use the “less formal” articles I have also collected that compare emergent meme culture to a kind of revitalization of Dada as well. I’ll probably add those more towards the middle/end of this section. I can see this section in my head; I just need to write it all down.

So, my meme section is about halfway done. I’m planning to continue working on it this weekend. I’m not sure exactly where yet I’m going to end it and transition into the Degenerate Art section of my work. I’m thinking I want to introduce the degenerate art section with Hugo Ball’s “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment (cause I find it so powerful and provocative). This means I need to end my meme section discussing the nature of resistance inherent in these new forms of digital content creation like memes. At least, that’s what I think I should do. Like I said, I can kind of envision these sections on the paper in my mind and it’s helping guide my hand in a lot of ways. I don’t want to get too caught up in what I think my thesis should look like though so please feel free to give me your own insights!!

Your girl is moving right along ^.^

~Till next time~

 

Writing & Technology & I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

I feel that technology has a very unique place in the world of both reading and writing: whereas most people could make an argument that technology has been detrimental in some areas where it is prominent (communication for instance), it has been nothing short of beneficial to the way books are both written and consumed. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a big advocate of the Kindle e-reader (partially driven by my return to using Amazon after 3 years) and the very concept of it still blows me away to this day, even though it has become so rudimentary by now. Read your entire book collection on a screen that looks like paper, with a battery that lasts for weeks? How could anyone not like that?

And for the most part, thankfully, most people do seem to embrace it. While I thought I would be at odds with most of the English department over this, there seems to be a consensus where the most controversial opinion was that everyone has their own preference and as long as reading is being done, it should be done on any method. Yep, such a hot take. But still, it’s interesting to see how much of a divide there can be on this subject, particularly on the internet. There’s even a few advocates for the traditional books, citing things like unlimited “battery” and the “feel” of reading paper from a page (but not the potential of getting books wet, rotted, or having the print fade away depending on age, interesting).

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Pictured: My precious.

I don’t know my typing speed off the top of my head, but I know for a fact that I tend to be way more productive with writing when it comes to typing. And I know, typewriters have been a thing for the better part of the last century, but backspacing on a keyboard is several measures more convenient than retyping over a spelling error done on a ink ribbon. Several. I don’t write as frequently as I probably should, so I’m glad that my proficiency with a keyboard allows me to get out as many words as I had hoped, so I can reflect over the actual written text with greater efficiency. It feels weird, praising a keyboard when these things have been around since before I was even born, but I know for a fact that I probably wouldn’t have had as much of a fondness for writing, or even English in general, without its presence. I learned cursive the hard way in 4th grade and for some reason I prefer writing it that way all these years later.

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The PTSD is still very real. Also, those numbers aren’t even cursive, the hell.

Writing is writing, but sometimes software really makes the experience that much more pleasant and more efficient. Scrivener is a word that is synonymous with a scribe, clerk, or notary. It’s also a nifty mobile and desktop app that I’ve been using to work on my story and other narrative projects. The app itself is no more than a bunch of organization menus that you can freely tweak to your liking, but I believe that good organization is half the battle when it comes to good writing, and Scrivener is very much worth the entry fee. Was that an advertisement? Probably.

Where the magic happens.

Overall, I feel that we are in a great place in regards to technology and writing. The technology compliments the writing instead of hinders it, and the consumption of the media has been more accessible and pleasant than ever before. It’s fascinating to see how much has changed in the last few decades in how we write and read, but also how little it has changed from the standard paper and pencil. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and writing is perhaps one of the best examples in recent memory of this.

Writing & Technology & I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

I feel that technology has a very unique place in the world of both reading and writing: whereas most people could make an argument that technology has been detrimental in some areas where it is prominent (communication for instance), it has been nothing short of beneficial to the way books are both written and consumed. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a big advocate of the Kindle e-reader (partially driven by my return to using Amazon after 3 years) and the very concept of it still blows me away to this day, even though it has become so rudimentary by now. Read your entire book collection on a screen that looks like paper, with a battery that lasts for weeks? How could anyone not like that?

And for the most part, thankfully, most people do seem to embrace it. While I thought I would be at odds with most of the English department over this, there seems to be a consensus where the most controversial opinion was that everyone has their own preference and as long as reading is being done, it should be done on any method. Yep, such a hot take. But still, it’s interesting to see how much of a divide there can be on this subject, particularly on the internet. There’s even a few advocates for the traditional books, citing things like unlimited “battery” and the “feel” of reading paper from a page (but not the potential of getting books wet, rotted, or having the print fade away depending on age, interesting).

the-ebook-reader-home.jpg

Pictured: My precious.

I don’t know my typing speed off the top of my head, but I know for a fact that I tend to be way more productive with writing when it comes to typing. And I know, typewriters have been a thing for the better part of the last century, but backspacing on a keyboard is several measures more convenient than retyping over a spelling error done on a ink ribbon. Several. I don’t write as frequently as I probably should, so I’m glad that my proficiency with a keyboard allows me to get out as many words as I had hoped, so I can reflect over the actual written text with greater efficiency. It feels weird, praising a keyboard when these things have been around since before I was even born, but I know for a fact that I probably wouldn’t have had as much of a fondness for writing, or even English in general, without its presence. I learned cursive the hard way in 4th grade and for some reason I prefer writing it that way all these years later.

1200px-Cursive.png

The PTSD is still very real. Also, those numbers aren’t even cursive, the hell.

Writing is writing, but sometimes software really makes the experience that much more pleasant and more efficient. Scrivener is a word that is synonymous with a scribe, clerk, or notary. It’s also a nifty mobile and desktop app that I’ve been using to work on my story and other narrative projects. The app itself is no more than a bunch of organization menus that you can freely tweak to your liking, but I believe that good organization is half the battle when it comes to good writing, and Scrivener is very much worth the entry fee. Was that an advertisement? Probably.

Where the magic happens.

Overall, I feel that we are in a great place in regards to technology and writing. The technology compliments the writing instead of hinders it, and the consumption of the media has been more accessible and pleasant than ever before. It’s fascinating to see how much has changed in the last few decades in how we write and read, but also how little it has changed from the standard paper and pencil. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and writing is perhaps one of the best examples in recent memory of this.

Killing Your Role Models

Over the past week I’ve had a conflict of epic proportions, one that kinda sorta went at odds with everything that I had believed up until recently. I thought voice actors were untouchable role models, someone that everyone should look up to. They come in all shapes and sizes, had a range of voices that could be sorted almost into a rolodex, and having met many of them in person, it’s no surprise that I could see them as people to look up to, and for the most part that had not changed…until this month.

Sexual harassment claims fly around Twitter, which had now been turned into a minefield of toxic Tweeting and allegations, and everyone who dared to step into it had gotten blown up. The lines had been drawn and I was forced to choose one, and choose it fast.

Sometimes silence is a valid option.

maxresdefault.jpgTelltale Games told me so, but now they no longer exist, so your mileage may vary.

That isn’t to say, I don’t have an opinion on the matter. But rather, it feels and even becomes irrelevant in the face of the thoughts expressed by the voice actors that I once considered role models. The amount of contempt, hatred, and unprofessionalism all around; can it be justified, given the context? Justified, given the lack of actual evidence given and the amount of false evidence generated? I’m not quite sure, but I do know it doesn’t feel right. No matter who may be right or wrong in this case, I do feel a little shaken up by the revelation that people who I looked up to, could be as hateful and mean as I had seen in this past month.

This begs the question, where do I separate the art from the artist? I’ll admit, the volume of the hostile opinions coming from many of my favorite voice actors has begged me to question as to whether my opinion on them should extend to the work they are featured in as well. The rational part of mean is saying that of course, they are separate. Bill Cosby’s (mis)deeds doesn’t take away from my fond memories of Little Bill, why should my opinion on a show or character change because of the actor? But deep down, I’m still coming to terms with the degrees of separation that I should be giving this situation. Nice actors play mean actors all the time in movies and films. So why does this feel so different? I believe this comes from the fact that voice actors give a character much of their personality that can’t be expressed from physical appearance. Sure, they have written lines and scripted actions, but you can never really take away that feeling that the voice actor delivers a performance that gives a character a life of their own, and therefore you typically associate a character’s strengths and flaws as an extension of the actor playing them.

But I digress. If there is anything that I’ve learned from this entire real-life anime, is that you don’t have to actually meet your role models to follow the rule of “never meet your role models”. Ironically, every single voice actor I have met (including the ones involved in this incident) have been nothing but pleasant and gracious in my interactions with them, and I hope that will never change in the future. But I did learn how to “kill” your role models as a result; recognizing that they are not without flaw or opinion and therefore you should not take it too personal if they do something that goes against your own thoughts. I’ve had a few broken pedestals since this happened, but I feel this is even more inspiration to work on my own projects; nothing would flatter me more to be a role model one day to someone, and hopefully I’ll do nothing that’ll change that too.

A Little Behind But Catching Up!

Hey~

So, in my last couple posts, I mentioned sticking to a rather strict schedule–one in which I complete a section a week of my thesis until I hit spring break (the second week of March). Then, I’m supposed to go hard into editing and revising mode so that I can have a final product to present for Research Days (which I got approved for!!!) at the end of April.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been fairly consistent with this schedule. More, I’ve been able to devote certain chunks of time to thesis work during the week. Unfortunately, in the past two weeks, this schedule has gotten a little “wonky”, to say the least. I was supposed to have the Metalworks section done last week; it was half done. I finished it this week, though. It’s definitely rough but I can finesse it in the revision stage. Right now, it’s functional enough.

Taking some extra time to work on this section allowed me to explore more artists who are incorporating CAD (Computer Assisted Design) technologies and combining some of these technologies with traditional craft techniques. I found artists like Caitlin Skelcey, Annika Pettersson, Joe Wood, and Joshua Demonte. All of these jewelry-making artists use CAD technologies in different ways to explore concepts like self and perception. Skelcey is of particular interest to me and my work. (You may remember I mentioned her in last week’s post as one of the artists who’s FIT symposium presentation I was interested in?) Skelcey’s work explores the intersection between self and advancing technology. Mainly, her works seems to focus on how a sense of healing and a restoration of self can be achieved through digital intervention. Her work is very compelling and I recommend checking out her Fabricated Bodies series.

Collar_Process2.Skelcey.Thesis

ABS plastic, stainless steel machine screws
3d printing pen, implanted screws
8”x 7 ½” x 9”
2016

Honestly, I think viewing the digital as means through which to promotes self-healing is a fascinating topic and a totally different thesis. More, though, I like the idea that digital means can restore a sense of self by providing this “piece” that makes one feel more whole. I think it’s something to explore, even in the periphery, in my own work. It seems related to Page’s idea about the “partiality” of self and how the digital is a way through which to not only emphasize this fragmentation but also a way through which to work through it. Very interesting work.

Anyway, all this is to say that I spent most of the two weeks since we last saw each other working more on one section than on two. Tbh, I’m planning on working on another section of my thesis tomorrow afternoon before class. I’m hoping I’ll have the time between tutoring students to get some of my own work done. Regardless, the section I need to work on is on meme, gifs, and sh*tposting–a topic I have a sh*t-ton of thoughts on so I’m not anticipating too many issues conceptually with the section. I have an abundance of resources to draw on from my independent study last semester as well. I feel a lot more confident about approaching the remaining sections of my work. I feel like more of myself and my own percolating ideas are going to finally get the chance to make an appearance. You all know how much I love to talk about myself.

In addition to this written work, I’ve also begun working in the studio on the installation part of my thesis (progress pictured in the Featured Image for this post). I finally got all of my materials. Last week, I flattened some wire and began to play around with how I want to structure the piece. Also, I found a website that can translate a message into binary code. So, I think I’m going to chase some numbers into the wire I flattened last week that spell out a message. I’m thinking of the message, “TAKE ME SERIOUSLY” or “TAKE ME ME SERIOUSLY”. That’s playing off of the Dada slogan, “TAKE DADA SERIOUSLY” that was scrawled haphazardly on the walls of the Degenerate Art Exhibition as a form of mockery. I’m thinking about reclaiming it. (It really bothers me the more and more I think about how it was mocked.)

Anyway, that’s where I’m at with my thesis this week. Whatever time isn’t spent at work or filling out scholarship/job applications  or working on #netnarr stuff is spent working on my thesis. I wish I had more time to devote to just my thesis but life hasn’t worked out that way. I think I’m making it work the best I can. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

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~Till next time~

Now vs. Then

One of the struggles that I experienced when writing Godreign was the inevitable question of setting and protagonist. Particularly, what time period would this take place, and what about the main character would reflect that? While I can safely say that the final selection of the late 19th century and the character of was always my original choice, I have to admit that it wasn’t always the intended one.

Nothing in fiction happens without a reason. Even the non-linear structure of Ulysses or Pulp Fiction adds something to the narrative and presentation that wasn’t there if it didn’t include it in the first place. But I’m a strong believer in the idea of picking something and sticking to it as much as possible, so the non-linear approach simply wasn’t for me.

So, back to Godreign. I actually wrote parts of it in the present time, and called this experiment in scenery Modreign, both as a modern interpretation of the story and as a moderation of the story I have now. I ultimately decided to forgo the modern-day setting for a few reasons. For starters, most of the heroes carry a lot of weapons throughout the story; Zach (the protagonist) has a small arsenal by the end of the story, including a (semi-relevant to the story) revolver, lever-action rifle, shotgun, and short blade. Annabelle has her longsword, a blade attached to a chain (scarier than it sounds) and eventually learns to use a gun down the line. Considering the current climate in England and most of Europe today, where even home improvement tools can be considered deadly and illegal depending on who is using them (that’s a slope alright), it’s probably best if the current climate stays as far away from the story as possible.

Pictured: “Weapons” that Annabelle would sneer at endlessly.

On the subject of the present-day, there are some areas that I cover that may not be as transparent today as they were in the past. Women in most of the world couldn’t vote until 1928, even. Aside from the idea of a female knight being mostly wishful thinking at the time (which partially helps me explain a little more about Annabelle in the process), there’s also the tensions brought about thanks to the class system in place at the time. Zach used to work for an extremely wealthy businessman who was self-made, a concept that for some reason wasn’t entirely embraced back in Victorian times. Apparently it was considered “dirty money” and those people were considered outcasts anyway. Rich people, am I right folks?

Racial tensions were a problem, but not nearly as significant as they were in the United States at the time. Zach’s former mistress was of mixed British and Chinese descent, and combined with the “dirty money” she inherited, naturally she would end up making a few enemies even among her own class. It’s their fault, however. There’s also another character who is of Spanish/English descent, but had convinced everyone that she was exclusively English. She had also lived for several centuries up to that point in the story, so she’s had plenty of time to work on an accent too. Racial discrimination doesn’t have a major role in my story themes or lessons, but it helps explain why some characters seem larger than life; it’s because they had to be at the time.

Ultimately, the plot of my story can be done in most “modern” time periods, and I still haven’t completely given up on re-writing it for a modern setting. But so much of the character dynamics between Zach, a Victorian era Englishman, and Annabelle, a French knight during the last years of the Middle Ages, rely on them being from majorly different settings, yet developing camaraderie from their mutual sharEd military experience. That is the “now vs. then” within my story, and hopefully it expresses a good part of the humanism themes that do play a major role within my story.