Self Analysis

Is?this?supposed to be therapeutic? I’m just asking.?I suppose?it’s cheaper than therapy, although I don’t recall seeing it on the ENG377 syllabus.

THE LIST

posts:
2007.09.02??Modern or Postmodern? That is the Question.
2007.09.06??So, What?s the Difference?
2007.09.07??Written WITH the Body
2007.09.09??‘I’ – Thinking
2007.09.14??Where the Story Starts
2007.09.17??Post Modo Condition
2007.09.19??Fight Club – The Movie
2007.09.20? Futurism in Fight Club?(add-on to previous post)
2007.09.25 ?Why Jameson?s Piece is Postmodern
2007.09.29? Life in Dying
2007.10.02 ?Fight Club Environmentalism
2007.10.05? Making Sense (???)
2007.10.08? Cindy Sherman
2007.10.10??Linda Hutcheon?(expertise project)
2007.10.15? Nikki Lee

comments:
2007.09.01? To Esther on Post/Modern Stance
2007.09.01? To Misty on Post/Modern Stance
2007.09.07? To Kim H. on Winterson
2007.09.07? To Alex on Winterson
2007.09.17? To Michael on Winterson
2007.09.17? To Christine on Winterson
2007.09.23? To Marina on Fight Club, the film
2007.09.23? To the Class Experts on Lyotard
2007.09.29? To Hannah on Fight Club, the book
2007.09.29? To Esther on Jameson
2007.10.04??To Zena on Fight Club, the book
2007.10.04??To Tammy on Fight Club, the book
2007.10.15??To Aliya on Cindy Sherman
2007.10.15? To Melissa on Hutcheon

ANALYSIS PART I: I am the One Trick Pony

As I wrestle with what postmodernism means and how it functions, I’ve discovered that I am absolutely obsessed with limits. Reading through my blog I see frustration with and examination of:?

  • language as limitation on thought
  • the subject’s limited ability to represent
  • limits on history as merely one version of truth
  • limits on context within postmodern fiction
  • and limits of form?when representing the real.

Postmodernism has revealed the ways in which?I’m?confined?within the ideological?prison of my own thought,?AND it has?simultaneously?slipped me the key to freedom. Now that I?understand how?postmodernism functions, I see?it in fiction, film, magazines?and photography. It has become?relevant in my other classes and has even?jumped out at me while watching television. I love that ideology is being exploited all over the place, but still, I have one question burning deep within my soul. It’s the one?that everyone in class either fully?understands or isn’t asking.

When Lyotard says:?

“The artist and the writer , then, are working without rules in order to formulate the rules of what will have been done” (Lyotard, 81)

I still?need to?know… What the Hell does this mean?!?!

Moving on, the following?passage from “‘I’-Thinking” shows my concern for the limits of language and subject:

I found what Winterson hasn?t written is most important. Where power?exists and determines what is ?acceptable,? or at least ?attributable,? lies in our perception of how?the masculine and feminine are defined by language. (Hello Saussure, my old friend.)?Winterson?s brilliance?demonstrates the subversive by using that very device.?The notion of the free-?thinking I??is exposed for?all its cultural baggage.

Here I refer to?Cixous’ idea that?language shapes our thoughts along problematic dichotomies such a masculine/feminine, strong/weak, etc. Winterson challenges?the reader’s?need to assign?a male or female identity?to her genderless narrator, pointing out the limitation of “thought?dichotomies”?in practice. Rereading this passage surprises me after just having just?presented on Hutcheon. While my language here isn’t quite right, the idea of the self-reflexive operation?is interesting. Both the power of language to?define, and?the limitations?as?it confines are revealed simultaneously.?Perhaps we?discussed this idea in class that day, but prior to reading Hutcheon (my hero) I didn’t think I understood. Apparently I did. Go me.

Don’t you worry. I’m not getting all high and mighty over this one small victory. I continually struggle?with other issues, particularly the end result of?mixing fact and fiction in historeographic metafiction. All?accross my?blog and strewn about comments to classmates are references to the movie The Last King of Scotland. Apologies “for bringing it up once again” generally accompany the post because I can’t seem to let it go. In “Why Jameson?s Piece is?Postmodern” it appears for the third time:

This movie is … about a very real Ugandan dictator, but his life is revealed through the perception of a fictional doctor… the main character with significant influence on very disturbing events within the film… Then, in the DVD special features, Ugandan extras said they are glad children can watch this film and finally learn about Ugandan history. (BIG) PROBLEM! This isn?t history!… Will Ugandan children know? I think not.

Here is where I get stuck between Jameson and Hutcheon. Like Jameson, I have this?engrained notion that context is important.?As I say later in the same post, I attribute my discomfort with this specific?historical fiction?to the fact that?this film will likely be?the only access?Ugandan children?have to their country’s history. Since?they have no?background?in postmodern analysis, they will surely mistake this representation?(one?portrayed through the lens of white culture) for the?real. This is?the result of Third World, culture consuming capitalism that Jameson talks about.

On the other hand, when it comes to my personal consumption of the postmodern, I want?the veil lifted?from the powerful ideology?that orders?my world. To understand that there is no one absolute truth, as far as I can see, is the only way to open the door to new ideas… without limitation (ha!). Hutcheon,?with her positive spin on the postmodern and its power to reveal, is – quite frankly- my hero, as I’ve already stated above. I’m not sure if I will ever resolve this internal conflict. I fully believe there is value?to?both sides of this coin.

From the argument above, my question becomes, what is real or contextual anyway? Hutcheon says that?”history” has?only ever?been a representation and access to?”reality” has only ever been an assumption. To follow this thought into the realm of photography, as I understate?when summing up?my “Cindy Sherman” post:

Interestingly,?using a doll as an unrealistic representation of a human being, although it seems to be a drastic difference of subject/object?from the first [human] pictured above, is no different in concept.?Sherman brilliantly exposes photographic “realism” as equally flawed in all.?

Sherman offers a quick and dirty example of Hutcheon’s self-reflexive form. Her photography is used to?demonstrate?the power of historic photo documentation and realism as it influences our perception of reality,?to?subvert?it using the very form we trust to be real, and to reveal the ways in which photography fails to grant acces to the real at all.?By subverting or turning the medium in on itself,?the limitations of ideology implode.?Sherman is at once artist/actress, subject/object,?woman/clich?.?When I see this mental back flip in action, it?makes my heart soar. I?want to scream?”THAT’S A PERFECT TEN!”

And yet… there is still The Last King of Scotland playing to children in Ugandan theaters. Thanks to Hutcheon and Sherman I’m left to wonder?whether concepts are more or less important?than the events that actually?happened. Is the insertion of a fictional narrator within an historical setting really any different than the history written by a textbook author with an eye toward patriotism? The more I grasp how little we’ve learned from a history we’ve assumed was real, perhaps this fictionalized account of a real dictator?bears less?negative impact?than the lessons learned from such a story.?I suppose the best we can do is handle?postmodernism?with care, limiting its political and capitalist consumption of culture?in the Third World… whatever that means.

PART II: Old Tricks, New Tricks

And the award for best posts to date goes to:

  • Life in Dying
    I felt I made a new connection in Fight Club between body, as the limited modern form striving?to achieve a?real experience,?and the soul or idea of legend as postmodern form struggling to break free from the limitations of form. I spent FAR more time on this than any other post, engaging with?the narrative?as well as narrative- through- the- lens- of- theory, and?organizing these thoughts into essay form. Yeah, I was home alone for two days.
  • Making Sense (???)
    Here I was able to follow several significant threads discussed in class, applying one aspect of a particular theory to every text. Addressing issues from?the complication of all our?narrators, to the problematic concept of gender, I was able to beat these topics into submission, taming my unruly, jumbled thoughts.

The award for best?comment to date:

  • To Zena on Butt- Wipe
    This comment engaged with Zena’s question, recounted a class comment, brought in textual evidence, and also taught me a thing or two in writing it.?

The award for best classmate post goes to:

  • Esther’s “I Can Spell Jameson, So It’s Not a Bad Start”
    This post came along right when I needed it, particularly since Esther posts early?if not on time. She summarizes the highlights of Jameson’s theory, adds visuals to demonstrate her argument of lacking historical reference in architecture against Jameson’s need for context, and poses a few questions for comment. You just can’t ask for more.

Based on my previous accomplishments, these next three goals?are what I plan to?strive?toward?for the remainder of?my blogging career:

  • Increased engagement?with?comments
  • I should get over my need to be original and address some class topics already. I’m always pushing so hard to move beyond what has already been discussed. The alternative would be to “go deep.” Wait, I do that.
  • More humor. I used to be funny.
  • More silly?pictures. That used to be fun too.
  • Oddly, perhaps I need to spend LESS time banging out?these marathon?posts and more time on other class work – or just living life.

How to acheive these things? I could just relax. The problem is that I find this class so darn interesting.?Yeah. I happen to like?taking?our shiny, new information?out for a spin?through the?informal blog, particularly?where a?little misjudgment and hitting the guard rail is allowed. Sue me.

Comments

  1. kmiddleton says:

    Okay, get comfortable. This might take awhile. For the sake of readability, I’m going to break the responses here into two different comments–this one on postmodernism and future work, the second on blogging and commenting. Ready?

    So, What becomes immediately clear is that you’re lengthy and thoughtful posts are driving a complex grasp of the connections between postmodern theory and texts. What’s also developing, as you note above, are some significant overriding themes: historiographic metafiction, self-reflexivity, limitations. Since The Last King of Scotland keeps coming back as a touchstone, you might really think about using it for your research paper. As you’ve noted above, there are at least three different strands that need to be addressed: the ideological implications of this kind of historiography (what are its effects?); its impact on different audiences (different effects on different audiences, and implications of these); the role of capitalism in this (films are marketed for audiences, right? So what’s the relationship between the first two strands and the market forces that are driving the distribution of the film? How does it operate as a commodity? What does a historiographic metafictive commodity look like?) Working through these would give you an object lesson with which to make some larger statements about the circulation of h.m. texts in a capitalist society, and also to anticipate the shift from postmodernism to cultural studies. Here too, you might happen upon your fascination with limits—and it seems like you’ve begun this above. What are the limits of the potential for h.m.?

    This is one idea of many, but it’s one that is already evident in nascent form throughout your work. Other ideas?

  2. kmiddleton says:

    Round 2: blog goals. Well, yes, exactly. It’s clear that you have no problem with this form: in fact, one might say you’ve taken to it like a duck to water. So, you might group your current goals under a larger heading: moving a class blog into a literary/cultural blog. It’s no mistake that there are some pretty phenomenal scholars out there who use this form to popularize their ideas (Michael Berube was the gold standard for awhile, but he archived his and went to work for Crooked Timber; Scott Eric Kaufman is another). The parts that you’re talking about working on (visuals, humor, a bit more enjoyment on the writing end) are all of the things that lit bloggers manage to balance for themselves, for their audiences, and arguably for the development of the field.

    So, is there a way to conceive of your work here for a larger audience? And what are the ways that you would begin to hook into those communities? (Linking is always good; tagging too; if you’re super-brave commenting will do it in a heartbeat.) You might also think about anticipating the RSS structure: it’s only your first paragraph—and sometimes only the first few lines—that get aggregated. Can you shape those to hook potential readers?

    This might ease your need to “push beyond” class discussion as well. Is there any topic that we ever exhaust in 75 minutes? (Okay, maybe neural nets, but that’s about it…) I’d encourage you to let us remain your audience, but also to think about a larger audience that isn’t necessarily in on the conversation. It will change your writing for sure.

  3. kmiddleton says:

    Round 2: blog goals. Well, yes, exactly. It’s clear that you have no problem with this form: in fact, one might say you’ve taken to it like a duck to water. So, you might group your current goals under a larger heading: moving a class blog into a literary/cultural blog. It’s no mistake that there are some pretty phenomenal scholars out there who use this form to popularize their ideas (Michael Berube was the gold standard for awhile, but he archived his and went to work for Crooked Timber; Scott Eric Kaufman is another). The parts that you’re talking about working on (visuals, humor, a bit more enjoyment on the writing end) are all of the things that lit bloggers manage to balance for themselves, for their audiences, and arguably for the development of the field.

    So, is there a way to conceive of your work here for a larger audience? And what are the ways that you would begin to hook into those communities? (Linking is always good; tagging too; if you’re super-brave commenting will do it in a heartbeat.) You might also think about anticipating the RSS structure: it’s only your first paragraph—and sometimes only the first few lines—that get aggregated. Can you shape those to hook potential readers?

    This might ease your need to “push beyond” class discussion as well. Is there any topic that we ever exhaust in 75 minutes? (Okay, maybe neural nets, but that’s about it…) I’d encourage you to let us remain your audience, but also to think about a larger audience that isn’t necessarily in on the conversation. It will change your writing for sure.

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