Monday, November 29, 2010
When confession is around the corner, the nightmares suddenly cease;
"no one is given more than they can endure" reassurrance; despite
the mask, the tape, the skin-sizzle in the distance;
tell it to the team tasked with torturing out the "truth."
Align the presentation of details, facts, figures
the narrative builts itself; bank on
narrative ineluctability; the interrogator makes the meaning
the interrogated simply blurts out enough to stop the pain
Please keep in mind we're not talking about physical torture now
I just wanted that to be absolutely lead-crystal bell-tone clear
Stem cell my heart moving ahead rail-speed highs
and lows; aren't you where I expected you to be?
cure the reprogrammed memory; aren't you where you should be?
Let me put my eye on the sky; particles blinders the inner healers
Somewhere and somehow you started to sound like Rapunzel;
Climb golden up indifferent yet walls still barren solid
Suffer the body, suffer the sane. We are all tissues of inevitability;
tell me the story; damaged like all the hard to reach, hard to hold.
Please keep in mind we're in the midst of the occasional;
and I'm in the midst of mind, heart & storms -- still random.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The Eternal Zunshine of the Spotless Mind: Zunshine Meets Burke Meets Zygotsky -- Mashup or Meltdown?
I'm interested in how Lisa Zunshine's cognitive recognition in literature // application of Theory of Mind relates to Kenneth Burke's consubstantiality (getting under the skin of the reader).
Don't both have to do with extreme identification with the discourse? It could be either the speaker or the protagonist -- the rhetor or the literary character.
Here is one difference:
Lisa Zunshine, however, is writing from the point of view of literary discourse; in particular, the novel and the characters that inhabit it. For her, the great appeal of literature is the fact that the reader is able to derive voyeuristic pleasure by vicariously living a narrative that has appeal to the reader. For Zunshine, we know what will happen in a text not only because we are familiar with certain archetypal narratives that repeat themselves in history, and we know the patterns, but we know what we know because of our learned abilities for "mind-reading."
In The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (dir. Michel Gundry, 2004), the narrative posits a world where Theory of Mind concepts are suspended; as a person goes through a process of deep-cleaning the mind of pesky / abhorrent memories, it effectively wipes clean the mind of any emotional memory. One might, by extension, assume that the individuals who have been cleansed would, by necessity, also lose their emotional intelligence, their socially-learned / imprinted knowledge. They would be wiped clean of Vygotsky-type experientially- and socially-learned knowledge.
Would they be wiped clean of consubstantiality? Perhaps not. If the rhetor can find points of contact // shared reference points, ideally emotional -- it's possible for the individuals to relate through text.
Would wiping one's memory of emotional entanglements and relationships (past loves) affect one's ability to predict the actions and emotional states of fictional characters?
If we do indeed have a hard-wired, innate set of patterns in our minds that compel all people from all cultures to behave in certain highly predictable ways, and to have the same emotional responses, perhaps.
However, if the deep-cleaning materially affects the physical wiring, all bets are off. Any damage to the brain itself would affect anything that is there, whether acquired through experiential learning, socialization, or through pattern recognition acquisition.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
If you're familiar with Valerie Fox's work, you know her work takes the reader to an intense, new world of associations, connections, and reconfigured perception.
Writing Assignment / Journal Based on Valerie Fox's The Glass Book
Step 1: Please respond to the following questions and observations. Let your thoughts flow, and do not worry about complete sentences or grammar. You may make lists and your thoughts can be fragmentary. The goal is to free-write, which may involve free association.
Thought-Block 1: In "They Know About Fish," what kinds of scenes and ideas come to mind? How might the work evoke notions of reality television or a documentary? What is the role of the viewer in making the fishermen authentic? What do the fishermen themselves do in shaping a notion of authenticity? What does authenticity mean to you in this situation? Write a few sentences about what it means to you to be authentic.
Thought-Block 2: Which prose poems make you feel as though you're watching a scene unfold? What are you, the viewer or reader, doing? How is your attention directed to specific elements of the scene? Does it make you seek to find a story to tie all the elements together? When do you first find yourself looking for a story to make sense of it all? What kind of stories seem to fit these poems? What did you expect to see? Investigate Alain Robbe-Grillet.
Thought-Block 3: List places where the characters in Fox's writing are in a collision course with each other. What will happen? What does the impending encounter reveal about each? What does it say about the world we live in? What are the locations they're in? What is the context? How does the fabric of reality hold up with all of this investigation into relations / places / encounters? Do you sense a strengthening of the people (or the places)? Or, an increasing fragility of the people? If you were to write a version about an encounter in an odd place in your life, what would it look like?
Step 2: Read your thoughts. Then, expand them. Revise and edit for clarity, but do not remove the vital spirit, the essence that flows forth. Then, share your thoughts on a blog, or turn them in as an assignment for a course.
Step 3: Create your own prose poem / writing. As you do so, visit the notion of "fu" -- the Han dynasty form of writing that blended poetry and prose. Here's a rather incomplete article on Chinese poetry, but a good starting point: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_poetry
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
We look at our lives. We think we're at the beginning or at the ending of something, but in reality we're not. We're simply on stepping stones in the middle of a rushing stream.
The rocks are smooth and they are slippery. We can't maintain our balance on them and stay on them, even though we'd like to. After all, it's scary to jump from one rock to another. The water is cold, and it is turbulent. The water level rises and falls, making it also a matter of exigency that we leap - preferably before we've had too much time to over-analyze the situation and lose our initial, intuitive understanding.
Oh but it's not easy. As much as I celebrate the successful leap and landing on a new rock, I am sometimes weary of the constant readjustment, realignment, reassessment. The water is rising again. It is time for action again. I look (but only briefly) at the rocks behind me. It's not good to look back, because there's a certain introduced disequilibrium in the physical act of looking back -- not to mention the fact that the mind starts to play tricks on me, and I lose my sense of linear time.
The rock I'm on is pointed and it hurts my left foot. Three stones ago, I perched for quite awhile on a long, smooth stone. I now appreciate it, but at the time, I felt the stepping stone I was on was too big -- I was too exposed -- I felt vulnerable. The waters started to rise and I leapt.
Then I leapt again, again, and again. So, here I am now.
The air smells fresh today. It's a bit foggy, and I hear the hum of cicadas and a strange bullfrog twanging -- it sounds like large rubber bands being snapped.
This is not the best place to be, but I've made it work -- for as long as I've been here. The sun is coming out. The fog is burning off. Ah yes, and there's a mini-rainbow in the mist.