Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The sadness of Cs

I'm not really that sad, but I wanted to come up with a catchy title.

Proposals for CCCC are due in less than 1 week, and I have not even a draft done and wonder if I will. Two, and now it looks like three, potential panels have not come together. (And should one particular former potential panelist read this, I hope she won't take on any feelings of guilt or responsibility. Not that she would, necessarily, but I wanted to just nip that in the bud.) This last one didn't come together out of sheer inertia: three of us decided to do a panel together because we like each other, but we had no topic. We still have no topic. So...

But this morning I had a small flash of possible inspiration and thought I should do something on blogging, something that would somehow bring together my new blogging enthusiasm with my past and ongoing work on (1) managerial rhetorics and (2) connections between affect and literacy. It would be a presentation called "Affective Blogging," to play on a potentially more expected title ("Effective Blogging") in order to argue that blogging has the potential to bring out new affective relationships to literacy (or at least affective relationships that run counter to or exceed traditional academic literacies) and that thus potentially disrupts the managerial (aka ( "effective") model of teaching writing that we've inherited from the process movement and other sources. Something like that. It would also allow me to bring together threads I've gleaned from many of my wonderful fellow comp bloggers over the past several months. (And would prompt me to do more reading on networks etc since goodness knows I need that.)

But I haven't submitted an individual proposal since I was in grad school and feel sort of weird about it. Not that I can't get over feeling weird.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Will Richardson writes about the many French schoolchildren who blog (apparently sending in audioblogs, something like my last entry, but in French!). What really caught my interest, though, was this term:


Because it looks like flaneur, that urban wanderer that Walter Benjamin writes about and that Jeff references in his CCCC talk. Seems like a nice term for the digital flaneur: the blogeur.

But I've wondered if the flaneur isn't something of a masculine figure that might need some gender critique/refiguring. For that, perhaps I'll need to rethink blogeur as blogher.

(Sorry, folks: wordplay is just about as far as I'm going today.)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

My mantra: well, why not?

this is an audio post - click to play

Just checking it out, following Nels' lead.

(Or should I say Nels's?)

Friday, April 22, 2005

When this semester is over

(1) I'm going to read some books

(2) I'm going to teach Gabe to be nice to Casey and Clyde

(3) I'm going to drive with C down to Lake of the Ozarks

(4) I'm going to get an ibook and learn to do cool things

(5) I'm going to volunteer to clean out the Catty Shack

(6) I'm going to write that last chapter of my book

And you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Someone asked me this afternoon if I ever post any of my own poems to my blog.

I'm afraid I haven't really written a poem in a long time, my friends. So if I were to post one, it would be an old one. And to be truly honest and all, that poet-writing person seems like someone I knew in college extremely well (and even liked!) but who I haven't really talked with much for several years. It would seem almost kinda weird to post that person's poems to my blog.

I'll think about it, though.

And I'll think about it because, believe it or not, I've been thinking about connections between blogging and lyric poetry lately. I was working up a blog entry about it, and then (thanks to Yellow Dog) I got to thinking about the whole metablogging thing and wondering why I'm so attracted to it and what such meta-writing *does.* But since I've given little additional thought to that question since initially thinking it back on Sunday, it hasn't progressed much past that point. Maybe another day: maybe another day I'll blog truly meta and talk about metablogging and/or maybe I'll just talk about the blog/lyric poetry thing I had turning around in my mind.

Maybe. Who can say.

But if you really want some serious blogging about poeises, check out Silliman's Blog.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Couldn't resist

Given my general fascination with dialect.

As those who know me will have heard me say, I tried hard to get rid of traces of my Texan-speech when I moved to the midwest lo these many years ago. Now I would just as soon get it back. Mostly, it looks like I'm your basic general speaker, whatever that means. Can't shake all the Dixie, though. (Have a coke, y'all.)

Your Linguistic Profile:

65% General American English

30% Dixie

5% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern

0% Yankee

via John and Nels

Sunday, April 17, 2005

More piano jazz

I never did blog about the lovely Marian McPartland/JoAnne Brackeen concert from a couple weeks back, did I? I'll just say this: Marian McPartland, of NPR "Piano Jazz" fame, is over 80 and improvises like a wonder. And JoAnne Brackeen is one of the most under-appreciated artists in jazz: check her out if you don't know her work. I first heard Brackeen at the Jazz Kitchen in Indianapolis on a below-zero January evening several years back. Hearing her direct and inspired approach made me want to be a poet again--or at least woke me out of my mediocre-music slumber. (Since I didn't, in fact, really become a poet again.)

At any rate, tonight it's Brad Mehldau, playing at Murry's. Saw Kurt Elling there back in November. A much nicer, more intimate setting than the Missouri Theatre, where McPartland/Brackeen played.

All of these concerts, by the way, are taking place right here in the middle of Missouri, courtesy of the We Always Swing Jazz Series. I lucked out at last.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Not Friday . . .

But, nonetheless, I have joined Flickr and so wanted to blog a cat photo to prove it:

Contemplative Gabe

Gabe, contemplating his next attack.

Friday, April 15, 2005


OK, I have to learn to manipulate visuals. I will, I will.

But I wanted, until then, to note here the plastic pleasure of blogging. The manipulation of space that is not only visual but also--what? affective? virtual?

Because even while I read and learn much from blogs that tend toward one theme, I am drawn toward the affective thrill that comes from never knowing what a blog will offer on any given day, that blogdentity (Jeff's coin) is never fixed.

Sure, there are centripetal tendencies (to refer back to Collin's Cs presentation). But plenty of centrifugal. "I" am and am not all that my blog contains. Attracting and repelling.


Plastic (2): doesn't conduct, but, hey, the static buildup. The sparks.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Robert Creeley

Once again, I'm about two weeks behind on the news. I hadn't heard about Robert Creeley's death at the end of March.

He died in Odessa, TX, bizarrely enough. Dusty, dusty Odessa. He had been "in a two-month literary residency at the Lannan Foundation in Marfa, Tex., in the remote Big Bend area of the state, when he became ill."

Marfa and Odessa are far from Waco, but Waco is where I heard him read his poetry a couple of decades ago. He was the first "real poet" I ever saw in person. He read in what now strikes me as an impossibly small room in the remodeled Carroll Science Building (which, despite its name, is the home of the English Department at Baylor) that probably seated about 50 people. And it wasn't even filled. He sat down behind the desk at the front of the room, removed his green crewneck sweater, and began to read. I'd like to think he read this poem, though I don't believe he did:

I Know a Man

As I sd to my
friend, because I am
always talking, -- John, I

sd, which was not his
name, the darkness sur-
rounds us, what

can we do against
it, or else, shall we &
why not, buy a goddamn big car,

drive, he sd, for
christ's sake, look
out where yr going.


For Poetry Month, in memory of Robert Creeley.

Oh, why not post one more? He might have read this one that afternoon long ago in Waco:

The Flower

I think I grow tensions
like flowers
in a wood where
nobody goes.

Each wound is perfect,
encloses itself in a tiny
imperceptible blossom,
making pain.

Pain is a flower like that one,
like this one,
like that one,
like this one.


OK, you talked me into it. One more. Very different tone, a good note for ending:

A Wicker Basket

Comes the time when it's later
and onto your table the headwaiter
puts the bill, and very soon after
rings out the sound of lively laughter--

Picking up change, hands like a walrus,
and a face like a barndoor's,
and a head without any apparent size,
nothing but two eyes--

So that's you, man,
or me. I make it as I can,
I pick up, I go
faster than they know--

Out the door, the street like a night,
any night, and no one in sight,
but then, well, there she is,
old friend Liz--

And she opens the door of her cadillac,
I step in back,
and we're gone.
She turns me on--

There are very huge stars, man, in the sky,
and from somewhere very far off someone hands
me a slice of apple pie,
with a gob of white, white ice cream on top of it,
and I eat it--

Slowly. And while certainly
they are laughing at me, and all around me is racket
of these cats not making it, I make it

in my wicker basket.


There are very huge stars, man, in the sky. RIP, Robert Creeley.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another reason to be glad I'm no longer in WI

Wis. Considers Legalizing Cat Hunting

Cats like Becky's Fred would be fair game. I thought Wisconsin was a progressive state, for goodness sake. What's gotten into them?

The progressive faction, at least, has mobilized:
Critics of Smith's idea organized Wisconsin Cat-Action Team and developed a Web site - dontshootthecat.com. Some argue it is better to trap wild cats, spay or neuter them, before releasing them.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Save us from those satanic judges

This is really just too much.

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reports that at "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," a conference held last week in Washington,

lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Satanic? Satanic?

At one point during her talk last week, bell hooks shared a short anecdote: Her mother called her up because someone had told her bell was Buddhist. Was she Buddhist? her mother wanted to know. bell's reply: Ah, Mom. You know, I write articles for a Buddhist magazine and all, but I still read the Bible and pray every day. That's good, her mother responded. Because, you know, Buddhism is satanic.

hooks's point in telling this anecdote: her mother doesn't have any real knowledge about Buddhism. Thus her sticking it with the "satanic" label, despite the fact that it's anything but, was simply the result of ignorance. And so bell didn't think it worthwhile to acknowledge that she was Buddhist, since she knew her mother wouldn't be able to really engage in a conversation about it.

It's just bizarre to find people engaging in this kind of argumentation, the kind in which you take a slew of highly-charged words that will get a rise out of the religious right (Marxism! Leninism! Satanism! Oh my!). Of course people use highly charged language all the time. It's just that this particular kind of discourse reveals such depths of ignorance, it's depressing that it can be even mildly persuasive to any group of people. Or even mildly interesting.

A number of other gems from the conference reported in the editorial. Just one more: as Dan Shaviro and Atrios point out, it's just a little contradictory to promote a "culture of life" and then demonize Kennedy for voting down juvenile execution. Yet there's "Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism," doing just that.

Strange days indeed.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Spring in the midlands

I've lived in the midwest for, oh, let's just say awhile now. Ever since I graduated from Baylor, whenever that was. With the exception of six years in Milwaukee for my PhD, I've mostly been in the lower midwest, where spring can be depended upon. (It could certainly *not* be depended upon in Milwaukee. We'll be traveling up there at the end of the month; I don't expect to see many signs of life even then. That was the hardest part of living in Milwaukee: the relentlessness more than the harshness of winter.)

I always have colleagues who complain about finding themselves plopped down in the midwest rather than on one of the coasts, but at this time of year I'm very, very happy to find myself here. One of the best of the best things? A purple surprise: thin branches arcing, loaded with blossoms. Redbuds. My favorite days in spring are the days the redbuds are in bloom.

And, yes, they are in bloom now.

(images courtesy of www.willcountyillinois.com & missourichamber.com)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Another great blogging tradition

Friday cat blogging, that is. Except that mine will be verbal rather than pictoral.

It's just that I really have almost nothing else on my mind since, even as I write, little Gabe is obsessively trying to pick a fight with poor Casey. (Although he just became distracted by the moving cursor on the computer screen. And now he's taking a rest on C's desk.)

No, it hasn't been an easy integration. We've always been worried about how the resident cats would accept a new cat. When Casey (about 5 years of age) came to live with us in January, Clyde (who is 18, something like being an 84-year-old human) was annoyed. He hissed at him and went out of his way to avoid him, despite the fact that Casey never showed any fear or aggression toward Clyde. Casey is one easy-going cat. Playful as can be, but very easy-going. Eventually, Clyde decided he wasn't scared of Casey, but they've never been good friends. (I mean, really, can an 18-year-old guy with arthritis be expected to suddently romp and play with a 5-year-old?)

So because Casey loved to play so much that he was beginning to annoy Clyde by hiding behind doors and jumping out at him, we decided getting another cat to join Casey's fun and games would be good. But we wanted an adult cat, in order to avoid the rambunctious, uncontainable energy of a kitten. So when the Humane Society told us Gabe was 3, we thought great, that's perfect.

It soon became apparent that Gabe was likely not 3. Once he recovered from his little operation, he was all over his "safe" room, never staying in one place more than a couple of minutes.

Our vet says he's more likely less than a year old.

Yes, friends. Despite our best intentions, we have a kitten.

So even though both Casey and Clyde welcomed Gabe without so much as a hiss, this runt of a cat wants, desperately, to be the alpha cat, despite his smallness, despite Casey's complete lack of desire to fight with him to establish dominance, despite our locking him away in his "safe" room when he jumps on Casey and bites him.

We're trying to let them sort things out. They've been working out various dance steps all night. Casey, who originally would run away from Gabe, has now taken to giving him a good bop on the head when he starts the tiny little deep growling and putting back of the ears. But mostly Casey just wants to be left alone and so will creep around very carefully when Gabe is around.

I should add, though, that Gabe is as sweet as can be with humans. He's all about love when it comes to humans. So we are, it's true, quite smitten with this little bully. We're just hoping, please, that he'll grow out of this phase, that he and Casey will work out their differences.

So, all you cat bloggers out there, any advice?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

A delayed and muted "sic em bears"

Readers of this humble blog might recall that I'm a Baylor alum and so might expect that I would have a response to Baylor's NCAA women's championship. Here, then, is my response:

I think it's very cool that Baylor won a basketball championship, and not just any basketball championship, but a women's championship. Back during my undergrad days, men's sports (and football in particular) were pretty much hegemonic. (Football was pretty much hegemonic for Texas in general, but, hey, things change: my own father, a life-long Texan, even watches hockey these days--who could have imagined it twenty years ago?) And Baylor isn't exactly the friendliest place for women. (Unless, of course, they're happy to enhabit nice traditional women's roles.) So it's refreshing to see strong women in the limelight.

But my readers might also recall that my feelings toward Baylor, especially in recent years, haven't been the happiest. Still, with the current president on his way out and the Baylor women on the move, who can say what the future holds? Maybe Baylor will suddenly become intellectually vibrant, with a diverse student body and faculty.

Yeah. Maybe.

At any rate, here's one for the Baylor women: "Ayyyyyyyyy, Sic em Bears!"

Monday, April 04, 2005

Eine kleine pre-game blogging

Sure, you've read all about the coach of the year on all those websites where you sports types go for your news. But have you read the blog where he is (fondly, perhaps?) called "the goose"? I think not. For your pre-championship game pleasure: check out Mr. Drew's Wind Farm.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Early morning, April 4

King Remembered 37 Years After His Slaying

One month and one day later, I would be four. I could be forgiven, maybe, for not knowing then, for not remembering later.


One month after I turned four, it was Bobby Kennedy. I remember. I remember seeing him, on the black and white TV. Falling. Always falling. Again. and. again.

But not Martin Luther King, Jr. It would be years, years later before I even realized these two assassinations occurred in the same year, only two months apart. One a month before I turned four. One a month after.

One day after I turn four: Bloody Monday in Paris. No, I didn't know. But that's another country, another language.

Memphis? Home of Elvis. My sister, an Elvis fan. My whole life, Elvis. In 1968, Lisa Marie is born. Pictures of Elvis, Priscilla, the baby. A family. A white family. In Memphis. An event we commemmorated: we had pictures.

Memphis is closer to Weatherford, Texas than San Francisco is. My family visited Memphis when I was in high school. Our one stop: Graceland. The graves of Elvis, his parents. The rooms done up by a poor boy who made it big and died in the 70s: lots of glass, lots of shag carpet. Multiple TVs before everyone had multiple TVs.

Elvis? "If I Can Dream" spends 12 weeks on the Billboard Charts in 1968. Totally forgettable. One year later: "In the Ghetto."

So much not learned growing up in small-town Texas. Happenings weren't happening in Weatherford, Texas. We moved into a new house in 1968, right before my birthday. My parents still live there. That's what happened in Weatherford, Texas in 1968: my parents found a place to stay.

Which is one reason, yes, that writers like bell hooks have meant so much to me. I had, I have much to learn. About what was happening right under my nose all my life, but that I couldn't see.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hearing bell

I'm finally getting around to blogging about bell hooks's lecture of Wednesday night. Mine won't be, however, a very thorough overview of the lecture but much more of an affective response. After all, Marcia already has good notes over at her place: check them out.

When I heard back in January that bell hooks would be coming to campus, I was thrilled. Her work has been very intellectually and emotionally important to me over the past decade or so. I first read her Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center in Lynn's Feminist Critical Theory class back in grad school and was struck then by the remarkable readability of her voice that remains highly emotionally involving even as she makes hard and stinging critique of everything from second-wave feminism to popular culture. Though not the first, hers was certainly one of the most widely circulated voices that called out white feminists for ignoring race and class oppressions.

I've referred often to an argument she makes in that book, one that she repeated as part of her answer to a question on Wednesday night: that feminism is most productively conceptualized as a practice, a political movement, rather than as an identity to take on:
“Feminism is the struggle to end sexist oppression. . . . [It] is neither a lifestyle nor a ready-made identity or role one can step into” (28).
She referred to this way of thinking of feminism in answer to a series of questions about "womanism": why, several students wondered, doesn't she consider herself a womanist? Shouldn't confronting racist oppression come before a focus on gendered oppression? hooks's response is that since feminism isn't an identity, there's really no reason to be forced into these sorts of choices, that choosing to use feminist critique as a way to oppose sexism doesn't mean one doesn't also confront racism.

For some of my colleagues, this answer seemed wishy-washy, as did hooks's general emphasis on "love" (the name of her talk was "Ending Oppression: What's Love Got to Do With It?"). I have to admit that I, too, have wondered about her more recent books, many of which have "love" in the title and that seem to be sliding toward self-help and away from cultural critique. One of my colleagues lamented the way really sharp critics tend to get soft as they get older.

But, really, love has always been present in hooks's writings, as has the motivation to see critical thought as a way of caring for the self (and here I'm purposely evoking Foucault here, even though hooks doesn't, because I think it's important to see that "care" circulates in theoretical discourse in and beyond feminism). In Breaking Bread, her dialogue book with Cornel West, hooks talks about love as "being about people mutually meeting each other's needs and giving and receiving critical feedback" (56). And I think people may find these two actions (mutual care and mutual critical feedback) to be mutually exclusive; it certainly isn't often considered academically rigorous to go around talkin bout love. But, friends, maybe we should.

I mentioned that I was excited about her coming when I heard about it, but I felt so wiped out this week that I barely managed to get myself to the lecture Wednesday night. I also was quite ready to be disappointed. I've come to be more or less disappointed many times over the years when seeing, in person, someone whose work I've long known and loved. There's something about being a "star" that seems to drain stars of their critical edge. I also, frankly, find it a little gag-inducing when people treat cultural critics like stars, with the whole homage and verbal genuflections and all. It isn't that I don't think people should express their respect and appreciation: it's just that I don't want to turn any intellectual into an object of worship. Seems kind of bad for the soul. And there was some of that at the lecture. But, overall, I was pleasantly un-disappointed in the lecture. It was refreshing to find bell hooks's presence to be so much like her page presence: hard-edged points coupled with an astonishingly at ease presence and engaging voice. I wasn't particularly bowled over by anything she said; I was familiar with many of her basic points (regarding, for instance, interlinking systems of oppression, which she now calls "dominator culture"), though she did make a point of emphasizing the need for men to be loved as men, to be seen as fellow victims of rather than as necessarily perpetrators of patriarchy. But I know her ideas were more new than old for the vast majority of the audience, and I know that she considers it essential for intellectuals to be able to speak to a broad audience, not just to insiders. Hearing her speak, it was gratifying to see how successful she is in communicating a message that affirms critical consciousness and the struggles against all forms of oppression: she inspires with her very presence, which is at once both critical and at ease.

Some more from Breaking Bread: from the closing paragraph, to bring this entry to a close:

Oftentimes intellectual work compels confrontation with harsh realities. It may remind us that domination and oppression continue to shape the lives of everyone, especially Black people and people of color. Such work not only draws us closer to the suffering; it makes us suffer. Moving through this pain to work with ideas that may serve as a catalyst for the transformation of our consciousness, our lives, and that of others is an ecstatic and joyous process. (164)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Still here, somewhere

I've had a hard time capturing that sweetness and light mentioned in my previous entry. So I took comfort in Collin's blogging about his own post-Spring Break, post-CCCC energy dip. At least I know I'm not alone.

At any rate, I've got things to blog about: the bell hooks lecture that Marcia has blogged and the lovely Marian McPartland/JoAnn Brackeen concert of last night.

Not to mention Jeff's challenge to get back to work. And Clancy's example of blogging finds (as Jenny practices and recommends.) But I have to learn a few more things first.

So, come this weekend, look for more blogging here at Why Not Blog. (There's a regional colloquialism in that sentence, but I'm not sure it "looks" right unspoken. Just so you know.)