Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Desperate Bloggers

It's that time of year: the end of the semester/beginning of the summer slump. Yellow Dog is feeling it. As is this humble blog.

I mean, here's how bad it is: This morning, I'm thinking about this article in the science section of today's NYTimes, about an elderly woman with difficult to diagnose case of shingles. And I remember how I came down with a mild but nonetheless painful case of shingles just before I started my first tenure-track job (you know, how many stressful hits can a body take before it rebels: the job search, the dissertation defense, the move--I'm surprised every academic doesn't get a case of shingles just before starting the first job.).

Yeah, I think, that's identification: my reading of this article leads me to "identify" with a piece of it. But it isn't what the writer "planned," it isn't the "meaning" or even the evocation "intended" by the writer. That's why reader response matters. And that's an example of a text hitting a person and going off in an unanticipated direction. That's intensity. (As you can see, I'm really cooking now.)

And maybe, I start to ponder, maybe shingles are an interesting case when thinking about affective contagion. Because the virus causing shingles just lies dormant in your body (if you've ever had chicken pox), waiting for the body's defenses to go down so that it can emerge. I start thinking that social theories haven't really accounted for the shingle effect, that we need to think about how someone might "catch" an affect, that the affect might initially "do" something, but that it might lie dormant for years, decades. Hmm. But then how to think about what might reawaken it? Hmm.

And then I think:

I'm gonna blog this.

And heck if--despite later abandoning the idea as something you think is brilliant while you're thinking it and pretty wretched later--I haven't.


bdegenaro said...

You know the scene in Pulp Fiction where the shot of adrenaline revives Uma Thurman, prompting Rosanna Arquette to say "that was trippy"? That's what I thought while reading your thoughts on the shingle effect: trippy.

Neat post.

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