31.8.06

[andre breton: surrealism & mimesis]

"Je persiste à réclamer les noms, à ne m'intéresser qu'aux livres qu'on laisse battants comme des portes, et desquels on n'a pas à chercher la clef" (Breton, Nadja).

As I'm working on chapter three (temporality in web fiction), I find myself wading through books online and off. Perhaps it is simply a way of procrastinating which I like to pretend is actually me being academic... Sitting in our "library" (actually a collection of bookshelves on the landing) I set about exploring my collection. I pulled out books on cyberspace, digital living, French feminisms, I fingered through travel guides eagerly awaiting my next forray, and then I pulled out a dusty little number, Breton's Nadja. I flipped through the pages and the above line caught my eye. With multi-mimesis dancing in my head, Breton's thinking seems so very pertinant (we'll ignore his womanizing/stereotyping tactics in favour of certain aspects of his philosophy). How can books be like swinging doors? Perhaps this is Breton insisting upon the potentiality of language, of writing. But then he denies it when he declares that "la vie est autre que ce qu'on Écrit." Maybe this opposition can be fruitful. This is the game of the text; of writing, of reading, of living. What Breton sees as an irreducibility of confict, allows him to play with appearances, realities. Against this background of perpetual oppsition, Breton positions his text outside of common literature while at the same time recommending that Nadja should appear at the axis of all that is literary: "J'envie (c'est une façon de parler) tout homme qui a le temps de préparer quelque chose comme un livre, qui, en étant venu àbout, trouve le moyen de s'intéresser au sort de cette chose ou au sort qu'après tout cette chose lui fait" (173). The metaphor of the swinging doors is relevant here too. A door, swinging back and forth, beginning from the same place but opening out and offering multiple directions, is emblamatic of Nadja and Breton's view of language. In his attempt to illustrate the discontinuity between life and narrative, the former being disordered and the latter, if not ordered, at least arrangable or organisable, Breton seems to have created a mimetic analogue to life. In all his contradictions and game-play, Breton reminds readers that literature, like life, is a perpetual process.

26.8.06

[new media art discourse VS new media art(ists)]

I feel a bit like I'm cheating...I posted this earlier on WDL but think I'll blog about it here to and this way I can add a little bit extra.

One of art's functions is to recall that which is absent - whether it is history, or the unconscious or form, or social justice. (Lucy Lippard, Overlay (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982) 4).

Just as artists working within (or against?) modernism's circumscribed etiquette struggled to find spaces in which they might exhibit their works, so too do new media artists and facilitators endeavor to locate public, physical, or web (re)presentation of their labors. But, representation is always mediated, constructed, and controlled. Even academic texts, compendiums, and anthologies (as has been argued especially in literary studies), promote their (author's) subjective language and experience. Questions like who is reading/interacting and who is creating/presenting are still pertinent, especially in relation to the flourishing new media art field. For an interesting debate on the constructed nature of new media art representation read
Marc Garrett's response to the publication of Mark Tribe's New Media Art which begins like this:

A few days ago on the Rhizome.org (raw) list I was involved in an interesting debate regarding Mark Tribe's recent publication 'New Media Art'. I thought it worthy of posting onto this blog so others share their own ideas/opinions about the subject and comment themselves if they wish to on here. Or just read...

Start of the disucssion...

I would like to ask Mark Tribe why www.furtherfield.org is not included in his recent book 'New Media Art'?

http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/books/
art/all/facts/03684.htm

I would also like to open this question up for others on this list to explore, it would be interesting to know why groups such as ourselves have been and are ignored by such individuals, when we have also contributed much to the culture and history of media art for quite while now.

One could suddenly start thinking that there is a 'gate-keeping' scenario going on, put in place by certain academics, who are consciously creating a deliberate historical divide for an elite - by repeatedly representing and proposing the same names, over and over and over and over and over.........................again.

confused/disturbed but sadly, not actually that surprised.

marc garrett.

[walk in hindhead copse]

After a lovely (and well deserved I might add!) lie-in, we enjoyed pancakes with newly "imported" Canadian maple syrup and some local farmer's market bacon. What a treat. We were healthy too, we sipped strawberry smoothies and finished with an orange. After that we decided a walk was in order. We agreed to explore the rambling woods behind the cottage. As we ambled along we gawped at the enormous but ever so tasteful abodes. Each amazing house had acres and acres of gardens and quite a few had a horse or two in the back garden. The cars parked in each flagstone drive screamed money. There were mercs, beamers, audis (of course), then there were the rolls, the lamborginis, the ferraris (we saw 3!!) the list goes on. I shouldn't mention that we were also run over by an over enthusiastic hummer driver, as that might taint the aura of the area...I want to know what these people do. Are they all mafia or what? If the average salary in England is 21 grand p.a., where on earth do these people find their sustanance? Whatever it is, I want to do it too! I mean, a swish car, a horse, acres of greenery, tennis courts...all this in the face of neighbouring poverty. I mean, on Thursday I went into London (this time for business after last week's tourism!) and met up with my friend Mark, and met Marc and Ruth from Furtherfield. I crammed myself onto the tube only to get off in a seedy area where I was instantly approached with offerings of cheap rolexes and good smoke...hrm... Well, let's get back to the prettiness of Hindhead. This is some of what we saw:





23.8.06

[romance]

I had a lovely surprise lastnight. Steve came home from work with a huge bouquet of sunshine yellow flowers....just because. Ah.....

20.8.06

[england through the eyes of a canadian: part trois]

I'm still here, mulling over England through the eyes of poor tourist. In seven days I was an exceptional tour guide (modest too!) and made sure we hit as many "you just must see" spots as we could.

Here are some excerpts:

16.8.06

[england through the eyes of a canadian: part deux]

So yesterday I treated my friend to a day in London. "What fun!" I can hear y'all exclaiming. It so it was. We began with the train from Haslemere to London Waterloo ("just how much is the ticket" followed by %@!!*$#@^&*$!!) Upon arrival we were swept along with the crowd ("how rude!") down to the tube station. I stopped at interesting points, as any diligent tour guide would, and proceeded to point out how the Toronto "subway" system is tiny (probably the only small thing there!) compared to London's tube. I then dragged poor tourist over and showed her the big tube map and we followed the northern line (the black one) up to Leicester square; this is where we'd be getting off. Well, that sounds pretty inocuous (one would think!) but in the background there was swearing (apparently we were blocking the sign), we were told that the tube isn't for tourists before 11:00am (some grumpy guy in a business suit), and some kid decided to try to steal my wallet (big mistake and that kid might need surgery to re-attach his hand! silly yobo!). After all that excitement we descend into the depths of waterloo station (it is deep compared to the toronto tube). I, again, good tour-guide behaviour, explain that we stand on the right so people can dash past (if they so wish) on the left. Of course, after I demonstrate tube etiquette, there has to be (there's always one, at least!) a big guy with dreds coming out of every orrifice just standing or rather swaying, on the left. ("How rude!") I prepared poor tourist for the tube journey which would undoubtedly include being squeezed so hard you're about to faint but then the doors open and the masses of people (some not so smelly, others incredibly so!) push you out. We weren't disappointed, it all happened just as I said it would. Leicester square was pretty uneventful, besides the crazy cabbies, the cyclists, the scooters, the pedestrians, the plain old crazy people, and the guys spouting "the end of the world is nigh". So, how does this compare with Toronto I ask poor tourist. "No, nothing like Canada, but just like New York." We then made our way towards Trafalgar Square and stopped in at St. Martins-in-the-Fields church just in time to catch a free lunchtime concert. The piano-playing was amazing and the sun streaming through the stained glass windows made the whole experience feel very celestial. Once more outside into the traffic I pointed out the Canadian consulate. It was hard to miss with an enormous Canadian flag billowing in the breeze. We popped in to the National Gallery and oohed and ahhed at the passion for paint exhibition. Exciting. Then, now this is the best bit, we had lunch at my fave place (when in Londinium), Miso Noodle. Ah....duck soup. De-vine! (Bet you're drooling) With that energy rush I took poor tourist down picadilly, regent street, and of course no visit would be complete without a schlep down Oxford Street (oooh, Harrods!). By then it was 8:00pm and it was time for poor tourist to train home. On the way back to Haslemere we reviewed our day and agreed that London is a) big, b) bloody expensive, c) bonkers, e) busy, f) blingtastic g) brilliant, and h) bloody bloody expensive!

14.8.06

[england through the eyes of a canadian]

This morning, a grey and foggy 5:00am to be exact, we made our way from leafy Haslemere to Gatwick airport. To keep ourselves awake as we drove, we counted as many smart cars as we could spy, marvelling at the cute dinkyness. We marvelled at the lush greenery and the terrain which melted from flat grass to softly rolling hills and chalky outcrops. We picked up a good friend from Canada who was setting forth her feet on Eurpoean soil for the first time. As we drove back towards Haslemere, with an important stop for home-made burgers at Farnham's Lion and Lamb bistro, I noticed a major difference in how we described what we saw. I admired the quaint houses while I was reminded that I'll never find anything so "small" in Canada. The historic bistro was cute (here it is quite posh). The narrow Roman roads were tortuous and full of "round-about thingeys" (I second that road-about comment...they get in the way!). Smart cars (which I sooo love) are cute but how do you manage your Ikea or any other shopping? Our cottage is cute and compact. I just had to laugh. I think I'm become anglo-sized and very used to the smallness of everything. I'm even moaning about the environmentally unfriendliness of big cars; this for a girl who loved driving a mini-van! I'm going to be in for a shock when I eventually go to live in Canada...everything is going to be huge!

8.8.06

[french blogger is dooced]

boss angry with employee bloggingI realise this originally happened a little while ago (26 of April but blogged on 18 of July - I believe) but I was ill and somehow it seems much more a propos now as I'm on the look-out for French bloggers. I've been reading about Catherine, aka petite anglaise, who was basically fired on the spot because of her private blog. Apparently she wrote her blog annonymously and never named her British firm, child's father, or mentioned her own surname. The British firm thought her photo on her blog was enough to link her to them and that was cause for dismissal, a "faute grave" which was later changed to a breakdown of trust. Hrm... A Telegraph blogger writes an article here about it and of course we can follow la petite anglaise's own experience here.

7.8.06

[weekly drudgery]

Ok. So Steve and I go to Asda to do the usual food shopping, complaining all the way. It's just so boring. As we near the entrance we notice an absolute rabble of men gathered around two rather stunned-looking women running a little booth. Turns out they're giving free taste-tests of Asda's wine of the month. As the women amble into the shop with their trolleys and lists at the ready, all the men are leaning over the two young women asking for more (wine that is!). Talk about something to help you through the shopping! (I helped balance that stereotype by sending Steve in to look for fresh veg while I steeled myself with a few sips!)

5.8.06

[blogher and blogging internationally]

Since arriving back from BlogHer in San Jose I've had a million thoughts swirl around my head and am finding it difficult to actually pinpoint exactly what I'm thinking. Perhaps that's just because there's so much. Questions of race, sexuality, and of course gender-sterotypes definitely are some main themes but what about "Americanization?" Sure, BlogHer attracted (a few) people from outside of the States. I was there (all the way from old Blighty), Canadians were there, Mexicans, even a German or two. But...that was it (to my knowledge). If there were more people from outside of the States raise your hands now! Looking around at the sea of mostly white English speaking and writing faces has really made me question whether the internet is as democratising as some of it's proponents assure. I mean, as Sue pointed out in our recent meeting, html (as with other code) is in English....The sessions at BlogHer were certainly directed to the Anglo crowd. Even when we were being taught about monetizing (spelt with a "z" - zee! har) our blogs and it was suggested that we add important bits to the top left of our blogs as that is where "the" eye naturally rests. Sure, for people who read from left to write and from top to bottom...hrm. What about Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, etc....What then? How would I find out about that? Where are the Hebrew bloggers? In the States I was reading about French bloggers being the "world's most intensive bloggers." (the July 30 edition, page 18A of the San Jose Mercury News) Apparently 60% of French 'net users visted a blog in May, ahead of Britain's 40% and 1/3 of American users. Hrm...food for thought? Where are the French bloggers? (Jacques Chirac anyone?) I'm off to see if I can find some right now.

1.8.06

[blogher schwag bag]

You could tell even from the schwag that mommy bloggers are a force to be reckoned with. Here I am wearing one of the treats...maybe it was a hint to us messy eaters?

btw: it is tricky trying to take a photo of oneself and one's bib when not blessed with go-go-gadget appendages!

[blogher boy]

At the Blogher conference I found myself the cutest boy, little e. I wanted to bring him home, his mum wouldn't let me though. :) Gwendolyn writes a funny blog here and I'm just waiting for more pics of her little elf to appear!