Reflexive and (sometimes) tragic

“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all.”
Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure.
“But every place she went
they pushed her to the other side
and that other side pushed her to the other side
of the other side of the other side. . . .
Pushed to the edge of the world
there she made her home on the edge. . . .
Always pushed toward the other side
In all lands alien, nowhere citizen.” (Anzaldua, 1994, p. 3)
Both quotes in “Postcolonial Interventions in the Rhetorical Canon: An “Other” View” by Raka Shome. In Contemporary Rhetorical Theory, 1999.

Sleepless!

Some quotes that illuminate last night’s (wee hours of this morning, actually) existential crisis:
“…failures to bridge the gap between a lived practice and a noncorresponding ideology…the contradiction is between a a moral sense of ‘what should be done’ and ‘what is being done’ (p. 280). The contradiction is mediated, both in the life of the individual and within the public realm, by recourse to suitable myths that gloss the incompatibilities, and thereby provide a rationalization for action. The task of a critical rhetoric is to call attention to the myth, and the manner in which it mediates between contradictory impulses to action” (McKerrow, Critical Rhetoric, in CRT, 1999, pp. 456-7, cites Abravanel (1983).
“…a specific intellectual is ‘one whose radical work of transformation, whose fight against repression is carried on at the specific institutional site where [she] finds [herself] and on the terms of [her] own expertise, on the terms inherent to [her] functioning as an intellectual'” (McKerrow, Critical Rhetoric, in CRT, 1999, p. 458, cites Lentricchia’s (1983, pp. 6-7) statement of Foucault’s notion of a specific intellectual.)

Wrinkles

It happened. Last night. I turned away from the sink and caught a sideways glance and there they were. Wrinkles around my eyes. 🙂
People have consistently taken me for several years younger than I really am. Not any more!
Danny, Srinivas, and Qianqing were there for the celebration – a beer in the Blue Wall. Ooooo baby!

being a critic

I had a revelation in the SOM class yesterday, an outgrow of the paper we just did, but also I think the stabilization of a conception that’s been percolating for awhile (influenced significantly by Stephen’s rhetoric class, in addition to other, longer-term inputs). One of my hesitations with seeking serious leadership roles has been a concern for wielding power responsibly; an aspect of this has been the sense that its not enough to just criticize what’s “wrong” with something, one must be able to suggest solutions too.
Yet, it seems ridiculous to me that anyone can realistically say what they will do – for instance, in all the election talk – until they actually get there (both into the role and into the future situation). What seems more honest is to be clear about the kind of processes I would use in order to reach decisions about solutions. There doesn’t seem to be any room for this kind of talk in the current “times” – there are all the issues of media coverage/access, producing soundbites, and accommodating or somehow “meeting” audience desires…
Raz has invited me to give a persuasive speech to his public speaking class come November….I am tempted, and a bit shy. It’s mulling around; we’ll see if I can pull it together.

Energized!

{But could lose it, third time I’ve tried to make this entry!}
Feeling good. Making some unconventional decisions (at home, in school) and have got increasing energy and optimism. Yeah!
School’s going well, the mentoring project is rocking…good momentum, I think. Worried a bit about faculty coming on Nov 2, but hope by then they are curious enough to make the commitment. Fingers crossed! Stephen and Briankle’s classes are great; lots of discussion. Over in SOM, too, even though Linda vetoed my idea for a paper. 🙁
Family has all adjusted to the schoolyear routine. I need to figure out how/when to visit Sam regularly, and also work in some dedicated writing time. I haven’t done that before, only written under deadline pressure, but, the time she has arrived for a more measured approach that allows process time – development, perhaps even some maturation of ideas.

Will hang with the “spirituality

Will hang with the “spirituality group” this Friday night, just warned them about the Brocken Hexe I brought back for us from Germany. Maybe we’ll plan something for next spring to celebrate Walpurgisnacht.
I’m going to miss this event in a couple of weeks because of a taping session for the mentoring project (I’m not complaining!), but someday I’ll catch Cooper Thompson and/or his book, White Men Challenging Racism.
Another video from P.O.V. to see someday and their upcoming schedule on PBS.
Family Fundamentals: “What happens when conservative Christian families have children who are homosexual? “Family Fundamentals” goes to the heart of today’s debate over homosexuality, where the personal is inextricably

Plunging! The last two days

Plunging!
The last two days I’ve received a number of compliments about my appearance. Once in a great while someone says something about my eyes, but I can’t recall a flurry like this. What’s up? [the FP] said maybe I’m more at peace with myself? Ha! I’ve felt intensely sad the past week, convinced I’ll never feel loved enough, that there is no place where I truly belong, and nonesuch will ever exist.
I’ve avoided writing so despairingly here because I’m aware of image – not only how people interpret me (face) but also just how I project myself into the world, how I can be “me” in the ways that I feel most capable and competent. Yet, one can hardly do subjectivity justice if one is constantly hiding these internal aspects, eh?
In prep for the meeting with Jana and Alex today I’ve been reading their books, one on Foucault and one on Bakhtin. As usual, I’m reflecting not only on this paper James and I are trying to write, but also other projects: the mentoring project at school, interpreting FLOW (Carole and I just got accepted to that international conference in Sweden next May – but as a poster, not a presentation), and my interactions within the family. Foucault’s emphasis on “a heterogeneous ensemble of power relations operating at the microlevel of society. The practical implication of his model is that resistance must be carried out in local struggles against the many forms of power exercised at the everyday level of social relations” (p. 23).
This book, by Jana Sawicki, is awesome! Not only explains Foucault in plain language (at least compared to many intellectual tomes) but also contemporary struggles in feminism. She says, “Foucault described how power grips us at the point where our desires and our very sense of the possibilities for self-definition are constituted” (p. 10). Yes – that would be me.
In addition to struggling with despair (that everything I am has been shaped by the structure of discourses and narratives I’ve been exposed to – language regimes that I’m still struggling to break out of), there are some gems here for the mentoring project (I think). Li and I still need to figure out how to take best advantage of the expertise and wisdom of people in our department…a strategy is taking shape in my mind…I need to discuss with Li first…but here are some of the inspirational quotes from Sawicki’s book:
“What is certain is that our differences are ambiguous; they may be used either to divide us or to enrich our politics. If we are not the ones to give voice to them, then history suggests that they will continue either to be misnamed and distorted, or simply reduced to silence” (p.32).
“On the basis of specific theoretical analyses of particular struggles, one can make generalizations, identify patterns in relations of power and thereby identify the relative effectiveness or ineffectiveness, safety or danger of particular practices” (p. 32).
I’m thinking that a mentoring relationship is one of power (emphasized by Mariama), and part of the complexities of figuring it out are determining which practices are effective or ineffective, dangerous or safe. If the collective wisdom of the comm department could be brought to bear on this, not only would all of us benefit personally (I believe), but I’m confident we would also generate material that we could use to produce a videotape for the wider campus community. I’m visualizing this as a two-tiered process…on one tier is the data-gathering, the interactions, discourses, incidents and experiences that will generate a corpus from which to glean generalizations and patterns, the other tier is the application of theoretical lenses to this corpus…illuminating differences in productive ways, thus enriching not only mentoring relationships but our understandings of these theories in practical application.
Hmmm….reads well, but Carolyn might accuse me of being too idealistic again, :-).