Crossroads Day 2

Guilt is a great thing. I was hanging out on the floor trying to find both an electrical outlet and wireless internet connection when Prof. Dr. Lale Duruiz rescued me – offering me the use of her very own office! She said I had “a great tactic.” 🙂
I attended only one panel (besides mine) – 2.3 Emotion Trouble, or the Affective Turn in Media and Cultural Studies II. It was quite interesting. Elaine Chang read an engaging paper on dating game shows, posing the question of comparison between winning a mate and winning a refrigerator. Her conclusion had to do with an economy of love and surplus desire, along with many questions about these public displays of emotionality and the subjective desire for it. It certainly had me reflecting a bit on this whole weblog business. 🙂 What I “put on display,” what I don’t, who I bring into this space with me, who I don’t. How I bring people into this space. This is a more refined question than has been posed in the past. I’ve answered the question, “why blog,” on more than one occasion, but it always feels too abstract and depersonalized. I actually believe in this forum as a space of interaction, which means it could become a space for interaction. Ah – this is a recurring debate too! (Those dang discourses. They just keep cycling around.)
I had a couple of “aha” moments during this panel, particularly about the field of cultural studies and what/why/how it differs from social interaction. Helps me get more perspective on the cultural studies-ists (?) in my department as well as giving me some hooks where I might be able to attach carabiners from/to my work on language, interpretation, interaction -> and the “flow” from these “up” to institutional policies, practices, structures, etc.
Mervi Pantti & Johanna Sumiala-Seppäälä’s paper on mediatized death rituals reminded me of the historical public lynchings in the US. One of the slides described news reportage of tragic accidents in Finland “as moments of collective effervescence.” I can’t recall who/where I read or heard something similar about the picnics white folks organized periodically with a lynching as the main “entertainment.” I also thought of the television coverage of 9/11, and of course all of the on-going war coverage. I keep puzzling, how is all of this vast human energy going to be rechanneled? What else can these impulses and desires be turned toward?
Anu Koivunen then spoke about emotions as politics and the “curious impasse” between various schools/approaches, the recent surge of interest in affect/affectivity, and the general absence of self-reflection of scholars engaged in these topics. I have eto say, I thought it was terribly ironic that Anu noted this individual, scholarly absence and then explained she wouldn’t go into it herself. Her paper was fascinating without that element and I’m not sure what/how she could have shared that aspect without it being a completely different paper and prone to all of the kinds of criticisms that (for instance) I have received from ways of doing this blog. It is a trick, to bring the personal in without making one’s self the (egocentric, narcissistic) subject. Can I (or anyone) be an object of study without being/becoming/remaining a subject, too? But then, isn’t that the point – to be both subject and object, as we are already treated by/within the system(s) in which we live?
A last note before I dash off to the first of today’s panels. Karin Becker was in the audience of this panel and she shared her experience of the day before. She was called by a Swedish television program for an interview. They wanted to ask her whether their own media coverage of the Swedes currently stuck in Beirut is actually “creating angry emotions.” Wow! That’s a cool level of reflexivity on the part of the programmers . . . and . . . it is a case-in-point of the POWER of the media to shape viewer’s responses. If they are able to identify the subtle features of their own broadcast that invokes anger, might this not enable the deliberate elicitation of anger in a population should someone feel the need to inspire it? Likewise, suppose you don’t want people to become angry, might there not be ways to re-frame the coverage so that anger is muted, dispelled, redirected? Of course, these are precisely the arguments made in the other two presentations, both of which show various ways these manipulations are accomplished in regard to two existential motifs: death, and love. Love and death? (Does sequence matter?)

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