Explaining How There Came to Be Beer Stats

Part 3 – the final installment of reading response 7

After reading chapters one through four of Multimodality: a social semiotic approach to contemporary communication, I have some additional insights to my most recent analytical reflection post on my running mode and community. The most significant is how much the social is stressed in Kress’ book on multimodality. Using previous works we’ve read, the social influence is usually acknowledged in some fashion, but not at the forefront as with Kress.

My running community formed from people who like to communicate and represent themselves with beer, running, and fun. My running community grew in a small college town, primarily of various scientists, academics, and parents. We have nearly pro-level runners sometimes and we have lots of neurotically and  competitively driven  personalities. The group started as an escape, a pick-me-up on hump day, a combination of two loves, running and beer. It is still these things but the competitive, analytical,  lovers of information that actually represented, or produced the group (and distributed…aaaalll the things), informed the communication and representation of the group.

We started keeping stats. Running stats (pretty normal, really). And beer stats. We put the serious on the silly and in turn the silly made our seriousness seem less serious.

Sorry for calling your alien kid ugly: TOS vs. TNG and I promise this is actually about classical rhetoric

When you are a Star Trek fan among other Star Trek fans the first question is which is your favorite? TOS,TNG DS9, Voyager or Enterprise. I don’t even know why Enterprise is an option, but it is. Even if TOS (The Original Series) isn’t your favorite you have to respect and appreciate it because none of the other series would exist without it. And that’s how I feel about classical rhetoric – can’t hate it, it’s created me. But it’s not my favorite; I’m a TNG girl.

So I really appreciated reading Bartsch and Barnes and they are sort of my TNG rhetoric equivalent (though I know this metaphor doesn’t fully work – can’t work for rhetoric because it’s been around for so long…). Looking at Tacitus’ Dialogus through their eyes was much more entertaining for me. Or I should say, made Dialogus more meaningful for me.

From Bartsch’s chapter “Praise and Doublespeak” I see Tacitus’ writing in a way that is more my own language. What is happening is the romanticizing of the way things were: why aren’t there awesome orators like in the good ole days? Tacitus’ writing could be almost satire, and to an “active” audience for Dialogus or if read as interacting with an active audience. Recall “theatricality” of his writing – what we read from Bartsch las week – also way back in the beginning of this semester we started with Tacitus – political yet safe commentary.On this line of thinking Bartsch also asks when Tacitus writes of the death of the poet Maternus – is he sincere or no? real or no? Tacitus is, either way, his writings/plays/poetry and example of doublespeak (115).

From Barnes’ perspective I like how it’s all meta – like a big ole inside joke if you know all the layers – Tacitus messing with fellow academics Quintilian and Messala. I read Barnes’ interpretation, narration and again I just think of Dialogus being a ‘back in the good ole days we had REAL orators’ speech. But not only that how it is an early story of what happens to me in academia today.

You see it turns out when I was sick and reading my professor’s blog that he loves classical rhetoric – and is a TOS guy, as it happens. My chair for my committee gets all starry-eyed talking about the classical rhetoricians; they were rock star equivalents because that’s how loved and respected rhetoric used to be. I would say both men in my life and education not only worship the old rhetoricians – TOS –  but believe that an old-fashioned education can still produced old-fashioned, and awesome, rhetoric and writing (238). I’m not passionate about classical rhetoric I realize, as I complete my last reader-response post. But I am passionate about rhetoric the next generation(s).

Why Detroit?

Why Detroit?

Part 1: Frightened Disappointment

“Why would you go to Detroit?” everyone asks. I imagine the friend I visited has often been asked why he stays. Isn’t everyone just abandoning Detroit? A lot of people have, for sure. I reread The Straights on the plane ride over. It’s a book of investigative poetry, a history of Detroit in prose from my English 452, upper division poetry writing course during my undergrad with Linda Russo. On one page it just says, “There are people here, there are people here, there are people here.” There are a lot of people there, granted there used to be more. And, perhaps ironically, perhaps written with a tinge of guilt, the author did not stay in Detroit. I gave the book to my friend Vaughn, so a little bit of her is back there whether she willed it or no (I tend to think she might have willed it).

My friend Vaughn and I have a characteristic tendency in common: we cram as much as we can into a day, an event, and experience. This inevitably backfires. My GPA suffered because I took three graduate courses instead of two while teaching as was recommended. In the name of seeing everybody before I left for Guatemala and they moved away from the transitory town that is Pullman, I didn’t read as much or pack as well as I could have before going to Guatemala by way of Detroit. Oh, and there were my Pearson project (hello, anyone there? I want to show everyone but still haven’t heard from them) first-year focus proposal. Meanwhile, Vaughn works ten or more hours a day in civic engagement projects, usually seven days a week. With this work load, it was perhaps not realistic to think he would be able to see me much in the time I was in Detroit.

But I didn’t stay mad at him (and I did get to see him eventually) and went out and about as much as I could sans motor in the motor city. I made new friends. And now I write them to you in San Pedro, Guatemala. It’s the rainy season which means around four or five it starts raining and stays raining at varying levels. The lightning lights of the sky behind volcan San Pedro in pink hues. It is quite dark because of the clouds even though it is only son las siete menos veinte. Yesterday when I arrived it was less rainy and less dark at the same time, which is good because I think I was running pretty close to my max for anxiety levels. It occurred to me that this will be therapeutic for my mild but affective anxiety. Or, it could be the worst idea ever (the latter is the anxiety talking; I’m sure of it). But before I get into that story, I must tell you my Detroit story.

The trouble started about a week or two before when the youth outreach program I had planned my trip around, planned to be a part of had to be rescheduled. This program, Detroit Team Strength, was going to bring Tricia, a woman, teacher and mentor from Vaughn and I’s study abroad days in Liverpool five years ago. I had bought tickets in a multi-destination package: Spokane to Detroit for a week, Detroit to Guatemala for seven weeks, then Guatemala to Spokane (to home, to mi novio. Posible estoy loco para viajar no con mi novio). I suppose I could’ve tried canceling my Detroit trip and just seeing if I could fly from Spokane instead. But I didn’t even try because I wanted to see Detroit and in my searching I found flying from Detroit had been generally cheaper. And, my sister said she would drive the three hours to see from Columbus. Given we went four years without seeing before, it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of an opportunity to see each other.

I booked the hostel in Detroit because Vaughn did warn me he was working in the day and I was getting in late on a Monday. I also figured to stay two or three nights, because having a house guest for six or seven night is a lot for anybody. But it ended up being five nights in the hostel and one with Vaughn because in addition to two jobs, his own business, and one or two (or more?) volunteer non-profit types, Vaughn is remodeling his house. Once again, I did eventually get to spend some awesome time with Vaughn, and it’s really kind of impossible to stay mad at a person doing so much good (impossible actually, I tried). Besides, the hostel was amazing and I made amazing connections that I would not have otherwise.

I arrived at DTW, an airport that looks about like any other airport, sterile, random pockets of beautiful art, overpriced food and chairs with armrest to sabotage weary travelers attempts at sleep. My flight came a little early, about 10:45 pm but didn’t make it to the hostel until about 12:30 on account of my inability to find a taxi via phone/Google search. I mean I found them and called a couple but couldn’t get anyone to come. Finally a nice airport security guard guy told me where to get a taxi at the airport. I was going to try a shuttle then bus but both were cutting it really close to when I would arrive. I’d end up in a Detroit neighborhood with no bus at night and only a so-so ability in navigation. Basically, because of Detroit’s reputation, I chickened out and shelled out the taxi fare ($50). It was a white van and it seems that taxi drivers don’t actually know their way around anymore – they use GPS. I think this worked in my favor because even though the hostel is, in actuality in a good neighborhood, the first thing you see getting off the freeway on to Rosa Parks Blvd. is a desolate looking gas station in front of a heavily graffitied building that looks unoccupied, and across the street is two houses, one of which has a fallen in roof, and a main floor filled with rubble. That is to say, he seemed a little uncertain and later I found out some cabbies refuse to go there at night though the reported crime there is very low and there are two community gardens within the same block.

Hostel Detroit (seriously, no pun intended, it’s not hostile) is painted up with bright colors like any hostel. It has a yellow door, red bricks and multicolored “pixel” bricks that inspired my nephews and niece to call it the rainbow house, or rainbow hotel and were bummed they didn’t get to stay there too. The manager let me show them inside, I never did hear if it changed their minds or maintained the appeal. The hostel has two kitchens and a bunch of private rooms. I went for the cheap of course, which was expensive for a hostel “open room” $27 a night, for a bunk. The hostel is on lockdown with a keypad to get in – luckily mine worked without any problem which I guess is not sometimes the case according the manager ‘Jay’. Jay sleeps in the room immediately adjacent to the only entrance, the yellow door with keypad. Jay was sprawled out on his bed with the door open, presumably waiting for me. He says he works the night shift but as near as I can tell he works all the time. Jay’s attire, at least while I was there, consists of weary shorts and fraying shirts. He keeps a long goatee that reaches the top of his chest though it’s thin and scraggly at the very ends, a gray that matches his unruly hair that is maybe curly or maybe just needs a comb. Basically, he looks like the average hotel working – if he had dreads it would be just too cliché.

While there are lockers at the hostel there aren’t ones big enough for a suitcase or backpack like Adam and I found in Kelowna, Canada. I put my overweight luggage (that United charged me twice for and so far, refuses to refund the second charge on the grounds that I did not file a petition for a refund the same day) at the end of my bed and my guitar beside me as a bedfellow, covered with the extra blanket because it was too bloody hot and humid to need it but also so that it would not draw attention to itself and get stolen. Maybe it was the shock of seeing the Detroit neighborhood for the first time, or maybe it was the heat; maybe the site of Jay and the initial thought that he might not belong in there (don’t judge a book…) or maybe it was the stress of not finding a cab, of not being in Detroit for the original reason – there would be no Detroit Team Strength work and, especially heartbreaking for me, no Tricia. Whatever the reason I didn’t sleep more than a fretful hour or two and finally gave up about seven am when the other person in the open bunk room was up and getting ready for the day.

Up next, Part 2: The Heidelberg Project and Hope

Hypertext

Hypertext

And hypertext

And,

Hypertext

noun

COMPUTING

1.

a software system that links topics on the screen to related information and graphics, which are typically accessed by a point-and-click method. (Google search “hypertext definition).

 

I love creative writing, whether it’s poetry, non-fiction varieties like memoir or autobiography or witty blogs, or fiction or whatever. I love stories, all genres. So when reading Kirschenbaum’s Mechanisms I snapped back to attention upon meeting Michael Joyce and his hypertext novel, Afternoon. While Kirschenbaum’s wonder in the poem Agrippa and novel Afternoon had to do with the mechanisms behind the media, I was interested in new mediums for my craft and new ways to be delighted by storytelling.

The more I learned about Michael Joyce the more entranced I became. I got a copy of Afternoon from the library that will only run on my increasingly dated laptop. But Joyce has been busy and searching him two months ago on the internet looks different today (is he retiring? Why is he no longer maintaining  a presence? Oh and I bought his new book on my Kindle). This seems consistent with his work Of Two Minds however, which has three sections – an irony he does not fail to note. Joyce does not work in the linear, “these essays and/or narratives are less a collection than a concoction,” he writes (5). Is this how I justify my ‘concoction’ of a paper piece of writing? I can’t say that I know yet. But as a person that best understand academic speak when I stand it on its head, read it backwards, and “hypertext it” (look up author history, word definitions, definitions from definitions, topics within author history and wiki pages, etc.) I have to say I find Joyce compelling:

Hypertexthas been called the revenge of the text on television since under its sway the screen image becomes subject to the laws of syntax, allusion and association, which characterize the written language. Print literally gives way on hypermedia screens to digitized sound, animation, video, virtual reality, and computer networks or databases that are linked to it. Thus, images can be “read” as texts, and vice versa. Any hypertext holds the prospect of representing on the screen the sights, sounds, and experience of movement through virtual worlds that language previously only evoked in the imagination (23-24).

Joyce write this in the 90s and held a more accurate prediction of how screen-bound we would end up being than most people could have guessed.

Steven Johnson of the online magazine Wired wrote a short hypertext article discussing why the hypertext novel never caught on  despite having the real possibility and potential to:

By the early ’90s, Joyce and his hypertextual coconspirators had triggered a larger public conversation about the significance of this new form. Multiple print tomes appeared evangelizing hypertext storytelling, and a few even warned of the threat it posed to traditional narrative. The literary/philosophical world had been musing about the death of the author and fragmented, reader-centric text since the late 1960s, but suddenly all those abstract ideas were grounded in technological reality.

Johnson writes that nonlinear reading had issues, a big one being how difficult they were to write, “When you tried to make an argument or tell a journalistic story in which any individual section could be a starting or ending point, it wound up creating a whole host of technical problems,” so much so that the writing, or quality of writing petered out. But there are still quite a few hypertext novels to be read on the internet.

Comp Tales Short Response Paper

English 501

October 15, 2013

Solve a Mystery or Rewrite History

“Life is like a hurricane/Here in Comp-burg/theory, texting, digital/It’s a comp-blur/Might solve a mystery/Or rewrite history/CHORUS: CompTales (oooh ooooh)/Every day we’re out there making/CompTales (oooh ooooh)/Tales of daring do bad and good LuckTales (oooh ooooh). When it seems we’re heading for the/Final drafting/Cool discoursive never fails/Nothing is certain/The worst of messes/Become successes/ CHORUS. D-D-D-Danger! Watch behind you/There’s a student out to find you/What to do? Just grab on to some CompTales! CHORUS/Finale: CompTales (oooh ooooh)/Every day we’re out there making/CompTales (oooh ooooh)/Tales of daring do bad and good LuckTales (oooh ooooh)/Not phony tales or rotten tales, no CompTales (ooh ooooh)” (My adaptation of Ducktales Theme Song for composition teaching.)  These lyrics inspired by Comp Tales, a book by Haswell and Lu. Haswell’s last say on the collection of stories reveals his interest in storytelling (183-194) while Lu spends more time on the theory of it (195-228). I do not have a favorite comp tale from the book; my favorite comp tale is the Facebook discussions between my colleagues on the book.

Less formal than the forums and with the feeling that no one is watching (a cohort member did make a private, hidden group [cohort 2013!] but I doubt very much that anything is really private on Facebook) my fellow students and teachers-to-be expressed delight in reading narratives of what it’s like in the field. Grading and baises, co-workers and mishaps all in a ‘round the campfire’ sort of story, yet polished and thought out. Those of us (me being one of them) that decried the lack of context or prep from other readings were appease as Haswell and Lu  included that. My colleagues laughed and were sad (maybe cried?) were relieved and inspired and, I think, excited and intrigued to teach and get a few comp tales of their own. This purpose or result predicted by Lu bottom of page 207.

This is the power of story. It’s not hard to read even if there are layers of understanding; even if it isn’t a simple, easy read. I disagree with Haswell that the comp tales would ever seem “lightweight” (though of course, I did not see all the drafts and stories he sifted through) but I absolutely see his view that the narratives are, “…personal and vernacular and oral and social. Two ways of extending comp tales are by looking for moral directive (always there) and for embedded tales (always there), …above all it can show how a professional genre as plebeian as oral anecdotes of personal experience provides a rich and singular understanding of the profession” (186). Ultimately, this book carries all the weight of the human experience, of story, of narrative but carefully and thoughtfully crafted. It addressed the marginalized and based on the amount of submissions they got also utilized the balanced decision of what and when not to share.

Also, I lied. I did have a favorite: comp tale number 125 (162-64). In it I receive instruction, validation and inspiration. As a Caucasian/WASP sometimes I did not relate to my students that I tutored or worked with in TRiO programs and CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program) and now MSS (Multi-cultural Student Services) but I could always empathize. As a TRiO participant during my undergraduate degree (and also working as a tutor) I could relate to being outcast from the general population: I was older, I came from poor and was poor, I was paying my own way, I came from a minority culture (albeit a mostly white one) and I was a woman – highly likely to attend college, less likely to build a career. I did not for a moment pretend I had it as difficult as some of my fellow TRiO participants but I also could not relate to the general student population at WSU. How was it working in TRiO and more often than not being an outnumbered white person? “…fine, it’s great, we feel right at home, which too often we don’t. Except, of course, on those days when we do…” (164). I did not necessary see the strong theme of underrepresented students in Comp Tales but I did an attempt to represent all students and especially all types of teachers.

In the interest of difficulty in writing a good comp tale and also keeping with the oral tradition (context) in which the story is told, you can find my comp tales on my website posting of this paper, along with my rendition of Comp Tales Theme Song.

Lyric adaptaion by me; the original lyrics to DuckTales is here. Music by Saul Delgado. You can listen to my kinda awful definitely funny rendition of of here.

 

Want to sing along?

Life is like a hurricane

Here in Comp-burg

Theory, texting, digital

It’s a comp-blur

Might solve a mystery

Or rewrite history

 

CHORUS: CompTales (oooh ooooh)

Every day we’re out there making

CompTales (oooh ooooh)

Tales of daring do bad and good

LuckTales (oooh ooooh).

 

When it seems we’re heading for the

Final drafting

Cool discoursive never fails

Nothing is certain

The worst of messes

Become successes

 

CHORUS:

CompTales (oooh ooooh)
Every day we’re out there making
CompTales (oooh ooooh)
Tales of daring do bad and good
LuckTales (oooh ooooh)

D-D-D-Danger! Watch behind you
There’s a student out to find you
What to do? Just grab on to some CompTales

CHORUS/Finale:

CompTales (oooh ooooh)
Every day we’re out there making
CompTales (oooh ooooh)
Tales of daring do bad and good
LuckTales (oooh ooooh)
Not phony tales or rotten tales, no
CompTales (ooh ooooh)