As I said in my response to feedback for A5 I am uncertain of the benefits at this stage of re-working any parts of my A5 essay. The feedback was positive. Nevertheless I was given clear and helpful suggestions which, if taken, would potentially lift the essay to a more advanced level. However, I feel rather overwhelmed by the changes I would want to make and unprepared for now with the ideas that I’d want to include.
Micheal Belshaw (MB) wrote in his feedback:
“If you are minded to make further changes an interesting and, to my mind by far the most persuasive yet paradoxical thought about temporality comes under the heading of deconstructing the metaphysics of presence (Derrida). Briefly, we think of the real as just what is present to us – occupying the same time and space. But the present is inconceivable without the past and future to frame it, and inconceivable with past and future as a point of transition from one to the other. Post-structuralists will call it a gap, a cut, or caesura to signal the idea that the present is absent.” (2017)
I have been looking at this idea and several things have become apparent to me.
- I would certainly benefit from reading Derrida’s On Grammatology. As such I have downloaded a PDF and added to my list of things to read. I think this work will be key moving forward regardless of which module I do next and as such I may move it to the top of my list.
- The following screenshot is from The Chicago School of Media‘s website; an article on absence and presence, Derrida and Delueze.
I intially wanted to end my essay with a sentence relating to the idea of cyborgs reading stories and either ‘feeling’ affected by them, or not. Somehow the notion of a cyborg experiencing and being affected by narrative has a humanising affect. The final sentence in this screen shot relates to the sentiment expressed by MB in his feedback, “What does interactive amount to and is it really a technological phenomenon? Isn’t any old conversation interactive” (2016) One might also query the differences between real and virtual reality. Is there any substantive difference? Perhaps not in the minds of the youngest generation who make friends online and possibly value them just as much in some cases (?) as their off-line friends, for instance, or for the women I mentioned earlier during the course who experience feelings of intense distress when their avatars are molested by other avatars online.
- There has been another good example of absence and presence in my reading. I recently came across a book called Colonial Fantasies while researching absence and presence and quoted something from the introduction which I felt was relevant in an article I wrote for the organisation I work with occasionally. “Meyda Yegenoglu, an academic, in her book Colonial Fantasies, which looks at empire building from a feminist perspective, describes her work as being about “…the cultural representation of the west to itself by way of a detour through the other” (1998).”(2017) Understanding that we define what we know to be true by means of seeing what something isn’t seems critical in terms of my essay, but I’m not sure yet how (although since I can’t quite decide if I managed to convey what I meant to in the essay, it is hard to be sure).
- I also stumbled across another essay (see below) last night that looked like it might be of use, if not directly in terms of the essay, towards helping me to navigate my way through this incredibly complex set of ideas surrounding absence and presence, being and not being, materiality and the opposite. Not only does The interphototextual dimension of Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie’s L’usage de la photo (Blatt, 2009) reference absence and presence, it talks at length about the relationship between text and image, relating to Derrida’s life long inquiry into the hierarchies we perceive, i.e. speech, text, image in various forms of representation of reality, and is therefore useful to record here for possible later use. (At the very least there is some work referenced that I am exceptionally interested in).
- “The peculiar, not to say weird notion at the heart of your discussion is that discontinuous narrative forms are somehow skewing time.” (Belshaw, 2017)
I have to say, I am not sure any longer what my essay is about… Is that a bad thing to admit? I was interested in language and its total relationship to our perceived reality, and continue to be so. My ongoing aim is to explore the possible dissolution of the sign; or in practical terms, at the very least, the wests apparent tousle with a letting-go of old binaries and attempts to forge new definitions for itself. We seem to be entering a new age, one where the old binaries and boundaries are becoming redundant and something else is struggling to be born, or is perhaps, to quote Self (an article by Will Self informs my essay), “in the larval stage”. Death of An Author (Barthes, 1967) which I looked at in A4 seems to be an important locus for me. The re-calliberation of power, no longer only in the hands of male Author-gods in relation to everyone else (mega-Other), seems an extraordinary evolutionary stage in our collective history, and I think underpins much of our recent social history. I am interested in exploring that. Whether I revisit the essay now or take the ideas that have continue to evolve and develop is almost beside the point. And as I write this I am beginning to wonder, if I were to tinker with the essay, would I simply want to completely rewrite it? And if so, is there any point in that at this juncture?
- This previous post leads on to what underpins my own inquiry into the way in language entirely informs the human interface that is our reality – and my own exploration into how, I, a woman in a particular time and place in history, ended up with the thoughts and assumptions I have inside my brain that determine who I am. Mandy, who I have been working with recently received a distinction for her MA thesis titled, How do I find my voice? Moving from powerlessness to power through the lens of gender. Working with Mandy has been an incredible stroke of luck or serendipity. Throughout this course writing has been one of the most challenging and critical elements for me. I have been keen to retain a sense of self in my writing and have had to learn to balance that with the need for clarity, discipline and analysis, the last of which is perhaps the most difficult to instil; and there have been several discussions between MB and me about the pros and cons of writing styles. MB has tried to encourage me to write in third person, objectively and less ‘bloggy’, all of which I see the point of, but I have not wanted to lose my enthusiasm. Nor did I want to emulate the dryness of some academic writing. However, I also know often my writing is so rushed that there are at a very basic level too many spelling mistakes and sentences that don’t even make sense; and those things are certainly a problem that I need to keep an eye out for. Even so, I am well aware that the writing I began with has improved significantly during the course and advice I received from MB has been invaluable. However, I remain convinced in theory at least, that writing more personally than has been the norm in critical writing has value, even though there may be significant pitfalls and disadvantages to overcome; but finding an appropriate tone crucial.
The following sentiment expressed so well in Mandy’s essay sums up why;
“This project [Mandy’s] represents a first-person inquiry into voice, power and gender. It is an exploration of how gender socialisation and conditioning, often unconsciously internalised, can weave powerful connections between our constructs of voice, power, gender and identity. This can have profound implications for how we behave within social systems, and how we knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate and sustain inequality within these systems. My intention is to illustrate how a first-person inquiry methodology can inform a deeper understanding of this interconnection between voice, power and gender, and how these constructs come to be sustained and reinforced within systems.”
“As my project will illustrate, using a variety of first-person action research methods has enabled me to “sense” into and question what I perceive to be a gendered experience of feeling voiceless. Rather than dismissing these sensations purely as personal quirks or character flaws, I have used this “starting point” experiential data to shed light on the connection between my subjective gendered experience as a woman, and the power structures inherent in the patriarchal systems I have participated in most of my life.” (Thatcher, 2016)
Language is the means whereby all the non-author gods in the world, who ever they may be and have been, are prevented from maintaining their own narratives and as such separated forever from any sense of internal power; it is the means by which the author-gods manage to convince all these others to unwittingly collude as we/they “perpetuate and sustain inequality within these systems”. (Thatcher, 2016)
MB sent me an excellent email to follow my response to his feedback for A5. In it he says, “Basically, the major dividing line around which the controversies and disputes of this subject area [polemical writing in this instance but regarding the way to approach analytical writing in general, I would suggest] are fought, continues to be the social (ethical, political) and aesthetic (creative, formal). Ethical implies a commitment to various causes and hence outcomes, where aesthetic implies commitment – or surrender – to an unknown. Ethical commitment has frequently to assess itself to ensure the outcome is the correct one – process that amounts to second-guessing the reader/spectator. The aesthetic just goes where it goes. So an ethical reading of an aesthetic object (or object presented aesthetically) will be a bumpy ride. It seems to me that the ethical approach avoids the bumps and potholes by pressing clusters of arguments into service to get where it wants to go – an understandable tactic given that separate arguments pushed to the limit generally run into doubt. An aesthetic approach loves doubt, uncertainty and risk because it is not committed to an outcome. Potholes are interesting diversions. [I would certainly prefer to head down an aesthetic approach as described by MB here but how does that fit with my aims?]
It seemed to me you were taking the cluster approach – though not simply for social, egalitarian reasons – and that you recognized this was more ‘you’. I simply wanted to show that, further down the line, as it were, it would be vulnerable in the face of more robust – because more singular – arguments. So, what the aesthetic and doggedly pursued arguments have in common is risk.” And I would also certainly prefer to make robust singular arguments that dispensed with the need for ethical ‘niceties’ for want of a better word. In the end, perhaps dispensing with self in writing and writing for the subject rather than as an expression of ego is perhaps the thing to aim for. It is certainly deeply confusing and perhaps will continue to be so for the time being.
There is much to think about going forward, about how I tackle the writing, and how each decision I make (and possibly rescind afterwards) relating to the way in which I write academically is fraught with political and social implications. Perhaps that is why I am so unsure about what to change, if anything, in A5 for assessment.
(c)Image SJField 2016 – taken shortly after the The Jungle in Calais was closed.
Bell, A. (n.d.). absence/presence | The Chicago School of Media Theory. [online] Lucian.uchicago.edu. Available at: https://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/mediatheory/keywords/absence-presence/ [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017].
Belshaw, M. (2017) Feedback for UVC 5. [Blog] UVCSJF. Available at: https://uvcsjf.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/sjfassignment5creativeartstodaytutorreport.pdf [Accessed 24 Mar. 2017]
Belshaw, M. (2017) Blog Post on Feedback, To Sarah-Jane Field [Email]
Blatt, Ari J.(2009) ‘The interphototextual dimension of Annie Ernaux and Marc Marie’s L’usage de la photo‘, Word & Image, 25: 1, 46 — 55 https://www.tcd.ie/French/assets/doc/BlattOnErnauxMarie.pdf [Acessed 24 Mar. 2017]
Thatcher, M. (2016). How do I find my voice? Moving from powerlessness to power through the lens of gender. MA. AMSR (tbc).
Yegenoglu, M. Colonial Fantasies, 1998, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. (Accessed on 28/02/2017) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=VPdWbqXkRwwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false