Jim Brown's blog

Clinamen has moved, update your RSS readers

Hi, all.

Clinamen has moved to: http://www.clinamen.us

Because I am no longer at the University of Texas (I have taken a position at Wayne State University), this space will soon cease to be. I am hoping to move this content over to the new Clinamen...but I'm not 100% sure that will happen.

Anyway, update your RSS readers.

Infinite Summer: Is Infinite Jest a New Media Object?

Right after putting up something thoughts about Infinite Jest and infrastructures1, I got to thinking about whether Infinite Jest is a "new media object."2

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1. Brown, James. "Infinite Summer: Infrastructures and/of Uncertainty." 27 Jul 2009, 10:55am CST, Clinamen, http://locus.cwrl.utexas.edu/jbrown/node/281

2. In The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich theorizes "new media objects."a For Manovich, such objects can be pieces of art, web pages, video games, or numerous other technological objects. Manovich's project in TLoNM is to theorize the design principles of such objects - the emerging language that we are using to build new media objects. One portion of Manovich's discussion seems to be applicable when it comes to Infinite Jest:

Infinite Summer: Infrastructures and/of Uncertainty

I am now 339 pages into Infinite Jest (well ahead of schedule!), and I've got lots to say. For the time being, I'd like to float an idea that I've been kicking around for a while now. As I read some of my favorite contemporary authors - most or all of which could probably fit comfortably under the "postmodern" umbrella - I see a repeating focus on infrastructure. Here are just a few that come to mind:

--In Didion's Play It As It Lays, Maria deals with the trauma of having an abortion by compulsively driving California highways.

--In Wallace's The Broom of the System, Lenore's place of work is plagued by crossed phone lines. Her grandmother (a devoted reader and, one might argue, "follower" of Wittgenstein) ends up in the tunnels and presumably is the one mucking things up and crossing the wires.

Infinite Summer

I joined what is probably one of the biggest reading groups in history a couple of weeks ago: Infinite Summer. The task? Read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest over the course of three months. A lot of bloggers are going to be posting responses, and we're on a strict reading schedule. (This means I have to be careful about spoilers too. I don't want to mess anything up for any other Infinite Summer-ers.)

In case you didn't already know this (it's probably safe to assume that most readers of this blog are familiar with the book), IJ is a TOME. 1,079 pages including footnotes. It sits on people's bookshelves and nags. For many, it is nothing more than a reminder of something that they never quite got around to. This (along with, I'd imagine, Wallace's recent suicide) is why Infinite Summer happened. A whole bunch of people are ready to check this off the list.

"Just the shoreline receding"

I have been reading some of Debbie's posts about leaving one home and starting a new one (though, for her, the new home is an old one too). I'll be leaving Austin soon, and I've been pre-missing (did I make that word up?) Austin for a while now. J and I have been working our way through a "bucket list" of sorts.

Part of my bucket list involves seeing as much live music as possible, and thanks to my good friend Doug I got to see Okkervil River's taping of Austin City Limits last night.

Scholê vs. Dromos

I’m currently at work on an essay that works through some ideas that emerged awhile back and that addresses the same question I took on during my CCCC presentation. I thought I'd post a chunk of that essay here, and I'd love some feedback from readers.

Verbal ticks

Early in my graduate career, a professor pointed out one of my verbal ticks. When I wasn't sure about my evidence for a particular claim, I would use the word "seems." I would say something like: "This seems to indicate that..."

This was good to know, and I now keep an eye out for it. I don't just remove "seems" from my sentences. I revisit those sentences and try to figure out why I'm unsure of that argument at that moment.

My newest tick is "certainly." I use this one when I want to say something like "I recognize things are complicated, but I'm going to state things very clearly anyway." So, I'll say something like: "Certainly, Wikipedia takes account of credentials in certain ways, but..."

Again, this tick seems to indicate a lack of confidence. As my dissertation director has pointed out, I use the word "certainly" at the precise moment that things are far from certain. I'm currently excising the word "certainly" from much of my dissertation.

Attribution in a Pro-Am Collaboration: Dejan Kovacevic gets an assist from a reader

This blog is baseball heavy these days. You can tell it's April

Dejan Kovacevic is the Pirates beat reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and he is very good at his job. In fact, he recently won an AP award for his reporting.

One of Dejan's strengths is his ability to relate to readers. He runs a weekly Q&A, and he addresses fan concerns on his blog as well. But today's game story is a bit troubling.

Dejan mentions in today's blog post that he used information from a fan email in his story on the Pirates 11-1 loss to the Braves:

Everyone who writes for any publication, online or otherwise, will talk about how much they value their readers, and I am no different. Except for one thing, maybe: I can offer proof.

Baseball in 150 words or less

Can you explain baseball to a 6-year-old in 150 words or less? Slate needs your help. It's not entirely clear if these 150 words would be only focused on the rules of the game...interpret this prompt however you see fit.

I'll post my effort here when I'm finished with it.

Dissertations and Baseball

Some days you don't like your dissertation (actually, this goes for just about any kind of writing...) You read it, and you think: "What the hell am I even talking about?" No one is immune.

See, a dissertation is like a baseball season. It's long, and your feelings about it at any given moment are not indicative of how you will feel at the end of it. Some days you feel great about it. Some days you hate it. Both of these extremes are based on limited data sets. Both of these feelings are essentially wrong.

So, yesterday when my Pirates won their home opener, I was pretty happy. Zach Duke pitched a gem, and Freddy Sanchez was knocking the ball all over the yard. But I also knew that it was one game out of 162. Duke will return to earth...as will the rest of the team. Getting too high or low is a mistake. Likewise, yesterday when I disliked my dissertation, I chalked it up to a bad day. I set it aside.

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