Dr. Everythingllbealright

How do you think Dr. Everything Will B Alright signed his prescriptions?

It’s not a serious question. No. Just an aside to what I’ve been thinking and feeling since we learned that pop icon Prince died four days ago, April 21. Much too much has been said about Prince online in the immediate aftermath. “Too much,” well, by that I sound a little bit judgmental, I suppose, but I really only mean it as too much for me. Had to look away from you, Facebook, umbrella my eyes from a Purple Fucking Downpour. Too much for me. So chose instead some quiet and solitude, a quieter reflection, a few chosen tracks, and some deliberation about what are still-vibrating sound experiences.

There are only a few slivers of sound, words and phrases and riffs, that come readily, earworming quicker than any other parasites. It’s 1984. I’m ten. I have a fancy Walkman. Purple Rain soundtrack, though I hadn’t seen the movie. Sitting on a big boulder at the south edge of the lawn behind the M-20 house, a boulder big enough to require climbing but invisible from the house, curtained from view by two rows of hearty pines. White pines? And that soundtrack was a portal, a getaway to some kind of elsewhere. The doves cry lyric, “why do they scream at each other,” of course it resonated and expressed not normalcy, exactly, but a variation of whatever adolescent frustrations and messes, whatever family tangles–other people are dealing with some shit, too.

That’s the gist of Prince’s influence and the measure of his loss, for me, personally. Prince’s (as distinct from David Bowie) filled with a spiritual-sexual-everyday searching the ambient surrounds of my most private and interior adolescence. Purple Rain was in my ears, looping the same way through highs and lows, yearnings and letdowns, more. What more than what’s playing through the sponge-covered earphones wired plugged into a Walkman, what more than those sounds accompanies you through such an intensely transformative phase as ages10-13? Prince’s music was there for it, often and reliably. And so it is with his death that the world seems farther away, somehow, from that fading moment, thinner, too, in its comparable supports, although maybe that’s not quite right, either, considering the persistent artifact, tracks that play on and on and on and on and on, associative and memorial, as poignant today as they were 32 years ago. With the death of a pop icon, through the leveled too high volume of everyone expressing attachments and sadness, there’s strange refreshing of something awkward and obvious but also easy to forget, neglect: the searching, uncertain, and intensive adolescence is still in this world. In me, possibly in you, probably in everyone who still has some growing up to do.

Changeling

I spent the better part of today finally finally finally after years converting from Movable Type to WordPress. I’ve run EWM on Movable Type since 2004, and the blog has in part as a result of its cumbersome platform dwindled, faded, crept quietly into an idle corner of the web. If I don’t write into it or visit, why would anyone.

The changeover was easy enough, since I’d upgraded Movable Type in early January. That upgrade was necessary for restoring the blog to logging in. Once I could login, I could back it up. Once I could back it up, I could export it, do a little dance.

I’m at the end of a four-month research leave, with a few days to meander before closing in on the last two chapters of the book I’m working on. And with this meander, I’d like to dust off the various websites I keep up, especially this blog and my landing page for the CV and teaching dossier. I’m discovering the limits of my having kept up with HTML5, the limits of letting weeds creep in and not especially paying much attention to the interplay of various javascript modules and snippets from elsewhere.

I have a couple of IFTTT recipes I’d like to chisel free, and maybe this will spur new or different energy for Twitter, or for posting here and relaying it to Facebook. I pose this more as possibility than prediction and publish it with a shrug, a maybe, a glance out the window reminding me that it’s springtime and won’t for all the rest of the days between now and summer’s end be raining quite as steadily as it is today.

Dissoi Bracketologoi

Time for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 13th annual. Like last year, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21). Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the surest, most over-confident pickers of all time. There’s no time for worrying your picks, no time for calling your fortune teller, reading your horoscope, or consulting your constellations. Sign up! Free, free, FREE to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!,
Dissoi Bracketologoi (ID#46007)
. If you have questions, elbow me as hard as you can in the sternum with an email at dmueller at earthwidemoth.com (I’m on research leave; it will take me three weeks to respond). Invite your friends, frienemies, faux-frenemies, square dance partners, Facebook friends, advisees, mentors, bots, posthuman malingerers, artists of the contact zone, hystericists, children of the corn hole ringers, bracketoricians, Jimmie Johns addicts, discount tattoo artists, grandparents at the bus stop, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Pride-ish stakes: reputations are made (and ground to coarse dust) right here.


Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em

Group: Dissoi Bracketologoi (ID# 46007)
“13th annual.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 13, and sometime (I’m checking) EDT on March 17.

Thirtieth Days

Still on sabbatical. Thirty days. Work rhythms have been more predictable and disciplined lately. Up early enough, write until noon or so. Out of this, a chapter takes shape–the third chapter. I just sent it off to the editor. Just over 10,000 words. Fourty-eight references. Ten original figures plus the linked-clickable animated index. Something like 44 pages. Embedded notes about “could do more this this” and “could do more with that.” Threaded through is a realization that I’ve been working on this chapter for a few years. And then up next will be a hard revision of the second chapter, hacking away at its extralong bulk, then adding back another 3,500 words. It’s basically a concept review: three concepts. And two are done; one remains. 

Thirteenth Days

Sabbatical’s rhythms have taken much getting used to. Early-day starts, writing from 6-11 a.m. worked okay for a few days. Then a headcold stuffedcold, a couple of blergy-meh days through which I could justify holding close the couch’s cushions. So supportive a couch. And into the most recent week, work obligations, trips to campus almost every day. Snowslop given to rain-washed-snowslop has thrown sideways all outdoor running routines (NNSA: Need new shoes, anyway); the campus pool will have me any time I will have it, and I managed to splash across a half mile or so Thursday evening before Is.’s basketball practice at St. Luke’s–the first practice of the season. 

But the writing, even as it’s happening, it’s the sort of textural consistency of the second half of a bag of whatever brand corn chips, recognizable even if registering as too predictable and familiar and constant a flavor–academic writing wanting ghost pepper salsa (face-melting, January-melting heat to go along with). Sabbaticals have a binge-like quality and I’ve noticed the sharp shift in a sociality (around writing) that offers solitude and awayness as amenable to productive foci, rhythms, and attentions. Writing group? Yeah, maybe.

Not sure I can say with good-enough accuracy what the accumulative wordcount is right now. A chapter is developing, probably just under 5k words in, with the second half’s sections more conceptually clear to me because they accord well with recent conference presentations on turn spotting. And the digital installation–the motion chart–has been in sight for several years now; it wants more data fed into it, but that’s doable, amounting to a few more coding sessions. Not that the explanation of its methods and its making, much less the analysis and focal examples require the extra data. The motion chart wants it, is all.

And the week was also punctuated by settling the details for a talk at MTSU in early March, a talk and workshop, both, which I’m looking forward to with the right ideas, the right energy. Disciplinary Discourse Networks 1984/2014, the title a play on Kittler’s epochal media archaeology. And not that I will have time to develop the threads to Kittler in any especially explicit ways, it’s enough to make the theoretical nod, especially as it gets at methods, modeling, and eras in disciplinary emergence: discourse communities flourished in the 1980s because structuralism (including infra- and post- prefixed -structuralism) was especially upset and churning. Much more to this distinction, more than I’ll labor through here (or in the talk, for that matter); suffice it to say that we’re readier than we’ve been in some time to create the simple visual models that accord with insights into disciplinary discourse networks–semantic, bibliographic, affinity-based, choric, career-emplaced, and so on. And particularly for newcomers, I hope growing compulsions toward depth and complexity fetishism (qua ecology fascination-asms) don’t entirely occlude these simple visual models and what’s especially generative in what they do, the framing they provide, the footings they sponsor, and so on.

Second Days

Second days of sabbaticals. I’ve known only one second day: today. The fifth. As worklike as day one, with the exception that digressive minutiae are more appealing than before–trimming fingernails, sweeping the floor (not that it needs it but for that one speck of mud maybe, which spotted me spying it as the tea kettle took its sweet time steaming from audible boil to pressure-sent whistler). Trim and sweeeeep. Then back in the chair to do office-chair office chair things. Ever nonmagical, more stylistically cumin than cayenne.

Tried to write with some background music, but that was a Johnny J.R. Cashbust. Too distracting, Cindy. What is truth? No earthly good for getting shit done. For the last sprint, I found some wordless Buddhist harpy strumtracks to cycle through iTunes, and that was enough songburst to get this upticking chapter to–what?–nearly a second section in. Put much finer points on a couple of phrases in the first section (stylistic cayenne!), extending it by 155 words and launched the second section with 906 words (maths: 1061). At daybreak I thought maybe I would blaze all the way through to 1500 and dust the second section off, but no, and it’s fine. Dandyfine. I’m also learning to relax about the goals, trust slow and steady and whatever draftmess piles up one day is suited to smoothing the next. 

I regard this now as a banality dispatch, but will post anyway. Oh, okay, so I worked on the book again today. That’s what sabbaticals are for. Nonmagical, butt in chair, putting down words that, truth is, range from geez have I been thinking about this for one helluva long time to geez I have no idea on earth what I’m trying to say to geez this is such an old and familiar friend, this idea, to geez is this the best register for warm-accessible reception both by newcomers to the field and by established scholar-colleagues to geez it’s happening and its taking shape is not limited to my fingerstrokes/keystrokes only. 

Occam’s Sabbatical

Lead-up to a sabbatical, my first sabbatical, has been punctuated by many, many interactions about its beginnings (i.e., when does it officially begin?) and my optimism (i.e., are you excited?) and readiness (i.e., are you ready for this?). To the questions about beginnings, for most of the fall semester, I pinpointed December 16, the day after our department’s holiday party and after the last day of meeting for second of the two grad classes I taught. But I was still obliging various administrativa until at least December 20. And I didn’t exactly spend much of the break opening the book’s workfiles, much less reading or writing in relationship to it. 

Today, finaly, I felt like I started in on the sabbatical. I’ve set for myself this week the goal of timely rise+shining, up and coffee-pouring by six, in chair by 6:30 a.m., writing for four hours. This morning’s work session was a lot of oscillating between shaping and focusing, then generating, then shaping and focusing, then generating. I re-read some old stuff. Re-read the introduction and first chapter. And dived in for the first section of Chapter Three, set down 888 words, though I was only going for a Scrivener-count of 750. It’s non-magical writing, clunky and nowhere near as fine-tipped as my thinking, but it is a start on the sabbatical, which is pretty much all I was going for. The rest of the week I am hoping for four-hour morning work sessions in the range of 1000 words per day, aims of having Chapter Three’s rekick totally drafted by the end of next week. 

But that’s more micro-detail than I meant to put down here. I mostly wanted to note a few of the ideas that were blinking away in the margins, excluded from the writing but influencing at the edges. I’ve been thinking more about Occam’s razor and parsimony–principles of narrow-set scope. This is the razor whose edge sharpens when we invoke relevance, right? Go only with what is necessary; trim the rest. And I was mulling this over in relation to the scope of disciplinary terminology–of seeking just the right circumference for a semantic network, placing a right-sized circle around the web of language. There’s something faintly nagging at the foggy juncture between the simplifying economics of parsimony, attention, and noetic vocabularies in any given doman. Not too much, not too little; scales balancing between general and special, broad and narrow. 

I dwelt for far too long on standpoint theory, which I am not using, but which I find difficult to ignore as a means of explaining the vehicular-directional metaphors (partly) invoked with “turns.” I prefer to keep turns boiling in valences of tropology and nephology, but these nevertheless contrast sharply with perspectival standpoints, bipedal participant-observers, and careerist-professional anecdotalism rampant in contemporary discipliniography. You can see from that sentence it is just as well that I keep that ish-heap out of this chapter, no? And lastly lastly, I left in a tab the joke about the magician who was driving down the road until he turned into a driveway. I wanted to, but I didn’t. And besides, I would’ve preferred that magician turn into an A&P parking lot–anything whatever more happening than a fucking driveway.

In Dribs and Drabs

And the old blog gets another new entry. It runs, though much is stuck. Garage floor rag for gas cap, as if there was fuel to from sloshing. Comments work, somewhere under the hood chewing and taking one helluva long time to post. Human-check captcha device broke, left behind versions ago. Latest comments widget broken. On this day, broken. Wordcount javascript whatever that was, broken. These among the irreparable few. And the last touch to get things going again involved replacing the script-assigned permissions upon publishing, for folders dropping 0777 to 0775 and for files flipping from 0666 to 0664. Eleven replacements and file overwrites in all so that host and republished entries and archives were harmonious again. It’s not sustainable, or rather, not long-sustainable. Sustainable only ever meant for-now-sustainable, anyway.

Last entry made it to IFTT->Twitter. But atom/RSS never seems to have fired, even though XML structure should be hospitable. As such, this amounts to another turn of the key, making sure exhaust reaches exhaust pipe for predictablish circulation.

Breaktest

An old blog breaks down. Stops working. Fails to grant access to even the control panel, not that anyone remembers the username and pissword, anyway. There’s bondo in the basement, duct tape in a kitchen junk drawer (no, the other junk drawer; the junkier drunk drawer). And then there’s some crappy old untended website with versions galore of Movable Type. Yeah, that same Movable Type from over a decade ago. It’s still wheezing around on the internet. Right here! Version 5.2.13. I had to delete a bunch of tags to get it running. Much of it probably doesn’t work. Comments? They probably return errors. When a blog is rattling around with fewer effs to give than ever before, well, whatever there is, work with it. It was always enough before. Why not now?

And if this shows up online? Breaktest passed.

Nightmare Network

A nightmare network of ganglia, charged and firing without my knowledge, cuts and splices what I do see, editing it for my brain. (21)

Annie Dillard, “Seeing,” Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (1974)

Question: Where in the conductive cuts and splices do the ganglia end, the brain begin, the seeables stand apart, quarantined in their viewspace?