Here’s my brief teaser for phase two of the upcoming WIDE-EMU Conference. I’ve titled my short talk, “The Hyper-Circumference of Effectiveness in 3..2..1.. FTL Jumps.” Since the teaser-trailer is right here for viewing, there’s no need for me to say much more about it. I was impressed that Google’s auto-transcript (beta) process translated “hyper-circumference” as “high pressure conference,” though, as if it’s some kind of auto-complete algorithm tapped straightaway into the deep recesses of my WIDE-EMU subconscious. Or, maybe I was never really thinking about hyper-circumference in the first place. Jump!

Added: Just noticed the translation calls Burke’s 1978 essay something like “Questions and Answers about the Pant Ad.”

Among All the Steps

When I was driving to Pray-Hoyt around 11:30 a.m. to drop off a piece of furniture, put a letter of rec. on letterhead, and print an ms. for reviewing, an Ann Arbor radio station played this one.

Associating it with Kenneth Burke, I misremembered something like this:

Imagine that you arrive at a parlor. You stand outside, unable to decide whether to enter unannounced, to knock, or to ring the doorbell. You decide on the doorbell, but you have come late, and somehow the moment does not seem quite right. ‘When ya gonna ring it, when ya gonna ring it.’ Etc.

A variation of

Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress. (PLF 110)

This fall marks 20 years since Kenneth Burke’s time at Eastern Michigan University as a McAndless Scholar in 1990–an anniversary worthy of a few of blog entries, some informal conversations with colleagues who were here at the time, and perhaps even some kind of reading or parlor event. Our usual building, Pray-Harrold, is since May closed for renovations. Still, I wonder which office was KB’s and whether he spent much time in it.

Asynchronous Earl

I can’t remember the last time I read a paper newspaper.

Oh yeah, it was this morning. But I mean before that.

Our Lalo subscribes to the Sunday Post-Standard and has not re-routed it since we moved in last July. Every Sunday, some creature of the pre-dawn night hefts the bagged roll of paper near our front stoop. It seems such a waste for us to carry it, on just the second leg of its long trip, straight to the recycling bin. But newspapers are so–what’s the word?–slothful. So, over an everything bagel (while skipping the 10:30 UU service because Is. was wide awake from 2 a.m. until 5), I glanced the funnies. The solo game I secretly play with newspaper funnies is to see whether I can read all of them without even cracking a smile. I call the game “Stoic Is Unmoved.” If I can (which, sadly, it is quite possible to do on those rare Sundays when I glance the paper at all–ah, I already said that), I win. If I crack a smile, the newspaper wins. I take this very seriously, as it riles the hyper-competitive side of my personality. A showdown: Me versus old media.

This morning, I lost. I lost because Mother Goose and Grimm ran this. That’s right. I smiled because sometimes I feel like Grimm, and sometimes I feel like Earl. And I see in this a comment on lots of other stuff: the buried-ness of one’s head while dissertating (to the neglect of much too much), the plight of late-comers to Burke’s parlor (those who arrive after the parlor has emptied…poor Earl!), the normative temporality of formal education (in today’s market, the efficiency model must be called Toyotaist, rather than Fordist), and more.

Go on, read the comic. If you don’t smile, forgive me (also remember to score yourself a winner at “Stoic is Unmoved”).