A friend whose dad died not too long ago just the other day statused about how the loss of a parent ((((stuns)))) you with new base time, increments reset. If it had a sound, it would be the kind of droning low-tonal yawp-hum that would make clockfaces crack, gears melt, springs and innerworkings wrench and bend, digital and analog both, no matter. How long has it been since they died? How many week-months? How many day-years? Nevermind BCE, nevermind Christ’s West.
Apropos for a Monday, today makes twenty-one years since my mom died. It’s nothing to cake about. Seven-thousand-and-some days. 183,960 hours. An e-annotation+8 in seconds. Googling these figures, I learnt too there’s a country song about this duree, “Twenty One Years Is A Mighty Long Time,” but I didn’t listen to it. The Earth flips axes (re-begin your geocoding, GISers!), but you can figure out how to walk it right-side up, footfalls alternating, gravity adequate again. Even if it takes a defiant while. There are mysteries without shits to give about them. Like, I don’t know why I mark deathday this year. Who even cares! Mother’s Day was okay. Some years you really feel it on a birthday or Mother’s Day. Some years, deathday. Probably because of the moon. Wounds long-healing have good days, good hours, bad days, bad hours. For twenty-one years and probably for longer than that.
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This 1978 Joel Sternfeld photo (via) stands up nicely-analogous alongside the collaborative writing I’ve been working at sporadically in recent weeks.
The unfamiliar process taught me a great deal about collaborative drafting that I didn’t know before. Often it seemed like dabbling on the edges, often like plunging in—designations that captures the uncertainty I felt at times, the turn-taking, and the refreshing experience of opening a Google Doc to find that someone else had poured an hour’s worth of smart work into the manuscript since the last session. Sure, I’ve read a little bit about collaboration, talked about it, even asked students to work together, but until now I can’t honestly say that I’ve undertaken anything quite like this before.
When I first saw the above photograph turn up via TriangleTriangle’s RSS feed, I was at a point when it cried out: There’s this raging fire to put out. My colleague was intensely engaged in knocking out the flames while I was, like the pumpkin shopper standing in the foreground, basically shitting around. So many pumpkins! I’d flagged the photo for its commentary on collaborative writing–something I was both doing and also thinking of blogging about—and its significance shifted. Not an all reversal of studium and punctum here, but an identity-urgency, an itch: I, too, sought a turn on the ladder. Turn after turn came later, authorial identifications shifted as if caught in a turn-style, and the chapter draft took shape, coming more or less solidly together. This has left me thinking about collaborative writing as worth trying a few more times for the way I now conceive of the process via something like a post-dialogic dual occupancy, standing in the foreground (Which pumpkin?) and on the ladder, happily and at once.
Ph. turns 18 today. Among my many feelings on this day: That was
I’ve blogged most of his teenage birthdays. You’ll see those entries
listed over at the right, in the Yesterblog (the On This Day in EWM History
feature). And I suppose this entry marks the conclusion of Ph. birthday-blogging,
enjoyable though the practice has been. I mean, adult children can blog their
To make this celebratory entry stand tall among the others, I had to dig for
a few minutes in the photo album, dredge up a couple of photos that, for me
anyway, span (or somehow thematically encapsulate) Ph.’s childhood. Chose
1.) Giddy-up: this one is from when Ph. was about four years old, when my mom
took him to ride the ponies at some ranch near Raytown, Mo. Apparently
they made a fine time of it. Yes, those are leather chaps.
2.) Scorching the Tiffany Springs nets: here, Ph. is drilling a ball past me
on one of the many, many extended shoot-arounds we enjoyed at the Tiffany
Springs fields just north of Kansas City (bordering on the south edge of MCI
airport). I’d guess he was eight or nine in this photo–the days when we’d hang
around at the field until long after everyone else had (sensibly) gone home.
I’ve decided I won’t include a personal photo with my dossier during the upcoming (er, is it really October already?…) in-progress job search. However, if I was going to include a photo, it would have to be one of the following. Maybe #7.
We snapped these few shots using the camera’s auto-timer back in 2006 when 1.) I apparently had time on my hands and 2.) academic photos with pets (appearing in places like conference programs) was more fashionable than at any other time before or since1. Y. and I agree that if we had it to do over again, he would sit still and look at the camera.
1 This is an intuitive guess, a hunch. I do not have any data whatsoever to establish the frequencies of “with pet” photos of academics in any conference program.
James. Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction. New York: Routledge,
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