Oblongs ⭕️

Coordinating via email: Zoom call, Saturday brewery meet-up, another eventual meeting (please send in your every availability for the week of the 27th); trail of comments on research projects; only a few per day; skim social media, which for me is limited to Instagram and Facebook; sometimes I hear people call these “insta” or “the book” and I want to be the sort of suspenseful 1974-borne who pauses accounts cicada-like going back underground for the next seventeen years1The shutdown tempts me, yet I remain, in part because the peripherality is manageable and not as much of an attention succubus as it once was.. Hold on the dog is barking hold on. Okay I’m back. The dog is ‘O’ but I sometimes jokingly call him ‘Y’ and also sometimes ‘sister,’ like ‘Z’ back home, but these are private jokes between us and there is no laughing only blank looks. A dry humor. Warming up keystrokes, warming up to Healthy Back series on Back Exercises App, which I have done 137 times this year for not quite 40 hours, stronger but the healing interventions have been happy baby and five minute intervals twice daily sprawled on foam neck and back stretcher, a spiky half moon that arrived with no instructions and whose guiding diagrams online are inconsistent, sometimes with the sharp curve up head-side and other times tail-side2Knocking on wood, after more than a year of physical therapy and seriously debilitating intervals of back pain, I have not felt any such pain in one week. Pack your bag of tortures, homo dolores!. There is no laughing only blank looks.

Earlier this fall Han’s Non-Things invited us into a distinction between biopolitics and psychopolitics3We read Non-Things in ENGL6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments as lead-up to How to Do Nothing.. I don’t have the book closeby here in Michigan, but I recall that the distinction suggested an era of biopolitics, even as it continues, has ceded primacy to an era of psychopolitics whose machinations are principally digital, playing out in the circuitry of endless streams, clickbait, outrage, enclaving, context-collapsed post-truth entropy, willful parasitism, attentional complicity, and expansive sociocultural zombie drool. When we jumped next to Jenny Odell’s case for bioregionalism, the prefixes began for me to phosphoresce, and, out of that phosphorescence emerged questions about psychoregionalism (the states of mind patterned in a sited, terrestrial surround). And then with Kristin Arola’s argument for and demonstration of a land-based digital rhetoric, which sets up a layering of semiosphere, or semiotic-rhetorical orders, and biospheres, or organic-biotic orders, the prefixes dominoed again, leading next to a triptych of sorts, with semiosphere, biosphere, and psychosphere. The spheres are more or less congruous, non-neat shapes that align and overlap, or don’t. More oblongs than circles. To recast them as heuristic would be to consider them as hues with chromatic weights, then to notice which is drawn down and which is amplified in a given scenario. An arc across the weeks this semester has been to care for each of these spheres both as they were rendered by authors, but also in terms of what reshuffles into the front channel when one is dialed up and the other is dialed down. Within the context of digital rhetoric, the semiosphere (closely matched with the so-called infosphere, arguably, which suffers the exuberance of dataists) is whizzing and buzzing, but the bio- and psychospheres are mined, predated upon, ignored, and even obliterated. Granting a record of harm, then, a justice turn for digital rhetoric (and its corresponding disciplinary namesakes) shifts reparative, setting out to heal, to repair, to mend. And there is much more to say about this; for now I wanted only to note the spheres/oblongs as taking hold among the gauges; to check with these is to feel the broken world, and to carry on attuned to its tolling gravities.

Notes

  • 1
    The shutdown tempts me, yet I remain, in part because the peripherality is manageable and not as much of an attention succubus as it once was.
  • 2
    Knocking on wood, after more than a year of physical therapy and seriously debilitating intervals of back pain, I have not felt any such pain in one week. Pack your bag of tortures, homo dolores!
  • 3
    We read Non-Things in ENGL6344: Rhetoric in Digital Environments as lead-up to How to Do Nothing.