Words Don’t Come Easy; Paris Soundnotes

After a long travel day yesterday, I’m back from WRAB, from Paris, home in Ypsilanti, unpacked and laundering, family gifts dealt, and more or less re-charged from the first decent night’s sleep in oh at least a week. In retrospect, I should have been more tired and draggy while in France. Probably some small lift is attributable to laying off vegetarianism for a few days and amping up on proteins. Travel warnings were right: it’s tough to avoid meat in Paris.

There’s much, much more to say about the trip than I have time for right now. Indeed, I have committed the classic mistake of pinning to-do list item after to-do list item on the week after WRAB (i.e., now) and have quite a backlog to level through this week (TGIWB…[W]inter [B]reak). For now, I only wanted to catch a few soundnotes, earworming auditory takeaways from the trip.

I’ve tried but could not locate a few things I heard on the Air France flight, though AF makes it a point to publicize their in-flight playlists, so on that basis might look further and listen more closely another day.

F.R. David’s “Words” was playing in the eco-shuttle I rode in from Charles De Gaulle to Ampere. More than any other track, it caught on as the trip’s anthem, harder and harder set on a loop as I fumbled “je ne comprends pas” each of the four times I was asked by locals (er…Fr. speakers) for directions. Je. ne. compren…here, just listen to this.

And since an 8.5-hour flight in coach ranks both as hell of hells and also as the longest flight I’ve ever endured, I didn’t expect it to be bearable. I escaped six hours by watching three entire movies–Gravity, Jobs, and Captain Phillips–before learning I was seated next to Marcellus Pittman, who was gracious enough to talk a bit about mixing, vinyl and new/old techniques, touring, and so on. Fascinating stuff that not only reminded me about intriguing questions about mixing as a productive method and about Detroit’s industrial, techno-feelic scene, but also about Archer Records, about yet underexamined practices and needed work to deepen sonic mix as one of writing’s favorite contemporary metaphors, and about my attraction to these sounds, especially when writing. There’s something in the beat mechanics that underwrites (or somehow nourishes?) an effective writerly attention structure. For me, at least. To sum it up: 8.5-hour flights are a helluva lot better sitting next to Marcellus Pittman (Discogs).

And this last one, “The Mad Underdog” (or, had I to add a subtitle to resonate with “mad” and “underdog,” “Writing Program Apothecary’s Dosi”) is a bootleg, but after the first few minutes, I’m not sure how you’ll resist clicking over to the iTunes store where you can pick it up for less than one euro.


I’ve refurbished the exam notes blog, Exam Sitting, and converted it to a
dissertation blog. I suppose I’ll use it to post notes and other gems of
speculation. I’ve never dissertated before, so it’s not entirely clear yet
just how useful such entries will be. All the same, I’m convinced of the
benefits that carried over from the exam note-keeping to the performance of the
exams themselves. And I appreciate that some processual transparency
allows others who might be interested in such a thing to see into what I’m
working on, what I’m thinking about. It also introduces a mild, supportive
form of accountability in that everything I do there is out in the open for my
committee to follow as they see fit.

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Note Systems

Success in qualifying the CIA accounting exam and later with the diss depends upon a reasonably
comprehensive note-taking system. It’s true, it’s true. Who would argue? (And so
it’s a truism hardly worth restating).

I took so-so notes throughout coursework, but I also experimented a little
bit too much, often making do with something messy and sketchy or other times
accepting as good enough a summary or some other sort of page long
response to the reading. From coursework, then, I have an assortment of notes. I
mean the category of notes includes all kinds and classes: stickies, composition
book messes, legal pads with many-an-in-class doodle, blog entries in the
reading notes category, and so on. Some are proving useful for exam preparation,
but many, regrettably, must be brushed up. In the weeks ahead, I’ve many notes
to groom. I should add, however, that much of the writing that happens beyond
the edge of intelligible notes is also worthwhile. So I wouldn’t say that
coursework would have been sharper for me at the time had I taken more
methodical notes. Yet with relatively minor effort, I could have focused my
coursework notes into something that, for being more regular in form and scope,
would have served me better later on (i.e., right now). So many lessons.

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Indexical Thinking

As I continue to plod ahead with preparations for qualifying exams, I’m
becoming more and more cognizant of indexes and also more dependent on the them.
I’ve used indexes more casually in the past, almost always involving them as an
after-thought to front-to-back reading–as something merely referential, a
auxiliary text ranking well below everything else, a match with its rear-most
position. A mere aid to memory rather than a multiple and complex terminal for
differentiated reading encounters.

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