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.

Poetics of Cartography

I finally got around to listening to “This American Life” on mapping. Seems like someone mentioned the program when it aired last month (I remember looking at the accompanying images in Flickr). The program, a replay of the broadcast from 1998, covers mapping across the five senses, beginning with Denis Woods on sight and his neighborhood maps that take into account things like how often addresses (or names of residents) occur in a neighborhood newsletter and how the geolocations of jack-o-lanterns (photographed and layered onto a black background) correspond to the places references in the newsletter. He describes this fascination as a “poetics of cartography” and proposes that there isn’t anything that can’t be mapped. Brief thought it is, Woods opening piece gave me a boost for thinking about chapter five in the diss, even if I’m still two or three months from drafting the chapter on mapping. Hearing him talk about his mapping practices made me want to drop everything I’m doing (right now, on tag clouds) and re-read The Power of Maps.

The rest of the show is worth a listen, but I didn’t find the later sections to be as impressive as Woods’ bit. There’s a piece on mapping soundscapes (not far off some of the things Jenny has discussed re: documentary, although this guy finds musical notes in the drone of his microwave and CPU cooling fan), and there are also short segments on mapping with smell and touch–both of which reminded me of conversations in the cybercartography seminar I took two years ago.

Req: Your Best Frere Jacques

I’ve promised D. I won’t get too
Vygotskian on Is., but I do
have one sound experiment I want to try out. You (yes, you!) are urged to
participate. You won’t be world famous for it, but you will be famous to
. It
works like this:

1. Pick a favorite nursery rhyme, lullaby or fairy tale (or write a new one,
if you want to). The shorter the piece, the easier this will be.
Odeo tells me any single recording can be up to
an hour. Really, it’s okay if your piece can be read in a couple of minutes. It
doesn’t matter for now if there are duplications, if, that is, folks
accidentally choose the same piece. Feel free to comment here with a note about
the rhyme/lullaby/tale you have chosen (Collin
has already claimed "Three
Billy Goats Gruff"
). I ran a cursory search and located

2. Call Odeo at 415-856-0205 (this is normally used for podcasting
from a cell phone, but it’ll work fine for this, too).

3. Follow the voice prompts.
A. Enter your (meaning my) primary telephone number: 315-708-3940.

B. You entered 315-708-3940. Correct? 1 for yes; 2 for no.
C. Enter your pin followed by the pound key: 40402006#.
D. Begin recording at the after the beep. To end recording, press #.
E. After you are finished, you have three options: 1. Post, 2. Review, and 3.
Posting the sound file will save it to the Odeo system where I can access the
MP3 file. Reviewing the recording lets you listen to the file before deciding
whether to post or re-record. Re-recording lets you give it another try. After
you post the recording, you will be asked whether you want to make another
recording or end the call.

The generic script might open with a hello to Is. and an introduction of
yourself (Hi Sweetie, this is your great aunt," followed by the
rhyme/lullaby/tale). But you’re welcome to break form, have fun, whatever.

I’ve tinkered around with the Odeo system, and as far as I can tell, this
will work. It’s tamper proof (giving out the pin doesn’t mean that just anyone
can log into the system and access the sound files). By the end of the month,
I’d like to have a huge batch of audio files from family and friends welcoming
Is. with their favorite rhymes/lullabies/tales. I have set Odeo so that the
sound files won’t be public (although I can make a file public if you want me
to). But I’ll be able to access them, burn them to a CD and produce a series of
more personal bedtime sound-pieces. After all, why should a baby be listening to
Neutral G. Nobody when she could be listening to your voice?

Last thing: You don’t have to use Odeo. If you’d like to record
something another way (on your own machine using Audacity or Garage Band, for
instance), just email the file to me. Odeo makes it super-easy, however, for
everyone with a telephone to participate. Although Is. can’t hold her cell phone
to her ear for a few more weeks, she can still hear your best
this way.

Last last thing: Keep ’em coming until August 31.

My choice: “Over in the Meadow”.


But that’s not what I went to the bookstore for. I stopped down there
to purchase a copy of Weheliye’s

(a late arrival, absent from the shelves when the semester
started). It’s assigned for Afrofuturism in two weeks, and as I’ve
been trying to maximize break for getting a jump on the end-o-sem workpile, I
read through the library’s copy of the book, finishing it last night. But
it’s good enough to own. In fact, if the "DJing is writing, writing is
DJing" plug in Miller’s Rhythm Science resonated for you, Weheliye has an
entire chapter on the mix (c. 3). His opening chapters (the Intro and c.
1) also have a few good pieces on the record’s function as an inscribed sonic
medium. There’s much here to elaborate up the uncanny ties between writing
and phonography, to extend them, etc. The second chapter, "I am, I be,"
links sound to identity, working across issues of opacity and "sonic conjuring"
to categories and constellations of the subject (also echoes W.’s article on
black subjectivity, the optic/phonic and posthumanism in Social Text).
The third chapter: DuBois and the mix. c. 4: sound’s construction of space, read
through Ellison’s "Living with Music," and Darnell Martin’s I Like It Like
. And c. 5 reads the circulation of the diasporic motif in songs
by The Fugees, Advanced Chemistry, and Tricky and Martina. The "Outro" has
a bit to say about about his methods and also, drawing on Massumi briefly, makes
a case for affirmative methods: "’techniques which embrace their own
inventiveness and are not afraid to own up to the fact that they add (if so
meagerly) to reality’" (208). Chapters 4 and 5 stand out from the others
as places where Weheliye gives readings; his approach in those chapters
is somewhat less theoretical than in the others, aligning with more literary
studies or cultural studies re-presentations of sources. And yet, I expect
to return to c. 4 for his arguments about "sounding space/spacing sound" and the
issues of space remade by music, noise. For a more careful review, read