This is Paratext

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1:  This

Chapter 2: Is

Chapter 3: Paratext

Afterword

To plunge into the paratextual chain of citations is to risk discovering that the subject matter is complex, contingent, and interdependent… It is also to risk discovering that one’s own identity is complex, contingent, and interdependent. ~ Beth McCoy, “Paratext, Citation, and Academic Desire in Ishmael Reed’s Mumbo Jumbo“*

(This is paratext too.)

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The Gaia Hypothesis

“The end of the world has already occurred. We can be uncannily precise about the date on which the world ended. Convenience is not readily associated with historiography, nor indeed with geological time. But in this case, it is uncannily clear. It was April 1784, when James Watt patented the steam engine, an act that commenced the depositing of carbon in Earth’s crust—namely, the inception of humanity as a geophysical force on a planetary scale.”   ~ Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World

April 24th.  That’s the day that my mom says the leaves will come out every year.  They’ve come late this year, probably due to our strange (though, perhaps we shouldn’t consider it to be so strange anymore) winter/spring/winter/spring weather — the snow and the sun and the snow and the sun made the buds hide for longer than normal.  But they’re here now, their green-ness slowly emerging, creating interlacing shadows on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. As I emerge the library for the first time in hours, after reading paper after paper about genocide and war and food insecurity, I breathe in the scent of the blossoms on the breeze and shake off the hazy film that coats my brain after I spend too long under fluorescent lights.  I let the fresh air wash over me, change the song to something gentle, and walk. I do this a lot as spring (do we have such a season? I do it as the frequency of warm days increases) comes, meandering about random sidewalks and expanding my mental geography; I sit on random benches, walk into churches, wander around stores, sit in fields, find shapes in clouds, watch sunsets and sunrises and moonsets and moonrises, talk with friends, pet cats (if they deem me to be worth their time). Continue reading “The Gaia Hypothesis”

Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?

“How shall man measure Progress where the dark-faced Josie lies? How many heartfuls of sorrow shall balance a bushel of wheat? How hard a thing is life to the lowly, and yet how human and real! And all this life and love and strife and failure, — is it the twilight of nightfall or the flush of some faint-dawning day?” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

At the behest of Professor Lytton Smith we rove around Welles 216 like pinballs, attempting to consciously consider the space and our mosey about it in the context of the concept of line. We circle around one another, around desks, a few circle around the desk at the front (The back? The north? The whiteboard-side? In any sense, it is an area generally designated as the professor’s space when class is in session), some change direction, and someone exits the room and strolls down the hallway and back.  In both this session and another that Professor Smith leads later in the semester, he focuses us on line (in line!). Lines in poems, lines in maps, lines in prints, in paintings, in drawings, lines in code, lines in roads, lines in paths. It was fascinating (at least to me) to dive deep into the spatial connotations that the concept of lines brought to these many various contexts. Continue reading “Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?”

Ceci n’est pas une artiste

By Lindsey “Yee” Kriaris and Abby “Haw” Ritz

Lindsey and Natalie Hayes hanging their exhibits

Last semester, we participated in an independent art exhibit with some of our mutual friends (Marty Benzinger, Clio Lieberman, Sabrina Saleta, Maddie Walker, and Natalie Hayes). This was actually how Lindsey and I first met! We all had certain things in common: we liked art and we liked to make art in our free time, but none of us had ever participated in an art exhibition before. We gathered as a group throughout the semester, and brainstormed potential themes. Something that could not only apply to all of us individually, but something that could also apply to all of us as a group; a theme that would not only allow us to express all those things which we wanted to express but would allow us to express through the various different mediums with which we all worked.  Everyone in the group had a different style, different medium, and different point of view. However, we all appreciated having a chance to promote art-making on campus. This was an entirely different artistic experience for both of us, predicated as it was on sharing what we made and considering what we made to be art, and thus, in turn, considering ourselves to be artists. Continue reading “Ceci n’est pas une artiste”

Lost in Space, Episode 1: The One Where I Need to Tell Everyone I Studied Abroad

“I just wanted to make sure our people hadn’t floated away… but I took a walk around and it looked like everyone was tucked in tight.” ~Wendy S. Walters, “Lonely in America”

When I was abroad, my best friend from home visited me, flying in a week before the program ended. She arrived at my dorm frazzled and mildly discombobulated from a day of travel and navigating a city – and a country – she was unfamiliar with only for me to promptly toss her on a bike and drag her into the city center.  As we biked across a canal (a most stereotypical scene for the Netherlands) I listened as she marveled at sights and sounds I had become so familiar with; it was strange, almost, to be looking at the city where I had lived for six months – and was now about to leave – through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. I turned to her as we made our way down to the farmer’s market, wanting to describe something about the different routes that could be taken from the dorm to the city center but stopped as I realized that I wouldn’t be able to communicate the true intent behind the comment. Continue reading “Lost in Space, Episode 1: The One Where I Need to Tell Everyone I Studied Abroad”

Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?

A: An Art department!

“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched… this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

Sitting at the paint-splattered tables in the room-formerly-known-as-the-watercolor-studio, I watch the sky darken through the enormous windows.  It’s a good place to study, always quiet and full of a gentle, calming vibe (it must be something to do with those big windows, the paint on every surface, the vases full of plastic flowers balancing on the edge of the sink, the half-finished canvases lounging on the shelves) but I find its emptiness occasionally unnerving.  The halls of the North Side of Brodie feel almost eerie sometimes; sure, people pass through on their way to and fro dance studios and the theater and Art History offices and the very occasional fine arts course but generally the halls are as empty as the walls (and the walls are very empty).  As I ponder the emptiness of the space, I feel an old frustration bubble up.  The parts of the campus that formerly housed the Art department seem to scream of an “If only…”

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What Selena Gomez Got Right

“Modern poetry aims at creating a semantics that is seemingly without syntax, which is to say a semantics in which the opposition between word and thing — between the two articulations of language or between the opposition of linguistic and motor activity — pushes toward the ‘rediscovered truth’ of a simple rather than a double articulation.” ~ Ronald Schleifer

Have you ever heard that one Selena Gomez song, “Love You Like A Love Song”? You know, the one that goes, “I, I love you like a love song, baby / I, I love you like a love song, baby / I, I love you like a love song, baby / And I keep it in re-pe-pe-peat.” Linguistically and musically, it’s not the most stylized, polished, or sophisticated (or necessarily likable) song, but, jinkies, can it get a point across.  The repetition throughout the chorus forces the song into your (or, at least, my) mind and keeps it there for eons. As nostalgic as I am (not) for my early teenage years, this song does not come to me unprompted; rather, I was reminded of it when thinking over the relevance of repetition in the context of art and communication. Continue reading “What Selena Gomez Got Right”

Mince My Words

“The accuracy of accurate letters is an accuracy with respect to the structure of reality.”  ~ Wallace Stevens

I mince my words, chopping them up until they are fine and small, until they are digestible, able to be used as an ingredient in a larger recipe.  When I apologize to a friend, write an email to a professor, edit a paper, I find myself cutting into the words I use turning them over and looking inside of them, picking their meaning and their implications apart until they are dissected on a little cutting board in my mind.  Perhaps this plays into some of the anxiety I have over writing, the constant questioning: What if a word is wrong or misplaced? What if I have not been careful enough? What if a word (or phrase, or paragraph, or essay, or blog) is not the right word (or etc.) for what I’m attempting to say? And while some of this anxiety over the implications of the words I choose may be misplaced, I feel that it is endlessly important to pay attention to the implications of the words and phrasing we use in both our writing and in everyday life. Continue reading “Mince My Words”

Notice What You Don’t Notice

“Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition.” – David Dunning

“I wanted to learn, but I needed help… we can’t learn anything without one another’s help.” – Mary Rutigliano

In the midst of our first day of class, while we contemplated our initial introduction to Steve Prince’s work, Professor McCoy urged us to “Notice what you don’t notice.” This suggestion, especially in relation to its seeming paradoxicality, caught my attention (I noticed haha); how am I supposed to notice what I don’t notice if I haven’t noticed it in the first place?   Continue reading “Notice What You Don’t Notice”

Carving (Y)our (My) Stories

” In love, then, we shall seek understanding.”

  • – N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate

Oftentimes, when I’m writing, I feel as though I’m carving something out of stone — I’m writing and writing and writing and slowly an idea emerges from the haze of dust and rock, at first realized only in rough outlines, in the hint of a general idea, and slowly, s l o w l y I polish away the hard edges.  I have, truth be told, perfectionist tendencies that come into play when writing (when doing anything, really, god, you should have seen me try to play sports — practice does not make perfect when you expect yourself to be perfect on the first try) and these tendencies are most definitely not unusual, especially when many of us are released from a schooling system that incorporates in us  a certain idea not only of writing (how to write, what qualifies as effective and acceptable writing) but how to work. Even now, in writing this, I feel the perfectionism — which is in turn symptomatic of both my education and my anxiety— rising up inside me, in the constant questioning (Is this good enough? Is this long enough? What will they think of this? Is this comprehensive enough? Is this good? Is it great? Is it the best it can be?) of my own work. In writing I sometimes feel trapped in my anxieties, in my thoughts, so judgemental of my own self, my own art, my own individual stories; I am caught in a spiral constantly folding in on itself as I question and question and question. 
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