This is Paratext

Table of Contents


Chapter 1:  This

Chapter 2: Is

Chapter 3: Paratext


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.)

Continue reading “This is Paratext”

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…”

Continue reading “Q: What Could Be Better Than Studying in the Watercolor Studio?”

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”

Step 1: Know Nothing

“I know that I know nothing”

I love that I’m rejoined with knowing that I don’t know. That I know I’m wrong more than I’m right.

I know that I know a whole lot about math, and that I know almost nothing about art. Where should I begin making connections? How should I even begin looking at art?

As a math nerd with an epsilon’s worth of knowledge about culture, and everything that fills the spirit with a harmonic vibrations connecting ourselves to the world we really live in, I have no idea.

The one thing that I do know that I know is that listening to others is important. Even if a lot of sewage flows from their mouth, it’s worth the listen. You get a glimpse into that person’s mind. Familiarizing yourself with the many different possibilities of a personality is just the beginning.

The exchange of ideas between groups without judgement allows perceptions to be transmorphed and enlightened. Thought processes are altered. Understanding that we all really don’t understand what it’s like to be embraced with insight of what life is like for most people should be more of a common thought. It’s a mountainous endeavor to consider; so many nations, cultures, languages, colloquialisms. Each person is so distinctly unique. For one scary second, consider who we are on the cosmological scale. Unravel on your trip back down how many possibilities there are. For everything. Confining oneself in a set mind seems like a silly punishment in comparison.

None of us really have a full grasp on the human condition. If I haven’t convinced you yet, then maybe Du Bois can. Even he, a renowned intellectual, acknowledged, internally processed, admitted, and corrected himself when he was wrong. Bornstein gave us insight on Du Bois’ intellectual humility when his opinion on Jews changed with time. He saw the similarities in suppression between the Black and Jewish communities and had sympathy for them. He knew he made a mistake having the echo of Antisemitism ring throughout his lyrical liberation of “The Souls of Black Folk.” He showed that “the willingness to openly change his mind shines through with similar sanity.” We should all be on some type of sanity hunt (but aren’t all college students anyways?) within ourselves. Do we know that we are probably wrong? Do we even accept that we could be wrong? Or that our knowledge is fairly limited due to sticking inside one discipline?

I want to allow others to understand where they may have communication mishaps with, say, mathematicians or those in affiliated work due to different points of view.  This already stands in theory as a very daunting idea because personally I feel spiritually inferior to those who hold the knowledge of history, literature, art, and culture, and I generally don’t tend to vibe with people who do. I see processes, underlying structures and foundations, and organized groups before I see groups of people with emotions and complicated personal experiences. I tend to think of engraved neurological pathways when I think about another’s personality, and I’m not noticing their ability to thoughtlessly just be kind, conscientious, or empathetic. I may be quite stubborn given a set of equations, but in terms of living life with flamboyancy, I admit the lacking nature of it with humility. My math brain is hardwired in, but I’m currently searching for an expansion pack to add full of art, diversity, and free-flowing thought.

My brain works as follows:

  • The Kinetic Gallery.
  • The Gallery of Movement.
  • The Movement of: our artist; the charcoal on the walls; the trio; thoughts and ideas; the students, professors, and professionals filling the room.
  • The Movement of crossing the room from one side to the other. From uprooted to uplifted.
  • Thought movement from being hidden, to a current issue, to resolved, and then gone. As we ascend and rise spiritually and consciously, so did the thought.

I’m sure this is not what any other person would think of upon hearing “The Kinetic Gallery.” That’s okay. Every single person’s impression is contrasting. That’s what makes this interesting.

Listening to everyone discuss the lines during class struck me the most thus far. I was astounded at the amount of people that could not accept that a line goes on indefinitely. This was my immediate thought, even before class glancing over (and halfway smirking at) the definition of a line. My mind exploded into pictures of different lines, shapes, dimensions, number universes, and line equations. If I were asked for a secondary definition of a line, I’d suggest the checkout line, something I consider to be finite.

We broke down our thoughts about the line, but did we really take that tool we were given, or was it left with the lines? Can we, as a cohesive whole, break down and truly think about each thing that really sparks joy (!) in us as we learn more about Steve? or even something that sparks a deep interest in us as we learn more about the past and current socio-economical/ political/ cultural/ etc world that we will explore? An immense amount of thought was put into Steve’s work, thus it’s worth pondering.

I want to understand how others see the world. This was merely a glimpse at how something so simple is conceived so differently by others compared to myself. My goal for this semester, and forever, is to be open and listening to other’s ideas about anything, and develop a better understanding of how different perceptions overlap or never cross and the reason why.

But this is just the beginning. We all get to choose which line of thought we stay on (or in, if you prefer).