Legos and a table

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Click.

Very little is soft about Legos. A series of hard lines with sharp edges that press into my hand as I hold each piece, with a series of rhythmic circles that contour the polished walls of the toys. There are bright, bold colors with a hundred different shapes—and still there are patterns, uniformity, and rigidity.

It’s hard to feel the hard edges and boundaries of the piece without also thinking about the ways these pieces leave impressions on my skin and reminding me of the pain of stepping on a Lego that was left on the floor. These pieces seem incredibly mobile, sliding with their smooth edges across surfaces. How much friction could be generated from these smooth sides?

And yet, digging my hand in a large group of these Legos recalls memories of childish happiness. All their hardness seems soaked up in the collective and my hands sink without issue or pain into the mix. I remember reaching into large tubs of Legos with my friends that were nearly as large as I was and shoveling out fists full of the tiny colorful objects.

Almost similarly, as these toys spilled onto the table, I felt my eyes flickering over the mass of these rapidly, trying to find associative logics. I felt these pieces belonged together, but found myself getting frustrated, not seeing how. It was fitful starts, click, snapping pieces together, click, and pulling them apart, click; haphazard groupings and regroupings by shape, color, my intent. There were so many visible potential positions for each that would entirely guide my next moves, and then the next, and the next.

Click. I couldn’t help but smile at the satisfying snap of two pieces being joined, the object seeming to no longer belong to my hand but to the other nested piece. The tension as I struggled to pull two pieces apart was familiar and frustrating. The amount of force taking more than I expected and felt my arms engaged in the act more than I thought was necessary.

So many childhood memories were inseparable from this composing. Holding one piece in my hand, I remembered imagined worlds I’d built with my friends. How I used the different pieces sparked other constructions and compositions to come to mind. If I encountered a limitation, I remembered encountering it before.

Click.

Dis/Posed, or, A Locative Apparatus of Position

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On day four of the two week GA instructor training, we were afforded the honor of having Jonathan Alexander come to speak to us. His talk, “Practical Multimodality: Invention, Revision, Dissemination,” sparked wonderful conversation in the First-Year Writing Program already.

Firstly, it may be worth mentioning that I may or may not be an Alexander fanboy, as may be evidenced by the number of my “Notes” on this blog being readings of his published work. It somehow seems that I’ve always missed moments of meeting Dr. Alexander. In Dr. Banks’ Queer Rhetorics seminar (circa Spring, 2014), Dr. Alexander was slated to Skype into our class the one time I was not able to attend class—later at 4Cs15, I almost caught him a handful of times as he was entering or leaving a space. To say that I am a fan of his work is just to say that over the course of my education, his work has been extremely formative to my thinking about writing and teaching—and that it is not uncommon for a citation of him to appear in a paper I write.

I will likely return to some of Alexander’s main topics in a later post as I’m still letting his thoughts on multimodality set in. For now, I want to inhabit a moment early in his talk. There he talked about learning and teaching disposition—to be attentive to what we are disposed to. Alexander noted that his own learning disposition is to try out what he doesn’t know.

I’ve been thinking a lot about spaces, places, and positions lately, especially in terms of how we come to understand our positional interrelationships. When Alexander moved between the nominal disposition to disposed, I started thinking a little more about this. What does it mean to be dispositioned or to be disposed. I quickly started sketching a bit of framing around this word position and the verb pose and its relationship to many of its prefixes it comes in contact with: sup—, im—, re—, and dis—. These quick sketches prompted me to think of something of a psychoanalytic geography. This, in no way constitutes any deep linguistic or psychoanalytic thought with any degree of seriousness; however, thinking about the locative function of these words provided me with some insight into thinking about myself, writing, and teaching. Each quick etymological work is constituted only of my own interactions with these words and a quick reference of the OED.

Sup (2)Sup

I started doodling around the form position. A quick OED flyby of definitions of position occupy ranging meanings from one’s relationship to space and place, to a title or status occupied (often in terms of employment or sports), to a belief or argument one inhabits. The word is relational and deals with inhabiting and occupying. Additionally, position seems to deal also with sites of tension or difference—where beliefs and arguments come in contact, where social differences touch—making this word one that is as descriptive of other and the boundaries of other/self as it location and occupation. Perhaps that “I” occupies a form of being where “you” isn’t.

When position takes the form of a verb, that interrelationship and contact is put into motion. The definitions it takes involve proposing thesis, setting in place one’s occupation, or locating one’s position. These are sites of contact, moments in which argument occurs, where one is placed, where one is found in place. Interestingly, the act of placing in these definitions of position is acted on the self or subject. Which, again, seems to suggest to me that the “I” can only come to recognize or position itself when in contact with the “you”.

What I hope also to suggest about position is it’s relationship to topoi and place. Topoi as an inventional term within rhetoric often gets used in terms of topic selection in very isolated, easily located and differentiated kinds of ways. The apparatus of locating in position seems to operate similarly: one occupies a position in the concrete singular sense that one occupies a topic. However, thinking of position as invention may offer different forms of thinking than topical invention when one considers position as always in contact—that the positions occupied are always connecting, but also that position touches adjacent meanings.

But what happens when position is taken into other words? Supposition seems to at once denote signification, assumption, and expectation. Much of the present definitions seem to come from assumptions that appear in line with understood facts or operating assumptions that refer back to cultural phenomena. Supposition seems to promote an expectation of outcome or understanding. There is room also within supposition for suspicion and doubt, which I think is important. In terms of locating position within supposition beyond the easy kinds of root-word location, supposition’s arguments, contacts, and settings seem to precede the act of occupation or proposal. The act of assumption draws on preconstituted values and ideas that predate the rhetorical situation.

Position’s locating apparatus may somewhat informed by supposition’s insistence predetermination of outcome and expectation. In some ways, supposition may operate normatively as a normalization of the preconceived. However, and perhaps paradoxically, supposition does not become supposition until the assumption is internalized and all (if any existed) reference to reality is no longer referenced. One may only encounter supposition through the suspicion or interrogating of those assumptions.

Imposition has always been for me a politeness word—something that “I” does not want to be or create for “you”, that “I” recognize “you” as valuable and thus wish to not be an imposition. Imposition has never appeared to me as a negative action, but rather a negative consequence for an action. Imposition’s definitions span acts of layering, arranging, laying hands (in terms of religious Christian terms), attaching, accusing, taxing, or burdening. Imposition is an action of placing on one—placing guilt, duty, obligation—but there is an on top of within the defition. Imposition is additional. The “I” is layered within imposition. There is excess and exhaustion. Still situated within this locative function of position between the “I” and “other,” imposition seems to show enacted the encumbrance of contact with “otherness.” In this way, imposition may be the consequence of resisting, doubting, or moving against what may be the superego’s normalization of position within supposition. Imposition seems to locate movement or occupation outside or beyond or unsanctioned by (sup)position. Perhaps this locative tension of mobility can help name or interrogate the discomfort around naming the tacit, the normalized, ideas around our privileged positions: I think of the backlash I receive when I talk frankly about my whiteness, my maleness, the ways that I am classed, and the privilege those afford.

What then of reposition? Reposition seems to name return to one’s position. I may mention the resting capacity of repose later, but reposition seems to seek that rest that comes with return. That movement out of one’s relational position is exhausting and imposing and that the self can only be at rest when it returns to its social designations. Reposition may help name the exhaustion of sustaining contact—the difficulty of activism and attention.

To return to disposition, the word that initially prompted this exploration, what function does it serve to position? Disposition seems to offer duplicity of the will and the capacity of the self to be willful. Disposition seems to also refer to the “natural” (in a normative sense) arrangement of constituent parts while also referring to the means by which one can dispense with constraints. In the terms that Alexander mentioned disposition, he was referring to one’s tendencies or inclinations. In some ways, this refers to the desires of the self or the conditions by which the self can be satisfied. In my estimation, disposition’s attentiveness is to the self’s orientation. It follows the desire to rest, to move, to be in line, and to occupy. In the locative apparatus of position, disposition may be most closely related to orientation in that it both recognizes the conditions of occupation of a position, but it is also the function by which one feels the boundaries of position. The self comes to know their position to their sense of being in line or oriented with it, or through their restless shifting and movement: disposition names that self-in/out of-place.

While I’ve already written more here than I should, I did want to call attention to the fact that I’ve devoted my attention to the —tion words. What I think is powerful about understanding position as a site of inquiry and invention is that it equally has the power to give us actions. The verbs and all their cases and tenses—pose, suppose, impose, repose, and dispose—equally offer sites for understanding doing, being, and performing. And what of, perhaps, unposed? Is that our site of queering this apparatus? Acknowledging of the candid and/or willfully out of place?

What I think this language does well is a noticing of orientation, body, and action that surround issues of positionality.

Notes: Estee Beck, Mariana Grohowski, and Kristine Blair, “Subverting Virtual Hierarchies: A Cyberfeminist Critique of Course-Management Spaces” in James P. Purdy and Dànielle Nicole DeVoss Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, Multiliteracies

Beck, Estee, Mariana Grohowski, and Kristine Blair, “Subverting Virtual Hierarchies: A Cyberfeminist Critique of Course-Management Spaces” in James P. Purdy & Dànielle Nicole DeVoss (Eds.) Making Space: Writing Instruction, Infrastructure, and Multiliteracies. UM Press Sweetland, 2016.

Summary:

Estee, Grohowski & Blair offer a cyberfeminist critique of Course-Management Spaces as well as many alternative digital spaces and the ways that these can reinscribe patriarchal authoritative values.

Keywords: Writing Studies, Rhetoric, Composition, Digital Rhetoric, Feminist Rhetorics, Multiliteracies, New Media

Sources:

Arola, Kristin. (2010). The design of Web 2.0: The rise of the template, the fall of design. Computers and Composition, 27(1), 4–14.

Oh, Yeon Ju. (2012). Is your space safe? Cyberfeminist movement for space online at Unnine. In Radhika Gajjala & Yeon Ju Oh (Eds.), Cyberfeminism 2.0 (pp. 245–261). New York: Peter Lang.

Quotations:

“Historically, theoretically, and pedagogically, scholar–teachers have critically questioned the ability of electronic learning environments to foster a safer space for students who are potentially marginalized within the physical confines of the brick and mortar classroom”

“It is important to remember, however, that integrating digital tools does not represent a de facto commitment to empowerment and that any technology use must be aligned with curriculum and pedagogical practices that support such a goal”

“In conclusion, we call for more opportunities for both students and teachers to interrogate the existing spaces they inhabit and collaboratively work to align learning spaces with the curricular and cyberfeminist goals of accessibility and inclusiveness.”

“The potential to silence or marginalize students by acting upon the data may occur because the social and political matrices students bring with them in online spaces are not captured by the algorithms that collect user clicks, downloads, and time spent in a module in the course space”

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander, “Mobilities” in Techne: Queer Meditations on

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Genealogies.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

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Summary:

Rhodes and Alexander discuss techne in terms of an queer embodied self and the rhetorical canons of memory and delivery.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Rhetorics, Multimodality, Technology, New Media, Ecology, Embodiment

Sources:

Brooke, Collin Gifford. Lingua Fracta: Toward a Rhetoric of New Media. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton, 2009. Print.

McCorkle, Ben. Rhetorical Delivery as Technological Discourse: A Cross-Historical Study. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2012. Print.

Porter, James E. “Recovering Delivery for Digital Rhetoric.” Computers and Composition 26.4 (2009): 207–24. Print.

Quotations:

“Porter’s theoretical framework for digital delivery consists of five components: body/identity, distribution/circulation, access/accessibility, interaction, and economics… Such synergistic tension opens up spaces to act, write, and perform embodied rhetorical action” (mob2).

“[H]e notes that our modern, commonsense understanding of “delivery” sees it as a transitive process, something that always happens with a delivered, discrete object (“delivering a pizza,” for example); he argues that “we need to think in terms of an intransitive, constitutive performance, rather than transitive or transactional delivery, when it comes to new media” (170–71)” (mob3).

“In this chapter, we juxtapose—mash up and remix—delivery and memory with orientation in the service of productive play. Such play lets us develop and explore a critical consciousness that becomes aware of the orientations that shape memory and subjectivity as well as the potentiality to reorient them, even if through disorientation. As a techne, our call for such dis/orientation emerges from and extends a long line of queer aesthetic practice” (mob4a).

“What draws us queerly to such work is its often embodied delivery (and memory), its working through the body—wandering, following instincts, tracing desires, reacting in the flesh, coupling strangely and unexpectedly and even grotesquely—as well as its questioning of normative modes of production (wander!) and its orientation to potentialities as opposed to (heteronormative) reproduction” (mob4a).

“What we have been proposing through this work is a reorientation of memory and delivery that serves as a multimodal techne of self. Such a technerelies on the constant re/negotiation of memory and ecologies of delivery, of allowing for but also stumbling upon embodied encounters with what we think we know and what’s coming at us” (mob5b).

“Graffiti is often itself an act of dis/orientation. Some of it just tags the environment, designed to mark a space as owned in a subterranean geography. But much of it disrupts the nearly seamless flow of corporate colonization of public spaces. We think, for instance, of Banksy or Keith Haring, whose work posed material interruptions of spatial narratives that otherwise kept us moving along—nothing to see here, get back to work, go shopping. “Live Here, Work Here, Play Here.” Graffiti can dis/orient the spatial spectacles of our everyday lives, tactically turning attention to cracks in the narrative, contradictions and incommensurabilities in the paved-over stories we otherwise tell ourselves to get through the day” (mob6).

“Graffiti offers an ephemerality of consequence. It is a public techne of reorientation. It is the trace of others’ engagement with the world, with an attempt to leave a mark, to make an impression, to divert, to disrupt, to affect, to make our collective landscapes affective, to tell another story. It reminds us that someone or some people were here. It is memory and delivery. And, in its often unknown authorship, it performs a rhizomatic scattering of the self, an ecology of subjectivity that narrates otherwise, that draws attention to its difference from everything else around it” (mob6a).

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes & Jonathan Alexander, “Genealogies.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Genealogies.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

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Summary:

Alexander traces a queer-self-genealogy, exploring his own relationships with his family (particularly his uncle) to discuss how his queerness became thinkable to him.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetorics, Genealogy, Archive, Expirimental Writing, Multimodality, Composition, Writing Studies

Sources:

Eribon, Didier. Returning to Reims. Trans. Michael Lucey. Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), and Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2013.

Love, Heather. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2007.

Quotations:

“It was such a thoughtful recognition of my past relationship with my uncle. Another part of me, though, felt that this handing off to me of his deathbook and photos was a simultaneous acknowledgment and disavowal of our shared queerness. The identity was recognized, but the gift also seemed to say, “This is your thing. It really belongs to you, not us.” Perhaps the fact that only one—only one—of my cousins asked me about Mack, my husband and partner of seventeen years, prompted me to feel that my queerness, along with Glen’s, was being both evoked and dismissed at the same time” (gene1).

“For while I may have strayed from both my immediate and extended families in many ways, the gifting of Glen’s memorabilia to me makes visible, if fleetingly, alternative genealogies, different trajectories of affiliation, divergent paths of relational contact and influence—paths that even my family, so clearly ill at ease with queerness, could acknowledge” (gene2).

“A history might record events, but a genealogy asks that we consider why those events, recorded in that order, as opposed to other events, other orders” (gene6a).

“[S]uch leaving is never a complete rejection of our origins, the fixed genealogies that we might want to leave behind. We might try to suppress them, but they can never be fully forgotten” (gene6e).

“I would always live in tension with the contradictions of this inheritance: my queerness taking me out of my family, but my periodic return to blood relations to enjoy their company; my delight in classical music and literature and my appreciation of rough-trade tough boys; my choice to live and work in urban areas and my love of down-home, deep-fried, slow-cooked country food. I’ve called these contradictions. But they are only so in this timeline, not out of historical necessity. If anything, I’m living these contradictions. And my return “home,” while also carrying my “home” with me, is the delicious, vexed, incommensurable meeting of contradictions: the handing to me of photographs that might want to disavow a queer genealogy but nonetheless cannot help but acknowledge it” (gene6e).

“For me, creative and experimental writing has been a way to trace the genealogical contours that, as Foucault points out, do not constitute the “gradual curve” of an evolution but rather the “different scenes” and “instances” through which we can not only critique the dominant view but also open up possibilities for orienting ourselves in other directions” (gene7).

“The contradictions are valuable. They speak to deliberateness, to chosen relations, not just to historical ones. They speak to craft in designing a life and loves” (gene7g).

“To be clear, though, my approach here is not to find a home for that queerness as much as it is a recognition that queerness is always already in the making” (gene8).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

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I think about the orienting force of the fixed genealogies I carry quite a bit. These genealogies that direct me personally and professionally, they work in/through/with the identities I am situated in bringing me out of different “homes” and back to them. There is a between-ness and an already-ness to them.

I am fortunate to have queer mentors in my academic life who will call attention to the contours and contradictions we inhabit in academic spaces. These mentors as well as others have also helped me be cognizant of the academic genealogy that I am situated in, that I can be aware of how this influences their thinking and my own. I think of disciplinary “home”-ness and how scholars carry that with them even when they wish to move away, even thinking (or especially) about methodologies.

I think about the way that we construct archives and genealogies. The ephemera, the excesses, the ordering. An intentional design.

I think of the queer senses of family I’ve encountered. The mentors I’ve known and the intentional tending to those relationships that became familial: Will, Matt, John, Rich, to name a few. I think of the way that those became something more than associative relationships and the deliberate, cultivated meaning ascribed to them in familial terms. The way I used to call John my “gay dad.”

I think about my departures from a “blood” family. I remember growing up in Delaware, I remember our move to North Carolina when I was 12. I remember being so afraid. My impressions of the South from my previous education had been reducible to a statement: “conservative racists.” I was already very much aware of my queerness. I swore I’d move northward as soon as I was able. Sure enough, I ended up in grad school in Michigan (Yay?). But I remember growing up with the narratives that Alexander touched on of young queers running to cities for security, better lives, safer spaces, etc. These impact me. Yet, inasmuch as I have departed from this “home” I can still feel those periodic returns and those contradictions in which my various spaces and identities I inhabit are at once acknowledged and disavowed.

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes & Jonathan Alexander, “Orientations.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

Two dancers in Picasso's costumes: the costumes are an abstract mix of formal wear, pipes, and capital/industrialist landscape.

Summary:

In this chapter, Rhodes and Alexander explore phenomenology’s attentiveness to the subject and subjectivity as sites of inquiry into how technologies (re)orient and (re)mediate the subject.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetorics, Technology, Multimodality, New Media, Phenomenology, Actor-Network Theory (ANT)

Sources:

Dourish, Paul. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2001. Print.

Kaptelinin, Victor, and Bonnie A. Nardi. Acting with Technology: Activity Theory and Interaction Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2009. Print.

Law, John. “Actor Network Theory and Material Semiotics.” The New Blackwell Companion to Social Theory. Ed. Byron S. Turner. Chichester, UK: Blackwell, 2009. 141–58. Print.

Quotations:

“As we touch our technology, we are increasingly reminded of how it touches us back, sometimes through the agency of others reaching out to us” (1).

“We surely want our composing technologies to help us move, to allow us to “follow something other than the lines” already laid down. But to do so, we need to know how those objects already orient us along particular trajectoriesand why” (4).

“The creation of such distance speaks to the fundamental power of the relationship, acknowledging the influence of the object on our subjectivities—in producing our subjectivities—in our felt need at times to curtail it, to introduce and make room for other influences and pressures. Perhaps what needs to be taught now is less the danger of devices than better ways of relating to them. What would studying the experience of working with machines as a set of embodied and situated relations (not just extractable acts, but live relations) tell us about our (post)humanity?” (5).

“In my embodied “coupling” with my technologies, to use Dourish’s term, mean-ing, be-ing, and other Big Concepts are constantly mediated and remediated, a dynamic process in which my technologies and I reach for (and beyond) each other. These acts of (re)mediation are embedded, or grounded quite specifically in the material, social, cultural, and historical settings in which they arise; a key part of that embedding is “a concern with the mundane aspects of social life, the taken-for-granted background of everyday action” (Dourish 96). The idea of “everyday experience” is key here. Dourish’s phenomenological framework takes as its center the purposeful, active subject, mediating his or her experience through technologies. At their simplest level, technologies such as Mood Map, Verbalucce, Lumo Lift, and Pavlok offer us a reductionist stimulus–response view of behavior and cognition. Pushing against that simple view, we can see such technologies (and, importantly, our purposeful use of them) as ecologies of orientation, or complex systems that push us to act in culturally “appropriate” ways. Stand tall. Be positive. Don’t waste time on Facebook. Get up earlier. Be efficient” (6).

“Bodies move to attract and capture attention, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. Such bodies, sometimes encased in rigid costumes representing concrete and steel, have become orienting objects, while also continuing to draw our attention to their difference—from each other and from their interaction with non-bodily objects, specifically the materials of industrial capitalism. Long before Latour,Parade enacts a dissolution of the subject/object binary to meditate on the interimbrication of not just self and other but the collapsing of subject into object, there and back again” (9)

“[T]here are key differences between actor-network theory and phenomenological approaches such as Dourish’s and Ahmed’s. As Victor Kaptelinin and Bonnie Nardi point out, phenomenology retains a commitment to subjectivity, and its interest in technological mediation is one of context, a way of reaching a deeper understanding of the individual subject (205). And, we might add, actor-network theory seems to presume a sort of intentional innocence among its nodes and has been “forcibly reminded of its non-innocence by Donna Haraway in her own much more explicitly political material semiotics. . . . We make realities, she said. They only question is: what kind of difference do we want to make?” (Law 154). We might add to that question another: How do we recognize in these webs possibilities for making difference, for making a difference? And how do we do so purposefully?” (10).

Questions, Reflection, Response:

Rhodes and Alexander touch on many of the conversations that rapidly circulate, bemoaning technology’s influence particularly in communication practices. I was reminded of the video above as I most often hear these discussions related to millennials. While this video captures a snapshot—an edited original post with a response—of the discussion of millennials, it touches on our generation’s relationship to technology in multiple spots In its medium, comments about the use of Facebook, and perhaps most interestingly in the flurry of updates from various social media platforms received at the end (a visual move that seemed vaguely reminiscent of a common drag move to layer sound clips and increase aural friction and end with a deathdrop) seems to address Rhodes’s discussion of desiring updates and the orienting force that engagement with these kinds of updates can have on subjects. Rhodes and Alexander discuss looking at the relationship between subjectivities and objects through moments of disruption, dissonance, and disorientation as these moments are times when we come in contact with the orienting force of those objects. Their queer phenomenological turn is one that meets technology, composition, and affect.

In their discussion of Mood Map, Verbalucce, Lumo Lift, and Pavlok and their orienting force—”Stand tall. Be positive. Don’t waste time on Facebook. Get up earlier. Be efficient” (6)—I’m reminded of my felt sense of being on Facebook and the ways in which people compose their presence on various social media platforms to highlight a positive (even wishful) best self and the tacit ways of being that these platforms promote toward cultural ideals of happiness and productivity, as well as the isolating/disorienting force these platforms are capable of for those that do not experience that, experience it differently, deviate from such ideals, etc. Even how these platforms police such orientations. I think about the community of creative writers I follow on twitter and #AmWriting and #WriterLife and the prevalence of martyr-complex, writers do x (stay up all night/every night, write don’t talk, are always stressed).

What I also hear in this conversation on orientations goes back to the introduction, in which Rhodes and Alexander ask of inquiry into technology and desire for an “opening up potential for disrupting flow, disorienting attentions, and redirecting desires in more pleasurable and sustaining ways” (10). A perhaps Ahmed-esque (2014) desire for willfulness; a refusal to reproduce the orientation of (re)productivity, of compulsory happiness.

I think there’s a great work with ANT provided here that I would like to see methodologically explored more; the presumed innocence between nodes that ANT may presuppose. I think about the directive flow of objects and the ways I am composed along them as I compose myself through them; Ahmed (2006) and Said (1978) remind us that direction is not neutral—the language we use to describe language, the spatial relationships we compose through cartography, all make proximate and more readily available objects with ease while making others othered. A queer noticing of how bodies move through nodes, are acted upon by nodes, that calls attention to the force (sometimes violent force) with which subjects are directed in these directions, along trajectories. This noticing requires a queer phenomenology. As subjectivities are projected/directed/sustained along/within/through networked environments they are composed upon.

In my reflections on the introduction to this book, I talked about some of the ways I have experienced or come in contact with the directive force of mediating technologies and the movement of my subjectivity in some of these networked environments. I’m still grappling with some of this in this chapter (as I imagine I will be throughout this book). I’m starting to think a lot about Khôra in terms of networks, technologies, subjectivities, and my lived experiences of being triggered. I might repeat the questions stated by Rhodes and Alexander “How do we recognize in these webs possibilities for making difference, for making a difference? And how do we do so purposefully?” (10).

Notes: Jacqueline Rhodes and Jonathan Alexander, “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self

Rhodes, Jacqueline, and Jonathan Alexander. “Introduction.” In Techne: Queer Meditations on Writing the Self. Logan, UT: Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press, 2015. Web.

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Summary:

Rhodes and  Alexander a series of queer moves in understanding the dispersal of subjects within digital networks, arguing that through mediated technologies subjects are recursively composed and embodied.

Keywords: Queer, Queer Theory, Queer Rhetorics, Multimodality, Technology, New Media

Sources:

Lynch, Paul. “Composition’s New Thing: Bruno Latour and the Apocalyptic Turn.” College English 74.5 (2012): 458–76.

Shipka, Jody. Toward a Composition Made Whole. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2011.

Sullivan, Patricia Suzanne. Experimental Writing in Composition: Aesthetics and Pedagogies. Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2012.

Quotations:

“We live in a world of constant measurement and data gathering, of dense networks in which the flows of information around us are mobilized to construct our identities as commodities for marketing, profiteering, and surveillance. Those flows carry their own orienting forces—currents we can become aware of and potentially redirect” (1).PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT (2)

“This techne has two broad parameters (1) the acknowledgment and even embrace of the idea of spectacle, the alienating distance between bodily self and representation as a productive space for critique; and (2) the importance of lived experiences to the formation of an ethical stance. The life of the body is not to be ignored” (5).

“That is, we attempt here both to map out and to provoke visceral awareness of the interimbrication of bodies and technologies, orienting and reorienting one another” (8).

“[W]e desire to become better attuned to the orientations enacted through our technologized networks—orientations that lurk behind, below, or beyond how we might already be more self-consciously “working with or against the agency of things.” … Second, that phenomenological turn also underscores our commitment to using such awareness—to the value of human awareness as potential for personal and political action” (9).

“If we take a queer turn here, we do it in order to flesh out how much bodies and objects construct and mediate the flow of desires. Indeed, those bodies and objects come into being and perception as desires, as desirable, as desiring. Many of them demand to be desired. Tracing out the ways they and we create and orient trajectories of desire—caressing attention into being, cajoling feeling into belief and action—continues the work of ideological critique while also opening up potential for disrupting flow, disorienting attentions, and redirecting desires in more pleasurable and sustaining ways” (10).

PUSH YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT (3)

“Our orientations themselves function as a particular symbolic order, a language of (im)possible directions. At the thetic moment, any subjectivity projects into the future, imagining a self, however provisional, that asks both to be sustained and to be subject to the possibilities—and the productive damage—of change, of growth. If growth is under erasure here, it is only because we recognize within any imagination of the future both the potential and the peril of embracing a trajectory. This is the work of mimesis, even digital mimesis—the potential revolution (or “revolving”) of dis/orientation that inheres in poetic language” (14).

“Such “composing” consists of a complex mix of affect and negotiation. On the one hand, queer composing is a demand born out of anger, resentment, pain…. This is a right we take in the full ugly face of how our lives have often been composed in ways that we not only do not recognize but that harm us…. We work and rework those dominant forms, both to counter and to assert, to say no to the damage done to us but also to use that damage to make livable lives” (15).

Questions, Reflections, Response:

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Reading the introduction of Techne, I was reminded of an art show of someone I went to school with during my undergrad at ECU, Paul Nissenbaum‘s collection, A Portrait of the Artist as a Gay Man. The pieces show a collection of self portraits that layer photography, printmaking, and painting mediating and remediating the subject’s performance of identity; the tools of this composition composing the subject as the artist composes the art. I see A Portrait of the Artist as a Gay Man as a work of Techne that embraces spectacle, understanding the “alienating distance between bodily self and representation” and is playfully engaged in the intimate entanglement of lived experience and its production technologies. I don’t intend to go to much into art criticism or aesthetics here, but I mention this collection of pieces as a visual play of the recurisive embodiment of mediating and networked technologies—the play with multiple art forms (and the playful allusion to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) that Nissenbaum produced resonated markedly for me in the ways that Rhodes and Alexander discuss the play with orienting forces they wrestled with personally and professionally in the work of Techne and its exploration of technologies and subjects.

As the field of composition increasingly integrates networks and ecologies into its theoretical wheelhouse, Techne‘s queer turn to the conversation may be an important one: a turn that notes the movement in the proliferation of subjects. If Queer Phenomenology (2006) asks the orientation of phenomenology, then Techne offers an attention to the orientation of subjects writing in networked environments. Techne takes up Ahmed’s discussion of the subject embracing and rejecting trajectories and her attentiveness to the shifts in trajectory—when a subject refuses to travel along a trajectory or refuses to reproduce or travel along lines that it is directed toward.

I wonder about digital mimesis and how much of the work of Techne and its attention to the body and experimental writing (which seems here to call one’s attention to the interimbrication of subject and composing technology) can be a response to the conversations of multimodality and new media in composition. Are we attentive to the ways that modalities are directive, orienting device? Do we talk about the trajectories and deviations with modalities we experience or embrace in composing? Do we talk enough about multimodality and new media enough to recognize the limitations and affordances other modalities allow beyond the mimetic? Is our engagement as a field oriented toward productivity and are there ways to create relationships to composing technologies that are sustainable and pleasurable?

I remember this passed semester having some of these conversations with my students. I was surprised with the level of friction and anxiety my students felt toward more experimental forms of composing. We were able to discuss their discomfort and their disorientation with composing out of words-in-a-row forms and had several generative conversations about their compositions from this.

I wonder about composing from a state of generative restlessness, from a space playful with pasts and futures. The “I” as subject-in-process. Do we compose conscious of the author(ed) self as transient, shifting, moving in, through, and with the technologies we deploy? What does that mean to embody a pedagogical stance that is aware of that shifting and author(ed) self, (co)created with mediating technologies? What does that mean for research methods and data collection if we methodologically understand subjects as transitory and recursively embodied through the mediating technologies?

I think about the always already and the way that I inhabit as self in spaces in time (Doo-weee-oooo!). Often, I find myself confronted with the trajectories and the orienting force of objects around me. As a queer person, I come into contact with the directive force of heteronormativity: the repetition of ‘coming out’ (coming out as becoming), the homonormative turns in gay communities (Grindr culture that reads “Masc 4 masc”, “No fats, no femmes, no Asians”), and the constant need to articulate the relevance of queer rhetorics to a field that has taken social justice and cultural work as its mantle for at least 20 years. I feel the technologies composing me in networks that seek to identify me (you should seriously look at what changes on Facebook if you tell it you’re a gay man—all the underwear ads; HIV treatment ads), and yet composing myself in these spaces and performing my queer identity as a space to effect change, conversation, visibility, being, and becoming. I am as a subject in these moments generated and negated. I embrace a history, a future, I compose an identity for myself, but in so doing, forsake, abandon, and deviate from other trajectories.

As someone with depression and PTSD, this confrontation is ever more apparent. What triggers me? When? Where? Am I present where I’m triggered and am I when I am present when I am triggered? It’s in those moments that time folds, frictive moments in time, when I am not just reminded of my attack, but I am my self, the same 20 year old, three years ago, today. That subjectivity movement that refuses to move straight but shifts back in history/present and refuses a sort of “progress” linearity is a sort of queer temporality. That folding of the line in on itself could be an excess of present/presence afforded in dense networked spaces that have orienting, flowing force.