Friday, March 30, 2007

More Quicksilver musings...

I'm starting to use Quicksilver, although very slowly. I'm not sure if I understand fully how to use it, but right now I'm just launching applications with it. I don't really know how much quicker it is than pointing at things with a mouse, but anyway, I should give it a chance.

Speaking of computer mice, I bought a mouspad for my Apple Optical Mouse, and it's not really good. You might be wondering why I'm using a mousepad in this day and age, but I am. I guess because the Apple mouse is a bit big, there isn't enough room on the pad to move around right. Also (and more importantly), there is a wrist rest with this thing, and the rest is way too high. My poor wrist is already hurting.

I've seen that you are supposed to move a mouse with your arm rather than just your wrist, so the wrist rest isn't going to help me to learn how to properly move a mouse, and it'll probably put out my shoulder in the process.

BTW, you can get quicksilver from here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Does anyone out there use Quicksilver for the Macintosh? It's an app launcher, and does a whole slew of other things as well. I would love to learn how to use it but, considering all the other work that I have to do that I'm not doing, I really should get onto that work instead of pretending that I'm going to learn how to use Quicksilver.

I was reading about Barthes and The Pleasure of the Text and, instead of actually rereading the book (which I need to do), I discovered a bit about the way the book is put together: "Dependent on chance, this method [of sections arranged alphabetically, of which "Recuperation" is one] ensures that there is no “argument” which is pursued throughout the text: rather, each section or fragment muses on a problematic, an emotion, or a literary trope." (quote from here).

So that means that, for once, I can actually take something theoretical as it is, rather than considering a greater context, right? FINALLY!!

(or not?)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

This will be a boring post (just so you know)

Here's a picture of something that is interesting to me today (search for "polk" at and you will find the photo).

So I don't really know what to write today. I read my paper (as it is) to my wife this morning and received positive feedback. It's not done yet, but it's pretty full. As a presentation at a conference, it is certainly shaping up as "part of a larger work." I'll probably use that dreaded term at some point in this paper.

I need to do a bit more research on this paper, especially since it is (dreadedly) "part of a larger work." I need to think a bit more about that larger work.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

A little break from Barthes and Feist

I've really been talking alot about "jhai" lately, haven't I? Well, as I have said, the paper is almost done, and I can see how it might become a much longer paper than just a presentation at a conference.

I decided to bind my dissertation through, and I received the book yesterday. While the binding and printing job is very good, the book was damaged in shipping (through UPS - see the photo). I should have known not to buy a hard cover book - I haven't had good experiences even through Amazon with hard covers.

Oh, and I ended up returning that iPod shuffle I bought a few weeks ago. There was a strange hum!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Finally, a proper definition of "jhai"

Here is the definition of "jhai" from publicity during the promotion of Let It Die:

"a detached manner of singing especially suited to very emotional material. The emotion is underplayed, never quite lets go and leaves room for the listener to crawl inside."

What is interesting is that, of course, Feist is not the only singer who does this. Our friend Steven Patrick Morrissey also employs similar techniques of vocal delivery.

("Jhai" definition found at the link above - just click on the title of this blog entry)

Friday, March 23, 2007

"Jhai" and Feist's "recuperation"

The reason that one might argue that Feist presents a case of a "third term," as per Barthes, is that she exhibits a moment of destruction in her career, in the form of personal injury. During her time with the punk band Placebo in the 1990s, she began to bleed from her throat due to the high volume and frequency of forced singing during a tour. This forced her to embark on a full year of therapy and recuperation (no pun intended).

It can be argued that this destruction and recuperation resulted in Feist no longer worrying about singing well, that is, with precision. This is part of her notion of "jhai," a label that should not be given too much weight, but one which was apparently marketed in relation to her album "Let it Die." "Jhai" also carries with it a suggestion of relaxed singing, without much worry or stress. More about "jhai" later.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A quick quote from Roland Barthes...

"Art seems compromised, historically, socially. Whence the effort on the part of the artist himself to destroy it." (The Pleasure of the Text, 1975, p. 54)

Barthes continues,

"Unfortunately, this destruction is always inadequate; either it occurs outside the art, but thereby becomes impertinent, or else it consents to remain within the practice of the art, but quickly exposes itself to recuperation (the avant-garde is that restive language which is going to be recuperated)." (p. 54)

Finally, he states,

"what is not directly concerned with destruction, evades the paradigm, and seeks some other term: a third term, which is not, however, a synthesizing term but an eccentric extraordinary term." (p. 55)

Perhaps (and I say this guardedly, since I might not know what I'm talking about) this "third term" in the world of Feist manifests itself in her self-proclaimed singing style "jhai" (pronounced like the letter "J"). More about this later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Feist paper is coming together

So, in case you didn't know (and as if you cared), a paper I'm writing on Feist is on its way. It's coming together, and almost done. I'm presenting this paper in Boston, and I'm looking at Feist's voice through the lens of Barthes' notion of "recuperation" from his book The Pleasure of the Text. This is hard material, and I need to simplify things for both my own good and the good of the paper.

That's something I need to do: simplify and clarify. If I've learned anything from writing a very long paper (or a couple now, actually), it's that it is hard to do so and keep things clear and NOT complicated. I have trouble with linking paragraphs, especially with the large amount of information that I'm presenting. Also, I've been told that I sometimes present theory with a tenuous link to the object of study to which the theory is being applied.

I'll be back with some quotes from Barthes, to see if you people out there agree or disagree with some of the things he says.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I really need to post more often

I should make it a new year's resolution. Oh, is it March already?

So much for my resolutions. I always make them but I rarely keep them.

Right now I'm looking through some of my comic books that I transported from my parents' house in Ottawa to here in Montreal. I'm trying to decide if I want to keep most of these things that I spent so much money on when I was younger. And most of the books are not worth selling. I have no treasures in my comic book collection.

I remember fondly my time in a theology program in a Pentecostal college while I was reading the Grant Morrison comic "The Invisibles," when I would read the current issue and then discuss it with one of the theology profs there.

I sometimes wish that I was still there. It was hard but fun. Of course, I'm happy to be at the stage of life that I'm at right now, but it's also more difficult now than then. It was a "simpler" time then. (Cliché, I know)

I'll stop my ramblings there. And I should try to post every day.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Final revisions to Final submission (Finally)

I'm just getting around to finishing the final final final revisions to my dissertation. Everything has been accepted now (the minor revisions requested by the defense committee are done and fine) and I'm going through the whole thing checking for last minute spelling mistakes or little grammar things (I've found a few tense problems). Plus I'm checking the page numbers and exporting the whole thing to .pdf to be able to publish a book using Interestingly, McGill does not give the student a bound copy of the doctoral dissertation. So I'll do it myself.

It's really cold today.