Wednesday, April 25, 2007

It's official

I didn't get it. Of 149, 29 received the grant (that's 20%). I was under the impression (mistakenly) that the success rate was closer to 50% for this postdoctoral fellowship competition. Now I wait until tomorrow to see if I was 1 of 116 that were recommended.

Just my luck I'll be one of the 33 that were not even recommended for funding at all.

We're off to Boston tomorrow for the conference. My work is all ready to go. Now all I have to do is pick out a shirt and tie for Friday afternoon and I'm set.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Not really a good day

While I'm getting ready to go to Boston to present a paper this coming weekend, I'm also waiting for results for a possible postdoctoral fellowship. While the official results aren't out until tomorrow, those who have received the funding for a postdoctoral fellowship have most probably already received a letter confirming the appointment of funds.

I haven't received anything, which probably means that I haven't received the fellowship.

This closes another door (considering the small number of doors to begin with, this is quite discouraging). As I mention above, the official list of winners doesn't get published until tomorrow, but it doesn't look good for me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

This is a "work" post, for the most part

This week has been not so exciting. I'm now having trouble wrapping up the paper that I've been yapping about for the last while, and this post will be a part of said paper, I think. This post will explore the source of the theory that runs through my current work, Barthes' The Pleasure of the Text.

The book has to do with how a reader produces meaning, and continues the assertion by Barthes that the "author" is "dead." That is, simply, intention of the author means nothing, and that the interpretation (or meaning) of the text takes place in absence of the author. [Note: I think this is right, but I might be wrong. I'm trying to recall what I was taught.]

So, as mentioned previously in this blog, the book is set up in short segments, with the subjects or themes of each segment arranged alphabetically, and basically randomly. Throughout this "random" structuration, Barthes does discuss the binary of plaisir (pleasure) and jouissance (bliss or ecstacy). These are not opposites, and is more open and fluid in its definition. The "pleasure" from the title of the book should be thought of as both the pleasure that a reader takes from reading a text, as well as the pleasure that is apparently inherent in the text itself.

Thos texts which do not overcome the "boundaries" of "traditional" literary norms are those texts which can be under the rubric of plaisir, while those texts which disrupt the expectations of what a text should do are texts, then, of ecstacy.

Of these texts, Barthes writes, "Texts of pleasure. Pleasure in pieces; language in pieces; culture in pieces. . . . nothing is reconstituted, nothing recuperated." (p. 51-52) Thus this kind of text upsets all expectations, therefore scattering one's subjectivity.


This is difficult material. Can this kind of observation (or argument) concerning text be applied then to other artistic texts, such as music, or even to real-life situations, as I attempt to do? Perhaps because Barthes talks about real-life situations in the section I'm concerned with makes this okay.

Any comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Regarding the ads here

You might have noticed the ads at the top of the page, as well as the new ad for Firefox to the side. If your using a Windows-based computer, it is often recommended that you use Firefox instead of Internet Explorer, due to security concerns. Why not give it a try, at least?

As for my other work, I'm putting together the presentation for my paper, a 2.5 minute video of Feist, covering her 2 stylistic periods. My paper is where it has been since a while ago, languishing in "almost-finished-land." It really is almost finished.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Back to work

No news regarding September and my life, but I'm expecting word literally any minute now. As for the most pressing thing, the paper in Boston, things are coming together but I'm still not done. Mainly, this is due to the number of questions that I have posed that I need to somehow address. Also, on a less difficult note (in terms of academics, but not less difficult in terms of technical know-how), I have to somehow set up a little audio-visual presentation, with a couple of songs from our favourite songstress in order to illustrate the stylistic change that she has undergone, and the "border" or "boundary" that she has crossed (and perhaps been forced to cross).

My wife and I were to head over to the local Apple Store, but it's too far to go by public transportation during the week. Thus, we have postponed our trek to a week from this weekend. I guess that's next weekend, not this weekend, in case anyone is keeping track.

Finally, I did in fact go to high school with Mocky. While I do remember him, as Dominic Salole, I'm not sure how close of friends we were. He was in a band as were some people I was friends with (not "best," but more than aquaintances). Another band member I became friends with in university, funnily enough. So maybe I should try to contact him. If I remember him, maybe he remembers me.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Happy Easter to all

I hope everyone reading this has a wonderful Easter weekend, and takes a moment to remember Christ's sacrifice and his resurrection.

I think I might have gone to high school with recent Feist collaborator Mocky. I'll confirm once I scour my old yearbooks. Here's Mocky and Feist, "Fighting Away The Tears":

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Questions being raised from Barthes

In The Pleasure of the Text, Barthes talks about how art is "compromised" due to the artists' efforts to destroy it. The destruction is inadequate, according to Barthes.

Question #1: Why does the artist do this?

Here's a statement (written by me, quoting Barthes) that needs major clarification:

"He concludes that 'there is a structural agreement between the contesting and the contested forms,' apart from a dialectic relationship between the art and its destruction for the production of a synthesis. Instead, there results the production of 'a third term, which is not, however, a synthesizing term but an eccentric, extraordinary term.'" (all Barthes quotes from p. 55)

Question #2: Does the inadequate destruction of the art always result in the production of an extraordinary term?

Question #3: So what are the effects of this extraordinary term? How does this affect the art and its consumption or expression?

Question #4: What if the artist inadvertently destroy their art, as might be the case with a figure like Feist?

Question #5: Is it possible to apply Barthes' thoughts about texts to other arts and their participants?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

I'm smart! Yes I am!

I was telling A. yesterday that I sound really smart on my blog. She asked what I was posting about. So I told her that I was quoting from Wikipedia about Barthes and "writerly" texts and so on.

She said, "You're not smart if you quote from Wikipedia." And she laughed at me.

And you may wonder why I am often depressed.

Just kidding (still waiting for news from prospective post-secondary institutions, though).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Getting to know Barthes

Looking at the Wikipedia entry for Barthes, there is this description of The Pleasure of the Text:

"While Barthes had shared sympathies with Marxist thought in the past (or at least parallel criticisms), he felt that, despite its anti-ideological stance, Marxist theory was just as guilty of using violent language with assertive meanings, as was bourgeois literature. In this way they were both Doxa and both culturally assimilating. As a reaction to this he wrote The Pleasure of the Text (1975), a study that focused on a subject matter he felt was equally outside of the realm of both conservative society and militant leftist thinking: hedonism. By writing about a subject that was rejected by both social extremes of thought, Barthes felt he could avoid the dangers of the limiting language of the Doxa. The theory he developed out of this focus claimed that while reading for pleasure is a kind of social act, through which the reader exposes oneself to the ideas of the writer, the final cathartic climax of this pleasurable reading, which he termed the bliss in reading, is a point in which one becomes lost within the text. This loss of self within the text or immersion within the text, signifies a final impact of reading that is experienced outside of the social realm and free from the influence of culturally associative language and is thus neutral."

I certainly didn't catch "hedonism" in this book, but who am I to say (I didn't catch homosexuality in S/Z either, really). Wait, did I even read this whole book? Yes, I did (sorry, had to remind myself).

Wikipedia continues here, saying:

"The Pleasure of the Text is a short book published in 1973 by Roland Barthes. In the book, Barthes divides the effects of texts into two: pleasure and bliss.

The pleasure of the text corresponds to the readerly text, which does not challenge the reader's subject position.

The blissful text provides Jouissance (bliss, orgasm, explosion of codes) which allows the reader to break out of his/her subject position. This type of text corresponds to the 'writerly' text."

Finally, from my dissertation (p. 203), drawing from S/Z (p. 4):

"For Barthes, the 'classic text' is one which can be read but not written, as opposed to 'what can be written (rewritten) today'; he calls the 'classic text' a 'readerly text,' while the other is called a 'writerly text.' (p. 4)"

Maybe more on S/Z later on.