192/1030: “Bye noe”

It’s time to return to books. Not those bound things that are basically articles put together based on some sort of logic filled with words academics put together to gain prestige, position, or both (don’t get me wrong, I want to see my name in one of those things one day). I want to return to reading where I forget the work of the activity itself.  I think I’ve been bogged down in theory for so long, I forgot that I actually love to read and there are so many good stories still waiting to be read. I spent my morning in the library  (sounds so studious, until I write that it’s the first time since December). Then, on my way home, disinterested in most of my normal dinner reads, I picked up one of my books again and got lost in Zadie Smith’s London for an hour or so. Now, I feel much more inspired to provide a close-reading analysis than some more theory review. It’s easier, too…

NW is divided into four intertwined stories with the titles “visitation,” “guest,” “host,” and “crossing.” Each story has subtitles in a different style. Leah Hanwell’s story is in simple numbers. Felix Copper’s short life is divided into segments of a map, “NW6,” “(WI),”  and “NW6,” Natalie Blake is numbers and subject titles, quite correct but also fragmented glimpses that try to account for as much of her as possible. Finally, comes Nathan Bogle and another “visitation.” When Nathalie Blake/Keisha leaves her home, she wanders and we read how she goes up “Willesden Lane to Kilburn High Road,” and then “Shoot up the Green to Fortune Green,” traveling over NW. The way space is used in the novel is interesting and definitely worth a return visit, especially in light of some things I read recently in History, Memory and Migration, but wait, I wasn’t going to go into that, today. And talking about those titles wasn’t important at all to get into right now.

There are a lot of intermedial references in NW. We start off with Leah Hanwell considering a line she hears on the radio, repeating it over and over in her mind, hearing a neighbor talk on the phone, thinking about the gloss on a magazine, and papers falling, causing “World events and property and film and music” to lie in the grass (4). This is the internet age, the characters have computers, email addresses, chat spaces, and yet there’s an old school feel. They still get their news from papers, hear about it from one another via word of mouth…

The section that caught my eye for this blog post was chapter “123. Bye noe.” It consists of a web chat between Leah and Natalie/Keisha (there’s actually no specificity of the name, we only get the last name, so I don’t know if it’s Natalie or Keisha who makes this appearance, though it could be Keisha since she’s always Keisha online). Leah is the one who instigates the conversation, her type is bold and Natalie’s/Keisha’s (I’m going to guess that it’s a mix of both, since there’s Leah’s friend and the lawyer in this conversation) is not bolded. None follows capitalization convention, unless you count the fact that Leah cap locks her words when she’s mad and N/K cap locks the moments that are sarcastic. Finally, as far as the medium itself goes, we get the impression of overlapped generation of text, as each interrupts the other’s sentence throughout.

whats happening to
me too
universe?  (244)

Leah is responding to “cant believe you getting hitched” and N/K is already asking her question.

I notice a few significant things about this conversation.

First of all, it starts with Leah acknowledging her hesitancy to download something, I’m guessing its the program to private message. Both are at work, Leah working from a work computer and N/K probably on her phone. They joke and banter, and then Leah leads into the news she wants to share by asking N/K to locate herself in the time space continuum “free may sixth?” and then, after some silly then serious (self-acknowledgement) on N/K’s part, “lady jesus I am getting married” (243).  Leah is excited to tell her friend how it happened, why, how she’s doing it to please her fiance, her mother, “It’s what people do innit,” N/K is kind of distracted by work, wants to know if this means Leah is pregnant or will get pregnant, and then has a question for Leah that is confusing the first time one reads it, but then makes more sense after returning to it later. The question is never actually stated, Leah just answers it because she “iz mind reader for realz.” Something about having to give up people and “when all else fails: http://www.adultswatchingadults.com” (245).

Side note: if NW was an ebook and the hyperlink actually worked, would visiting the site be part of reading the book? Future hypertext fiction questions, my friends!

At any rate, the reference to the hyperlink is something that leads to a sort of climax for the whole novel, and I find it interesting that this moment is instigated by a web chat. We get the impression that N/K doesn’t answer for a while (and never responds directly to that), and then the conversation is over with “bye noe.” Not being a NW native, or even with the British slang, I had to look up “noe.” It’s basically an awesome, wonderful person. Someone you’re happy to be with/around. I guess that’s a fond sign off for the two of them, but I don’t know why Leah puts her “bye noe” in single quotes…

This is the point where I should get into explaining the significance of the intermedial reference (that is, why did this conversation happen in chat, not real time, and how successful is Smith in creating the impression of a chat room? (for example, the characters chose to capitalize their “I”s or use the single quote for the contraction or use txt spk). But, it’s also the moment where this gets hard and it’s 2240 on a Thursday and I already did some decent amount of work today, so bye.

Thanks for reading.

Work Cited:  Smith, Zadie. NW. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Print.

 

191/1030: Subjectless Productivity

Yesterday (or rather the day before the day before yesterday), I left off mentioning the “intertextuality debate,” and summarized it as a debate between text as medium and media as universal communication force. Irina Rajewsky points out that there is a third position one can take that mediates between these two, but that it inevitably continues to frame the subject as the defining force. It is a reception oriented force that “saves Kristeva’s concept” (50) (i.e. continues to allow for a broader, universal conception of media), but again means that there are as many different ways to interpret intermediality as there are people. So, based on this general frame, we return again and again to the fact that it is an umbrella term and very difficult to talk about intermediality without being specific… and when we get close to specificity, we are too subjective. This point Rajewsky drives home over and over, but then she brings up a classification system that I’ve mentioned in earlier posts. She finds example of the different categories of intermediality as models of how this syste, can be used. 

Still, she does bring up Wolf and Mecke and Rollof who also find ways to categorize the broad concept and allow us to be be productively subjectless.

For example, Mecke and Roloff point out in their foreword that there are three ways to focus on intermediality: the aesthetics, the technical historical, and from a position of discourses analysis. All three are methods that have a distinct literary canon and mode of examination. Of course, I focus on the last one, and bring up discourse theoretics and concepts that can be traced back to rhetoric and discourse theory across several fields. This is what allows me t make the connection to Bakhtin, and while I recently gave credit to Mecke and Roloff for identifying Bakhtin as a basis for looking at intermediality, it seems the credit goes to Rolf Kloepfer and his essay “Intertextualität und Intermedialität oder die Rückkehr zum dialogischem Prinzip. Bachtins Theoreme als Grundlage für Literatur- und Filmtheorie.” 

Also of note is how Jürgen Müller in “Je suits une légende”- argues that the author is an intermediality figure “par excellence” who is manifested in the discourse between texts and not necessarily in the text itself. This becomes interesting in light of Bakhtin’s concept of authoritative discourse. 

Mecke and Roloff also divide their discussion into filmed literature, literary films, and filmy literatures (all three are translated from the German concepts, more clear in the last one). From these distinctions it should become clear that I focus on filmy literatures. 

By the end of this though, I’m not sure if I’m not just bringing in my own subjectivity again, and if there can be such a thing as subjectless-productivity.  

Works Cited: Kloepfer, Rolf. Intertextualität und Intermedialität oder die Rückkehr zum dialogischem Prinzip. Bachtins Theoreme als Grundlage für Literatur- d Filmtheorie.” In Kino-/(Ro)Mania. Jochen Mecke and Volker Roloff, eds. 1st ed. Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 1999. 23-46. Print.

Rajewsky, Irina O. Intermedialität. Tübingen: UTB, Stuttgart, 2002. Print.

189/1030: returning to Rajewsky, the intermediality debate

I blame my failure to post anything at all in the month of February on the shortness of the month. I could have sworn I at least started a few drafts that month, but I guess it was imagined. I did do a decent amount of annotating though, and sorta kinda finally finished two books I’ve been holding on to since November.

So, almost 200 days in and all I have to show for it are about 70 pages of superficial, disjointed musings. From my MA thesis, I know producing material is easy for me. It’s the quality and the organization that really take the work I haven’t been putting into my dissertation. However, in light of a new uplift in spirits and a new goal for myself: draft for intro by start of April, as well as Spring Break that relieves me of other responsibilities, I’m setting out for five posts this week.

I had a few epiphanies in February, not all of them good. One of them involved taking a connection/conclusion I’d made all for myself and realizing that someone else had already done so: Jochen Mecke and Volker Roloff in Filmische Literatur und literarisierter Film” to be exact. This realization involves making the link from intertextuality to intermediality, but using Kristeva’s theses on intertextuality, which drew from Bakhtin’s dialogism, as a launching point. Therefore, I proved to myself that my research is apt and ideas credible, but I need to dig deeper to find the unexplored territory. But first, a few notes on what Rajewsky proposes as the intertextuality debate (48-58).

This debate centers on the extent to which we expand the term. One, favored by the postructuralists and deconstructionists, restricts the ideas to those dealing with the text and and how textual functions affect the text as a whole. The other, favored by cultural semiotics like myself, if I may dare say so, metaphorically extends the concept to many other aspects of thinking and life. This other stance opens up nicely for intermediality, but then the issue appears that seems to challenge many who deal with intermediality: where can we stop talking about media, if everything is media? And if everything is media and can be talked about in the same way, what’s the point in talking about it?

However, while I acknowledge that argument, I do still believe there is sense in talking about the way these overlaps occur. Especially in light of overlapping ideas of culture and nations, it makes sense to help explain where the boundaries still occur, because this may open up more room for people who think categorically (which is all of us) to become more tolerant.

That’s it for now. more to follow tomorrow (for realsies, this time).

Work Cited: Rajewsky, Irina O. Intermedialität. Tübingen: UTB, Stuttgart, 2002. Print.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

 

151/1030: de Man and references

I’m going to try and keep it short an sweet today, since I’m mostly capitalizing on a good phase in my writing and want to get this out before I submerge into non-productivity again. I still haven’t finished my lit. review, though I did some hesitant writing for my introduction. Maybe I need to change my goal to producing writing for the intro every day, rather than finish the books that seem to be very slow to get through. I need to assume I’ll get things read as I continue writing.

In my colloquium, a fellow student picked out Paul de Man’s Allegories of Reading and we focused on de Man’s examination of Jean-Jacque Rousseua’s Confessions.   Even if it was interesting to see how de Man broke down writing a confession as a speech-act and I learned more about what Schlegel meant by irony (“the parabasis of allegory (or figure)” (“Excuses (Confessions)” 301), I was hugely frustrated by his style and I didn’t really find it useful. However, at the same time I opened a window on my I-pad safari on de Man’s “Semiology and Rhetoric” that I started reading, never got back to in more than a month, and it’s about time I moved on.

Rereading this article, his use of reference popped out to me.

We may no longer be hearing too much about relevance, but we keep hearing a great deal about reference, about the non-verbal ‘outside’ to which language refers, by which it is conditioned and upon which it acts. (27)

According to the google dictionary, relevance is the quality or state of being closely connected or appropriate. Reference is the the action of mentioning or alluding to something. Both have to do with a connection, but relevance assumes this connection is close whereas reference means we make this connection and ask the reader to evaluate its closeness. It is what enables the writer to prompt a reader to explore the possible connections between literature, self, man, and society that the reader may otherwise not have noticed.

This idea of reference is not new. Considering the most basic conceptions of literature as metaphor for life and all it does (or does not (?)) encompass, I do not need to explain how reference works in text. However, given that my thesis relies on an assumption that we don’t spend enough time thinking about intermedial references, it helps to look at de Man’s text from this perspective.

What does one gain from it? Still figuring it out. Stay tuned (hopefully).

Source cited: Man, Paul de. “Semiology and Rhetoric.” Diacritics 3.3 (1973): 27–33. Web.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

124/1030: a new generation of German literature 

Let’s just ignore the fact that I took a 50 day vacation and do feel guilty about it. Apparently, I also wanted to have my literature review and draft of the introduction done by March. So far, that is not happening. On the other hand, it’s not too late to make it happen.

Today, I want to write a little bit more about contemporary German literature. There is a trend, beginning in the 2010s of prominent publishing houses supporting a new generation of writers with migrant background.  I would say that writers such as Zafer Senocak, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Feridun Zaimoglu and Yoko Tawada mark the first generation, opening the definition of German literature to those without migrant background. However, in light of the post-Soviet border crises and ethnic tensions, as well as revolutions throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, one could say that contemporary German literature reflects refugee paths and causes. Of course, this is distinct from the 1930s and 40s when Germany was the land of departures, not the destination. Of this new generation, one can consider Olga Grjasnowa, Abbas Khider, Saša Stanišić, and Senthuran Varatharajah as representatives of writers who produce content for a society that should open its eyes to its new members and who benefit from a society that wants to satisfy its questions and concerns. 

I make the last note  with a slightly veiled criticism that these writers are “priviledged” to represent vast numbers of asylum seekers and migrants to Germany and their stories are often taken as the truth of what the person with migrant backrogund experiences in Germany, and one must remember that these experiences on and off the page are hugely varied and individual. Still, their writings are interesting and help describe the new multicultural and multiethnic space of Germany. 

I will have to explain that last note in more detail, and hope to do so in the coming days. I just needed a way to get back on track. 

Some things I did do that were productive for my PhD since last posting: applied for another scholarship, read Vor der Zunahme der Zeichen, started reading NW, began working through Irina Rajewsky’s book on Intermediality, a book called History, Memory and Migration, and one on intercultural literarture. So, I haven’t been totally lazy, but it’s time to get back on track. 

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2017 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

73/1030: “All Immigrants are Artists”

To start off on a good note, Saša Stanišić’s first novel is not only perfect (it feels like) for looking at the relationship between migration and media, but also just a really good book. Like, if people ask my what my favorite book is, I can now confidently say Wie der Soldat das Grammafon repariert. 

But this post won’t be about that. Rather, it (after thinking I was finding only references to it and not the actual original statement- and then realizing it appeared in 2013 in The Atlantic as a part of a series “By Heart” in which authors share their favorite passages with readers) will be a response to Edwidge Danticat’s claim that “all immigrants are artists.” This claim actually originally comes from Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris and isn’t really so much a claim as an argument that Danticat finds convincing. While I intend to address this claim, I want readers to keep in mind that there is a push-back against calling literature “immigrant literature,” especially in Germany. One can call literature intercultural, but to declare a certain foreigness in writing written by people whose first language was maybe not German is “passé.” I’ll admit that this is a bit confusing to me, since it suggests that literature continues to remain national even with international contributors, but since people like classifying literature by nation and language, we’ll continue to do so even if new labels may be called for.

Recently, in an article about Yoko Tawada, a Japanese-German writer who recently won the Heirich Kleist prize, the author refers to Danicat in relationship to Tawada, as Tawada being “one of these” artists.

“All immigrants are artists,” Edwidge Danticat has said. Under pressure to make themselves legible, immigrants have no choice but to invent new ways of speaking. And in their reading of the world around them, immigrants uncover the alien that always abides in what seems, for the natives, most familiar. But some people are foreign regardless of geography; they are naturally nonnative, immigrant or not. (Galchen 2016)

People ascribe to the creativity of immigrants theory and don’t find it difficult to associate difficulty with language and expression with new creations. The interesting note about Galchen’s comment is that the opposite is also true. Artists are immigrants, nonnative, or foreign by virtue of their work. This theory I can ascribe to, if only because I identify the ability of some people to stand out from the rest, be picked from the group for characteristics that are different than the “norm.” Fasseler in the original source describes Danticat’s perspective:

trying to start a life in a strange land is an artistic feat of the highest order, one that ranks with (or perhaps above) our greatest cultural achievements.

We can see artistic integration as a cultural achievement, but are these achievements greater than all other artistic creations? One cannot forget that these people are nothing without the others, all with their uniqueness as well. I guess what I’m trying to say is that there does seem to be a certain elitist note in these kinds of comments, and I want readers to be careful about not getting too caught up in the “specialness” because it often gets conflated with “betterness.”

On the other hand, when one considers the original handling of the expression, being an artist by life could be used to dissuade them from actively pursuing it in work, as the father character in Patricia Engel’s It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris tries to dissuade his daughter:

“Pero of course it is, mijita. All your life is a work of art. A painting is not a painting but the way you live each day. A song is not a song but the words you share with the people you love. A book is not a book but the choices you make every day trying to be a decent person.” (qt. in Fasseler)

This moment resonates with Danticat, who describes her own experiences of being the child of migrants and a migrant herself, and the challenges she faced pursuing the profession of artist. This moment also resonates with her, because she sees the positive aspects of this kind of thinking:

 re-creating yourself this way, re-creating your entire life is a form of reinvention on par with the greatest works of literature. This brings art into the realm of what ordinary people do to in order to survive. It takes away the notion that art is too lofty for the masses, and puts it in the day-to-day.

There is something redeeming in the realization that art is also not just about the products produced, but the ways in which we interact and the beautiful moments that can come from these interactions. I’m reminded for a moment of “the medium is the message” and theories of intermediality and that everything we do is an expression- so I guess this claim connects to my PhD project in multiple ways. Probably a good thing and this means it’s worth exploring more closely. But this was a start.

Works Cited

Danticat, Edwidge, and Joe Fassler. “‘All Immigrants Are Artists'” The Atlantic. 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.

Galchen, Rivka. “The Profound Empathy of Yoko Tawada.” The New York TImes. 27 Oct. 2016, Imagine That sec.. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.

66/1030: quick reflection about where I’m at and where to go

Yeah, so I spent about five minutes trying to figure out if this really was post 66, and if I had to post today, since I’m not really a fan of the number, but sometimes you just have to get it over with. And superstition is stupid.

After meeting with my Doktormutter and having the chance to talk about my project again, I realize I am a bit frustrated by the way other people interpret my project and seem to limit it for themselves. Perhaps I’m frustrated, because they are not taking the possibilities seriously that I see. I personally believe that media have and continue to change the away we think about language and literature, and maybe I don’t have to restrict to migration literature. Maybe I completely want to look at contemporary literature. But I do believe that the migration literature does have something unique to say about the relationship between media and migrants, and perhaps that is why people in talk to engage with me on this subtle note that I didn’t even realize myself yet, that migrants and marginalized figures will have a different response to the media. But it just seems to… obvious. But maybe everything is obvious?

On the other hand, I also think these texts can show us something at a deeper level about how literature changes. It changed with the radio age and is now changing with the digital age. Relationships between people, with information, choosing the news we read rather than having the few select forums we used to, allow us to have complete individuality–and yet much more input both supports and challenges the idea that we are able to express our individuality and voices more.

I guess what people are telling me that I didn’t recognize myself is that the project should have something to say outside of the world of literature…AKA, just because I study literature does not mean I have to focus on what the literature says. Rather, I have to be able to make posits about the world the literature came from. I was getting close in my MA thesis, but I didn’t know how to make the claim and how to prove it with the literature. Ultimately, my MA thesis really doesn’t have a thesis, which probably means I shouldn’t have passed. With my dissertation however, I am going to prove my thesis. But first, I still have quite a bit of reading to do.

Disclaimer: this series is a collection of brainstorms and free-writes that are a part of my planning for actual text in my dissertation. Therefore, I am giving myself the liberty to make mistakes, make assumptions (call me out on offensive ones, though!), not tie up loose ends, and generally not make any sense. 

Copyright 2016 Dorothea Trotter: because these writings are planning for actual text in my dissertation, some of this will appear in my dissertation. I hold the right to the words in this post and require that interested parties ask for permission before copying the words or ideas too closely. Obviously, the date of posting is the date of copyright and I reserve the right to challenge suspected plagiarism in my future dissertation submission using these blogs as proof of originality.