Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Working in Fort McMurray: Episode Umpteen

G'day, Internet.

It is currently Wednesday, but it feels more like Thursday to me. This will inevitably end in disappointment. The reason it feels like Thursday is that I worked Sunday, helping at National Aboriginal Day. It was not a difficult day as far as working goes, but it means Monday felt like Tuesday and it all dominoed from there.

I have said that cleaning boats has given me time for thinking, though productive thought isn't a guarantee. It's more wandering around sort of thinking, producing weird, repetitive, and usually forgetable 'results.'

'Result' 1: A previous discussion on Cait's blog about past and future selves disagreeing over the quality of one's work made me think of plural selves among my friends. OK, I think about plural selves fairly often in my on-going questioning about the nature of identity and of multiplicity. Anyway, I remember way back in first year that we were talking about something and Jamie (some of you readers know Jamie; others won't) said that something I had said made her feel sort of like two people in one skull, an out-going Jamie and a reserved Jamie. According to her, her selves got along fine. I think I remember Cait saying that if she became two people, her selves wouldn't get along very well. This made me think about other people's selves interacting: two Roz would probably be very awkward together, and I can imagine two Kays sitting around talking about their emotional situations very--rationally is the wrong word, as is calmly--honestly. But I have a hard time imagining more than one of myself. Sometimes I can, but not often, and not often comfortably. I am somewhat attached to my singularity, even if I question it from time to time.

'Result' 2: I've given thought to literary theory. I'm trying to develop of school of criticism that combines formalist, reader-response, and authoral approaches. I am interested in the rigour and text-centricness of formalism, but cannot conceive of useful criticism which ignores a text's effect on the reader. How can you talk about a horror novel without discussing how the scariness of it influences the 'meaning' or ideology of it? How can you talk about a comedy if you ignore the humour? Formalism doesn't seem equipped to deal with these questions. No, scratch that. Formalism isn't equipped to deal with them. And I generally do not care one wit about authoral intent, but I do think it would be a worthy project to find a way to at least allow a critic to discuss the author, since some projects would be more useful/meaningful/relevant if you could bring the author in. Lots of people do anyway. Granted, the only examples I can think of at the moment are cranks, but, hey, there are likely legit ones. My professors, actually, come to think of it, often implied authoral intent as much as some of them were formalist. So finding a way to integrate that would be nice, but I refuse to do it if it doesn't seem honest to me. Anyway, I'm working on the epistemology/metaphysics of such an approach. I'll publish if I come up with anything insightful.

'Result' 3: I've been thinking about escapism. I have traditionally sat between two different factions on this one: those who prefer escapism--and sometimes think it fits outside of the reach of literary analysis, somehow--and those who think escapism is trash and I ought to be reading something more challenging (teachers and professors). I tend to think that the best escapism isn't really escapism at all, but teaches us things from within an awesome story. Cases in point would be Harry Potter (the value of courage, friendship, equality, honour, humility, and love) and The Chronicles of Narnia (too many lessons to go into, but at least one per book). This is what I would like to write.
But anyway, I re-read a post I wrote a while back about Domino, and that brought me to thinking about escapism which represents an act of escape. Consider Narnia: in many cases, the children are escaping an uncomfortable situation in a boring and morally oppressive environment to enter their adventures in Narnia. This exactly figures the reader (if approaching the story as escapism), in which they escape from their own messy and often frustratingly boring lives into the adventures of Narnia. Or a young boy is told that he is a wizard and taken from the normal world into a magical one. Or a woman is taken from dull lonely routine into an exciting intrigue with a mysterious stranger who makes her feel sexy (I imagine this is how romances go, but have no idea, so let me know if I'm off). Or an average citizen accidentally gets involved in an international security threat/is compelled to hunt down a cunning serial killer/must face a supernatural horror. Either way, the character moves from the dull to the exciting, recreating exactly the same journey as the reader. This is something I may want to explore more.

'Result' 4: I have given a little thought to the nature of artifacts. When does an object become an artifact? When the museum owns it, or when the paperwork known as 'accessioning' is completed? How do we treat these objects at the different points in their existence? It's like a rite of passage, only not for a person. There's liminal space. It's vaguely interesting to think about while working in a museum, and has some practical application in my interaction with these objects, but likely is of little interest to you readers. Also, this sort of thinking has likely already been done by people in Museum Studies programs.

Anyway, these are a sampling of my thoughts. Other than plot lines and character sketches (which are not going up here), they are maybe the most interesting for you to read about. Re-hashing arguments against Dawkins' claims isn't exactly exciting. If you really want to read those, I might as well direct you to the original posts, linked on the sidebar. I can't even remember what else I thought about.

I did, however, see some interesting things. For instance, assorted homeless people, who were predominantly Native, were dancing behind Rona. Later, they got in a bit of a shoving match and started swearing at each other. I could hear it from inside the engine room of the CCGS Miskanaw. Oh, I'm done the engine room now and have gone through some cabins. I'll be done with the Miskanaw tomorrow, at least for the time being. Also, according to the care taker, the dog Max hates Native people. I don't know what to make of this claim.

That is truly all for now.

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