This is just a quick recap of a presentation that I gave today at a conference at the annual Finnish Conference of Linguistics. As I pointed out in a previous essay last summer, I happened to watch Bo Burnham’s ‘Inside’, which includes ‘A White Woman’s Instagram’, which I thought (and still think) is a great example of faciality, as defined by Deleuze and Guattari in ‘A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia’. So, yeah, that’s what I did my presentation on and I might write an article on it sometime in the future. We’ll see.
While my presentation was, I’d say, somewhat barebones, going through my own takes on the works of Louis Hjelmslev and André Martinet, as presented in some of my previous essays, combined with my takes on the works of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who do the same, work through Hjelmslev and Martinet (which is where this idea to look at their works as well originated), it got the job done. I had it all in my head all this time and just went with it, compiling it into something presentable in the last week or so. How did I do? I did alright. Could have been better, could have been worse. It went great in the sense that I got it done, basically winging it, like I do, as I’m not in the habit of practicing my presentations or speeches. It didn’t go great in the sense that I was a bit worn out, tired from not having slept enough in the last week, not because I spent all that time working on that presentation, but because, well, that’s work for you. In my opinion, it was alright. I’ve seen worse, way worse. It might have been a bit of a niche thing though. I mean, covering Hjelmslev’s net, aka stratification, double articulation, and faciality, bundled with regimes of signs, semiotic systems, authenticity (in the Sartrean sense), is some heavy shit for the uninitiated. That said, I have to give Burnham credit for making my job easy when it comes to exemplifying all that. I think people got the point, at least the functionality of faciality, how it, firstly, defines the standard or the norm, combined with indicating the supposed deviance from it, in negation, and, secondly, pushes people to conform to whatever the standard or the norm happens to be, the face of Jesus, which is what Burnham looks like in ‘White Woman’s Instagram’, and how I happened to look while giving the presentation. I think they also got the point how flexible faciality is, how, while it can be the face of Jesus, it doesn’t have to be that, like male, white, adult (etc.). It can equally well be female, like in this case because that’s the supposed standard or the norm in the US context when it comes to Instagram users or, at least, how it was at the time.
I may cover some of the presentations I’ve seen, but we’ll see. The last time I attempted that, I only covered the first day of the conference. I mean it’s good that I did, but it’s a bit shit of me not to cover the other days. It was just me being lazy.
I also read Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, which has been included in a number of publications and can be found, for example, in ‘Illuminations’. While I don’t have a lot of use for it, I’ll try to find some time to comment on it, covering what I find interesting about it.
What else have I been up to? Well, since the last essay, I got this idea of going through all of my essays, seeing what’s what, to fix typos and wonky sentences (yeah, what can I say, except, perhaps, that they weren’t exactly spotless in this regard), to better explain and exemplify some things if I hadn’t done a good job (it’s mostly been good in this regard, not much to clarify or add) and to shorten (I’ve started to abhor long titles) or change (yeah, again, some of them were just … let’s be honest … shit) some of the titles, so that they fit the text better (to be honest, coming up with titles is difficult for me, because the title should be to the point, snappy, but also captivating, snazzy, sexy). Why go through all that effort? Well, I’m aware that it’s not like people are going to read them, like who is going to read something that I wrote years ago (no one, absolutely no one), but if someone did happen to land on one of those essays, they’d get most out of that essay. I’m pretty sure that the people who may actually read my essays have already read them and moved on. My guess is that they just check if I’ve written something new and then read that. That makes sense. That’s what I’d do. I’d only check something old if I need to check some reference or the like. That’s, however, actually what I’m doing. I’m giving my old essays a fresh coat of paint. It’s kind of like spitting on something and then rubbing it with a shirt sleeve. It won’t fix any flaws, no, but that’s not the point. It’s for those who haven’t read them and for those who have read them, but just want to look up where they could find more about whatever they are looking for. That’s why I’ve shortened the references in the running text and moved them to the end of each essay (it gives you more detail than just tagging them at the end and in this way all the details are in one place). Had I done that initially, I would have saved a lot of time. But it is what it is. Shit happens, c’est la vie and what not.
As a side note, I honestly don’t know if anyone reads these because I don’t have the relevant statistics on. Yes, you got that right. They are disabled (and they have always been disabled). It’s the same with the comments features that are disabled, on purpose (they also add an extra admin that comes with it, you know, the usual, ranging from trolling to spamming, which I don’t want to deal with as it’s just a waste of my time). Why? Wouldn’t it be better to know how many people read these and, perhaps, from where they are. Also, isn’t dialogue good? Well, not having these features on it gives me creative freedom (there’s also all that GDPR stuff that I don’t want to deal with it and I don’t have to deal with it if I don’t keep any records). There’s no pressure for me to write. Writing is then all about writing. Thinking is then all about thinking. I don’t have to do either, beyond what I do for living. Instead, I get to write. I get to think. The best thing about it is that I’m doing it on my own terms. This means that I have absolute control over the process. I can even go back and change things, as I see fit, like I’m now doing, for those who haven’t read what I’ve written and for those who want to take a closer look at the originals, to find out more about what it is that they are interested. My take is my take, but the original is always the original, the real deal. So, yeah, I’m not doing it for someone, real or imagined. Or, well, I guess I am, as, in my view, all language is a dialogue, but that’s not contradictory with my approach when it comes to writing these essays. How so? Well, while it may seem like I am writing to someone, which is clear from what I just stated, how, among other things, I’m slowly editing my old essays for the benefit of the reader, thus catering for an audience, I’m not asking anyone’s permission to do that, nor do I feel like I should do that. Why? Well, why should I? The thing is that you, my reader, could be anyone, without any labels. Maybe you are an academic. Then again, maybe not. Maybe you are this. Maybe you are that. Maybe not. All I know is that I don’t know and not knowing gives me creative freedom to do what I want to do, the way I want to do it. If you like my essays or something about them, then, okay, good for you. If you don’t like them, or something about them, then, well, too bad. I don’t get to determine if you like them or not, nor to what extent you like them or not, but, at the same time, you don’t get to determine what I write and how I write. Oh, and it’s not about being defensive. No, no. I can’t even be that because I’m indifferent about the whole thing. That’s why I don’t have these features on. Haha! That’s the beauty of it! It’s that simple, really.
Apparently I’m also converting the text format from something, from whatever it was, to blocks, or something. I guess it’s worth doing? I honestly have no idea. I don’t even know what that means. I don’t see a difference, maybe there is something to it. I don’t know.
Maybe the biggest thing is marking the concepts and anything particularly important in italics. I had done it, here and there, but I see that it had little consistency. I’m used to marking the concepts in italics only in the first instance and then leaving them be, but my essays can be so long that I thought it’s wisest to mark them each time they crop up in the text. I may still end up being somewhat inconsistent, so I might end up doing an extra round at some point, going through them again, just to check on those. We’ll see.
This post (as I guess this is more of a post than an essay) was also a good example of this process as I ended up fixing a number of typos from the day before (it was bound to happen, as this was written in like 20 minutes, on the go). Plus I forgot to mention why the commenting is not on. It was convenient for me to add it here, instead of writing a separate text just on that. Adding that didn’t change things as the statistics features are also off for the same reasons.
- Benjamin, W. ( 2007). The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In W. Benjamin, Illuminations (H. Arendt, Ed., H. Zohn, Trans.) (pp. 217–251). New York, NY: Schocken Books.
- Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari ( 1987). A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (B. Massumi, Trans.). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.