(sometimes withershins, widershins or widderschynnes) means to take a course opposite that of the sun, going counterclock-wise, lefthandwise, or to circle an object, by always keeping it on the left. It also means "in a direction opposite to the usual," which is how I choose to take it in using it as the title of this blog. We're all in the same world finding our own way.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
When I get back I should have plenty of stories and pictures to share as I finally get to give back to a program that has truly changed my life.
While I'm away though: I was looking through my computer and found several articles I'd saved regarding the then recent demise of Mother's Cookies. I think I had been planning to write some kind of eulogy for the delicious circus animals, but somehow never got around to it.
It was a hard blow for me when I first learned about the demise of Mother's Cookies, because they were one of the things I looked forward to most about donating my blood to the Cascade Regional Vampires. Though really, what do you look forward to in giving blood? Even for someone like me who isn't afraid of needles, having one shoved into your arm isn't exactly an experience you try to have happen all that often.
Now, I'm sure there are generic pink and white animal cookies that taste exactly the same, but that smiling face has been a hallmark of so many of our childhoods that it's a shame to see it gone. They didn't even make it to a centennial celebration to have special crazy rainbow colored cookies or some such confectionary nonsense, since they closed down after only 94 years.
Admittedly, it's been several months since this news came to pass and I haven't exactly missed them while I've been away at college, but it's the cookie, not how often you eat it that counts.
My only question is, which tasted better? The pink animals or the white ones?
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The idea was to have the tail lead you around the body of the shirt and basically try something different with the placement of the print.
I mean, anybody can splash an image across the chest or back of a shirt, and I'm just as sure that anybody could do a wrap-around like this, but people don't and that's why I made this my first project.
I don't think I used quite enough ink, since as you can tell by the white spot above the hindquarters, some of the black washed out, but for the maiden print, I would call this a success.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
This most recent time, I went over with my stepdad and moved his queen size bed so he could replace the floorboards of the other half of the room. As we're walking back out, he happens to ask if I'm back from school, and which school I actually ended up going to, since this time last year I'd expected to go to Emerson College in Boston and quite clearly, that didn't happen.
As a conservative Christian, my answer of Western immediately gave him reason to warn me, because apparently Bellingham is about as liberal as you can get without leaving the state/country, and as far as colleges go, Western is right up there with Evergreen State in leading the Red rebellion. He was talking about UW when he said this but any college that has its main quad named "Red square" well, y'know.
He talked for nearly half an hour about how the lefties are ruining our country and that more corrupt government is not the solution to fix a country that is 3 trillion dollars in debt to a country (China) that treats its people worse than dirt. He further went on to expound about the downfalls of a system of Universal health care and how it has been the private industry that has created innovation and affordability without all the bureaucratic red tape to cut through.
Somehow he also worked in something about how creating a reasonable sized government with less taxation of the working man would help create a society wherein only one parent would need to go to work and the other could stay home and raise their children with the good values they were meant to have instead of the television and internet values the youth are so often exposed to.
It was a lot to absorb and kind of hard for me to follow. Especially since at this point in my life, I am very liberal, so we're starting this discussion from essentially diametrically opposed viewpoints. I mostly kept my mouth shut and smiled and nodded. I don't think he realizes this, since he keeps talking about how they will try to brainwash me with their leftist talk.
I want to understand though, so I don't judge him. From his experience and from what he knows, his beliefs make sense. I personally think he's generalizing and grossly oversimplifying some of the biggest issues we face as a country, but overall, I can understand and empathize with this man.
A universal health care system won't and shouldn't replace private industry medical. If I have to wait in line for medical attention like I have to wait in line at the DMV, I think I'll pass. At the same time though, and I don't think he explicitly said this, but my neighbor is making a distinction between big business and private industry. From the way he talked, they are not always the same thing and it is when they are, and their political interests outweigh the benefits they provide that they become a burden to society.
It's complicated and interesting to me, and quite frankly I want to see a calm, rational debate between him and someone with a more liberal point of view, which I guess says something about me. Namely, that I enjoy watching discordance. It's much more of a challenge to spot the patterns and similarities in somethings disagreeing than it is in two things already the same.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
I promise all those out there reading that I will continue writing both on my laptop and journal as well as taking pictures and then post them whenever I am graced with free wifi. I've learned how to delay posts too, so I can set them to update even when I'm not online. It's really rather convenient. So please rest assured that though my presence online may be somewhat reduced, I am still striving to provide you with the more or less quality blogging I expect you to be able to find at widdershin writings. It's a reliability issue that I personally find to be something rather important in this interaction between blogger and reader.
Thanks for the support and readership,
Thursday, June 11, 2009
- I am a teacher's favorite student because I'm personable and intelligent with good comprehension and retention of ideas, but because of this I never learned good study habits in high school and so am unwilling or unmotivated to apply myself to the course work unless it suits my mood.
- College students never really grew up:
- Sit at the front of the room on exams days. You'll get the exam that much quicker than your peers, and sometimes half a minute makes a big difference.
- The more unorthodox the name of an English class, the more likely it is to be engaging and maybe even fun. Compare Nanotexts to Intro to American Literature. You know exactly what you're getting yourself into in the latter, but the first one just might surprise you.
- You know a class has real world applications when you start noticing it in your everyday life , and analyzing movies the way you analyzed books does not count.
- You can learn anything on the internet.
- Your pet will miss you as much if not more than you miss the rest of your family.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Yeah, the video is more than a little corny to start a blog post with, but I haven't exactly made this blog into your standard everyday collection of words.
Blogging as a tool is used two dimensionally when it so clearly has many layers beyond that. The words are usually the most important part, but form and format are essential as well. A blog without the occasional picture or video or hyperlink is nothing more than an online diary.
It frustrates me because it's not visually stimulating, which means people won't find it interesting, which means people are even less likely to read it than they already are. Maybe it would help if I explain that I come from a background in newspaper layout design, so readability is highly important to me unless you are purposefully trying to manipulate your reader's perceptions.
Despite having particular blogs in mind as I write this, I don't mean to sound disparaging or arrogant, I want reading your blog to be an enjoyable experience not just for me, but for all your potential readers.
A couple days after my book group created our Queen City Jazz Cut-up blog, I went back and found a giant mass of text with one picture at the top. It was literally at least a couple thousand words in a single block of text. So I went through with creative intent and separated it into manageable sized chunks so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed trying to read it.
But right, I started this trying to reflect on my blogging experience of the last few months. It's been an exploration of both form and function, guided loosely by the readings but mostly as an exploration of what I can do with the medium. I've enjoyed it as an opportunity to look at the creative aspects of blogging.
I like writing and having interesting things to say, but I feel like finding information to go along with that writing is just as important, just like Plurk wouldn't be the same if you couldn't include YouTube videos and pictures. Since this is my personal blog appropriated for use in Nanotexts, I think this will be the last post to feature the Nanotexts tag, but I will definitely keep writing.
Monday, June 8, 2009
They react to the stimuli we give them, feeding off it and gaining pleasure from the experience. Of course, one you feed electronic streams of data, the other food, but regardless they'll take whatever you have to give.
But when you throw in the possibilities opened up by sci-fi, of course things get quite a bit more complicated.
What if that fluffy bunny weren't just some ball of hair, but a miniature body guard a la Little Worker from Ribofunk? And don't forget Dolly the cloned sheep. Remember Seven of Nine from Star Trek Voyager? The thing all of these have in common is their status in the twilight. They straddle that area between what is, what was, and what could be. In that way, science fiction is very much like fantasy where magic and mystery and the hidden worlds of the Faeries hide in the betweens.
But where fantasy expects you to believe and accept, our texts have forced us to question where the dividing line is. Is a chicken born without feathers through no natural means still a chicken? Is a machine with all the cognitive ability of any given human and probably beyond that of many any less of a person?
There is no tidy easy answer to what separates either from humanity. But what separates them from each other? When I read Josh's blog for the cut-up I made in my earlier post, I noticed he brought up the point of how we as humans purposefully "other" technology.
We "other" technology and machines as something different than ourselves because they are controlled and stuck in a rhythm without escape. We are different correct? ... Everything is reality. There is no escaping it. Doesn't this also mean there is no escaping the rhythm of our lives? Are we not controlled by social constructs and a hierarchy? We have been programmed socially to think and act certain ways. The fact that we create "others" prove this. We don't like rogue machines. Everyone must follow the rules and the laws of our mechanics. We create the "other" in order to maintain routines and control. This makes us machines. Even escaping the social aspect, we cannot escape our biological aspects. We must breathe, eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. We are as vulnerable as machines. Unplug a machine and it turns off. Go a while without breathing and you die. Although machines can be plugged back in, so I guess we're weak machines.
He was talking about reality and alterity, but I think that applies here as well. We as humans have an easier time associating and personifying animals than we do machines, because they're like us. They eat, sleep, poop and have cute little faces just like we do. But if in our own way, we are biological machines, that should mean animals are so much more like machines because like machines, animals aren't necessarily cognizant in the same way we think humans are. It came up repeatedly in Ribofunk with the splices, mostly as a civil matter, that they weren't being treated equally. But the problem with that thinking is that they aren't being created equally to begin with. Like machines they have fabricated lives. Each one was made for whatever specific purpose the humans in charge had in mind.
And it is this that will forever separate humanity from animals and machines in our minds and allow us to group them together in this amorphous category of other. It's a god complex because we're still the ones in control. Makes me shudder for the day when either the animals or machines (or both) stand up and tell us enough is enough.
This is a letter D.
Short of magnifying down to the point where all we can see is the constituent lines, this is the smallest building block of shareable thought we have at our disposal. But notice how there's so much more in this particular D than simply a letter. Made as a decoration for my room next year by my friends, this D represents and reflects different aspects of my personality. This is looking at the world from the perspective of the small.
One of the first things we did this quarter was watch this short clip of Sesame Street and explore how something tiny and simple can in effect be something far greater.
What is the image above? It's a little blurry, but even from those few lines, you should be able to tell that it's probably a key.
The Nano level, 10^-9, It can all be taken as an aesthetic metaphor of the comparative nature that size gives us. Looking at the world around us, what are we experiencing but a giant Mandelbrot Set? I noticed this when we watched that Powers of 10 video on the first or second day of class. What's the difference between an electron orbiting the nucleus of an atom versus moons around a planet versus planets around a star versus stars around a galaxy's core when you ignore factors like size? They're circles on an elliptical path around larger circles.
To me, that's an argument for Intelligent Design, especially if you think of it as being planned so that it'll all unfold this way on its own. Because the way I look at manipulation of events and people, a truly successful manipulator will never be seen, will never be heard and no one will even know that someone was in control to begin with. Everything will happen according to plan, and it will happen naturally.
I'm atheist with an outlook on life full of Buddhist influences, but if whatever God that is out there is Α and Ω, then they must also be one and all, big and small. To be omniscient and omnipresent, you must not merely experience the singularity, you must be and embody the singularity. By this then, the Big Bang theory doesn't disprove the existence of god, because the way I look at it, god was the Big Bang.
The elephant may be able to lift hundreds of pounds, but the ant can lift 20 times its own body weight just as effortlessly. (Another random fact I found while looking that up that made me think about the superorganism: An ant brain has about 250 000 brain cells. A human brain has 10,000 million so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human.) Whichever is more impressive is just a matter of perspective, and ultimately, that's what the small does.
Discounting food, this was about 5 hours of work sifting through about 23 printed pages of blog posts, cutting them up into bite-sized chunks and taping them down in such a way as to make even semi-coherent thoughts. And in doing so, I find I admire Burroughs so much more for his work in The Ticket that Exploded.
The seemingly random it in the top right corner is supposed to go in that little space towards the end of the twenty-second line where it say "it is invented __ could be." I just forgot to move it before I scanned the image.
And if a picture is worth 1000 words, I'm pretty sure this one is worth double that, though I didn't take the time to actually count.
Friday, June 5, 2009
I'm at a concert in Seattle right now. The band is the Senate. I'm pretty sure they're my favorite local band.
Later that night...
Hey! It did post a video from my phone. The quality is about as crappy as you'd expect, but it worked. Hmm, this means I can blog mobiley (mobily?) now. I'm not sure that's a good thing.
My thoughts on Were the World Mine
In case you can't read my handwriting:
Yesterday, when Josh from my English class posted links on Plurk and Facebook about Were the World Mine, I decided I had to see it. There are few enough quality films with openly gay protagonists that actually have a relevant, interesting plot. I liked it to say the very least, but less so for the basic storyline so much as the interruption of Status Q the actions of Timothy cause.
Based on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Timothy quite literally takes on the role of Robin Goodfellow, creating a mixed up world where the lines of love are redrawn according to his whim. In that respect, the story of the film is very much based off the story of the play the characters in the film are participating in.
Puck has always been known as a character of chaos and trickery. And we are but mortals subject to the will of those above us, so when we suddenly find ourselves in that position, of having that power, we become the anti-person.
Timothy makes the star rugby player fall in love with him, but in doing so alienates and aggravates his community.
Movies like this make me sad. Yes, there was a happy ending, but it comes across as contrived to me. I always wince at the smiles and the kiss at the end. It's unrealistic and creates an illusion of possibility. There are no magical love flowers in real life.
A sunflower in a cornfield
On some level, I've always been uncomfortable interacting with other gay men. By and large I think it has to do with intimidation. Most of the queer community is far more open to new and different things than the rest of our heteronormative society.
I'm all for that, and have even been told that I'm open with myself and sharing who I am more so than most. But I'm not used to being surrounded with it. So it's a stark and scary difference when I cross that threshold.
I've been pretty isolated from what we call the gay community, mostly because I've lived a pretty sheltered, suburban life in general. And I think the fact that having never experienced the queer community combined with never having experienced any kind of hardship for my sexuality puts me in a limbo of sorts. I'm dancing in that greygoo (not Grace) between the alternatives. I don't mind this. I don't usually think about it actually. But so much of what defines the queer community is that solidarity. They (We?) are united because we aren't the same as "normal" society, and we're treated differently for it. I have a hard time identifying with that.
I'm hopelessly oblivious to homophobia in part because of my personality. Stress and negative emotions don't last for very long. I'm too much the optimist to both notice and care when insults are thrown my way. There was this one time in high school where I was wearing my ocean shirt, and as some jock-type and his girlfriend walked past me in the hallway, the guy said "Nice puppets, fag." The first thing to go through my mind was that they weren't puppets. They were Beanie Babies. People laugh at that story because I'm offended at probably the least offensive part of what that guy said, but that's truly how I think.
And in this way, I'm not really all that unique, but I think without meaning to I defy Status Q because of it. I don't follow what is expected. I revel in observing controlled chaos, not for the chaos' sake but for the reactions people have. Puck, Loki, Eros, Mercury, Anansi: so often they're tricksters causing mischief and mayhem, but usually only as it serves their purposes. It's not madness for the sake of madness but a message or a show of power.
There is always something to be learned in the patterns that show up among the seemingly random.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Tuchiya Ayame: http://www.plurk.com/p/y98fp
Plurk as a medium for communication is both a blessing and a curse, for in it there is the blessing of anonymity and the ability to communicate without the necessity of spoken words, but with anonymity comes the potential for the loss of self.
In each book we've read in Nanotexts, at some point or another, the question of identity has come up.
Casares. The fugitive is faced with the idea that everything he has done, everything he has created for Faustine, before Morel and the other mysterious inhabitants of the island, the recordings of Morel's invention. When they appear and disappear, he knows not if they are real or hallucinations caused by the island. Plurk records us, captures the moments of our lives online in a static timeline. Up up down down left right left right B A enter and soon we find ourselves dancing around each other.
What are our thoughts if words are but a disease? Part of how we define ourselves is by our minds. Burroughs. How much of who we are is ourselves, and how much is what we plurk? How easily do we identify ourselves through the medium of people lurking? Plurk further cuts up our conversations, breaking them down into bite sized components, micro blogs of information.
For many of us, I think our plurk identity has become as separate as a parapersonality, and for some, it's even spawned more. Our mind, our lucidity and thought have and can separate from our body via plurk. Plurk extends our thoughts, allows us to compile and compress data into 140 characters or less. A picture is worth 1000 words, but a link can be worth tenfold that. Plurk is the closest yet we've been able to achieve the metanovel of Postsingularity.
But as with any new technology, Plurk suffers its drawbacks. We are limited by words and what we can find. It's a two dimensional tool. For as much quality, thought provoking information that is shared, 5 more pieces of irrelevancy are to be found, but that's simply the nature of the superorganism. As with the regular organism, so much of the parts must spend themselves maintaining a status quo in order for the greater experiences to come about. Big Pig is the beezies and the orphidnet. The Queen City is the hive and the people in the city. The Hand is its agents and enemies as one. So then, our timelines are both the individual plurks, and the conversations as well as the greater trends those messages follow.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Be warned though, I'm working on it and want to take my time to do this right. Just like I commented on Low's blog, I tend to lose myself in my typing. Which probably explains the vaguely stream-of-thought-style randomness that makes up most of my widdershin writings. I want to try and focus myself a little bit more here so that you, readers, whomever you may be, can hopefully take more out of this.
So thank you for your patience, and goodnight.
Monday, June 1, 2009
I went to Canada this past weekend,clubbing with my girls. It was a relatively uneventful experience, the usual college student in a foreign country that has a lower drinking age than home. Which isn't to say we went to drink. No, it's all about the dancing.
Anyways, one thing I encountered at the club, other than cute guys, alcoholic drinks and sweaty people, was a dance remix of the Beyoncé song, Single Ladies. In truth, the song - or rather, the video made me think about Nanotexts.
This happens to me from time to time. I take a class or read a book and learn something, and then I start to see those concepts everywhere. Much like the Jim Carrey movie and its basis on the 23 Enigma only with far less of an esoteric aspect. Most people would just call it good retention or being able to apply what I've learned to real life situations.
What caught me about the Beyoncé video was that in order to create a danceable beat from a pop song, whatever DJ that had mixed it had done a cut-up, which consequently was something I learned about when we were reading William S. Burroughs. Go check out the wikipedia link in 23 Enigma again. I doubt the fact that it was Burroughs who coined the term has anything to do with, well, anything, but it's an interesting coincidence regardless. A random cut-up at a dance club made me think about writing a blog post for my English class, that then made me research that mental phenomenon wherein you feel like there is a recurrence of words/ideas/numbers in your life, which leads me directly back to the source of my knowledge of cut-ups.
Life is very much circular, much like how Tony in class and on plurk, brought our talk back to Feynman's treatise on the small.
And in this way, our lives are cut-ups, cyclical, repetitious. Déjà vu is not a creation of the unconscious or the supernatural, it is the recognition of the patterns our wetware has been programmed to look for. We look back and see and apply to what is before us.
People say that if we don't learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. That may be well and true for the large scale cycles of humanity, but on the individual level, such learning happens all the time. It's how we learn to walk, to speak, to avoid the bee that stings.