The Practice of Everyday Life…LIVE! and in colour

Okay, so, this blog didn’t really pan out as I had planned. At the end of the day, when it comes to choosing between doing comps readings, completing comps notes and type type typing comps blogs, the blogs, it seems, will always get CUT. I have guilt complexes about my guilt complexes about this particular compsfail (e.g. How can I possibly discuss social media without constantly engaging with them in my own work?!?! panicpanicpanic), but I’m trying my best to just let it go. Shit happens. I’m behind on comps and, at the end of the day (or February), I will not have blogged my comps experience as I had so hoped I would. Moving on.

The perfectionist part of me (which comprises a considerable, albeit constantly diminishing, part) would at this point conclude, ‘If I can’t blog everything, I will blog nothing.’ But that’s no way to live (seriously, Perfectionist Me tends/tended to get much less done as a result). So here you have my latest (in over two months???) attempt to social mediatize this school year: a live (!) blog of my reading of Michel de Certeau’s The Practice of Everyday Life. “Live” in that I’m writing it as I read. “Recorded,” I suppose, in that you will not actually get to read it until it’s done. Life’s hard.

[One additional note: I take small comfort in the fact that the past two months have not been productivity-free. I submitted OGS and SSHRC proposals. I attended the MPCA/ACA conference in Minneapolis. I submitted a draft chapter for a forthcoming critical collection on Harry Potter with Palgrave Macmillan, due in 2011. I continue to attempt to teach first years what cultural studies is about. And I’ve been preparing for this.]

The Practice of Everyday Life

“General Introduction”

[It’s important that you know I’m using a New England Patriots pencil to take notes and listening to my iTunes DJ.]

7:45 – I start reading the introduction, even though I don’t have to.

7:50 – Consumption as production.

7:55 – “…bring to light the clandestine forms taken by the dispersed, tactical, and makeshift creativity of groups or individuals already caught in the nets of ‘discipline’ [Foucault].” (xiv-xv)

8:03 – Still not done the introduction, I take a quick break to review some notes and tweet.

8:07 – Back. Lame revelatory tweet accomplished.

8:12 – I “learn” the “difference” between “strategy” and “tactic” (and overuse quotation marks in the process).

8:14 – As it turns out, Appadurai and de Certeau make a favourable, if accidental, pairing.

8:22 – I finish the introduction. Fourteen pages in over half an hour. Miserable. Time to read the chapters I’ve actually assigned myself!

Part I: Chapter I “A Common Place: Ordinary Language”

10:08 – Back after a “short” (cough, cough) break to read at least chapter 1. Predicted use value of this “live” blog? Zero. If nothing else, it’s a good motivational tool…to, you know, read…faster.

10:12 – A de Certeau “hidden gem” (for any EW/DWTS fans…yeah, just try and understand that without proper context): “by producing a certain kind of anonymous laugher [sic] a literature defines its own status: because it is only a simulacrum, it is the truth of a world of honors and glamor destined to die.” (2) [No, the spelling mistake, likely limited to my particular edition, is not the hidden gem.]

10:25 – Sometimes (oftentimes?): de Certeau’s “Expert” = tenured professor, “Philosopher” = contract newbie.

10:40 – As this chapter draws to a close, I realize: de Certeau is an enigma wrapped in a pile of jargon. I hate when people read things (Foucault, Derrida, Agamben, Butler, maybe even folks like Adorno, I don’t know…) and make statements like this. And yet… Having only read “Walking in the City” before tonight, I have simply not been in a place (until now) to corroborate the theory with regards to de Certeau. So consider this my confirmation. There is some crazy shit, here.

10:42 – You know what would be helpful? A thorough knowledge (or any) of Wittgenstein).

10:44 – “…since one does not ‘leave’ this language, since one cannot find another place from which to interpret it…, since in short there is no way out, the fact remains that we are foreigners on the inside–but there is no outside…we must constantly ‘run up against the limits’ or ordinary language…” (13-4)

Chapter II “Popular Cultures: Ordinary Language”

10:36 – You might ask, ‘How did she go back in time?’ She didn’t. It’s morning, and the next day. And with it, the next chapter.

10:37 – Current track: “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp” by Three 6 Mafia. You said it. Word.

10:54 – I need coffee. Also, I need to remember why I thought these chapters would be useful…

10:56 – Back with coffee in my “Live happy” (ha!) mug. This blog, in the end, will prove entirely useless, but it has kept me entertained.

10:58 – Phone call. “Pause.”

11:09 – End of phone call. Disruptions. Argh.

11:14 – Proverbs, games and legends (“examples of terrains on which one can locate the specific modalities of ‘enunciative’ practices” [24])…oh my?

11:22 – La perruque! (i.e. how I spent easily 50% of my day in my old job…)

11:30 – Chapter complete. Okay, that last part was worth it, even if I can’t completely endorse the transgressive characterization of la perruque, noting the potential for it to be viewed instead as a diversion that reinforces–as opposed to subverts–the dominant system. That having been said, do I go as far as to say this blog ‘has made a kind of perruque of writing itself’? I do, and I did.

Part IV: Chapter X “The Scriptural Economy”

11:43 – Let’s do this. All 23 pages of it.

11:45 – Or I could get more coffee. And turn up the volume for the Glee mash-up of “Borderline” and “Open Your Heart” (embarrassing, certainly, but even though the show’s not great and, generally speaking, covers are a terrible idea, I found this one particularly enjoyable, likely due to my 10-year-old obsession with Madonna’s True Blue album).

[Note: If you’re interested in the complete musical accompaniment to today’s comps readings, you can check it out here.]

11:54 – “…orality insinuates itself, like one of the threads of which it is composed, into the network–an endless tapestry–of a scriptural economy.” (132)

11:55 – My open Gmail window distracts, much like the phone.

11:59 – “Scriptural practice has acquired a mythical value,” whereby “myth,” as defined by de Certeau, represents “a fragmented discourse which is articulated on the heterogeneous practices of a society and which also articulates them symbolically.” (133-4)

12:03 – de Certeau reverses/confuses everything I know about the distinction between writing and discourse in his insistence on practice and “producing” (i.e. myth not carried by the constellation that is discourse but by the carrier that is writing).

12:05 – Now I will refrain from explicitly stating why I need a quick break. Boy, that cup and a half of coffee…

12:09 – Back with the reading and progress is slow. There is a lot of (potentially useful) content, here. Sorry, Gorillaz. Down goes the volume…

12:19 – “Revolution itself, that ‘modern’ idea, represents the scriptural project at the level of an entire society seeking to constitute itself as a blank page with respect to the past, to write itself by itself (that is, to produce itself as its own system) and to produce a new history…on the model of what it fabricates (and this will be ‘progress’).” (135) – yeah, it’s taken me this long to get only this far

12:22 – “Today…the scriptural system moves forward on its own; it is becoming self-moving and technocratic; it transforms the subjects that controlled it into operators of the writing machine that orders and uses them. A cybernetic society.” (135-6)

12:24 – “I have to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time…” (No, not de Certeau, but Lennon/McCartney, currently playing on my iTunes.)

12:30 – Facebook break. (These comments are increasingly off-topic…I am increasingly off-topic…)

12:38 – The Law <- -> The Body

12:44 – “Blue, songs are like tattoos / You know I’ve been to sea before / Crown and anchor me / Or let me sail away / Hey Blue, here is a song for you /Ink on a pin / Underneath the skin / An empty space to fill in” (Okay, I admit it; I totally forced this simultaneity. Although it would have been truly spectacular had my random picked this song just as I was reading this section on writing and bodily inscription…)

1:00 – “The credibility of a discourse is what first makes believers act in accord with it. It produces practitioners. To make people believe is to make them act. But by a curious circularity, the ability to make people act–to write and to machine bodies–is precisely what makes people believe….normative discourse ‘operates’ only if it has already become a story, a text articulated on something real and speaking in its name…” (148-9)

1:05 – Not entirely sure I understand what de Certeau means by this system-escaping/surpassing “cry”…

1:13 – One more down, one to go (+ the conclusion, if I choose to read it). Lots of notes from the first half of this chapter, while the second half kind of dropped off (does de Certeau really offer anything more than an unnecessarily long-winded and convoluted definition of postmodernism?).

Chapter XII “Reading as Poaching”

4:47 – Hurray for ridiculously long breaks? Okay, time to hammer out the last of it. It’s trivia night and I take my trivia very seriously.

4:51 – I had forgotten, for a moment, that this is where Jenkins gets his “poaching” from (or that they are one in the same).

4:55 – “The efficiency of production implies the inertia of consumption. It produces the ideology of consumption-as-a-receptacle.” (167)

5:01 – “The reader takes neither the position of the author nor the author’s position.” (169)

5:03 – “…the text has a meaning only through its readers…” (170)

5:06 – “…’literal’ meaning is the index and the result of a social power, that of an elite.” (171)

5:12 – “Indeed reading has no place….[T]he reader…escapes from the law of each text in particular, and from that of the social milieu.” (174) That’s a nice thought, but it’s painfully naive (and overwhelmingly reminiscent of many of the new media/Internet criticisms I’ve been reading the past few weeks). The other day, during a discussion of Adorno and Horkheimer, a student of mine suggested that we can escape the trappings of the culture industry through literature, essentially through the imagination. My heart almost broke. It was lovely, really, to hear a first year say such a thing. But I can’t get on the side of this imaginary criticism that I find so often in contemporary literary criticism (and some cultural studies criticism, too). It distracts with its beautiful, shiny facade, concealing the fact that not only is it not an effective answer, it’s no answer at all, and is instead a well-crafted diversion couched in some sort of nostalgic, fairy-tale rhetoric. I digress…

5:22 – Reading as bricolage (174), reading and the body (175), reading as a “visual poem” (175)…

5:26 – de Cereau thinks “we mustn’t take people for fools” (176). Aw. End of chapter.

“Indeterminate” (I assume to avoid stating “Conclusion”)

5:29 – “A strange chiasm: theory moves in the direction of the indeterminate, while technology moves toward the funtionalist distinction and in that way transforms everything and transforms itself as well.” (199)

5:33 – “This is the logic of production…It rejects the relevance of places it does not create.” (201)

5:38 – I tend to find one phrase in every conclusion I want to hold on to (whether “useful” or no): “a putting-together of what coheres without being coherent” (202). And so I give you this “live” blog, captured across almost 22 hours, with little actual content but the process of creating it. I’ve done the reading, I have my notes and now, even though I’ve not exactly produced something of discernible merit, I can sleep sound (for one night, anyways) knowing I’ve updated this blog with something. Perhaps I’ll attempt a part-two with Lefebvre.


~ by pamelaingleton on 10 November 2010.

One Response to “The Practice of Everyday Life…LIVE! and in colour”

  1. […] works) and tagged (in terms of key words) to assist in the preparation of my examination papers. As I’ve mentioned before, the comps blogging plan kind of failed, but I’m not ready to give up all hope just […]

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