Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hyper-value: Apply directly to your forehead. Rinse and repeat.

A recent discussion with an emphasis advisor has returned to me the spark for this project I’ve been lacking these past few weeks. The meeting was more or less happenstance. My most pressing business with him that day concerned other matters, his impending application for tenure, and my recent application for graduation combined with all the interwoven personal dynamics for both of us that tend to accompany those processes. In retrospect the question certainly had at least some oblique relevance to the conversation at hand, since we were both speaking generally about our lives. Weeks previous he had volunteered to serve as my emphasis advisor without me asking, and I had gladly accepted the offer. I suspect it was that we both took the agreement for granted is why we carried on from the initial inception without further discussion. So it was only natural that eventually, he would want to know about the topic. So as he and I were running down our respective lists of life challenges, he asked me to tell him specifically what my capstone topic would be. He wanted to hear the story of how I arrived at my topic, the way it related to the list of challenges I had just itemized, and what events or changes brought me to a new perspective. Initially he didn’t want to know why I no longer wished to argue for the salvation of the fourth estate, or to condemn the radical liberation of value from any referents, which some semanticists fear has been accomplished with the advent of the Internet, and was at one point at least a major constituent of an earlier capstone project.

He just wanted to hear the story of me. I guessed that he wanted reassurance that preserving the sanctity of the fourth estate, and demonizing the radical liberation of value would be central themes. So I began with that. No doubt the one whom I meant to reassure however, was myself, just to keep my identity theme in tact. He’s a journalist, a magazine writer, and independent radio producer. In short, he’s a storyteller who, by my observation, is especially good at getting people to tell him their stories, and identifying the deep structures, and dissonances present in the stories he hears. He also tends to describe his understanding of people’s stories using rudimentary shape metaphors, which I have always found helpful. And it was in the course of my telling him the story of the origin of my topic, that he suggested I make that story—my overall, personal experience of arriving at the topic, the vague, broad, general questions and specific prejudices that set me on this current path, the failures and setbacks that delayed my arrival here—the basic premise of my capstone project. He wants the personal journey, and the narrative arc. He wants Odysseus lost at sea trying to figure out how to rebuild his ship. He wants to hear how adventure began when all plans went wrong. He wants the whole messy mythos, but he also wants it to be a well researched, and cited too. He wants it to be Gonzo, which it is and then some. And there are certain events on the horizon of possibility that may blow the keyhole I’m seeing my topic through, into a gaping doorway.

Right now the potential for overlapping and even merging planes of my personal livelihood, most of which I have always worked to keep separate, makes my head spin. So let me clarify while trying not to go too deep into detail. The projections I made for my graduate and post-graduate careers have turned out nothing like the original plan. Events of various sorts have created the need for me to radically re-tool, and redirect more than once. And I’m now facing what many like myself—artist types with liberal sensibilities, punk-rock ethics, and a special fondness for subversive behavior—consider to be the horror of all horrors. I’m actively pursuing the job market in the smarmy, corporatist world of marketing and advertising.

I know, necessity notwithstanding, if I have any forlorn future hope of being able to look at myself in the mirror, I’ll have to sacrifice a high-end desktop computer at the foot of Baudrillard’s grave on the eve of the next fiscal new-year just to cleanse what’s left of my bruised and battered soul. But for now I need to survive to see that day come. And for those of my ilk, survival means finding a way to identify with livelihood, and circumstance while working to morph them into what I really want. And that, dear readers, is the general story. Specifics to come after a message from my sponsor.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of Odyseus and the storyl Good luck with this idea.