Archive - Jan 2, 2012
Yesterday, I wrote a blog post thinking about the coming year, and my desire for online interaction that is more intellectually stimulating. I mentioned the RSA animations, so perhaps I’ll use that as a starting point. Yesterday, I watched The Divided Brain, an RSA animation on YouTube. It is the first in a series of RSA animations and provided interesting food for thought. Today, I watched the video response, which was a recording of the original lecture.
In the lecture, Iain McGilchrist spoke about the popular idea of one side of the brain being rational and the other being creative. He moves past this to focus on another way of looking at our thought processes, in terms of the detailed thought, focused on specific goals or tasks, where all the distractions are filtered out, and thinking on broader connections. The speaker laments that so much of thought is becoming this focused detailed thought and the balance between this sort of thought and broad based connections seems to be getting lost.
Around the same time that I started listening to this, I started reading the book, “Social Thinking at Work”. It is an interesting book to help people understand complexities of social interactions in the workplace. The book seems to compliment what Iain McGilchrist was talking about. Many people seem to get so focused at work on specific tasks, that they lose perspective of the social environment in which they are working. I haven’t gotten far into the book yet, but it will be interesting to come back to this as I explore some of the other things I’m looking at.
All of this gave me an interesting framework for watching Paul Fry’s first lecture in ‘Introduction to Theory of Literature’. I had stumbled across this as I looked for some good introductory materials on Lacan. It turns out that the 13th lecture in the series is focused on Lacan and the whole series is part of the Open Yale Courses.
Dr. Fry raises a lot of very interesting questions in his first lecture. What is literature? In the early days of my blog, I referred to it as a literary outpost on the Internet. I spoke at a class at Trinity College back then, and a person noted that I had very little fiction on my blog and asked why I called it a literary outpost. At the time, I set up the blog, I was hoping to post more fiction. Yet it should be noted that literature does not necessarily equate with fiction. I am sure I could find some campaign literature or even scientific literature that is not fiction.
So, what makes literature literature? Can a blog, or a group of blogs be considered literature? How about Youtube videos? A follow up to this is the role of the author and the reader in literature. Where does an author get their authority? Does setting up a blog make you an author? Does it make you an authority? From here, we could easily go off into the long discussed, and recently revitalized discussion about bloggers and journalists, which I would suggest is but one form of the discussion about bloggers, authors and authority. For that matter, if a blogger is an author or has authority, does it only happen when they are blogging as part of some body of literature? Is a blogger only an authoritative author when blogging ex cathedra?
And what about the reader? If a blogger with no readers falls in the forest, does he make a sound? Are bloggers merely helping Dag Hammarskjold’s madman shouting out in the marketplace prove his thesis? All of this leads to the issue of context and intent. Where does meaning in a blog post, or any other writing, reside? Is it in the intent of the author, the intent of the reader, some place else? And how does the historical context of the reader or the author fit into this?
Fry’s lecture goes on to talk about rationality. How do we know whether we are being rational? Perhaps he, too, is concerned with Dag Hammarskjold’s madman’s thesis. Where do the limits of language and historical context fit in?
All of this flows back to Social Thinking at Work. The workplace is a cultural context and perhaps theory of literature ties back to theories about social interactions at work. It ties back to Iain McGilchrist’s talk about that part of the brain which focuses on context, and with all of this, to the aspect of being both an observer and being in the moment.
Enough of my ponderings on these topics for today. I’ll try to make it through more of the RSA animations and Fry’s lectures and see where it leads. Are you coming along for the journey? What are your thoughts?
Well, Adgitize has stopped service ads, and I've removed it from my sidebar. It is disappointing. Adgitize has steadily brought me visitors and I've made a small amount off of the ads that I've run.
While I was at it, I removed the code for the MyBlogLog widget, Retaggr, and Amazon's widgets. MediaBloggers isn't working properly right now. I don't know what the story is, so I've left that up. I've also left up a few different widgets for systems that aren't working quite right, right now, which I may remove later on.
Then, I started digging through many of the unread emails. A lot could easily be filed or trashed, but I'm on so many lists, it takes a while to get through them. I'm now down to about 23,000 unread emails. So, if I've missed an email, you'll understand why.
I have spent more time thinking about my blogposts for the coming year, and I hope to have some interesting content up soon. Meanwhile, I'm fairly melancholy after the New Year's Cleaning, and I think I may try to get offline for a while, maybe get out of the house.