Thursday, 31 May 2007

Essay Ese

I got the results back from my last essay - I can't remember if I posted about this at the time, but I finished the essay 4 hours before drop-in deadline, as one does, and after I submitted it I was so convinced it was shit I was too scared and embarrassed to read what I had written. So I didn't - and it's been saved on my computer but not accessed since the 17th. Anyway.

Earlier I checked my results, with a conviction that if I got a 55 I would be pleased.

I got an 82. A comfortable A+.

Cue the huge fucking heart attack.

And yet... I feel guilty somewhat - because I chose a subject which I knew my lecturer would respond well too and apparently she did. But by saying that, it makes it seem like I am some master manipulator - which is not the case. It also seems that I'd be undermining my lecturers ability to give an unbiased and reasonable assessment of all work, if I was to say that the mark I received was purely because the subject matter. A friend of mine also wrote an essay on a subject the lecturer is known to appreciate - waste & consumerism - and my friend got a 72 on her paper.

...I totally just answered my own doubts. Gross.

But if my argument against myself is right, it means that my style, writing ability, depth of research and ability to communicate my own opinions while citing professional academics (what's the shorter term for that?) are for this one paper, either higher, more refined or of a greater ability then that of other people - regardless of if their subject matter is sympathetic to our lecturer or not.

Oh God: I am overanalysing everything.

Grading systems don't bother me when it comes to essays, because writing an essay is a scientific art -- there are rules, conventions and methods that are set out. Writing an essay is like playing a game, or dissecting a body - everyone has their own special theories on the best way to go about things, but all and all you have to follow rules, and the outcome is not objective.

But when you're grading something like, say, a painting or a media installation - in short a piece of artwork - it's so conditional and based so heavily on aesthetic taste, that it becomes a matter of trying to communicate something that, you can't communicate. A problem of qualia.

So whenever I have to be assessed on an artistic creation of mine, I feel like my stomach isn't filled with butterflies, but centipedes - I almost become autistic when having to take a peer group assessment - something surely devised by Satan himself, where all members of the group who've worked on a project must band together and tell one another what they think they deserve for their input on the project. Christ, it's like Big Brother Elimination's for Sociopaths. I can't look anybody in the eye and wring my hands together silently, making occasional groaning noises as I chew my lip and sway uncomfortably. ANYWAY.

I think it's universally 'easy' to judge a piece of writing - communication is a formalised art. But art as 'art' can be, so much more difficult -- and it's because you cannot always read intention and effort from a single piece of symbolism. For me, everything I create is a sort of extension of my thinking ability -- it might be a man talking about aliens, but in me it sparks off so many patterns of thought that I impose this whole other layer of meaning over it -- and... I can't communicate what happens.

Of course I try; filling sketchbooks with explanations, giving presentations and telling people how I reached each artistic decision and why they connect to this and that. I can justify things well, perhaps better then many of my classmates -- but I do have the advantage of A: never going to traditional school, & B: being out in the 'real world' for a good many years. But even with all this, I can't fully communicate my intention in the work alone: nobody can look or listen to something I've done and just understand universally what I mean. And that, drives me a little mad.

I don't want to be literal - and I don't consider myself fully conceptual - it's just I don't believe that I will ever, well, be an artist if I can't have a percentage of people exposed to my work step away going I get it. I don't mean they get it like I get it, but I mean they get it, like, it sparks off in them a whole tree of thought that pings their rational consciousness and thus what they feel justifies what they've just experienced in looking/listening to my piece of work.

...Of course now that I'm thinking about it, if I produced a painting of a bowl of oranges tipped out of a broken green bowl which was something to do with the perils of Protestant and Catholic children in Northern Ireland, say, (hahah, bullshit art 101) and somebody said 'Oh what a stupid boring painting of fruit that reminds me of my grandmother', I would be disappointed, as that isn't the reaction I'm looking for.

But fuck. What if what I really should strive for isn't the selfish concept of me forcing my ideas into some strangers psyche -- maybe what I should strive for is making pieces that, regardless of my specific intention, just make people think in general.



Oh, and, let me take this moment to say: Thank You Shelley Powers! (!!!1!!one!!11!) Your blog entry When Are We Needed, inspired me to write my essay -- which was, as I have not mentioned previously, a discussion of the representation of war as a means of redefining gender roles through the fabricated female persona in propagandistic British Films of the Second World War.

That was, sadly (hur hur), not the title -- which had to be the essay question in question - discuss the representation of war in the media - which I find sadly banal but eh, oh well. Thems the rules.

But yes, back to Shelley -- I cannot say how much of an inspiration that piece was. I read it a few months before the essay was due in, but when the essay question was handed over, I thought about what Shelley had wrote about WWII propaganda's effect on women in America -- and was curious to ponder the differences in the British methods of using propaganda to mobilise women, and the cultural effects it had on post-War England. So yes; Big Up for Shelley -- freekin' awesome.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Lazy Days

Worst Blogger Ever.

Okay so I've been a little quiet lately. What with my freshly ended studies, my days are full of me playing my secret vice, drinking coffee, walking in the muggy British summertime air, painting portraits of bird women, and being on my own in a house I have to leave in six weeks.

So in other news:

Brian Eno doesn't know about the visualiser function with iTunes - and almost every other media player. 77 Million Paintings. Christ on a crutch. I sat long and hard trying to justify to myself why anyone would want to obtain his mad warez for £17.99 -- and I could not think of any reason other then it's Brian Eno's ambient tunes set to an abstract ever-shifting painting of digital light and blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. I think it's crap. Crap I say, crap.

Oh. I've become addicted to - sigh - TV on the internet. Specifically, the hospital drama House, which I am glad to see has 69 episodes of cynical, medical goodness. Man. I've seen so many hours of benign tumours and blood clots this week, paired with dry witticisms, I just don't know what to do with myself.

It's not really the type of show one should watch if they're, say, a hypochondriac -- but fuck yeah, it satisfies my sick fasination with awful, hard to figure out, weirdo diseases and disorders. There was a book that I was obsessed with when I was younger -- I feel that the title was simply 'Blood', and it was a bunch of real life case studies about stuff like ebola. The ebola one was my favourite one - it was like a mystery novel, but better. Medical thrillers; how grand.

And now, that God damned hippie Demian Rice has got me all like, listening to him. God. I had avoided liking him since 2002. What's up with that? Musicians who you dislike on principle, but whose music is actually good, so you end up liking them? Guh! Fucking feel good folk hippies - why must I enjoy your pathetic heartfelt music, like a gooshy History & Folklore major from a sappy Humanities college in Vermont. Bah humbug.

Must watch House. More blogging later.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

This is for Lmo

Everything Tastes Better When You've Got 10 Hours To Write 1500 Words And You're Drinking Grape-Apple-Pear Juice Held Within A Finely Crafted Plastic Coconut Cup
Portrait of the Artist, Procrastinating - Spring 2007

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Food Stamps & Government


Members of U.S. Congress attempt to live off of food-stamps for a week.

Hey... That seems familiar -- oh yeah, hey, didn't I do that for a week too?
Oh wait that was like three years; my bad!

Certainly it makes for a good news and sound bite -- no puns dude -- but is it actually going to change anything?

Does anybody even care?

Everything I had to say I said in the comments. (Diaries of J.Black)

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Wednesday, 9 May 2007


Somebody wrote about Internet changing language and they didn't come off as a presumptuous over-educated asshat pandering to the lowest common denominator within an academic circle?


edit: note to self --

Truth Hert's Donuts

How Can I Use Feminism To My Advantage?
Via Infinate ThØught
Four years old, and still making me laugh.

I just like accented characters in blog titles, obviously.


Sometimes I'm afraid a rabid pack of feministbots is going to descend upon me and rip me apart for not doing my gender justice, or something. Certainly I am all about gender studies - but kinda like some people are into Spartan politics or Victorian etiquette.

It's really awesome we came to the conclusion that all humans should be treated equally -- now can some of us stop defining themselves socially by the parts they were randomly allocated at birth, and can we like, start worrying about other stuff now?


Things I am Missing While I Procrastinate Getting Ready for Today's Meeting

J.E. Gordon writing on physics & stress & tension.


Bad American Food.

elephantitis of the mind

Monday, 7 May 2007


It's my birthday on the 10th. I will be twenty one years old.

Finally. When you add me together I equal three.
I haven't been this excited since I was 12.

[[Enter worry here.]]

Friday, 4 May 2007

Advanced Western Capitalist Society, AHOY!

Right now at this moment in time, I'm trying to do some research - not for any academic purpose, but an attempt to prove to myself a statistical sociological fact. It's been bugging me for weeks and weeks, and I have to find some hard evidence.

I want to see if suburban New England's stance on having some commercial retail spaces open to 9-10pm on most evenings adds a significant boost to the local economy, while also lessening crime rates and anti-social behaviour.

See, I live in Surrey, UK at the moment -- most retail spaces are shut by 5pm every day, and most aren't open on a Sunday. Exceptions to this are restaurants and, of course, pubs.

So I am trying to do a comparison of statistics between to townships of similar size: Framingham MA (pop. 65,598, 2005) and Guildford, Surrey (pop. 66,773, 2001).


I wonder how advanced capitalist societies are supposed to grow; I would imagine along with more complex issues it would include:

A: assure the population has expendable income, via healthy employment
B: create public spaces with various retail outlets tailored to a wide class spectrum
C: encourage spending with retail opening hours of 9-to-9, for students, 9.2.5ers, etc.

With my personal experience of being a student in the UK, I find it really fucking difficult to become a good little active advanced western capitalist consumer, as I: Don't Have Enough Opportunity To Spend, & Don't Have Enough Disposable Income.

I go to skool weekdays, 10-5. When I leave, all the shops on the high-street are closing, including the book stores and cafes*, so the only opportunity I have for a social space outside of my (non-existent) living room is: The Pub, A Restaurant (Expensive! Bad quality!), A Park, Someone Else's Living Room.

Social aspects aside, it also limits my job opportunities: I could get a job at: A Pub or A Restaurant, but because I cannot work retail hours during the week, I am pretty unhireable anywhere else. Some stores will be looking for weekend help, but that would be working one single day a week at minimum wage. (Which I will add, is £4.45 for 18-21 y.os in the UK: see link.)

So lets say I get a job at the local greasy cafe getting £4.45 an hour, and on a Saturday the cafe is open from 9am to 4pm with an hour lunch break - I would be earning £26.70, not including tips -- but let me remind you that tips don't exist in the UK.

£26.70 is $53.05 as of today, yet that seems a bit extreme - living in England is different. £26.70 will buy me two weekly bus tickets to school, and leave me with 70p for a cup of machine coffee when I get there. I like to think it doesn't cost $26.52 in the States for a bus pass, but I can't remember.

Anyway, I get off track.
I don't yet understand why suburban England adheres to these retail hours. Is this my American adolescence showing through? Perhaps -- but I am not looking at this from a problem of retail spaces offering places to be for people on a social level - not just as consumers, but as a place where they can spend leisure time that aren't a pub. Cinemas, bookstores, cafes, stupid-random-shops, galleries, music shops, etc, etc, etc. Britain is having a huge problem with binge drinking and antisocial behaviour in teenagers and young-adults -- is it because there is nowhere else to go but the pub, or the local park at night?

I must investigate...

Or maybe I could go to the pub.

*Oh how I miss the book stores and cafes. ::weeping::

[[Edit: oh man, my blog homie Frank has some sweet things to say about England as a security state. I can confirm this all as true. I will be sending the tapes as evidence.]]

[[Edit II: if I lived in Tokyo, I know who I'd consider voting for. At least he is honest.]]