Archive | March 2012

It’s Pat!

And Adah it definitely is not.  Look, you’ve confused androgyny if you think Adah dressed up in a tunic and holding a sword counts.  It doesn’t.

Here’s exhibit A:


Adah Menken is Hot

Maybe I cheated, because I didn’t grab one of her in man’s clothes.  We all saw the little tunic on page 299 as Marzeppa, let’s see if I can find it.



Nope, still hot.  Hmmm.  Let’s see what androgyny looks like.





Look, I’ll stop being an ass about it.  Some people might get turned on when they see androgynous folk about, but for the most part, it’s confusion.  And I don’t know that it’s especially deliberate.  Adah wasn’t aiming for that, at least in my opinion.  The closest she comes that I’ve seen is that pic of her at the gambling table in a suit, which does get pretty close to taking her femininity out of the picture.  But it was for shock value–Lady Gaga owes more to her persona than just Madonna, apparently. 

On the continuum of masculine to feminine, the androgynous are just floating around the middle, not girly, not manly, just people.  The reason so many critics and scholars have viewed her as this hypersexual woman is because she was.

I’ll take it one further, though, and say that that this is what she wanted.  Adah Menken wanted to be noticed, wanted to be a celebrity, and she did it.  She got famous.  I mean, we’re still talking about her.  I think she admired poets and wanted that, too.  But she had the drive for for celebrity, and the willingness to do what it takes to get there.  She might’ve challenged some norms and mores on the way, but I believe the more accepted view of her is probably a little closer to the truth.





van Dijck

Van Dijck
Social media and the changing purpose of the photograph.

When I first started this article, I was in hearty disagreement with Dijck about the new purpose of the photograph.  I’m not sure I still totally agree with everything he says, but he does make some points that are, at the very least, plausible.  Photographs are now a part of our mass communication; they are a way of showing where we’ve been, what we’ve been up to, the interesting things we’ve seen and a way to express our creative selves.  They aren’t necessarily for keeping around for ages, they aren’t taken with the idea in mind that one day we can show our grandchildren what we once looked like.
That sums up probably the first ten pages or so, honestly; I don’t buy into this idea that memory has changed dramatically, just because it’s in a digital format as opposed to a ten pound photo album on the shelf.  Yes, the material is different, but–perhaps if I give an analogy I can make myself clear.
There has been talk of the ‘death of the book’ in the past few years.  At first, I took this to mean that people believed novels were no longer going to be written in this digital adhd age, that the longest we could hope for are a few one page poems and maybe the occasional short story.  The next Tolstoy would put out a story with more than a hundred pages, right?  But, stupid me, all these people were saying was that paper and ink were slowly being replaced by bits of data.  My first idea of the death of the book seemed absurd, because I don’t believe it’s in human nature to stop writing.  These seemed equally absurd, but only because people were focusing on the most trivial detail.  If you like holding a paper book in your hand, then I can understand you’ll mourn the passing of our book.  The story remains the same, though, and that’s what really matters.  If it matters enough to enough people, then print will continue as a presence on into the future, too (and I really believe it will; convenience is a powerful motivator, but it isn’t always enough).  In the same way, photographs/pictures may be stored anywhere, so long as the image that hits our eyes is more or less the same.
That’s an apt descriptiong of what van Dijck is talking about, the passing of the photograph.  People take pictures these days; we might go get some portraits made at christmas time with the family, but those portraits I would say are a little more on the photograph side.  A picture is quick and easy, and the value on it not so great.  What bothers me is that some of these pictures might in fact become more significant later in life, and as long as van Dijck is conceding that they can live on in these digital mediums just as long, then what stops them from sharing in the same kinship?  Understand, I’m not disagreeing with his assertion that they are initially taken for different reasons; but looking at a you from five years ago, it doesn’t much matter if that erstwhile person took those pictures as keepsakes or just screwing around.  They evoke the same sort of emotions.  However, I do have to give him that digitization has altered the production and dissemination of photographs in such a way as to have changed the way we use them, which is interesting enough.

Comic Books

What a boring title.

Comics were my favorite when I was a little boy up to… maybe sixth or seventh grade.  Those and the Hardy Boys, and I fairly doubt we’re going to look at the Hardy Boys in Vis Rhet, but one out of two ain’t bad.

I’ve read the Hatfield and the McCloud; the Hatfield was a little too jargony for me, but the McCloud was an awesome piece, and helped me to look at comics in a way I hadn’t before.  Probably the best thing I’ve read in this class thus far.  The pyramid he draws up, essentially cartesian coordinates, was explanatory and informative, but more than that, the way it was written showed the guy really loves his comics.  About the only other behind-the-scenes look at comics I’d had before was from Chasing Amy, when I saw two guys who did comic books and thought to myself, “so that’s how they do it.”

I’m not going to add a whole lot extra to my post (it’s short of a thousand by a several hundred, sorry), but I will post a couple of images of my two fav’s from my youth.  If anyone actually reads these things (thanks Valerie) and has some suggestions on other comics that would be helpful for my final project, let me know.  Also, one other question but a little off-topic; when I was on vacation one year we stopped at some book trader who had comics, and I got some that I’d never seen before.  They were a little more fantasy based, but all I can really recall was a pale guy who was connected to a sword.  Not physically, but he had to keep it in his possession, it gave him superhuman powers, but when separated he would waste away and die.  What’s the name of that comic?

And, just a little fun trivia–one of the images in McCloud’s narrative is of a woman in the middle of conversation, saying something about “he was up minding his own business and they put nukes at his front door.”  That was Rogue from the Uncanny X-Men, talking about Magneto who was flying around on Asteroid M and got provoked into messing with the humans.  Woot!


The X-Men shows the transition from the old school to the newer glossy comic art.  I was alive and reading them when this shift was occurring, pretty neat but I loved em all.


Final Projects

It’s already the blasted middle of the semester (or just past).  Tonight we’re going to spring forward, which means more sun for everyone, freaking awesome, even though I’m on some vampire antibiotics that make me photosensitive.  I don’t even know why I’m on antibiotics, the doc told me it was the flu, which means viral, but I went ahead and finished out my dose.



For a final project, I haven’t narrowed it down greatly, but I have settled on a theme, and it’s going to be comics.  Visual narrative, what have you.  X-Men and Spider Man!  Or, I might try and be a little more rigorous with it (as in, I will).  But I just read the McCloud piece, going to respond tomorrow to it, and I realized I hadn’t ever especially analyzed all that goes on in comics.  And there’s a lot there.

More on this later.