Small things..

May 1, 2019

I have no interest in activism of any kind in any discourse. Which is why I have no personal opinion on if a translingual approach to education will be a good or a bad idea. I do have some small things I’ve been thinking regarding the article.

Denying that Standard English doesn’t exist is essentially just wrong. If there exists any form of the language English that is dominant within academia and overall power Dynamics it is Standard English. It’s just not definable. So starting from this line and looking at the topic from the end wouldn’t be a good idea. We should rather see how historically an idea (rather vague) of standard English has come to be. What was the need of it? What were the material conditions? Why need standardizing? Link to capitalism and labor? Maybe to ethical issues of how to treat the other (slavery and segregation)?

The link to power and knowledge is essential here. All the more reasons standard English exists. From let’s say 1950 to 2019 more variations of English has died. The standard English has prevailed. Why?

One can say,  knowledge and the discourse around it needs an universal language. (We can link science and ideology very easily, but I’ll leave that) To do scientific studies, the researchers often advocate for a specific language. Because there is emphasis on clarity and rigor and clear understanding.

We have to understand things also in the light of difference. How has the other become the demon? The difference in language is treated differently in different contexts. And so are others. No American has a problem with a Japanese girl speaking Japanese in the streets of Tokyo. Problem arrives when elements of that Japanese arrive in her English. Why? Because we don’t understand difference. And I don’t mean some nationalist idiot. I mean political liberals, we don’t understand what difference is.

Problems can arrive in a Translingual future with monolingualism. For example jobs. No one would want to hire a person who knows one language and has absolutely no experience of another.

Which brings us to the question of the material reality that has made this demonic notion of difference happen. Capitalism. It is something that will include any ideas. And as long as we don’t do a historical judgment of what language and power have to do with each other and how there are superstructures that make sure that difference remains in place in a demonic way rather that what it is (naturality) ; we won’t be able to look into a new path. If there is one.

 

Form and Void

April 29, 2019

The reading was a complicated one. As far as my understanding goes, it was about modes for engagement about something and how the person engaging in the scene should keep in mind about what modes are there to use and how to best utilize whatever resources of modes he can afford. For example, using visual, sound, signs etc. A YouTube video about something will be an example of engaging in a visual mode. Although a mode has its dimensions that involve almost aesthetic choices which still evolves into how the piece is taken. An example here would be a badly made video on let’s say the German philosopher Husserl that has bad (subjectively) visuals and the person talking doesn’t have an aesthetically pleasing voice to a particular audience. But the video although insufferable (much like the article we read) is fairly accurate in terms of what the thought of Husserl was. And there can be many meta problems arising from multimodal presentations. Even these problems have dimensions. We can think about enacting the very problems a particular set of people have with an idea in the visual of the piece we’re creating. For example, to attack religious fundamentalists we add visual clues (sometimes clear) attacking certain systems of religious thought.

Maybe there is still a conversation to be had about the complexities of translating a text into meaning. And I’m talking about all forms and modes of text. Meaning can never be derived from just the content. Form and content always emerge together into the symbolic space where the reader or interpreter gives meaning. And where written texts have always had problems of meaning and how there’s contradictions and irregularities. Multi modal texts have even more of these problems. Because there’s more forms involved that give rise to more meanings and symbolic spaces for possible meanings.

Triple Unconsciousness

March 23, 2019

The article is about Youtube creators Fung Brothers. It is regarding how the Asian American hipster rhetoric is perceived in the mainstream discourse and how the authors think that the Fung Brothers are doing more work to change that rhetoric than meets the eye and how that can work to overall change the whole rhetoric of Asian Americans in whole in the American discourse.

Well, in the most basic sense of the word, rhetoric would mean the way we talk about specific things in the general discourse among other things. Which I think is an ‘idea’ that works only for the mainstream media and discourse. For example, when we go into the postmodern critique of let’s say Marcel Proust; there really is no specific rhetoric that is followed. Different authors go different ways and these ways interchange and the values of Proust’s works are taken out and deconstructed.

But the mainstream narrative of things do use rhetoric. That is why there is a presence of ‘narrative’ and somethings need proper(or improper) rhetoric to be adopted and narrated in the mainstream. And this article challenges that that Asian Americans too can be a part of the hipster rhetoric and bring in something unique that can be enjoyed and consumed by communities of different backgrounds. So, my guess would be that the authors are challenging the ‘white’ hipster rhetoric?

I do think that the rhetoric of who can be the hipster and how that needs to change is important. This article however brings up an angle on how to view the content of the Fung Brothers that was personally not interesting to me.

For example: the idea that you can reduce a white jazz musician to just a hipster posing as black jazz musicians is absurdly funny to me. This I think can only be said by someone that really hasn’t done anything in life than to live and write boring essays. I am not going to put making music or other forms of art as something supreme but to think that white musicians are just playing jazz and blues(and other African/African-American forms of music) for being a hipster and appropriating culture is propably one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. I wonder what Miles Davis would say to this

Another thing, about the three different kinds of viewers that can gain something from the Fung brothers; Who in the planet is not included in the list? As far as I’m concerned everyone that exists can be literally put into those categories. Then why categorize? How is that anything unique(called triple consciousness)? Double consciousness was an unique perspective because it was specific. Black and non-Black consumers. I think bringing up triple consciousness to analyze the Fung brothers is something that I don’t even find something that should be said. It sounds that vague to me.

The food and cultural topics are interesting(in a simple way) contributions to the realm of YouTube. But(even as a deconstructionist) I really think the Fung brothers have more to do with content creation and internet fame through high-school humor than to do with raising anything that challenges the hipster rhetoric and brings forward a different Asian American(or any other) hipster rhetoric at all.

Nelson plays his identity politics as anybody else involved in anything within the American discourse right now. By using the term ‘of color’ but nonetheless I think his framing of what the discourse has become of the 30 million word gap is interesting. The main attack being on the weaponization of the idea that language IS the hinge by which the literacy of a population revolves around. This notion of fixing the low income children of color and their parents with regards to them just learning more words is something that is taking part in the structural racism going on in America, according to Flores.

He argues that rather than looking at these children and their families as something to fix we should rather be looking at the word gap as something that has derived from a problem. It isn’t the problem itself. He denies the claim of language being the notion upon which we can determine the values of the children ‘of color’. This views sees the deficiency of words as a problem to be blamed on these communities that should be fixed. But how has this gap come to be? These families often have parents working almost extensively throughout the week and almost never getting the chance to even properly communicate with their children. And that capitalist society and the tradition needs to be criticized. He also criticizes the researchers who only want to follow this seductive narrative due to the huge funding that their getting for it. Funding to fix these poor pieces of shits. So they can learn words and so on and so on.. Nelson criticizes and frames his argument(while playing his identity politics) against it.

And he suggests that instead of trying to fix people we should really try to fix the system that’s bring this gap on us. The system of oppression and capitalism where people only exist as tools of reaching the product. And also look at the diversities and linguistical differences as resources rather than problems. So the teachers could use them as in the classroom to better promote a narrative of literacy that isn’t dependent on who knows more words.

English is great. God bless America. God bless the Queen and her kingdom. What would we do without our imperial masters giving us the great gift that is, the supreme language of human beings. English.

I was born in Bangladesh. That land was colonized by the East India Company under the British monarchy. So the effect of language can be understood. The standard idea of literacy and the power relations regarding it is based on the typical western idea of knowledge and wisdom. And the power structures are in place to maintain that very well. I myself growing up was in part falling into that notion. Which is why I see the image clearly now that I think about it.  An example may make it easier to understand. In the art and literature and intellectual scene in Bangladesh someone would be considered something to notice if the person is an expert of say for example Joseph Conrad or Samuel Beckett or Oscar Wilde. But not if he or she was an expert on Shahidul Jahir(Bengali writer) or Lalon(Bengali philosopher/lyricist/theorist). And Rabindranath Tagore is big. The most important reason being I think is that he has a stamp from the west known as the Nobel Prize. Don’t get me wrong, I myself am not against this notion. If anything most of what I write or think or talk about are ideas that are strictly eurocentric(mainly postmodern). But what is interesting here is how that difference plays a role in power.

Which really sets me up in this light. English is not what I am against. Or French. Or any colonial language and legacy. I am an avid reader of short stories and poetry and novels written in English. My favorite short fiction writer Lydia Davis is an American(whatever that means!) writer. But I simply want to discuss the paradigm and the set of incidents that had to happen to almost forcefully insert the language English down the throats of the brown bastards from south Asia like me. A lot of the history of language and how we talk about language has been developed through the hegemony of the rulling class. And that involves power and boots being shoven down on people’s faces.

I came to the states in 2016. And English here plays a totally different role. I’m not gonna get into it as I really haven’t quite gotten an image of how I want to talk about this. But I think I can share a story. My friend Carlos and her sister were growing up in New York City. During elementary school they were bullied in school by kids and even teachers because they didn’t speak English in their household as children. So their parents set up a rule in their household that no one will talk in Spanish. So it’ll be easier for Carlos and his sister to get used to English. His parents were first generation immigrants from Ecuador. And I often think about how it must have been for them to give up their language in their own household so their children wouldn’t have to be bullied or insulted.

Impression, Sunrise

February 22, 2019

If I think back on it my first sponsor would be my brother. Although indirect I would say because we had an age gap of 12 years. So we never got to talk about anything in that sense. Specially regarding books and literature. He had a large collection of books in his room. They were mostly detective stories by Bengali writers. A few Sherlock Holmes stories and some other books. But those were the books I read when I began to get into the habit of reading. Which I lost eventually. There was this flood back in 06 I think and our house went partially under water and all my brother’s books got ruined. I couldn’t get to read most of the books he had.

Another sponsor in this case direct sponsor would be a teacher I had in high school(in the USA it would be called elementary school I think?). In the little city of Comilla in Bangladesh. I used to go to this teacher’s house to take lessons. Me and about twenty more kids. The room was right outside a lake. I was in eighth grade I think? Although he taught physics and math and chemistry; sometimes we would have different days. One day I remember he came in and said today I don’t feel like teaching. I want to sing a few Tagore songs. Do you guys wanna listen? And that moment I remember clearly as after that I felt it really made me see him in a different light. He brought up philosophy, religion, arts often into the conversations. And of course politics. He used to tell me Imran you have a nice smile but you’re a devil on the inside. I still wonder what he meant by that. His name was Kamal Uddin.

After High School I moved to the capital. Started living in hostels with other kids. It was the free life any 14 year old would want. The college(High School equivalent in the US) I went to was Notre Dame College. And that was the turning point in my life. It was the big city and the change from a boy into a man? Not that I think I am a man I am a shell of a human being. I met Arif, Zishan, Ucchash. We used to sit together in class. After school we sat down in the train station and looked at the trains and all the people. We talked about politics, aesthetics, religion, philosophy. But what fascinated us the most was poetry. We were crazy about becoming poets. The “craziness” associated normally with artist had a huge impact on us. Van Gogh cutting his ear off, hart crane jumping off a ship, shamim kabir taking his own life at his own house. It all started to blur. I often say friendship can breach the idea of individual separateness. And in our case it did. We had huge impacts on each other. I used to say nothing can be more personal and dearer than the face of a friend. Not even the friend himself.

As I moved to the US three years ago in 2016 I had already kind of set up a way of thinking for myself. And so far no one that I met after moving here has had an impact big enough to be mentioned. Mostly I guess because I reject the Anglo-American idea of language and learning.

The process of not writing

February 10, 2019

I don’t write. The only thing I do that even comes close to writing is probably reading. Should I write this entry on how I read. Nah, bad idea. I used to write. Not in English, in Bengali. Does it matter? I used to write; mainly poetry and micro fiction. School essays that I submit are nothing I consider to be writing. Because honestly they aren’t really what I wanted to write most of the time. I sometimes feel as if the school submissions are always about what I wanted to write and not really what I should have written. But that also goes for other cases too. Is this why I don’t write? Is self-contradiction something that just always has to be dealt with?

I do however agree with the first draft being a very important idea. It may be absolute shit and it may not reflect what I really want my writing to show but it is very helpful in the process of beginning to think and at least imagine what the text I’m about to create is going to look like, or how I want it to look like. A very significant idea about being in a creative process be it writing or anything else is that whatever the product is going to be in the first few tries is not going to be perfect or desired. The idea of perfect can be argued and I personally follow a route where I see Perfect or Absolution is something that our language can merely say or mention but can never really articulate. That’s a different topic however. This idea of the first draft or the first try not being faithful to the image that you have as a creator has to be almost consciously enforced at all times when one is in the act of creating. Sometimes even the final attempt will not be what you wanted to reach, and that’s Okay. We can really not reach the final but it’s the act of reaching for it that gives us something that we can maybe call our creation or Art if we want it. The text(can be a text or painting or idea or theory or a song) has a becoming and it isn’t instantaneous and most of the time it is also our becoming as an artist and it takes time. The idea here is really the process of opening up the multi-dimensions by starting something up and that’s important as a writer.

In the article Haruki Murakami talks about a parallel career of running and writing. How they started at the same timeline. And how the idea of running has helped him to sustain a lifestyle of an author which can be unhealthy at times. And here Murakami sort of actuates the idea of physical health working as a form of philosophy for his writing and that sort of a lifestyle.

I normally have nerve racking anxiety while I write or start to write. As of now I really haven’t found any solutions for that. The video about listening to music may work for the author but music is most certainly very distracting for me when I’m writing because I tend to focus on the sense of hearing too much and sometimes lose my chain of thought or ideas. There are other small factors too. Influences; sometimes I write a line and I feel like this is influenced by him or her and I just stop and leave that idea. I do think influences are very helpful in isolating ideas or style or form from an array of structures that we can approach a subject or subjects from. But ultimately authenticity in the product is essential for me.

Meta-Essay

February 7, 2019

This week’s readings are excellent examples of what can be done with the medium that we call essay. The possibilities are quite vast and we see different kinds of approaches to it. For example the video of composing with black noise is in itself a reflection of what or how the author’s thinking while she’s writing an essay. Although it has clear identify and ideological practices .But it’s still a statement in its own because the video is not about what the video is about. The video is about what the author listens to while she’s composing pieces for different purposes. While it’s not really about what the author is thinking while she’s writing let’s say an essay but it’s rather about what outside environment settings she’d like to be in while she engages in the act of thinking which is for the purpose of writing or composing or creating in general. So it has a really meta feeling to it which I think is excellent.

Because it really challenges the structures that an ordinary college audience would associate with the term essay. Which also brings us to the website with the memoirs which are like snapshots from the author’s s past. This gives the website and it’s content a very memory-like structure and I think it works within the context. The art along with the writing really sets a mood that might or might not work for some readers. Still a great sort of approach to the idea of what an essay can be that personafies the author to the reader. Which may or may not be successful.

So the two texts or mediums that we encountered really went back to Montaigne’s idea of what an essay ”should” be. Which again in my case I don’t agree with. (Not that it can’t be creative and different and have elements of self-exploration but the idea that something has to something like this or that)

A say about essay

February 7, 2019

Jeff Porter in his article discusses about the origin of the essay and how it has evolved quite differently in the academia than its original intentions. He mentions the French writer Montaigne who claimed himself as the father of the essay. He gets into details about what the essay was meant to be when it was first conceived and what it is now. The word essais in French comes from the verb essayer which means to experiment. So kind of in the origin of the word essay there’s a hint of something that has to do with the process of creating and experimenting. Montaigne considered writing essays as a way of catching himself in the act of thinking. As it was for him a practice of his own intellect of what he can do in a text or not and at the same time if he could refute whatever that’s happening within the text or not. And afterwards authors have done remarkable things with the essay as a medium. But institutionalized essay has diverged from what the essay was “meant to be”. I myself am a critical of anything that suggests that things are meant to be something. I rather see the essay as having opportunities that can be played and experimented with as is the case with all other forms of text. But what the author was addressing was that institutionalized essay has become different than what an essay was at the beginning of the conception. Now if we think about texts that play with the self and the other, is innovative or can be self reflectory we instantly think about fiction or metafiction writing. Because essay has become a boring term that has no opportunities for experimentation and a lot of it has to do it the idea of institutions and how any institutions are meant to control and structure our language into the specific power dynamic that it represents. And that’s how it has become in case of institutions today and it opens us to a broader question whether we should have questions about what authenticity is and it doesn’t have to conform to a structure and the intention of any form of text can change and become drastically different and the forms can also interchange between themselves.

To write or not to write

February 2, 2019

Petrarch #120

“I write to assure you that I have not yet felt   from whom I & all the world await   her final bites

Women who imitate birds ….”

-Tim Atkins

The reasons that Orwell mentions about why one should or would write seem vague to me. I don’t think there can be reasons to why one writes. At the same time writing doesn’t necessarily has to not have reasons. Structures are useless. (Or are they?) Orwell himself talks about political purposes in his writing. How having a public eye had given his writing a shape which was he feels was the ultimate goal. And that’s understandable.

In terms of behaviorism there is no free will. I can’t write just to write. There must have been something that triggered it. What was it for me? I don’t think I know the answer to that question. And that’s OK. Because I don’t dwell on the question.

If I tried can give about thirty or so reasons as to why I write. If I tried… But as I would list them I would discard each and every one of them in my head. I guess I might have gotten just too used to the face of the absurd. I used to hope for some sort of redemption people get from acts of creation. Also destruction. Shiva was simultaneously a creator and a destroyer. I used to feel powerful when I wrote something as there was a certain kind of euphoria that swelled over the membranes of my brains thinking that I might have created something. Did god feel powerful? Does she still? I don’t ask myself those questions anymore. I write so I can maybe close my eyes and listen to the great snakes that whisper inside my mind. I write to somehow face something that I can never give words to which may or may not happen. A friend once said he felt as lonely as jesus. We were supposed to go to MoMA together and stand in front of The Starry Night and listen to whatever he would say about Vincent and the blue and the feeling of being left alone. And I did visit without him and the people gathered around the starry night and I could hear them breathing and there was loneliness. It was there…