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De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Of All of the Din Joints in This Town. . .
I am sitting, somewhat unhappily, in the student union of one of the biggest universities in the country, barely keeping my head above the roiling sea of sound. Across from me is a "video wall" that frames a large window featuring one television channel, with four smaller ones tuned to other signals. This large window has been showing a CNN program hosted by Rick Sanchez in which viewers are urged to "join the conversation." I know that some of you take this sort of content for granted, but it still startles someone like myself who watches little television of a non-sporting nature. As audience input scrolls across the bottom of the window, where my reflexes still expect to find "real" news, Sanchez focuses on a series of comments, conveyed to him via Twitter, Facebook or MySpace. Sometimes dramatically enlarged text from computer screens appears in his stead, proffering this user-generated comment in yet another form. Periodically, one of the cameras in the studio pulls back to show another camera filming an oversized monitor, the point, I presume, being to remind us how rapidly the many layers of mediation with which we are being confronted can dissolve messages into the medium that conveys them.

No one but me is watching the windows. Instead, most of the students around me sit hunched over their cell phones or stare into the illusory distance their noise-cancelling headphones carve out of the fragmented heteroglossia that dominates the space. The rest of them, by contrast, loudly jest with each other like eight-graders engaged in cafeteria cut-down wars. "This is just like that scene from--" My only point of comparison is from the realm of science fiction. But the experience of the noise-to-signal ratio in this space makes films like Southland Tales seem like our era's equivalent to the patient mimesis of Flaubert. Hell, if you'd asked me a year ago whether I'd be witnessing a candidate like Sarah Palin or even Barack Obama take the place of that picture's two tickets, the fictional Eliot-Frost for the GOP and the once plausible Clinton-Lieberman for the Democratic Party, I would have cautioned you to curtail your smoking. I'm not going to go all doom-and-gloom and tell you that this environment constitutes total communication breakdown. I still see hope for sorting meaning from the heterogeneous matter that threatens to bury it for good. That said, panning gold out of this foolishness requires a stronger lower back than I have brought to the proceedings. I guess it's time to double up on that ab-building regimen. If I work hard enough, I might even end up with an Abbildungsroman.

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Current Location: 85287

12 comments or Leave a comment
celebrian_3 From: celebrian_3 Date: October 9th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Hey, I'm feeling kind of sane-ish this week. Would you like to hang out this evening, get something to eat, shoot the breeze?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 02:44 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I would love to have met you! Sadly, though, I didn't check my messages until arriving home. Sigh. Perhaps next Tuesday or the week after?
morimur From: morimur Date: October 9th, 2008 11:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I am intrigued by your use of Abbildungsroman? The first time I read it, it made it sound like you were going to end up in "novel of images" which sounded like a "graphic novel" pun on "coming of age" novels.

But now that I re-read your sentence, I can see your pun on the ab-building regimen.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well read! I wanted the second meaning you mention, pertaining to exercises that strengthen the lower back and would, in theory, increase one's endurance while panning for gold, to blur into the first, which is my way of imagining a Bildungsroman -- I've been teaching the term this semester -- adequate to a world in which distilling a representation of a media space in which flatness already prevails, but where overlapping inhibits the construction of coherent discrete images, is the challenge of the age. Yes, I had far too much coffee today. And too little sleep last night. . .

::grinning sheepishly::
schencka From: schencka Date: October 9th, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Transgression in the era of Phil Specter-esque "wall of media"

Oh, the student union has gone the way of the casino.

Has an increase in media saturation always been as menacing? Are we getting old and crotchety fast?

In some places, when the government plays propaganda, the citizens pop in their earbuds.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: Transgression in the era of Phil Specter-esque "wall of media"

It's like Hong Kong or Malaysia. You're right!

Super to hear from you, BTW. I miss your presence.
masoo From: masoo Date: October 10th, 2008 02:09 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Yer gettin' old. Soon we'll be talking with each other about our urologists.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 03:41 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Too true. The next thing you know, I'll need glasses.
barca_k From: barca_k Date: October 10th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
celebrian_3 instructed me to add you to my flist. her argument? i quote: "he's cool." good enough for me.

so i am adding you.

also, hi there!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 03:38 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Same here! It's a pleasure to meet you.
barca_k From: barca_k Date: October 10th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
last time this happened to me i was eaten by a giant alien galactic frog. but we won't go into that how.

what i meant to say is, pleased to meet you, as well.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: October 10th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Ha! I have been lax in adding friends lately, so it's nice to have a new one.
12 comments or Leave a comment