Thursday, April 07, 2005

Sex and Space Babies

Alright, well, the Linguistics paper – which I have come to refer to as That Goddam Linguistics Paper – will have to wait. I have two other papers totaling 15 pages due early next week. How many pages do I have written? None. None pages.

One paper is for my Young Adult Lit class, and while technically it's only a draft that's due, I'd really like to turn in a workable, almost- finished paper. It's a "novel set" paper, in which we compare three texts, discussing their themes, styles, and explaining how we'd go about teaching them in a public school setting. I'll be writing about Luna; a short story from Losing is Not an Option; and The Flip Side. My focus? Sex, sexuality, gender, and transgender issues among teenagers.

Now, there are two minor obstacles I'll need to overcome here. First, sex, sexuality, gender, and transgender issues are the sorts of discussion topics about which one could write either one paragraph or a small forest's worth of pages. I'm aiming for eight, which will allow just enough room to write compelling sentences but not actually discuss the ideas behind them.

The second issue is, How in the hell am I going to teach this stuff, or even pretend like I'm going to teach this stuff?

The other paper is a little fiver for my Senior Seminar class. We're supposed to apply a theory we've learned to a text and write up our first paper for Wednesday night's class. We will eventually be presenting a version of this paper to a conference of faculty. After that we'll be turning in a bonafide research paper.

I thought for a while I'd be doing the Saussurean problems of meaning in Don DeLillo's White Noise; then I thought maybe I could take an Althusserian approach to To Kill a Mockingbird (I can see it now: ". . . and so as the soap figures hail Scout and Gem, the children are compelled to respond in a way the ideology finds acceptable; the ideology expects a material practice in return for a material practice. . . "). Um. No.

And so I'll be applying Lacanian theory to 2001: A Space Odyssey. My professor suggested this topic after I mentioned that it's one of my favorite films, but I don't know why it's one of my favorite films. She said that might be an excellent place to start.

I'm still laying the groundwork, but I'm sure the paper will have something to do with metonymy and metaphor; speech as a form of psychosis; the idea that what we're not talking about is what we want to talk about but can't talk about. In a film with as little dialogue as 2001: A Space Odyssey, this might get interesting, not to mention the fact that the movie just totally fucks with your head. Kubrick's penchant for throwing cinematic curveballs is everywhere in the film; it intentionally defies traditional narrative and its meaning is elusive at best, but more likely, infuriatingly vague.

So a paper there shall be. I mean Jesus, between bone-huckin' apes, a creepy soundtrack, and a gigantic space baby, there has to be something to write about here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark said...

On teaching the issues of sex, sexuality, gender, etc. ... well, I had this (probably unwarranted) notion that you might find the key to why and how to use those texts in a couple of books: "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn, and "Scared Straight" by Robert N. Minor.

(Minor's book has the lugubrious subtitle "Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People And Why It's So Hard to Be Human.")

Both books wander, with a destination, in the fields of cultural programming. I'd say that, unlike the hand-waving of "The Matrix", both authors actually produce some useful tools.

A friend of mine with a cat named cooper introduced me to your blog .. by the way, I think the haircut looks fine ...

Cheers

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Mark said...

A gigantic space baby .. if I remember correctly, the baby does not make any utterance or cry ...

Having that thought, I remember a theory of speech along the lines of "all discourse is the cultural refinement of a baby's crying, cooing, or gurgling."

For no particular reason, I offer Milton Erickson as a foil to Lacan; both born the same year, uncle Milton is more or less unknown as the father of modern hypnosis and hypnotherapy; with Perls and Satir and Erickson as experts in brief therapy/strategic therapy, Bandler and Grinder, observing them, educed the foundation principles of NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP).

Heh, of course, uncle Milton would have laughed and pointed out that theories are mostly useless, unless you are referring to a theory of an individual, an experimental approach I suspect he'd approve of.

Cheers, again.

8:52 PM  

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