Off till the New Year

Well, I finally submitted my final paper (evah!) – well, for my last class of my PhD. I got it in before the deadline (a whopping 24 hours!) but it feels good. The paper didn’t end up being about what I had planned it to be, or at least not on the level I was hoping, but in the end, I was happy to see that it was relatively cohesive, demonstrated an understanding (of something that I had a hard time grasping until the very end) and I do think it has the potential to be worked into a journal submission and add something (a bit) new to the field of Game Studies.

I am off to the Maritimes to visit my family for our annual New Year’s Eve Bonfire party. A great tradition where we have a nice big meal with the family and then have a great big bonfire until past midnight. No matter the temperature! This year won’t be too bad as long as it does not rain too much. As much as I am looking forward to seeing my family, exchanging our gifts and getting some rest in, I am not necessarily looking forward to the 10 hour drive there (and another 10 hours to get home next weekend). I guess I should just be happy that I am not the one driving!

When I get back, it’s back to the grind – as I am working on my dissertation proposal – with hopes of completing my comprehensive exams in March!

So, until next week – next year! Have a safe and happy New Year and looking forward to my 5th freakin’ anniversary of blogging here at Digital Conversations!

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Don’t Forget The Music!

With the holiday season here, remember, for a great collection of alternative (and traditional) holiday tunes, hit up WOXY’s Holiday Mixer. From Bing Crosby to the Kinks, there’s something for everyone =) Don’t wait too long, as it goes off the air January 1st (I believe).

From their website:

From now through the New Year, we’re pleased to offer up the WOXY HOLIDAY MIXER! This unique 24/7 collection features hundreds of seasonal tunes and is filled with unique renditions of your holiday favorites by modern rockers from around the globe. We have a little bit of something for everyone. This year, we’ve added almost 100 new tracks to the mix from bands like Frightened Rabbit, Low, Goldfrapp, Gentleman Auction House, Rogue Wave, Blitzen Trapper, Evangelicals, Jason Collett, and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. You’ll also hear modern rock faves like Sufjan Stevens, Belle and Sebastian, My Morning Jacket, The Flaming Lips, and Yo La Tengo heavily featured in the music mix along with some things you might not expect (like tracks from “A John Waters Christmas”, Pee Wee Herman, or Spinal Tap).

To balance out all the modern rock tunes, we have a nice mix of classic tracks from artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and James Brown. You’ll also hear some of these truly vintage artists get a more contemporary spin off of compilations like the new “Verve Remixed Christmas” CD. To round things out a little more, we’ve also included some tunes about winter, snow falling, and the month of December, mainly because we know you can only hear “Jingle Bells” so many times…

A lot of the tracks we selected are out-of-print or hard to find and we had a lot of fun rounding them all up for you. We hope you enjoy the WOXY Holiday Mixer, and all of us at WOXY.com wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Ramblings on Final Paper (Or: Procrastination during Writing)

I am struggling through the writing process of my final paper for my Figure in Film class. While I have had a month to write it, I spent most of the month reading and note taking  – which can be a painstaking, laborious task since my method includes a full read through with pencil and highlighter (if I am reading a photocopied article), then a recapping read to consider the sections I highlighted/underlined (which have different meanings) and then finally, typing up the in-text references with personal comments (in italics so that I can differentiate my words from the author’s). To be honest, this is where my paper usually gets written – in the personal commentary section, since when reading like this, it is with a purpose (a question in mind). USUALLY, as I go through this process, once all the books and articles have been typed up into reading notes, I almost only have to cut and paste my ‘personal notes’ and then clean them up, inster appropriate transition paragraphs, introductions and conclusions.

For some reason, after reading probably way too much for a 20-25 page paper, I am stuck with TONS of personal reading notes, alot of useful material for my thesis and even more interesting anecdotes to be shelved into the recesses of my mind for cocktail parties and ‘professional’ events. Which leaves me in quite a predicament what with Christmas being a mere 3 days away, three days of receiving family and friends, and a hard deadline of December 28th (not to mention my impending 10 hour drive home for Christmas holiday part 2). I am halfway through an editable draft. But as I write each sentence, I am reminded how this is all so explorational. I feel no where near prepared to make any sort of statement other than reiterating what I’ve read, and showing what I got out of it. I know this is an acceptable paper format – especially given the fact that it is a subject that I am only just starting to grasp (even though I spent the whole semester reading about it, discussing it and thinking about it).

So – sitting at the halfway mark, 10 more pages to go to try to string my ideas together in context of the readings I have done both in the class and on my own – I am paralyzed by the fact that I have no specific game or film to ground my ideas in. I can only think of indexicality, its reference to materiality, cinematic images, digital images, movement, spectatorship, figural meaning, and video games. I cannot fathom implicating the ideas I am currently struggling to articulate in any one filmic or gamic experience. I believe I can remain in a purely theoretical sphere, but I question whether or not it actually does my ideas a disservice (especially to an audience that exists outside of my head!).

Guess I should pour a glass of wine, reopen my word documents and keep on rambling. Sometimes being incoherent is better than nothing at all. As I always say, it is much easier to edit bad writing than to stare at a blank screen.

CFP: Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction

4th Global Conference
Visions of Humanity in Cyberculture, Cyberspace and Science Fiction

Monday 6th July – Wednesday 8th July 2009

Mansfield College, Oxford

Call for Papers

This inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary project aims to explore what it is to be human and the nature of human community in cyberculture, cyberspace and science fiction. In particular, the project will explore the possibilities offered by these contexts for creative thinking about persons and the challenges posed to the nature and future of national, international, and global communities.

Papers, short papers, and workshops are invited on issues related to any of the following themes:

* the relationship between cyberculture, cyberspace, science fiction

* cyberculture, cyberpunk and the near future: utopias vs. dystopias

* science fiction and cyberpunk as a medium for exploring the nature of persons

* humans and cyborgs; the synergy of humans and technology; changing views of the body

* human and post-human concepts in cyber arts and cinema

* bodies in cyberculture; from apes to androids – electronic evolution; biotechnical

advances and the impact of life, death, and social existence; the impact on individuality

* gender and cyberspace: new feminisms, new masculinities

* electronic persons, community and identity;

*cyberspace, cybercommunities, virtual worlds

* digital culture and interactive storytelling

* old messages, new medium: cyberspace and mass communication

* nature, enhancing nature, and artificial intelligence; artificial life, life and information systems, networked living

* human and post-human politics; cyborg citizenship and rights; influence of political technologies

* cyberpolitics, cyberdemocracy, cyberterror; old conflicts, new spaces: elections, protest and

war in cyberspace; nationality and nationalism in cyberculture; the state and cyberspace: repression vs. resistance

* cybercultures: the transnational and the local

* boundaries, frontiers and taboos in cyberculture

* religion and spirituality in cyberculture, science fiction and cyberpunk

* technology vs. the natural? Cyberculture and the green movement

Papers will be considered on any related theme.

300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 6th February 2009. If your paper is accepted for presentation at the conference, an 8 page draft paper should be submitted by Friday 5th June 2009.

300 word abstracts should be submitted to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats, following this order:

author(s), affiliation, email address, title of

abstract, body of abstract

We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

For further details about the project please visit:

http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ati/Visions/vhccsf.htm

For further details about the conference please visit:

http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ati/Visions/v4/cfp.html

Translating – Working through Martin Lefebvre’s ‘Psycho: de la figure au musée imaginaire’

I am working on a paper for my class on the figure in film and the primary text I chose to base my argument on happens to be in French – Martin Lefebvres “Psycho: de la figure au musée imaginaire”. I really enjoy the text, which essentially argues that the figural is not a property of the film, but rather a mental process that occurs within the spectator enabling them to ‘read’ the film (and ultimately make figural meaning out of it). It is more complicated than that – and to be fair, I am oversimplifying (and omitting) elements of Lefebvre’s argument (.. primarily the ‘imaginary museum’ part – which really is his core point – and I promise to get to that in another post). I really like this article, as it shifts meaning from artefact to spectator – and discusses the process in which this meaning occurs. Since my core work on (hybrid, digital) identity is all about the process, I am hoping to carry some of Lefebvre’s arguments into my own work.

But … translating … the text is in french. Which is all good since I can read and understand French, and Lefebvre writing style is clear, articulate with little jargon (or invented words). But I always find myself translating 80% of any French article simply for the purpose of using quotes in my work. This becomes problematic as sometimes words and concepts don’t quite translate. The French language is extensive in their use of adjectives, often which have no equivalent in English. I often find myself losing the emphasis of an idea through translation – and find myself interjecting lots of parenthesis with colloquial explanations to describe the emphasis found in the original text.

All that being said, I wonder about my ability to translate these texts – mainly since some of the work I have belabored through, I know have no (official) translations. Are my translations true to the real texts? And should I ever make them public (either on an amateur or professional level) since some of my colleagues who do not read French could benefit from even a layman’s translation. So the question is … how does one find themselves (professionally) translating a uni-lingual text? Who would one talk to if I were interested in doing it? Heck, is it even a project I would want to delve into?!

Happy Holidays

To get in the spirit while writing my final paper, I thought I would change the look and feel of this space – if only for a few weeks.
Happy holidays – enjoy your time with friends and family, read some good books and recharge for 2009. In the meantime, I will continue to post ramblings and hopefully a few insightful posts.