Now blogging at diego's weblog. See you over there!

taylor mali: totally like whatever

Sometime ago, channel surfing at some ungodly hour of night, I happened to catch one of HBO's Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry where I heard Taylor Mali, well, perform his poem Totally Like Whatever, which was just astonishingly good. I linked it but here it is:

Totally like whatever, you know?
By Taylor Mali

In case you hadn't noticed,
it has somehow become uncool
to sound like you know what you're talking about?
Or believe strongly in what you're saying?
Invisible question marks and parenthetical (you know?)'s
have been attaching themselves to the ends of our sentences?
Even when those sentences aren't, like, questions? You know?

Declarative sentences - so-called
because they used to, like, DECLARE things to be true
as opposed to other things which were, like, not -
have been infected by a totally hip
and tragically cool interrogative tone? You know?
Like, don't think I'm uncool just because I've noticed this;
this is just like the word on the street, you know?
It's like what I've heard?
I have nothing personally invested in my own opinions, okay?
I'm just inviting you to join me in my uncertainty?

What has happened to our conviction?
Where are the limbs out on which we once walked?
Have they been, like, chopped down
with the rest of the rain forest?
Or do we have, like, nothing to say?
Has society become so, like, totally . . .
I mean absolutely . . . You know?
That we've just gotten to the point where it's just, like . . .
whatever!

And so actually our disarticulation . . . ness
is just a clever sort of . . . thing
to disguise the fact that we've become
the most aggressively inarticulate generation
to come along since . . .
you know, a long, long time ago!

I entreat you, I implore you, I exhort you,
I challenge you: To speak with conviction.
To say what you believe in a manner that bespeaks
the determination with which you believe it.
Because contrary to the wisdom of the bumper sticker,
it is not enough these days to simply QUESTION AUTHORITY.
You have to speak with it, too.

Check out his site---Lots of good stuff over there.

Categories: writing
Posted by diego on February 22, 2006 at 9:59 AM

bloomsday's 100th

Rejoyce Dublin 2004: a website with information on the festivities surrounding the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday.

I have to go visit the Tower at Forty-Foot again soon. :)

"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead..."

Categories: writing
Posted by diego on April 26, 2004 at 7:52 PM

articles, depth and threading

I started writing this intertwined within the previous post about blogs & fiction, but I quickly realized that it deserved a little more than a paragraph lost within another entry (diego solemnly tells the idea: you have been upgraded from "paragraph" to "entry", and you're free to go! There is much rejoicing in the world of ideas. Tearful goodbyes are exchanged and so on.) I was saying...

The interview I did for that article was probably half an hour or more, and having written articles before (although technical) I knew very well what would have to happen in the end. I think that Jim McClellan (reporter) did a good job given his space constraints, and he cared and was knowledgeable about the topic.

Now what I was thinking about was that no topics with any degree of depth can be properly discussed in one or two pages no matter how good you are and how much care you put into your writing; there just isn't space enough to do things justice.

This made me wonder about more complex and consequential matters, which also get alloted similar amounts of space, and it reminds me that when I see an article on which I know the background, I can make a different judgment, but what about articles where there can be no background because it is evolving news? Until time passes, there is no other source of information on what's going on aside from 1,500 word articles and 5-minute news clips. Overtime you get books, documentaries, etc, and more and more we've got weblogs to cover part of the picture. But the reality is that, for the most part, we're still subject to the vision provided us by those brief news items. And that's not enough.

I have a habit, which is to keep track of threads within newspapers and across them. I don't do this formally (not that obsessive :)) but I do it. So what I was thinking was whether this idea of reading of "trails" of news on given topics is something that could be formalized in some way, and what would be the requirements. In true blog fashion, and since I have to get other things done, I will simply ask a bunch of questions, provide few if any answers, and then cart off riding my faithful donkey into the sunset, with my extra large sombrero, laptop in one hand, bottle of tequila--worm and all--in the other, under the fading desert sun.

A-aanyway.

Well, someone might say, newspapers themselves do this. Or News.com does it (With their "big picture" feature). Or RSS search aggregates some of this... Feedster's feedpapers come to mind... but that's not what I mean, although Feedpapers come close in some respects.

And that's not what I mean because both the current "news cycle" and search place importance on recency. And recency stresses what is shocking. (Because the more shocking something is, the bigger the chance of it being noticed when there's a sea of new information that comes in every day).

There are two problems here, one is that of following a thread across time, in a given medium (eg., newspapers) and even across different media, and focus only on it to be able to go beyond the soundbite-dependent world in which we live in.

The second problem is that, structurally, writing something that can exist both as a unit and as a part of a larger whole is, well, complicated. That's why "series" of articles are made explicit. Maybe now that media is merging in different ways and you can actually use digital to expose its underlying continuum, it will (should?) become more common practice to serialize works.

If both were done regularly, we could combine the technology with the writing style (yes, some of these ideas echo in what I've tried to do with plan b as far as creating a structure that can be coherent both through linear and hypertextual paths, and that is also "episodic"). I naturally gravitate towards thinking of the technology required, but this is as much a question of technology (which is largely there already) as it is of writing style and how we are used to receiving our information. And weblogs have a role to play there, I think...

...and off riding into the sunset I go. :)

Categories: writing
Posted by diego on April 8, 2004 at 2:25 PM

blogs & fiction

The guardian has an article today on blogs & fiction. I was interviewed for it, since plan b (mentioned in the article) was maybe the first attempt (certainly one of the first attempts) at this mix.

The interview was actually quite long, and it certainly went beyond the two sentences of my quote :-) but that's how it is. (I will have something to add about what the nature of articles does to any topic in a little bit). It was an interesting experience.

One thing: where I'm quoted "When you're writing, there is a kind of idealised reader in your mind [...]" I think this might give the impression that you actually control or are conscious about writing for someone, when, at least for me, there might be the faint image of this idealised reader somewhere, but it's not really present. Writing requires flow. Flow means that common rational processes don't necessarily apply. Most if not all the time you're writing for yourself (except that there might be a thin veil of disguise, but when you read later what you wrote, and enjoy it, you can't deny reality :)). Then again there's no denying that what's written will be read by others, and since you know that is the case, it becomes difficult to argue that isn't a factor at all. Editing doesn't require flow, and sometimes things are modified during the editing process for one reason or other... and then with plan b even though there isn't much editing, there is feedback, which as I said in the interview clearly has some effect simply because it exists.

Anyway, this is confusing enough to merit a revision at some later date. :) Or maybe it isn't confusing, and I just hesitate because I've lost writing flow after a few days of being not blogging...

Categories: writing
Posted by diego on April 8, 2004 at 12:18 PM

plan b, reloaded

On July 26, 2002, I started plan b, a blognovel. I started it without being really sure of where it would go. A few days later it was slashdotted.

I kept writing it for several months, but then other things took over. When my Radio subscription (it was hosted on Salon Blogs) expired last August I didn't renew it, thinking that I would just move it across to this site. Wishful thinking, of course. since the conversion implied fixing backlinks (that allowed you to navigate the story back from any point) which used a link format based on Radio and not MovableType. Since there were more than quite a few posts, doing this conversion would take time. So there it remained... until today, when I decided that I'd begin bringing it back online one post a day or so, which would be manageable for me and make sure that the structure was properly carried over from one site to the other.

So, here it is, first post included (I might play around with the dates until I've verified that the template structure I'm using works, but assuming any changes are necessary they will stabilize in a few days). And, of course, comments welcome!

Categories: writing
Posted by diego on March 20, 2004 at 5:00 PM

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