rebellion

Man, I’ve got I’ve got to change my mindset about this blog, and make it less of a formal exercise. At the rate I’m going now it’s going to calcify into an abandoned monument of good intentions, or something just as useless.

So throwing out something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately: over the last month or so I’ve taken an unintentional sabbatical from writing film reviews (which is the nice way of putting it), and I’m having a hard time pulling myself out of it. But forcing myself to get that part of my brain going again, I’ve been finding a phrase constantly running through my head: “what’s my angle?”

And then this morning, on my way to work, another thought popped into my barely-functioning-on-caffeine brain: “is an angle really a good thing?” (Gotta love those early morning flashes of doubt.)

An angle, a theoretic framework was something that was burned into my head the last year of my undergraduate studies, the first time I was really submerged into literary theory. I really enjoyed theory (in a rather masochistic way, admittedly) and I really came to like the mental ride it could take you on. Writing papers with it could be quite fun, even amusing, as you could take A add it to B, and come out with C (and this whether you wanted to or not). The results were more or less preordained which was comforting, but it also gave enough room to breath some life and personality into whatever it was that was being written.

But I also liked that I was never forced to pin myself to any single theory (something which rather frightens me about graduate school), but was free to dabble in whatever it I was that struck my fancy, and I ended up writing papers using Reader-Response, Feminist, Queer Theory, whatever. But then there’s that tiny voice of contradiction which tells me by not aligning myself I’m doomed to just dabble in surfaces. And lack of depth is something that really frightens me (queue my oft-repeated Henry James quote).

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. I’m not sure where this was meant to go, and as such I’m rebelling against my instincts, which tell me that this has to end in an epiphany or an attempt at a crescendo. I guess that’s a step forward.

I’ve been having moments of intensely missing London lately. I can’t believe it’s coming up to a year now.

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7 thoughts on “rebellion

  1. I feel your pain. I also constantly struggle between always having an “angle” or consistent approach broadly applied to everything I see and write about and wanting to approach everything instinctively despite the inconsistencies that may come of it. I haven’t found either way to be as effective as I’d like, coming away w/the “preordained” or the surface-dabbling. I think the theoretical approach is a necessity for depth, so I’m inclined to think that weaving your personal interests and passions into an existent framework is probably the best way to go about bridging that gap. Blogs, forums & web sites are great for giving your instincts some free time and your brain a rest from pondering over the theoretical. So really, don’t take your blog too seriously or make it out to be a chore when it should be a place for getting your thoughts out of your head or at worst, a fun exercise. I’m only thinking out loud, so when I say you, I really mean me. I find that, at least for discussing films I’ve recently seen, I get more out of writing first without an angle or sometimes not even knowing where I’ll end up. When I think more about the film rather than obsessing over what I’m going to write about, thoughts come out more naturally and, eventually, I find myself better able to make sense of what I think about it. Of course, with papers that’s simply not possible but, as you said, the A + B = C approach has its charms as well. Sorry for rambling on – hopefully I made a little sense there.

  2. “calcify into an abandoned monument of good intentions” – This is what usually happens to most of my thought-logging endeavors. I’ve tried movie-only blogs and diary-like journaling, but I can’t seem to do anything consistently on my own accord. The only thing that is decently up-to-date is my personal movie notebook (a little journal with the movie I saw, where I saw it, and a couple of thoughts). I also noticed that since I stopped writing reviews for a local newspaper’s high school program that I absolutely cannot bring myself to write a full-fleshed review. I used to be able to put my opinions and impressions into some fairly well crafted sentences in a short amount of time, yet now I struggle to churn out a paragraph. But I’ll try to keep trying! By the way, I love it when you make entries like this. You’ve got an honest and intelligent way of observing things. Also, I think I owe you a long overdue run through of my thoughts on college so far.

  3. But, wouldn’t subscription be incarceration? And, besides, theory is just cartography. It’s better to be lost in countries than consigned to maps, imo.
    *burns maps*
    *flaunts carbon footprint* ;)

  4. Thanks for dropping by, Derek, it’s been a while. Hope life is treating you well.
    And it’s good to hear from someone currently immersed in acadamia and their take on the matter. I completely agree (and forgot to mention in my original post) that I also find theory–no matter how overtly presented or expressed–more or less essential to really digging deep into any kind of art. The purpose of this journal is to give myself a means to try things out, which is something I constantly fail to take advantage of. Because I’ve realized for me message boards are not really ideal for me–the stress on the immediate is something that doesn’t work too well with me rather ponderous, quite slow way my mind works, and as a result I’ve been finding myself stepping away from them. But this also gets to one of the things I like most about theory–the shortcut it provides helps speed up my thought process. And I need all the help I can get! :)
    Anyway, you’re a good person to ask, being a film studies scholar and all: I’m finally going to start taking the plunge into film theory, and I’m kind of at a loss. I’ve recently picked up books by Bazin and Deleuze, but any other recommendations?

    Take care,

    -jesse

  5. I’d love to hear any thoughts on your first year, Kathleen, so send ’em over whenever you’re inspired. It’s funny that it’s your movie journal that you’ve latched onto–do you think it’s because it’s just minimal information (easy to do)? Or habit? I’m constantly amazed at how much writing (or at least writing I’m happy with) is tied to indulging in it on a fairly frequent basis–and then how quickly it is to loose it.

    Peronally, I don’t consider it a great loss if you’re having problems writing “full review”–I keep finding that I keep emphasizing succinct, capsule-like reviews, which is what I almost exclusively write in now (though every once in a while a film inspires me to take on a longer analysis–I’m currently working on three). Go for short and sweet, I say–if anything, I’m more likely to read it. :D

    And it’s good to know that if I start writing more of these amorphous “me” blogs at least one person will still read them!

    -jesse

  6. Ay, Rebecca, you have a way of always making me doubt myself (or at least make me feel like a total square)!

    I guess I’m just not one for being lost. Or a pyro, like you. ;)

    -jesse

  7. I’ve been ruminating over this journal entry for days. It struck me how much we are alike in this regard; I also fear that I lack an “approach”. While it can be freeing as you say, I feel like I won’t ever come to a stance unless I have every prominent scholar under my belt. That I will merely “dabble in surfaces”, as you say. That’s impossible of course, but I still feel scared to put myself out there at times. I guess it’s a process, and we can’t feel obligated to come to a position of finality.

    We’re in the same place, regarding the blog. I have so many things I want to say, but I feel too scared to post them at times for fear of sounding ignorant or less-informed than I really am. I guess I’m scared that after going to school for four years, I should have something to show for it.

    I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I want to say that I always find comfort and weight in your writing. Keep posting no matter what, and I’ll try to do the same. ;)

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