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Notes Towards Day 22: Genre Bondage--or Dissolution?

Anne Dalke's picture


(graphical representation of a part of a
movie containing a "dissolve," a kind of "soft cut")

come closer...we're watching some
20-30 minutes of video today, and
sound may be a problem...

"All great works of literature either dissolve a genre or invent one." Walter Benjamin (via David Shields, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, 2010--and our new epigraph)

I. coursekeeping
skindeep's notetaking
(aseidman: delighted to accept your
offer for sound recording on Thursday)

...when you all should begin your reading
of A Thousand and One Nights
choose three stories to read
for each of our class sessions

(via the Electronic Literature Foundation
or the on-line Harvard Classics version,
or a print version.... part of the point here,
as in our discussion of the Alice books and
movies, will be the variety of our sources....)

PLEASE POST ON-LINE before class
what stories you read/in which edition
(what editor, what era?);
I'm actually planning a lecture on the
(very! complex!) history of the collection

this also puts us a week away from House:
we need some more episodes!

invitation from jen rajchel (a response, in part, to my
pointing out how text-based/non-visual her blog is...):
Calling all BMC Bloggers!

also heads up re my new fall course, a follow-up to this one:
Facing the Facts: Non-Fictional Prose (TTh 2:30-4)

II. your cheerful on-line responses to
Persepolis the Movie:
rachelr, TPB1988, spleenfiend, ShaynaS, sgb90, Molly, aybala50
(w/ comments from Herbie, skindeep), skindeep, teal, mkarol--
effect of the sound track, French language, movement (no borders!),
use of color ... questions about accuracy (vs. the creation of newness?
vs. "mauling"?) in adaptations?

What not-yet-posted experiences did others--
aseidman, nk0825, jrf, jrlewis, xhan, sweetp, rmeyers--
have in watching the film? How did they differ from
your experiences with the "autographic"?

No one spoke of the social difference between holding a book
while sitting or reclining alone, vs....what bodily/communal position?
What difference does changing the site and mode of RECEPTION make?

III. thanks to mkarol, Form or Content?
Does a story itself change when it is transferred to another medium? If a text starts out as a novel, then is made into a movie, does the addition of audio and visuals make the tale something entirely different?

To answer that question, she referenced

Waking Life, a digitally enhanced 2001 American live-action
rotoscoped film: live-action footage was shot, then overlaid,
in each frame, by computer-drawn stylized lines and colors.
The effect is surreal and dreamlike.

The title is a reference to George Santayana's maxim:
"Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled."

The film is about a young man in a persistent lucid dream-like state, who initially observes and later participates in philosophical discussions of  the meaning of life (etc!).

Varied responses:
"a work of cinematic art in which form and structure pursues the logic-defying (parallel) subjects of dreaming and moviegoing...."

"doesn't leave you in a dream ... so much as it traps you in an endless bull session."

In continued honor/exploration of analytical work (like Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics) that takes the form of the work it is analyzing
(and as an invitation to those of you who want to think more about
dream genres, film, or new modes of academic work...)

Holy Moment in Waking Life

Did you experience any such "holy moments" in Persepolis?
"framed and held, moment by moment by moment"?

(cf. Bharath
Vallabha in the James class:
what does radical acceptance look like?)

IV. thanks to rmeyers, jrlewis, sbg90, sweetp,
who last week placed Persepolis in the tradition
of the wildly flexible exploratory, discovery mode of
avant garde black-and-white expressionist film--
(structurally more unified; yet also more horrifying....)

I realized that one particularly interesting
ancestor for Persepolis might be Metropolis,
classic science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang in 1927
(in Germany during a stable period between the wars);
a futuristic urban dystopia exploring a
social crisis between workers and owners
(also a gesture toward that
"missing genre," science fiction!)

Persepolis: capital of the
Persian Empire, 550-330 BCE

Metropolis: title of the
1927 Fritz Lang film

The Moloch
Transformation scene
Rotwang's party

Cf. Persepolis: interview with Sartrapi

Persepolis 2.0!
With Satrapi’s permission, an updated version has been created, combining her illustrations with new text about Iran’s 2009 presidential election .... The authors ... two Iranian-born artists who live in Shanghai ... used the original drawings by Satrapi, and only changed the text. They have, however, inserted one new drawing, by letting Marji tell her parents to stop reading the newspaper but instead turn their attention to the internet and Twitter.

V. None of this conversation has attended to the autobiographical nature of the work (or to our relation, as readers and viewers, to the genre of autobio-graphy); for an exploration of these questions, see Nancy K. Miller, "The Entangled Self: Genre Bondage in the Age of the Memoir." PMLA 122, 2 (2008): 537-548.

"Memoirs from sites of danger provide a safe space for readers to ponder the nightmare of contemporary global relations, even as the pages display the extreme difficulty of living in times of traumatic history. The story of the other citizen, preferably female--the exotic, foreign self in translation (like us after all)--is also a valuable template in the marketplace of contemporary autobiographical production and consumption."

The tangled relation of self to family stories and settings .... is further layered by ... literary texts ....

the female autobiographical self ... goes public with private feelings through a significant relation to an other .... the other provides the authorizing conditions for self production .... "Isolate individualism is an illusion" .... Autobiography's story is about the web of entanglement in which we find ourselves .....

The reader ... is the autobiographer's most necessary other .... You conjure the reader to prove that you are alive ....

VI. Bringing this home?

Cf. Lewin's article: consider the analogies/where they break down, between a woman's college and the sex-segregation practices common in the Middle East?

From an alum living in Syria, whose sister decided not to come to Bryn Mawr: "I did not want to go to an all-women's college. I just don't like the idea of separating people and living in an exclusively unisex atmosphere. I don't see the reason for it. It's like when you go to a Ramadan feast and all the women are on one side of the room and all the men on the other --- why can't they interact? Why can't they even pray side by side?"

skindeep's notetaking