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Course notes, 9/7/10

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 Course record: 9/7/10

Opening question: what is real?  In an attempt to answer this question, we first explored the idea of collage as an art form, specifically looking at the collages of Tomaselli. A defined art as something that tries to create new by arranging a patchwork of the old. E added that art is ‘new’ not because the artist created something new, but because he assembled already established materials in a novel way. K claims that saying collage is an assemblage of recycling isn’t fair to the piece. D then emphasized the incompleteness of collage and asked what collage is, and, for that matter, what do we, as viewers, get from it? Y responded that collage allows us to directly engage with an image and that it is difficult to describe without describing it visually. E stated that the definition of collage is how you arrange it, and Sarah defined it as complementary images.

D then proposed the idea that all art is quotation, highlighting the collage-like nature of Davide Shields' Reality Hunger. She then asked how we view collage. A suggested that we have to break it into parts to initially understand it, and only then can we assemble it for ourselves as a whole. Rsaid, in relation to the text at hand, that the collage-like nature of Reality Hunger causes it to be quite redundant. M argued that its redundancy was constructed to make the text more relatable; because the audience is resistant to such a novel art form, the artist had to reiterate. 

D asked why images are reiterated in collage. S responded that images are repeated to draw attention to them. Y observed that Shields edited, but didn't cut in his text, and claimed that the organization of the reiterations in his text didn't help her understand what he was trying to get across. E then brought up the fact that Shields told his audience to remove the index from his work. Y argued that Shields told readers to remove the index because he was trying to create a cultural space and got caught up in his idea. She, personally, likes to know where his argument comes from, and feels that without footnotes, the text is impractical. Y continued saying that Shields takes text from others and that she, as a reader, needs to know that he's quoting. M pointed out than in passage 68, Shields claims that context doesn't matter. C then added that if the thoughts in Shields' novel come from different directions and sources, then his text loses something when you think all the passages come from the author himself. S added that she didn't know the work was full of quotes, and that she became frustrated when she couldn't find the bigger picture within the work. 

D then brought up the point that Shields claims that his work is a 'manifesto.' M defined 'manifesto' as 'a statement of position.' D asked what Shields' claim is. K responded that the greater image he constructs from the combination of smaller images is his point - he is saying new things from the collection of old. Ann asked where he stands on plagiarism, and K quipped that he isn't afraid of it. Y then added that isn't the point of plagiarism not who said what, but how he said it? D observed that in light of that definition, Shields is asking his readers not to prize authorial style. K responded that perhaps Shields is asking for the same allowance of not using citation in nonfiction as is allowed in fiction (think: James Joyce, T.S. Eliot). 

Continuing on the topic of plagiarism, D asked what happens to the 'real' in light of plagiarism. S responded that a deeper learning is thought to happen in the absence of plagiarism, that when one doesn't plagiarize, he understands a text and interprets it more fully. A noted that all stories originate from one story, but that originality occurs when an author not only takes something from a collective table, but also brings something to that table as well. D asked why it matters who said what. R responded that she cared that in Shields' book, 'real' quotations are mixed in with his 'random' ideas. D suggested that Shields' wants readers to look at the reality of what's being said, not who said it. Y asked how one would organize information without attributing it to anyone. C asked what the point is of coming up with new ideas if there is no recognition or reward for doing so. A followed, asking what the incentive is to create art if one gets no royalties or attention for doing so. K retorted that we take words and put them in new orders; we can only get something new by relating it to something known. Y then brought up that Shields claims that artists have to come up with new ways to specialize. 

D brought to the class' attention passage 74 in Shields' book, which asserts that reality cannot be copyrighted. She then highlighted a quote by S from the class forum, which said that when there is a disparity between what one does and says, that person it not 'real.' D noted that if this is true, then there has to be some correspondence between the inside and outside of a person. M stated that a lack of correspondence between two people as well as a lack of correspondence between the inner and outer selves of a person may also lead to 'unrealness.' K added that reiterating others' idea can come off as fake. 

D asked if Reality Hunger is real and authentic - or is it not, because it doesn't fit the definition of what a book should do? R responded that it is authentic because despite the unusual manner in which Shields stated his argument, he stated his position and feeling, as other books do. K noted that this book is different form a book of quotes because it's not as disjointed; it flowed better and read more like a book. D observed that Shields is inviting us to a freer relationship to what words might tell us. 

At the close of the class, we read passages from some reviews of Shields' book. D stated that Shields' claim is that we are hungry for reality and if we read 'novelly' novels, we are engaging in a kind of nostalgia that tells us that the real world is coherent, when in actuality, it is not. 




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