Dear Vicki! This is where I will nest the story of my experience in The Art of Words—to quote your syllabus, all of my "in-process work, musings and reflections on the readings, in-class writing assignments, class activities, related work from studio and other courses, and any other relevant experiences." I'm a little hesitant to start a digital journal because I already have a few different notebooks going and my ideas are scattered about them all... but I think for the sake of organizational sanity and expediency I'm giving this blog-style set up a go! Please let me know if this is a mess to follow :-)

A page from Robert Rauschenberg’s notebook that just ~*resonates*~

August 27

^ This video was part of a weekly email newsletter I receive from the brilliant Austin Kleon (are you familiar with his work? He wrote Steal Like an Artist). Here, the speaker, Clive Thompson, suggests that the typing versus handwriting debate isn't so much about which is the more superior, but which method is better suited for certain tasks. Handwriting is good for note-taking and big picture thinking, and typing is great for producing knowledge for other people—like writing an article. Thompson cites the concept of transcription fluency, which says that "when your fingers can't move as fast as your thoughts, your thoughts suffer." So, Thompson says, if you help people increase their WPM (words per minute) speed, their thoughts improve. "Learn to type faster..." he wraps up his speech with, "and always carry a pencil." Kleon adds a valuable point, though: when writing fiction, a writer's goal is not to think faster than the pen. He cites numerous novelists who write in longhand, and Lynda Barry, who writes the first draft of her novels with a paintbrush!

weekly articulations of the readings—process work :)


In reading this week’s texts I was especially moved by the concept of “blanks” from Turchi’s “Maps of the Imagination” and the notion of art as pure spirit conveyed in “Percept, Affect, and Concept.” Using the map as a metaphor, Tuchi shows how both cartographers and writers confront blank space and the blank page. Blanks, Turchi (2004) explains, “can represent many things, among them the deliberately withheld…” as well as “what is known, but deemed unimportant in a particular context” (p. 32–33). And still, what is omitted can often be equally—if not more—revealing than the information included. Writers, who are both the “putter-inners” and “leaver-outers” of content, know that the stories, novels and poems they pen are inevitably met with some absence (Tuchi, 2004, p. 41). Indeed, “’No map can show everything,’” for if it could, “’it would no more than reproduce the world, which without the map, we already have’” (Tuchi, 2004, p. 40).

Tangentially, I found Denis Wood’s statement that “No map can show everything…” curiously conflicting in the age of GPS, Google Maps and Google Earth. Because Google Earth is a virtual reproduction of the world using satellite and aerial imagery, it is literally a facsimile of the earth (Tuchi, 2004, p. 40). And yet, it could be reasoned that there still exists blanks. Perhaps these blanks include people—emotional qualities, internal thoughts, the intangible aspects of humanity.

Such omissions go unnoticed by the reader if the writer is successful in her convincing that the world she has written is complete, in spite of its incompleteness. The same holds true for art, I imagine. The sameness between the two would be a physical blank—either the negative spacial dimension of a canvas or a page.

In “Percept, Affect, and Concept” art is described as embodying pure spirit: “The work of art is a being of sensation and nothing else: it exists in itself” (Deleuze et al, 1991, p. 465). And yet, the same bloc of sensations that come to be the artwork also exists in the artist, for the artist is present in any of the material used in creating. It is the artist’s ambition “to wrest the percept from perceptions of objects and the states of a perceiving subject, to wrest the affect from affections as the transition from one state to another: to extract a bloc of sensations, a pure being of sensations” (Deleuze et al, 1991, p. 467). A direct analogy to the writer as putter-inner and leaver-outer! To extract from reality and imagination that which she is compelled to author, in word and syntax, gives the writer the same mission as the artist, and imbues that which is penned with similar sensation.


Deleuze et al. (1991). Percept, Affect, and Concept In What is Philosophy? (pp. 465–467). Columbia University Press.

Turchi, P. (2004). Metaphor: Or, The Map In Maps of the Imagination (pp. 32–41). Trinity University Press.

Lynda Barry's Syllabus

August 30

This spoke to me. Lynda Barry could very well have penned the inner monologue that plays in my head in the two pages above, for I can't imagine a more succinct way to describe how I feel. About grad school, thesis, interpersonal relationships and ofttimes my very existence. Am I doing the right thing? Does what I'm doing matter? What value does it add to the world? Will it help others? WHAT AM I EVEN DOING? These challenges to productivity and progress play on repeat inside my head. It is so true, what Lynda says: "Worrying about its worth and value to others BEFORE it exists can keep us immobilized forever." I am also reminded here of the notion of blanks from Maps of the Imagination, and I believe that too is an immobilizing factor for me. The agency of being a putter-inner and leaver-outer overwhelms me! I have a constant urge to include everything, for fear that any omission equals a loss. I also get hung up on trying to be funny or profound, and for everything I write, design and/or illustrate be hilarious and clever and meaningful. But knowing that this paralysis to start is familiar to other writers' and artists' experience is assuring. If I am going to get anywhere and make something of meaning as much as I so wholly aspire to, then I must try to make Barry's words a mantra: "Any story we write or picture we make cannot demonstrate its worth until we write it or draw it. The answer can't come to us any other way."


August 31—Prelude to a Journal explanation

The package is a metaphor. I think I make a nice impression of holding everything together, and can maintain composure in public. But when the dainty bow is undone, the paper unfurled, and the contents made visible, there it is: chaos. A (colorful!) mess of ~some~ of my most favorite "texts"—books, authors, poets, illustrators/illustrations, songwriters, feelings, and qualities. Written on the parchment paper are the texts that are intangible, ethereal and sometimes fleeting. I again wrestled with the "blanks," so know that these texts are by no means comprehensive in scope. But still, this exercise has been so enjoyed and was a welcomed recommencement of creative mark-making—something I've not felt like doing in a lonnnnggg time. So THANK YOU :-)

September 3 — Reading articulation

In this week's readings I found a common thread to be defamiliarization. Perhaps this observation was made more manifest because of the order in which I read the texts... I began with Chapter 3 of Rossenwasser and Stephen, which introduced defamiliarization as a tool to "finding ways to see things that the veneer of familiarity would otherwise render invisible" (p. 31) and then observed the first parallelism to defamiliarization in Colbrook (2002), in a passage describing the purpose of philosophy according to Deleuze: "By thinking differently we create ourselves anew, no longer accepting already created and accepted values and assumptions. We destroy common sense and who we are in order to become" (p. xvii). For Deleuze, exercising an awareness that the things that seem natural to us are only societal constructs was essential to continuing on the trajectory to our becoming-selves. Defamiliarization is beckoned again when Massumi (1987) primes the reader for the curious philosophic thought processes of Delueze and Guattari: "What do you do with a book that dedicates an entire chapter to music and animal behavior—and then claims it isn't a chapter? That presents itself as a network of 'plateaus' that are precisely dated, but can be read in any order?..." (p. ix). The answer is defamiliarization. The Russian Formalist Viktor Shklovsky is credited with describing the concept of defamiliarization, and both he and Deleuze "point to a process of hampering automatic identification, of sabotaging function-oriented, abstracting perception. Both are interested in the singularity of the thing itself versus the metaphor, the symbol, or the cliché" (Amir, 2010, p. 137). Such a process posses a mental challenge. But the goal, as Massumi (1992) iterates, is not to prove the validity of such percepts, but to ponder: "Does it work? What new thoughts does it make possible to think? What new emotions does it make possible to feel?" (p. 8).


Amir, A. (2010). The Visual Poetics of Raymond Carver. Plymouth, United Kingdom: Lexington Books.

Collbrook, C. (2002). Understanding Deleuze (pp. v–xxx).

Deleuze et al. (1987). A Thousand Plateaus (pp. ix–25).

Massumi, B. (1992). Pleasures of Philosophy (pp. 1–9) from "A User's Guide to Capitalism & Schizophrenia."

September 4

In class you so eloquently said: "Writing allows you to become an audience to your own work." Like a pulse—the blood pumping through our veins, our thoughts are constantly circulating. Yet sometimes we don't become aware of them until we attune ourselves to their presence, wrest them from our inner ether and transplant them to the external world. I love your articulate distillation of the writing process and the theatrical analogy of the writer as audience member and the written word the cast.

September 5

Austin Kleon's newsletter comes through again! This time with an article: "How to Keep a Zibaldone, the 14th Century's Answer to Tumblr." Italian for "a heap of things," and also called "commonplace books" and "hodgepodges," the zibaldone is "A strange melange of diary, ledger, doodle pad, and scrapbook... [that] served as a pattern for interior life from the 14th century onward, bringing comfort and inspiration to everyone from Thomas Jefferson to Lewis Carroll." (Giaimo, 2016). The blogging, tweeting, and sharing capabilities of modern recording platforms mimic the zibaldone, as it "helped citizens of a rapidly changing world to make sense of what they were reading, seeing, and becoming" (Giaimo, 2016). And actually, as the article brings up, "some media scholars argue that commonplace books and zibaldones were precursors to the Internet, which is similarly scrappy and mixed-up, rich in influences and perfectly willing to zig-zag between genres" (Giaimo, 2016). Today's zibaldones are probably a mix of digital and physical— from Tumblr pages and Pinterest boards to sticky notes and collections of concert stubs, receipts and handwritten blurbs. "'Having physical mementos of experiences is not a new thing,'" says Deb Chacra, an assistant professor of materials science at Olin College, "but in a world of cell phone photos and saved web histories, it's easy to forget that if we want to remember the offline parts of our lives, we'll have to do some of the legwork" (Giaimo, 2016). The article wraps up with how-to steps for starting a physical zibaldone (just need a blank notebook, a pen, maybe glue or tape, and an open mind) and adds that they can be purely thematic ("impiety" and "strange cults" are the two suggestions—ha!) or of a rhizomatic amalgamation. All the while reading this article I wondered what differentiates a zibaldone from any old journal... aren't most people's journals/sketchbooks also hodgepodges of mementos and observations, just like a zibaldone? Perhaps there is no difference at all. I think maybe "zibaldone" is just another term to add to the lexicon of personal documentation platforms. But still, it's a little surprising to have just discovered such a long-standing practice at this point in my research of mark-making and journaling. Or maybe not at all! Maybe it shows just how much there is yet to learn about this reflective practice, its history and process :-)

Giaimo, C. (2016, August 29). How to Keep a Zibaldone, the 14th Century's Answer to Tumblr. Retrieved from

A page from the Zibaldone da Venice, a 14th-century hodgepodge
Samcat helps with reading :-D

September 8

Draw X 3 (the Deleuzean concept of desire)

In class on Wednesday something in the conversation piqued my curiosity. Rossenwasser and Stephen's chapter on writing analytically was the topic of discussion and when their "paraphrase x 3" tool came up I suddenly thought of an article I read a week ago (which, of course, I can't place now!) about how re-reading material or notes is essentially useless because the first time you read something is when you gain the most knowledge, and any subsequent readings do not contribute to lasting memory of the content. Soooo, if re-reading material is fruitless for mastery maybe paraphrase x 3 is the tool readers/we all should be using to defamiliarize content, analyze it, understand it, and give it personal meaning (all of which contribute to its lasting memory). AND then! You brought up ~drawing~... How could repeated pictorial synthesis (like paraphrase x 3, but with pictures instead of/in combination with words) add to meaning-making? This idea ExCiTeS me. I sheepishly hopefully wonder if I could run with it for thesis??


edge ~ fringe ~ margin ~ border

"Find meaning at the edge of knowing" you said towards the end of class on Wednesday. The moment I heard it I thought of the quote by Alan Alda: "The best things said come last. People will talk for hours saying nothing much and then linger at the door with words that come with a rush from the heart." When I found Alda's quote on Instagram back in March I screengrabbed it (something I now do almost compulsively whenever an image/quote/witty retort/cute meme resonates), and the truth of his words has been rolling around my mind ever since—like a hard candy being gingerly jostled around your mouth, savored from different angles. Mostly I resonate with this quote because of personal experience. Being shy, quiet and introverted, every time I interact with another person—be it my mom or a friend or a brand new acquaintance—there is always a warming-up period, a testing of the conversational water. Like Alda perhaps insinuates in his observation, a certain urgency (departure) is necessary for a meaningful exchange... Which leads me to consider an article I read (which, *urghhh*, I cannot place now) that encourages embracing the mentality of saying goodbye to a loved one at an airport in all social interactions. Applying that emotional intensity and openness to share our true feelings that often accompanies farewells, prompted by a dire sense of finality, makes for more genuine connections.

September 11—Reading articulation

This week's reading selections were particularly evocative and intriguing. Serge Tisserson's "All Writing is Drawing" and his interpretation of mark making in the context of separation from the "primitive mother" was profound and got me thinking about my own creative process and impulses. Separation anxiety has forever been embedded in my personality. It is such a defining characteristic (though one I try every day to mask and overcome) that it was the topic of my college admittance essay.

I found it fascinating to consider Tisserson's (1994) assertion that a child's first markings (around the age of 24 months) coincide with walking and language development, and that such skills "have something in common: they demonstrate an active control over separation anxiety and open the way to the child's independence" (p. 33). Tisserson (1994) continues by saying that the child develops a "deep and original relationship with the page," that the drawing can be interpreted as "an ideal mother," and that, because the mother is internalized within the child, he is able to trust the page that contains the marks (p. 35). I remember as a child, perhaps at 4 or 5 years old, drawing characters, talking to them, ventriloquizing their little conversations and thoughts. I’ve never considered that such an activity could represent, as Tisseron (1994) describes, “the visual and mental exploration of the space which simultaneously separates and binds the mother to the child” (p. 35). In hindsight—and through a Tisseron-ean lens—I can interpret my early drawing processes as an outwards exploration of independence through graphic creation as well as an unconscious externalization of separation angst. When I consider my creative impulses now through such a theory I wonder if/how they have transformed. Whereas up until college my separation anxiety was dominated by my tremendous attachment to my mother, I realize now that I have transferred that attachment to one friendship. I believe now instead of engaging in mark-making activities (drawing/card-making) as a mode of overcoming separation anxiety (as I did as a child), I perhaps absorb myself in them as a way to cling to the one to whom I am attached—a personal, hybrid embodiment of Tisserson’s (1994) concept of “blinding impulse” (p. 31). I now turn to creative, hand-making activities partly as a catharsis and partly as an attempt to solidify that interpersonal connection.


Tisserson, S. (1994). All Writing is Drawing: The Spatial Development of the Manuscript.


"We live in a first draft culture." In a talk last year about the notebooks and journals that inspired the writing of his The Steal Like An Artist Journal, Austin Kleon observes how in our hyper-connected world people flock to social media platforms to spew the very first ideas they have. "I think a lot of people tell social media things they should be telling their journal... a journal is a good place to have bad ideas." Likewise, the internet, email, text messaging, and social media have made oversharing a cinch. Although I have always worn pursed lips when it comes to disclosing on the interwebs, I can sometimes hit 'send' for a text with a liiiitle too much haste. Though I can fantasize about the inception of some sort of alert that pops up right before the message is about to go off into the world, into the hands and eyes and interpretations of another human, what I realistically must consistently adopt is some self-control and restraint!


Reading page 14 of Germeradd's "Rationality, Intuition and Emotion: Exploring an Artistic Process" I was reminded of what you brought up in class on Wednesday: how capitalism crushes the joy of making for making's-sake and how our society instills in us this notion sinful idleness (if you are not making something of commercial value you are wasting your time). Germeradd describes how when the pressure to create is too great, achieving a flow state is rendered next to impossible, and in turn, the quality of your work falls victim. "Working in a shared studio space on a commission, I struggled for four weeks with a piece that never became really good. The next piece - no commission - I did in three hours and it was more interesting to look at" (Germeradd, 2012, p. 14). It is the element of meaning-making in its own right that unshackles the artist to create emotionally-rich work and have an embodied experience. Such an example validates the decisions of many a creative individual I know of to have left their career as a professional (often corporate) designer to pursue one of mostly self-inspired (versus profit-driven) creative expression.

SEPTEMBER 17—Reading Articulation

I awoke in the middle of the night thinking about the parallels between artist Germeradd and photographer John Crispin. Both seek to humanize, dignify and create an emotional connection with the subjects behind their work (victims of Holocaust, in Germeradd's case, or the late residents of the Willard Asylum in Crispin's). But while Germeradd titles his sculptures with intimate details of his subjects (their full names and ominous final days), Crispin is compelled to obscure the names of the suitcase owners due to HIPPA privacy laws—“I’m still trying to figure out how I can name these people, because I think it dehumanizes them even more note to” (Crispin, 2012). Still, both Germeradd and Crispin through their work are “trying to raise [their subjects] from their category by making their portrait in a personal and sensitive way” (Germeradd, 2012, p. 2). For Germeradd, it is the elevation of his sculpture subjects from victims of racial profiling; for Crispin it is the stigma of mental illness. Both Germeradd and Crispin strive for natural, credible documentation—though they both only have limited information on which portray their subjects (for Germeradd, it is one photograph; for Crispin, it is a few different objects, personal belongings).

Tangentially, as I was reading the "Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients" article, I often imagined that, in an earlier time, Germeradd could very well have been admitted to Willard for his episodes of psychosis …Which led me to imagine what items would have been in his suitcase. Germeradd mentions that he keeps a collection of books that serve to guide him in his work, and that writing serves as both an activity in procrastination and a part of his work as well—so perhaps a book from his assortment (such as Serge Klarsfeld’s French Children of the Holocaust), a journal, charcoal (for drawings), and an admission ticket stub from the Kudo art show would be found in his packed belongings.


Germeradd, G. (2012). Rationality, intuition and emotion: Exploring an artistic process.

Stanford, H. (2012). Abandoned suitcases reveal private lives of insane asylum patients.


I hope to meet Austin Kleon one day so I can give him a ( H U G E ) hug and thank him for all the remarkable content he's shared with the world—things like this: one of Rebecca Solnit's ten tips on being a good writer, which I admire and respect. I think it speaks to what I always strive to do as a student/researcher/writer—to realize that (in Kleon's words) "nothing comes from nowhere, and how the way to be truly great is to study what came before you.”

"Read good writing, and don’t live in the present. Live in the deep past, with the language of the Koran or the Mabinogion or Mother Goose or Dickens or Dickinson or Baldwin or whatever speaks to you deeply. Literature is not high school and it’s not actually necessary to know what everyone around you is wearing, in terms of style, and being influenced by people who are being published in this very moment is going to make you look just like them, which is probably not a good long-term goal for being yourself or making a meaningful contribution. At any point in history there is a great tide of writers of similar tone, they wash in, they wash out, the strange starfish stay behind, and the conches. Check out the bestseller list for April 1935 or August 1978 if you don’t believe me. Originality is partly a matter of having your own influences: read evolutionary biology textbooks or the Old Testament, find your metaphors where no one’s looking, don’t belong." – Rebecca Solnit

SEPTEMBER 21—Composition Workshop 1 Reflection

Partner: Seth! He commented that he could definitely feel a sense of manic-ness in my writing (Portrait of a Writer). One point that he made was that as he was reading he was curious about the order of the words… he wondered if the word groupings were intended to progress linearly. I agreed—in writing this I was recording a progressive narrative of internal emotions. Seth also commented that he was especially struck by the phrase “60 words”—to him it represented a confirmation of success and thought that it was a significant part of the piece. He suggested omitting the final paragraph, that it was “fluff” and unnecessary quantity. I agree that it isn’t as striking as the rest, but excluding it would leave me about 220 words short of the word count listed in the (Im)possible Portfolio requirements. But Seth reminded me that part of the purpose of this class is to challenge conformity and exercise creative license—quality not quantity! He also observed that perhaps part of my paralysis to jump into writing this piece stems from a compulsion to abide by the rules. To which I drew a parallel to his experiences of paralysis when met with confrontation from MFA faculty to challenge his 2-D artistic norms of what defines art. My Portrait of a Writer is absolutely an exercise in defamiliarization in writing style. But despite my initial agitation over it, and through the positive feedback from Seth, I’m finding that embracing it is emboldening.


In compiling my literature on hand drawing and design, I came across the notion of sketchbook as a landscape in "Reflections on the importance of drawing by hand in an increasingly digital age" by Stephen Alcorn (2015):

"A sketchbook entry by Leonardo da Vinci is like a landscape with a history all its own, replete with peaks and valleys, and battle scars. Upon close inspection, one can detect a confluence of tentatively drawn underlying marks, followed by a series of more committed marks; these in turn are followed by a series of reworkings, scrapings, and burnishings that reveal the pulse of life. Such hand-made drawings are a passage of time, a record of the trajectory by the artist's train of thoughts, one that takes the viewer from one point to another in a tangible, though mysterious, way—the exact opposite of what one can hope to experience when viewing a digitally generated image that offers no such topography, so sanitized and hidden from view are the intermediate stages of its evolution" (p. 26).

I am intrigued by the idea of a hand drawing having topography, and was reminded of the sketch/drawing/artwork as landscape metaphor in reading the piece on Hanne Darboven, how her works "work like a mountain; the top can't be seen from the bottom, the base disappears from the summit, the whole escapes the climber as the pilot misses the point" (Place, 2011). Just as each one of Darboven's intallation pieces builds upon itself, so too do hand drawn sketches.


Alcorn, S. (2015). Drawing the Line: Reflections on the importance of drawing by hand in an increasingly digital age. VOICES: The Journal of New York Folklore, 41(1–2), 16–27.

Place, V. (2011). Hanne Darboven. X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, 14. Retrieved from:


~WoW~ ...Another gem from Austin Kleon. His newsletters are resplendence in your inbox! This time it's Grangerizing: "the 19th century DIY craze," a.k.a. the lost art of custom-illustrating your favorite books. Had I been alive in the late 1800s, you can *BET* I would have been doing this!

William Shakespeare, Works. London, 1853-65. Illustrated by C. Arthur Le Boutillier. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.


*In response to the "Writing Negative Space" journal prompt* My apartment living room is poured with plaster, blanketing everything with the milky pulpy substance. Up and up the liquid fills until it meets the uppermost limits of the space. The chalky white soup solidifies. The block is lifted off. In the plaster shell are concave crevices, an undulating landscape formed by negative spaces. Along the leftmost edge is the modular void where the couch (more desk than settee) sits. Catercorner from there is a sort of Jenga tower-shaped depression formed by my ever growing book collection—a slapdash stack of novels for pleasure and texts guiding my research. The perimeter of the plaster block is speckled with shallow, square-shaped indentations, made by wall hangings (mostly inspirational quotes, pep-talky phrases, and treasured illustrations). None of these voids contained photographs. I don't consider this strange until I visit someone else's home, where so often framed pictures of friends and loved ones cover entire expanses of walls. The base, too, is pockmarked with random little bumps and dips. A tape dispenser, some colored pencils, keys, scissors, sunglasses strewn about the floor, make divots in the bottom of the plaster cast, a reflection of my new normal—a constantly frenzied mindstate. In front of the modular void created by the couch lies a scruffy-textured rectangular indentation made by a shag patterned rug. On top of the rug's indentation, along the edge, are two parallel shallow oblong valleys—entrenched traces of where I sat there on my knees for months last year because I refused to sit with my bottom on the couch like a normal human being.


Reading Barthes' Lover's Discourse: Fragments (particularly the Atopos section) I was reminded of an article I recently read called "Why we lose interest in people interested in us." Barthes explains: "confronted with the other's brilliant originality, I never feel myself to be atopos, but rather classified" (p. 35). The term atopos refers to the unqualifiable, profoundly deep emotions felt toward someone beloved—feelings that are ineffable, impossible of boiling down one's love into description. Barthes senses an imbalance: "'If only I could be as original, as strong as the other!'" (p. 35). This disparity is a familiar human dynamic. "It's in our complex human nature to admire those who present themselves as unattainable," writes Kaitlyn Wylde. And it is that same Prelude to a Journal explanational imbalance that causes us to lose interest in people who show abundant interest in us. Because of unconscious insecurity, we are made uneasy by outpourings of affection: "It's never a thought that perhaps they have an equal value, because we've unintentionally trained ourselves to believe that anyone who likes us is deeply flawed. It's such a common occurrence that one partner loses interest the second the other partner shows equal interest. We see that as a red flag." In part, it is a primal instinct pulling us towards those we see as superior to ourselves. But to discount someone for liking you is self-maiming. Still, as Wylde maintains, "we're so much more complacent being participants in a chase or being heartbroken because someone we're interested in has rejected us. That has become the safe space... Rejection feels better than unwarranted affection." The question is whether we can change our behavior knowing why we behave as we do in these situations.


Barthes, R. (1977). Lover's Discourse: Fragments (pp. 2–40).

Wylde, K. (February 29, 2016). Why we lose interest in people interested in us. Retrieved from


So far these journal entries could be described as dialogues with the weekly readings, writing prompts, and related thesis interests. Going forward in the semester, I would like to push myself to be more creative in not only the journal entries, but other exercises as well. The methodical, cautious process which I approach writing can be too sterile. I think my unimaginativeness sprouts from an innate fear of risk-taking, failure, and doing the "wrong" thing. I know I am not alone in my apprehension—it has surfaced in AoW conversation at least twice already this semester! And I am thankful for this class. Engaging with the fine arts majors has made me re-evaluate my writing approach and realize that it, like the professional, technical design field, is heavily structured and sometimes dry. I admire and am inspired by their mindset to answer the reading articulations with poems and artistic manifestations. ~The boldness!~ My response is always term paper-esque—because that is what I know. It could be interpreted as a metaphor for how I process ambiguity, trying to make order. But *defamiliarization.* DEFAMILIARIZATION is what is needed to grow as a writer. As a person. It feels forced right now, trying new approaches to my writing (like the Portrait of a Writer) but with continued effort I think it will prove its worth.


Reading Osman's "Is poetry the news?" (the excerpt from Hannah Weiner's book Weeks written in synchronized thinking form, on page 66) I thought of structure. Synchronized thinking, "where multiple tracks of time and events are seen as a simultaneous and linked," is structured in the Weiner excerpt in paragraph form, with snippets of material stringed together (though without punctuation, only capitalization informs the reader when the next extract starts). Though not a textbook example of a synchronized thinking (because it was written more or less in one sitting), my Portrait of a Writer piece reads similarly to the Weiner excerpt. I question though why I structured it in a vertical list form, with considerable spacing between words and phrases, instead of listing thoughts one after the other horizontally, on the same line. I think, metaphorically, it is a reflection of how I structure all things. I have always given ample spacing in my writing and artwork—there has always been a light and airy quality about them. I remember even in preschool and Kindergarten being told to tighten the kerning of my letters because I spaced them too far apart. I think I may use this as inspiration for the "extended metaphor" component of the (Im)possible Portfolio...!

SEPTERMBR 29—CAC Articulation

CAC epistolary articulation

Dear mirror self,

I really saw you today. In front of the sink. Under a can light. It was only a few seconds, but it was straight on. I felt the heaving of a ticking clock hand as I locked eyes with yours. Hesitant then timid then lukewarm then unfazed then vulnerable then (*seeing her mirror self*) repelled, I saw you.

I noticed you again upstairs, across from the table where our class will talk desire, lack, signifiers, signifieds, unspooling meaning, A Lover’s Discourse, Lacan, our indefinable selves, lies, meshes, the unconscious, affect, colorful misty clouds, and more still. You distracted me from the conversation when I looked up and caught your guise, disappointed, deflated. I am relieved to leave you when we venture as a class up to the Glenn Brown exhibit. There are no mirrors there, not in the metal amalgam-coated-glass sense, but I see parts of you reflected in the turbulent, tensious planes of circulating paint strokes hanging on the wall.

In the deepest depth of the gallery, down a vaulted, angular hall, I met… a man about to sneeze? Or maybe a muscular, spasmic torso, contorted, bound, and braided together by hyper-saturated veins of unsettling hues. I look searchingly for some semblance of a certitude, but the ambiguity ultimately renders the subject(s) unidentifiable. Except, you are there, too. In this unrecognizable “portrait” of a disfigured self, are the uncomfortable parts of you that have caused me to avert my eyes for so many years. Our relationship is estranged, I know—for when I am forced to see you I must swallow the reality that I am not what I imagine (nor aspire) myself to look like. It is not normal, I recognize, to have such an aversion to you, mirror self—but normal, I am absolutely not. Perhaps in another several years, in front of a sink, under a can light, we will lock eyes and I will not feel compelled to look away.

Until (?)

Your outside self


My thoughts keep circling back to something Seth said at the CAC: "Are we everyone or are we only one?" WHO ARE WE?? Seth also said that "if you can define yourself, you have no idea who you are"—you have to think of yourself as an undefinable thing—a vapor... which reminds me of the Deleuzean and Guattarian concept of the becoming-self. This notion is simultaneously unsettling and liberating—knowing that you are always precariously evolving and morphing through experiences.

October 1

Exercises in Style may be my favorite piece read so far this semester! I don't remember the last time I laughed out loud so many times when reading :D The entire piece just intrigues me. I ravenously read the six styles contained in the reading excerpt and seriously am considering renting and/or purchasing the book to read the 93 others! I did some light googling on Queneau and Exercises in Style and came across a site that suggests how, as a designer, you can apply the various styles uses in the book to your own design processes: "Using the rules as found in the book, you will be able to add or take away elements to an existing product... For example, lets take ‘Surprises’ – you might take your product and try to make it more surprising or add more impact to it." While the example it provides is vague, the explanation of the 99 styles that the site provides is really helpful in understanding each one's unique structure—sort of like a CliffsNotes guide.


Reading Lycouris's The documentation of practice I am reminded of the messages contained in Yang's Reassemblage. Yang (1997) comments repeatedly on the impossibility of objectively recording real life—"reality is delicate" (p. 5). Both the medium and the maker (film and filmmaker, in this case) have the ability to manipulate how we experience things as they actually exist. "Every movement of the camera and each decision of the filmmaker changes it, until the image becomes an expression of the filmmaker rather than reality" (Yang, 1997, p. 4). Creativity and objectivity are in constant conflict. Lycouris (2000) comments similarly on the undeniable manipulations that accompany documentation: "performance cannot be saved, recorded, documented, or otherwise participate in the circulation of representations of representations: once it does so, it becomes something other than performance" (p. 2). Reality becomes something else the the moment the record button is pressed—we inevitably project subjectivity upon the subject matter in front of the lens. "The best way to be neutral and objective," Yang (1997) says, "is to copy reality meticulously" (p. 5). But even that has implications of being a dangerous prescription! From my own writing and documentary experience for thesis research (meetings with professors/peers) I struggle to keep up with the rushing stream of the present, feeling inundated by the onslaught of stimuli, hellbent on recording *everything* that I can observe being said. But through this class, its texts and the graduate school experience, I am swallowing in pebbly pieces the understanding that it is but an existential truth that reality is inherently a subjective construct.


Lycouris, S. (2000). The documentation of practice: Framing trace.

Yang (1997). Reassemblage: The Enlightenment of the Documentary.


Brittni had such a fantastic analogy for the documentation of reality/narrative process! The telephone game. YES. From one recorder to the next, the whisper (~one person's perception of reality~) is transplanted into the ears and through the inner workings and multiplicity of lenses of another, exiting inexorably changed.

October 6

Ted Seth Jacobs, "Light for the Artist," page 21

I saw the ~light~! Breezing through Brian Schumacher's copy of Light for the Artist I came upon this passage, which screamed the notion of impossible pure objectivity in documentation—exactly the topic of last class's conversations. "Every painter creates a personal light" (Jacobs, 1988, p. 21) is like the painter's counterpart to filmmaker/poet Minha's acknowledgement that we as humans, but especially painters, project our own subjectivity upon reality.

October 8

How to remember the meaning of "ya" in terms of haiku poetry: imagine a karate player shouting a spirited "Hi ya!" while performing a chopping maneuver with a flattened, perpendicular palm. "The cut-word 'ya' ...divides a haiku into parts..." and "provides us with two images juxtaposed (or 'cut') together which require us to do the work of reconnection" (Whyte, p.2). Thus, the ya serves as a sort of semantic "karate chop" between two elements of a haiku :-)

October 9—Reading articulation

After reading Whyte's introduction to haiku structures I dove into the Perloff article and was consumed with a fascination in the parallels between Duchamp and Stein. I likewise was intrigued by an unspoken connection between Duchamp's readymade art and haiku. One of the main structural elements of a haiku is superimposition, created through pivot-words and pivot-lines. A pivot-word "refers to words which are spelled the same, but which have more than one meaning (homonyms)"—thus, "the pivot-word is not a single word, but a superimposition of two (or more) words on top of each other, both of which are integral to the final meaning of the poem" (Whyte, p. 3). For instance, in Whyte's haiku on page 6, there exist two pivot-words—hammers and cranes—that create the potential for four versions of the same poem to live together simultaneously, superimposed. This ambiguous superimposition can be considered a rhizome, "creating multiple entry points into the haiku" (Whyte, p. 7). The work of Duchamp is like a haiku—double entendres abound in his readymade art. And within his objects, like the haiku, there is an element of ambiguity and multiplicity of meaning. Duchamp’s famed assisted readymade piece, “the so-called Fountain (1917),” can be interpreted as a literal fountain as well as a “female form [with a] receptacle for the male artist’s ‘fountain’” (Perloff, 1996, p. 140). Plus, his signature on the readymade—R. Mutt—stands as a bricolage for superimposed meanings and puns. A variant of “J.L. Mott, the Philadelphia Iron Works where Duchamp purchased the urinal,” R. Mutt recalls the “‘Mutt and Jeff’ comic strip” as well as “such German words as Mutti (‘Mama’), Mut (‘courage,’ ‘nerve’), Armut (‘poverty’), or even art mutt (‘art’ in French + mongrel dog in American slang = mongrel art)” (Perloff, 1996, p. 140). ~*Connecting back to thesis!*~ In a rhizomatic sense, haiku theory can be seen at play in drawings, for a drawing is a contradiction and superimposed states of being—it can simultaneously be considered finished and in progress.


Perloff, M. (1996). Of objects and readymades: Gertrude Stein and Marcel Duchamp.

Whyte, D. A lot of words about a little poem: An introduction to haiku structures.

October 9—A Haiku

Out into the crisp

We ride away on the breeze

Dizzy and buzzing


October 12

Diane Samuels. Metamorphoses, Ovid. 2014.

Perks of falling down a rabbit hole: stumbling across this mesmerizing orb! I clicked on the link you attached on Canopy to the Diane Samuels piece The Making of Americans and then was instantly enthralled with Samuels' gallery of work. The Metamorphoses piece was particularly attractive, for it immediately reminded of the phrase you have used before: unspooling meaning. Here is the write-up on the piece on the website: "In the prologue to 'Metamorphoses,' Ovid writes '…spin me a thread from the world’s beginning down to my own lifetime, in one continuous poem.'" The piece is "A hand-transcription of the entire poem onto a single “thread” of paper that is a kilometer long of writing. The thread is wrapped into a globe-like ball over which a faint watercolor of a map of the world is painted. In order to read this book from the beginning, the poem has to unroll and the shape of the world will change." As I continue to consider the shape my (Im)possible Portfolio will take, I am inspired by the multiplicity of creative directions that are possible.

October 12—Composition Workshop 2 Reflection

Pahtnahs: Britini and Bisola

Feedback from Brittni and Bisola confirmed what I was suspecting—that much of my writing in the Exegesis portion of the (Im)possible Portfolio reads like a formal essay and not enough creative energy. Both Brittni and Bisola commented on the high-level word choice (for Brittni it seemed like a detriment, for she had to keep returning to a dictionary, but Bisola mentioned it was like an artistry, and a way of exerting control over written expression). Brittni and Bisola each offered excellent suggestions for infusing my Exegesis with some creative expression. Bisola had the idea for playing up formalities—for example, infusing the "Writing for documentation of practice" section with citations or footnotes. She suggested I could also experiment with putting the precise control of my words into new forms—for instance, what if I inscribed my writing on a cube (an object that itself if very structured)? Brittni was particularly drawn to the extended metaphor I composed on my writing process. While the rest of my writing presents itself in a dense, clinical guise, Brittni said she was intrigued when she arrived at the metaphor for its warmth and richness of description. Her recommendation is to incorporate more of that language throughout the Exegesis, for it could serve as an interesting juxtaposition of styles.

October 13

What is it about writing for the articulations that is less tensious than thesis writing? In class yesterday, after I read aloud my articulation, you asked me which kind of writing I felt more confident about. It's writing articulations, of course! But why? That is something I want to explore as part of my (Im)possible Portfolio. I am imagining it could take the guise of the plateau exercise. TBC... (to be considered!).

October 14

Austin Kleon, "The worst first thought"

My first impression of Kleon's latest newspaper blackout poem was that it captured the notorious greed of capitalism. ~Down with capitalism!~ is my habitual reaction. But as this poem was part of Kleon's weekly e-newsletter, it was connected to a thread of other dialogues on the touchy relationship between artists, money and meaningfulness. Kleon includes a link ( to "Selling Out: An Artist’s Search for Money and Meaning" by Hallie Bateman (which includes fantastic illustrations!) and then adds how the piece relates to Hugh MacLeod's Sex and Cash Theory:

The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the assignment covers both bases, but not often. A good example is Phil, a NY photographer friend of mine. He does really wild stuff for the indie magazines- it pays nothing, but it allows him to build his portfolio. Then he’ll go off and shoot some catalogues for a while. Nothing too exciting, but it pays the bills. Another example is somebody like Martin Amis. He writes “serious” novels, but he has to supplement his income by writing the occasional newspaper article for the London papers (novel royalties are bloody pathetic—even bestsellers like Amis aren’t immune). Or actors. One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction (“Sex”), the next he’ll be in some dumb spy thriller (“Cash”). It’s balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one’s credibility. My M.O. is gaping void (“Sex”), coupled with writing advertising (“Cash”). I’m thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool literary magazines…. who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly. Well, over time the “harshly” bit might go away, but not the “divided”. As soon as you accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don’t know why this happens. It’s the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way—who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy job and moving straight on over to best-selling author. Well, they never make it. Anyway, it’s called “The Sex & Cash Theory". Keep it under your pillow.

October 15

RISD Writing Center director Jennifer Liese (2014) in her article "Toward a History (and Future) of the Artist Statement" describes the anguish that befalls artists when tasked with penning an artist's statement—how it "inspires cringes and groans" (p. 2). The Mexican-born artist Pablo Helguera (2015) is familiar with this sentiment: "I also confess experiencing a certain discomfort, since the gesture, usually bureaucratic and impersonal in nature, puts me in the place of the aspirational artist..." Indeed, as Liese (2014) spells out, it is the burgeoning artists who "are likely to be asked for an artist statement at all." Today the artist statement's purpose is exclusively professional—i.e. welcoming visitors on an artist's website. The "one-size-fits-all explanatory imperative might seem like an efficient way to get artists to speak a language that everyone else—curators, collectors, professors, critics—can understand," but in the process sacrifices value and dynamism from the artist's work (Liese, 2014). Instead, what would be beneficial to artists and their work is an embracing of varied responses, as diverse as the work itself. "An artist statement can be an authentic, generative complement to the work... it would be better to welcome sense and nonsense, coherence and paradox, philosophy, poetry... all of which might truly represent, rather than reduce, artists and their art" (Liese, 2014). I appreciate the buoyancy of this solution and its deviation from the dry and often shallow, formulaic artist statements that saturate the interwebs and contemporary art scene (and, arguably, my own artist statements from the past). This same initial reaction of grumbling and consternation when faced with having to reflect and write about personal work is something I have observed in other fellow design students, and something I aim to address in my thesis. The root of such writing-induced agony can often be traced, I think, to inexperience and the foreignness of such an activity in the design studio, which is why I am championing a hand drawing reflective practice as an alternative to a strictly written reflection.


Liese, J. (2014). Toward a history (and future) of the artist statement. Paper Monument, (4).

Helguera (2015). Thank You for Requesting My Artist Statement.

October 15... P.S.

Hallie Bateman, in an interview with Andy Newman

October 20

Jane Alden Stevens's presentation was incredibly interesting. It was inspiring to see the thoughtful work of someone as it has evolved over her career. Given my thesis topic, I was especially drawn to how she engaged in written reflection and in how she described words as inhabiting her universe in every single way.

October 26

Watching "In My Language" was a moving lesson in defamiliarization. For the first twenty seconds I was imagining that the woman on screen (Amanda Baggs) was possibly being exploited or (embarrassing to admit) mocking the behavior of someone with special needs. After reading the Manning article and our class discussion, I have utmost reverence for the attention Baggs's gives to the mundane and the experience she has with every object she encounters. Her earnest and embodied interactions with her environment demonstrate how we so often take for granted the objects that surround us. Baggs also clearly understands the significance of a haptic experience, the tactile conversations with every aspect of her environment. I recognize that I was ignorant that such ways of communication, like Baggs's—engaging in direct physical responses—existed. Having gained this awareness, I seek to channel some of Baggs's appreciation for the touchable, felt, embodied experiences and the objects that speak to us, if only we know how to reply.

October 29

A day before the Sam cat fiasco I wrote on a sticky-note: "working with your hands is a coping mechanism AND a constructive form of distraction from rumination." I stuck the message next to my laptop's track pad. Those words certainly held true for me these past several days. The only way I could concentrate on something other than the guilt and sting of my mistake was by making things with my hands or engaging in something physically. Before I saw Meera on Thursday she emailed me four articles relating to the therapeutic aspects of drawing, which I aim to synthesize and add to my literature review under the drawing component. Making fast, simple line drawings was one of the ways I coped with periods of intense anxiety, or when I needed to be present in the environment (i.e. class or work setting).

October 30

I keep coming back to Lynda Barry's Syllabus. So rhizomatic it is for all of its thought-starters and eye-opening observations. I'm particularly drawn (ha!) to her theory that art (particularly drawing) serves a biological function. Like Barry, I am curious about the change that happens, usually between the ages of 10 and 14, in the way we perceive drawing. Barry says: "As kids…we went to the page to find something, to have an experience. As adults, we have it backwards. We think that we need to have an experience in order to write about it. [Speaking about her class, The Unthinkable Mind] And I’ve found teaching this class that actually it’s the opposite: we’re writing in order to have an experience." I am grateful to for this Art of Words course because it is instilling (or re-instilling) the mindset of writing, making and doing to have an experience.

October 31

Reading through Austin Kleon's blog I found a link to a very apropos quote: "The first draft is always perfect. perfect. Its only job is to exist. Like minerals. Like dirt. Like air. It just needs to be. All a first draft need be is an idea borne into reality. A first draft is something made tangible from nothing – its only purpose is to pierce the space between your thoughts and the reality we all share." Even though I feel stuck wresting my thoughts into words and that I am quickly falling further behind my peers (especially in terms of thesis work), I'm inspired by this notion. Instead of overthinking, just sitting down and writing is what is necessary at this point!

November 1

I'm excited to hear Rebecca Morgan's talk this evening! Her portraits of Appalachia are moving and engaging—I definitely gasped upon first seeing her work online. Something about her paintings reminds me of the article by Christena Nippert-Eng (2005)... they seem to represent "manifestations of—and invitations for—experiences based on boundary play" (p. 307). The portraits of Morgan's that I've seen appear to contain multiplicities of dichotomies—they are imperfectly perfect in their magnetic realness, they are sympathetic yet critical, conflicted but also confident. One can see influences of the Dutch artists Bruegel and Van Eyck in the hyper-naturalistic details of the bushy caterpillar-eyebrowed subjects. Morgan's paintings could arguably represent a "visible, imaginative manipulation of shared cultural-cognitive categories for the purpose of amusement" (Eng, 2005, p. 302). In a January, 2015 interview with the Huffington Post, Morgan is asked about her ability to convey humor through subtle facial expressions—to which she replies: "Comedy is very important to me. I’m obsessed with it in almost all incantations" (Frank, 2015). While this association between Morgan's work and boundary play is only speculative at this point, I'm curious to hear the class's opinion of it and whether or not my hypothesis will be confirmed after listening to her presentation.


Eng (2005). Boundary Play.

Frank, P. (2015, January 22). Artist channels her rural Pennsylvania roots into beautifully grotesque bumpkins. Retrieved from

November 2—Reader's GUIDE

Going back through my journal entries since the last check-in, there is an observable change in my writing. The entries are generally briefer and more articulate, something I'm attributing to stronger articulation skills through consistent writing practice. I've made conscious efforts at defamiliarizing my writing from its customary structure, as evidenced in portions of my (Im)possible Portfolio and a couple of journal entries to date. The composition workshops (especially the most recent one) have given me the inspiration and validation necessary to imagine and pursue more creative approaches to my writing, and I'm eager to incorporate some of my classmates' feedback as I revise and continue work on my (Im)possible Portfolio.

November 3

I think my hypothesis rings true! Rebecca Morgan's work definitely could be considered "boundary play." She pushes the limits of what is considered "art" by her hometown, craves the urban life of New York while longing for the familiarity of rural Pennsylvania, and swings between the highs and lows of being in a liminal limbo and feeling simultaneously repulsed and confident about the figures she creates. The contradictions about her work are what make it so powerful. Her inclination towards multiple interpretations of her art reminds me of an article I recently read, titled The Benefits of Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty, which contends that “Wanting and not wanting the same thing at the same time is a baseline condition of human consciousness.”


Beck, J. (2016, October 9). The Benefits of Getting Comfortable With Uncertainty. Retrieved from

November 4

Could students in the MDes program be considered conceptual artists? After reading "Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?" I can see a connection. Dworkin (2011) describes conceptual artists as "often [focusing] on the initial procedures to be followed—guidelines, parameters, and recipes—rather than the subsequent physical production" (p. xxxiv). As candidates for the MDes degree, our focus is on crafting the infrastructure of a system, a proposal, or perhaps a small study. Given the tight time table in which to complete coursework, research and the writing of a thesis, the physical execution of the plan is left to be carried out post-graduation or during PhD studies.


Dworkin & Goldsmith (2011). Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now? + The Fate of Echo (pp. xvii–liv).

November 5

While reading tediously about Sophie Calle's work through the words of Janet Hand I was reminded of a couple of different segments of the (Im)possible Portfolio's Exegesis. Calle's "fictional autobiographical narratives" are generated by following pedestrians and then authoring dramatized accounts (Hand, 2005, p. 472). Such an approach to narrative evokes parts III and IV of the Exegesis: (III) How would you define "narrative reality?" and (IV) Can fiction be more truthful than non-fiction? While Calle's work is dramatized, the writing, I believe, could be considered "authentic" just as equally as "fake." These questions are something I'm interested in opening up to the class for discussion!


Hand, J. (2005). Sophie Calle's art of following and seduction. Cultural Geographies, 12 (2005), 4, pp. 463-484.

November 6

"Appropriation is now so prevalent in the art world that Jerry Saltz has likened it to 'esthetic kudzu'" (Dworkin, 2011, p. xli). I LOL'd at such an analogy. But it is positively on par with reality. (Side note: did you know Kudzu is part of the pea family? :D ).

November 9

Disbelief. Anguish. Heartbreak. Headache. Mind-spiraling HOWs and WHYs. Devastation. The election of Donald Trump is a glaring insult to the American people and all the progress made over the past century, and especially in the last eight years. Hillary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE BY MORE THAN 185,000. This is crushingly reminiscent of the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Can you imagine where environmental protection efforts would be if Gore became president 16 years ago? For climate change, Trump's election spells imminent catastrophe at a time when Earth's health is already too vulnerable—climate change, he has been documented to claim, is "a hoax." Withholding the futility of retrospection, is there anything that could have been done to prevent such an abhorrent upset? History tells that whoever the outgoing president, whomever is elected next is generally the opposing (in partisan, policies, etc.). So was it inevitable then? I have heard co-workers this morning blaming the DNC for not acknowledging such an imminent reality. I imagine that, like in the aftermath of Brexit, those who support Trump might feel the weight of their choice in tsunamic waves of remorse. It is surreal. I want to believe that we have awoken in a nightmarish alter-reality of the multiverse and are waiting to be relieved of the tremors. If I, a white woman with countless privileges, feel scared for the fate of the country's health care system, the economy, and our protection against nuclear weaponry, I can only try and fathom how minorities and undocumented residents are reacting to the election's aftermath. I want to comfort my friends of color, my friends who are immigrants, my female friends, the LBGTQ community, everyone. I want them to know they have allies who will stand by them and will proudly escort them in order to make sure they are safe. I want them to know that they are valued and loved and have a voice that will be heard.

November 10

Vicki, thank you for ~serendipitously~ bringing up Jenny Holzer in class last night! I am awed by the poignancy packed in her words and ideas, and the public space dimension of her installations. I've been especially magnetized to the installations from her Projections period, finding they have a special resonance with the tensuous post-election/Ray Tensing trial sentiments, particularly this one:


Holzer's works also trigger unique responses, affects and emotions in me that that remind me of Davida's interest in metaphor as a projective technique (ironic [?!] because many of Holzer's works are projected upon surfaces—a projective technique in itself). Her piece below with the words "I feel I only know you at the edges" sparks a multiplicity of emotions within me and is personally meaningful for it represents my difficulty in initiating friendships and developing intimacy in relationships.


November 11

Pondering, contemplating, thinking! For the (Im)possible Portfolio plateau segments I've been considering ways of articulating desire, loss and the notion of becoming-self. For plateau #1, the image of a moon keeps surfacing as a representation of anti-Oedipal desire—the cratered surface signifying a sense of lack. I've thought about composing a comic strip with a narrative that describes a moon falling from orbit, hitting solid ground, then rolling along, its craters and crevices being filled (illustrating the additive, accumulative process of my desire—though in ways not always anticipated or wanted [debris and splinters find their way into the pocketed surface as well]). Another idea for plateau #1 (or potentially for plateau deja vu!) is a memoir telling the story of Sam cat's escape and recovery—a story of loss, desire, of navigating without a map, searching blindly with desperate hope. I've been also thinking of possible articulations for my interpretation of becoming-self. I'm drawn to the idea (your idea!) of unspooling meaning, and imagine my response could take the form of a coiled and furled strip of vellum. The presentation would represent the ever-changing and never-the-same-ness of selfhood. I've been exploring the work of Lesley Dill and Ann Hamilton (thank you for those suggestions!) and am inspired by their imaginative approaches to textual visualization. For the collaborative segment, I'm planning to work with Davida to create an expression that evokes the becoming self and the transitional space between "were" and "yet to become."

November 12

Notes on Notes. The article by Marnina Gonick is a thoughtful and refreshing examination of a part of the reading experience that is often taken for granted. Her analysis of Kyla Mallett's photographic series Marginalia calls attention to the multiplicities of signifiers revealed in the practice of margin-writing—for instance, how a reader's notes "gesture towards a writing and re-writing of self, space, time and the dialogic creation of meaning" (Gonick, 2011, p. 135). Gonick's linkage of marginalia and the concept of "transitional space" is especially intriguing—it instantly reminded me of Davida's plans for her (Im)possible Portfolio. The markings left behind on book pages signify traces from "the interval of change from the person one has been to the person that one has yet to become and the time and place out of which experiences of the learning emerge" (Gonick, 2011, p. 132). Using this lens, Davida's examination of teen pregnancy represents such as transitional space. Marginalia as a transitional space also correlates to the Deleuze and Guattari notion of becoming-self, for such notes document moments in a reader's passage to understanding and meaning-making, from "was" to "yet to be." I remember Bisola saying she wanted to explore marginalia... I was curious to know her opinion on the article so I texted her to see if she found it inspiring and/or helpful!


Gonick, M. (2011). Notes on notes: Literacy in the margins. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 27(1), 129–137.

November 13

I'm having doubts about sharing my articulation for plateau #1... I don't know if I'm ready to share my experience openly with the class. I would be OK presenting my piece to you, but I really feel that in many ways I am still processing it and don't want to expose my vulnerability to my peers. I've been thinking more about marginalia, the becoming-self, transitional space, and rhizomes and have another idea for the collaborative exercise! A time-lapse of my camera roll encompasses aspects of all of the previous: it represents a sort of marginalia, transitional space, becoming-self, and rhizome, for every image was self-curated and collectively signifies a passage of affects, perceptions and mind states.

November 17

Still on a cloud of post-class awe! Seeing my classmates' collaborative pieces brought so much wonderment and inspiration. Lauren and Brittni's audio/visual collaboration showcased both their talents and spoke to the collective unconscious of the creative process (they had the same idea for imagery despite not talking to each other during production!). I can appreciate Brittni's angst in wrestling with meeting with others' expectations—she said she feels inadequate about being in a visual arts program while expressing herself through music and sound. This feeling is mutual among grad students, for we constantly are trying to balance the desire to satisfy others with challenging the status quo and seeking our own purpose and fulfillment. Seth's collaboration with your Flux(is) poem really is something. Like you, I was left speechless after watching his recording, as if he had eaten my words, too! His interpretation brought forth countless tropes the English languages uses to describe texts and writing, like: digesting / digestible pieces / in chunks / chew on it for a while / eating one's words / hard to swallow. While Seth seemed to dismiss how profoundly his piece was interpreted, saying he mainly did it for humor and didn't think too deeply about the meaning embedded in it, it certainly gives a whole new context to those words. The added layers of nuance (his voice narrating the poem, the video recording him ingest its very words, the window blinds behind him mimicking a lined sheet of paper) compound its depth—like an island of reclaimed land—gifting the audience with more to interpret, ponder, savor.

November 18

OKkk. This is morbid (!!!), but another idea for one of the plateaus about desire/loss/becoming-self bubbled up this morning in that fuzzy state of semi-consciousness. What if I composed an auto-obituary for the self that I no longer am? I would want to write it with ~humor~ (that in itself would be an exercise in defamiliarization because as much as I want it to be, we both know my writing is not funny!). It would represent a sense of closure and recognition of the transiency of self. Also, by starting at the "end point" (the passing of one stage) I can start making sense of what I need to do now, in this mindset, to be successful.

November 19

I am *really* going to miss this class, Vicki! The imaginatively interesting way you explain things and your inspiring perspective has been a fount of understanding and motivation. I love the artistry of your words—your handle on language is a remarkable thing and a privilege to learn from! The way you described the (Im)possible Portfolio collaborative piece—a representation of pushing yourself at a time that is inconvenient and connecting ideas in ways so commonsense that it might seem unremarkable, but at the same time (for that very reason) is refreshing—was so assuring. Thank you is inadequate, but know my gratitude will only compound after the semester ends!

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