Blog Post

Introduction, post attempt #3: A Shot in the Dark?

Let me start with an anecdote. As a youngster, I visited Merrimack caverns, located just south of every Midwestern familys affordable, just-short-of-Disney-world vacation location: Six Flags St. Louis. The regular caverns, those you peruse on your own, are rather boring compared to the Warner Brothers fueled imaginative consumerism of the amusement park (at least in the mind of a six year old). What was cool, though, was the trip to the dangerous guided caverns that required you to wear a head lantern (at least on the way down). These secondary spaces were lit only by mining lights, and the stories of Mark Twains Tom Sawyer echoes on the walls as the tour guide recites pre-scripted narratives to the small band of travelers. Once in the belly of the cave, the tour takes to a large open space in the cave. The tour guide recites the ways in which it achieves absolute dark. What is absolute darkness? It is dark in terms of both visibility and dark noise. Neither light is seen, nor is the decibel level of ambient noise high enough to distinguish between what is a noise and what is not. This darkness, so says the guide, will drive a person mad should they experience it for longer than 10 minutes. Of course, following this, there is a momentary demonstration: the tourists turn off their head lanterns, and the tour guide turns of the lights.

It's at this moment that my mind departed into thinking about what it would be like to be lost in this space. Absolute darkness falls upon the cave dweller. Attempting to hear where things are, if an exit is near, they yell senselessly into the darkness- knowing that they are on the very brink of madness. Unheard and unseen, the cave is a medium that can make itself impenetrable. The darkness is closing in on you and the bastions of your mind. Unless its network of caverns is open to free flows of light and soundinformationnothing exists, either within it or outside of it. You are teetering on the edge of controllable tension, as anxiety over going mad from sensory deprivation washes over you. Those inside the absolute darkness are solitary beings in a close to nothingness state ungraspable by the mind; those outside the cave no not of what is inside it, unable to see and likely unable to hear distinguishable sounds of insanitys creeping hold over the dweller in nothingness. Your mind and body, inseparable and indistinguishable in nothingness, are swallowed by the dark: your time to escape has expired. 

Why do I share this? Because the internet is the same way. As I tried to make my introductory post, and the system continually failed me, my post was a shout in the absolute darkness of the cave. Unable to connect to the outside, my shouts of introductory goodness were unhearable and did not exist (except to those who I complained to about the inability to post). For those outside the cave and in the commons of the internet, my post did not exist either. The internet, like the cave, is impenetrable should pathways not be seen.

While we think of the internet as the great commons, or the public sphere for those not tired of Habermas, we might also consider the ways in which it is also absolute darkness for others (an interesting comparison to the allegory of the cave might also be made). The public sphere, as numerous post-Habermasian scholars remind us, is not a democratic space, but an elite one for democratic possibilities; for those outside that elite space, the internet is simply a monolithic cave in which some are trapped inside: we enjoy the view of it in the light of the sun, while they attempt to shout out of it while be trapped inside of it. Internet culture, it would seem, is just as restricting as it is liberating.

So, Ive managed to digress- from cave tours to democratic utopians. But, this is a good segue into my actual introduction, given that my interests run the gamut of these two topics.

What am I interested in? Well, my primary focus is in sound studies and the ways in which acoustic ecologies reflect, and are a means for working through, cultural anxieties around those delicious Kant-ian givens of time and space, as well as notions of gender, sexuality, memory, and citizenship. I am currently doing research in Gibraltar, exploring both inter-cultural (how sound operates in the above way across Spanish, Arabic, Genoese, Maltese, British, Gibraltarian, and Indian ethnic communities) and intra-cultural (time, space, etc.). Looking at those ethnic peoples that also consider themselves hyphenated Gibraltarians, I look at how sound is interpreted in urban space, and how this is used to work out the meaning of what it means to be Gibraltarian: given that this notion, and the country itself, is about 50 years old.

In a more broad sense, Im fascinated by the ways in which language impacts how we think about technology, and the ways this shapes interactions and interpretations of various mediums. Ive written about paradisial language, Walter Benjamin, Lacan, Gender, zombie walks, the cold war, and a whole slew of other topics. Ive also just started a paper on my new favorite toy, the xbox kinect, and the ways in which it attempts to re-stabilize domestic space as a gendered space that is dependent not on the people but the activities carried out in the household (it does this by forcing the player to embody specific gender norms, while inscribing these gender norms onto the living room by blurring the distinction between game and lived space- right now, Im playing kinectimals :D).

So, there it is, an introductory post that rambles, possibly for way too long. It probably has a few spelling/grammar errors as well. But thats ok- after all, my carefree nature should be expressed somehow in the text, no? Watch for my future posts, Im sure theyll be interesting!



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