Eric M. R. Webb

Seen.

4 notes

berfrois:


Post-Officism: An Introduction
by  D. Joyce-Ahearne
What is Post-Officism?
                Post-Officism, at its simplest and as its name would suggest, is a reaction to Officism. To begin to understand the former one must first discuss the latter and the aspects of the latter that meant the former was necessary, namely its shortcomings.
                For the Post-Officists, Officism’s emphasis on the text as a unified whole and its position in the canon is too broad and uninspired a line of study, that fails to take into account the detailed specifics of an individual work. The bureaucracy of working within the layered and tiered system of relating texts to texts and not allowing for divergence within a single work means that the finer points of a text are lost.
Post-Officism is principally concerned with the most individual parts of a work, the real building blocks of a text, of language itself: letters. To speak of an author’s “work”, “oeuvre” or “books” is to clumsily trip over the minutiae worth studying, the atoms of literature that make up each of these words, what the author really works with: letters.
The project of Post-Officism is a two-pronged one. While studying the individual it hopes to understand the “system of letters” that facilitates language and the written word, the “system of letters” within which we all operate. 
Unlike the inadequate and gross study performed by Officists, Post-Officism studies the bigger picture while focusing on the fragments of which it is composed. 
Post-Officism then, could be said to be the study of the “system of letters”, how we choose to package our letters and by what means they are delivered into the public consciousness.
 
Post-Officism at Work: A Look at Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”
                If we take a specific text, that of “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville, and look at it though the microscope of both Officism and Post-Officism we will see all the details and nuances of the text that Officism is liable, indeed, bound to miss.
                An Officist reading would focus on the novella’s unnamed narrator, investigating his narrative very much within the confines of the plot as it is presented to us on the page. The narrative is taken at face value and is subjected to questioning in relation to the position narrative holds within the canon.
                The narrative unfolds within the setting of the narrator’s office. Officism will only judge the situation based on the structures inherent to the immediate setting of the action i.e. said office.  The narrator is granted the office of Master of Chancery, he hires Bartleby, who then begins to copy and then refuses to copy or indeed do anything else, such as deliver letters. The Officist investigates the work-centric proffered narrative, without digging deeper.
                Post-Officism, however, looks beyond these limits. Why did the narrator want Bartleby to deliver the letters? Where did he go to deliver the letters? Who did he give them to? Who paid for the stamps?
                Take the following line from the text: “In answer to my advertisement, a motionless young man one morning stood upon my office threshold, the door being open, for it was summer.” 
Now the Officist would begin his dissection of the plot based on Bartleby’s arriving into the office, his arrival into the narrative. The Post-Officist, however, asks where did the narrator post the advertisement? 
Officists ask: Why did Bartleby stop writing? Post-Officists ask: How was his handwriting? What do his letters look like? When Bartleby’s refuses to go to the Post Office, the Officist asks why did he refuse, as opposed to the critical question of where was the Post-Office? What services did it offer other than letter collection?
Bartleby’s occupation of the office is of concern to the Officist rather than details such as, given his residence there, had he informed his correspondents that his mail was to be delivered to his squat or to a P.O. Box perhaps?
When Bartleby refuses to deliver the narrator’s letters the narrator must go himself. This occurs outside the narrative as the narrator’s experience of delivering them is not recounted. As it occurs outside the narrative, the Officist asks no questions. To the Post-Officist this minor detail is of huge interest.
It quickly becomes apparent that Post-Officism asks the crucial questions that the Officism, by its very nature, will not and cannot ask.
                
The Death of the Author & The Arrival of the Post-Officist
How meaning is “delivered” is a key concern of Post-Officism and one inextricably linked to the “system of letters”.Post-Officists build on Roland Barthes idea of “the Death of the Author”. If the author is dead, then who is responsible for conveying his meaning, or in Post-Officist terms, who is responsible for “delivering his letters”? 
Post-Officists believe that through the understanding of the “system of letters” in which everyone operates as users of language, the learned Post-Officist takes on the job of delivering an author’s letters in the wake of the author’s metaphorical death.
This, however, has been contested by some who disagree with the role of theorist as arbiter. 
 
The French School & The Facteur Factor
This question of who “delivers the author’s letters” is considered the main point of difference between what are broadly called the French School of Post-Officism and the Anglo-American School. 
                Following Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory of language being divided between “langue” and “parole”, the French Post-Officists argue that truly then, all written work is “parole”. The author, who “builds using letters”, creates a work. Following his “death” as supplier of meaning, the work as a concrete instance of parole still reaches us. How?
 It is the “death of the author”, argue the French School, which leads to the arrival of the “facteur”. The author may be “dead”, but through the role of “facteur” (loosely translated as “maker”) of their work, they deliver meaning. In this way, one could say, the author always speaks twice.This is the “Facteur Factor”.
                The French School believe that author as “facteur” is responsible for the “delivery of the work as parole”, which the reader then interprets themselves via the “system of letters” in which we all exist, de Saussure’s “langue”.  Thus the Post-Officist as interpreter of a text is superfluous, this being the main point of difference between the schools.
Indeed the Anglo-American School itself has by no means a united project. From the outset of Post-Officism, the American line, even preceding the first wave of Post-Officist Feminism, was hugely concerned with “the Male” in a way that the British School was not.
This has led to some feeling that Post-Officist Feminist theory is an exclusively American concern, though the idea of “the Male” soon became the basis for Post-Officist Feminism both sides of the Atlantic.
 
Feminist Post-Officism – The Question of “the Male”
                As previously stated, the question of “the Male” within Post-Officism began as an American concern. American theorists, both male and female, believed that British Post-Officism, then the dominant hub in the Anglophone Post-Officist world, neglected “the Male”. The American School saw “the Male” as key to Post-Officism, believing that one could not possibly be a Post-Officist without any male.
                The importance of “the Male”, first championed by both genders in America, quickly became the basis for the first wave of Feminist Post-Officist thinking. On both sides of the Atlantic, as had occurred in France, Feminist theorists began to question the role of the Post-Officist and his self-appointed position as deliverer of meaning. The French facteur was also repudiated (though recent second wave French Feminist Post-Officist thought has at times considered the idea of the “facteuse”).
                Heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch, the idea of the “Post-Woman” soon emerged as the central tenet of Feminist Post-Officism.
                The “Post-Woman” transcended gender-assigned identity and having overcome the patriarchal structure into which she was born becomes the single able interpreter of the world. For the Feminist School, it is the “Post-Woman”, and neither the Post-Officist (considered a patriarchal and turgid figure) nor the “facteur” who is the credible “deliverer of an author’s letters”.
                
Post-Officism in Art: Post-Boxism
The influence of Post-Officism has exceeded the realm of critical theory and created quite a stir in the art world. Manifesting itself in a quasi-NeoCubism or Post-Boxism as its proponents call it, Post-Officism has split opinion among art critics.
Some admire the primarily installation focused movement, championing the move from its Boxist predecessor to 3D. Detractors have focused on the tediousness of the movement’s patterns for installations, citing that nearly every piece to come out of Britain is red, all the French yellow, and all American pieces blue.
 
Post-Manism – Second Generation Post-Officists & The Legacy of Paul de Man
In recent months, a new wave of young Post-Officist theorists has begun to call the very basis of Post-Officism into question. Heavily influenced by the ideas of Paul de Man and the drastic changes in how we interpret the world in the Internet age, they believe that any attempt at “deducing or projecting meaning onto an author’s letters is futile”.
Given the sheer bombardment of information we face everyday online, they argue the value we place on the written word, on letters, is decreasing. Coupled with de Man’s ideas that we stabilize language as we read it, assigning our own preconceived meanings to the author’s words, they believe that we can never truly understand an author’s letters and that, truly, the Post-Officist (indeed, any kind of critical theorist) has become redundant. 
                Although the old guard accuse the younger generation of “deconstructing themselves out of existence”, the Post-Manists, as they have been labelled, believe that, in fact, these ideas open up boundless possibilities for new thought and play.
 D. Joyce-Ahearne is considered to be the leading figure of the second wave of Post-Officist theorists. His soon to be published collection of essays “Stamp and Deliver: Questioning Post-Officism” has been hailed by his peers as “marking the beginning of twenty-first century criticism”.

This, for example, would be a great nonfiction piece for nobullshitreview.

berfrois:

Post-Officism: An Introduction

by D. Joyce-Ahearne

What is Post-Officism?

                Post-Officism, at its simplest and as its name would suggest, is a reaction to Officism. To begin to understand the former one must first discuss the latter and the aspects of the latter that meant the former was necessary, namely its shortcomings.

                For the Post-Officists, Officism’s emphasis on the text as a unified whole and its position in the canon is too broad and uninspired a line of study, that fails to take into account the detailed specifics of an individual work. The bureaucracy of working within the layered and tiered system of relating texts to texts and not allowing for divergence within a single work means that the finer points of a text are lost.

Post-Officism is principally concerned with the most individual parts of a work, the real building blocks of a text, of language itself: letters. To speak of an author’s “work”, “oeuvre” or “books” is to clumsily trip over the minutiae worth studying, the atoms of literature that make up each of these words, what the author really works with: letters.

The project of Post-Officism is a two-pronged one. While studying the individual it hopes to understand the “system of letters” that facilitates language and the written word, the “system of letters” within which we all operate.

Unlike the inadequate and gross study performed by Officists, Post-Officism studies the bigger picture while focusing on the fragments of which it is composed.

Post-Officism then, could be said to be the study of the “system of letters”, how we choose to package our letters and by what means they are delivered into the public consciousness.

 

Post-Officism at Work: A Look at Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener”

                If we take a specific text, that of “Bartleby the Scrivener” by Herman Melville, and look at it though the microscope of both Officism and Post-Officism we will see all the details and nuances of the text that Officism is liable, indeed, bound to miss.

                An Officist reading would focus on the novella’s unnamed narrator, investigating his narrative very much within the confines of the plot as it is presented to us on the page. The narrative is taken at face value and is subjected to questioning in relation to the position narrative holds within the canon.

                The narrative unfolds within the setting of the narrator’s office. Officism will only judge the situation based on the structures inherent to the immediate setting of the action i.e. said office.  The narrator is granted the office of Master of Chancery, he hires Bartleby, who then begins to copy and then refuses to copy or indeed do anything else, such as deliver letters. The Officist investigates the work-centric proffered narrative, without digging deeper.

                Post-Officism, however, looks beyond these limits. Why did the narrator want Bartleby to deliver the letters? Where did he go to deliver the letters? Who did he give them to? Who paid for the stamps?

                Take the following line from the text: “In answer to my advertisement, a motionless young man one morning stood upon my office threshold, the door being open, for it was summer.”

Now the Officist would begin his dissection of the plot based on Bartleby’s arriving into the office, his arrival into the narrative. The Post-Officist, however, asks where did the narrator post the advertisement?

Officists ask: Why did Bartleby stop writing? Post-Officists ask: How was his handwriting? What do his letters look like? When Bartleby’s refuses to go to the Post Office, the Officist asks why did he refuse, as opposed to the critical question of where was the Post-Office? What services did it offer other than letter collection?

Bartleby’s occupation of the office is of concern to the Officist rather than details such as, given his residence there, had he informed his correspondents that his mail was to be delivered to his squat or to a P.O. Box perhaps?

When Bartleby refuses to deliver the narrator’s letters the narrator must go himself. This occurs outside the narrative as the narrator’s experience of delivering them is not recounted. As it occurs outside the narrative, the Officist asks no questions. To the Post-Officist this minor detail is of huge interest.

It quickly becomes apparent that Post-Officism asks the crucial questions that the Officism, by its very nature, will not and cannot ask.

               

The Death of the Author & The Arrival of the Post-Officist

How meaning is “delivered” is a key concern of Post-Officism and one inextricably linked to the “system of letters”.Post-Officists build on Roland Barthes idea of “the Death of the Author”. If the author is dead, then who is responsible for conveying his meaning, or in Post-Officist terms, who is responsible for “delivering his letters”?

Post-Officists believe that through the understanding of the “system of letters” in which everyone operates as users of language, the learned Post-Officist takes on the job of delivering an author’s letters in the wake of the author’s metaphorical death.

This, however, has been contested by some who disagree with the role of theorist as arbiter.

 

The French School & The Facteur Factor

This question of who “delivers the author’s letters” is considered the main point of difference between what are broadly called the French School of Post-Officism and the Anglo-American School.

                Following Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory of language being divided between “langue” and “parole”, the French Post-Officists argue that truly then, all written work is “parole”. The author, who “builds using letters”, creates a work. Following his “death” as supplier of meaning, the work as a concrete instance of parole still reaches us. How?

 It is the “death of the author”, argue the French School, which leads to the arrival of the “facteur”. The author may be “dead”, but through the role of “facteur” (loosely translated as “maker”) of their work, they deliver meaning. In this way, one could say, the author always speaks twice.This is the “Facteur Factor”.

                The French School believe that author as “facteur” is responsible for the “delivery of the work as parole”, which the reader then interprets themselves via the “system of letters” in which we all exist, de Saussure’s “langue”.  Thus the Post-Officist as interpreter of a text is superfluous, this being the main point of difference between the schools.

Indeed the Anglo-American School itself has by no means a united project. From the outset of Post-Officism, the American line, even preceding the first wave of Post-Officist Feminism, was hugely concerned with “the Male” in a way that the British School was not.

This has led to some feeling that Post-Officist Feminist theory is an exclusively American concern, though the idea of “the Male” soon became the basis for Post-Officist Feminism both sides of the Atlantic.

 

Feminist Post-Officism – The Question of “the Male”

                As previously stated, the question of “the Male” within Post-Officism began as an American concern. American theorists, both male and female, believed that British Post-Officism, then the dominant hub in the Anglophone Post-Officist world, neglected “the Male”. The American School saw “the Male” as key to Post-Officism, believing that one could not possibly be a Post-Officist without any male.

                The importance of “the Male”, first championed by both genders in America, quickly became the basis for the first wave of Feminist Post-Officist thinking. On both sides of the Atlantic, as had occurred in France, Feminist theorists began to question the role of the Post-Officist and his self-appointed position as deliverer of meaning. The French facteur was also repudiated (though recent second wave French Feminist Post-Officist thought has at times considered the idea of the “facteuse”).

                Heavily influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch, the idea of the “Post-Woman” soon emerged as the central tenet of Feminist Post-Officism.

                The “Post-Woman” transcended gender-assigned identity and having overcome the patriarchal structure into which she was born becomes the single able interpreter of the world. For the Feminist School, it is the “Post-Woman”, and neither the Post-Officist (considered a patriarchal and turgid figure) nor the “facteur” who is the credible “deliverer of an author’s letters”.

               

Post-Officism in Art: Post-Boxism

The influence of Post-Officism has exceeded the realm of critical theory and created quite a stir in the art world. Manifesting itself in a quasi-NeoCubism or Post-Boxism as its proponents call it, Post-Officism has split opinion among art critics.

Some admire the primarily installation focused movement, championing the move from its Boxist predecessor to 3D. Detractors have focused on the tediousness of the movement’s patterns for installations, citing that nearly every piece to come out of Britain is red, all the French yellow, and all American pieces blue.

 

Post-Manism – Second Generation Post-Officists & The Legacy of Paul de Man

In recent months, a new wave of young Post-Officist theorists has begun to call the very basis of Post-Officism into question. Heavily influenced by the ideas of Paul de Man and the drastic changes in how we interpret the world in the Internet age, they believe that any attempt at “deducing or projecting meaning onto an author’s letters is futile”.

Given the sheer bombardment of information we face everyday online, they argue the value we place on the written word, on letters, is decreasing. Coupled with de Man’s ideas that we stabilize language as we read it, assigning our own preconceived meanings to the author’s words, they believe that we can never truly understand an author’s letters and that, truly, the Post-Officist (indeed, any kind of critical theorist) has become redundant.

                Although the old guard accuse the younger generation of “deconstructing themselves out of existence”, the Post-Manists, as they have been labelled, believe that, in fact, these ideas open up boundless possibilities for new thought and play.

 D. Joyce-Ahearne is considered to be the leading figure of the second wave of Post-Officist theorists. His soon to be published collection of essays “Stamp and Deliver: Questioning Post-Officism” has been hailed by his peers as “marking the beginning of twenty-first century criticism”.

This, for example, would be a great nonfiction piece for nobullshitreview.

1 note

Notifications Out

nobullshitreview:

Got some notifications out tonight. It’s 1am and I’m up at 6am, so if you haven’t gotten your notification yet, don’t worry, it’ll come soon.

In other news, we still have a little room in the first issue. Submit to us your best fiery, no-bullshit political writing. We want it all.

We’ll take anonymous stuff, too.

Send stuff. We need art too…

61 notes

When I was adjuncting at Columbia, I remember calculating the maximum number of hours I could spend on my class before I reduced my pay rate to under $15/hour. It was less time than I would have liked to spend, but I couldn’t work for less than that. So I taught differently: I assigned fewer drafts, I held shorter and less frequent conferences, I read student essays faster and homework assignments hardly at all. When I realized I was not going to be able to do right by my students, I stopped classroom teaching.

The Teaching Class by Rachel Riederer - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

Rachel Riederer, Guernica's own Daily editor, also spoke to the New York Times Op-Talk, saying: “Universities are under increased pressure to provide amenities along with a college education. I would love if students and parents, when visiting a campus and asking representatives what’s available, when asking about the gymnasium and dorm rooms, would be informed enough to ask what kind of teachers would be teaching different classes.” Read the rest of the NYT feature here.

(via guernicamag)

About right.

(via guernicamag)

261 notes

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing human being.
Rumi, from “Only Breath”, translated by Coleman Barks (via the-final-sentence)

0 notes

June Poem 2 - Poem in Response to Roger Angell

Hey, doc jokes never dial,
Mr. orthropaedicologist.
I got that from my brother.

*
Stay alive! crazy writer
stop barfing up all this crap.
Enough—let’s call it fair.

*
Pencil pen in hand,
Phallusicle muscle
pick yourself up.

*
There on the shelf,
stoned and marbled,
rumored successful raven.

*
Unaxeable,
literally, it’s what I mean:
unable to axe it dead.

*
Could you pack the bowl
everyone knows
pass it the left hand side.

*
Lay down your pencil,
phallic representative:
is it left or right tonight?

*
Letters on this page
form an island-hopping campaign:
Bullshitzania




So, earlier, I posted a photo of Angell’s poem “Andy’s Haikus,” published in the New Yorker, and of which I think I provide a very clear opinion here. Enjoy. Share.

Filed under Poem Poetry

2 notes

June Poem 1 - But Knotty Issues

- after a NY Times “TimesHaiku”

but knotty issues
are knotty issues
and not all have been resolved.

My friendly reader
you fiend for words
here lend an ear to beloved

for soothed follicles
and loose-spit canines
all booze along these problems

I’ll thinkly wrotten
wot feasible writ
and read your tea leave plumbing

deeths aheed sailor
berths ahead traveler
though leafs may catch your resolve

before letters bend
the door hinges’ pins
the floor—clunk-clink—sounds dissolved

around your piggies—
then koan me a new
word loan for toes—what problems!—

yes but your toes sink
‘til shut lips sputter
in butts of wine my beloved

my shy sweet reader
your lie has caught you
you really should read my book.




Here’s the TimesHaiku

Filed under poem poetry

469 notes

ferngirl:

socimages:

Myth-making and the “we can do it!” poster.

By Gwen Sharp, PhD.

A polished version of this post was published in Contexts. You can download it here.

Most of our readers are probably familiar with the now-iconic “We Can Do It!” poster associated with Rosie the Riveter and the movement of women into the paid industrial workforce during World War II.

It is, by this point, so recognizable that it is often parodied or appropriated for a variety of uses (including selling household cleaners). The image is widely seen as a symbol of women’s empowerment and a sign of major gender transformations that occurred during the 1940s.

In their article, “Visual Rhetoric Representing Rosie the Riveter: Myth and Misconception in J. Howard Miller’s ‘We Can Do It!’ Poster,” James Kimble and Lester Olson argue that our current interpretations of the poster don’t necessarily align with how it was seen at the time.

While the poster is often described as a government recruiting item (Kimble and Olson give many examples in the article of inaccurate attributions from a variety of sources), it was, in fact, created by J. Howard Miller as part of a series of posters for the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company — the Westinghouse logo is clearly visible just under the woman’s arm, and the badge on her shirt collar is the badge employees wore on the plant floor, including an employee number. The War Production Co-ordinating Committee was an internal Westinghouse committee, similar to those created by many companies during the war, not a government entity.

The assumption of current viewers of the image is usually that it was meant to recruit women into the workforce, or to rally women in general — an early example of girl power marketing, if you will — and was widely displayed. But the audience was actually only Westinghouse employees. The company commissioned artists to create posters to be hung in Westinghouse plants for specific periods of time; this poster specifically says, “Post Feb. 15 to Feb. 28″ [1943] in small font on the lower left. There’s no evidence that it was ever made available to the public more broadly. For that matter, the poster doesn’t identify her as “Rosie,” and it’s not clear that at the time she would have been immediately identifiable to viewers as “Rosie the Riveter”.

The image that was more widely seen, and is often conflated with the “We Can Do It!” poster, was Norman Rockwell’s May 29, 1943, cover for the Saturday Evening Post (second above).

Here, the woman is clearly linked to the idea of Rosie the Riveter, through both the name on her lunchbox and the  equipment she’s holding. She is more muscular than the woman in Miller’s poster, she’s dirty, and her foot is standing on a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Rockwell’s image presents the woman as a vital part of the war effort; her work helps defeat the Nazis. The image also includes fewer details to make her look conventionally attractive than Miller’s, where the woman has emphasized eyelashes and visibly painted fingernail.

Most interestingly, Kimble and Olson question the female empowerment message presumed to be the point of the “We Can Do It!” poster. We see the poster on its own, through the lens of a narrative about World War II in which housewives left the kitchen in droves to work in factories. But Westinghouse workers would have seen it in a different context, as one of a series of posters displayed in the plant, with similar imagery and text. When seen as just one in a series, rather than a unique image, Kimble and Olson argue that the collective “we” in “We can do it!” wouldn’t have been women, but Westinghouse employees, who were used to seeing such statements posted in employee-access-only areas of the plant.

Of course, having a woman represent a default factory employee is noteworthy. But our reading of the poster as a feminist emblem partially rests on the idea that this female worker is calling out encouragement to other women. The authors, however, point out a much less empowering interpretation if you think of the poster not in terms of feminism, but in terms of social class and labor relations:

…Westinghouse used “We Can Do It!” and Miller’s other posters to encourage women’s cooperation with the company’s relatively conservative concerns and values at a time when both labor organizing and communism were becoming active controversies for many workers… (p. 537)

…by addressing workers as “we,” the pronoun obfuscated sharp controversies within labor over communism, red-baiting, discrimination, and other heartfelt sources of divisiveness. (p. 550)

One of the major functions of corporate war committees was to manage labor and discourage any type of labor disputes that might disrupt production. From this perspective, images of happy workers expressing support for the war effort and/or workers’ abilities served as propaganda that encouraged workers to identify with one another and management as a team; “patriotism could be invoked to circumvent strikes and characterize workers’ unrest as un-American” (p. 562).

And, as Kimble and Olson illustrate, most of Miller’s posters included no women at all, and when they did, emphasized conventional femininity and the domestic sphere (such as a heavily made-up woman waving to her husband as he left for work).

Of course, today the “We Can Do It!” poster is seen as a feminist icon, adorning coffee cups, t-shirts, calendars, and refrigerator magnets (I have one). Kimble and Olson don’t explain when and how this shift occurred — when the image went from an obscure piece of corporate war-time propaganda, similar to many others, to a widely-recognized pop cultural image of female empowerment. But they make a convincing argument that our current perceptions of the image involve a significant amount of historical myth-making that helps to obscure the discrimination and opposition many women faced in the paid workforce even during the height of the war effort.

The article on which this post is based appears in Rhetoric & Public Affairs 9(4): 533-570, 2006.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.