Discourse, Fandom, Methodology

[Post by Lelangir]

warning: meta junk.

Brother ghost has written us another post, and a reply we shall conjure.

He writes:

Stories have become primary methodology of education. It’s not that really different now. We have enormous variation in terms of media, but stories perform many of the same purposes: to educate the listener/reader/viewer in language and culture, and to be entertaining while doing so.

As I interpret and extrapolate, ghost establishes a methodology of learning via stories. Here, media acts as a vehicle for stories, which themselves are vehicles for values and norms (i.e. I learn through the bible that raeping women is r..wrong).

I add that stories have a meta-value here. The original methodology that we speak of – that is, the simple transmitting of values – can form the foundation of what some theorists might call critical consciousness, or, in other words, awareness, reflexivity, etc. Reflexivity occurs when people are critical of methodology: “no, ur doing it wrong!” “____ is cancer!” “only weeaboo like teh Narutos.” etc.

Because we’re intrinsically speaking of people here (people are basically the operative factor in talking about “transmitting values”), we have to frame all of this in terms of populations. For the sake of anime relevance, and we’ve probably spoke about this already somewhere down the road, fans are those who partake in methodology but are not critical of other fans. Once, however, a fan becomes critical (or remotely aware of other fans and their methodological behaviors) of another fan, they enter the fandom.

Yet here is the central problem: can fandom exist merely by the nonverbalized consciousness of individuals? – or does fandom require discourse? This is kind of a Foucauldian take on Marxism: critical discourse makes up the material base upon which the superstructural “fandom” is situated. Because this is the internet, discourse is necessarily “material”. It’s significant to consider, however, that in this perspective, fandom is not a material entity but an ideology whose territory engulfs its own constituents. So to speak, the process of becoming conscious (entering fandom) then expands the “mass” of the ideology of fandom.

But anyway, I would say that fandom requires discourse to exist.

An interesting turn on this is what you might call the “counter-meta methodological faction”. Of course, we’ve seen the sections of fandom that scoff at critical discourse, instead emphasizing focus on methodology, without all the wwwwwww stuff. It’s a good point, but it’s interesting because it’s a discourse that runs counter to itself in order to end itself.

There’s some more to this, but I forgot, so that’ll be part 2, maybe.


Adventures in Criticism: too many for a number!

Actually, it’s the seventh, but I figure now’s as good a time as any to stop numbering them and just admit they’re a (semi-)regular feature.  Woo!

Anyhow, this time I’m doing an essay called “Coming to Terms” by Gary K. Wolfe.  It’s short, so hopefully I can get this entry done before the scourging weather wipes my house out of the valley in which it nestles.


Of Diebuster, structure, and the parents of gods

Breaking into the super robot genre has proven difficult for me, so I asked the wise OGT to point me toward a few shows that might help. Among other things, he recommended Gunbuster (aka Top wo Nerae!) — you may already know this, given all the fanboying I did over the show and its sequel. Gunbuster was probably just the sort of thing I needed, tempered as it is by enough drama and pain to sustain my interest through the genuinely awesome moments, which I can in fact enjoy on the level of genuine awesome if I stay interested long enough.

Diebuster, though.

You want to put it into words. You really try. But the last episode explodes your mind, and you’re left with assorted pieces, slightly charred, floating through space. You could leave it at that, but these pieces practically beg to be reassembled, and I’m nothing if not tenacious when it comes to weaving my webs.


What the hell is art? — I. Strange bedfellows

What is art?

Yeah, I went there. Trepidatiously, maybe, but it’s not as if we haven’t talked about it before. Besides, it’s bound to be fun if we pull relevant examples from the reader communities to which we belong. So strap yourselves in, my magnificent comrades; you’re in for some unusual posts.

Each post in this series will begin with a question, and this one seems as good a starting point as any: can an object with a use, such as a tool or a piece of furniture, be considered art?


The faces of tigers and dragons

Remember me? It’s Pontifus, that guy who has successfully ignored the blog he created for about a month! Why, you may or may not ask? Because I’m embroiled in another of my regularly scheduled methodological crises, and those are well and truly crippling. But that’s boring, so let’s move on.

I realized recently that Baka-Tsuki and its cadre of rogue translators are working their way through the Toradora light novels, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to indulge. Normally I would resist; I don’t like to be in the middle of more than one adaptation at a time. But I’m willing to make exceptions when I’m far enough in one that I’m well past the beginning of the other, and when I really like the franchise in question.

In retrospect, I almost wish I’d exercised some restraint.


Thank God for the apocalypse: setting and the authorial shell

Why thank God for the apocalypse? Because it gives me something to write about that isn’t Aria. Not that I dislike writing about Aria, but it has a way of possessing me via dark, indefinable magics and forcing me to serve its needs. It’s an unforgiving master. And I haven’t even watched the second or third seasons yet.

On second thought, I suppose it’s inappropriate to muse on Aria in a post which is, to some degree, about Fallout 3. The Capital Wasteland is most assuredly no place for gondolas. Hell, it’s no place for human beings, and that’s part of what makes it such a compelling setting, at least for me. If, like me, you find a certain creepiness in isolation, in abandoned radio loops and vast, empty spaces, in “towns” populated by two or three or four people, Fallout 3 will do horrible things to your sanity. Horrible, awesome things. Which, coincidentally, brings us back to our good buddy Steve Gaynor. The three-way parallel he draws is simple:

Literature excels at exploring the internal (psychological, subjective) aspects of a character’s personal experiences and memories.

Film excels at conveying narrative via a precisely authored sequence of meaningful moments in time.

And video games excel at fostering the experience of being in a particular place via direct inhabitation of an autonomous agent.

Oversimplification this may be, but Gaynor raises an interesting question: how are we to account for the idea of setting in video games? As much as it’s “the place where they are,” as in, say, a novel, it can also become “the place where I am,” and few games have made that idea more evident to me than Fallout 3.

Before we get into Fallout 3 and setting specifically, though, I want to lay some groundwork — and by “some,” I mean a lot, and in the disorganized spirit of exploratory writing, so now would be a good time to pour yourself a glass of your favorite hard liquor.