Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Command the Survival

Drink the water. Eat the food. Keep running. Watch the rocks. Mind that sand. Run that hill. Ford that creek. Mind those bears. Crouch beneath the bushes. Run across the log. Do it now. Run faster. Run faster! Duck behind the rocks. Count your blessings. Drink the water from the bottle. Eat the berries, the red berries, eat the red berries. Skip the blue berries, they’re not blueberries. Wait here.

Wait here.

Wait here.

Breath. Keep breathing. Flare your nostrils. Quiet the air. Control that breathing, don’t hyperventilate. Sweep your eyes around. Check for pursuers. Count to ten. Find the quiet. Check again. Run.  

Duck. Duck now! Get in that hole. Slide through. Get wet. Use the water. Fall slow. Splash quietly. Wade deep. Move steady; breath steadier. Hands high, hands dry. Get your neck wet. Feel the draft on it. Let it guide you like it’s pushing you. Step carefully. Use your toes. Grab the rocks. Mind the slime. Go deeper. Feel the draft strengthen. Watch for light, any light ahead. Tilt your head back and breath. Use your scalp to feel the draft. Flatten your palms on the ceiling. Flatten your face on the ceiling. Kiss the stone while you walk. Even breaths, don’t panic; do not panic.

Look down across your face. Look towards your mouth, over it. Look for light. Breath even. Breath easy. Walk slow, walk steady. Tilt your head forward while the water lowers. Don’t rush it. Eyes forward. Step up with the stones. Put your hands in front of you. Crawl up the bank. Head forward. Keep the water at your chin. Feel for ripples. Look for light. Follow the light. Move up, always up.

Stop. Listen. Take easier breaths, and listen. Move. Move now. Move faster. Kick! Don’t let them get a grip on your legs! Kick them off! Get away. Fight. Struggle. Keep struggling. Kick with your free leg! Get them off of you! Claw at their gums! Drag your nails. Harder! Peel flesh! Make them sorry! Make them let go, make them scream, whatever you do, make them let go!

Get out of that hole. Get back outside. Don’t think about what happened. Stop the bleeding. Worry later. Tourniquet now. Put weight on it. Run, limp, run. Keep moving. Get focused. Keep focused. Keep sharp. Start counting to yourself. Count as high as you can. Keep running. Picture your mother. Think of her voice. Think of her voice counting to you. Don’t count numbers, count things, memories. Keep sharp. Ignore the pain, keep moving.
Run. Walk. Crawl.

Crawl! Keep crawling. Use your arms. Drag your legs. Keep counting. Keep thinking of your mother. Think of her voice. Think of her smell. Think of her counting. Count one song. Count two stories. Count three birthdays. Keep counting. Keep using your brain. Think of her tears. Keep dragging those legs. Let the doctors worry about them later. Get free. Get away. Keep crawling. Eat later. Drink later. Everything later. Don’t listen to their song. Don’t let it take over. Keep crawling, keep counting. Grab that root. Ignore the sounds behind you. Ignore the sounds below you. Drag yourself over the rocks. Breath. Do not stop. Do not listen. Move. Keep going. Ignore that their chasing has stopped. Ignore that the pain is fading. Ignore the pleasure. Ignore the song. Ignore the silence. Keep going. Keep crawling. Grab that vine. Hoist yourself over that log. Fall off the other side. Roll down the hill. Think of one. Think of two. Think of three. Keep counting. See the lights. See the wall. See the guards. See the doctors. Picture them closer. Picture them near. Do not follow the pleasure’s voice. Focus. Don’t give up. Stay with me.

Please don’t give up. You’re so close.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Atlanta, Black Lives Matter, and Civil Action

So, those of you pushing back against the recent marches, traffic disruptions, protests, and particularly bristling at and dismissing comparisons to the civil rights marches of the 60s:

Listen, I know uncertainty is scary and stressful. And I know feeling the status quo get disrupted is equally scary and stressful, especially when things don't feel that bad from where you're standing.

However, at this point, the evidence is piling pretty high indicating that thus far, most of us have lived a life insulated from the challenges that large chunks of this country have had to deal with every day, making everything anywhere from a little bit more difficult than it has to be, all the way up to life threatening. This doesn't mean your life has been easy, but it does mean there are additional challenges you've never even really sniffed.

That sort of difficulty and danger on top of life itself is worth getting mad about. That's worth stopping traffic for. That's worth marching through cities over. That's worth gnashing teeth, waved signs, and a whole lot of "how dare you not take this seriously/how dare you make this about you."

The Civil Rights Movement is baked into the narrative of American history as a victory over evil. It was taught to many of us as a straight line inevitability. This starts with the emphasis on the founding fathers that tried to get slavery abolished in the constitutional convention but had to "table it in the name of compromise" (for 90 years?!) and the downplaying of Washington and Jefferson's own chattel slave holdings.

It's not a straight line. Very little in history is. It's taught as a narrative because it's easier to digest that way, but there are very few straight lines. Any primary source accounts you read speaking out against Dr. King's marches reveal hurled invective of the ugliest type, calling him things that even ardent racists know to avoid in polite company these days, but you'll also see the same sorts of quiet, insidious, 9th grade persuasive essay style dismissals and pleadings for peace, calm, orderly action over protest, an objection to disrupting the status quo, and an insistence that the world is the way it is as a result of natural behavior and in no way because the deck is stacked against the descendants of this country's original sin.

So maybe stop before you say "No, this is nothing like that" and recognize that you're in the middle of change and the narrative isn't written for you, yet. You have to look at the moving parts and recognize for yourself what may be wrong and how you can help or, in the fullness of time, where you want to say you stood when the end of the sentences you inhabit turned to question marks.

Stop before you explain to nobody in particular that the disenfranchised, angry, and scared need to act like they have the authority and comfort of simply going to a negotiation table with a system, a concept, and a culture that struggles to even acknowledge their complaint exists, or even worse, deliberately denies it out of fear of the complexity of the solution.

Don't be denial or fear. The only sensible answer to the call "black lives matter" is "of course they do. Now, how can I help?"

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Annex the Dead

The man’s back shouted “Annex the dead!” with white paint on black leather, the lines of each letter two fingers wide. It sat like a dread warning of a bad idea taken to the point of rabid dedication where nobody would know what to do when they got there but that never slowed the drive.

It scared the shit out of Robbie, sitting there in the alley. She couldn’t help but think of thumbs pressed into soft, rotten abdomens, the complex anatomy that made humans work reduced to pointlessness without its differentiation, complexity, specialization, and focus; just a pile of “guts,” goo sifted through for something identifiable, pawed by the untrained hands of the sort of assholes that split the world into what they could use immediately and what they couldn’t.

Robbie couldn’t breath, she pressed her chest out harder, making it suck cool breathe deeper just so she could feel the evidence of air to promise her panic that it was okay, “See?”

Meanwhile, her brain shouted back waving a chair in her face like a wild-eyed lion tamer, begging in screams to do something about the men trying to kill complexity, turn gorgeous wonderful organs of circumstance and idea into easily comprehendible and therefore dismissible undifferentiated fetid slime.

Robbie sat down and squeezed the tears of rage past her defenses, maybe letting out the hot pressure of every bully she ever knew using their bodies to make the world a lie of simplicity. She wanted to lash out, to find the jacket, to pound her fists into the words and say “you can’t do that!”

They wouldn’t care, they’d say “this crazy girl” and put on a mask of empathy because empathy went soft with the kidneys and all they understood was grabbing the dangerous edges of iliac crest and pulling on hips until they had what they wanted from life.

Robbie’s breath caught in a jaw clenched just barely open in an illusion of control, she pressed both fists into the cement at her sides, seated in that alley, lifting of the ground like a baby crow, propelled by terrified rage and she shook.

They didn’t understand. They didn’t understand. They didn’t understand. They didn’t understand.

She wasn’t crazy. She wasn’t. This was wrong.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Intersectional Discourse and the Rhetorical Impact of the Modern Social Justice Movement

First, it needs to be stated, restated, emphasized, underlined, underscored, and burnt into stone with the furious passion of the stepped on and maligned: There are uncountable acts of injustice perpetrated on a startling array of oppressed groups throughout the world. This is not in question here. What is in question is the efficacy of using the language and terminology of critical analysis in widespread format without the associated inculcation and context. 

In critical analysis of literature (that has, off and on, been dominated by literary offshoots of psychoanalysis long after the field has been discredited as an area of science because it still has a useful pattern recognition capability that allows for deep/close reading of a given text), concepts like metatextuality, intertextuality, and intersectionality, are complex terms used to describe the interactions of ideas and layers of perspective and facets of society in a way that is just this side of concrete enough to grasp, if only temporarily. 

 Their use in that discourse is an exercise in academic rigor and careful contemplation of an argument. They're used to say that a work of fiction (or anything designated as text) is, through its existence in time and space, sharing real estate in the mind of a reader with other works in time and space, or on behalf of the author itself, “saying” or “meaning” any one thing is both an act of faith and a herculean effort in building a careful, thorough argument.

To use that language in an act of analysis, you have to build slowly, urging your audience to agree somewhere (and everywhere subsequently) as you recognize that you are adopting terminology and using it within the context of your argument with full acknowledgement that you are borrowing a word or term that may carry another definition at another time. For example, to evaluate a film in this way, you’d refer to the film as text, stating clearly that this is part of methodology and not some concrete assertion that despite a movie’s obvious real status as moving pictures on a screen, it’s secretly a book. You’re simply asking your audience (or opponents) to agree with you to take part in the analysis. This is why, as mentioned, this sort of work is an act of academic rigor: you have to both request and earn acceptance as your argument builds, so at your conclusion, even if you’re not acknowledged as having discovered an invariable and definitive truth about the nature of a work and the society in which it was produced, you are at least acknowledged for having demonstrated sound thinking and pointed out that something has been revealed, albeit theoretically, and that revelation is worthy of consideration outside of the context of your argument. 

 This is what academic research in the humanities is, by the way. This is how it works, this is what humanities scholars “do” (among a billion other things). And while the immediate practicality of this isn’t always apparent, you can’t use humanities scholarship to get someone to the moon or purify drinking water, what it does do is stretch the critical thinking and analysis skills of us as a species. It’s the framework that allows for great theoretical undertakings in philosophy, macro-economics, political theory; this is the space where Marx as a theorist and Marx as a political ideologist can exist together and have abso-fucking-nothing to do with one another, a theoretical Marxist can be a rampant capitalist without feeling the slightest twinge of cognitive dissonance. To speculate in the ungirded wilds of what might be possible and leading us to try new and wacky shit to make the world (hopefully) a better and more equitable place is why this, these rather, these fields exist, if you absolutely have to have a practical reason. 

So, what the fuck does this have to do with modern trends in discourse and social justice? The same theoretical terminology is being used all over the place, but instead of being couched in the theoretical space of debate, recognition of possibilities (that simultaneously overlap, sometimes contradict, and nonetheless sit nestled together in their validity), it’s being used as a grand aha, as grounds for call-outs, as an opportunity to rip the mask of civility off of anyone that may represent a part of the tacit power structure and point and scream for vengeance at the hands of a deliberate, conscious taskmaster.

This has two flaws. First, theoretical discourse does not reveal concrete hidden truths. It simply doesn’t work like that, it’s not designed to, nor is it capable of achieving that sort of end outside of its designed-intent. It’s an excellent tool to analyse, examine, and discuss, but it is not archaeology sifting through ideas and finding objective truth. It is sifting through ideas and finding other ideas that bridge them together (maybe). This makes the conclusions no less worth exploration or valuation, but it does limit the ability to shout j'accuse and righteously and indignantly point and scream “deliberate oppressor!” 

 Second, on a much more mercenary but worthwhile note: it is profoundly alienating. In far too many cases, this approach divides groups rather than bringing them together. On the one hand, that’s completely fair and fine if those taking part so choose to do so and not expect anything else. Furthermore, if the oppressed simply want to use this approach to feel absolutely justified in purging their own emotional demons over how they’ve been treated, I will absolutely not say that anyone can’t do that. Where I will draw the line is in taking seriously the notion that this approach should result in absolutely cowing any unintentional member of an oppressing group, and anything else should be considered an act of malicious defiance and encouragement of that oppression. This is hilariously fucking stupid. 

 So, where does this leave us? As I said at the start, while this approach to oppression has its issues, it is, ironically enough, demonstrably “problematic” in its end-result. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe the ivory tower needs to have its secret language popularized for a while to inspire fresh blood outside of the typical entrants and bring in a new energy and perspective to academia. After all, the rigor of science and engineering in science fiction has been up the nose of scientists and engineers for nearly a century, but it has inspired countless ideas from countless new devotees. 

The end question that must be asked is this: is a tool used in the “wrong” way that still accomplishes its goal (and then some) really claimable as “wrong?” Or is this simply an evolution and an opportunity to expand the immediate practical reach of critical analysis? That’s going to have to be a question for posterity. The optimist in me says “yeah, actually.” The pessimist says “it’ll fade and move on, having ultimately damaged the reputation of literary scholars and theorists.” The answer to that pessimist is, of course, that the reputation of literary theorists can’t get any worse anyway, so fuck it, why not let people do what they want to express their anger and argue their point? I may bristle internally when I see it, but at least people are trying.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Time Travel Naps

Space is not the final frontier. It’s space-time. Here’s the shit part. Becoming aware of that dimension enough to travel in it really just revealed new and greater energy demands. It was like finding a brand new grocery store next to a garbage can you steal food out of, and realize you can’t afford anything anyway. Granted, it helped with relativity, in that if you are dipping in and out at points in time (the farther, the harder, mind you),so you didn’t have to worry about missing anything, it’s just another coordinate. Exploration was only a suicide mission because most of the cosmos are way more dangerous than all the Australian wildlife jokes combined, but it wasn’t like “Captain Buzzcut is leaving his sperm behind to go punch him some mouthy orangutans”-inevitable, not anymore.

The trick was time passing for travellers, since they were booping in and out of it. We just froze people at first, because it turns out that’s kind of easy when you get around the whole thaw-induced psychosis and enuresis (the dribblin’ crazies, we called ‘em), but eventually we realized that there was this sort of timeless vacuum out there, except it wasn’t an absence like we consider space, it was substance. The solution was, and pardon the lack of a proper metaphor, we let some of that “in” to handle perishable elements without trapping the whole vessel. Complicated as hell containment stuff. Magnetic fields, all that. After all, too much un-time meant that everything would lock in place and stop moving, since transit still was slaved to time-as-vector. If you left time as we know it completely unshielded, you just halted everything a big way. We lost a lot of shit that way (and found a keen, albeit kind of ridiculous, solution for waste).

So, we started to analyze time and space in new ways. The discovery flipped our perception on its ear; we realized that what we thought of as hard vacuum really was exactly that, and there was substance, or whatever, on the outside pouring in. Sort of. Kind of. A lot of this research involved figuring out what was detected first in the transitional state, last, etc.

Eventually we figured out how to work with it, which we realized was not what the universe was expanding into, but the edge itself, like scum on a wave a mix of properties of both sides, coalescing into more universe. It’s something we wish we discovered before theorizing about quantum foam; naming it “the scum” because “foam” was taken seems to sell this miraculous wave of creation short.

Basically, this edge, this scum, it burns dark matter to create energy to expand, the byproduct is hydrogen, which pops up like free radicals, apparently at random, repopulating the universe with galaxies, stars, etc.

This is why we’re not too worried about heat death. Is it eventually going to happen? I mean, maybe? Clearly we don’t know shit.

But given the massive fucking brilliant engine we’re living in, it’s going to take a hilariously long time. Oh, that reminds me, there’s a paradox, because there’s always a paradox, but we think that this is the first time in any continuum that somebody figured out time travel. There isn’t one huge civilization that isn’t treadmilling through existence when they hit the end, whatever that is, so they either die first or don’t bother or something. Anyway, bringing it back home, the void, un-time.

So, we needed a preservative that involved no psychosis and pants-wetting, but it kept the vessels moving through. It’s hard to describe the process but we. . .not bottled, not captured, sort of open up a window to the outside of the scum, uh, have you ever tried to “grab” sea scum? It looks like you have so much, but you’re left with wet hands and some bubbles. We do that with this violently mechanical apparatus that rams crew through the gates and rips them back out in fractions of seconds. We have to wrap the whole thing in a sort of hydrogen envelope because it works like a controlled burn in a wildfire, whatever’s out there won’t cross it because it’s easier to go around, so it sort of funnels what we want where we want it. Anyway.

First, it’s loud. The machine burns dirty and hot (turns out low energy particles can survive longer in the scum, so it’s diesel, swear to God, we use diesel) and it produces a sonic boom on the return trip.

Basically, they get called the cacophony gates because of all the sturm und drang. Now, you’ve barely in there, but in that relative instant, 1,000 years might pass in the ship (time is fucking weird close to the gates, another benefit).

Which brings us to transit. Transit is easy-ish in that once you learn how to get out of time and navigate re-entry; no, inaccurate, you don’t leave, you move onto the skin, (different than the scum), forward is super easy, we really just have the ship hide and wait. Returns get sticky, but are doable. To be honest, I never quite got how. Used to be, forward or back, the ship looked like it was just sitting there waiting for however much time they were moving through, kind of just like hitting pause. Nothing ever happened, but the easy target prospect made the brass nervous.

We’ve refined it since; skin transverse takes just as long, but allows time/space coordinate departure/arrival. It’s great. Truly, until we made it illegal as fuck because we found out time was as fragile as science fiction had feared, except instead of Emperor Hitler-Batman, any iterations that deviated resulted in a fucking explosion. We found this out when an early experiment had a researcher going to watch Tunguska and fucking caused it when he stepped on a fucking pinecone.

This is why “time bombs” take on a new, awful meaning. All in, we got a lot of new technology and got access to new cosmic mysteries for people to be dicks about. Anyway, that’s why grandpa needs a nap. Does that answer your question, Billy?”

“What? No! I asked where mom was. Grandpa! Why did you tell me that? Can you go to jail for that? I’m freaking out, here. Can I?”

“Yes, Billy. You can. Now get me a beer or you’re going to Leavenworth.”

“You’re an asshole, grandpa.”

“A thirsty asshole, Billy. Chop chop.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Word Nerd Yells at Racists!

It's that time again, folks. I just saw someone whining about "gibberish" in pop music destroying society, etc. First, stop. Just in general, this is the boringest boring-person argument ever about anything, and just trumpets the ignorance of the speaker so, you know, knock that off.

Here's a great tip: If something new and different sounds strange and therefore "bad" to you, it's more than likely 1. not for you and/or 2. coming from unfamiliar cultural source material. Give it a shot, ya'know? Or don't, whatever.

Anyway, they cited Rhianna's "Work" as an example of this dumbening. (Shut up, "dumbening" is a perfectly cromulent word!). Okay, so, conspicuous, depressing racism aside, you guys know the song isn't gibberish, right? The woman is from Barbados. The song is written/performed in Bajan, not standard English. Now, because Bajan is an English Creole, there's a ton of intelligibility, but the bits that sound off to an English speaker's ear are because, for starters, Bajan uses a lot of English grammar but it conjugates differently (zero copula, for example), and has a lot of loan words from Igbo, Manjaku, and Twi.

So, I can practically hear some of you, "How should I know that? Who has the time? Shut up, Drew! You're fat and stupid! Nobody cares! Shouldn't you be shaving your legs or something? Show us more dogs! We don't know what that girl sees in you!" Listen, I don't disagree with any of that. However, here's what I'm saying: if you're gonna talk about how "everything is falling apart" or whatever because of some snap judgment you made about something unfamiliar to you, 1. you're probably being at least a little racist since a lot of "unfamiliar" elements of pop culture are coming from, you know, those pesky voices that aren't being effectively shushed anymore (yay!), and 2. Maybe just do a little Googling before you spout off. Just a little! You think I knew all that crap about Bajan? I had a vague idea because I work with Barbadians (among other EC folks), and I know that language is a complicated thing because, you know, I went to college, but mostly it was 45 minutes on Wikipedia (which should have been 20 seconds, but I got sucked down a hole of really neat language stuff and then started reading about the Panama Canal). Anyway, moral of the story:

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Semi-Sequel. Sorting out Commentary and Genre in a Post-Barthes World

In the last piece, I essentially defended my opinion on The VVitch and found myself stumbling through the implications and complexities of genre fiction. Okay, quick and dirty background. This guy named Barthes put forward an idea called “the death of the author,” essentially that it doesn’t matter what a writer intended with their work, that the reader is where meaning is created and how conclusions are drawn. A major complicating factor is everything that the reader has ever read (and their life experience) influences that meaning. It’s also arguable that everything the author ever read is similarly influential.

There are two big takeaways here. Well, there are a bunch, but the two I’m going to point out here are as follows:

First, this potentially means that the act of reading (or ingesting media in general) is basically crossing a river, and that as we are, all of us, pretty much always consuming more stories and living through our lives, you can never cross that same river twice. The flow doesn’t stop. You can focus on a particularly vivid and meaningful crossing, analyze, apply, and dissect it, but that’s it. And I’d maintain that analysis, in fact, similarly changes the meaning because the act creates new text that someone else could subsequently ingest. Moreover, the basic principles of how confirmation bias works means that the act of creation and revision (especially revision) are creating an ouroboros of self-referential thinking.

Second, this means that any defensible conclusion (defensible being analytically concluded through argument and referential evidence) is valid. At the same time, that conclusion is easily dismissed as a theoretical construct. This ties back to the other previous piece (II. The Pitfalls. . .) governing the popular misconception that social analysis results in concrete and unassailable conclusions rather than positions worthy of  acknowledgement and, in many cases, internal (personal and societal) examination.

And subsequently, what does that mean? It means value and meaning of a given text or idea are not invariable, nor even really definable so much as circumscribed and arguable. What it does not mean is this implies a lack of value, it just means it can’t be measured in troy ounces but instead the potential impact it has.

So what does this have to do with genre? At the end of the last piece, I started to unravel a bit when I acknowledged that for The VVitch to work as a story of a woman’s empowerment by categorically removing herself from a society with catastrophic consequences, regardless of her initial intent, is that, in and of itself, through the nature of the story’s chosen medium (horror) a commentary on that liberation and empowerment? That by using a violent, deadly, supernatural setting, that a woman finding that freedom and empowerment is inherently unnatural, violent, deadly and potentially not worth the cost?

I’d say that the argument can have its place just as much as it’s completely contradictably arguable, defensible that genre is used here to sever, but not completely sever, a connection to current day society and allow an audience to more easily digest what’s going on (or miss it completely, or receive it subtextually), and allow an artist to explore the potentially difficult critique of a society that maligns and mistreats, in ways both subtle and gross, half the population.

Another example of this might be the slasher genre from the 1980s, specifically the Jason Vorhees movies. A friend and former professor and I once discussed these as a monument to “traditional family values” as a part of the culture wars at the time. It’s hard to miss the well-behaved, chaste woman is depicted as the hero while, one by one, the hypersexual partying teens are almost exclusively killed (in sometimes ironic fashion) while “misbehaving” against these traditional family values. Moreover, the monster Jason was (in at least one version) created in the first place because the kids that were supposed to be protecting him, supposed to behave responsibly and live up to their societal expectations at a summer camp, were negligent and he died. This is a keen and specific message to send to an audience (it goes without saying that the well behaved, chaste woman character is also the most likeable, another indicator of a potential message here, the good girl is the nice one, folks. Partying, do what they want kids are jerks).

However, once again, there are instances where Jason, as a child, was already disfigured and/or mentally disabled, and therefore neglected for being different. In the context of the 1980s and the western hemisphere’s punk rock explosion, all of this completely reframes the “bad” kids, making their partying lifestyle (something more socially acceptable if not a non-starter for judgment) among counter culture perspectives incidental to the story. Instead, their lack of character is demonstrated by their shallow neglect. In this sense, Jason represents social progress and/or a power fantasy of the outsider element representing a threat to the “real” problem, “rich mean pretty kids.”

A third option brings us back to the second argument I referenced in the VVitch and (slightly) unpacked here: That if the first or second are what they are, genre can either be a vehicle to tell those stories, or the stories are completely subverted or commented on by that genre. In the first case, the religious right/moral majority represents a hideous, unthinking monster set to destroy free spirits that aim to misbehave. By the same token, genre here implies that the outsider element is similarly monstrous and reactionary, far over-reaching any appropriate methods to affect change or even reach the open minded accommodation outsiders tend to profess, insinuating that calls for understanding and open-mindedness are only present because they are on the outside being judged and that when the roles are reversed, they would be perpetrators of the same crime.

Despite their completely contradictory nature, I don’t think any of these are invalid. Nor do I think they have more or less value depending on the results of that contradiction. The value comes from the inspiration of deeper critical thinking, further close reading, and the acknowledgement that we are complex, our art reflects that complexity even when it may seem like it doesn’t, and that the elements of analysis can scale with the level of the analyzer. What I will say though is there is value in an ability to move in and out of an argument, to ascend/descend through the levels of observation and argumentation (without hierarchy) in the interest of continually evolving perspective.