Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day Four or Something.

4:33 PM - 23 August 2008

So Sianne Ngai frontmattered her panel this morning with a lecture on zany-ness. Allow me to oversimplify: Etymologically speaking, the word "zany" is derived from "Zanni," the name of a stock character in 16th century Italian comedic theater that satirized "Giannis" (migrant workers). The Zany character is essentially a disaster-magnet laborer that just can't seem to work—see: Lucille Ball selling Vitameatavegamin, Lucille Ball and Charlie Chaplin at work in factories, Amelia Bedelia keeping house (me in the office)—but for Ngai, the Zany is also a pop- and/or high-culture (depending) manifestation of our anxieties about labor in a capitalist system. There's an absurdity to our 'work so you can rest so you can get up and work to get home in time to rest to get to work on time' lives, and perhaps the Zany allows us to see that without having to say it. We're tired of "cool," of neatly presented info, of smooth-running paperwork, or orderly emails—we take pleasure seeing gears get jammed. (Simplifying.) But there was so much to her talk (zany gender issues, zany longing for bottom-up instead of top-down management (zany-synidicalism?)) and people descended on Ngai like flies on a soft plum afterward.

Quote of the day: "Why do we still need a dancing hot dog in the age of coolness?" —Sianne Ngai

Mark Wallace tells us that labor can be pleasurable and that, therefore, we can count poetic acts as labor. *Poetry is labor.* Words can "elect to dance and caper," and still serve a serious function.

Um, just overheard: "So, like, how do you self-publish something?"

Note: everything in quotes is lifted from the KPC poets, their lectures and their poems. I have to acknowledge how many words I've 'ganked.'

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