I did a data visualization cloud of all my blog posts, and barring “this,” “that” and “think,” my most prominent words were image, then human, then words (i’m ignoring “technology” for the moment). As I sit here looking back through the semester trying to think about murder (as public work) and as a sort of literacy, I think those interests—those words—are accurate representations of my thoughts, my thought-conundrums. I have previously thought of murder as something I was making, have called myself a “murder-maker”—troubling as that may be—in a way, that is what I saw my work as: I was making murder differently, letting others decide if it was well or badly composed (I love my Latour). Yet, as I am seeing again murder, I am realizing my own investment as imagistic. I’m not sure why it took me all semester and a silly wordle to figure this out, but I have always been visually and aesthetically invested, would it be such a surprise that my interest in murder is not at the level of the body, but at the level of the image-event? And that the aesthetics I am after have to do with the aestheticization of life itself?
I have lost hours now (in the last week) to murder at the level of the image. What I mean by that is not bodies and corpses, but digital remains of those who have been murdered, traces of them in social networking. This suggests that I am not obsessed with the murders exactly, but the image-events surrounding the death of a person. I want image-event here to mean all those non-linguistic and linguistics practices that make-up or surrounds the event of a murder (in Pittsburgh, as I locate it).
Literacy, something I am still struggling to define, doesn’t do much to take up image-events as I have defined them here. I’m interested in that. I’m interested in what we might be missing by reducing most everything to language. Words are a preoccupation of mine, but so are viruses and non-organic energy, so are images (obviously). I want to make sense of my semester long overuse of image, human, and words in this way: I wonder if what I’m after in my work (besides doing public work) is the image-event as it relates to and is a human in digital spaces?
It is not the bodies I’m after, but the circulation of body, of human, in digital spaces that so troubles me, intrigues’ me, takes-me-over.
I wonder if literacy wants to take into account image-nonlinguistic-events, too? Or even simpler, I wonder if literacy wants to take into account all the material flows other than language or text that produce knowledge, that we do read, and that we do make sense out of.
I sit here, then, unable to define the brand of literacy I want to work on, but I am reminded of Lauren’s post, where she critiques our own endless desire to define (in her example it was pedagogy—she says this: we desperately want a definition for [pedagogy] but are unable to agree upon one, and perhaps the biggest problem that emerges from that situation is that, then, in something like Hayles’s article we get a rather reductive/incompete/unsatisfying discussion of “pedagogy”).
Instead of define, then, I will just do—do literacy—and see if that creates anything in the world.
Did I get too far off the subject?