¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 When I volunteered to write about the “Authorship” chapter of Planned Obsolescence, I did not realize how relevant it would be to my experience with this very blog. In fact, the reason I volunteered so quickly to take one of the chapters is that I spent a good deal of time last week on an 800-word response to “Critical Making” that never made it onto the site, as I deemed it too rough, thematically roving, and frankly unfinished to share; the writerly anxiety Fitzpatrick addresses in this chapter is real! I myself am deeply nervous about the process of “drafting in public,” and for proof you need look no further than my Twitter feed, which is composed almost entirely of links to other people’s work. The following description of our prioritization of product over process hits the nail on the head for me: “As long as we are in the process of writing, we have not yet completed it, and without completion, we cannot get credit for what we have produced; we haven’t accomplished anything.” (Also, this is literally true of my not-quite-a-blog-post; I will have to start all over with a different subject entirely on my way to completing the requisite six posts for this course!)
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I should also note that I recognize the irony of my having suggested we do these blog posts individually rather than in groups “because the form (‘provocation’) was better suited to individual creation” following by my having accidentally selected the chapter built around challenging our assumptions about authorship, including the idea that it is something best done alone. But one of things that I loved about this reading is that Fitzpatrick does not take a This Changes Everything approach, but rather asks us to consider the ways in which new technological tools and innovations highlight and amplify processes which have been taking place all along; “the author,” she argues, “is not operating—and has never operated—in a vacuum, but has always been a participant in an ongoing conversation.” Further, her framing of the collective “not as the elimination of the individual, but rather as composed of individuals” seems to perfectly capture what we are doing with this assignment in particular, and with this blog in general, by having a handful of us write individual responses in a public forum, where others can read and comment before we all reconvene in class on Wednesday.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 The one area where I would push back on Fitzpatrick’s analysis in this chapter is with respect to her envisioning of a future of “multimodal argument.” I do not agree with her claim that “the boundary between the ‘critical’ and the ‘creative,’ if it exists at all, is arbitrary.” Although I am not prepared to lay out a detailed case for where such a boundary lies, I do think it exists, which is not to say that a work cannot be both critical and creative; there is certainly an obvious creative element to any form of writing, including argumentative writing. But I struggle to see how argument can exist in the absence of language—after all, even code requires logical operators. If what she means is not language but the written word, then I suppose I agree, with the caveat that I’m not sure how radical “multimodal argument” really is if it merely refers to delivery of the same sort of analytic content presented in non-textual forms. How much has the “fundamental nature of analysis itself” really changed between my writing “If A, then B” and my saying “If A, then B” over a podcast? Has my argument fundamentally changed between my writing a paper and my presenting that same paper at an academic conference?
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 I remain skeptical that there is ontological difference there, though I will concede that there is at least a pragmatic case to be made for not abandoning traditional forms of scholarship entirely, lest one anger her colleagues and be cast out of the academy into the outer darkness. I just so fundamentally believe that valid argument is the proper aim of academic pursuits and the best path to knowledge (see also my previous post on this blog).