You are here: Home > in which i embarass myself with poorly researched comments about other people's blogs and laugh at spideremo

May 10, 2007

in which i embarass myself with poorly researched comments about other people's blogs and laugh at spideremo

Posted by dogpossum on May 10, 2007 12:42 PM in the category academia

It suddenly got cold yesterday and today I've shut the window so I don't get cold while I work.

Last night The Squeeze and I went on a date and saw SpidermanEmo 3. It was boring, but it was nice to see Topher, who I think should have been Spiderman all along. Glen talks about it a bit and makes that joke far more effectively than I can.
Then we went to have dinner at Bismi, because I wanted something Indian and with the sort of spices and chilli levels that skips don't like, and because I'm obsessed. It was goood: best roti in the whole world. Then we walked home (about 30minutes walk) and remembered the days when I first moved to Melbourne and walked everywhere, before I discovered bikes.
The Squeeze and I (in the days of Not Dating) would go out for dinner or a film or something interesting a couple of days a week, walking from my place in Carlton North to the Nova or Brunswick Street or whereever, carefully not touching. Then we would come back to my place, drink a lot of tea and watch some telly. Then he'd go home. It was all very 1950s and quite surprised my friends. It seems we are, therefore, an excellent advertisement for abstinence, because we're still together four (or is it five?) years later.

Now I'm sitting at the computer, trying to ignore the laundry detergent perfume that's rising from a pile of clean laundry next to me. I erred when purchasing the detergent, and it's not enviro-safe. Which seems to translate to 'way over-perfumed'. I'm also trying to finish editing that paper, but it's not really happening.

I'm also wondering about notions of vernacularness, especially after reading about Jean's recent conference experiences and her vernacular creativity on the street post. I really enjoy Jean's blog and her articles. But I can't help but giggle at that entry's post - for me, the term 'vernacular dance' is really the same as saying 'street dance' (especially a that's the better-known term with dancers). To see the implied surprise/delight in finding vernacular creativity on the street makes me smile. I like her enthusiasm and genuine pleasure in the drummer on a Boston street, and her sense of affinity, and fellow-buskerness. But something isn't sitting right. I need to follow up that thought.

I also think I need to read more about this vernacular stuff that those doods have been doing in Brisvegas, esp in reference to flickr. I just know those big brains are saying something really neat. But somewhere, I'm feeling uncomfortable with the way the term vernacular is being used. There is the implication that people are writing from outside a vernacular culture, and all the resistant stuff of 'vernacular' is getting lost. I know that's probably completely inaccurate, but I just... I just feel like I've missed something. In fact, I'm pretty certain it's my error in comprehension, rather than their error in writing, and I need to fix it. But not right now - when I've finished this article, ok? Or maybe I should read it all now, before I publish this...

Seeing as how this is what I'm writing about in my paper right now, here's a chunk where I define 'vernacular dance':

Lindy hop began in Africa, where dance was firmly planted in the everyday life of every person. Some ten million men, women and children were sent into slavery to the Americas from Africa – primarily west Africa – between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. They brought with them the music and dance traditions of a number of different African nations and cultures, as well as a history of slavery prior to the European invasions. Dance in west Africa was a significant part of public and community life, and Katrina Hazzard-Gordon writes in Jookin’: the Rise of Social Dance Formations in African-American Culture that "We can say without exaggeration that dance competency, if not proficiency, is required of all individuals in west African society" (1990, pp. 4), and she extrapolates from this to site dance in all west African descended communities. Africanist dance forms – dances brought to various other communities throughout the Americas and beyond – not only share steps and specific movements, but also more general tropes in terms of aesthetics of choreography and physiology. They also share similar approaches to the social function of dance. Dance is seen not as a ‘leisure’ activity or ‘work’ or ‘performance’, bracketed from normal life as it is in mainstream Australian culture today. It is in everyday life as rhythmic movement. This everydayness is read as a key feature of vernacular dance, wherever and in whichever culture it is found. A study of vernacular dance as everyday cultural practice seems the natural preserve of a cultural studies project, and in the following discussion I will both refine my definition of the concept of vernacular dance, and therefore its role as a public discourse for the representation of individuals’ identities and ideas and the negotiation of consensual ideology in public space.
The word ‘vernacular’ is commonly associated with discussions of language and dialect, referring to the language used by ordinary or everyday people. In a discussion of dance, the essence of the term is taken to refer to the everyday or ordinary common dances of a particular dance or culture. Though I take African American vernacular dance as my central concern, there is a substantial body of dance studies literature discussing vernacular dance in other cultures, including Sheenagh Pietrobruno's work on salsa. Vernacular dance is distinguished from concert or theatre dance through its positioning in everyday spaces, rather than existing only as a formalised, and usually choreographed performance of a particular dance on a concert stage. It is intrinsically participatory and happens in all sorts of spaces, both public and private.
Vernacular dance also always exists in a state of constant change, responding to the desires, interests and needs of its participants, reflecting the ideological and social values of a particular community at a particular time. This rhythmic hybridity (to use the term in Stuart Hall’s sense) and mutability offers evidence for dance as social discourse. All dance serves as a public forum for the presentation and discussion competing ideological positions, the representation of the self and the representation of ideology on the social dance floor, in the bodies of dancers. Its mutability and reflexivity allows performers to improvise and rework or introduce new steps to suit their cultural and social needs. Ralph Ellison describes African American vernacular in the following terms in Going to the Territory:
I see the vernacular as a dynamic process in which the most refined styles from the past are continually merged with the play-it-by-ear improvisations from which we invent in our efforts to control our efforts to control our environment and entertain ourselves. And this is not only in language and literature, but in architecture and cuisine, in music, costume, and dance, and in tools and technology. In it the styles and techniques of the past are adjusted to the needs of the present, and in its integrative action the high styles of the past are democratized… Wherever we find the vernacular process operating we also find individuals who act as transmitters between it and earlier styles, tastes, and techniques. In the United States all social barriers are vulnerable to cultural styles (1986, pp. 139–41).

Posted by dogpossum on May 10, 2007 12:42 PM in the category academia