And, I’m not going to lie, I took a major break from working on my thesis over our winter recess. Some things in my personal life were really affecting me deeply and keeping me from feeling inspired or motivated to work–despite loving my subject matter. I’m not trying to make any excuses, just state reality. I was unable to find the inspiration to work for most of my break. There were many late nights spent up trying so hard to work and finding nothing but frustration and, I’ll admit, some tears. It’s not that I didn’t want to work; I couldn’t.
Towards the end of winter recess, I did begin writing some more and completing two additional sections of my thesis. I think they could be “bulked up” some but, overall, they have thoughtful ideas in them and a focus. Thinking about my thesis as more of a map of my own thinking and mapping for this project has helped me generate content. I’m less worried about making some grand statement or about impressing anyone and more concerned with making my project make sense to others. I want my own thinking to be center stage. I believe it is my perspective that makes this work compelling. More, I want to write my thesis in my own voice and with my own words. I don’t want to use recycled, academic jargon.
I don’t want to be a part of some academic circle-jerk.
In this process, I’ve been really thinking about Hugo Ball’s quote, “This humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” and how I want to convey that kind of tenacity and courageous belligerence through my work. Ultimately, I think it is the courageous and rebellious spirit of Dadaism and new forms of digital content creation that resonates with me and, I believe, with others. That’s a large part of where the connection lies. These emergent, digital expressions like Eliterature, memes, shitposting, etc. are our responses to the utter bullshit the world has become in so many ways. This is how we sass the powers that be. This is how we snark. How we rebel. How we drag the powers that be back down into the dirt and dust they left us in and remind them that we are still here and those powers that be have NOT earned a speck of our respect. Perhaps its pathological but it’s definitely ideological.
The more I read and the more I think about this subject matter the more compelled I am to believe that this is a revolutionary shift in thinking and in creating. Online spaces and the digital realm have provided us with so much opportunity and resource to unionize. Ideas are powerful in these spaces. They can have real world impact. I think it is so important now more than ever to understand that and to want to understand how. That’s what I feel like I am doing with my work. More, it feels like I’m trying to develop this new analytical lens to look at content like this because, quite frankly, I think our traditional lenses are antiquated and not super suited to do this job. I hope that by combining a literary lens with an art historical one, there can be new understanding. There can be a new recognition and appreciation of meaning.
So often, new forms of creating are dismissed for not being “meaningful” enough. Especially content like memes and gifs and shitposting–they’re all discounted and dismissed as being another meaningless aspect of Millennial culture. It’s insulting. Also, it’s ignorant and negligent and seems to be the powers that be trying desperately to neutralize a challenge to their power. Trying to stave off a challenge to the establishment.
But, I don’t think it’s working. And, I think those powers know that.
New forms of content creation are how we communicate with each other now. They are how we express our feelings of pride and contempt. They have become conduits , deeply embedded with rich and diverse meaning. If they seem like challenges to the powers that be, that’s because they are. These symbols say “we know what’s going on”. They say “we know and f*ck you for thinking we wouldn’t”.
Maybe I’m projecting some of my own feelings onto this medium but I think that, if even half of what I’m saying applies to this subject, then that is noteworthy and it is sure as hell meaningful.
I was beaten down at the beginning of this break but, after everything and remembering Hugo Ball’s words, I’m back up on my feet and ready to take some swings at the establishment. I’m ready to fight back. Bite back. I’m pissed that I let anything stop me from doing what I love to do–writing and calling out assh*les for being assh*les. For only seeing garbage where’s there’s solid gold.
Best believe I’m making a comeback
and coming for the crown.
This humiliating age has not succeeded in winning my respect. That’s for damn sure.
Down nine times but I get up ten.
~Till next time~