Sunday, January 27, 2008

Keith Sawyer, "Improvisational Creativity: An Analysis of Jazz Performance"

I thought this piece was quite interesting! I am often annoyed by assignments that I feel have no relevance to my life and goals as a teacher/writer/academic-- but this piece about jazz improvisational performance was fresh, new and totally engaging! I wonder if other jam bands and groups of musicians that have played together for long periods of time also use a similar form of sub/conscious ideation, interaction and balance of structure and innovation when they play together to come up with new material? At any rate, I thought Sawyer's analysis of jazz performance was intriguing and educational. I should have read that before listening to the mix-tape Dr. Stacey made for us.... I feel like I know a lot more about what is meant by the very word "jazz" after reading this piece. And, more importantly, I can call my dad now and tell him I finally know why I should appreciate jazz music and will never complain or call it noise again.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ramage ch 1 and 2

Ok, so here goes an odd and unnatural attempt at blogging... as a required class activity for English 612: Developing Writing Abilities with Dr. David Stacey, whom I trust wholly whenever he requests a task that seems oddly directionless and surely prone to misinterpretation.

So, again, here goes:

The reading I completed first for this class was the first Ramage assignment in Rhetoric: A User's Guide, referred to from here as RUG. In the first two chapters I was annoyed by the extreme binaries constructed and relied upon in the process of defining rhetoric in a way that is seemingly both/and.

The "Serious person"? What's going on there? Why are we demonizing folks who "strive for clarity and simplicity of language" (8)? Because it is the counterpart in an effective binary association between Rhetorical People and Serious People. If this book is on rhetoric, and we could therefore consider the author at least a skilled scholar of rhetoric, why can't they use a different rhetorical strategy than oppositional arguments and dualistic associations? Isn't their definition of rhetoric itself a negative one? Why not attempt a positive definition... it has been how many centuries? 

I guess the binary bugs me because I am not exactly the common audience for this book. I am amazed at how desperately I clutch at my Women's Studies background, but moments like this are another example of it. Where do I fall? In the simple definitions of Serious People, I find myself! But then the book goes on to demonize this simplification so as to construct Rhetorical People as so very superior intellectually. 

Aside from the dualism, I totally dug the slow-food analogy and the analysis of legal rhetoric was thought-provoking. This illustration of rhetoric, though still vague and evasive, is much more digestible for me (as an almost hostile skeptic) than many I have encountered.