Metaphorically Speaking, of course


The video above is a one-minute riff from lyricist Jay Electronica, rhyming over a portion of the soundtrack from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. At minute 1:05 in the video below Mr. Electronica states “I took eternal sunshine and I looped it, no drums, no hook, just new shit…”. Such creativity in a genre where flow is often shaped or determined by the bass line, and deemed club–worthy or massively appealing by the repetitive charm of the refrain or “the hook”. I find this piece by Jay Electronica to be both inspired, touching, original, lyrically or technically proficient. Such inspiration and balance is what I am honing within myself and my work.

This video is a visual music project that I found on YouTube wherein someone composed a series of visualizations to match the electronic and heavy bass tones, thrummings and harmonies within Erykah Badu’s outro “I Want You”. The artist’s rationale for using the rather geometric forms seems rather intuitive to me, though it does not match the content or rather Erykah Badu’s lyrics, which are much more tactile than the cold electronic impulses featured in the visualization. This is the process: trial and error, success and near misses. I appreciate all of these artists (Erykah Badu included) for having the courage to see their unique vision through to a final product.

I have spent the past two and one half years [of my life and PhD program] immersed in thought about the conceptual aspect of my academic journey. I have been engaged in the most intense type of navel gazing, peering deep into the center of my intellectual belly from where my academic instincts, impulses and ideas are emanate. I have learnt to ask research questions that offer the chance for novel encounters with the everyday,  to craft research projects that ideologically and materially matched the research question and my underlying guiding principles, and am now embarking on the third aspect of this tripartite quest…to express my ideas in such a manner that is fun to write and read and would to some great degree be enjoyable to a general reader (fingers crossed!) See the Mathieu Boogaerts Video below…We all want to be understood and creations enjoyed, right?

I have learned that my particular challenge with academic writing is not my facility or familiarity with so called $10-words, rather it is the challenge that I have laid for myself:  to express myself [literally] in the vein or manner that I do verbally – with the fluid and vivid use of metaphor, symbolssimilescultural referents and “humanizing” anecdotes to bring abstract or theoretical ideas to the realm of the everyday. Huh? What?  I mean to say dynamic, possibly even amusing and image-rich storytelling, that is flexible enough to allow the listener or reader ample opportunity to craft their own visualizations and understanding of the topic at hand.

I now realize that I have felt stalled because this is quite an ambitious intellectual project to embark upon while in the midst of PhD study. After all, PhD study is the opportunity to learn how “to do” research, to fine tune my early career realm of expertise and research interests while garnering some publication credits along the way toward an academic career. I have expanded that notion for myself, be I believe that PhD study is the  Journey to Ixtlan wherein we apprentice within a depersonalizing system, laboring gainst our very nature to find a way [toward the thing we resisted in the first place] our original voice. It is only after negotiating various obstacles, challenges, fears and distractions that we receive the certification, never having left where we began and yet, unable to return to where we started, inevitably and irrevocably transformed in some way.

As I write this I realize that I have approached this work as if I am in the monastery studying toward spiritual heights which is challenging when one needs to produce material products within specific timeframes. I finally grasp the fact that for this degree I only need to produce work that approaches my ultimate goal for writing. And now understand all of my projects to be akin to experiments. Even though I don’t use human or animal subjects, or replicate the very same processes over and over, I do try different ways of conveying my point and continue to shift to include what works and modify what is useful while dismissing what is less so. Experiments.

My experiments are the results of life lessons. Life lessons are integral to my intellectual process. My intellectual process opens understanding. Understanding fuels my courage. My courage compels my academic progress. My academic progress instills pride. I am proud to learn my life lessons.

Ashe.

Shawndel

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