Sunday, April 18, 2004

 
Brain gridlock. I sometimes get so worked up, so full of ideas and possibilities and contradictory thoughts, that I just can't organise them all and I get into a state of brain gridlock. I'm in this state right now. This morning I was reading yesterday's Age and there was an article by Christopher Scanlon that both excited and disheartened me.

Basically, it concurred uncannily with my own ideas about class, as laid out in my MA thesis about bogans that's being marked now. What I was saying was that the bogan is often conceptualised as a class-based figure, but that these conventional visions of boganness display a cultural rather than economic understanding of class. Instead, I reconfigured the bogan as a discursive figure that provided a partial, temporary resolution to cultural and political contradictions within Australian national identity.

Back in December/January when I came up with this idea, it was really exciting to me because it directly linked episodes of 'bogans' in the media with neo-liberal discourses like mutual obligation, the battler, mandatory reporting, the so-called 'aspirational voter' and ideas of consumer-based class distinctions as described by Bourdieu and, later, Bennett, Emmison and Frow in Accounting For Tastes (a book that my supervisor never steered me towards, although its relevance was fucking obvious. My examiners had to alert (and alarm) me in their reports. How fucked is that?)

But I'm digressing. I was really excited reading the Scanlon article because it said that Kath & Kim "describes class better than any academic textbooks on the subject", or something like that anyway. I mean, look at that enormous gap in the publishing market, just waiting for me! My thesis had a chapter about K&K! And I get academics, students and members of the weird spazzo public emailing me all the time asking for my opinion about bogans. Yet, my book proposal has already been knocked back by two publishers because it falls between markets: it's too parochial to work for an international publisher; it's too specific in subject matter to be a uni textbook; it's too populist to be a normal academic book and it's too academic to be a popular non-fiction book.

I was also really disheartened to read the Scanlon piece because it shows that my ideas aren't particularly original. I had the same disheartenment when I read a review of the latest Griffith Review which is themed "Webs of Power" and, as the reviewer said, is about the "latest trend" in academia: network theory. How am I going to find an original space for my own thoughts about networking? I mean, I realise that the idea itself is as academically hoary as "rhizomes" and "cyborgs", and that The Tipping Point came out in 2000, and that the insights of "cool hunters" are so common within marketing circles that you might as well add them to the Four Ps.

Basically (and perhaps naively), the only thing I can cling to amid all the shit that rains down upon me is the idea that I am capable of original thought. Or more accurately, that I am capable of presenting old thoughts in original ways. Perhaps this is why the weird spazzos' dismissal of my ideas as tired and clich├ęd cuts me to the quick. So, I'm in brain gridlock, trying to work out who I should pitch my book to next, and awash with new ideas for my cultural studies work, and humiliated because I put the wrong URL on a group email I sent to, like, every cultural studies person in Australasia, and overwhelmed by my lack of time to read and write and research while organising the antiTHESIS launch, worrying that nobody will ever desire me, keeping it together at work and appearing sane to others. If you've reached this point in this stream-of-consciousness post then I congratulate you.

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