Because at its worst, what we mean when we say “I don’t want to put labels on people” is “I haven’t actually stopped dating my ex.” It’s a relationship cliche that “I don’t want to put a label on this” is just another way of saying “I’m unwilling to commit,” or “I’m excluding myself from this label because I want the benefits it implies, but not the obligations.” When we refuse to add labels to who we are, we’re refusing to recognize any commonality—or at least, any nameable commonality—with anyone. When my son calls me “Dad,” he labels me. To deny the label is to deny something essential about who we are to one another.
Come with me this far, at least: March Fadness is in truth an essay made of essays, a great metaekphrasis using art and memory to heighten and sharpen one another’s mystery. March Fadness is rooted in a belief that art—even the one-hit wonders of the 90s—offers access to humanity.
These votes are immensely complex; if two of us vote for the same song, can we say with any certainty that those two votes mean the same thing? We cannot. Are people voting for the songs? For the videos? For the memories? For the essays? For the essayists? For the preservation of their own brackets? Or against any of those things, as I always root for whoever the Jets are playing? Or do all these strands braid around the maypole of a single radio button? Can we have a meaningful conversation about “which song is the best” if we are not in communion about what purpose art serves?
That last question is why Justin St. Germain—and, by extension, OMC’s “How Bizarre”—must be stopped.
Let me finally add that these calculations leave out the moral and emotional aspects of this process. Certainly, we can reduce microwaving to a question of mere efficiency, but this loses all of the complicated nuance of the task. How does one account for the feeling of pride one gets with a careful, accurate estimation? How does one factor in the way the food tastes just a little bit better knowing that its perfect temperature is the result of my own insight and forethought, rather than haphazard button-slapping? How too the knowledge that those who share the microwave with me will feel my respect and admiration manifested in a clean timer?
How do you negotiate … the conflicts/tensions between student purposes in their writing and the purposes we assume they have to learn about in academic writing?
Allow me to interrogate your slash. Does it stand for “or?” Does it stand for beziehungsweise? Does it clarify? Tension is not always conflict. Think tensegrity: impossible things stand tall because their tension balances them. Tension is sometimes harmony, or at least tension can sometimes be harmonized.
From time to time I get emails or twitter mentions from other people who also thought some of my web experiments at Kill Screen were neat, and wondering where they are. So (with KS‘s permission) I’m republishing some of those oddities here. The first of them is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written, my review of Infinity Blade. I’m glad it’s back up somewhere.