By continuing your visit to this site, you accept the use of cookies. These ensure the smooth running of our services. Learn more.

- Page 3

  • Post Modernity and the Academy? How Shall I Write?

    My poor old mushy brain has spent a fair amount of time chewing over the above question.  And all because I have about 4 days to edit an essay to make it read better before I can deliver it.  I was meant to be able to do some work on it this morning but being asleep after yesterday's ~20 hour marathon it didn't happen.  Ah well.

    The question goes something like this...

    One of the threads in Post Modernity is about language and how it constructs/shapes the world rather than reflects it. The linguistics and semiotics bit notes that understanding occurs within closed systems (cultures) and that, roughly in the words of my nice little essay, 'creates power within in a culture and is a bar to understanding beyond it.'  I even note the role of insider language in the academy.

    At the same time there is the theory that in actual fact once a piece of writing is set free into the real world (not that such a thing really exists of course, it's a construct) the power over interpretation is lost, and real readers can interpret what is written as they find authentic.

    Almost, it feels, as a kick-back to this, the academy lays down ever stricter rules on style, presentation and, it almost feels, language (vocabulary).  I'm not at all sure how the real Post Modernists get around this - do they give in and play the game, or do they refuse and deliver essays in 24 point comic sans, double sided, single spaced with an arbitrary referencing system?

    I think what I'm trying to work through is a question that is something like 'how much I write in the style I naturally do' (short sentences, short paragraphs and uncomplicated vocabulary) and how much do I give the customer what 'it' wants?

    My essay definitely does need some editing, and parts of it don't read at all well at the moment.  I'm honestly not cross or miffed about the comments, just amused and problematising it a little (now I that I think I know what that means).

    I am mildy amused that the bits I've been asked to add are the same ones previous supervisors have asked me to remove.  I am not entirely clear why theologians/academics like long paragraphs - maybe their English teachers taught them something mine did not - and my experience of having to work through the ambiguity of complex sentences with umpteen subordinate clauses and a liberal sprinkling of nested parenthesising commas, to say nothing of abuse of colons, semi-colons and hyphens, leave me convinced that, generally speaking, and this amazing sentence notwithstanding, shorter is better.

    Back in my industry days, my first ever supervisor gave me some sound advice on report writing - 'your job is put up game birds for other people to shoot down.'  In other words, it's not personal, and in fact the critique is only possible if the thing is there in the first place.  Later, I formulated my own verison of the 'customer is always right' philosophy that ran something like this - 'the customer is always right.  Misguided - maybe; confused - possibly; awkward - probably;  downright stupid - occasionally; wrong - never.'

    I guess the academy is currently my 'customer' even if I'm paying it for the privilege, so I have to give it what it wants.

    Just that I'm still not sure how this fits with this alleged Post Modern world I inhabit... 

  • In Heavenly Love Abiding

    It has been a long day - I have just got in from the trip to Skegness which ended with three hours in A&E with one of our folk who'd tripped and broken her wrist.  It has been a good day, and one of those when, depsite being exhaustificated, you kind of know why you do this crazy job.  I did not study theology in order to spend my time sitting in hospital waiting rooms, but having studied theology affects the way I handle it.

    It was a good day because our 40 oldies enjoyed themselves - whether they saw the sea or not.  Several spent all their time in the shops sheltering from the showers and missing the gorgeous sunshine that came sporadically.

    It was a good day because the church who hosted us enjoyed themselves - their first foray into mass catering, and a wonderful success.

    It was a good day because there was time to sit and listen to a brass band in some quintessentially English public gardens whilst sat on a park bench under an umbrella supping insipid tea from a paper cup.

    It was even a good day when I had to rush home, pick up my car, and then head off the twenty miles to our nearest A&E.

    It was the band who somehow pulled it all together though.  After a diverse programme of Sousa, Sullivan, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra and other things I vaguely know but cannot recall the composers or singers they closed 'with a hymn.'  As the strains of 'In Heavenly Love Abiding' filled the air, I wondered if this was a deliberate choice to reflect the weather ('bright skies will soon be o'er me, where the dark clouds have been') or just something that finished off a pleasant couple of hours.  I don't know, but the words of the old hymn running through my mind seemed to connect things together...

    Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back

    My shepherd is beside me and nothing shall I lack

    His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim

    He knows the path He taketh, and I will walk with Him.


    There is something strangely reassuring in knowing that, even in the A&E car park at half past midnight, that is true.

  • Children's Work Training

    This is me trying to be nice minister, it happens occasionally.  It is also me trying not to leap in and take over.

    Our children's club reached near meltdown tonight.  I was there in 'minister' capacity so not really in a position to do much other than stay calm and try to support all involved.

    I am a good, if rather old-fangled, children's worker.  (Maybe that's why I use short sentences!! ;-))  But me trying to offer insights would not go down too well - they have been doing stuff almost as long as I have but with no training.  I am now looking for something, anything, that isn't GB/BB/CLGB/Covies/Campaigners/The-Organsiation-Formerly-Known-As-Crusaders/or even SU or Guides/Scouts for that matter.  Any ideas?  

  • We Will Rock You - Schools' Version

    Broadband is back - and without any outside interference, just a replacement router as something had gone 'phut' inside mine.  Mutter, mutter.

    Anyway, last night went with someone from church to her daughter's school perfomance of 'We Will Rock You.'  She then told me she wasn't sure it was suitable for a minister's ears, which was mildly amusing.  There was a fair deal of inuendo which was lapped up by the 16-18 year olds in the audience, went straight over the heads of the few little children there and seemed a tad puerile (which I cannot spell) to this forty-something minister.

    I was struck by the story line, with its messiah figure and some not very veiled biblical parallels - 'the living rock' and the search by the killer queen (Herod meets Cruella Deville) for the star that heralded him.  I enjoyed the mis-pronunciation of 'video tape' as "vi-day-o tap" and the crackly version of the Bohemian Rhapsody video that merged into the "Big Brother" title sequence.  There was some clever stuff going on here that made me think.  Perhaps the most significant thing was when one of the characters said 'our hope lies in the past' - resonating with some of what I've been looking at and thinking about from a history perspective.

    At one point the cast called upon the audience to raise their hands and 'wave' along with the music - my neighbour turned to me and said 'just like Hillsong'... at which point I switched to 'lightbulb changing' and said 'not quite' but she did have a point... what is the real difference?

    It was a good perfomance - even if it made me feel old because I was younger than any of the performers when 'Bohenmian Rhpasody' was released - and would have made a really good starting point for talking about some real topics around freedom, the meaning of life, globalisation and so on, if only a few church folk were a little less wary of taint.

  • Technical Support is no PICNIC

    A friend who works in IT tells me most queries are a PICNIC - Problem In Chair Not In Computer. Hmm.

    My broadband connection has been down since Monday and I have made more phone calls than enough to the technical support people for my ISP (who evidently won an award for this...).

    The 'troubleshooting' is a bit of a joke - 'is your router plugged in?', 'is the LAN cable connected' etc. After three variants on this, my query was 'escalated' which meant a 'senior technician' took 24 hours to confirm that my account was live and connected at their end... then asked me for the umpteenth time whether I had a microfilter, had a swapped it for another one and questions designed to make my patience get tested. They have now decided that the problem must be the line (never!) and have referred it to BT who will check the line in the next 48 hours or so.

    In the meantime I have discovered that there are no cyber cafes in Didcot (where I was at a meeting yesterday) and not having a laptop I can hardly lug my PC to an open access wireless 'hotspot' so today I am back in Leicester drinking my skinny fairtrade latte and reading emails at £2 an hour. So while cyberspace is enjoying the peace and quiet, I'm feeling very out of touch with the world.

    Blogging will disappear until broadband resumes... enjoy the escape from my drivel.