“Bakhtin seems language—itself too dead and reified a term—as a landscape of interacting forces, a field of energies that penetrate and withdraw, that converge and break up…It is a multivoiced plurality…It is dialogic because even the most complete monologic utterance can never be understood in and of itself, always being part of a wider context” (Zebroski 186).

 Ah Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin… it’s been awhile since I’ve pondered on the work of this rebellious russion philologist, though his concepts of Centripetal/Centrifugal forces are always in the back of my mind, especially as I engage in any sort of web-based production, such as this blog. While I am sure I will return to these simultaneous pushing and pulling forces in reference to digital media, this week’s cogitating revolves around the idea of opposing forces in general. In my teaching writing graduate class, we discussed Zebroski’s proposal that studying the insider/outsider dichotomy can be achieve through an ethnography assignment. This raised the question of whether most students are cut out for the complex task of being an insider/outsider, to be immersed in a culture yet still be a fly on the wall observer. For the sake of time constraints, especially in the community college setting, I suggested an autoethnography, which made for an even more complicated task—how to examine one’s own culture critically? This is a task I feel the most comfortable with, looking at my life from a distance. I wonder if there are some of us that grow up with the dual lenses firmly in place, always dealing with the clashing perspectives of being an insider and an outsider.  

As I stare at my expanding belly, sometimes in bewilderment, I am more conscious than ever of the simultaneous feelings of familiarity and foreignness. This is my body, but it is also not my body. I came into this with my tastes firmly in place: I enjoyed flavored coffee, peanut butter, French onion soup; the list goes on and on. And many of my favorite tastes, dishes, drinks, I no longer enjoy. I am myself, but I am also part of this other entity. And I am not sure how “I” will come out changed after the separation.  

This blog entry and weblog as a whole is my own attempt at trying to the two opposing forces of the abstract and the personal. As this attempt illustrates, it is hard to do this well or in tight little interesting nugget that would translate to an outside reader.

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            Over spring break, I had the joy of reading and reviewing, John Dewey and the Philosophy and Practice of Hope. It seemed the perfect choice to emerge myself in a philosophic discussion on hope as new life strains the muscles of my abdomen with growth. One of the main vessels of hope is our place in a line of continuity, between our ancestors and our progeny. This is why I chose my first ultrasound as the masthead, the beginning. And it is important to recognize the present moment, not just the future outcome, a hard prospect for an individual trying to complete a doctorate and plan for her first child. However, that is part of a hopeful living according to Dewey to be fully present in the current moment. I’m not living for my goals, but enjoying the journey my goals have set before me: the intrigue and challenging readings, being in the presence of great minds, feeling gratitude for the ability to work on growing as an individual. And now there is a new dimension. This is the why of the blog, a practice in documenting the present.

            So what about the strange title? Desultory Cogitating… Is it too pretentious? The point was to make the familiar strange. The familiar is the typical “wandering thoughts.” What is the point of writing in ordinary language? There is no evidence of a process, a choice… a thesaurus J