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Geoffrey Sirc: Box-Logic

Responding to Geoffrey Sirc's "Box Logic" (Writing New Media, 2004):

1) What should we be teaching as composition? (p. 110) I do not spend much time on Web design (HTML, CSS) because those technologies will change within a year or two. Rhetorical thought, however, is a skill that can be applied for both analysis of existing material or synthesis of new. Thinking strategically is a portable skill.

2) I truly despise the "creativity" of making blocks of text non-columnar (113). It is painful to read as it is, so why make it any more difficult? If this were poetry, I would be forgiving — poetry is condensed meaning. This is not poetry. It is a mockery of poetry and creativity to have a scholarly article make pretense of creativity. Bluntly, the blocks serve no purpose in this text. They do not move me emotionally, they merely annoy me as a reader of a dense text.

If you want to be poetic be poetic, but this is not even prosaic. It's silliness.

3) I am generally repelled by quotes of Freud, as a reader of neurological research papers with an interest in psychobiology / neuropsychology. As a psychiatrist wrote: Only a professor in the humanities would quote Freud; we know better.

4) This is all much too metaphorical for me. I don't understand the purpose: what did any of these people accomplish? Clearly, I am missing something obvious to others. That frustrates me, since it must be an important concept. At the same time, I doubt my life is lacking anything for not grasping the concepts. Well, I am lacking the time it took to read these pages.

5) What is a personal symbology? The only symbols I have voluntarily affixed to my life are Apple logos. Why? Because my wife says the stickers make it easier to locate our Jeep in a parking lot.

6) I do not write because I am dissatisfied with existing books. I write because friends, family, and editors give me ideas and ask me to write. I get paid to write, to mimic genre norms, with plots provided in most cases. Others write for "art" and I write because I can sell my words.
Paychecks are a good and necessary thing. Art is good, too, but even Shakespeare sought to sell tickets to the plays.

7) I do not wish to "spell my name" with adjectives, as some teachers required, or objects (121). My name is simply what people use to attract my attention. I have no particular attachment to the name, nor do I see a reason to create an artificial attachment to the name.

8) Please, no, let it not be a teacher using Kurt Cobain as an example of anything other than teen angst that never matured. A drug-addicted waste of potential talent, remembered fondly until you listen to the albums without considering the mythology. Then, you realize Nirvana was nothing unique and of only mediocre musical ability.

9) I don't pretend to be a radical, railing against corporate powers, materialism, or whatever else Sirc wishes to cite (126). I do believe there are "finest" things in art and culture. I make no excuse for believing in meritocracy and the educational establishment's role as gate-keeper. There is a lot of mediocrity and we seem to tolerate more and more of it.

10) If the "box" is merely a repository for research, physical or digital, than it seems to be nothing more than the boxes of notecards I keep when working on a paper or project (135-6). I am left feeling like nothing "new" was proposed in the end. I tell my students to save research, to make copies and print Web pages. I ask them to spread things out and view them as a whole. I'm at quite a loss, still, as to what insights I should have gained after this article.

Oh, well. I prefer Peter Paul Reubens to Andy Warhol any day.


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