Readiness Potential and Running

As the season has been changing from Summer to Fall, I have found myself steeped in the semester with significantly less time to dedicate to long bike rides. Also, wrestling season begins soon and I will be running a 5K Turkey Trot. All of this calls for a switch from cycling to running as my primary aerobic activity. I jumped on a treadmill in the WSU fitness center yesterday and found myself thinking about readiness potential.

I run in order to acquire certain sensor-motor capacities to act, including the capacity to run the 5k with a reasonably good time (hoping for 8-9 minutes per mile), and the endurance to last in live wrestling longer than a couple rounds. I listen to music in order to develop the capacity to dissociate my mind from my body – that is, to stop thinking about muscle fatigue, heart rate, and sweat by moving my concentration out of the small areas of my body that ache in order to focus on the broader goal of moving at a certain pace. As I run, I search out connections with cycling, telling myself that moving my legs here is no different than on the bike: just keep peddling; just keep running. The rest will take care of itself. The more I run, the easier it is to meet my goals.

Bawarshi situates readiness potential within genres. I situate readiness potential within the nexus of prior experience, ongoing practice, and genre. As I ran, I thought about how writers have to acquire capacities to sit and think through their moving fingers. The keyboard extends the arm; enters into circuits of doing and thinking and writing. The body must cooperate to some extent, resting somewhat comfortably. Shaking legs to numb the mind’s want to wander. Listening to music (or not) to keep focused on the writing task. Through practice, the act of sitting down and reaching a writing goal becomes more ready-at-hand.

Syllabus and Supplies

art supplies stack

I got the list of required supplies for my drawing class today in addition to the syllabus and schedule (part 1 and part 2). Altogether, the supplies cost around $100 to acquire. My initial thoughts as I took a look at this set of materials was how visible the tools necessary to compose were to me. I want to compare this with a writing course, but I should hold off on that. Continue reading “Syllabus and Supplies”

Composition beyond writing

This fall, I will begin to pursue a B.F.A. in Photography. The opportunity to take start this program follows from the tuition benefit I enjoy at Wayne State University. But, it is also something that I’ve always wanted to do (I took a photography class in high school; nearly took another class at Michigan State; studied Art History before transitioning to English). Yet, I have done little to formally develop the interest over the last twenty years. More recently, when I bought my first iPhone, I found the device provided for me a new readiness potential to take the shots that I would see as I look around. Just carrying the phone with me gave me the regular opportunity to take photographs. Once I opened an instagram account, I slowly started committing myself to making photographs. Continue reading “Composition beyond writing”

Clay Walker’s “Composing Agency”

My article, “Composing Agency” was published this summer in the online journal Literacy in Composition Studies here: Clay Walker’s “Composing Agency”.

Here is the abstract: This essay argues that literacy actors compose agency through the embodied practice of literacies in combination with self-aware feedback loops. The argument brings together recent conversations on agency, embodiment, and cognition in composition studies, neuroscience, and the humanities to develop the concept of discursive readiness potential. Discursive readiness potential refers to one’s embodied agency and accounts for the range of possible actions available to an actor on the basis of her or his past experiences. Furthermore, discursive readiness potential points to one’s capacity to navigate a field of potential literate practices into one actualized action. As such, the essay supports a renewed call for research on agency and embodied cognition in composition studies by outlining discursive readiness potential as a flexible process model for understanding how agents act in emergent discursive situations.



Finding Felt Sense

My students read parts of Perl’s “Understanding Composing” this week, which situates the composition process as a recursive undertaking. Perl sets out to identify at least some of the things that writers actually return to while composing, including chunks of text (phrases, sentences, paragraphs) that writers continually go back to (re)read and (re)write, topic statements or key words that ground the composition, and the writer’s felt sense of what s/he wants to say. Perl quotes philosopher Eugene Gendlin who describes felt sense as “the soft underbelly of thought … a kind of bodily awareness that … can be used as a tool … a bodily awareness that … encompasses everything you feel and know about a given subject at a given time …. It is felt in the body, yet it has meanings. It is body and mind before they are split apart” (qtd in Perl 365). While I will overlook Gendlin’s Cartesean assumption that mind and body split, felt sense resounds with readiness potential. The concept of felt sense, unlike my emphasis on practice in my “Composing Agency” manuscript, points to a nonrepresentational meaning bound by thought material not yet cut into semantic structures. [I have been thinking about this tension at least since I first read Kristeva’s “Ethics of Linguistics” while working on my undergraduate thesis project]. Continue reading “Finding Felt Sense”

Problematizing the Notion of Posthuman Subjectivity

In “Invention in the Wild,” Thomas Rickert brings together various concepts of kairos to address posthuman subjects. As he explains, “Viewing kairos sans the autonomous, willing subject – or … posthuman subjectivity … will entail moving away from certain kinds of metaphors like poles, middles, and harmony that have a tendency to reinscribe the traditional subject” (82). So moving away from early notions of subjectivity requires new metaphors distinct from linear, analogical models, such as suggested by terms like poles, middles, and harmony. According to Rickert, such a reconceptualization of subjectivity as posthuman (c.f. Hayles) entails “terms of immersion rather than connection, flow rather than node” (82). To synthesize these two descriptions of posthuman subjects, a revamped theory would recruit metaphors of flow and immersion as it works to describe the position of subjects in nonlinear ways. Continue reading “Problematizing the Notion of Posthuman Subjectivity”