Notes to an Article

I have had an article in the works for a while now where I have tried to address how to write articles for enthusiast magazines with the example of enthusiast magazines that service modified-car culture. The problem I was having was with how to position it. I have some great material derived from my PhD and the many dozen articles I have written (I have written 55 freelance articles this year, about 30 in the years previous, and easily over 100 as a staff writer). Now I have figured out that the best way for me to pitch this in the opening paragraph is to compare it to the introductory scholarship on writing for the news media.

These are the core analytical points I wanted to convey in this opening first section:

1. Writing for enthusiast media is not the same as writing for news media.
2. The enthusiast media is designed to tap into an enthusiasm and use it as a resource; it is primarily an affective discourse. News media is primarily meant to be free of affect and tends towards an ideal of ‘objectivity’.
3. If the point of news media journalism is to convey the Who, What, Why, Where, When and How (5 Ws and 1 H method) in the lead sentence, then enthusiast media attempts to hook the reader by inciting a particular affective response.
4. The news media attempts to represent the world so the reader can implicate it in their own respective lives; there is some truth to the ‘hyperdermic model’ of media transmission. However, the enthusiast media attempts to implicate the reader in the event of enthusiasm being reported on.

The second section then goes on to demonstrate what is required to be able to write in the affective mode.

1. An understanding and appreciation of the enthusiasm is required.
2. To understand enthusiasm means understanding the challenges faced by an enthusiast. Here I am unsure if I should offer a brief account of the post-Kantian conception of enthusiasm developed in my phd? It is by engaging with challenges that enthusiast bodies are mobilised. Within modified-car culture, a co-enthusiast will ‘read’ a given car in terms of the challenges it inculcates. This demonstrates the capacity and skill of the car’s owner to ‘rise to the challenge’.
3. Understanding the enthusiasm does not simply mean knowing about the objects of enthusiasm or even only the practices of enthusiasm. Within modified-car culture a car is not merely an object to be incorporated into the ego to facilitate gendered production of identity (hegemonic masculinity model), it is a topology of challenges that enthusiasts ‘read’ and confer respect accordingly. The aquisition of know-how is a product of practices that engage with challenges. There is a correlation between know-how and respect within the scene.
4. The job of the enthusiast media journalist is to represent how the enthusiast engaged with a given challenge. The affects of enthusiasm are expressed through this process of rising to the challenge, such as frustration, confusion, trickiness (like ‘smartness’), satisfaction, patience and determination.

The third section discusses the relation between an enthusiast magazine and the given enthusiast scene.
1. A given magazine covers a certain niche market which more often than not encapsulates a subculture within a scene.
2. The magazine is in a relation with enthusiasts and commercial interests. Within modified-car culture the commercial interests are mostly workshops and performance parts suppliers, but also includes event promoters.
3. Coverage of the scene is a media event that seeks to translate the affects of a given event through enthusiast discourse in such a way as to implicate the reader in the broader affective mobilisations of the scene.
4. The content of the scene selected for coverage in a magazine is explicitly valorised, through publication, as being worthy of appearing in the magazine.
5. The political economy dimension to enthusiast magazine coverage of the scene is that coverage is shaped by commercial imperatives of ‘keeping the advertisers happy’.
6. Unlike normal media this is not that much a problem in that those elements selected from commercial interests are also worthy of being valorised. The function of the enthusiast media is not to change the enthusiast-determined heirarchies of value within the scene, but to segment and select portions of it according to the commercial imperatives.

The conclusion points out that niche-market media that services a given enthusiasm is the way of the future for media companies that are coming to terms with shifting from being print publishers to being online publishers. In Australia, just as many other national contexts with a developed media ecology, there are many different enthusiast media publications that target and service many different enthusiasms.

enthuse

The enthuse issue of MC Journal is finally up. It wasn’t easy juggling a fulltime (plus!) job and getting the issue sorted. In the future I shall leave myself much more time to organise what needs to be organised. I thank all the contributors for their patience and excellent work. I also thank Axel Bruns for coming in at the end to basically save my skin and tie up all the loose ends. At just under a month overdue, it really is better late than never.

enthuse

EDITORIAL: The Challenges of Enthusiasm – Glen Fuller
FEATURE: Enthusiasm as Affective Labour: On the Productivity of Enthusiasm in the Media Industry – Goetz Bachmann, Andreas Wittel
“If you can walk down the street and recognise the difference between cast iron and wrought iron, the world is altogether a better place”: Being Enthusiastic about Industrial Archaeology – Hilary Geoghegan
Never Coming to a Theatre near You: Recut Film Trailers – Kathleen Williams
Enthusiasm, the Creative Industry and the ‘Creative Tropical City: Mapping Darwin’s Creative Industries’ Project – Clementine Ruth Hill
Promises of Peace and Passion: Enthusing the Readers of Self-Help – Rebecca Hazleden
“Gently Caress Me, I Love Chris Jericho”: Pro Wrestling Fans “Marking Out” – Wilson Koh
The Blonde Goddess – Meera Atkinson

My writing has changed considerably since I have become a cog in the cultural industry. I was speaking with an old friend over the weekend. It is the first time we have really spoken in a long time. He asked me if I miss all the theory stuff. At first I was going to say, Yes. But then it occurred to me that I don’t miss it, because it hasn’t gone anywhere. Almost every article I write nowadays, and I write many, is in some way written in relation to what I worked so hard to express in my dissertation. There is something to be said for testing one’s ideas in a radically different cultural and social milieu. It is far from the case that I need to ‘dumb’ my ideas down, rather I am challenged to express the force of the ideas in ways that are actually forceful. The alleged elegance of a well argued scholarly piece leaves much to be desired if it isn’t actually read by anyone. Where is the efficacy then? To write in another discourse and yet address and grapple with the same intellectual problems that drove me to finish my dissertation in different ways is the current challenge I face. To participate in the practices of subcultural valorisation that belong to this scene I am part of, so my words actually mean something is my task.

Enthuse Special Issue

I am unsure of the protocol regarding discussing this stuff on here, but long time readers will know I am not risk adverse when it comes to posting to my blog. When it comes to various activities I am inclined to lean on the side of transparency, until I am advised otherwise, of course…

Anyway, I am going through the submissions for the Enthuse special issue of M/C Journal. I am very impressed!

Expect an email from me if you know me and I think would be suitable and willing to referee a paper. 🙂

first day off

As most of my facebook friends will know, I accepted the magazine staff writer position on Friday.

I found out Friday morning after my first class, so I still had three classes to teach, and I felt sad as I explained to each that this was going to be my last day, possibly ever, teaching at university. Similarly, I worked Saturday night at the bookshop, which was also my last shift there. It was the same as any other shift, yet different. My immediate boss, Morgan, seemed to be almost as sad as I was! She said to select a book as a going away present; I chose Niall Lucy’s Derrida Dictionary. I am currently doing a close reading of Derrida’s Spectres of Marx, and the Grundisse is my night time reading.

Anyway, does this mean I have evacuated myself from academia? Not entirely. I tend to think of it as a strategic retreat. Perhaps other casuals can use my movement as an example, or perhaps not. I am not one for simply whinging about shit conditions however. As a casual, my greatest strength is my mobility. I do not have the capacity to change any of the structural conditions of the university. If universities want to have 25 students to a class and ensure that casual staff are suspended by the contradiction of being continually stretched and then under-employed, then that is their business (model). Rather than the institutionalised stupidity of the university, I want to reflect on two satisfying qualities of my teaching experience this year.

For the first time, after five years of on and off teaching at various universities, I actually taught some of the same students for two semesters in a row. I found this to be particularly rewarding for a number of reasons. My personal relationships with some students strengthened beyond them merely being personable avatars of a marking load. If I had had another semester or two with them, then I think we could have eventually become friends. I also discovered the joy of helping and witnessing students I had taught last semester develop from being basically slack and uncommitted to their education to becoming self-disciplined and willing to perform at their best. Marking assessments of students who I knew had improved over the course of the year was a special feeling. I think this is what the ‘has its own rewards’ means in the annoyingly smug axiom ‘teaching has its own rewards’. As a casual I had not previously experienced or witnessed student development as they progressed through university. I am pointing to non-classroom affects of teaching. It is not strictly organisational, nor is it strictly practical, but something in between.

The second dimension relates to the content of the unit (Consumer Culture). There have been some fantastic responses to the challenge posed by the readings. Did I ever imagine I would have a student describe how a re-usable hair extension, advertising in a ‘girl’ magazine for the hair extension, and the material conditions of the ‘Scene’ subculture would effect an ‘incorporeal transformation’ of the student? No. I have enjoyed reading responses and interpretations to my own work. This is the first time I have had my work included as a reading in a course I have been teaching. This is another joy I have not had the opportunity to experience before. It is very satisfying to see some of the best students I have ever taught engage with my research.

I am still due to edit the special issue of M/C Journal on Enthuse next year, and I am looking forward to this. Plus I have a co-authored chapter coming out next year and hopefully my first journal article actually based on my research (awaiting referee reports!).

This blog may need a revamp to signal the career shift. Not sure yet.

Oh, and the blog post title comes from the fact I am now fulltime, for the first time in my life, so not working on a Monday actually means I have a day off. My first day off. I start tomorrow.