I am writing up my chapter on Street Machining. I have found a pretty good work rhythm for my writing. More importantly I thinkÂ I have found a good rhythm for the writing itself, butÂ it feels so slow!! Plus I never really appreciated how many words it takes to explain things properly. I have a tendency to write my thoughts rather than think my writing and with this historical stuff I can’t do that. I am picking up on historical threads that need to be properly explained and contextualised. It just feels so boring.Â
The magazine database I made of about 25 years of magazines is becomingÂ increasingly useful. It allows me to isolate those particular magazines that relate to a given issue or theme that I have isolated in my history. To think I have done all of that work in less than 6 months. Crazy.
Although, I have discovered I am really bad at the disciplinary work of literally fitting my research into disciplines. It hurts my brain having to think about things along disciplinary lines, and I think it makes me a bad scholar. Worse is when I have to pick up certain theory batons and run with them, such as ‘technology’, ‘gender’Â or ‘subculture’. It is so frustratingly boring, especially when you have to act as if there is some great problem, likeÂ ‘Technology is problematic’ or ‘Gender is problematic’ so I can then prove — ‘demonstrate’ — there is a gap which my research shall fill.Â Nonsense. There is no gap, and this mode of scholarly writing assumes an implicitly totalising engagement and correlative possibility of a totality. There is nothing but discontinuities between differentially repeated series.
Anyway, the way I am writing is with massive 25,000 word chunks. Each ‘chunk’ is roughlyÂ structured as an intro, and then three substantial sections. Each section is currently organised around an empirical (or historical, in this chapter) problem. My problem is that it is largely arbitrary how I align empirical and theoretical problems. This alignment, it appears to me, is primarily based on discipline. Coming from theÂ intersection ofÂ Foucaultian-Deleuzian-type work means myÂ research doesn’t fit into normal disciplines. For example, inÂ my Street Machining chapter the empirical problems are all related to the history of the Street Machining cultural formation.Â The problems are aligned by my writing out of the history, not by the history itself. In other words, I am unpacking the history in certain ways depending on what aspect of the history I am interested in. The history itself is determined by what was at stake at the time, what has largely been erased from popular accounts of the era, so I am not simply imposing my interests on history as it were.Â For example, I argue there was a reconfiguration of the enthusiasm that moved away from representational organisations determined by labour towards those determined by the spectacular image and the media.Â So much theory it hurts, but the problems (of enthusiasm and the media) are empirical. By ’empirical’ I mean that the decline of representational strucutures is clearly observable and the increase in other forms of organising enthusiast populations is also clearly evident.Â So,Â straightforward, yeah?
But this is not the same thing as beginning with the assumption that I shall focus on ‘technology’, ‘media’Â or ‘gender’, like as ifÂ it isÂ one of the two or threeÂ most important things in the world and allÂ I ever talk about is media, technology, etc.Â Sure, that would be easy!! (Is this why it is done?!?)Â Read all the relevant ‘technology’ books, several hundred of them,Â and then point out problems with ‘technology’. Or, the classic one I have found, read all the books about ‘subculture’, and demonstrate what is wrong with conceptions of ‘subculture’. Disiciplinarity, how I imagine it,Â works along these lines.Â It is stupid.
I think this is what ‘doing theory’ is in the US. You ‘do theory’ when you take theory itself to be a problem (or problematic). You then illustrate what is wrong with this ‘theory’ by using empirical examples. The complete bloody opposite of what I am doing!!! lol! Is this an effect of the north-american style grad-school? That it is programmatic?
With this chapter done I will have done half of my dissertation (in draft form). I am currently writing about 2,000 words a day.