My current job as a staff writer at Zoom magazine (and earlier Street Fords and Xtreme Fords) has allowed me to test in some of the points made in my dissertation. Does my concept of enthusiasm withstand being applied in the real world? It probably isn’t a valid way to test philosophical conceptualisations of culture, I am not sure, because I haven’t really come across any work that offers an account of a similar process. The below has been written over several sessions, apologies if it is a little disjointed.
Most of the time scholars use esoteric tests of veracity caught up in the power games of the academic workplace in at least two ways. Firstly, scholars have peer review. Here is a judgement call (and a sub-editing role) that is supposed to assess the value of a given piece of work. Publication is meant to represent some kind of endorsement, in principle, of the value of the argument forwarded in a given scholarly work. The second kind of test is more organic and it relies on, in part, something at which I am terrible. I have never been able to fully perform, at least in a sufficient manner, the assumed air of teacherly authority. I know what certain concepts allow one to think, how they can enable, but I left students to discover this for themselves. I would have a total belief in the limits of my own understanding and questions derived from a given problem, but I could never sell ideas. The hardest part of teaching, and a dimension of pedagogcial practice that I tried my best to ignore, was the act of convincing students that something or another is worth learning. (Maybe it has always been like this? I don’t know, but I don’t think so, instead I think it is a product of the commercialisation of the university teaching environment and the problematic casualisation of the teaching staff.) Rather, I would whip up a student cohort into an enthusiastic frenzy and help them develop the intellectual tools to engage with their own challenges relevant for a given course. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. Now, however, this has all changed; I currently work in a job where I am tested in a far more ruthless fashion everyday.
I want to somehow formalise this experience into an academic paper, but not so much focused on my own interest in this (egotistical joy and challenge of testing of my ideas). I want to write a paper on how to write for car magazines. At first glance and by most obvious accounts, even to my own eyes, this is fundamentally ridiculous. Why car magazines? Everyone takes part or engages with car culture in some shape of form in Australian society. Only 2-5% of people, from my rough estimates going off magazine circulation and show attendance in different states, are actually involved in some kind of enthusiast car culture. The first point is that I am not so interested in enthusiast car culture on its own, rather the main goal is accounting for and critically engaging with enthusiast culture in general and that is truly epic in scale. Everyone has enthusiasms. The other perhaps less vocationally-minded, but more important point is that we are all subject to and subjects of our enthusiasms. There are myriad enthusiasms, all of which are serviced in some way by a cultural industry. In an expanded sense of the ‘enthusiast magazine’, much more ‘journalism’ happens beyond the pages of actual printed magazines, than in them. There are still functions of the printed magazine that I don’t think online remediations/differential repetitions will replace anytime soon.
Secondly, I am not so interested in magazine writing either, not in any normal sense of the term, instead I imagine the ‘magazine’ as a kind of abstract machine that currently is discursively and materially embodied in actual print magazines, but which can also be repeated in many different ways: online through direct remediation (pdf readers), online with subtle variation (blog style format), or into different mediums, such as magazine video-journalism, or in a consistent but relatively non-determined way, like when ‘texts’ emerge across blogs, photo/video hosting sites, and forums. So the second task, after introducing what I mean by ‘enthusiasm’, is to define the ‘magazine’ (or more accurately the ‘enthusiast magazine’) in such a way that is relevant for the contemporary less-print-centric configuration of the media. The third task is to discuss how enthusiasm can be written for magazines. I will be posting each of the further three parts as they are written.