Camera Lucida, Part 2

[ENGL 527]

Discussion question for class:

Barthes describes photography as “that-has-been” or the “Intractable” (hard to control or deal with) (77). Images that would have been taken may have been monumental (like monuments) of person, time, place, but as photography became/becomes more accessible, it becomes more visible, or things, people, and places do as we photograph them. He goes on to say that in our daily flood of photographs (and this having come out in 1980, situate that in time now to the nth degree), the forms of interest photographs provoke may be experienced with indifference as a feature that goes without saying (77) – causing an almost skimming of the photographs we encounter, only pausing when punctum pricks our attention. He describes this submitting to the flatness of photography through likening the action to the camera lucida, an apparatus that allowed drawing an object through a prism, from the eye’s viewpoint as “the essence of the image is to be altogether outside, without intimacy, and yet more inaccessible and mysterious than the thought of the innermost being; without signification, yet summoning up the depth of any possible meaning; unrevealed yet manifest, having the absence-as-presence which constitutes the lure and the fascination of the Sirens” (quoting Blanchot 106). Reading this, I couldn’t help but situate this within the web, though image/photograph heavy in its design/function/use, focused more particularly through image-centric sites such as FFFFOUND!, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. How does the web shape punctum in these galleries of “Save Image As” or share with _________? Does the screen operate as a camera lucida? How does (or doesn’t) “intractable” take on new meaning in digital spaces, particularly regarding origin/source of the “that-has-been” (but-from-where)?

Reading Notes:

Citation: Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill and Wang. 1980. Print.

Barthes explains Photography as that-has-been, as representation – not Photography of just an image, but a just image (justesse) – that authenticates the existence of a being in Time, that in that moment, is reversed to photographic ecstasy (the nostalgia and certainty the photo elicits in that it is evidential and exclamative (113)).

Key Words:

  • ur-doxa
  • noeme
  • camera obscura/lucida
  • satori
  • animula
  • (new) punctum: of intensity – Time
  • flat Death
  • acheiropoietos
  • anamnesis
  • ecstasy

Passages to Keep: 

“I remember keeping for a long time a photograph I had cut out of a magazine – lost subsequently, like everything too carefully put away…” (80).

“The Photograph does not call upon the past (nothing Proustian in a photograph). The effect it produces upon me is not to restore what has been abolished (by time, by distance) but to attest that what I see has indeed existed” (82).

“Mad or tame? Photography can be one or the other: tame if its realism remains relative, tempered by aesthetic or empirical habits (to leaf through a magazine at the hair dresser’s, the dentist’s); mad if this realism is absolute and, so to speak, original, obliging the loving and terrified consciousness to return to the very letter of Time: a strictly revulsive movement which reverses the course of the thing, and which I shall call, in conclusion, the photographic ecstasy.

Such are the two ways of the Photograph. The choice is mine: to subject to its spectacle to the civilized code of perfect illusions, or to confront in it the wakening of intractable reality” (119).

Accepted Claim:

A mad image: The Photograph is an extended, loaded evidence – as if caricatured not the figure of what it represents (quite the converse) but its very existence. The image, says phenomenology, is an object-as-nothing. Now, in the Photograph, what I posit is not only the absence of the object; it is also, by one and the same movement, on equal terms, the fact that this object has indeed existed and that it has been there where I see it. Here is where the madness is, for until this day no representation could assure me of the past of a thing except by intermediaries; but with the Photograph, my certainty is immediate: no one in the world can undeceive me. The Photograph then becomes a bizarre medium, a new form of hallucination: false on the level of perception, true on the level of time…”it is not there…but it has indeed been” (115). [want to connect this to Latour’s ANT]

Claim of Some Doubt:

Life/Death: the paradigm is reduced to a simple click, the one separating the initial pose from the final print” (92). [makes me think about the function and maintenance of archives]

3 Sources to Aid With Reading: This being my first encounter with Barthes, I would be interested in reading Mourning Diary (of his mother’s death); Sartre (vision of objects as certain); and Maurice Blanchot (post-structuralist French philosopher – influential on Barthes’ shift from structuralism to post-structuralism?)

Clocking Composition: Exploring Chronography with Timeline JS (WIDE-EMU 12)

For the upcoming WIDE-EMU Unconference, I am working with Joe Torok and Derek Mueller on an exploration of the conceptual use of Timeline JS, a timeline tool that permits/encourages the moving in time/space/place of events through the incorporation of images, video, maps, web pages, tweets, and so on. It can be constructed within a Google spreadsheet, or can be built by programming, giving it some dexterity in design/degree. We are taking an interest in the visualization of an event through a lens that moves focus from the more framed rhetorical situation to the more unframed rhetorical ecology. This shifts rhetorical perspective from kairos, the opportunity fitted to a situation, to chronos, time/situation as unfolding, and potentially to metanoia, missed opportunity fitted to a situation that is given the possibility to reposition itself in time(line) as part of the network that rhetorical ecologies make traceable.

Pedagogically, this type of viewing appeals to my interests in visualization of the otherwise un(available). Our focus shifts; works cited become networks cited, or better still worknets sited/traced; attention to detail of texts moves beyond front/center to the back, the edges, and outward (in space/place-time); close looking moves from analysis to invention. Seeing in/through time permits composition beyond snapshots or stitches of singularity.

addalogs 4-7

Finishing up my quest for time during the week. The latter half of the week was unusual due to my birthday, a broken car, and a trip to Buffalo.


6:00-8:30 feed cat, make/eat breakfast and coffee, grading, email, get ready for the day

8:30-10:00 walk to school, meet with Derek and Joe

10:00-10:30 make copies, work on unit two plans

10:30-11:00 gather/organize stuff, walk to library

11:00-1:00 tutor in the APC

1:00-1:30 walk back to office, eat lunch

1:30-2:00 prepare for lab

2:00-3:30 lead lab guided study, gather stuff for home

3:30-5:30 eat snack, call/text/send messages thanking people for birthday cards/wishes/gifts

5:30-6:30 back and forth calls with mom about dinner plans, find out dad’s car broke down getting me a pastry, revise evening plans

6:30-7:30 drive home to be with family for birthday dinner

7:30-8:00 email, online shopping

8:00-8:30 pick up dad from dealership

8:30-10:00 birthday dinner and presents with family

10:00-11:00 dad prepares car for trip to Buffalo

11:00-11:30 drive back

11:30-12:30 begin packing, get cat care stuff ready for my parents

12:30-6:00 sleep


6:00-9:30 feed cat, make coffee/breakfast, grade, pack, get ready

9:30-10:00 walk to library

10:00-11:00 UWC meeting

11:00-11:30 walk back, give mom cat care directions

11:30-12:00 eat lunch, finish packing

12:00-1:00 grade, enter grades

1:00-8:00 drive to Buffalo

8:00-12:00 order pizza, hang out, watch movies

12:00-9:00 sleep


9:00-10:30 lazing about, getting ready for the day

10:30-5:00 trip to the Cider Mill and neighboring graveyard for fall delights and pumpkin purchasing, exploration of Allentown by foot (book store and antique shops), lunch, venturing to downtown Buffalo a la pie

5:00-6:30 attempted to watch a story from “fright classic” DVD, checked email

6:30-8:30 walk/wait for dinner

8:30-9:00 walk back

9:00-12:00 watch horror movies

12:00-8:00 sleep


8:00-11:00 get ready, pack, search/walk for breakfast places in the area, general lazing

11:00-12:00 causal breakfast

12:00-12:30 walk back

12:30-1:00 prepare the car for travel

1:00-7:30 drive back to Michigan

7:30-9:00 unpack, put away laundry and groceries, prepare living space for the upcoming week

9:00-12:00 grading, lesson planning, homework, catching up on email, development of conference presentations for WIDE-EMU

12:00-5:00 sleep

Despite moments of near insanity in which I counted minutes in between obligations/doings that I could have filled with work, I found myself searching for “free” time during which my attention could be divided. The biggest waste of time is certainly during periods of transit; these times are almost torturous as you have the time/space/silence to think, but not the ability to record this work. Something I think I may want to try is more structured note taking on the go or in between to prevent idea evaporation. Another take-away, more blogging. It leaves a trace of work, can be short, can give the illusion of accountability. I think daily blogging may be an integral piece of working through my MA project (and developing myself as an active scholar).

addalog 3


5:00-5:30 feed cat, make coffee, eat breakfast

5:30-6:00 finish up today’s lessons/materials

6:00-6:30 shower/get ready

6:30-7:00 get ready

7:00-7:30 walk to school

7:30-8:00 meet with student

8:00-8:30 teach

8:30-9:00 teach

9:00-9:30 teach, return to office

9:30-10:00 meet with student

10:00-10:30 try to organize messy desk, talk with Joe about conference presentation

10:30-11:00 walk to writing center, look through free maps for interesting texts, eat snack

11:00-11:30 tutoring

11:30-12:00 tutoring

12:00-12:30 tutoring

12:30-1:00 tutoring

1:00-1:30 walk to office, look for readings

1:30-2:00 look for readings

2:00-2:30 scan readings

2:30-3:00 add to gradebook, organize collected materials and attendance to work on spreadsheet

3:00-3:30 lesson plan/talk with Becky for class

3:30-4:00 teaching with Becky

4:00-4:30 teaching

4:30-5:00 teaching, walk back to office talking about planning

5:00-5:30 update courseshell announcement, email class with work for Monday, upload documents

5:30-6:00 eat dinner, read for class

6:00-6:30 read for class

6:30-7:00 class

7:00-7:30 class

7:30-8:00 class

8:00-8:30 class

8:30-9:00 class

9:00-9:30 class, walk home talking to dad, discover fourth light bulb of the past two weeks is out

9:30-10:00 look for light bulbs, listen to music

10:00-10:30 email, try to figure out bill issue, text family members back for birthday wishes

10:30-11:00 play with cat, tidy up apartment

11:00-11:30 blog addalogs

11:30-12:00 blog for conference presentation 1

12:00-12:30 blog for conference presentation 2

12:30-6:00 sleeping

addalog 2


6:00-6:30 feed cat, make coffee and breakfast

6:30-7:00 washed dishes

7:00-7:30 online bills, budgeting, and email

7:30-8:00 read for class

8:00-8:30 read for class

8:30-9:00 showered/got ready

9:00-9:30 got ready to leave house

9:30-10:00 walk to school

10:00-10:30 tutoring at the writing center

10:30-11:00 tutoring

11:00-11:30 tutoring

11:30-12:00 tutoring

12:00-12:30 tutoring

12:30-1:00 tutoring

1:00-1:30 walk back to office, eat lunch

1:30-2:00 looked for imagetexts for mean making lesson

2:00-2:30 teaching guided lab

2:30-3:00 teaching guided lab

3:00-3:30 teaching guided lab (until 3:15), class (3:30)

3:30-4:00 class

4:00-4:30 class

4:30-5:00 class

5:00-5:30 class

5:30-6:00 class

6:00-6:30 collect stuff, walk home, phone call

6:30-7:00 make dinner, hunt escaped cat

7:00-7:30 worked in Google Docs on conference presentation with Chelsea and Becky

7:30-8:00 worked in Google Docs

8:00-8:30 started a post in my blog for my phase two of WIDE-EMU

8:30-9:00 read about a concert I want to go to; spread the word to comrades to caravan to the event

9:00-9:30 discovered new music; fell into internet wormhole

9:30-10:00 tried to work on unit two calendar

10:00-10:30 tried to go to sleep

10:30-11:00 got up to get a book to read in bed (to try to go to sleep)

11:00-11:30 got up and started working on my lesson plan

11:30-12:00 lesson planning (finding imagetexts and building slidedeck)

12:00-12:30 lesson planning/making

12:30-5:00 sleeping


Because there’s never enough. Because subtracting sleep still doesn’t accomplish. Because this is the life I’ve chosen for myself.

For ENGL 621: Research in Theory and Practice of Writing, our professor is asking us to keep a time finder log for one week. The idea comes from a chapter of Chris Baty’s No Plot? No Problem!, a book on writing a novel in a month. While we’re not writing novels, we’re composing MA projects. The idea is that if we can find ten hours in a week by eliminating the FORGO-ABLE, then completing a project in a semester is possible. To log one’s time, the day is broken up into 30 minute sections in which activities are recorded/reported. After a day is complete, one is to return to this log to differentiate time that is REQUIRED (eating, sleeping, showering), HIGHLY DESIRED (exercising, social calls/emails, social gatherings), and FORGO-ABLE (internet, internet, internet).

I’m interested in this activity because it is intriguing, but moreso because I feel like I lose time, or am not mindful enough of its passing while working on something.


5:00-5:30 wake up, feed cat, eat breakfast, make lunch

5:30-6:00 make a slidedeck for today’s class (discussion points, connections to course outcomes, where we’re going from this unit)

6:00-6:30 shower and get ready

6:30-7:00 still getting ready, drink coffee, read for class

7:00-7:30 walk to school, set up materials for class (which included snacks today for our project one gallery)

7:30-8:00 work with a few students on technical issues before class starts

8:00-8:30 teaching

8:30-9:00 teaching

9:00-9:30 teaching, put away stuff at my desk, go to interview professor for a class project

9:30-10:00 interview with professor

10:00-10:30 meeting with professor/advisor

10:30-11:00 eat snack, pack up stuff to go tutor in the writing center

11:00-11:30 tutoring in the writing center (during this time/in between clients from 11-1, I work on composing an email/announcement for my class for our next meeting on Wednesday, email students about missing class and turning in their projects)

11:30-12:00 tutoring in the writing center

12:00-12:30 tutoring in the writing center

12:30-1:00 tutoring in the writing center

1:00-1:30 ran over with client, walk to rental office to pay rent

1:30-2:00 eat lunch and catch up on emailing students

2:00-2:30 make rubric for first project

2:30-3:00 look through first projects briefly, decide how to start unit two from this – what we need to return to, look at closer, dig deeper

3:00-3:30 try to plan unit two for teaching, skimming reading

3:30-4:00 teaching – I am a writing consultant in a fellow GA’s 120 class

4:00-4:30 teaching

4:30-5:00 teaching, walking back to office from art gallery (we took students to interact with the exhibition), debriefing/reflecting on how the trip to the gallery went and how this will start the new unit


5:30-6:00 eat dinner while reading for class; informal meeting with professor/boss about how teaching is going

6:00-6:30 leave sticky notes for myself for what to do tomorrow/fill out my planner, pick up my desk, finish reading

6:30-7:00 in class

7:00-7:30 in class

7:30-8:00 in class

8:00-8:30 in class

8:30-9:00 in class

9:00-9:30 in class; walking home from school

9:30-10:00 dishes, putting away stuff I carried to school, Facebook

10:00-10:30 phone conversation informal

10:30-11:00 phone conversation formal (lesson planning)

11:00-11:30 working on research project proposal

11:30-12:00 working on research project proposal; email proposal to professor

12:00-6:00 sleep