Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ordinariness

From here:
Noun
1.
ordinariness - the quality of being ordinary
quality - an essential and distinguishing attribute of something or someone; "the quality of mercy is not strained"--Shakespeare
mediocrity, averageness - ordinariness as a consequence of being average and not outstanding
expectedness - ordinariness as a consequence of being expected and not surprising
commonplaceness, everydayness, commonness - ordinariness as a consequence of being frequent and commonplace


In an e mail today one of my students asked me why I keep a blog. Of course we all get asked this all the time. But why do we record our ordinary daily lives? Do we seek to narrate their ordinariness or do we shape out of each day a little something extraordinary?
Do we look to narrate ourselves on a daily basis out of a desire to self affirm? I think Giddens would say yes.

The existential question of self identity is bound up with the fragile nature of the biography which the individual ’supplies’ about herself.A person’s identity is not to be found in behaviour, nor - important though this is - in the reactions of others, but in the capacity to keep a particular narrative going. The individual’s biography, if she is to maintain regular interaction with others in the day-to-day world, cannot be wholly fictive. It must continually integrate events which occur in the external world, and sort them into the ongoing ’story’ about the self.



(Giddens 1991: 54)

I think we continually try to turn the mundane in to the exotic. Yesterday I showed the beans; the onions;the garlic; the mug; as if worthy art forms. They were each a 'still life'; they were shown as other than the mundane items of food or crockery.
They were no longer functional, but aesthetic. Maybe this is a way in which we enrich our existance - through creative acts that resist the mundane.

Is that what a blog is? A creative, resistant act against the mundane? Is it an attempt to subvert ordinary and re-create it as extraordinary?
Or.
maybe we are saying, that we know we are ordinary.
This is it.
This is our ordinariness.
That is who we are.
And we are OK with that.

I was given a copy of 'Boring Postcards' for Christmas last year and it is really interesting (and funny) to see the boring places depicted there in all their drabness. The pictures, (of motorway cafes, motels, carparks, airports and so on,) show the backdrops that belong to the 'inbetween' parts of our lives, the bits we want to ignore. The liminal spaces. The margins between the events.
But these are the spaces in which we spend a LOT of time.
(Hence the great sales of ipods and walkmans to take us through these spaces.)

These marginal spaces, or 'mythologies' apparently unworthy of attention are the focus of Moran's book, which I have returned to, this week.


These mythologies are so buried in unnoticed habitual spaces and routines that they are relatively resistant to the kind of analyses undertaken by Barthes. I want to find a critical strategy that acknowledges this boredom in everyday life, raher than one that simply seeks to transform it through resourceful readings that strip away the veneer of what Barthes calls the 'falsely obvious.
(Moran, 2005: page 22)


The iterative routines of office life, the ritual phrases and actions and reactions, the habitual inertia. These are the stuff of the everyday that come under the spotlight. And I think these are the things I see Vitriolica deal with; Bitch PhD and many more. But I think we exoticise them; I think we are creative about them and it takes a brave person not to try and make the rdinary a bit more perky than it really is.

7 comments:

Kate said...

I really like being ordinary and also everyday life and this entry celebrates that.
I cannot understand people's need to be famous.
You must read De Certeau The Practice of Everyday Life because in that he also says we subvert our everyday lives in complex and myriad ways.
I am interested in ways in which people slip out of or elude definitions of themselves partly within their daily lives.
I call this transformations of the habitus.

Dr. Rob said...

Hello, Its National Poetry Day today, so I wrote a poem about your blog, it is of course on my blog - enjoy

Anonymous said...

Hi!

So annoyed, just wrote a long message about Allan de Bouton and Edward Hopper as celebrators of mundaneness and liminal spaces. seems not to have made it onto thepage, have to go to work now, but will write later.

Hope you're well,

Sarah Clem

Joolz said...

Well now I am accidentally famous and no longer ordinary at all. I am incorigable to live with. You should all go and read about me here:http://docrob.blogspot.com/2005/10/national-poetry-day-liminal-lives.html#comments

Ooops have just realised DrRob is shamelessly marketing his blog.

I am ordinary really. I will not let fame or money change me at all.

I have flipped through that hard book Kate mentions and I can agree that the easy bits are good but I am not sure about the hard bits.
As for Sarah Clem ... well, HELLLLLLOOOOOO!!!!
Will go forth now and learn about Edward and Allan.

Dr. Rob said...

Can I add another writier to you growing list of weekend reading
Michel Maffesoli (who I wanted as my external examiner but they wouldn't let me - perhaps cos he's French)

Who says in 'Ordinary Knowledge''literature..has traditionally had the function of transfiguring everyday banality (no prizes there for these insigts) but, the real, for Maffesoli has to be transcended as quickly as possible, it is no more than a base material a raw material. We use this raw material to challenge our 'lack of living' , we can then propose 'new worlds' 'in place of the facticity of the present'

thats my two penny worth and now its after 5 o clock and I'm going home
Bonjour mes amies.

Kate said...

Dr Rob is very clever.
I will now go and read his poem.

Trois TĂȘtes said...

It being National Poetry Day, I had thought of writing a poem to Dr Joolz. However I was distracted by a report on the C4 news that G.P. Taylor had been escorted from a south west secondary school for saying bum and fart to 12 year olds. This led to a TV interview and a massive opportunity to plug his books.

I meanwhile am trying shamelessly to promote my flickr streem. Bum and fart. Go there now. Buma nd fart

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Sheffield, South Yorks, United Kingdom
I am an academic interested in New Literacies, Digital Lifestyles, Informal Online Learning.