on bull

I must admit, I’m pretty adept at bullshit. Most students are. Whether undergrad or post grad, you become good at writing bull. Well, not bull in general – we leave that to politicians and newspaper writers – but a specific, academic type. This type is particularly refined; you can smell academic writing a mile off. It is dense, impenetrable to the uninitiated, and enough to make one cringe or scratch one’s head in bemusement.

My brother had his PhD viva on Friday, and it makes me the proudest sibling in the world to report that he passed, and, once he has corrected the five spelling errors his examiners pointed out and submitted his thesis, he will officially become Dr. Mark D. Goodsell. He came down to my parents house on Friday night so that we could all eat together; I was just in awe.

Mark and Kat stayed the weekend, going to a wedding on Saturday, then staying with us on Sunday. Luke buggered off after tea on Friday, to everyone’s disappointment, but he had things to do in Manchester. Yesterday afternoon, after a very good pub lunch, while we were sitting out on the lawn (by which time, I must admit, I had had a bit to drink) mark went and fetched his draft thesis. We all knew full well that we would not understand it, but just for the sake of pride, we had dad read the abstract aloud

I understood some words, such as ‘the’ and ‘and’, but it was impenetrable! If one can judge the quality of an academic work by how understandable it is or isn’t to a lay person, that was very good indeed.

of wine in the afternoon

Today is another good day; mind you, me and Esther haven’t done much. It’s the day of the rest of the class’s exhibitions – I did mine earlier this year, a fact which, I feel, gives me certain advantages: for instance, I had the entire gallery, whereas the rest of my class have to share it. I had a week to exhibit my work, whereas theirs is just on this afternoon. Mind you, they too had free wine, two glasses of which have made me feel smug.

Last night was the neon party. I’m not telling you what I wore, but I’ll just say it ruled out going to the loo. I therefore did not drink and stayed sober. I still had a really good time.

Uni rules; I’m going to miss it so badly!

the play’s the thing

Art is usually but a plaything; a distraction. We turn the box on or open a book of an evening purely to be distracted. I, however, have the good fortune to be a student of art – I produce it n my writing, and I study it’s filmic incarnation. Yet art – be it painting, literature, film or whatever – is more than a distraction. Reitz’s Heimat means something, Moby-dick means something, and that which I saw on Monday evening at half past seven meant something.

My friends were in a play; a short piece, written by Vikki, directed by rocky, about three friends who are involved in a car crash en route to a festival. The piece was commissioned by the council, and they are currently doing a tour, performing it in schools, encouraging kids to wear seat belts. By god, it is powerful – the pen can truly cut to the quick like no other tool or weapon I know. This is why we are here; this is what art is for. That play can save lives, and, as such, it is profoundly noble.

What my friends are doing will save lives, and I salute them all.

possibly the best ever email

I got the best ever email today. It ran as follows

”Matthew,

Defiant is repaired, when would be a good time to bring it back to you?

Love

Dad”

I had expected it to take an age to fix. in the end it took a day. dad just came and dropped my chair off. I’m once again independent

heeehaaawscrshshsh!

I read today that the Sinclair spectrum is 25 this month. Spectrums? Spectrums? Oh I remember those. The mark had one, and I used to watch him play on it for hours, sitting on his bedroom floor, looking up at the screen. I don’t recall ever having a go, though.

Of course, today gaming has come a long way since the days when games came on cassettes. I recently read of how one can turn your pc into a flight sim – you can get things like altimeters which plug into computers. People have, for example, got old 747 cockpit shells, mounted a yoke and these peripherals on it, used two or three screens or a projector for the visuals, and then played ms flight sim 2000! How cool. Don’t believe me? Go here! I want one, and I bet it doesn’t scream at you while its loading.

link

the cultural model

It occurs to me, in my conversations with Simon Stevens, that there seem to be a shortcoming in the social model of disability. We were talking on msn this morning about his plans to do a PhD on disability and online gaming. games like ‘second life’ are now massive, with thousands, if not millions of players. Matrix like, they recreate the world; yet that world is perfect. As such, disability does not need to exist.

Yet it does. This fact seems to contradict both models of disability: the contradiction with the medical model does not interest me, as it is too obvious; the contradiction with the social model is, however, more subtle. If disability is a social construct, then, in a world where the real, as it were, is determined by the imaginary, then disability shouldn’t exist. In a world where we are free to be ourselves, without the barriers imposed on society, then disability shouldn’t exist.

The fact that it does lead us to something of a revelation: the social model takes no account of pride. Disability is part of who I am; yes, it’s a pain in the ass yesterday my wheelchair broke – but it’s part of who I am. I like being Matt, the guy who zooms round campus in a chair; matt who uses that odd contraption in the wes; matt with more friends than he could count! I love being me, and wouldn’t change it for the world!

As Simon pointed out, what is needed is a cultural model of disability. We see ourselves as disabled because we want to. This is, of course, very problematic: who, after all, would choose a world where most of your school mates die? Its not all peaches and cream. This gives rise to a contradiction: do we or do we not want to be disabled? I am proud of being disabled, yet… I still see those men in Weston, and the road back home; such images haunt me. Time and time again, I have been given such news. Granted, had I not gone to special school, things would have been different, so disability and such things are not intertwined completely, but the two are associated. Nevertheless, I would not change who I am; I am proud to have known those boys. In a way they are the reason why I would not take the magic pill, for were I to be cured of my cp I would be denying my roots and my history. To do so would be a betrayal.

This is why disability must exist in things like second life. Disability is part of who I am. If I hated my disability I would hate myself. It was Ahab’s hatred of his disability which destroyed him and his ship, for it inspired his insane quest against the white whale, although this is one reading of Melleville. I am not Ahab. Whales may be ‘dumb brutes’, as Starbuck put it, but they are also beautiful animals, gliding so gracefully though the water. Like Ahab, I can hate my own disability, and like Ahab I can ”shoot my hot hearts shell upon it”, but I choose instead to swim with it.

Thus I think there is a place for a cultural model. I think it has it’s limits, and it needs work – it doesn’t for example explain how disability arises – but, unlike the social and medical model, it opens a space where we can be proud of who we are.

hard life

One way or another, yesterday was rather busy. The only accessible busses are at 9 and 11.45, and given we didn’t want to be late for a lecture at 12, we caught the one at 9. this gives us three hours to kill, so est and I worked on my essay; well, she went through the spelling while I had a nap! (nodded off anyway) After my lecture, there’s another wait – till 3 – for the bus home. When we got back, we did some housekeeping, tidied my wardrobe, then suddenly it was teatime; then off to go watch graham rehearse. After this I met Charlie again, with her rather dubious but likable friend peter, for a night at brandies.

My what a hard life I lead.

monkeys and typewriters my butt!

I had a meeting with Trish, my culture tutor this morning; I wanted to discuss my essay. To be honest I was nervous – this essay counts for 80% of the unit mark, and, to me, there was a distinct possibility of her saying I had grossly misunderstood the question and that I should start again.

She didn’t do this. in fact, she said that, although I couldn’t spell or use apostrophise, it was the best piece of work she had seen from me. She seemed really impressed! Woohoo! This is great news, especially given how worried I was. Apparently, it is less dogmatic than my other pieces, and more academic. I’m very happy now.

vivocas

My older brother flagged something extremely interesting up for me yesterday (mark may have his uses after all!). he heard on the radio how the university of Sheffield are trying to design a Voice Input Voice Output Communication Aid (VIVOCA) – a device which translates disordered or unintelligible speech and outputs it via speech synthesis. As a person with ‘disordered or unintelligible speech’ this means I could speak into this box and understandable words come out. While this looks promising, I see a major problem in that I never say the same word twice in the same way – people have to rely on context to understand me – so how could this device translate for me? I think one would have to use it in combination with traditional vocas.

Interesting stuff nevertheless. Cheers bro.

go here and here