Yay! My paper for DAC was accepted! One reviewer loved it, the other was much less enthusiastic but had some really useful comments about bits of the stuff I’m doing that I’m uh, still working on attaining expertise in. Lacan, actually, see, if I’m going to write about how we’re wild about photos of ourselves in mirrors well, you need to talk about the mirror phase*, which I know a bit about but need to work more on. I love reviews that are actually helpful and include references and specific things to work on. And I love having written a full paper and being able to revise it.
Here’s the abstract, which I’ll probably revise some before it’s all finalised, because I don’t think it quite expresses what I’m trying to do, really.
Mirrors and Shadows: The Digital Aestheticisation of Oneself
This paper takes the multitude of photographs of our own reflections and shadows that are published online as a starting point and demonstrates their place in a history filled with myths and stories of reflections, shadows and their simultaneous danger and fascination. I connect this to the self-representation of online diaries and weblogs, and relate it to psycho-analytical discussions of how we use our own mirror images to come to an understanding of our selves, concluding that our contemporary fascination with reflections and shadows is an expression of our newfound subjectivity as individuals able to represent ourselves rather than simply succumb to the generalisations of mass media.
One reviewer didn’t like the title, finding it clumsy. I see the point, but can’t quite think of a better one. For some reason I love “Mirrors and Shadows”, but the rest of it I could see changing.
This was another fun paper to write, though. Like the feral hypertext paper, where I woke up one morning just wanting to put the words “feral” and “hypertext” together. The idea for this paper came when I was in Oslo this spring, and I started writing it as a stream of consciousness kind of a draft of ideas sitting in an Oslo cafÈ. Then I picked it up again in August.
* The mirror phase is this basic idea used in lacanian and other psychoanalytic literary and film theory that we become subjects – that is aware of ourselves as individuals – in the “mirror phase”, by seeing our infant selves in the mirror and realising that that reflection is me. This recognition is always also a misrecognition, because, well, my mirror image isn’t “me”, and this leads to all sorts of theories of how the gaze works in cinema and how so on.