Updates from clairedonato Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • clairedonato 21:03 on August 12, 2014 Permalink |  

    The Undead Meme Zombie Crew: It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!! 

    “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!” debuted on the Internet in 2002. The video, which features an animated banana dancing to The Buckwheat Boyz’ wonderful/horrible “Peanut Butter Jelly Time,” first made the rounds on early 21st century meme sites, e.g. Something Awful, and infiltrated popular television when it was featured on Family Guy (Brian the dog dresses up as a banana and sings the song) [SOURCE: Know Your Meme, which also features a google ngram of the meme’s decline in popuarity].

    The object of various mash-ups, “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!” was combined with video of dancing soldiers in Iraq:

    And remixed by the Ying Yang Twinz ft. Lil Jon:

    It’s thought-provoking to consider “It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!!” as a relic of early post-9/11 America. Watching the video, my mind keeps returning to the phrase “kooky ballistics,” as if this wild banana offers some lens into understanding war. (Or maybe I’m just under the influence of the Iraq mash-up video, young soldiers thrusting their cocks into thin air.) Speaking of cocks, I’m also curious about the sex-based implications of this meme, as Urban Dictionary offers some particularly gnarly definitions of the term, which I’ll spare you in this space. Indeed, the meme has an innocent surface with lots of wicked undertow/double entendre.

    However, as Jeff notes, maybe this meme is like any meme that falls away, like a pop song falls away until or unless it experiences a revival. Along these lines, we might look to Hamster Dance, an early meme that also fell out of popular consciousness.


  • clairedonato 20:09 on August 12, 2014 Permalink |  

    Tabloid Selfie: Man Takes a Picture with Shark Before Deadly Attack 

    Poet and performance artist Kate Durbin shared this link on my Facebook wall, and a lively discussion ensued. The claim in this tabloid article is that a man took a photograph of himself before being devoured by a shark:

    Inspired by Talan’s “Embracing Banality” post, those of us discussing this selfie on Facebook reflected on what to call this type of (fake) selfie. Durbin suggested that it’s a “collective fear” or “collective fantasy” selfie, and I suggested “Thanatos selfie.” What do you think?

  • clairedonato 14:24 on August 10, 2014 Permalink |  

    Embracing Banality: Food Porn & Anti-Porn 





    Here is a food porn-y photograph of my afternoon brunch: purple eggs, AKA a poached egg on a bed of mixed greens, arugula, basil, purple potatoes and heirloom tomatoes:



    As a juxtaposition, I abashedly present to you my messy cat Brix’s food and water bowls:


    The differences in these photographs are not difficult to see. First, the surfaces on which each meal is presented are markedly different: purple eggs are photographed on a sleek metal dining table, whereas Brix’s meal is served on a soiled tile floor. (Our kitchen floor is not this disgusting, I swear. :-)) Second, Brix’s food does not have the color palette of purple eggs—it is brown, brown, brown, except for her water, which is clear. Do the purple eggs’ food porn-ish qualities go hand-in-hand with their vivid colors? (See this color wheel as a reference.) Along these lines, Brix’s food is served in black bowls (one of which rests atop a patterned plate, which sometimes serves as a makeshift moat to keep away ants), not on teal Pottery Barn plates emblazoned with octopus patterns. Do we presume our house-cat has no sense of bourgeois aesthetics? Finally, the purple eggs are accompanied by a fork, a utensil associated with the human animal. Brix’s meal, on the other hand, is consumed by mouth, although this is not necessarily clear based on the photograph alone.

    • Jeff T. Johnson 19:01 on August 10, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      i’d love to be eating purple eggs right now, but worry about that dangling fork. both inviting and precarious, like a shaky balcony at sunset.

      i worry about stepping on the edge of the white dish and flipping the cat food into the water dish, and how that would not help dissolve the catfood particles pasted to the floor.


  • clairedonato 12:06 on August 8, 2014 Permalink |  

    Technoprogressive Communalism: My Last Four Facebook Shares 





    Find appended my last four Facebook shares, with some reflection.screen1

    1. 21 hours ago, I shared a link to Meme on Meme Action’s blog. Not a meme, but meme-related content. 





    2. A link to Amina Cain’s interview with Brian Evenson on The Believer Logger. Cain’s interview is part of a series of five different interviews with Evenson (hence the title “5×5”), so there’s something tropic, if not meme-ish, about this exercise, though the site itself, I posit, is not a meme. 


    3. Here, I share a thoughtful reflection by my friend Darren Angle re: his aversion to “non-specific, global language like ‘Everything will be OK’ or ‘Choose happiness.'” (In it, he writes, “I would so much rather connect over how your tooth hurts and you are blindingly paranoid you have a brain infection but you don’t have health insurance – than read how you’re sure that ‘The universe provides.'”) I consider Angle’s post a “legitimate [act] of […] literature creation” and reflect on whether my sharing of this post to ~2,000 Facebook connections further legitimizes his production. (I suspect it does.) Indeed, individual authorship is feasible on Facebook, as one’s name is linked to one’s compositions, although it is to be expected that not all of one’s Facebook compositions will be considered creations of literature. That said, some individuals may claim otherwise, and I am personally curious about the radical political/social/academic/all-of-the-above-and-more implications of claiming the entire body of one’s Facebook content as literature. Imagine listing your Facebook page on your CV’s list of publications! 

    Additionally, it is worth noting that Angle reflects on memetic language in his post. 


    4. On July 28th, I shared a link to Ilya Szilak’s recent article in The Huffington Post re: the 2014 Electronic Literature Organization media show. Two participants in this meme class, Andrew and Jeff, are mentioned in my share. The piece was re-shared from my Facebook page by Jeff’s aunt, a memetic gesture.

  • clairedonato 13:19 on August 7, 2014 Permalink |  

    Dead Meme: We Are the 1%, We Stand with the 99% 

    We Are the 1%, We Stand with the 99% was a tumblr of memes that went viral at the time of Occupy Wall Street’s inception. (Forgive me if I’m misusing “memes” and “viral” here.) On the site, self-identified members of the 1% post selfies in which they hold (usually handwritten) notes about their privilege up to the camera. Often we see their faces, as in this photograph:


    Other times, their faces are obscured:


    Occasionally, their notes are typed:


    And sometimes, contributors are not American:


    The tumblr has not been active since July 2012. In lieu of leisurely activism, maybe the 1% returned to their jet-skis and and art schools? (Indeed, I take issue with—or at least sigh in the general direction of—this misguided meme.)

    When considering memes in the expanded sense, the terms “the 1%” and “the 99%” may considered memetic, although these terms are not necessarily the types of internet memes described in Memmott’s “Gestic Play: Iterative, Performative, and Emergent Memes” (though they can components of internet memes). In fact, these terms do fall under the general dictionary definition of what a meme is—something circulated through culture, from one person to the next. However, as someone mentioned in a comment on this blog, memes (in the Memmott-ian sense) are always performative, and I’m trying to figure out what it means for individuals to physically embody/perform the 1% and the 99% (and in the case of this tumblr, sometimes both the 1% and the 99%, a strange appropriation).

    One other issue I’m having is how to distinguish between the dictionary definition of a meme (memes in a general sense), the definition of memes established in this class (let’s say Memes), and an expanded field of memes (memeism?, which may include micro-memes used by specific small communities as well as non-image based memes such as hashtags, slogans, etc.), which may be informed by both of these definitions.

    • clairedonato 13:27 on August 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Ok, Jeff and I decided that maybe this meme represents what happens when a general meme (e.g. the 1%) becomes a Meme (in the Memmott-ian sense).


    • constancex 17:33 on August 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Re: gestic, performative; they hold up the note, they hold their mouths in the same position.

      Liked by 1 person

    • ajabine 08:08 on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      So, somebody named Memmott is a meme scholar? That’s funny. (I know, totally off-topic, but I always go off on a tangent when I feel I’m out of my depth.)

      Liked by 2 people

    • clairedonato 12:11 on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Ajabine, I felt out of my depth while writing this; glad to hear I’m in good company! 🙂 Talan Memmott is one of the organizers of this class; he’s currently in the process of completing meme scholarship. My partner Jeff (who is in this class) and I heard him give an excellent talk on the subject at the Electronic Literature Organization conference at UW-Milwaukee in June. The piece I cite here, “Gestic Play: Iterative, Performative, and Emergent Memes,” is the first lecture from this website, and informed the talk.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Talan Memmott 13:27 on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Yeah, that Memmott would be me… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • ajabine 23:19 on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Every klass needs a klown, I guess I’m it this time. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  • clairedonato 14:19 on August 6, 2014 Permalink |  

    Performative Meme: Botoxing 

    In 2008, in Providence, RI, Jeff and I invented botoxing, a meme in which the lower lip curls down while the tongue covers the top lip. Here are a few examples; I/we encourage you to make your own! botoxing botoxing2 botoxing3 botoxing4

  • clairedonato 13:48 on August 6, 2014 Permalink |  

    Introduction: Claire Donato 


    Hi everyone,

    I’m Claire Donato, a writer and member of UnderAcademy’s fakulty who also teaches at Parsons (The New School for Design), The Pratt Institute, and The School of Visual Arts in New York City. With my partner Jeff T. Johnson, I collaborate on Special America, a site-specific performance that’s also a gesture toward embodied viral media and meme culture.

    I find memes somewhat intimidating because they follow formulas, and I’m terrible at math, though I admire and engage with constraints in my work.

    Memes are fast and clever. I just looked up the definition of “clever” and (re?)learned the word means “quick to understand, learn, and devise ideas or apply ideas; intelligent.” One desires to possess these characteristics.

    I am making generalizations. 

    Some questions: What memes will a writer who writes from a space of desire create? Can memes engage the rhetoric of feminine desire, of écriture féminine? Memes are written, after all, in white ink.

    Or: Can a meme quiet the mind? Can memes make us wiser and more gentle? What if we sit zazen with a meme? Can it help us cope? 

    In sum, I look forward to considering the inscribed feminine and meditative properties of memes: how they focus our attention on the ways meaning is produced, what happens when they fall out of alignment, and how they do nothing (and encourage us to follow that lead). 



    • davinheckman 14:24 on August 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I have been thinking a lot about snark, cleverness, and quickness as “currency” in social media. There is a long tradition of linking a kind of reified urbanism with verbal dexterity, insults, and meanness. Whether or not it’s real, who knows!? I think, with it, comes a knowledge of distinction, the ability to form fast judgments and deploy fast identifications. At its best, it is a kind of playful, witty banter that keeps the conversation rolling. At it’s worst, it’s a way to sort people and prioritize attention, marginalizing the unimportant and giving attention to those that matter most.

      Ideal cases of this kind of fast-paced banter appear in a variety of popular contexts…. in comic contexts, specifically, in working class comedy, there is the poetics of the fool who can provide metanarrative in and around the rhythms of ordinary speech. Parallels are improvisations in music, physical comedy in vaudeville cinema, visual puns and manipulations in animation, etc. All of which derive their pleasure from the manipulations of structured time and space. What makes cleverness riveting is that it produces surprise. It takes you where your expectation and intuition did not promise to take you. On the other hand, these sorts of games with order are always eagerly appropriated, and become representations of one’s cosmopolitan disposition, mastery of style, and access to exclusive spaces.

      After social media, when fast-moving, global, self-replicating torrents of data (everything, words, pictures, sounds, processes, all dumped into the stream) presents itself as the chief medium for presentation of self, these oral and performed rhythms are signified differently (the “fast” life of the city transcended by high frequency transactions and high speed networks). Verbal wittiness, which rides context and tends to be subtle in interpersonal, singular contexts, has to become performative in the same way it gets used in popular film and television… but estranged from context, it has to carry its resonances with it. The pleasure of the surprise and craft still remains, but it is heavily moderated by its virtual scale, requiring the specific content be universalized in some way. In some cases, this means wit has to be affectively stylized and converted to snark (speaking as if one is clever). And in this role, success of snark is heavily dependent on its affect, rather than its content. Since its performance of wit is rooted in shared expectations (in the way that language is shared, but more thoroughly marked up due to the volume of the channel it is swimming in) with people who share the same subjective relation to the matter in question and against those who deviate from that disposition. It may be able to impart some knowledge, but the bulk of the information is arranged around its pathical (?… rather than logical or ethical) strength. Instead of interpersonal interaction, we have high volume, high speed sorting procedures that mirror the occult politics of big data, perhaps in the way sacrifices were used to keep the world turning.

      Ironically, I have produced volumes of words very quickly. However, this verbosity has nothing of the cleverness that we associate with quick speech. Rather, they are evidence of my mind’s slow, plodding work…. the scratches of a mind clumsily trying to organize its thoughts…. that translates into the slow speech that I generally use in my daily life. I guess, what I am trying to say is that snark gives us a window into the new cleverness.

      Liked by 3 people

    • ajabine 08:16 on August 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Really appreciate this. I can do glib, I can do snark, but my default setting is actually quite earnest and literal. I’ve had to tamp down those tendencies considerably to get any traction in my social media groups. Sometimes, I just decide it doesn’t matter. I’ll write what I’m thinking. If nothing happens (no likes, no shares, no comments), well, I didn’t connect. And I don’t always wish to.

      Liked by 1 person

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc