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robertogreco : silence   65

Remembering Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis, Master of Silence | Pitchfork
"Mark Hollis’ legacy is silence, but it didn’t begin there. There were precedents for the slow, sprawling emptiness that became his signature—first sonically, as the frontman of post-rock legends Talk Talk, and then with his very existence, as he retreated from the public world following his lone solo album in 1998. In interviews, Hollis attributed his use of silence in music to a fascination with jazz—John Coltrane, Miles Davis with Gil Evans—as well as composers like John Cage and Ravel. He liked music constructed with more room than it physically demanded. That way, he observed, you could hear every little movement: the way guitar strings vibrate as a note dies out; the raspy, winding sound of a long exhale into a harmonica. You listen to his music the way you navigate an open field. Hollis sang quietly; he considered volume in the spatial sense.

Anyone who’s fallen in love with a record knows there’s no silence like the one after it ends, and Hollis structured his career like a long fadeout. Those early-’80s Talk Talk albums—where bassist Paul Webb led melodies so immortal, they became hits for pop acts decades later—are catchy and artful, immediate yet ambitious. If you, like me, came to Hollis’ music in retrospect, after he was already a ghost, then it might be jarring to go back before Talk Talk’s art-rock landmark, 1988’s Spirit of Eden, and realize just how magnetic he was as a pop singer. For Hollis, his evolution from a synth-pop frontman—someone who opened for and shared a producer with Duran Duran—into one of rock’s most elusive spirits was barely worth mentioning. “As time goes on your tastes change and that’s all it is,” he once put it.

This sense of inevitability guided Hollis’ every move. The central motif of his work was springtime: things melting and being born, nature in transition, new grass and old traditions. If you want to hear the pivot point of his career, the moment when the temperature changed for good, you can find it halfway through Talk Talk’s 1986 album The Colour of Spring. At the core of the record is one of Talk Talk’s biggest hits, “Life’s What You Make It,” where Hollis sings about aging gracefully over a surging piano line. “Yesterday’s faded/Nothing can change it,” he says, before intoning the song’s hopeful title followed by a pair of simple commands: “Celebrate it. Anticipate it.”

There are generally two ways to respond to instructions like these: roll your eyes and return to whatever’s dragging you down, or take heed and make a change. The next track on the album, a slow metamorphosis called “April 5th,” makes it clear that Hollis took his own advice. Over the course of six minutes, an organ builds toward a gospel crescendo, a tangled bed of woodwinds sets itself free, and Hollis’ last, desperate plea—“Let me breathe”—becomes his version of seduction: “Let me breathe you.” It’s spiritual music that burrows inward, the reflection of Astral Weeks in a small body of water. You can listen, even now, and feel like you’re witnessing something improvisational, something happening just for you.

Read enough interviews with Hollis (there aren’t many) and you’ll find his most trusted mantra—“To play one note well is better than to play two notes badly”—is also a sharp metaphor for trusting your most basic instincts. Hollis didn’t want to teach—he wanted to relieve you of things you already knew, worries that turn into obsessions, weight that drags us down over time. As early as the very first song on Talk Talk’s very first album, he was bemoaning a conversation gone bad; repeating his band’s name until it sounded onomatopoeic. It doesn’t seem coincidental that he quit making music in the late ’90s, when the distribution of information became more instantaneous—a feed of infinite notes played badly, all at once, for everyone to hear. In his absence the world became, and will continue to become, a whole lot louder.

After the release of Talk Talk’s hushed masterpieces, Spirit of Eden and its even quieter follow-up, 1991’s Laughing Stock, Hollis’ sound never really disappeared. It was there in the rise of post-rock; in the merging of ambient and popular music, through shoegaze and beyond; in any band reinventing themselves by slowing down and spreading out, in defiance to accessibility. His most vocal supporters have always been fellow musicians, because in his story was a path toward finding peace without compromising your vision.

I downloaded Spirit of Eden off a music message board in my early teens, likely because members of Radiohead kept mentioning it in interviews. My initial experiences with the record were frustrating. I was left feeling like a piece was missing, like I was standing too close to something bigger than myself. It became music that never felt like it was mine. Instead, it was a sound that I could return to, over and over, not to try to understand but to lose myself in more deeply. As the world becomes more familiar, experiences like this are rarer—real quiet is hard to find and even harder to sustain."
markhollis  2019  silence  music  talktalk 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Gnamma #7 - The Teacher's Imposition
"The world is full of bad teaching. And somehow we all get on with it, of course.

Still, I have found it typical that people perk up when they think of their favorite, electrifying teachers. These are people we think about for the rest of our lives, largely because they inform our interests and ways of looking at the world (ontology, value systems, networked ideas, etc) at early ages. Let's talk about teachers, and I want to be clear: everyone directs teachable moments in life (especially guardians and managers). I'm referring to people in explicitly assigned roles to teach. (This thus puts these thoughts largely outside of the realm of unschooling [https://www.are.na/roberto-greco/unschooling ], I think, but I do not know enough to say—would love to understand more in this realm.)

"Why Education is so Difficult And Contentious" [https://www.sfu.ca/~egan/Difficult-article.html ]: TL;DR because when we say education we mean indoctrination, and everybody—teacher, parent, politician, etc—has different opinions on how people should be. It's touchy to talk about forced indoctrination because it both engenders fascism and is the founding idea behind of public education. There are obviously gradients of imposition on the student. Illich supports the need for the pedagogue to connect student to resources, but not much more—a fairly "hands-off" view of the teacher by today's standards. Still, the connective moments are going to reflect the ideology of the pedagogue.

Are teachers necessary for learning? No. Learning is between the student and the world. A quippish phrase I heard a couple times working at RenArts [https://www.renarts.org/ ] was "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think." But education (structured learning with others) requires teachers, basically by definition. Teachers "lead to water" and apply social pressure to encourage partaking.

What makes for a good teacher? Well, I maintain the chief goals of structured learning are to build agency and cultivate awareness in the student (and maybe share specific skillsets). So, what kind of teacher builds agency in the student and cultivates awareness to the extent possible? Some modes of teaching quickly follow: I believe the teacher needs to support open-ended, coherent, and honest activities.

Without open-ended-ness, we lose exploratory and self-actualizing potential. Without coherence, students can get mired in lack of knowing where to start or end (but a little ambiguity isn't bad). Without honesty we lose touch with the world and how to work with our lived realities. By "honesty" here, I mean to be honest about application of material, about history of thought, and about context of the activity itself; as such, the best teaching acknowledges and works with its own context (/media) and the needs of the people in the room.

I am trying to recall where I heard the phrase that "teaching is making space." The teachers frames the room, the activities, the needs, the expectations, the discussions. In doing so, they embed indoctrination into the teaching. In the effort of honesty in the classroom, these framing decisions needs to be made explicit for the students. The effective teacher must constantly wrestle with their internalized epistemologies and ego in seeking to constantly be aware of and share their own framings of the world. (When I ran a workshop for the Free School of Architecture in Summer 2018 on alternative learning communities, I mostly brought with me a long list of questions to answer [https://www.are.na/block/2440950 ] in seeking to understand how one is framing a learning space.)

This need for constant "pariefracture" (a breaking of the frame, expanding the conceptual realm, or meta-level "zooming out"—my friend D.V.'s term) in teaching gave me quite a bit of anxiety, as a teacher, until reading Parker J. Palmer's book "The Courage to Teach," in which he outlines six paradoxes of teaching. [https://www.are.na/block/1685043 and OCRed below ] I like these paradoxes in themselves, but the larger concept that resonated with me was the ability to treat a paradox not as a dead end (as one does in mathematics, generally) but rather as a challenge that can be pulled out and embraced as the dynamo of an ongoing practice. Teaching never resolves: you just wake up tomorrow and give it another shot.

I think what I'm circling around, here, is how much of learning from a teacher involves inheriting their ways of looking, concurrent with the teacher's ways of looking being in constant, self-aware flux. We inherit snapshots of our teachers' worldviews, blend them together over our own substrate of grokking the world, and call it education."

[From Parker J Palmer’s “The Courage to Teach”:

“When I design a classroom session, I am aware of six paradoxical tensions that I want to build into the teaching and learning space. These six are neither prescriptive nor exhaustive. They are simply mine, offered to illustrate how the principle of paradox might contribute to pedagogical design:

1. The space should be bounded and open.
2. The space should be hospitable and "charged."
3. The space should invite the voice of the individual and the voice of the group.
4. The space should honor the "little" stories of the students and the "big" stories of the disciplines and tradition.
5. The space should support solitude and surround it with the resources of community.
6. The space should welcome both silence and speech.

I want to say a few words about what each of these paradoxes means. Then, to rescue the paradoxes and the reader from death by abstraction, I want to explore some practical ways for classroom teachers to bring these idea to life.“
lukaswinklerprins  teaching  howweteach  parkerpalmer  education  paradox  2019  indoctrination  ivanillich  exploration  boundaries  openness  hospitality  individualism  collectivism  community  silence  speech  support  solitude  disciplines  tradition  personalization  unschooling  deschooling  canon 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
Rethinking the Peace Culture [The Pearl Magazine]
"Last September, our university made significant progress by moving from the 39th to the 22nd position in the US News Ranking of the Best Liberal Art Colleges in the country. Soka also lands at #1 in Study Abroad and #2 in Faculty Resources. However, statistics alone cannot tell the whole story. When evaluating a college, we should also take into consideration the extent to which it achieves its mission statement. Does a national ranking mean that the university succeeds in achieving its goal to “foster a steady stream of global citizens who committed to living a contributive life”?

The core value of Soka—pursuing a peaceful culture—somehow contributes to a lack of engagement in the community. This issue was reflected in the First-Year Class Senate election this year. In comparison to the rising tension in the US political climate, our election could not have been more “peaceful.” Candidates weren’t required to give speeches about their plans. No campaigns or lobbies were launched. The process only required an application that was put in a booklet and sent to all the first-year students. Students were given one week for online voting—and then the new officers were announced.

The silence of the process surprised me. In my high school in Vietnam, to run for student council, we had to run campaigns and give presentations about our plans to win votes from students and teachers. Here, an election for the most critical student organization was unexpectedly quiet.

I’d argue that one of the unexpected results of the peace culture is that students become silent and passive when it becomes necessary to speak personal opinions. As we do not want to be excluded from the community or be seen as “too aggressive,” we easily come to an agreement even if it is not what we really think. The pressure to please other people and maintain a peaceful atmosphere makes us hesitant to express ourselves and fight for what we believe. We want to be “global citizens,” but we stop at the border of disagreement because we are afraid that we will cause trouble if we cross that boundary. How can multi-cultural understanding be developed without the clash of ideas and interactive debates? How can truth and progress can be achieved if everyone is not willing to speak up?

From the bottom of my heart, I do not regret choosing Soka as my college. I understand the importance of pacifism to the world. However, we cannot have a “happy peace” on campus without encouraging freedom of idea-exchanging and structural discourses. As life goes on, conflicts are unavoidable. The best way to solve them is not by ignoring them, but by seriously discussing them to find a solution that works for the community."

[Goes well with:
"The Biden Fallacy: Struggle against the powerful, not accommodation of their interests, is how America produced the conditions for its greatest social reforms." by
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/bloomberg-schultz-moderate-democrat.html

"There’s something odd about the self-described moderates and centrists considering a run for president. If “moderation” or “centrism” means holding broadly popular positions otherwise marginalized by extremists in either party, then these prospective candidates don’t quite fit the bill.

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax on the nation’s largest fortunes is very popular, according to recent polling by Morning Consult, with huge support from Democrats and considerable backing from Republicans. But Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who has flirted with running for president as a moderate Democrat, rejects the plan as an extreme policy that would put the United States on the path to economic ruin. “If you want to look at a system that’s noncapitalistic, just take a look at what was once, perhaps, the wealthiest country in the world, and today people are starving to death. It’s called Venezuela,” he said during a January trip to New Hampshire. He is similarly dismissive of the idea of “Medicare for all,” warning that it would “bankrupt us for a very long time.”

Likewise, Terry McAuliffe, the former governor of Virginia, has staked out ground as a moderate politician, even as he opposes similarly popular ideas. A substantial majority of the public favors proposals to greatly expand college access or make it free outright. In a January op-ed for The Washington Post, McAuliffe dismissed “universal free college” as a misuse of tax dollars. “Spending limited taxpayer money on a free college education for the children of rich parents badly misses the mark for most families.”

And let’s not forget Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks chief executive who might run for president as an independent, who characterizes himself as a “centrist” despite holding positions that have little traction among the public as a whole. “We have to go after entitlements,” he has said, referring to the unpopular idea of cutting Social Security and Medicare to shrink the federal deficit.

In each case, these moderate politicians have positioned themselves against broad public preference. What then makes a moderate, if not policies that appeal to the middle?

You’ll find the answer in two comments from Joe Biden, who served two terms as vice president under President Barack Obama and is mulling a third run for the Democratic nomination. The first is from a speech in 2018, the second from more recent remarks to the United States Conference of Mayors. Speaking last May at the Brookings Institution, Biden rejected the confrontational language of some other Democrats. “I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders,” he said. “I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason we’re in trouble. I get into a lot of trouble with my party when I say that wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor folks.”

Speaking a month ago, Biden defended his praise for Fred Upton, the electorally embattled Republican congressman from Michigan whom he commended in a paid speech last year. Republicans used these comments to bolster Upton in campaign advertising, helping him win a narrow victory over his Democratic challenger. Biden’s response to critics was defiant. “I read in The New York Times today that I — that one of my problems is if I ever run for president, I like Republicans,” he said. “O.K., well, bless me, Father, for I have sinned.”

Biden hasn’t endorsed a “Medicare for all” plan, but if he runs, he won’t be running on deficit reduction or modest tweaks to existing programs. He supports free college and a $15-per-hour minimum wage. He wants to triple the earned-income tax credit, give workers more leverage and raise taxes on the rich. This is a liberal agenda. And yet Biden is understood as a “moderate” like Bloomberg, McAuliffe and Schultz.

What connects them (and similar politicians) is a belief that meaningful progress is possible without a fundamental challenge to those who hold most of the wealth and power in our society. For Biden, you don’t need to demonize the richest Americans or their Republican supporters to reduce income inequality; you can find a mutually beneficial solution. Bloomberg, a billionaire, may have a personal reason for rejecting wealth taxes, but he may also see them as unnecessary and antagonistic if the goal is winning powerful interests over to your side. McAuliffe governed Virginia with an eye toward the business community. Sweeping social programs might be popular, but they might alienate that powerful constituency. And Schultz wants a Democratic Party less hostile to those he calls “people of means,” who otherwise back goals like gun control.

But this is a faulty view of how progress happens. Struggle against the powerful, not accommodation of their interests, is how Americans produced the conditions for its greatest social accomplishments like the creation of the welfare state and the toppling of Jim Crow. Without radical labor activism that identifies capitalism — and the bosses — as the vector for oppression and disadvantage, there is no New Deal. Without a confrontational (and at times militant) black freedom movement, there is no Civil Rights Act. If one of the central problems of the present is an elite economic class that hoards resources and opportunity at the expense of the public as a whole, then it’s naïve and ahistoric to believe the beneficiaries of that arrangement will willingly relinquish their power and privilege.

If there’s a major division within Democratic politics, it’s between those who confront and those who seek to accommodate. Because we lack a varied vocabulary in mainstream political discourse, we call the latter “moderates” or “centrists,” which doesn’t capture the dynamic at work.

Anna Julia Cooper was an author, activist and public intellectual, a prominent voice in the struggle for black liberation. In her 1892 book, “A Voice From the South,” she ruminates on what’s necessary for “proper equilibrium” in society:
Progressive peace in a nation is the result of conflict; and conflict, such as is healthy, stimulating, and progressive, is produced through the coexistence of radically opposing or racially different elements.

Antagonism, indignation, anger — these qualities don’t diminish democracy or impede progress. Each is an inescapable part of political life in a diverse, pluralistic society. And each is necessary for challenging our profound inequalities of power, wealth and opportunity.

“The child can never gain strength save by resistance,” Cooper wrote, a little later in that volume, “and there can be no resistance if all movement is in one direction and all opposition made forever an impossibility.”]
2018  peace  hongthuy  democracy  community  governance  government  silence  passivity  jamellebouie  us  politics  progressive  progress  change  michaelbloomberg  terrymcauliffe  howardschultz  juliacooper  antagonism  indignation  anger  pluralism  society  conflict  conflictavoidance  diversity  resistance  joebiden  elizabethwarren  democrats  2019  barackobama  fredupton  moderates  centrists  accommodation  statusquo  inequality  civilrights  power  privilege  discourse  civility  race  wealth  opportunity  sokauniversityofamerica  thepearl  soka 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About the Future Of Schools
"Despite the rhetoric, modern movements to reform schools have had a devastating effect on education"



"As a full-time teacher, I don’t have a lot of time to look up from the dailiness of the job to consider something as nebulous as the “future” of education. When I do, I feel a vague unease that too many non-teachers seem to have a lot of time to do this kind of thinking.

One thing in my favor is that education reform seems to take the same basic forms, year after year. There’s the standards and accountability movement and the ongoing attempts to give it “teeth.” Then there are the tech giants peddling autonomy and self-direction in lieu of soul-crushing activities like reading The Outsiders and using protractors. And though the latter reformers are often critics of the former, the two have a lot in common.

Both represent billion-dollar industries. Both frequently co-opt a rhetoric of liberation, autonomy, and empowerment. Both can barely disguise a deep disdain for teachers and schools, especially of the “sage on the stage” variety. And both are almost exclusively headed up by white men.

These are the kind of people setting a bold agenda for the future of education.

Admittedly, us unruly American educators would have a hard time coming up with anything coherent enough to compete with the brave visions set forth by the leaders of these two industries. The very fact that such an all-encompassing solution is needed testifies to their dominance in framing the narrative around American schools. Mired in the day-to-day challenges and complexities of actually caring for and educating children, many teachers exhibit a complete failure of imagination when it comes to sweeping monolithic initiatives with pithy acronyms, eye-catching logos, and font pairings that are straight fire.

But we do need to change. Beyond the usual Alice Cooper-type critiques, we teachers have been especially complicit in the widespread marginalizing, neuroticizing, and criminalizing of our most vulnerable students. Yes, we need to stop boring future white rockstars and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is already well known. But, more importantly, we also need to stop harming children of color with our whitewashed curriculum, inequitable funding systems, and disparate use of punitive disciplinary measures.

Can today’s reformers help us make progress toward these goals? Or do they exacerbate, perpetuate, and contribute to the very problems we face?

Trying to pin deception, manipulation, and violence on this rag-tag bunch leaves me feeling petty and mean-spirited. After all, they’re often so upbeat and sincere, their rhetoric so humanistic and progressive. Ted Dintersmith, former venture capitalist and billionaire author of the book What School Could Be, recently teamed up with Prince Ea, who has made not one but two viral videos echoing the same message: schools must change. And on the standards and accountability side, David Coleman, “architect” of the Common Core and now CEO of the College Board, has boldly laid out a “beautiful vision” for American schools. In a field plagued by widespread mediocrity and entrenched inequities, shouldn’t we applaud any moves toward a more inspiring, inclusive future?

The problem is that, despite all the rhetoric and good intentions, both these movements have had a devastating effect on education, all while continually escaping blame for their outsized impact. Any negative outcomes are used to justify further expansion and dominance. Poor test scores and persistent achievement gaps aren’t seen as issues with the tests, but as misalignment and implicit bias on the part of teachers. Student attention deficit and boredom aren’t seen as a function of technology addiction, but rather an occasion to blast schools for their inability to fully capitalize on the promise of the digital age.

Not surprisingly, this seeming unassailable innocence reveals close links to the logics of white supremacy culture, especially the values of individualism, objectivity, and so-called meritocracy. They additionally amplify neoliberal beliefs in the absolute goods of privacy and consumer choice, thus shifting the blame away from dominant elites under the guise of “empowerment.” To borrow the central metaphor from Todd Rose’s The End of Average, they ultimately seek to style us as fighter pilots in the “cockpits of our economy,” where we must summon limitless initiative, grit, and resourcefulness just to survive.

Ultimately, their ideas are rooted in America’s original “solutions” to the problems of pluralism, wherein subtle self-effacement and silencing became stratagems for consolidating power. All of this is part of a long tradition in the United States, one that dates back to colonial times, guiding both the “Strange Compromise” of 1789 and the founding of the Common School. Although these roots may be less obvious in our day, they are arguably more powerful and moneyed than ever before."



"Ultimately, the several silences of education reform have proven a powerful gambit for privatization and profit. These industries implicitly offer themselves as neutral alternatives to our fraught political climate, much as Horace Mann’s enjoinder to “read without comment” secularized schools in a sectarian age. They also shift the onus of agency and ownership from themselves onto the student, who assumes full responsibility for finding and following their own educational path.

Whereas Mann, perhaps unconsciously, hoped to indoctrinate students into his supposedly doctrineless Unitarianism, these reformers peddle the so-called empty doctrines of individualism, personalization, objectivity, entrepreneurialism, and meritocracy—all while exacerbating inequities and deprofessionalizing teachers.

Resisting these trends starts by seeing them as two sides of the same coin. Anything that counsels and valorizes silence—before the text, the test, or even the individual student—may partake in this phenomenon. The primary effect is always to atomize: content into itemized bits, classrooms into individualized projects and timelines, and each of us into solitary individuals pursuing personalized pathways.

Among the many omissions implicit in this vision is the notion that each student has equal access to a pathway of choice. Once that false premise is established, you are truly on your own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, find your own personal road less traveled, dive headfirst into the entrepreneurial shark tank. Unfortunately, far too many smaller-scale reform movements espouse a similar ethos, often flooding Twitter with a toxic positivity that ignores intransigent inequities and injustices."



"None of this is intended to romanticize the educational mainstays of the past: lectures, textbooks, worksheets. But we should note how these more modern trends themselves often devolve into regressive, behaviorist, sit-and-get pedagogy.

Confronted by daunting challenges like widespread budget shortfalls, inequitable funding, increasing school segregation, whitewashed curriculum, and racial injustice, it’s no wonder we would reach for solutions that appear easy, inexpensive, and ideologically empty. At a time when we most need to engage in serious deliberations about the purposes and future of schools, we instead equivocate and efface ourselves before tests and technology, leaving students to suffer or succeed within their own educational echo chamber.

As appealing as these options may seem, they are not without content or consequences. Ironically, today’s progressive educators find themselves in the strange position of having to fight reform, resisting those who would render everything—including their own intentions and impact—invisible."
arthurchiaravalli  education  edreform  reform  history  invisibility  progressive  siliconvalley  infividualism  horacemann  2018  collegeboard  individualism  personalization  commonschool  us  inequality  justice  socialjustice  injustice  race  racism  whitesupremacy  reading  hilarymoss  thomasjefferson  commoncore  davidcoleman  politics  policy  closereading  howweread  ela  johnstuartmill  louiserosenblatt  sat  standardizedtesting  standardization  tedtalks  teddintersmith  democracy  kenrobinson  willrichardson  entrepreneurship  toddrose  mikecrowley  summitschools  religion  secularism  silence  privatization  objectivity  meritocracy  capitalism  teaching  howweteach  schools  publicschools  learning  children  ideology  behaviorism  edtech  technology  society  neoliberalism 
december 2018 by robertogreco
‘Silence Is Health’: How Totalitarianism Arrives | by Uki Goñi | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"A nagging question that first popped into my head while I was a twenty-three-year-old reporter at the Buenos Aires Herald has returned to haunt me lately. What would happen if the US, the country where I was born and spent my childhood, spiraled down the kind of totalitarian vortex I was witnessing in Argentina back then? What if the most regressive elements in society gained the upper hand? Would they also lead a war against an abhorred pluralist democracy? The backlash in the US today against immigrants and refugees, legal abortion, even marriage equality, rekindles uncomfortable memories of the decay of democracy that preceded Argentina’s descent into repression and mass murder."



"This normalization of totalitarian undertones accelerated after my family moved back to Argentina when I was nineteen. To make myself better acquainted with Buenos Aires, I would take long walks through the capital. One day, in 1974, I found myself frozen in my steps on the broad 9 de Julio Avenue that divides Buenos Aires in half. In the middle of this avenue rises a tall white obelisk that is the city’s most conspicuous landmark, and in those days a revolving billboard had been suspended around it. Round and round turned the display and inscribed upon it in large blue letters on a plain white background was the slogan “Silence Is Health.”

With every turn, the billboard schooled Argentines in the total censorship and suppression of free speech that the dictatorship would soon impose. The billboard message was the brainchild of Oscar Ivanissevich, Argentina’s reactionary minister of education, ostensibly to caution motorists against excessive use of the horn. His other mission was an “ideological purge” of Argentina’s universities, which had become a hotbed of student activism. During an earlier ministerial term in 1949, Ivanissevich had led a bitter campaign against the “morbid… perverse… godless” trend of abstract art, recalling the Nazis’ invective against “degenerate” art. During that period, his sister and his nephew were both involved in smuggling Nazis into Argentina.

Ivanissevich’s Orwellian billboard made its appearance just as right-wing violence erupted in the buildup to the military coup. That same year, 1974, Ivanissevich had appointed as rector of Buenos Aires University a well-known admirer of Hitler’s, Alberto Ottalagano, who titled his later autobiography I’m a Fascist, So What? His job was to get rid of the kind of young left-wing protesters who gathered outside the Sheraton Hotel demanding that it be turned into a children’s hospital, and he warmed to the task of persecuting and expelling them. Being singled out by him was more than merely a matter of academic discipline; some fifteen of these students were murdered by right-wing death squads while Ottalagano was rector.

As a partial stranger in my own land, I noticed what those who had already been normalized could not: this was a population habituated to intolerance and violence. Two years later, Ivanissevich’s slogan made a macabre reappearance. In the basement of the dictatorship’s death camp based at the Navy Mechanics School (known as ESMA), where some 5,000 people were exterminated, officers hung two banners along the corridor that opened onto its torture cells. One read “Avenue of Happiness,” the other “Silence Is Health.”

*

To comprehend would-be totalitarians requires understanding their view of themselves as victims. And in a sense, they are victims—of their delusional fear of others, the nebulous, menacing others that haunt their febrile imaginations. This is something I saw repeated in the many interviews I carried out with both the perpetrators of Argentina’s dictatorship and the aging Nazis who had been smuggled to Argentina’s shores three decades earlier. (My interviews with the latter are archived at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.) Their fears were, in both cases, irrational given the unassailable dominance of the military in Argentina and of the Nazis in Germany, but that was of no account to my interviewees.

Because my method was to grant them the respect and patience to which they felt entitled (difficult though that was for me to do), they sometimes seemed briefly to be aware that they had become willing hosts to violent delusions. Getting them to admit that, fully and consciously, was another matter. The chimera of a powerfully malign enemy, responsible for all their perceived ills, made complex, ambiguous realities comprehensible by reducing them to Manichean simplicities. These people were totalitarians not only because they believed in absolute power, but also because their binary thought patterns admitted only total explanations.

Argentina’s military and a large number of like-minded civilians were especially prone to fears of a loosely-defined but existential threat. The youth culture of the 1960s, the sexual revolution, the student protests of the 1970s, all struck alarm in their hearts. That a younger generation would question their strongly-held religious beliefs, challenge their hypocritical sexual mores, and propose alternative political solutions seemed positively blasphemous. The military set out to violently revert these trends and protect Argentina from the rising tide of modernity. To do so, they devised a plan of systematic annihilation that targeted especially young Argentines. It was not just an ideological struggle, but a generational war: about 83 percent of the dictatorship’s estimated 30,000 fatal victims were under thirty-five. (A disproportionate number also were Jewish.)"



"If you want to know what sustains totalitarian violence in a society, psychology is probably more useful than political analysis. Among the elite, support for the dictatorship was enthusiastic. “It was seen as kind of a social faux pas to talk about ‘desaparecidos’ or what was going on,” says Raymond McKay, a fellow journalist at the Buenos Aires Herald, in Messenger on a White Horse, a 2017 documentary about the newspaper. “It was seen as bad taste because the people didn’t want to know.”

Those who have lived their entire lives in functioning democracies may find it hard to grasp how easily minds can be won over to the totalitarian dark side. We assume such a passage would require slow, laborious persuasion. It does not. The transition from day to night is bewilderingly swift. Despite what many assume, civilized coexistence in a culture of tolerance is not always the norm, or even universally desired. Democracy is a hard-won, easily rolled back state of affairs from which many secretly yearn to be released.

Lest there be any doubt of its intention, the dictatorship titled itself the “Process of National Reorganization.” Books were burned. Intellectuals went into exile. Like medieval Inquisitors, the dictatorship proclaimed itself—in fiery speeches that I hear echoed in the conspiracist rants of American populists and nationalists today—to be waging a war to save “Western and Christian civilization” from oblivion. Such a war by definition included the physical annihilation of infected minds, even if they had committed no crime.

Another horrifying characteristic of totalitarianism is how it picks on the weakest elements in society, immigrants and children. The Darré-inspired Lebensborn program seized Aryan-looking children from Nazi-occupied territories, separating them from their parents and raising them as “pure” Germans in Lebensborn homes. In 1970s Argentina, the military devised a similar program. There were a large number of pregnant women among the thousands of young captives in the dictatorship’s death camps. Killing them while carrying their babies was a crime that not even Argentina’s military could bring themselves to commit. Instead, they kept the women alive as human incubators, murdering them after they gave birth and handing their babies to God-fearing military couples to raise as their own. A society that separates children from their parents, for whatever reason, is a society that is already on the path to totalitarianism.

This heinous practice partly inspired Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book The Handmaid’s Tale. “The generals in Argentina were dumping people out of airplanes,” Atwood said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times last year. “But if it was a pregnant woman, they would wait until she had the baby and then they gave the baby to somebody in their command system. And then they dumped the woman out of the airplane.”

This was the ultimate revenge of fearful older men upon a rebellious younger generation. Not only would they obliterate their perceived enemy, but the children of that enemy would be raised to become the model authority-obeying citizens against whom their biological parents had rebelled. It is estimated that some five hundred babies were taken from their murdered mothers this way, though so far only 128 have been found and identified via DNA testing. Not all of these have accepted reunification with their biological families."



"For many Argentines, then, the military represented not a subjugation to arbitrary rule, but a release from the frustrations, complexity, and compromises of representative government. A large part of society clasped with joy the extended hand of totalitarian certainty. Life was suddenly simplified by conformity to a single, uncontested power. For those who cherish democracy, it is necessary to comprehend the secret delight with which many greeted its passing. A quick fix to the insurgency seemed infinitely preferable to plodding investigations, piecemeal arrests, and case-by-case lawful trials. Whipped up by the irrational fear of a communist takeover, this impatience won the day. And once Argentina had accepted the necessity for a single, absolute solution, the killing could begin."
argentina  totalitarianism  fascism  history  2018  margaretatwood  nazis  wwii  ww2  hatred  antisemitism  germany  surveillance  trust  democracy  certainty  robertcox  ukigoñi  richardwaltherdarré  repressions  government  psychology  politics  christianity  catholicism  catholicchurch  antoniocaggiano  adolfeichmann  military  power  control  authoritarianism  patriarchy  paternalism  normalization  silence  resistance  censorship  dictatorship  oscarivanissevich  education  raymondmackay  juanperón  evita  communism  paranoia  juliomeinvielle  exile  generations 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Listening for Silence With the Headphones Off | Pitchfork
"After years of escaping into music, writer Mark Richardson finds out what it feels like to hear no sound at all."



"As I sat in the anechoic chamber, I thought about that other life that I once wanted, one in which I was able to master the numbers and bring hi-fi to the world, and I thought about everything that led me from there to here and all that had happened since. I looked around the room and counted my breaths for a moment, and then I tried to see what else I could hear. I sensed what sounded like ticking, and then I realized that it was my heart, and the sound seemed to be coming from a vein in my neck. I could only remember experiencing my heartbeat as a thud, but in here, it sounded uncannily like a faint mechanical watch.

I thought about silence as a metaphor for death, what it means to not be able to hear the voice of someone you love. I thought about Mike Watt still gleaning lessons from D. Boon, and Mother Teresa and God listening to each other. And then, being generally claustrophobic and wanting to scare myself a little, I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to be in a coffin. With my eyes shut underneath the bright light, I saw red and orange instead of black—there was still blood moving through my eyelids. I sat for a few minutes like that, seeing if I could hear more if listened harder, but the tick of my heart was it. It didn’t feel like death. It was quite the opposite. I thought about writing it all down. I opened my eyes and blinked and stood up and took one last look around, then I knocked on the door."
silence  attention  audio  music  2018  markrichardson  anechoicchambers  death 
august 2018 by robertogreco
M.I.A. and the Defense of Nuance | Affidavit
"Cancelling people is exhilarating, especially when it’s done by marginalized folks, those who so often experience the world through white supremacy—sometimes as a soft and subtle barrage, other times through vicious and terrifying means. The ability to dictate someone’s fate, when you’ve long been in the shadows, is a kind of victory. Like saying “Fuck You” from underneath the very heavy sole of a very old shoe. But while outrage culture has its merits, nuance has evaporated. So often it involves reducing someone to their mistakes, their greatest hits collection of fuck-ups.

In her song “Best Life,” Cardi B raps:

“That’s when they came for me on Twitter with the backlash/ "#CardiBIsSoProblematic" is the hashtag/ I can't believe they wanna see me lose that bad...”

This is her response to being cancelled for a now-infamous Twitter thread detailing her colorism, orientalism, and transphobia. Most recently, after her song “Girls” with Rita Ora was also deemed problematic, she made a statement: “I know I have use words before that I wasn’t aware that they are offensive to the LGBT community. I apologize for that. Not everybody knows the correct ‘terms’ to use. I learned and I stopped using it.”

Cardi brings up something that I keep coming back to: How accessibility to political language is a certain kind of privilege. What I believe Maya is trying to say is that American issues have become global. What she lacks the language to say is: how do we also care about the many millions of people around the world who are dying, right now? Why does American news, American trauma, American death, always take center-stage?

There are things we need to agree on, like the permutations of white supremacy, but are we, societally, equipped for social media being our judge, jury and executioner? I started to realize that the schadenfreude of cancelling was its own beast. It erases people of their humanity, of their ability to learn from experience.

This brings up the politics of disposability. How helpful is distilling someone into an immovable misstep, seeing them not as a person but as interloper who fucked up, and therefore deserves no redemption? How helpful is to interrogate a conversation, but not continue it? Is telling someone to die, and sending them death threats, or telling them they’re stupid or cancelled the way to do it? Who, and what, are we willing to lose in the fire?

M.I.A. and Cardi are similarly unwilling to conform to polite expectation. They both know that relatability is part of their charm. They are attractive women who speak their mind. This, in essence, is privilege, too—which then requires responsibility. The difference is that Cardi apologized."



"“Is Beyoncé or Kendrick Lamar going to say Muslim Lives Matter? Or Syrian Lives Matter? Or this kid in Pakistan matters?”

In 2016, when Maya made these comments in an ES Magazine interview, I remember being frustrated that she only accentuated the divide between non-black people of color and black folks, partially because so often we (Asians) say dumb shit.

The dumb shit I’m referring to w/r/t Maya is not only her tunnel vision when it comes to the complexity of race (plus the void and difference between black and brown folks’ experience) but also the incapacity—or stunted unwillingness—to further self-reflect on her positioning.

Because of her insolence, I had considered Maya undeserving of my alliance. Her lack of inclusivity and disregard of the complexity of political identity, especially in North America, was abominable. As a woman who had found success within the black mediums of rap and hip-hop, her smug disregard felt brash. It felt lazy.

But, as I watched the documentary on her life, I also began to see her complexity. One thing that strikes me about Maya is her personal perseverance. Her family went through hell to get the U.K. Her father’s political affiliations forced them to flee Sri Lanka. Arular was a revolutionary, and thus deemed a terrorist. He was absent her whole childhood. At one point in the film she describes riding on a bus in Sri Lanka with her mom. When the bus jerks forward, the policemen standing alongside casually sexually assault them in broad daylight. Her mother, Mala, warns Maya to stay silent, lest they both be killed. Her reality—of physical threats, of early loss—is stark. As she recalls the details in her candid, detached drawl, you imagine her grappling with the past like a lucid dream.

Herein lies Maya’s dissonance. She is the first refugee popstar, which allows her to subsume a state of Du Bois’ double consciousness. She is neither this nor that, she is a mixture of both East and West. Her experience seeps into her music like a trance, and these definitions are vital to understanding her.

She is agonized by the realities of war, of being an unwanted immigrant who fled from genocide into the frenzied hells of London, only to be pushed into a mostly-white housing estate system, replete with Nazi skinheads. “A tough life needs a tough language,” Jeanette Winterson writes in Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?, her memoir about her abusive stepmother. As I watch the documentary, I wonder, again, if what Maya lacks most is language.

In the current political climate, where Syrian refugees are denied entry into the U.S., and the Muslim Ban, or “Travel Ban,” is an attack on the very notion of being different in America, I began to understand this other part of Maya. How angry she might be for the lack of articulation when it came to refugees, when it’s still very much an issue. She came to music to survive. Art was a way to dislocate from the trauma, to inoculate herself from the past, and provide a new, vivid reality that was both about transcending where she came from, whilst also creating a platform to speak to her roots, to her lineage, to her people.

Tamil is one of the oldest languages in the world. The people that speak it are, right now, being wiped out.

Her understanding of race comes from the victim’s perspective. She not only experienced white supremacy in her work, but was forced out of the country where she was born. Someone like her was never supposed to succeed. But, whether it’s Bill Maher mocking her “cockney accent” as she talks about the Tamil genocide, or the New York Times’ Lynn Hirschberg claiming her agitprop is fake because she dare munch on truffle fries (which were ordered by Hirschberg), Maya has been torn apart by (white) cultural institutions and commentators. You can see how these experiences have made her suspicious in general, but also particularly suspicious of me, a journalist.

Thing is, she’s been burnt by us too—by South Asians. So many of us walked away, attacking her instead of building a dialogue. Her compassion, therefore, is partially suspended. It’s as if she’s decided, vehemently—because she’s deemed herself to not be racist, or anti-black—that the conversation ends. She feels misheard, misrepresented. For her, it’s not about black life mattering or not mattering. It’s about prioritizing human life, about acknowledging human death. But, in America, that gets lost.

You can understand Maya’s perspective without agreeing with her, but I had another question. How do you hold someone you love accountable?

*

The talk itself was many things: awkward, eye-opening, disarming. When I asked about her alleged anti-blackness, she brought up Mark Zuckerberg as evidence that she was set up... by the internet. That her online fans should know that she’s not racist, so that perhaps her one-time friendship with Julian Assange was why she was being attacked online. Her incomprehension that people could be upset by her remarks reflected her naivety about how the internet kills its darlings. Two weeks prior to our meeting, Stephon Clark was murdered, shot twenty times in the back by two police officers. To this she responded: “Yeah, well no-one remembers the kid in Syria who is being shot right now either. Or the kid that’s dying in Somalia.” It made me wonder if she was unwell, not on a Kanye level, but just enough to lack the mechanisms it takes to understand perspective.

Backstage after the talk, she said, “I don’t know why you asked me those questions.” I told her that I thought critique, when done with care, was an empowering act of love. I needed clarity for our community’s sake—many of whom felt isolated by her, a cherished South Asian icon. We need answers from her because we are all trying to grapple with our love and frustration with her.

I don’t want to absolve Maya. What I’m more interested in is how we can say “problematic fave” while acknowledging that we are all problematic to someone. Is there compassion here? Is there space to grow?

*

In They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Abdurraqib writes, “There are people we need so much we can’t imagine turning away from them. People we’ve built entire homes inside of ourselves for, that cannot stand empty. People we still find a way to make magic with, even when the lights flicker, and the love runs entirely out.”

In the recent months, I’ve re-examined Maya with sad enthusiasm. The beginning riff of “Bad Girls”: a women in full niqab racing a car through side swept dunes. Without question, it’s an aching kind of visibility, but the tenor is different. Listening to her now it feels weighted, changed.

Laconic and aloof, I remind Maya on stage that anti-blackness is not an American issue, it’s universal. Perhaps it’s ego, or shameful anger, but I know she cares. Before she begins to speak I realize that you have to build empathy when someone fails you. That they’re not yours to own. You have to try your best to talk to them, and that it’s never helpful to reduce them to a punchline. I believe in Maya’s possibility to grow. I believe in the possibility of change. Maybe that’s my own naivety, but it’s also my political stance. It’s not about … [more]
mia  fariharóisín  2018  privilege  language  cancelling  marginalization  colorism  transphobia  orientlism  cardib  socialmedia  disposability  whitesupremacy  race  racism  apologies  learning  power  islamophobia  islam  socialjustice  noamchomsky  modelminorities  modelminority  nuance  complexity  perseverance  srilanka  silence  refugees  politics  tamil  victims  compassion  blacklivesmatter  julianassange  yourfaveisproblematic  us  australia  anti-blackness  growth  care  caring  dialog  conversation  listening  ego  shame  anger  change  naivety  howwechange  howwelearn  hanifabdurraqib  visibility  internet  problemematicfaves 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Lucia Lorenzi on Twitter: "I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitti
"I have two academic articles currently under consideration, and hope that they'll be accepted. I'm proud of them. But after those two, I am not going to write for academic journals anymore. I feel this visceral, skin-splitting need to write differently about my research.

It just doesn't FEEL right. When I think about the projects I'm interested in (and I have things I want desperately to write about), but I think about writing them for an academic journal, I feel anxious and trapped. I've published academic work. It's not a matter of capability.

I think I've interpreted my building anxiety as some sort of "maybe I can't really do it, I'm not good at this" kind of impostor syndrome. But I know in my bones it's not that, because I'm a very capable academic writer. I know how to do that work. I've been trained to do it.

This is a question of form. It is a question of audience, too. The "what" and the "why" of my research has always been clear to me. The "how," the "where," and the "who," much less so. Or at the very least, I've been pushing aside the how/where/who I think best honours the work.

In my SSHRC proposal, I even said that I wanted to write for publications like The Walrus or The Atlantic or GUTS Magazine, etc. because this work feels like it needs to be very public-facing right now, so that's what I'm going to do. No more academic journal articles for now.

With all the immobilizing anxiety I've felt about "zomg my CV! zomg academic cred!" do you know how many stories I could have pitched in the past year alone? SO MANY. How much research and thinking I could have distilled into creative non-fiction or long-form journalistic pieces?

It's not like I haven't also been very clear about the fact that I probably won't continue in academia, so why spend the last year of my postdoc doing the MOST and feeling the WORST doing my research in a certain way just for what...a job I might not get or even want? Nah.

Whew. I feel better having typed all that out, and also for having made the decision to do the work in the way I originally wanted to do it, because I have been struggling so much that every single day for months I've wanted to just quit the postdoc entirely. Just up and leave.

In the end, I don't think my work will shift THAT much, you know? And I've learned and am learning SO much from fellow academics who are doing and thinking and writing differently. But I think that "no more scholarly journal submissions" is a big step for me.

I also feel like this might actually make me feel less terrified of reading academic work. Not wanting to WRITE academic articles/books has made me equally afraid of reading them, which, uh, isn't helpful. But now I can read them and just write in my own way.

I don't want to not have the great joy of sitting down and reading brilliant work because I'm so caught up in my own fears of my response having to replicate or mirror those forms. That ain't a conversation. I'm not listening if I'm already lost in thinking about how to answer.

That's what's so shitty about thinking as a process that is taught in academia. We teach everyone to be so hyper-focused on what they have to say that we don't let people just sit back and listen for a goddamn moment without feeling like they need to produce a certain response.

And we wonder why our students get anxious about their assignments? The idea that the only valid form of learning is having something to say in response, and in this way that is so limited, and so performative, is, quite frankly, coercive and gross.

As John Cage said, "I have nothing to say and I am saying it." When it comes to academic publications, I am saying that no longer have anything to say. I do, however, have things to say in other places to say them.

My dissertation was on silence. In the conclusion, I pointed out that the text didn't necessarily show all the silences/gaps I had in my years of thinking. I'd wanted to put in lots of blank space between paragraphs, sections, to make those silences visible, audible.

According to the formatting standards for theses at UBC, you cannot have any blank pages in your dissertation. You cannot just breathe or pause. Our C.V.s are also meant not to have any breaths or pauses in them, no turns away, no changes in course.

I am making a course change!"
form  academia  cvs  dissertations  johncage  pause  silence  reading  howweead  howwewrite  writing  2018  lucialorenzi  anxiety  coercion  response  performance  conversation 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
'An oasis of calm': Quakers broadcast 30 minutes of silence | Media | The Guardian
"It’s not the most obvious subject for a podcast, but a group of young Quakers in Nottingham have recorded their 30-minute silent meeting so as to share their “oasis of calm” with the world.

In an episode of the monthly Young Quaker Podcast, called the Silence Special, you can hear a clock ticking, pages being turned and the rain falling, as the group meets and sits in silence at the Friend’s Meeting House in Nottingham.

Quakerism was founded in the 17th century by the dissenter George Fox during the years of Puritan England. The group’s meetings are characterised by silence, which is occasionally broken when someone present feels the urge to speak, say a prayer or offer a reading.

The idea for the silent podcast first came from Tim Gee, a Quaker living in London, who was inspired by the BBC’s season of “slow” radio, which treated audiences to – among other things – the sounds of birds singing, mountain climbing and monks chatting.

Gee said he had wanted to “share a small oasis of calm, and a way to provide a moment of stillness, for people on the move”.

Jessica Hubbard-Bailey, 25, from the Nottingham Young Quakers, who recorded the podcast, said they had jumped at the opportunity to broadcast something “immersive and unusual”. She added: “We have very different ways of worship to most people of faith and we thought this was a really unique opportunity to give people a little slice of what the Quakers do. Also, we are really good at being quiet because we’ve made a practice of it and I think that is of value. These days everyone is so busy, everyone is working all the time, so it’s really valuable to have the opportunity to sit down once a week and just be quiet and listen.”

Hubbard-Bailey, who was brought up as an atheist but became attracted to Quakerism for its egalitarian principles, said that the podcast had had a good reception, with nearly 400 uses of it.

“I think that makes it the biggest Quaker meeting this year technically,” she said. “I’ve had one couple say that they’ve listened to the silence episode and are going to go to a Quaker meeting for the first time this Sunday. We’ve also had some people saying ‘oh, I’m not sure about this, seems like a bit of a waste of time’. But I think that’s really indicative of how we as a society view silence and stillness.”"
quakers  silence  sound  2018  via:subtopes  religion  georgefox  slow  slowradio  radio  atheism 
april 2018 by robertogreco
This Children's Book About Sex And Gender Is A Total Game-Changer
"Sex is a Funny Word is nothing short of revolutionary. Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth's newest book is brilliant in its approach to giving caregivers and educators the tools they need to talk to kids about their bodies. Not only is it "the first trans-inclusive book for kids," but it also uses inclusionary language and diverse representation across race, ability, gender, and sexuality, to hone in on the most important aspects of discussing sex and bodies with kids aged 8-12. It is the second in a trilogy of books – the first, What Makes a Baby, is a beautiful, balanced, and many-gendered explanation of baby-making for kids aged 5-8.

(While Sex is a Funny Word discusses body parts, gender, touch, and other topics related to the word “sex,” it doesn’t delve into reproduction — intercourse is being reserved for the third book, planned for release in fall 2017, which will be geared toward older kids.)

Sex is a Funny Word is revolutionizing the way caregivers can talk to kids about their bodies."



"Although I could have made this a list of the 7,000 things that Sex is a Funny Word does to revolutionize talking to kids about their bodies, out of respect for everyone's time I’ve narrowed it down to ten. It was really hard to do.

1. Representation of all bodies should be the norm, rather than an exception.



2. Honesty + information = kids’ confidence.



3. Gender is complicated… and kids know it!



4. Conversation > silence.



5. "Justice" is an essential word when speaking about bodies.



6. Privacy isn’t just for grown-ups.



7. Consent matters at every age."
books  children  sex  gender  consent  justice  privacy  bodies  conversation  silence  honesty  information  representation  sexed  parenting  corysilverberg  fionasmyth  2015  body 
january 2018 by robertogreco
NOTHING | but the textures of my body de Nicole L'Huillier
"*These songs are composed for headphones.

[https://soundcloud.com/nicole-lhuillier/sets/things

1 NOTHING | but the textures of my body
2 SOMETHING | mindscapes
3 EVERYTHING | the space we share ]

THINGS is my first solo album. It consists of three tracks, and each one contains a different scale of sonic spatial scenario. This way, THINGS is constructed by 1. NOTHING (but the textures of my body), this track alludes to the nonexistent and constructed idea of the perception of silence by presenting a composition of the ever-present bodily textures. 2. SOMETHING (mindscapes) exposes the capacity of roaming from one mental space to another. To do so, the 5 different parts of this track are composed of frequencies that can stimuli different brain waves. The last track 3. EVERYTHING (the space we share) builds a sonic portrait of the place I grew up and the common sonic scenarios we all share in our culture. This piece gathers field recordings done during my last visit to Chile, my country of origin.

THINGS was released as a sound installation at the me Convention, SXSW, Frankfurt, September 2017. The installation was done using the radio as a spatial medium and was diffused in 3 different radio channels that could be tuned in with radios and headphones provided for the assistants. This way, THINGS presents different scales or layers of spaces by using in its physical form the radio as a mobile space and a transversal sonic architecture."
sound  audio  nicolel'huillier  chile  binaural  soundscapes  2017  silence  binauralrecording 
october 2017 by robertogreco
The Assassination of Orlando Letelier and the Politics of Silence
"FORTY YEARS AGO last night, agents working for the Chilean secret service attached plastic explosives to the bottom of Orlando Letelier’s Chevrolet as it sat in the driveway of his family’s home in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

A few blocks away, across Massachusetts Avenue, my family’s Pinto sat in our driveway unmolested. Our whole neighborhood, including my mother, father, sister, and me, slept through everything.

Forty years ago this morning, the Chilean agents followed Letelier as he drove himself into Washington, down Massachusetts to the think tank where he worked. The bomb went off as Letelier went around Sheridan Circle, ripping off most of the lower half of his body. He died shortly afterward, as did Ronni Moffitt, a 25-year-old American who’d been in the car with him. A second passenger, Moffitt’s husband Michael, survived.

Letelier’s murder was ordered by the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who’d overthrown the country’s democratically elected president Salvador Allende three years before in a military coup. Letelier, who had been Allende’s defense minister, was arrested during the coup and tortured for a year until Pinochet bowed to international pressure and released him. But in Washington, Letelier became the leading international voice of the opposition to Pinochet, who decided he had to be eliminated.

There are still many unanswered questions about this time. Exactly how complicit was the U.S. in the overthrow of the Chilean government? Why did the CIA ignore a cable telling it that Chile’s agents were heading to the U.S.? Why did Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, cancel a warning to Chile not to kill its overseas opponents just five days before Letelier was murdered?

But for me, the most interesting question is this: How it is possible I was right there but didn’t learn about the assassination of Orlando Letelier until 20 years later?

Social Silence

It’s true I was only in second grade when Letelier was killed. But this was a mafia-like hit executed in the middle of our placid, leafy suburb. Moreover, it goes far beyond Letelier – the entire neighborhood was dripping with the bloody history of Chile:

• If you went a few blocks in the other direction from Letelier’s home you’d come to the house of Ted Shackley, on Sangamore Road. Shackley, sometimes called “The Blond Ghost,” was head of the CIA’s Western Hemisphere Division in 1973, and played a key role in encouraging Pinochet’s coup. Shackley’s house was directly across the street from Brookmont Elementary School – where my sister and I were on the morning of September 21, 1976.

• Down the hill from our house was Western Junior High, where my sister would later go. One of Western’s other alumni is Michelle Bachelet, the current president of Chile. After the coup, Bachelet’s father was tortured to death; Bachelet and her mother were tortured as well.

• When Letelier was killed, his son Francisco was called out of geometry class at Walt Whitman High School – which both my sister and I would later attend.

• Our neighborhood was directly across the Potomac River from the CIA’s headquarters in Virginia. It was so close that one of our neighbors who worked there commuted there on nice days by canoe.

• On Letelier’s final drive into Washington, his path appears to have taken him within a block of St. Columba’s Episcopal Church; its parishioners at the time included George H.W. Bush, then head of the CIA. Shortly after Letelier was killed, the CIA leaked a false report to Newsweek that Pinochet hadn’t been involved.

Given all this, you might guess that the adults would have mentioned something about Letelier’s assassination – not necessarily to decry it but simply to liven up the endless car pooling to soccer practice. That never happened.

Nor was this an aberration. In addition to soccer practice, there was lots of pee wee football practice at Woodacres Park around the corner from Letelier’s house. During the fall of 1980, my father volunteered to sub as coach if Iran released the hostages being held in Tehran – because our regular coach worked for the Defense Department and was part of the team that was on call to debrief them. All we kids knew about this was that these strange foreigners were angry at us for some incomprehensible foreign reason. No one informed us that the U.S. had overthrown Iran’s government in 1953, so Iranians had rational reasons to be hostile toward us.

So despite the fact that it was right there in front of me, I didn’t learn about Letelier (or the U.S. history with Iran) from adults, or TV, or in high school, or college. I had to learn about them on my own, by getting books out of the library and reading them.

Shhhhhhhhhh

The answer to my question, I now believe, is that this is the way all countries work. Anthropologists call this phenomenon “social silence” – the most important aspects of how societies work are exactly the ones that are never discussed and most easily forgotten.

But it’s impossible to suppress the past completely – it inevitably leaks out around the edges, even if just as a generalized anxiety. I remember when my Bethesda friends and I went to see “Blue Velvet” when it came out in 1986 and how completely it made sense to us: Everything is polished, happy, and mundane on the surface, while underneath there’s an eternal, animalistic, merciless struggle for power.

Orlando Letelier is gone and he’s not coming back. We can’t change that. But we can break the social silence about his death, who we are as a country, and what we’re capable of doing."
chile  orlandoletelier  2016  pinochet  history  jonschwarz  terrorism  us  socialsilence  silence  henrykissinger  salvadorallende 
september 2017 by robertogreco
One Square Inch of Silence – Forks, Washington - Atlas Obscura
"In the verdant wilderness of Olympic National Park lies a small red pebble covering one square inch of space atop a moss-covered log. Though easy to miss among the snarls of flourishing flora, this red pebble marks what some claim to be the quietest place in the United States.

One Square Inch of Silence, an independent research project created by the author and Emmy Award-winning acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, aims to protect the space from human noise intrusions. The tiny quiet spot, accessible via a three-mile rainforest hike down the Hoh River Trail near Forks, was designated on April 22, 2005 (Earth Day) as a “noise control project” to ensure the decibel count at the square inch would never rise.

It’s supposed to be a place utterly devoid of ambient noises, such as the roar of an airplane or the shrill ring of a cellphone. But the area isn’t completely silent. It’s designed to highlight the difference between natural sounds—things like the soft trickle of rainwater or the buzzing hum of an insect—and human noise. Hempton launched this “sanctuary of silence” with the hope the place will allow people to listen to and connect with the sounds of nature. The absence of anthropogenic noise is also good for the wildlife, as human noise often negatively affects animals’ feeding, breeding, and nesting habits.

Ideally, One Square Inch of Silence acts as an epicenter for a phenomenon that will reverse the effects of noise pollution. By encouraging and spreading silence, it could potentially counteract the rippling consequences loud human noises have on the local environment.

So far, the whole endeavor has been effective for the Olympic National Park preservation movement. Hempton chose the spot because of the park’s preexisting dearth of roads and air traffic. It was a clever conservation tactic: by protecting the square inch from noise pollution, it becomes necessary to preserve the entire surrounding national park as well.

The square inch of silence is one of only 12 “quiet zones” remaining in the U.S., and its claim of being the country’s quietest place has been supported by the readings of decibel meters. However, its integrity is at risk. There’s no way to enforce absolute silence within the area. When an intrusion occurs, Hempton tracks down the offending party and sends them a recording of the soundscape they’ve interrupted with the hope they’ll voluntarily make an effort to reduce or reroute the source of the noise.

It is ironic that the one man-made noise heard at this site is made by a federal agency, illegally. Since 2012 the US Navy has been flying through the airspace above on training missions. Growler jets on electronic warfare simulations are often heard by visitors to the Hoh Rainforest, including the one inch of silence location. Despite protests by local and national activists and concerned citizens, the military continues their intrusive noise campaign."
olympicnationalpark  silence  us  washingtonstate  2017  hohrainforest  sound  noise  nature  via:subtopes 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Apocalypse, Now - On The Media - WNYC
"Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!"
robertmacfarlane  kimstanleyrobinson  clairevayewatkins  jeffvandermeer  sciencefiction  scifi  speculativefiction  anthropocene  humans  nature  multispecies  language  tolisten  economics  finance  cli-fi  climatechange  utopia  names  naming  silence  pessimism  optimism  hope  dystopia  anthopocene  deserts  natue  change  earth 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Silence is a space for something new to happen
The Quakers: “Do not speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”

Garry Shandling: “The world is too noisy and distracted to probably ultimately survive. Everyone needs to shut the fuck up. The answers are in the silence. Monks set themselves on fire to protest and to make this point. Just consider it.”

Depeche Mode: “Words like violence / break the silence…”

Morris Berman: “It takes silence and slow time to be creative, and those things are threatening to most Americans, because they understand on some level that that’s what health is about, and that they don’t have it.”

Ursula Franklin: “Silence is not only the space in which there’s no sound, but there’s no program. Nothing is there so that whatever is essentially unprogrammable can happen. How does anything new happen? In a world where everything is scheduled, everything is listed, everything is programmed, the first thing one needs is space… You have to be open. It doesn’t mean something enormous will happen, but nothing can happen until you clear that space… Nobody has time to even receive anything that is actually new, including their own thoughts.”

Bill Callahan: “When you’re starting a song the only thing you have is silence and silence is pretty damn sweet. Once you start making some sound, it better be good because you’re ruining the silence that makes you feel good and relaxed. I feel like you can only make a sound if it’s better than silence… [I’m] very conscious of the power of nothing, the power of nothing being there. You’ll notice it’s still about the best thing anyone playing with me on a record can do is just stop playing. Because you got this instrument in your hand and it’s really fun to make the noise with it, but it means so much more when you’re not playing it.”

John Cage: “[O]ne day I got into [a cab] and the driver began talking a blue streak, accusing absolutely everyone of being wrong. You know he was full of irritation about everything, and I simply remained quiet. I did not answer his questions, I did not enter into a conversation, and very shortly the driver began changing his ideas and simply through my being silent he began, before I got out of the car, saying rather nice things about the world around him.”

Austin Chapman, a man born deaf who, through hearing aids, was able to hear again: “Silence is still my favorite sound. When I turn my aids off my thoughts become more clear and it’s absolutely peaceful. I hope that one day hearing people get the opportunity to experience utter silence.”
silence  quakers  garryshandling  depechemode  morrisberman  ursulafranklin  billcallahan  johncage  austinchapman  austinkleon  quiet 
july 2017 by robertogreco
how to do nothing – Jenny Odell – Medium
[video: https://vimeo.com/232544904 ]

"What I would do there is nothing. I’d just sit there. And although I felt a bit guilty about how incongruous it seemed — beautiful garden versus terrifying world — it really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic. I found this necessity of doing nothing so perfectly articulated in a passage from Gilles Deleuze in Negotiations:
…we’re riddled with pointless talk, insane quantities of words and images. Stupidity’s never blind or mute. So it’s not a problem of getting people to express themselves but of providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; what a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying. (emphasis mine)

He wrote that in 1985, but the sentiment is something I think we can all identify with right now, almost to a degree that’s painful. The function of nothing here, of saying nothing, is that it’s a precursor to something, to having something to say. “Nothing” is neither a luxury nor a waste of time, but rather a necessary part of meaningful thought and speech."



"In The Bureau of Suspended Objects, a project I did while in residence at Recology SF (otherwise known as the dump), I spent three months photographing, cataloguing and researching the origins of 200 objects. I presented them as browsable archive in which people could scan the objects’ tags and learn about the manufacturing, material, and corporate histories of the objects.

One woman at the Recology opening was very confused and said, “Wait… so did you actually make anything? Or did you just put things on shelves?” (Yes, I just put things on shelves.)"



"That’s an intellectual reason for making nothing, but I think that in my cases, it’s something simpler than that. Yes, the BYTE images speak in interesting and inadvertent ways about some of the more sinister aspects of technology, but I also just really love them.

This love of one’s subject is something I’m provisionally calling the observational eros. The observational eros is an emotional fascination with one’s subject that is so strong it overpowers the desire to make anything new. It’s pretty well summed up in the introduction of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, where he describes the patience and care involved in close observation of one’s specimens:
When you collect marine animals there are certain flat worms so delicate that they are almost impossible to capture whole, for they break and tatter under the touch. You must let them ooze and crawl of their own will onto a knife blade and then lift them gently into your bottle of sea water. And perhaps that might be the way to write this book — to open the page and let the stories crawl in by themselves.

The subject of observation is so precious and fragile that it risks breaking under even the weight of observation. As an artist, I fear the breaking and tattering of my specimens under my touch, and so with everything I’ve ever “made,” without even thinking about it, I’ve tried to keep a very light touch.

It may not surprise you to know, then, that my favorite movies tend to be documentaries, and that one of my favorite public art pieces was done by the documentary filmmaker, Eleanor Coppola. In 1973, she carried out a public art project called Windows, which materially speaking consisted only of a map with a list of locations in San Francisco.

The map reads, “Eleanor Coppola has designated a number of windows in all parts of San Francisco as visual landmarks. Her purpose in this project is to bring to the attention of the whole community, art that exists in its own context, where it is found, without being altered or removed to a gallery situation.” I like to consider this piece in contrast with how we normally experience public art, which is some giant steel thing that looks like it landed in a corporate plaza from outer space.

Coppola instead casts a subtle frame over the whole of the city itself as a work of art, a light but meaningful touch that recognizes art that exists where it already is."



"What amazed me about birdwatching was the way it changed the granularity of my perception, which was pretty “low res” to begin with. At first, I just noticed birdsong more. Of course it had been there all along, but now that I was paying attention to it, I realized that it was almost everywhere, all day, all the time. In particular I can’t imagine how I went most of my life so far without noticing scrub jays, which are incredibly loud and sound like this:

[video]

And then, one by one, I started learning other songs and being able to associate each of them with a bird, so that now when I walk into the the rose garden, I inadvertently acknowledge them in my head as though they were people: hi raven, robin, song sparrow, chickadee, goldfinch, towhee, hawk, nuthatch, and so on. The diversification (in my attention) of what was previously “bird sounds” into discrete sounds that carry meaning is something I can only compare to the moment that I realized that my mom spoke three languages, not two.

My mom has only ever spoken English to me, and for a very long time, I assumed that whenever my mom was speaking to another Filipino person, that she was speaking Tagalog. I didn’t really have a good reason for thinking this other than that I knew she did speak Tagalog and it sort of all sounded like Tagalog to me. But my mom was actually only sometimes speaking Tagalog, and other times speaking Ilonggo, which is a completely different language that is specific to where she’s from in the Philippines.

The languages are not the same, i.e. one is not simply a dialect of the other; in fact, the Philippines is full of language groups that, according to my mom, have so little in common that speakers would not be able to understand each other, and Tagalog is only one.

This type of embarrassing discovery, in which something you thought was one thing is actually two things, and each of those two things is actually ten things, seems not only naturally cumulative but also a simple function of the duration and quality of one’s attention. With effort, we can become attuned to things, able to pick up and then hopefully differentiate finer and finer frequencies each time.

What these moments of stopping to listen have in common with those labyrinthine spaces is that they all initially enact some kind of removal from the sphere of familiarity. Even if brief or momentary, they are retreats, and like longer retreats, they affect the way we see everyday life when we do come back to it."



"Even the labyrinths I mentioned, by their very shape, collect our attention into these small circular spaces. When Rebecca Solnit, in her book Wanderlust, wrote about walking in the labyrinth inside the Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, she said, “The circuit was so absorbing I lost sight of the people nearby and hardly heard the sound of the traffic and the bells for six o’clock.”

In the case of Deep Listening, although in theory it can be practiced anywhere at any time, it’s telling that there have also been Deep Listening retreats. And Turrell’s Sky Pesher not only removes the context from around the sky, but removes you from your surroundings (and in some ways, from the context of your life — given its underground, tomblike quality)."



"My dad said that leaving the confined context of a job made him understand himself not in relation to that world, but just to the world, and forever after that, things that happened at work only seemed like one small part of something much larger. It reminds me of how John Muir described himself not as a naturalist but as a “poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.”, or of how Pauline Oliveros described herself in 1974: “Pauline Oliveros is a two legged human being, female, lesbian, musician, and composer among other things which contribute to her identity. She is herself and lives with her partner, along with assorted poultry, dogs, cats, rabbits and tropical hermit crabs.” Incidentally, this has encouraged me to maybe change my bio to: “Jenny Odell is an artist, professor, thinker, walker, sleeper, eater, and amateur birdnoticer.”

3. the precarity of nothing

There’s an obvious critique of all of this, and that’s that it comes from a place of privilege. I can go to the rose garden, or stare into trees all day, because I have a teaching job that only requires me to be somewhere two days a week, not to mention a whole set of other privileges. Part of the reason my dad could take that time off was that on some level, he had enough reason to think he could get another job. It’s possible to understand the practice of doing nothing solely as a self-indulgent luxury, the equivalent of taking a mental health day if you’re lucky enough to work at a place that has those.

But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.

These are bodily, human things, and this bodily-ness is something I will come back to. When Samuel Gompers, who led the labor group that organized this particular iteration of the 8-hour movement, was asked, “What does labor want?” he responded, “It wants the earth and the fullness thereof.” And to me it seems significant that it’s not 8 hours of, say, “leisure” or “… [more]
jennyodell  idleness  nothing  art  eyeo2017  photoshop  specimens  care  richardprince  gillesdeleuze  recology  internetarchive  sanfrancisco  eleanorcoppola  2017  1973  maps  mapping  scottpolach  jamesturrell  architecture  design  structure  labyrinths  oakland  juliamorgan  chapelofthechimes  paulineoliveros  ucsd  1970s  deeplisening  listening  birds  birdwatching  birding  noticing  classideas  observation  perception  time  gracecathedral  deeplistening  johncage  gordonhempton  silence  maintenance  conviviality  technology  bodies  landscape  ordinary  everyday  cyclicality  cycles  1969  mierleladermanukeles  sensitivity  senses  multispecies  canon  productivity  presence  connectivity  conversation  audrelorde  gabriellemoss  fomo  nomo  nosmo  davidabram  becominganimal  animals  nature  ravens  corvids  crows  bluejays  pets  human-animalrelations  human-animalelationships  herons  dissent  rowe  caliressler  jodythompson  francoberardi  fiverr  popos  publicspace  blackmirror  anthonyantonellis  facebook  socialmedia  email  wpa  history  bayarea  crowdcontrol  mikedavis  cityofquartz  er 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The Art of Teaching
[via: "The slide deck for the workshop is superb. Such a great experience, so grateful to @tchoi8 & the other participants." https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879465006449909760

referencing also: "How I learn to build things. Something I created for @tchoi8’s Art of Learning workshop at @eyeofestival."
https://twitter.com/dphiffer/status/879366496354488322 ]

[video: "Absence is Presence with Distance"
https://vimeo.com/234330230

"As an artist, I work with technology and narrative – formal and relational projects. As an activist, I examine personal and political – practice and praxis. As an educator, I create feedback between plastic and elastic – learning and unlearning. My talk is set at the dawn. We are waiting for the sun to rise and we are full of questions. What’s the role of an artist as an activist now? How can we critique oppressive systems that create the sense of ‘others’ based on ability and legal status? What’s kind of pedagogy can we experiment through alternative schools? How can we create a community among those who have nothing in common? By creating art, we can give form to our intentions, contribute to making the world we want to live in.

( For a companion posting to this talk visit:

https://medium.com/@tchoi8/absence-is-presence-with-distance-c0712aada56c )]
taeyoonchoi  education  teaching  purpose  routine  ritual  silence  flow  conflict  communication  structure  nurture  authority  kojinkaratani  jean-lucnancy  community  howweteach  pedagogy  learning  howwelearn  eyeo2017  unlearning  curriculum  syllabus  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation  art  craft  beauty  utility  generosity  sfsh  tcsnmy  lcproject  openstudioproject  classideas  cv  reciprocity  gifts  kant  discretion  instruction  discipline  johndewey  bmc  blackmountaincollege  justice  annialbers  stndardization  weaving  textiles  making  projectbasedlearning  materials  progress  progressive  unschooling  deschooling  control  experimentation  knowledge  fabrication  buckminsterfuller  constructivism  constructionism  georgehein  habit  freedom  democracy  paulofreire  judithbutler  sunaurataylor  walking  christinesunkim  uncertainty  representation  intervention  speculation  simulation  christopheralexander  objectives  outcomes  learningoutcomes  learningobjectives  remembering  creativity  evaluation  application  analysis  understanding  emancipation  allankaprow  judychicago  s 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Saying ‘No’ to Best Practices – OFFICE OF DIGITAL LEARNING
"The worst best practice is to adhere to, or go searching for, best practices. I have been in countless rooms with teachers, technologists, instructional designers, and administrators calling for recommendations or a list of tools they should use, strategies that work, practices that cannot fail to produce results in the classroom. But digital tools, strategies, and best practices are a red herring in digital learning. Learning always starts with people. Instead of asking “What tool will we need?” ask “What behaviors will need to be in place?”

I emphasize and encourage a critical digital pedagogy—an approach to learning that grows from the work of writers and teachers like bell hooks and Paulo Freire, and that recognizes that in today’s world all learning is hybrid. But that approach never starts with the digital. It starts with the human. And I find that the most effective application of Critical Digital Pedagogy arises from a place of kindness, trust, and belief in students. With student (and teacher) agency as its aim, Critical Digital Pedagogy asks its practitioners to always, first and foremost, acknowledge that we are all in this room together—whether that room is a classroom or the whole wide web—and to act accordingly.

At a teaching workshop I was facilitating recently, I was pressed to offer a list of best practices. This is what I came up with. I offer these 10 best practices with what should seem like an obvious caveat. No best practices should ever go untested. I personally have tested each of these, but because learning and teaching are not homogenous experiences for everyone, I don’t encourage anyone to follow a best practice that doesn’t suit them.

Sean’s 10 Best Practices

Be yourself

While working with a group at the University of Delaware, I spoke to a graduate teacher whose upbringing in a Southern Baptist tradition sometimes leads her to present in her “preaching voice.” This is an authentic voice, and one that she’s very comfortable using; however, other teachers joke about it, or malign this aspect of her embodiment as un-academic. In digital spaces, she edits herself, creating a teacherly presence much more normative, almost unidentifiable as her.

In digital spaces, we tend to adopt mannerisms and a personality that are not entirely true to who we are. Be suspect of that, and watchful for it. In a classroom, we may perform ourselves in certain ways, but we are fallible, unedited, and vulnerable. These qualities make us better teachers. Don’t be afraid to be who you are in a digital environment as much as you are in your classroom.

Create trust / Be trusting

Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies at the University of Mary Washington says,
Learning is always a risk. It means, quite literally, opening ourselves to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It means challenging ourselves to engage the world differently. It means taking a leap, which is always done better from a sturdy foundation. This foundation depends on trust — trust that the ground will not give way beneath us, trust for teachers, and trust for our fellow learners in a learning community.

Critical pedagogy assumes that students want and are motivated to learn. Only about 75% of teachers I’ve talked to feel this way. We need to change that for ourselves. Teaching is not only more effective when we trust students to learn (which I distinguish from following instructions or passing a test), but it’s also more fun, more satisfying, and less exhausting.

Grade less / Grade differently

Peter Elbow writes, “Grading tends to undermine the climate for teaching and learning. Once we start grading their work, students are tempted to study or work for the grade rather than for learning.” We all know this is true. Working for a grade undermines not only a lifelong attitude toward learning, but also student agency. A critical pedagogy asks us to reconsider grading entirely; and if we can’t abandon it whole-hog, then we must revise how and why we grade. Consider allowing students to grade themselves. Offer personal feedback on work instead of a letter, number, or percentage. There are lots of options to evaluating work without artificial markers.

Question deadlines

When pressed, most teachers have told me that they enforce deadlines because students will need to meet deadlines in the “real world.” There are no students in higher education who got there without meeting deadlines. Education need not be militaristic about deadlines. Ideas and creation are more important than timeliness. I wrote, in my post called “Late Work,”

We are put in the most unique spot of coaching learners into a world of knowledge. What we need to remember is that their world of knowledge may not align perfectly with our own, their process may not fit our schedules, their ideas may not synch with our own.

Think about what you are actually teaching and question whether you need deadlines, whether students need deadlines, and whether either of you benefit from them.

Collaborate with students

Learners are pedagogues in their own right. Chris Friend, Director of the Hybrid Pedagogy journal, writes:
If we give students the freedom to choose their own path, they might choose poorly or make mistakes on our watch. But we must be willing to allow them the challenge of this authority, the dignity of this risk, and the opportunity to err and learn from their mistakes. They learn and gain expertise through experimentation.

If pedagogy is the sole purview of the instructor in the room, students are asked to follow along a path predetermined by that instructor’s best (we hope) intentions. However, because students bring different levels of expertise to any material or discussion—and because their lives, identities, and intersectionality inform their learning—students should be as involved in their own learning as possible. From syllabus creation to grading, building rubric and assignments to self-assessment. As Daniel Ginsberg writes, “my students are the most central members of the community in which I learn critical pedagogy.”

Inspire dialogue

Very little can be accomplished through direct instruction. Bloom’s Taxonomy makes a show of positioning knowledge-level learning as the foundation of any learning experience. But learning is more chaotic, messier, and more confounding than taxonomies provide for. In “Beyond Rigor,” Jesse Stommel, Pete Rorabaugh, and I argue that:
Intellectually rigorous work lives, thrives, and teems proudly outside conventional notions of academic rigor. Although institutions of higher education only recognize rigor when it mimics mastery of content, when it creates a hierarchy of expertise, when it maps clearly to pre-determined outcomes, there are works of exception — multimodal, collaborative, and playful — that push the boundaries of disciplinary allegiances, and don’t always wear their brains on their sleeves, so to speak.

Simply put, learning happens outside the lines. It’s perfectly acceptable for instructors to provide lines, but whenever we do so, we must just as diligently encourage learners to leave those lines—to question, to redraw, to imagine, to refuse, to explore. When we do this, we inspire dialogue, not just between students, but between ourselves and students, between ideas, between the act of learning and the act of instruction themselves.

Be quiet

Generally speaking, teachers fear dead air. Silence in the classroom, or few to no responses on a discussion forum, can stir all kinds of thoughts and emotions—from “they’re not getting it” to “I’ve done something wrong” to “they’re bored,” and worse. But in truth, thoughtfulness and thoroughness takes time.

Janine DeBaise writes that: “Every student has something valuable to teach the rest of us. I’ve made that assumption for over thirty years now, and so far, I’ve never been proven wrong.” If at the core of critical pedagogy we believe that learners are their own best teachers—and if we have spent any time at all as teachers ourselves preparing lesson plans and discussions—then we can acknowledge that teaching takes time.

Filling silence may come out of a desperation to keep the class moving and to ensure that all ideas are understood, but it also reinforces the teacher’s voice as primary. When we are silent, we can hear what students have to say (even when they’re not saying it), and listen for the swell of understanding as it builds.

Be honest and transparent about pedagogy

Teaching isn’t magic. In fact, there are very good reasons for teachers to reveal their “tricks” to learners. I have, numerous times, sat on the desk at the front of the classroom and called attention to how that’s different to standing behind a podium, sitting in a circle with the class, or lecturing from notes. Not to qualify one over the other, but to reveal something about the performativity of learning and teaching.

Similarly, we should invite students into a discussion about the syllabus, the 15- or 10-week structure of a course, the usefulness or uselessness of grades, etc. Kris Shaffer, in “An Open Letter to My Students,” brings students in close to his teaching process:
I am not perfect. Nor are any of your other professors. We are experts in the fields we teach, and some of us are experts in the art of teaching. However, we make mistakes … and each pass through the material brings new students with different experiences, backgrounds, skills, sensitivities, prejudices, loves, career goals, life goals, financial situations, etc. There is no one way — often not even a best way — to teach a topic to a student.

There is power in secrecy, as any magician knows. But for a collaborative, critical pedagogy to work, that power must be shared.

Keep expectations clear

In digital learning, instructions are vital. If … [more]
bestpractices  education  pedagogy  teaching  howweteach  2017  seanmorris  learning  edtech  digitalliteracy  jessestommel  criticalpedagogy  sfsh  grade  grading  howwelearn  deadlines  collaboration  chrisfriend  hybridpedagogy  dialogue  peterorabaugh  rigor  janinedebaise  silence  quiet  listening  performativity  expectations  adamheidebring-bruno  change  thomaskasulis  maggiemaclure  krisshaffer  amycollier  jenross 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Eight Theses Regarding Social Media | L.M. Sacasas
"1. Social media are the fidget spinners of the soul.

2. Each social media platform is a drug we self-prescribe and consume in order to regulate our emotional life, and we are constantly experimenting with the cocktail.

3. Law of Digital Relativity: Perception of space and time is relative to the digital density of the observer’s experience.

4. Affect overload is a more serious problem than information overload. The product of both is moral apathy and mental exhaustion.

5. While text and image flourish online, the psycho-dynamics of digital culture are most akin to those of oral cultures (per Walter Ong).

6. Just as the consumer economy was boundless in its power to commodify, so the attention economy is boundless in its power to render reality standing reserve for the project of identity construction/performance. The two processes, of course, are not unrelated.

7. In the attention economy, strategic silence is power. But, because of the above, it is also a deeply demanding practice of self-denial.

8. Virtue is self-forgetting. The structures of social media make it impossible to forget yourself."
michaelsacasas  2017  lmsacasas  socialmedia  virtue  forgetting  attention  attentioneconomy  economics  power  silence  self-denial  walterong  figeting  addiction  emotions  digitalrelativity  relativity  space  time  perception  experience  online  internet  affectoverload  apathy  exhaustion  infooverload  secondaryorality  oralcultures  images  text  commodification  identity  performance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel? - Long View on Education
"When I find my students on their phones or off-task on their computers, I try to first ask them the honest question, ‘What are you up to?’ Even though I usually re-direct them back on task, I want to understand them better as people with the hopes that I can make school as meaningful for them as possible.

It’s from that position that I ask: What should teachers understand about the Snapchat back-channel that has become so pervasive in our schools and classrooms?

It’s really nothing like passing notes, day-dreaming, or staring out the window.
Snapchat uses gamification techniques to incentivize participation, which I can’t help but read in the context of how Uber uses similar techniques to coerce its drivers, all without the appearance of coercion:
“To keep drivers on the road, the company has exploited some people’s tendency to set earnings goals — alerting them that they are ever so close to hitting a precious target when they try to log off. It has even concocted an algorithm similar to a Netflix feature that automatically loads the next program, which many experts believe encourages binge-watching. In Uber’s case, this means sending drivers their next fare opportunity before their current ride is even over.”

We live in a culture where active listening, deep reading, and quiet reflection must compete with the incentivization to constantly participate and score points. I don’t read this as a lesson in psychology like a 5 Unusual Ways to be More Productive listicle, but rather as a lesson in politics and democracy: 5 Sneaky Ways Corporations Keep You Focused on Yourself in a Precarious World.

The last thing I want to do is normalize surveillance in schools by prying into what kids are doing on their devices or to outright ban things. That kind of approach both reflects ableism, ignoring how some people might rely on devices to learn, and classism, ignoring how people with low-incomes might rely on smartphones for internet access.

Should we turn Snapchat into an educational tool? I doubt that kids want school to bleed into their social space any more than my generation wanted their teachers to post homework assignments in mall food courts, on basketball hoops, or Facebook.

Should teachers aim to be more entertaining than Snapchat? I view education as kind of conversation which requires both parties to make an effort to listen. The classroom should explicitly examine and address the conditions under which people have a voice. As someone with power in the classroom, I am less worried about kids paying attention to me than I am worried about them paying attention to each other. What student would want to become vulnerable by sharing their important thoughts if they are really entering into a combat for attention, trying to out-entertain an app designed to be addictive?

Should we just butt out, as Gary Stager suggests? Amy Williams poses an important question in reply:

[tweet by Benjamin Doxtdator @doxtdatorb
https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863648814724505600 ]
"@garystager Which doesn't mean monitoring or surveilling the kids or banning it"

[tweet by Amy Williams @MsWilliamsEng
https://twitter.com/MsWilliamsEng/status/863688181811687425 ]
"@doxtdatorb @garystager Can a school follow anti-discrimination laws (i.e. really claim that it's preventing harassment) & ignore what happens in backchannels?"

Relegating Snapchat to a completely unsupervised space in schools makes no more sense than not supervising playgrounds, especially given the unprecedented power of social media to quickly spread images far and wide. Supervising the playground does not mean that I don’t allow kids the freedom to talk without me hearing every word, but somehow balancing the freedoms that kids need with obligations to care for them.

I think I worry most about students taking photos and sharing them without consent. Who could learn under those conditions? I couldn’t. Imagine taking a risk by trying a new move in PE class or giving a speech and then seeing a phone peek back at you. As a teacher that uses a lot of technology, I play a role in modelling best practices. If I want to tweet something from my classroom, I tell my students why I want to take a picture of them, show them the photo, and then ask if they are willing to let me post it.
Mostly, I’d love to hear what students think. Imagine the possibilities in large-scale research that solicited anonymous feedback and also made use of in-depth interviews. We might be missing an opportunity to really learn something."

[See also:

https://twitter.com/doxtdatorb/status/863799711098130433

"Nope, it's this kind of nonsense that equates education with entertainment and immediate gratification that's the problem."

in response to

"If kids in your class are more engaged by a fidget spinner than they are by your lesson, the spinner isn't the problem. Your lesson is."
https://twitter.com/plugusin/status/863389674223669248 ]
technology  education  schools  snapchat  socialmedia  distraction  entertainment  coercion  gamification  classism  garystager  learning  supervision  surveillance  modeling  reflection  silence  quiet  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sfsh  middleground  amywilliams  edutainment  engagement  gratification  fidgetspinners  discrimination  backchannels 
may 2017 by robertogreco
CHAMPS and the Compliance Classroom | Ryan Boren
"My stomach dropped when I saw CHAMPS at our elementary school. "Eyes front, knees front, closed mouth" leapt off the wall and rose from memory. I was in school in the 70s and 80s. Some teachers were really into table readiness and proper student posture, and some principals thought a paddle made them persuasive. Compliance was the soul of their pedagogy. Those are not fond memories. I was an undiagnosed autistic in a culture without the vocabulary to understand me or help me understand myself. But I understood authoritarians well enough. They are a straightforward grok.

I handled the thoughtless compliance better than many of my peers. I could disappear into myself and hide in almost still silence. The tugging of my hair betrayed my perpetual anxiety and my yearning to scratch my scalp. In the head beneath the scalp I wanted to scratch and the hair I wanted to pull, a young mind churned: Scratching is not conforming; I must not break the envelope and compromise table readiness; that will rouse them. Hide in compliance. Don't talk; don't move; align your body on the auditor at the front of the room. The safe places are your head, books, and libraries. The books are waiting on the other side of compliance.

I sometimes close my eyes to better parse the speech coming at me. I swim in sensory overwhelm. I must pick a firehose. Eyes front preserves the illusion of compliance, so I'll stop listening. I'm not interested anyway. The books are so much more. The books are waiting. The written word is where my soul abides. This place in which I layover is just where my body resides – an eyes front, knees front, raise your hand to piss layover that I secretly indict. I tell no one.

Within the constant overwhelm is a pilot flame of anxiety, burning always. Anxiety and overwhelm, the torrid pas de deux that belies the silent, almost still compliance. Their dance is steam and froth, resonance foam on the sensory ocean I swim beneath the almost stillness – still but for the tugging of my hair. Don't disallow me that, but some of them will. Fidgeting is a threat.

The memories subside, and I'm again staring at a wall in my son's school where the words "eyes front, knees front, closed mouth" hover over the teacher's pulpit. Through 30 odd years those words time travelled. The pedagogy is the same. Compliance still reigns. What we seek to depose with the voice, choice, and agency of project-based learning asserts its durable status quo. It enjoys a sinecure in its pickled culture. Oblivious to neurodiversity, oblivious to the software-eaten world coming for it, it endures in the false safety of trying nothing new. Safety for them, for now, but not for the neurodivergent they still don't understand."
via:carolblack  compliance  ryanboren  teaching  howweteach  education  learning  howwelearn  unschooling  deschooling  neuroiverisity  schools  silence  stillness  conformism  conforming  anxiety 
october 2016 by robertogreco
The Bliss Station
"It’s felt impossible lately not to be distracted and despondent. I’m trying to spend as much time at my bliss station as I can.

What’s a bliss station? Here’s Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth:
You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

My wife pointed out to me that Campbell says you must have a room OR a certain hour — whether Campbell really meant this or not, she suggested that maybe it’s possible that a bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. Not just a sacred space, but also a sacred time.

The deluxe package would be having both a special room and a special hour that you go to it, but we started wondering whether one would make up for not having the other.

For example, say you have a tiny apartment that you share with small children. There’s no room for your bliss station, there’s only time: When the kids are asleep or at school or day care, even a kitchen table can be turned into a bliss station.

Or, say your schedule is totally unpredictable, and a certain time of day can’t be relied upon — that’s when a dedicated space that’s ready for you at any time will come in handy.

What’s clear is that it’s healthiest if we make a daily appointment to disconnect from the world so that we can connect with ourselves.

“Choose the time that’s good for you,” says Francis Ford Coppola. “For me, it’s early morning because I wake up, and I’m fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one’s gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings.”

The easiest way I get my feelings hurt by turning on my phone first thing in the morning. And even on the rare occasion I don’t get my feelings hurt, my time is gone and my brains are scrambled.

“Do not start your day with addictive time vampires such as The New York Times, email, Twitter,” says Edward Tufte. “All scatter eye and mind, produce diverting vague anxiety, clutter short term memory.”

Every morning I try to fight the urge, but every morning my addiction compels me.

“The new heroin addiction is connectivity,” says V. Vale. “The only solution is not one that most people want to face, which is to become lovers of solitude and silence… I love to spend time alone in my room, and in my ideal world the first hour of every day would be in bed, writing down thoughts, harvesting dreams, before anyone phones or you have any internet access.”

Kids, jobs, sleep, and a thousand other things will get in the way, but we have to find our own sacred space, our own sacred time.

“Where is your bliss station?” Campbell asked. “You have to try to find it.”"
2016  austinkleon  josephcampbell  time  space  solitude  aloneness  francisfordcoppola  vvale  attention  socialmedia  howweowork  connectivity  internet  web  online  addiction  silence  mobile  phones  focus  workspaces  distraction 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Hot Allostatic Load – The New Inquiry
"HI

I am too sick to write this article. The act of writing about my injuries is like performing an interpretative dance after breaking nearly every bone in my body. When I sit down to edit this doc, my head starts aching like a capsule full of some corrosive fluid has dissolved and is leaking its contents. The mental haze builds until it becomes difficult to see the text, to form a thesis, to connect parts. They drop onto the page in fragments. This is the difficulty of writing about brain damage.

The last time I was in the New Inquiry, several years ago, I was being interviewed. I was visibly sick. I was in an abusive “community” that had destroyed my health with regular, sustained emotional abuse and neglect. Sleep-deprived, unable to take care of myself, my body was tearing itself apart. I was suicidal from the abuse, and I had an infected jaw that needed treatment.

Years later, I’m talking to my therapist. I told her, when you have PTSD, everything you make is about PTSD. After a few minutes I slid down and curled up on the couch like the shed husk of a cicada. I go to therapy specifically because of the harassment and ostracism from within my field.

This is about disposability from a trans feminine perspective, through the lens of an artistic career. It’s about being human trash.

This is in defense of the hyper-marginalized among the marginalized, the Omelas kids, the marked for death, those who came looking for safety and found something worse than anything they’d experienced before.

For years, queer/trans/feminist scenes have been processing an influx of trans fems, often impoverished, disabled, and/or from traumatic backgrounds. These scenes have been abusing them, using them as free labor, and sexually exploiting them. The leaders of these scenes exert undue influence over tastemaking, jobs, finance, access to conferences, access to spaces. If someone resists, they are disappeared, in the mundane, boring, horrible way that many trans people are susceptible to, through a trapdoor that can be activated at any time. Housing, community, reputation—gone. No one mourns them, no one asks questions. Everyone agrees that they must have been crazy and problematic and that is why they were gone.

I was one of these people.

They controlled my housing and access to nearly every resource. I was sexually harassed, had my bathroom use monitored, my crumbling health ignored or used as a tool of control, was constantly yelled at, and was pressured to hurt other trans people and punished severely when I refused.

The cycle of trans kids being used up and then smeared is a systemic, institutionalized practice. It happens in the shelters, in the radical organizations, in the artistic scenes—everywhere they might have a chance of gaining a foothold. It’s like an abusive foster household that constantly kicks kids out then uses their tears and anger at being raped and abused to justify why they had to be kicked out—look at these problem kids. Look at these problematic kids.

Trans fems are especially vulnerable to abuse for the following reasons:

— A lot of us encounter concepts for the first time and have no idea what is “normal” or not.

— We have nowhere else to go. Abuse thrives on scarcity.

— No one cares what happens to us.

This foster cycle relies on amnesia. A lot of people who enter spaces for the first time don’t know those spaces’ history. They may not know that leaders regularly exploit and make sexual advances on new members, or that those members who resisted are no longer around. Spaces self-select for people who will play the game, until the empathic people have been drained out and the only ones who remain are those who have perfectly identified with the agendas and survival of the Space—the pyramid scheme of believers who bring capital and victims to those on top."



"
TRASH ART

When it was really bad, I wrote: “Build the shittiest thing possible. Build out of trash because all i have is trash. Trash materials, trash bodies, trash brain syndrome. Build in the gaps between storms of chronic pain. Build inside the storms. Move a single inch and call it a victory. Mold my sexuality toward immobility. Lie here leaking water from my eyes like a statue covered in melting frost. Zero affect. Build like moss grows. Build like crystals harden. Give up. Make your art the merest displacement of molecules at your slightest quiver. Don’t build in spite of the body and fail on their terms, build with the body. Immaculate is boring and impossible. Health based aesthetic.”

Twine, trashzines made of wadded up torn paper because we don’t have the energy to do binding, street recordings done from our bed where we lie immobilized.

Laziness is not laziness, it is many things: avoiding encountering one’s own body, avoiding triggers, avoiding thinking about the future because it’s proven to be unbearable. Slashing the Gordian Knot isn’t a sign of strength; it’s a sign of exhaustion."



"SOCIAL DYNAMICS

COMMUNITY IS DISPOSABILITY
There are no activist communities, only the desire for communities, or the convenient fiction of communities. A community is a material web that binds people together, for better and for worse, in interdependence. If its members move away every couple years because the next place seems cooler, it is not a community. If it is easier to kick someone out than to go through a difficult series of conversations with them, it is not a community. Among the societies that had real communities, exile was the most extreme sanction possible, tantamount to killing them. On many levels, losing the community and all the relationships it involved was the same as dying. Let’s not kid ourselves: we don’t have communities.

—The Broken Teapot, Anonymous"

People crave community so badly that it constitutes a kind of linguistic virus. Everything in this world apparently has a community attached to it, no matter how fragmented or varied the reality is. This feels like both wishful thinking in an extremely lonely world (trans fems often have a community-shaped wound a mile wide) and also the necessary lens to convert everything to profit. Queerness is a marketplace. Alt is a marketplace. Buy my feminist butt plugs.

The dream of an imaginary community that allows total identification with one’s role within it to an extent that rules out interiority or doubt, the fixity and clearness of an external image or cliche as opposed to ephemera of lived experience, a life as it looks from the outside.

—Stephen Murphy

These idealized communities require disposability to maintain the illusion—violence and ostracism against the black/brown/trans/trash bodies that serve as safety valves for the inevitable anxiety and disillusionment of those who wish “total identification”.

Feminism/queerness takes a vague disposability and makes it a specific one. The vague ambient hate that I felt my whole life became intensely focused—the difference between being soaked in noxious, irritating gasoline and having someone throw a match at you. Normal hate means someone and their friends being shitty toward you; radical hate places a moral dimension onto hate, requiring your exclusion from every possible space—a true social death."



"There is immense pressure on trans people to engage in this form of complaint if they want access to spaces—but we, with our higher rates of homelessness, joblessness, lifelessness, lovelessness, are the most fragile. We are the glass fems of an already delicate genderscape.

Purification is meaningless because anyone can perform these rituals—an effigy burnt in digital. And their inflexibility provides a place where abuse can thrive—a set of rules which abusers can hold over their victims.

Deleuze wrote, “The problem is no longer getting people to express themselves, but providing little gaps of solitude and silence in which they might eventually find something to say. Repressive forces don’t stop people from expressing themselves, but rather, force them to express themselves. What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, or ever rarer, the thing that might be worth saying.”

>>

ENDING

People talk about feminism and queerness the way you’d apologize for an abusive relationship.

This isn’t for the people who are benefiting from these spaces and have no reason to change. This is for the people who were exiled, the people essays aren’t supposed to be written for. This is to say, you didn’t deserve that. That even tens or hundreds or thousands of people can be wrong, and they often are, no matter how much our socially constructed brains take that as a message to lie down and die. That nothing is too bad, too ridiculous, too bizarre to be real when it comes to making marginalized people disappear.

Ideology is a sick fetish.

RESISTING DISPOSABILITY

— Let marginalized people be flawed. Let them fuck up like the Real Humans who get to fuck up all the time.

— Fight criminal-justice thinking. Disposability runs on the innocence/guilt binary, another category that applies dynamically to certain bodies and not others. The mob trials used to run trans people out of communities are inherently abusive, favor predators, and must be rejected as a process unequivocally. There is no kind of justice that resembles hundreds of people ganging up on one person, or tangible lifelong damage being inflicted on someone for failing the rituals of purification that have no connection to real life.

— Pay attention when people disappear. Like drowning, it’s frequently silent. They might be blackmailed, threatened, and/or in shock.

— Even if the victim doesn’t want to fight (which is deeply understandable—often moving on is the only response), private support is huge. This is the time to make sure the wound doesn’t become infected, that the PTSD they acquire is as minimized as … [more]
porpentine  community  via:sevensixfive  feminism  abuse  disposability  identity  interdependence  ptsd  trauma  recovery  punishment  safety  socialmedia  call-outculture  society  culture  violence  mobbing  rape  emotionalabuse  witchhunts  silviafederici  damage  health  communication  stigma  judithherman  terror  despair  twine  laziness  trashart  trashzines  alliyates  social  socialdynamics  stephenmurphy  queerness  jackiewang  complaint  complaints  power  powerlessness  pain  purity  fragility  gillesdeleuze  deleuze  solitude  silence  ideology  canon  reintegration  integration  rejection  inclusivity  yvetteflunder  leadership  inclusion  marginalization  innocence  guilt  binaries  falsebinaries  predators 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The 'Standing Man' Of Turkey: Act Of Quiet Protest Goes Viral : The Two-Way : NPR
"As protests against the Turkish government enter their third week, activists are taking increasingly creative measures to maintain their momentum.

Over the weekend, police removed their tent city and re-opened Istanbul's Taksim Square to traffic, while maintaining a strong presence in the area. This might have seemed like the end of it for many protesters, until a lone man decided to take a stand, literally, against the government. For more than six hours Monday night, Erdem Gunduz stood motionless in Taksim Square, passively ignoring any prodding or harassment from police and people passing by.

His unusual form of protest has inspired activists in Turkey and around the world to assume the same pose. He's even become his own meme, as "standing man" (duran adam, in Turkish) supporters upload their own protest photos to Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere."

[via: "Me and a lot of my friends here are becoming more and more silent. Please imagine us like this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/18/193183899/the-standing-man-of-turkey-act-of-quiet-protest-goes-viral …"
https://twitter.com/datatelling/status/520873386369900544

"(it's hard to pull off silent protest without embodiment. it's the body that forces you to notice the silence.)"
https://twitter.com/datatelling/status/520873755594469377 ]

[See also: http://duraninsanlar.tumblr.com/
via: "@datatelling great talk! Thanks for connecting the dots. I felt that I am hearing the voice that we need the most. http://vimeo.com/114393677 "
https://twitter.com/mahir_nyc/status/543992946115510272

"@datatelling also we should talk about #duranadam (silent man) protest next time we see each other :) an old tumblr > http://duraninsanlar.tumblr.com/ "
https://twitter.com/mahir_nyc/status/544266333320671233

and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmfIuKelOt4
via "@litherland reminds me of silent protests, too: standing man in taksim square and the silent protesters at UC Davis http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nmfIuKelOt4 "
https://twitter.com/datatelling/status/381530858387427328 ]

[related: Jen lLowe on disturbing data futures, quiet protest, and becoming more dangerous
http://vimeo.com/114393677 ]
silence  protest  turkey  2013  jenlowe  duranadam  mahiryavuz  resistance  quiet  ucdavis 
december 2015 by robertogreco
paperplanes. To Be a Better Listener, Embrace the Awkward Pause
"About a year ago I met one of our team members in person for the first time. We hung out for the entire day, talking about all kinds of things, problems we were facing with our company at the time were amongst them.

During those conversations he taught me a simple yet rather powerful conversation technique: the awkward pause. It’s since become an important tool for me in 1:1s and conversations with other people.

When you talk about a problematic topic, there tends to be that moment when the other party stops talking. It can happen for lots of reasons. They don’t want to rat someone out, they don’t want to vent, they’re looking for the right words to express themselves, or the topic is so uncomfortable that they don’t want to continue talking about it.

When you’re impatient, it’s tempting to pick up the conversation in those moments. You ask further questions, you start talking about your point of view, you possibly even change the topic thinking that there’s not much more to get out of it.

Our intuition makes the awkward pause weird for both of us. It feels uncomfortable because no one is talking when this entire meeting is about talking, exchanging ideas and thoughts. The temptation to chime in and take over the conversation is big. Nobody likes the awkward pause.

When you chime in and interrupt the awkward pause, breaking this uncomfortable silence, the topic likely drops off the other person’s mind. Whatever troubles they’ve had, they’re unlikely to come up again in this meeting. They’re more likely to come up in some future conversation, when that person has gotten to a point where the topic has made them so unhappy that it turns into a vent, or maybe even in their resignation.

Interrupting the awkward pause means losing out on invaluable information and insight. What comes after the awkward pause is usually the real issues on that person’s mind. Whether what you’re going to hear is actionable or not, a vent, a personal issue, it’s the underlying issue of everything else you’ve talked about up until this point.

It’s the essence of what the conversation is all about. Breaking out of the awkward pause makes sure that essence is lost forever, possibly never to be seen again.

When you find yourself in a conversation and you can feel that you’re in an awkward pause moment, take a deep breath, focus on the other person and just wait. Resist the urge to continue the conversation and let the other person continue digging up the real issue that’s on their mind. Resist the urge to break out of the awkwardness and just let the other person talk when they’re ready.

Embracing the awkward pause is possibly one of the simplest and most effective tools to make you a better listener. It helps you build trust and develop more patience in conversations with your reports and your peers. I’d go as far as considering it an essential leadership skill.

Thanks, Dan, for teaching me an invaluable skill!"
listening  conversation  2015  mathiasmeyer  slow  silence 
october 2015 by robertogreco
The Look of Silence
"The Look of Silence is Joshua Oppenheimer’s powerful companion piece to the Oscar®-nominated The Act of Killing.

Through Oppenheimer’s footage of perpetrators of the 1965 Indonesian genocide, a family of survivors discovers how their son was murdered, as well as the identities of the killers. The documentary focuses on the youngest son, an optometrist named Adi, who decides to break the suffocating spell of submission and terror by doing something unimaginable in a society where the murderers remain in power: he confronts the men who killed his brother and, while testing their eyesight, asks them to accept responsibility for their actions. This unprecedented film initiates and bears witness to the collapse of fifty years of silence."
film  towatch  joshuaoppenheimer  theactifkilling  thelookofsilence  indonesia  genocide  silence  history  documentary 
may 2015 by robertogreco
blogging, being wrong, malcolm x & the pharcyde — cecile emeke
"Being wrong has taught me so much. You have to be wrong sometimes to be critical. Logically you can't always be right and think critically; you have to have a moment of realising you're incorrect to push you to move past your current line of thinking to something new. Even if your moments of being incorrect are in private or don't last long, they still happen, they are still necessary. So I guess the scary part about a blog is that you might be wrong in front of other people or that it's recorded 'permanently'. I personally really respect people who aren't comfortable with being wrong."

Malcolm X's autobiography was one of the first books I ever read that really changed how I saw the world. One of the things I respected about him is that he was wrong very publicly and had no qualms in owning that, forming a new conclusion and keeping it pushing. It made me value what he said more because it was clear he was committed to truth and liberation, not his own pride and the bragging rights that come with the fallacy of infallibility. So I'm not too scared about being wrong, I'm more scared about being silent. Audre Lorde always talked about how silence can't and won't protect you and how often what we fear has already happened, so why remain scared and quiet?"
cecileemeke  malcolmx  audrelorde  2015  blogging  criticism  criticalthinking  silence  wrongness  truth  liberation  thinkinginpublic  fallibility  infallibility  paulgilroy 
april 2015 by robertogreco
79 Theses on Technology. For Disputation. | The Infernal Machine
"Alan Jacobs has written seventy-nine theses on technology for disputation. A disputation is an old technology, a formal technique of debate and argument that took shape in medieval universities in Paris, Bologna, and Oxford in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In its most general form, a disputation consisted of a thesis, a counter-thesis, and a string of arguments, usually buttressed by citations of Aristotle, Augustine, or the Bible.

But disputations were not just formal arguments. They were public performances that trained university students in how to seek and argue for the truth. They made demands on students and masters alike. Truth was hard won; it was to be found in multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions; it required one to give and recognize arguments; and, perhaps above all, it demanded an epistemic humility, an acknowledgment that truth was something sought, not something produced.

It is, then, in this spirit that Jacobs offers, tongue firmly in cheek, his seventy-nine theses on technology and what it means to inhabit a world formed by it. They are pithy, witty, ponderous, and full of life. And over the following weeks, we at the Infernal Machine will take Jacobs’ theses at his provocative best and dispute them. We’ll take three or four at a time and offer our own counter-theses in a spirit of generosity.

So here they are:

1. Everything begins with attention.

2. It is vital to ask, “What must I pay attention to?”

3. It is vital to ask, “What may I pay attention to?”

4. It is vital to ask, “What must I refuse attention to?”

5. To “pay” attention is not a metaphor: Attending to something is an economic exercise, an exchange with uncertain returns.

6. Attention is not an infinitely renewable resource; but it is partially renewable, if well-invested and properly cared for.

7. We should evaluate our investments of attention at least as carefully and critically as our investments of money.

8. Sir Francis Bacon provides a narrow and stringent model for what counts as attentiveness: “Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

9. An essential question is, “What form of attention does this phenomenon require? That of reading or seeing? That of writing also? Or silence?”

10. Attentiveness must never be confused with the desire to mark or announce attentiveness. (“Can I learn to suffer/Without saying something ironic or funny/On suffering?”—Prospero, in Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror)

11. “Mindfulness” seems to many a valid response to the perils of incessant connectivity because it confines its recommendation to the cultivation of a mental stance without objects.

12. That is, mindfulness reduces mental health to a single, simple technique that delivers its user from the obligation to ask any awkward questions about what his or her mind is and is not attending to.

13. The only mindfulness worth cultivating will be teleological through and through.

14. Such mindfulness, and all other healthy forms of attention—healthy for oneself and for others—can only happen with the creation of and care for an attentional commons.

15. This will not be easy to do in a culture for which surveillance has become the normative form of care.

16. Simone Weil wrote that ‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’; if so, then surveillance is the opposite of attention.

17. The primary battles on social media today are fought by two mutually surveilling armies: code fetishists and antinomians.

18. The intensity of those battles is increased by a failure by any of the parties to consider the importance of intimacy gradients.

19. “And weeping arises from sorrow, but sorrow also arises from weeping.”—Bertolt Brecht, writing about Twitter

20. We cannot understand the internet without perceiving its true status: The Internet is a failed state.

21. We cannot respond properly to that failed-state condition without realizing and avoiding the perils of seeing like a state.

22. If instead of thinking of the internet in statist terms we apply the logic of subsidiarity, we might be able to imagine the digital equivalent of a Mondragon cooperative.

23. The internet groans in travail as it awaits its José María Arizmendiarrieta."

[continues on]

[A collection of follow-ups and responses is accummulating here:
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/tag/79-theses-on-technology/

For example: “79 Theses on Technology: On Attention”
http://iasc-culture.org/THR/channels/Infernal_Machine/2015/03/79-theses-on-technology-on-attention/

And another round-up of responses:
http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2015/04/more-on-theses.html ]
alanjacobs  anthropology  culture  digital  history  technology  attention  dunning-krugereffect  anosognosia  pleasure  ethics  writing  howwewrite  jaronlanier  alextabattok  stupidity  logic  loki  cslewis  algorithms  akrasia  physical  patheticfallacy  hacking  hackers  kevinkelly  georgebernardshaw  agency  philosophy  tommccarthy  commenting  frankkermode  text  texts  community  communication  resistance  mindfulness  internet  online  web  josémaríaarizmendiarrieta  simonwiel  society  whauden  silence  attentiveness  textualist  chadwellmon  surveillance  2015 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Silence: an experiment | Quomodocumque
"Just back from the NICAR, the tribal gathering of all data-oriented journalists, where I gave a talk about the importance of talking openly about uncertainty.

Last night at the conference there was a moment which, for reasons having to do with the demographics of mathematics, was unusual for me: I was standing in a circle of five people, talking about a technical subject, centered on a talk I hadn’t attended, and the four people other than me were all women. And it occurred to me:  this is actually a situation where it would be totally natural and appropriate for me not to contribute to the conversation. So let me try. Let me try to actually let this discussion go on for five minutes without opening my mouth.

And first of all let me say that I successfully did it.  But it was hard. I felt twitchy and uncomfortable, just standing there silently. And it was hard for me to learn about the topic being discussed, because some portion of my mind was still working hard at autogenerating answers to “What could I say now?”, interfering with my ability to listen.

I’m not proud of this. I think when you’re a man, and you get older and acquire some amount of professional status, you start to feel like it is a kind of universal physical fact that people need to hear your view about the topic under discussion. Whatever topic it is! Whether you actually know anything about it or not!

Or maybe it has nothing to do with general social forces, and it’s just me. In either case, I’m going to try being silent more often and see if I can get used to it."
via:maxfenton  silence  listening  jordanellenberg  gender  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
One Square Inch
"Welcome to One Square Inch
A SANCTUARY FOR SILENCE AT OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

“SILENCE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF SOMETHING,
BUT THE PRESENCE OF EVERYTHING.”

-Gordon Hempton, Founder
One Square Inch of Silence

One Square Inch of Silence is very possibly the quietest place in the United States. It is an independent research project located in the Hoh Rain Forest of Olympic National Park, which is one of the most pristine, untouched, and ecologically diverse environments in the United States. If nothing is done to preserve and protect this quiet place from human noise intrusions, natural quiet may be non-existent in our world in the next 10 years. Silence is a part of our human nature, which can no longer be heard by most people. Close your eyes and listen for only a few seconds to the world you live in, and you will hear this lack of true quiet, of silence. Refrigerators, air conditioning systems, and airplanes are a few of the things that have become part of the ambient sound and prevent us from listening to the natural sounds of our environment. It is our birthright to listen, quietly and undisturbed, to the natural environment and take whatever meanings we may from it. By listening to natural silence, we feel connected to the land, to our evolutionary past, and to ourselves. One Square Inch of Silence is in danger, unprotected by policies of the National Park Service, or supported by adequate laws. Our hope is that by listening to natural silence, it will help people to become true listeners to their environment, and help us protect one of the most important and endangered resources on the planet, silence."

[via: https://twitter.com/gerwitz/status/568378180316372992 ]
olympicpeninsula  audio  nature  silence  washingtonstate  conservation  gordonhempton  horainforest  olympicnationalpark  sound  noicepollution 
february 2015 by robertogreco
New map shows America's quietest places | Science/AAAS | News
"Craving some silence? Head (quietly) toward the blue regions on the map above. Based on 1.5 million hours of acoustical monitoring from places as remote as Dinosaur National Monument in Utah and as urban as New York City, scientists have created a map of noise levels across the country on an average summer day. After feeding acoustic data into a computer algorithm, the researchers modeled sound levels across the country including variables such as air and street traffic. Deep blue regions, such as Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, have background noise levels lower than 20 decibels—a silence likely as deep as before European colonization, researchers say. That's orders of magnitude quieter than most cities, where noise levels average 50 to 60 decibels, scientists reported here today at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science). The National Park Service is using the map to identify places where humanmade noise is affecting wildlife—animals such bats and owls, whose ears are up to 20 decibels more sensitive than human ears, for example, are affected by humanmade noise because it drowns out the faint rustles of insects and rodents they need to hunt, they say."
maps  mapping  sound  us  silence  2015  soundscapes 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Why I am not Charlie | a paper bird
"There is no “but” about what happened at Charlie Hebdo yesterday. Some people published some cartoons, and some other people killed them for it. Words and pictures can be beautiful or vile, pleasing or enraging, inspiring or offensive; but they exist on a different plane from physical violence, whether you want to call that plane spirit or imagination or culture, and to meet them with violence is an offense against the spirit and imagination and culture that distinguish humans. Nothing mitigates this monstrosity. There will be time to analyze why the killers did it, time to parse their backgrounds, their ideologies, their beliefs, time for sociologists and psychologists to add to understanding. There will be explanations, and the explanations will be important, but explanations aren’t the same as excuses. Words don’t kill, they must not be met by killing, and they will not make the killers’ culpability go away.

To abhor what was done to the victims, though, is not the same as to become them. This is true on the simplest level: I cannot occupy someone else’s selfhood, share someone else’s death. This is also true on a moral level: I cannot appropriate the dangers they faced or the suffering they underwent, I cannot colonize their experience, and it is arrogant to make out that I can. It wouldn’t be necessary to say this, except the flood of hashtags and avatars and social-media posturing proclaiming #JeSuisCharlie overwhelms distinctions and elides the point. “We must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day,” the New Yorker pontificates. What the hell does that mean? In real life, solidarity takes many forms, almost all of them hard. This kind of low-cost, risk-free, E-Z solidarity is only possible in a social-media age, where you can strike a pose and somebody sees it on their timeline for 15 seconds and then they move on and it’s forgotten except for the feeling of accomplishment it gave you. Solidarity is hard because it isn’t about imaginary identifications, it’s about struggling across the canyon of not being someone else: it’s about recognizing, for instance, that somebody died because they were different from you, in what they did or believed or were or wore, not because they were the same. If people who are feeling concrete loss or abstract shock or indignation take comfort in proclaiming a oneness that seems to fill the void, then it serves an emotional end. But these Cartesian credos on Facebook and Twitter — I am Charlie, therefore I am — shouldn’t be mistaken for political acts.

Erasing differences that actually exist seems to be the purpose here: and it’s perhaps appropriate to the Charlie cartoons, which drew their force from a considered contempt for people with the temerity to be different. For the last 36 hours, everybody’s been quoting Voltaire. The same line is all over my several timelines: [image]

“Those 21 words circling the globe speak louder than gunfire and represent every pen being wielded by an outstretched arm,” an Australian news site says. (Never mind that Voltaire never wrote them; one of his biographers did.) But most people who mouth them don’t mean them. Instead, they’re subtly altering the Voltairean clarion cry: the message today is, I have to agree with what you say, in order to defend it. Why else the insistence that condemning the killings isn’t enough? No: we all have to endorse the cartoons, and not just that, but republish them ourselves. Thus Index on Censorship, a journal that used to oppose censorship but now is in the business of telling people what they can and cannot say, called for all newspapers to reprint the drawings: “We believe that only through solidarity – in showing that we truly defend all those who exercise their right to speak freely – can we defeat those who would use violence to silence free speech.” But is repeating you the same as defending you? And is it really “solidarity” when, instead of engaging across our differences, I just mindlessly parrot what you say?

But no, if you don’t copy the cartoons, you’re colluding with the killers, you’re a coward. Thus the right-wing Daily Caller posted a list of craven media minions of jihad who oppose free speech by not doing as they’re ordered. Punish these censors, till they say what we tell them to!

[image]

If you don’t agree with what Charlie Hebdo said, the terrorists win.

[image]

You’re not just kowtowing to terrorists with your silence. According to Tarek Fatah, a Canadian columnist with an evident fascist streak, silence is terrorism.

[image]

Of course, any Muslim in the West would know that being called “our enemy” is a direct threat; you’ve drawn the go-to-GItmo card. But consider: This idiot thinks he is defending free speech. How? By telling people exactly what they have to say, and menacing the holdouts with treason. The Ministry of Truth has a new office in Toronto.

There’s a perfectly good reason not to republish the cartoons that has nothing to do with cowardice or caution. I refuse to post them because I think they’re racist and offensive. I can support your right to publish something, and still condemn what you publish. I can defend what you say, and still say it’s wrong — isn’t that the point of the quote (that wasn’t) from Voltaire? I can hold that governments shouldn’t imprison Holocaust deniers, but that doesn’t oblige me to deny the Holocaust myself.

It’s true, as Salman Rushdie says, that “Nobody has the right to not be offended.” You should not get to invoke the law to censor or shut down speech just because it insults you or strikes at your pet convictions. You certainly don’t get to kill because you heard something you don’t like. Yet, manhandled by these moments of mass outrage, this truism also morphs into a different kind of claim: That nobody has the right to be offended at all.

I am offended when those already oppressed in a society are deliberately insulted. I don’t want to participate. This crime in Paris does not suspend my political or ethical judgment, or persuade me that scatologically smearing a marginal minority’s identity and beliefs is a reasonable thing to do. Yet this means rejecting the only authorized reaction to the atrocity. Oddly, this peer pressure seems to gear up exclusively where Islam’s involved. When a racist bombed a chapter of a US civil rights organization this week, the media didn’t insist I give to the NAACP in solidarity. When a rabid Islamophobic rightist killed 77 Norwegians in 2011, most of them at a political party’s youth camp, I didn’t notice many #IAmNorway hashtags, or impassioned calls to join the Norwegian Labor Party. But Islam is there for us, it unites us against Islam. Only cowards or traitors turn down membership in the Charlie club.The demand to join, endorse, agree is all about crowding us into a herd where no one is permitted to cavil or condemn: an indifferent mob, where differing from one another is Thoughtcrime, while indifference to the pain of others beyond the pale is compulsory.

We’ve heard a lot about satire in the last couple of days. We’ve heard that satire shouldn’t cause offense because it’s a weapon of the weak: “Satire-writers always point out the foibles and fables of those higher up the food chain.” And we’ve heard that if the satire aims at everybody, those forays into racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can be excused away. Charlie Hebdo “has been a continual celebration of the freedom to make fun of everyone and everything….it practiced a freewheeling, dyspeptic satire without clear ideological lines.” Of course, satire that attacks any and all targets is by definition not just targeting the top of the food chain. “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges,” Anatole France wrote; satire that wounds both the powerful and the weak does so with different effect. Saying the President of the Republic is a randy satyr is not the same as accusing nameless Muslim immigrants of bestiality. What merely annoys the one may deepen the other’s systematic oppression. To defend satire because it’s indiscriminate is to admit that it discriminates against the defenseless."



"This insistence on contagious responsibility, collective guilt, is the flip side of #JeSuisCharlie. It’s #VousÊtesISIS; #VousÊtesAlQaeda. Our solidarity, our ability to melt into a warm mindless oneness and feel we’re doing something, is contingent on your involuntary solidarity, your losing who you claim to be in a menacing mass. We can’t stand together here unless we imagine you together over there in enmity. The antagonists are fake but they’re entangled, inevitable. The language hardens. Geert Wilders, the racist right-wing leader in the Netherlands, said the shootings mean it’s time to “de-Islamize our country.” Nigel Farage, his counterpart in the UK, called Muslims a “fifth column, holding our passports, that hate us.” Juan Cole writes that the Charlie Hebdo attack was “a strategic strike, aiming at polarizing the French and European public” — at “sharpening the contradictions.” The knives are sharpening too, on both sides.

We lose our ability to imagine political solutions when we stop thinking critically, when we let emotional identifications sweep us into factitious substitutes for solidarity and action. We lose our ability to respond to atrocity when we start seeing people not as individuals, but as symbols. Changing avatars on social media is a pathetic distraction from changing realities in society. To combat violence you must look unflinchingly at the concrete inequities and practices that breed it. You won’t stop it with acts of self-styled courage on your computer screen that neither risk nor alter anything. To protect expression that’s endangered you have to engage with the substance of what was said, not deny it. That means attempting dialogue with those who peacefully … [more]
censorship  france  islam  terrorism  charliehebdo  islamophobia  2015  scottlong  solidarity  freespeech  freedomofspeech  religion  violence  oppression  oneness  stereotypes  silence  satire  #JeSuisCharlieHebdo  #JeSuisCharlie 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Context collapse, performance piety and civil inattention – the web concepts you need to understand in 2015 | Technology | The Guardian
"Civil inattention
In the 1950s, sociologist Erving Goffman described what happened to humans who live in cities. “When in a public place, one is supposed to keep one’s nose out of other people’s activity and go about one’s own business,” he wrote in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. “It is only when a woman drops a package, or when a fellow motorist gets stalled in the middle of the road, or when a baby left alone in a carriage begins to scream, that middle-class people feel it is all right to break down momentarily the walls which effectively insulate them.” Dara Ó Briain picked up this idea in a standup routine in which he dared people to get into a lift last, and then, instead of facing the door, turn and face the other occupants. It would be truly chilling.

Civil inattention happens all the time in everyday life, unless you’re the kind of a weirdo who joins in other people’s conversations on the train. But we haven’t got the grip of it in the “public squares” of the internet, like social media platforms and comment sections. No one knows who is really talking to whom, and – surprise! – a conversation between anything from two to 2,000 people can feel disorienting and cacophonous. There have been various attempts to combat it – Twitter’s “at sign”, Facebook’s name-tagging, threaded comments – but nothing has yet replicated the streamlined simplicity of real life, where we all just know there is NO TALKING AT THE URINAL.

Conservative neutrality
We live in a world ruled by algorithms: that’s how Netflix knows what you want to watch, how Amazon knows what you want to read and how the Waitrose website knows what biscuits to put in the “before you go” Gauntlet of Treats before you’re allowed to check out. The suggestion is that these algorithms are apolitical and objective, unlike humans, with their petty biases and ingrained prejudices. Unfortunately, as the early computer proverb had it, “garbage in, garbage out”. Any algorithm created in a society where many people are sexist, racist or homophobic won’t magically be free of those things.

Google’s autocomplete is a classic example: try typing “Women are ...” or “Asians are ...” and recoil from the glimpse into our collective subconscious. Christian Rudder’s book Dataclysm discusses how autocomplete might reaffirm prejudices, not merely reflect them: “It’s the site acting not as Big Brother, but as Older Brother, giving you mental cigarettes.” Remember this the next time a tech company plaintively insists that it doesn’t want to take a political stance: on the net, “neutral” often means “reinforces the status quo”.

Context collapse
The problem of communicating online is that, no matter what your intended audience is, your actual audience is everyone. The researchers Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick put it like this: “We may understand that the Twitter or Facebook audience is potentially limitless, but we often act as if it were bounded.”

So, that tasteless joke your best Facebook friend will definitely get? Not so funny when it ends up on a BuzzFeed round-up of The Year’s Biggest Bigots and you get fired. That dating profile where you described yourself as “like Casanova, only with a degree in computing”? Not so winsome when it lands you on Shit I’ve Seen On Tinder and no one believes that you were being sarcastic. On a more serious level, context collapse is behind some “trolling” prosecutions: is it really the role of the state to prosecute people for saying offensive, unpleasant things about news stories in front of other people who have freely chosen to be their friends on Facebook? I don’t think so.

What is happening here is that we are turning everyone into politicians (the horror). We are demanding that everyone should speak the same way, present the same face, in all situations, on pain of being called a hypocrite. But real life doesn’t work like this: you don’t talk the same way to your boss as you do to your boyfriend. (Unless your boss is your boyfriend, in which case I probably don’t need to give you any stern talks on the difficulties of negotiating tricky social situations.) To boil this down, 2015 needs to be the year we reclaim “being two-faced” and “talking behind people’s backs”. These are good things.

Performative piety
What’s Kony up to these days? Did anyone bring back our girls? Yes, surprisingly enough, the crimes of guerrilla groups in Uganda and Nigeria have not been avenged by hashtag activism. The internet is great for what feminists once called “consciousness raising” – after all, it’s a medium in which attention is a currency – but it is largely useless when it comes to the hard, unglamorous work of Actually Sorting Shit Out.

The internet encourages us all into performative piety. People spend time online not just chatting or arguing, but also playing the part of the person they want others to see them as. Anyone who has run a news organisation will tell you that some stories are shared like crazy on social media, but barely read. Leader columns in newspapers used to show the same pattern: research showed that people liked to read a paper with a leader column in it – they just didn’t actually want to read the column.

So, next time you’re online and everyone else seems to be acting like a cross between Mother Teresa and Angelina Jolie, relax. They might leave comments saying “WHAT ABOUT SYRIA?” but they have, in fact, clicked on a piece about a milk carton that looks like a penis. As ever, actions speak louder than words."
contextcollapse  2014  internet  socialmedia  communication  conservativeneutrality  algorithms  alicemarwick  kony  performativepiety  activism  performance  presentationofself  online  socialnetworking  privacy  audience  via:chromacolaure  civics  urban  urbanism  twitter  facebook  civilinattention  attention  discourse  ervinggoffman  daraóbriain  silence  inattention  kathysierra  helenlewis  serialpodcast 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Some observations on Taiye Selasi’s “Driver” – The New Inquiry
[regarding: http://www.granta.com/Archive/123/Driver (Update: now here and paywalled: https://granta.com/driver/ )]

"It may surprise you to learn that Taiye Selasi’s short story, “Driver,” absolutely seethes with class antagonism. It does so very quietly. “I am the full-time driver here,” is the first line of the story; “I am not going to kill my employers” is the second. Instead, the protagonist—Webster, a formerly college-bound young man whose ambitions were halted by his father’s illness, and who has become a driver for a wealthy Ghanaian family—writes “I will make just a few observations.”

This is all he will do. He will not kill them. He will merely see them.

He does not burn down his employers’ house, for example, but he does make some heated observations: the madam’s flowers are, she tells him, the “toast of all of Ghana”; some of us, he responds, do not have bread. But he doesn’t say it; he only imagines saying it to her. It’s the kind of bitter play on words that a frustrated mind would knot itself up with, but it’s a signifying that he doesn’t dare speak out loud. He doesn’t dare burn down their house, though he kind of wants to; instead, he ruminates on how the pots of flowers “burst into flames” as they “pretty” the walls of the compound. How beautiful their house would look in flames, he doesn’t say. The story does not turn into Faulkner’s “Barn Burning.” He does not attempt to reclaim his masculinity with violent action. He is passive. He observes.

It took a second reading before I noticed how intensely freighted the protagonist’s words are, in fact, how tightly wound his consciousness is. The antagonism is there, but the double meanings are also not quite meant to be heard; they might even be unconscious to him. His observations to us are as guarded as his words to his employers, his thoughts couched and hidden; he is surprised, at one point, to find himself crying. Nothing in what he has said, up until that point, explains why he has tears in his eyes. Which is another way of saying that he does not speak: he’s not telling any stories about what he sees, as the second meaning of “observations” indicates. He observes, passively, but he does not—except to us, and we must still draw it out of him—say what he has seen. He remains silent. He sees but is not heard.

He certainly doesn’t speak back to his employers, for instance. His great fear is that his employers will see him seeing them, and fire him for his observation, so he is scrupulously dumb, mute. His father is sick with cancer, his family needs the money from the job, and he particularly likes this particular job because it allows him time to read, to continue his studies, as he puts it. So he does what he needs to do to keep it. He keeps his mouth shut.

Instead of observing what he sees, then, he says what he is supposed to say to keep his job, which is, mostly, nothing. Like his father—“a smiley man…a dimpled, deferential, diminutive man”—he plays the part well. He says “yes, ma’am” and “yes, sir,” as little as he can get away with. But unlike his father, he knows the mask he’s wearing. His father believed. The son does not. His father thought that hard work and subservience would pay off; his son has seen that it does not, but he makes the best of it.

This, at least, is how the story is set up at the start. Our protagonist wears the mask, plays the role he has been hired to play. He follows the rules. He does what he is told, and he keeps his mouth shut. He is defensively cynical, making a protective shell out of a mute exterior. But the persistent difficulty of servile life is that his employers do not keep their end of the bargain, and do not have to. Employment is not a contract; employment is a form of subjection.

For one thing, his father’s boss does not take care of his sick servant’s family, as the father had expected, as the implied contract of their relationship does not turn out to enforce. Instead of acting as a benevolent patron, the boos simply offers a job as driver to the son (“offers”). If anything, the father’s sickness is an opportunity for his boss: another driver becomes available, and his sister needs a driver (for reasons which later become apparent)."



"The protagonist’s masculinity makes it easier to overlook the undercurrent of aggressive seduction that threads through the entire story, but it is there. Were the protagonist a woman, it would be easier to see his employers harassing him, forcing intimacies upon him that he spends the story trying to evade, but which he cannot avoid. We’d recognize this story in an instant if it were a frustrated male employer seducing his female servant, forcing her to choose to be seduced; Samuel Richardson wrote Pamela in 1740, and it’s been written a time or two since. But though it’s less clear that we are seeing a version of that story, we are: his mistress is frustrated with her husband’s infidelity, and she eventually forces the protagonist to choose to be seduced.

It begins when he walks past his mistress’s bathroom window and accidentally sees her naked. He is doubled over with panic that he will be fired for “peeping”; he hides, and literally weeps with fear. “Peeping” is a firing offense. But like most forms of policing, what seems like a contract—don’t do the crime, don’t do the time—is actually a power relationship masked by the illusion of choice. He sees her naked, but not because he “peeped”; it is her who left the window “undressed,” projecting her naked body out of the room where she bathes, onto the eyes of the unsuspecting Webster, who had no intention of seeing her. He didn’t actively look; he was just walking by, and was, passively, made to “peep.” But the moment he does, he is in her power.

The story ends when, fifteen minutes later, she walks out into the garden, where he is frozen, speechless, paralyzed. She tells him what he has feared: she saw him seeing her. She tells him he can keep a secret. Finally, she tells him that she will help his father if he has sex with her and, without using words, that she will fire him—like the last driver—if he will not. Here the story ends. She takes him in her arms; he reciprocates, and a curtain of modesty falls over the proceedings.

If she had used violence, it would be possible to call this “rape.” But he does not say no, does not resist, is not forced. He reciprocates, as he has no choice but to do. Which is the point. Because she allows economics to do the work for her, there is no word for his violation. We cannot say he was raped, because he chose, even if it wasn’t the choice he would have chosen, even if we see him weeping with fear and frustration, even if she catches him like a spider catches a fly. Of course, she needn’t be the spider in her own mind; she didn’t force him, after all, and maybe he really does want it? He doesn’t say no, after all, and she’s doing him a favor. She can think all of these things, plausible. And he says nothing to contradict her.

This, then, is the movement of the story: from an impulse to violent action to words, and from words—from actually speaking—to merely seeing, silent acquiescence. The silence of seeing and knowing what one does not dare to say. And the violation without violence of economic force. With no power to say no, silence is subjection."
observation  power  silence  control  policing  2014  aaronbady  taiyeselasi  storytelling  powerdynamics  subjection 
december 2014 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses - This man who speaks to you was born 55 years ago...
""This man who speaks to you was born 55 years ago in Vienna. One month after his birth he was put on a train, and then on a ship and brought to the Island of Brac. Here, in a village on the Dalmatian coast, his grandfather wanted to bless him. My grandfather lived in the house in which his family had lived since the time when Muromachi ruled in Kyoto. Since then on the Dalmatian Coast many rulers had come and gone - the doges of Venice, the sultans of Istanbul, the corsairs of Almissa, the emperors of Austria, and the kings of Yugoslavia. But these many changes in the uniform and language of the governors had changed little in daily life during these 500 years. The very same olive-wood rafters still supported the roof of my grandfather’s house. Water was still gathered from the same stone slabs on the roof. The wine was pressed in the same vats, the fish caught from the same kind of boat, and the oil came from trees planted when Edo was in its youth.

My grandfather had received news twice a month. The news now arrived by steamer in three days; and formerly, by sloop, it had taken five days to arrive. When I was born, for the people who lived off the main routes, history still flowed slowly, imperceptibly. Most of the environment was still in the commons. People lived in houses they had built; moved on streets that had been trampled by the feet of their animals; were autonomous in the procurement and disposal of their water; could depend on their own voices when they wanted to speak up. All this changed with my arrival in Brac.

On the same boat on which I arrived in 1926, the first loudspeaker was landed on the island. Few people there had ever heard of such a thing. Up to that day, all men and women had spoken with more or less equally powerful voices. Henceforth this would change. Henceforth the access to the microphone would determine whose voice shall be magnified. Silence now ceased to be in the commons; it became a resource for which loudspeakers compete. Language itself was transformed thereby from a local commons into a national resource for communication. As enclosure by the lords increased national productivity by denying the individual peasant to keep a few sheep, so the encroachment of the loudspeaker has destroyed that silence which so far had given each man and woman his or her proper and equal voice. Unless you have access to a loudspeaker, you now are silenced.

I hope that the parallel now becomes clear. Just as the commons of space are vulnerable, and can be destroyed by the motorization of traffic, so the commons of speech are vulnerable, and can easily be destroyed by the encroachment of modem means of communication."

— Ivan Illich: Silence is a Commons, a talk given in Japan in 1982. This is something I will reflect on and, later, write about."
ivanillich  commons  1982  vulnerability  speech  communication  technology  motorization  acceleration  productivity  silence  busyness  loudspeakers  news  speed  slow 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Silence, Solitude, Laziness and Other Pillars of the Good Life | The Evergreen State College
"Freedom and discipline concur
only in ecstasy, all else
is shoveling out the muck.
Give me my old hot horn.
Hayden Carruth, “Freedom and Discipline”

Silence has been banished by ear buds, the roar of politics and the economy, and the hum of hard disks doing our searching. Solitude? Think- as you're tempted to buy a retreat in a monastery or take a guided walk in a faraway canyon- of surveillance and our collective reliance on Facebook and its e-cousins. Laziness? We're anxious to be worker bees, and the last defense of a “right to be lazy” was written by Paul Lafargue in 1883. Silence, solitude, laziness: gone.

This program will consider three paradoxical, counterintuitive hypotheses: Silence may open space to enjoy the virtues of vernacular speech and living in common. Solitude may allow us to know the importance of embracing others. Laziness may be more productive than work if our aim is the good life.

We will follow the paths of iconoclasts, monks, mystics, utopian socialists, Charlie Chaplin and other artists, stoics and cynics and the occasional (certified) sociologist or philosopher to remember what we know about living well.

In addition to the common work of the program, students will undertake an independent study of considerable significance that should be more admirable than convincing.

At least four class hours each week will be devoted to writing, learning to make artful sentences. Students will read their work aloud and learn to accept and give good, open and public criticism of writing. In addition to the common work of the program, students will undertake an independent study of considerable significance that should be more admirable and beautiful than convincing. This project will account for up to half of the credit to be awarded. If your own writing practice contains even a scintilla of laziness, that’ll change."
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  consciousness  consciousnessstudies  education  philosophy  writing  sociology  billarney  sarahuntington  haydencarruth  silence  solitude  laziness  leisure  leisurearts  artleisure 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Justin McGuirk on Bose headphones and the Internet of Broken Things
"You know when there's a teenager on the bus listening to music on his mobile – without headphones – and all the other passengers are stealing glances, unsure whether he's oblivious or sociopathic? Well things like that give the impression that cities are getting noisier, and that we need to retreat ever deeper into ourselves. I'm not convinced it's true. But one man who would have taken this incident as cast-iron proof was the social critic Ivan Illich.

"Silence is a commons," wrote Illich. He argued that just as the communal pastures were privatised in the 18th century, so now the collective sense of calm is being invaded by technology. He was thinking of loudspeakers, computers and electronic gadgets, which he lumped together in a single category: "the machines". This was in the 1980s, before email, mobile phones, texting and the infinite stream of social media. One can only imagine what he would have made of this daily communication firebombing. But the battered and shrivelled human attention span, if not quite a commons, would certainly have appeared to Illich as a victim of noise.

What struck me about Illich's argument is that my own response to the erosion of silence was the exact opposite of what he would have advocated. Faced with a dwindling commons, I was forced to privatise my own patch. I did this with a pair of Bose QuietComfort ® 15 headphones. Not only do they sequester the ears behind a wall of black leather, they feature "Acoustic Noise Cancelling ® technology". The way noise-cancelling works, in brief, is by measuring enemy sound waves and retaliating with their mirror image – the sonic equivalent of anti-matter. It's an invisible battle in which competing sound waves cancel each other out. Victory is the sound of orbital noise flatlining – silence is a sonic massacre. In other words, the QC 15s are the product of an arcane branch of physics that the rest of us know simply as "magic".

Man invented noise-cancelling to improve the signal-to-noise ratio for helicopter and airplane pilots, but later found a much more lucrative market in music lovers. I confess that I am no high-fidelity obsessive. I do not (although I think I'm in the minority here) manoeuvre through London in my own private sound bubble, listening to Eye of the Tiger as I power-cycle down the Clerkenwell Road. I shelled out for this exorbitantly pricey piece of equipment at a time when I was sharing an office and found that I simply couldn't concentrate. It's not the roiling drone of the city that is distracting – white noise is just fine. It's specific noise that is invasive, that conversation that earworms its way into your consciousness and, like a bad guest, won't leave.

Ideally, I was aiming for a portable isolation ward. Donning the QC 15s, you are met with the gentle roar of a conch shell. But flick the switch on the right ear-cup and you are suddenly hooded in silence. It's not the hollow sound freeze of outer space, but at the very least a tech-y tea cosy that takes the edge off. (Tip: for persistent earworms, add a layer of ambient insulation, something Brian Eno-ish or Arvo Pärt-ish.)

Easily distracted people such as myself attune all too readily to the peripheral, and there are times – pace Illich – when what is central must be walled off and gated. This is beginning to sound an awful lot like the neoliberalisation of sound, isn't it?"



"Weren't the DIY and Maker movements supposed to deliver us from the cycle of dispose-and-consume?"



"Despite being mechanically inept, I tend to romanticise a world of mechanical objects – of motorcycles and replacement valves. The obvious problem with today's hyper-performing, magical products is that they are black boxes. We are so in love with their metaphysics, with their gestalt, that we forgive their ephemerality. No one will ever write a book called Zen and the Art of iPhone Maintenance.

It seems to me that the logic of today's products is heading ineluctably one way. Our devices will be able to do more and more, while lasting less and less long, until eventually they can do everything for no time at all. In the future, we will bestride the Earth like gods, wielding awesome, omnipotent gadgets that break after two minutes. Calling up customer services at [insert evil tech company] we will be told that the warranty was only one minute, and didn't we read the terms and conditions?"
justinmcguirk  2014  headphones  noisecancellation  ivanillich  silence  dosposability  fixing  urbanism  urban  attention  noise  noisepollution 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How to Be Polite — The Message — Medium
"But no matter. What I found most appealing was the way that the practice of etiquette let you draw a protective circle around yourself and your emotions. By following the strictures in the book, you could drag yourself through a terrible situation and when it was all over, you could throw your white gloves in the dirty laundry hamper and move on with your life. I figured there was a big world out there and etiquette was going to come in handy along the way."



"Here’s a polite person’s trick, one that has never failed me. I will share it with you because I like and respect you, and it is clear to me that you’ll know how to apply it wisely: When you are at a party and are thrust into conversation with someone, see how long you can hold off before talking about what they do for a living. And when that painful lull arrives, be the master of it. I have come to revel in that agonizing first pause, because I know that I can push a conversation through. Just ask the other person what they do, and right after they tell you, say: “Wow. That sounds hard.”

Because nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult. I once went to a party and met a very beautiful woman whose job was to help celebrities wear Harry Winston jewelry. I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt, but when I told her that her job sounded difficult to me she brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. I forgave her for that. I didn’t reveal a single detail about myself, including my name. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, “I like you!” She seemed so relieved to have unburdened herself. I counted it as a great accomplishment. Maybe a hundred times since I’ve said, “wow, that sounds hard” to a stranger, always to great effect. I stay home with my kids and have no life left to me, so take this party trick, my gift to you.

A friend and I came up with a game called Raconteur. You pair up with another Raconteur at a party and talk to everyone you can. You score points by getting people to disclose something about their lives. If you dominate the conversation, you lose a point. The two raconteurs communicate using hand signals and keep a tally on a sheet of paper or in their minds. You’d think people would notice but they are so amused by the attention that the fact you’re playing Raconteur escapes their attention."



"But a whole class of problems goes away from my life because I see people as having around them a two or three foot invisible buffer. If there is a stray hair on their jacket I ask them if I can pluck it from them. If they don’t want that, they’ll do it themselves. If their name is now Susan, it’s Susan. Whatever happens inside that buffer is entirely up to them. It has nothing to do with me."



"Politeness buys you time. It leaves doors open. I’ve met so many people whom, if I had trusted my first impressions, I would never have wanted to meet again. And yet — many of them are now great friends. I have only very rarely touched their hair.

One of those people is my wife. On our first date, we went to a nice bar with blue tables and, in the regular course of conversation she told me at length about the removal of a dermoid teratoma from her ovaries. This is a cyst with teeth (not a metaphor). I had gone in expecting to flirt but instead I learned about the surgical removal of a fist-sized mutant mass of hair and teeth from her sexual parts. This killed the chemistry. I walked her home, told her I had a great time, and went home and looked up cysts on the Internet, always a nice end to an evening. We talked a little after that. I kept everything pleasant and brief. A year later I ran into her on the train and we got another drink. Much later I learned that she’d been having a very bad day in a very bad year.

Sometimes I’ll get a call or email from someone five years after the last contact and I’ll think, oh right, I hated that person. But they would never have known, of course. Let’s see if I still hate them. Very often I find that I don’t. Or that I hated them for a dumb reason. Or that they were having a bad day. Or much more likely, that I had been having a bad day.

People silently struggle from all kinds of terrible things. They suffer from depression, ambition, substance abuse, and pretension. They suffer from family tragedy, Ivy-League educations, and self-loathing. They suffer from failing marriages, physical pain, and publishing. The good thing about politeness is that you can treat these people exactly the same. And then wait to see what happens. You don’t have to have an opinion. You don’t need to make a judgment. I know that doesn’t sound like liberation, because we live and work in an opinion-based economy. But it is. Not having an opinion means not having an obligation. And not being obligated is one of the sweetest of life’s riches.

There is one other aspect of my politeness that I am reluctant to mention. But I will. I am often consumed with a sense of overwhelming love and empathy. I look at the other person and am overwhelmed with joy. For all of my irony I really do want to know about the process of hanging jewelry from celebrities. What does the jewelry feel like in your hand? What do the celebrities feel like in your hand? Which one is more smooth?

This is not a world where you can simply express love for other people, where you can praise them. Perhaps it should be. But it’s not. I’ve found that people will fear your enthusiasm and warmth, and wait to hear the price. Which is fair. We’ve all been drawn into someone’s love only to find out that we couldn’t afford it. A little distance buys everyone time.

Last week my wife came back from the playground. She told me that my two-year-old, three-foot-tall son, Abraham, walked up to a woman in hijab and asked “What’s your name?” The woman told him her name. Then he put out his little hand and said, “Nice to meet you!” Everyone laughed, and he smiled. He shared with her his firmest handshake, like I taught him."
etiquette  paulford  2014  listening  politeness  behavior  social  cv  canon  understanding  people  apologies  patience  love  empathy  socializing  relationships  secondchances  interestedness  silence  interested 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Relingos | The Brooklyn Quarterly
"Spaces survive the passage of time in the same way a person survives his death: in the close alliance between the memory and the imagination that others forge around it. They exist as long as we keep thinking of them, imagining in them; as long as we remember them, remember ourselves there, and, above all, as long as we remember what we imagined in them. A relingo—an emptiness, an absence—is a sort of depository for possibilities, a place that can be seized by the imagination and inhabited by our ­phantom-follies. Cities need those vacant lots, those silent gaps where the mind can wander freely."



"We Buy Old Books

Cities have often been compared to language: you can read a city, it’s said, as you read a book. But the metaphor can be inverted.

[painting of plan of Mexico City]

The journeys we make during the reading of a book trace out, in some way, the private spaces we inhabit. There are texts that will always be our dead-end streets; fragments that will be bridges; words that will be like the scaffolding that protects fragile constructions. T. S. Eliot: a plant growing in the debris of a ruined building; Salvador Novo: a tree-lined street transformed into an expressway; Tomás Segovia: a boulevard, a breath of air; Roberto Bolaño: a rooftop terrace; Isabel Allende: a (magically real) shopping mall; Gilles Deleuze: a summit; and Jacques Derrida: a pothole. Robert Walser: a chink in the wall, for looking through to the other side; Charles Baudelaire: a waiting room; Hannah Arendt: a tower, an Archimedean point; Martin Heidegger: a cul-de-sac; Walter ­Benjamin: a one-way street walked down against the flow.

And everything we haven’t read: relingos, absences in the heart of the city.

Guaranteed Repairs

Restoration: plastering over the cracks left on any surface by the erosion of time.
Sidewalks

Writing: an inverse process of restoration. A restorer fills the holes in a surface on which a more or less finished image already exists; a writer starts from the fissures and the holes. In this sense, an architect and a writer are alike. Writing: filling in relingos.

No, writing isn’t filling gaps—nor is it constructing a house, a building, just to fill up an empty space.

Perhaps Alejandro Zambra’s bonsai image might come closer: “A writer is a person who rubs out. . . . Cutting, lopping: finding a form that was already there.”

But words are not plants and, in any case, gardens are for the poets with orderly, landscaped hearts. Prose is for those with a builder’s spirit.

Writing: drilling walls, breaking windows, blowing up buildings. Deep excavations to find—to find what? To find nothing.

A writer is a person who distributes silences and empty spaces.

Writing: making relingos."
architecture  cities  design  spaces  space  commonplace  geography  relingos  mexicodf  df  mexico  valerialuisellu  writing  silence  via:alexismadrigal  alejandrozambra  restoration  robertobolaño  tomássegovia  gillesdeleuze  jacquesderrida  baudelaire  heidegger  hannaharendt  robertwalser  tseliot  slavadornono  walterbenjamin  emptiness  absence  possibility  possibilities  imagination  urban  urbanism  deleuze  mexicocity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
cityofsound: Essay: 'Designing Finnishness', for 'Out Of The Blue: The Essence and Ambition of Finnish Design' (Gestalten)
"Knowing what to do when there is nothing to do
"The press conference is over, and in comes Jari Litmanen, from behind the door. And I looked at his face and I looked at his eyes, and I recognised something in those eyes. And I thought, this is a man with a great willpower. Because he was not shy, not timid, but he was modest. He is not a man who will raise his voice, or bang with his fist on the table and say, ‘We do it this way.’ No, he was more of a diplomat, not wanting to be a leader, but being a leader." [Former AFC Ajax team manager David Endt, on legendary Finnish footballer Jari Litmanen]

Finland has proven that it can take care of itself locally and globally. At home, its sheer existence is a tribute to fortitude, guile and determination, never mind the extent to which it has lately thrived. Globally, through Nokia, Kone, Rovio and others, through its diplomatic and political leadership, and through its design scene in general, it has punched well above its weight. Having been a reluctant leader, like Litmanen, will Finland once again step up to help define a new age, a post-industrial or re-industrial age? Unlike 1917, there are few obvious external drivers to force Finns to define Finnishness. So where will the desire for change come from?

Finland, and Finnishness, is not immune to the problems facing other European countries; the Eurocrisis, domestic xenophobia, industrial strife. Challenging these is difficult for an engineering culture not yet used to working with uncertainty, and in collaboration.

That requires this sense of openness to ambiguity, to non-planning, which is quite unlike the traditional mode of Finnishness. And yet there are also valuable cues in Finnishness, such as in the design—or undesign, as Leonard Koren would have it—of Finnish sauna culture.
"Making nature really means letting nature happen, since nature, the ultimate master of interactive complexity, is organized along principles too inscrutable for us to make from scratch. … Extraordinary baths … are created by natural geologic processes or by composers of sensory stimulation working in an intuitive, poetic, open-minded—undesign—manner." (Koren, ibid.)

Equally, the päiväkoti day-care system demonstrates a learning environment built with an agile structure that can follow where children wish to lead. The role of expertise—and every teacher in Finnish education is a highly-qualified expert—is not to control or enforce a national curriculum, but to react, shape, nurture and inspire. As such it could be a blueprint not only for education generally, but also for developing a culture comfortable with divergent learning, with exploration and experiment, with a broader social and emotional range, and with ambiguity.

Chess grandmaster Savielly Tartakower once said “Tactics is knowing what to do when there is something to do, strategy is knowing what to do when there is nothing to do.” Indeed, Finland's early development was driven by tactics—survival, consolidation and then growth in the face of a clear set of "things to do"; defeat the conditions, resist the neighbours, rebuild after war.

With that, came success, comfort and then perhaps the inevitable lack of drive. The country is relatively well off and stable, and perhaps a little complacent given the recent accolades.

Design in recent years has seen a shift towards the ephemeral and social—interaction design, service design, user experience design, strategic design and so on. Conversely, there has been a return to the physical, albeit altered and transformed by that new modernity, with that possibility of newly hybrid “things”: digital/physical hybrids possessing a familiar materiality yet allied with responsiveness, awareness, and character by virtue of having the internet embedded within. With its strong technical research sector, and expertise in both materials and software, Finland is well-placed. Connect the power of its nascent nanotech research sector—interestingly, derived from its expertise with wood—to a richer Finnish design culture capable of sketching social objects, social services and social spaces and its potential becomes tangible, just as with the 1930s modernism that fused the science and engineering of the day with design in order to produce Artek.

Finnish design could be stretched to encompass these new directions, the aforementioned reversals towards openness, ambiguity, sociality, flexibility and softness. Given that unique DNA of Finnishness — both designed and undesigned, both old and young—Finland is at an interesting juncture.

The next phase, then, is knowing what to do, despite the appearance of not having anything to do.

Buckminster Fuller, a guest at Sitra's first design-led event at Helsinki’s Suomenlinna island fortress in 1968, once said “the best way to predict the future is to design it.” Finland has done this once before; it may be that now is exactly the right time to do it again."
finland  2014  design  danhill  cityofsound  sitra  buckminsterfuller  education  strategy  culture  exploration  experimentation  ambiguity  emergentcurriculumeurope  undesign  leonardkoren  nature  complexity  simplicity  davidendt  jarilitmanen  unproduct  efficiency  inefficiency  clarity  purity  small  slow  sisu  solitude  silence  barnraising  helsinki 
may 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA’s ‘There Will Never Be Silence,’ About John Cage - NYTimes.com
"Seventy years later, Cage is back at MoMA, the subject of an exhibition that charts the influence of Duchamp and other visual artists on his experiments with chance operations that culminated in his groundbreaking and still-controversial four minutes and 33 seconds of silence....

The final nudge toward Cage’s silent work came from Robert Rauschenberg, whom he met in 1951, while the artist was working on his white paintings. These smooth, monochrome canvases went a step further than Barnett Newman’s “The Voice,” which is also part of the show. That painting is almost entirely white, too, but the variations in brush strokes and a subtly vertical line running down one side like a scar give the viewer’s eye plenty to engage with.

By contrast, Rauschenberg’s white paintings were not articulated in any way, Mr. Platzker said. “Cage recognized that what Rauschenberg had done was remove all the elements of ‘art,’ ” he said. “And that if you put up a painting like that in a room, it’s going to interact with the light and dust particles in the air.”

In August 1952, Cage presented the first of his multimedia Happenings at Black Mountain and used Rauschenberg’s white paintings as a backdrop. (Soon afterward came the premiere of “4’33” ” in Woodstock.)...

The second part of the exhibition looks at the Fluxus movement and traces Cage’s own influence on artists, beginning with those he taught in his course on experimental composition at the New School. MoMA’s collection includes notebooks from that course, photographs of the class itself and pieces directly derived from it by students including George Brecht, Allan Kaprow, Dick Higgins and others.

Yoko Ono and La Monte Young provide playful examples of verbal instructions. Ms. Ono’s book “Grapefruit” is open to a page containing “Kitchen Piece,” dating from the winter of 1960. “Hang a canvas on a wall,” she writes. “Throw all the leftovers you have in the kitchen that day on the canvas. You may prepare special food for the piece.”"

[See also: https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/01/03/composing-silence-john-cage-and-black-mountain-college-3/ ]
johncage  eventscores  erasure  silence  music  blackmountaincollege  2014  bmc  art  happenings  moma  marcelduchamp  barnettnewman  yokoono  lamonteyoung  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  fluxus 
january 2014 by robertogreco
MoMA | Composing Silence: John Cage and Black Mountain College
"In the summer of 1951 at Black Mountain College, Rauschenberg began a series of entirely white paintings. (His 1965 instructions for the White Paintings are on view adjacent to the album in the exhibition.) Only a few months prior, Cage was introduced to Rauschenberg at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York, initiating a period of close exchange that lasted throughout both artists’ lives. Upon witnessing the development of the White Paintings, Cage was taken aback by the younger artist’s bold abandonment of figuration. He recognized that the White Paintings were not, in fact, devoid of form, but rather served, in his words, as “mirrors of the air” and “airports for the lights, shadows, and particles.” As early as February 1948, Cage introduced the theoretical foundations for 4′33″—to “compose a piece of uninterrupted silence”—during a lecture at Vassar College. However, he claimed that it was not until seeing Rauschenberg’s White Paintings that he had the courage to explore silence within his own work.

In August 1952, Cage returned to Black Mountain College and organized Theater Piece No. 1, an unscripted performance considered by many to be the first Happening. The event took place in the college dining hall and included Rauschenberg, Cunningham, and Cage’s frequent collaborator, the young pianist David Tudor, among others. As Kyle Gann described in his book No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage’s 4′33″, the audience was seated in four triangular sections, while Cage stood on a ladder at the center. From his elevated position, Cage delivered a lecture as artists, musicians, and dancers moved freely through the space—which featured at least one of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings—deflecting attention from any single narrative and complicating the distinction between art and life. Just weeks after the production of Theater Piece No. 1, David Tudor encouraged Cage that the timing was right for Tudor to publicly perform Cage’s “silent” piece during his upcoming program at the Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, New York.

There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage’s 4′33″ reunites many of the figures and works that influenced Cage between 1948—the year in which he first discussed his idea for 4′33″—and its premiere on August 29, 1952."

[See also: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/arts/music/momas-there-will-never-be-silence-about-john-cage.html?pagewanted=all ]
johncage  silence  happenings  performance  music  erasure  bmc  blackmountaincollege  2014  robertrauschenberg  via:shannon_mattern  josefalbers  annialbers 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Why João Matters — Pop of Culture — Medium
"Gilberto performs alone. He appears onstage looking like an insurance office employee — thick glasses, humble sportcoat, nondescript demeanor. He sings in an interior, musing-to-himself voice, his nylon-string acoustic guitar standing in for an orchestra. There is no show business in his presentation. Notorious for walking off stage mid-tune if conditions don’t suit him, he insists on quiet. Insists. His terms are extreme: all or nothing. The uneasy quiet becomes his blank canvas, and from it, he sets forth a harrowingly vulnerable emotional landscape. Conjures it, really, out of thin air. In this place, everything, even soul-crushing disappointment, is explored in a stage whisper. His is a seduction of silences, measured pauses, infinite restraint. He understands that by not blurting out full details of his every feeling, he draws the sensitive listeners in, makes them anticipate the next turn in the road, activates their own longing for a distant, mostly unattainable serenity.

And yet, Gilberto’s voice itself is always serene, contented, smiling. He confides when he sings, telling stories in slopes and twists and arcs that simulate the graceful movements of butterflies. His phrasing flows like great conversation, but underneath it, running in the background, there’s this wicked crisp guitar, chopping up the time with murderous precision. The slicing, forward-moving syncopations — another signature contribution, the heartbeat of bossa nova — are intricate marvels all by themselves. Heard alone, the rhythms can seem like a relentless energy surge. But when his voice enters, it radiates a feeling of calm introspection that transforms the unsettled rhythm into something utterly sublime. Tension and release in the same instant.



Gilberto matters not simply because he sets rather extreme terms of engagement — itself a bold stance in our look-at-me age. But because out of that, he creates art that offers rare and elusive truths about what it means to be alive, in love, devoted to something other than the self. He may be removed from the spotlight, his work nearly forgotten, but his example endures as a high-level argument for that fast-disappearing quality at the root of so much great art: Nuance. After João Gilberto, just about everything sounds like shouting."
joãogilberto  music  brasil  jazz  2013  tommoon  nuance  silence  brazil 
november 2013 by robertogreco
stillspotting nyc
"While the vitality and stimulation of the urban environment can be pleasant, those living in or visiting densely populated areas, such as New York, can have wildly different experiences. The ever-present cacophony of traffic, construction, and commerce; the struggle for mental and physical space; and the anxious need for constant communication in person or via technology are relentless assaults on the senses. One wonders how locals and visitors can escape, find respite, and make peace with their space in this “city that never sleeps.”

The Guggenheim Museum responded with stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project that took the museum’s Architecture and Urban Studies programming out into the streets of the city’s five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island. Every three to five months between June 2011 and October 2012, “stillspots” were identified, created, or transformed by architects, artists, designers, composers, and philosophers into public tours, events, or installations.

In conjunction with the projects organized around the city, the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University was commissioned to develop a mapping study on silence and noise in New York City. The interactive map developed by SIDL presents actual noise complaints generated by New York residents when calling 311, the city’s phone number for government information and non-emergency services. Reading the complaints offers insights into the city’s noise, and the contrasts between private and social space and between residential and commercial necessities."

[via: http://studiox-nyc.tumblr.com/post/44630860758/sound-city ]
maps  mapping  silence  nyc  stillspotting  curating  exhibition  soundscapes  sound  space 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Stereopublic
"stereopublic: crowdsourcing the quiet is a participatory art project that asks you to navigate your city for" quiet spaces, share them with your social networks, take audio and visual snapshots, experience audio tours and request original compositions made using your recordings."

[via: http://studiox-nyc.tumblr.com/post/44630860758/sound-city ]
mapping  quiet  silence  soundscapes  maps  stereopublic  sound  ios  applications 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Silence and Speech
"If you feel moved to contribute after others have spoken, our experience is that it is as well to leave a fair time, and ask yourself whether you will be carrying further what has already been said. It is practically never right to spring up immediately."

"For our present purpose, the essential point is that what we receive in our meetings strengthens us in our daily lives; and then in turn we bring back our experiences to our meetings, where they may sometimes give rise to ministry. This two-way traffic is not regulated by rules or achieved through theological doctrines or political theories; it is a quiet unseen process, which is seldom exciting or dramatic but can in the long run have deep and far-reaching effects. Another early Quaker, Robert Barclay, wrote, 'When I came into the silent assemblies of God's people I found the evil in me weakening and the good raised up.' Many Quakers since his day have testified to similar experiences…"
thinking  meditation  meetings  friendsmeetings  ministry  robertbarclay  process  doctrine  deschooling  unschooling  rules  restraint  speech  silence  practice  religion  richardallen  1992  quakers  quaker 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Notebook on Cities and Culture: S3E1: Buoyancy and Poignancy with Pico Iyer
"Japan's distinctive combination of buoyancy and poignancy, which leads to the pre-savoring of wistfulness to come; the culture's dissolution of mind, heart, and soul all in the same place, and his efforts to build an intellectual infrastructure around his Japan-related intuitions; his recent reading of John Cage, an unexpected master of the Japanese virtues of not knowing and not saying; the necessity, when you want to write about something, to write about something else, and of writing about a passion in order to write about yourself; the Californian question of "being yourself," and its inadmissability to the Japanese mindset; his relief at not having to be Japanese within Japanese society, and what being a Japanese in Japanese society has done to visit a female brain drain upon the country; what it takes to best remain an outsider in Japan, enjoying its peculiar kind of diplomatic immunity, and how Donald Richie mastered that exchange of belonging for freedom…"
passions  memoirs  notknowing  presence  time  fleetingmoments  poignancy  buoyancy  nuance  invisibility  reservedness  quiet  energy  friction  spontaneity  globalization  osaka  english  responsibility  interdependence  compassion  isolationism  isolation  canon  identity  collectivism  community  place  westpoint  books  listening  silence  understanding  vitality  comfort  nostalgia  pre-nostalgia  memory  women  familiarity  attention  donaldrichie  gender  knowing  writing  belonging  california  thoughfulness  japan  intimacy  society  culture  colinmarshall  johncage  2013  via:charlieloyd  picoiyer 
january 2013 by robertogreco
Comfort noise - Wikipedia
"Comfort noise (or comfort tone) is synthetic background noise used in radio and wireless communications to fill the artificial silence in a transmission resulting from voice activity detection or from the audio clarity of modern digital lines.

Some modern telephone systems (such as wireless and VoIP) use voice activity detection (VAD), a form of squelching where low volume levels are ignored by the transmitting device. In digital audio transmissions, this saves bandwidth of the communications channel by transmitting nothing when the source volume is under a certain threshold, leaving only louder sounds (such as the speaker's voice) to be sent. However, improvements in background noise reduction technologies can occasionally result in the complete removal of all noise. Although maximizing call quality is a primary importance, exhaustive removal of noise may not properly simulate the typical behavior of terminals on the PSTN system.

The result of receiving total silence, especially for a prolonged period, has a number of unwanted effects on the listener, including the following:

* the listener may believe that the transmission has been lost, and therefore hang up prematurely.
* the speech may sound "choppy" (see noise gate) and difficult to understand.
* the sudden change in sound level can be jarring to the listener.

To counteract these effects, comfort noise is added, usually on the receiving end in wireless or VoIP systems, to fill in the silent portions of transmissions with artificial noise. The noise generated is at a low but audible volume level, and can vary based on the average volume level of received signals to minimize jarring transitions."
sound  noise  comfortnoise  comforttone  silence  backgroundnoise  radio 
november 2012 by robertogreco
Blank Ways - Tom Loois
"NAVIGATE TO THERE WHERE YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN

Design your personal definition of silence, was the assignment. Tom Loois finds his silence in places where he has never been. And there are plenty of those, even in a city you have lived in for years already. Intrigued by the blank spots in his mental map, he designed a special route planner. Blank Ways keeps track of where you have been or not been and this new application will lead you to your destination via the places you have never visited before."
solitude  mentalmaps  place  mapping  maps  unknown  silence  blankways  tomloois 
september 2012 by robertogreco
The Chattering Mind by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
"…if the critics and academics wearied of untangling torment for a living (I see you haven’t got any better, Beckett’s old analyst responded after the author sent him a copy of Watt). Imagine if the publishers—let’s call them the Second Arrow Publishing Corporation—informed all their great authors, all the masters of the mercilessly talkative consciousness, that they are winding up their affairs; they have seen the light, they will no longer publish elaborations of tortured consciousness, lost love, frustrated ambition, however ingenious or witty. Imagine! All the great sufferers saved by Buddhism, declining the second arrow: quietness where there was Roth, serenity where there was McCarthy, well-being where there was David Foster Wallace?

Do we want that?

I suspect not. I suspect our destiny is to pursue our literary sickness for years to come. It is hard not to congratulate oneself on the quality of one’s unhappiness."
well-being  psychology  silence  suffering  nobility  dignity  suicide  reading  writing  2012  timparks  samuelbeckett  thinking  ulysses  jamesjoyce  hamlet  dostoyevsky  virginiawoolf  johnupdike  sandroveronesi  willself  philliproth  buddhism  unhappiness  happiness  literature  davidfosterwallace  cv  chatteringmind 
june 2012 by robertogreco
How Silence Works: Emailed Conversations With Four Trappist Monks | The Awl
[via Caren]
Sometimes I think silence is one way of not letting our differences define who we are for one another.

[T]he habit of silence keeps me from seeking additional noise.


[via Migurski]

"If by “complexity” you mean the extraordinary diversification of forms of experience and the myriad ways they meet and interact in the course of living life, all of this is inexpressibly beautiful and it would be hard to see how it could be a challenge to anyone's faith. Probably, by “complexity” you mean rather the perplexing, self-defeating… binds we get ourselves into individually and collectively because of the influence of sin. It is sin that makes the world complicated, and sin comes from us. But if sin comes from in us, then a monk, living in silence and solitude, is sitting in the eye of the storm.

My own impression is that life in the world provides many diversions which guard a person from really engaging the battle with sin, and can even render him quite insensible of its existence. Such a person is not so much engaging the complexity of the world as becoming numb to it. In the cloister, on the other hand, you engage the Adversary face to face. It is hard for me to imagine where in the world a person more directly engages “the world in all its complexity” than battling with the very source of evil in one's own heart in the solitude and silence of the cloister.

As regards “grappling” with the world, in its present state, I will frankly confide to you two very personal vulnerabilities which would make living outside the cloister very difficult for me. First is my impression of the general formlessness of life in America today. So many people today live without a coherent language, symbol system, tradition, or rituals to give concrete expression to what they believe and so speak of seeking “happiness,” “contentment, “light,” “fulfillment”… The abstract formlessness of how Americans talk about matters of ultimate concern wearies me deeply.

The other is the loneliness that characterizes life in America today. Mother Theresa, visiting the U.S. for the first time in the 70s, said she had never seen poverty like what she saw here and she meant the loneliness of Americans. The breakdown and relinquishment of shared value systems and traditions, has left individuals adrift in a private search for God and meaning. This is a terribly lonely way to live. In America, loneliness can become like the blueness of the sky. After a while, people don't think about it anymore."
thinking  playlist  via:litherland  silence  noise  jeremymesiano-crookston  monks  trappists  trappistmonks  buddhism  complexity  simplicity  slow  attention  loneliness  sharedvalues  meaning  meaningmaking  happiness  contentment  fulfillment  solitude  mothertheresa  us  culture  society 
june 2012 by robertogreco
…My heart’s in Accra » Teju Cole: Every Day is for The Thief
"One of the loveliest blogs of the past few years was Teju Cole’s…has subsequently disappeared, leaving dozens of dead links…Blogs usually don’t work like this – they outlive the enthusiasm of their authors, lying neglected & silent. The Japanese call dead blogs “ishikoro” – pebbles. A missing blog is something else, a hole, like a dropped stitch in a row of knitting…

I’ve been exhuming the digital remains of Teju Cole…via the Wayback Machine…in the wake of reading his lovely & all too short “Every Day is for The Thief“…one of the best books I’ve read this year…one that I plan to press into the hands of friends travelling to West Africa for the first time…especially into the hands of African friends returning home.

I don’t know why Cole took down his brilliant blog, or why this beautiful book ends on a lovely but abrupt note. But if I respect a man’s right to speak, I’ve also got to respect his silence."
nigeria  lagos  thirdculture  identity  belonging  2008  writing  ishikoro  waybackmachine  silence  blogging  blogs  ethanzuckerman  everydayisforthethief  tejucole  books  africa 
may 2012 by robertogreco
naotumblring robertogreco {tumblr}: Me gustas cuando callas…
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

-Henri J.M. Nouwen
silence  pain  cures  powelessness  hanrinouwen  2012  caring  advice  listening  friendship 
may 2012 by robertogreco
Tilda Swinton Discusses Her Career - NYTimes.com
"“For me that is grace,” she says of her character’s dumbstruck confusion in the face of her irrevocably altered life. “I am really interested in silence. In inarticulacy also, which isn’t the same as silence. As a performer I like looking at the gaps between what people want to communicate and what they can communicate,” she adds. “I love good filmmaking that isn’t just about really proficient writers of dialogue, who think that everybody’s really articulate and everybody can hear each other really well. That doesn’t feel true to me, actually. I mean, that’s a fantastical universe.”"

[via: http://snarkmarket.com/2011/7583 ]
realism  reality  believability  filmmaking  articulation  inarticulacy  silence  grace  2011  film  writing  tildaswinton 
january 2012 by robertogreco
The Joy of Quiet - NYTimes.com
"A few months later, I read an interview with the perennially cutting-edge designer Philippe Starck. What allowed him to remain so consistently ahead of the curve? “I never read any magazines or watch TV,” he said, perhaps a little hyperbolically. “Nor do I go to cocktail parties, dinners or anything like that.” He lived outside conventional ideas, he implied, because “I live alone mostly, in the middle of nowhere.”

Around the same time, I noticed that those who part with $2,285 a night to stay in a cliff-top room at the Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur pay partly for the privilege of not having a TV in their rooms; the future of travel, I’m reliably told, lies in “black-hole resorts,” which charge high prices precisely because you can’t get online in their rooms."
2012  philippestarck  thinking  attention  technology  quiet  silence  solitude  picoiyer 
january 2012 by robertogreco
In Africa, the Art of Listening - NYTimes.com
"If we are capable of listening, we’re going to discover that many African narratives have completely different structures than we’re used to. I over-simplify, of course. Yet everybody knows that there is truth in what I’m saying: Western literature is normally linear; it proceeds from beginning to end without major digressions in space or time.

That’s not the case in Africa. Here, instead of linear narrative, there is unrestrained and exuberant storytelling that skips back and forth in time and blends together past and present. Someone who may have died long ago can intervene without any fuss in a conversation between two people who are very much alive. Just as an example.

The nomads who still inhabit the Kalahari Desert are said to tell one another stories on their daylong wanderings, during which they search for edible roots and animals to hunt. Often they have more than one story going at the same time. Sometimes they have three or four stories running in parallel. But before they return to the spot where they will spend the night, they manage either to intertwine the stories or split them apart for good, giving each its own ending."



"It struck me as I listened to those two men that a truer nomination for our species than Homo sapiens might be Homo narrans, the storytelling person. What differentiates us from animals is the fact that we can listen to other people's dreams, fears, joys, sorrows, desires and defeats ě°˝€” and they in turn can listen to ours.

Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.

So if I am right that we are storytelling creatures, and as long as we permit ourselves to be quiet for a while now and then, the eternal narrative will continue."
deschooling  unschooling  learning  conversation  2011  silence  information  knowledge  henningmankell  humans  human  storytelling  society  narrative  literature  listening  africa 
december 2011 by robertogreco
‪How To Be Alone‬‏ - YouTube
"A video by fiilmaker, Andrea Dorfman, and poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis.

Davis wrote the beautiful poem and performed in the video which Dorfman directed, shot, animated by hand and edited. The video was shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia and was produced by Bravo!FACT http://www.bravofact.com/

For more information on Tanya, go to http://www.tanyadavis.ca or visit her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/Tanya-Davis/8063194647?ref=sgm You can purchase her first two CDs Make A List and Gorgeous Morning on iTunes and look out for her third CD which will be released in the fall!

For more information on Andrea Dorfman, visit her facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Andrea-Dorfman-Films/110789945626226?ref=mf or http://www.andreadorfman.com "
alone  solitude  andeadorfman  tanyadavid  howto  art  psychology  film  animation  poetry  society  stillness  loneliness  silence  acceptance  well-being  peace 
july 2011 by robertogreco
A Draft Of My #TEDxRevolution Speech: A Kid’s Responsibility to Freedom | The Jose Vilson
"Let’s build schools that help us pull down that ceiling. Let’s de-emphasize schooling and more about learning. Let’s teach them extraction, and asking the questions behind the bubble sheet. Let them have breakfast; give them some! Make sure they clean up after themselves, though. Walk away from the chalkboard and repeat their names when they say something important. Implore them to say “I don’t get it” and don’t berate them for it. Don’t take their failures personally, but be sure they know why you’re disappointed. You’re planting seeds even when you’re not the only one tending the farm."
prisons  schools  schooliness  comparison  lists  control  freedom  responsibility  self-discipline  discipline  decisionmaking  democracy  revolution  rebellion  silence  order  hierarchy  authority  authoritarianism  dresscodes  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  criticalthinking  identity  questioning  schedules  reflection  teaching  cv  josévilson 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — Settling Down Without Settling
"About six months ago, in May, my wife and I moved from San Francisco to Portland, Oregon. We expected to rent an apartment in Portland for at least a year, maybe two. Yesterday, in a major diversion from that path, we closed on our first home. We move in this coming Saturday.

In this post, I’m going to talk about why we bought a home, how we went about it, and the context of the particular socioeconomic moment we find ourselves in."

"There’s a simplicity that comes from transience, and a simplicity that comes from permanence. Both are illusions, and one will present itself before the other. For now, I’m eager to be wrapped up in the illusion of permanence, serene and arboreal."
homebuying  tips  money  portland  housing  finance  transience  simplicity  illusion  houses  alexpayne  2010  permanence  neo-nomads  nomads  lifestyle  silence  quiet 
january 2011 by robertogreco
BBC News - The joy of daydreaming [via: http://twitter.com/GreatDismal/status/15109172899]
"Stillness, meditation, reflection, silence. Radio documentary maker Alan Hall goes in search of refuge from the noise and bustle of the modern world, looking for moments of peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life."
consciousness  reflection  self-knowledge  teaching  self  silence  pause  meditation  stillness  attention  add  learning  well-being  alanhall  children  society  time  productivity 
may 2010 by robertogreco

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