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nsangimwanawange[👻] on Twitter: "big ghost/spirit/light energy 👻🖤 https://t.co/DzPGUap0ep" / Twitter
“catastrophes. My writing hand becomes a dumb stump in my head… I mean I can’t write or utter a sound or metaphor. But Sycorax comes to me in a dream and she dreams me a Macintosh computer with its winking _io_ hiding in its margins which, as you know, are not really margins, but electronic accesses to Random Memory and the Cosmos and the _lwa_.

And she dreams me these stories (see _DreamStories_ 1994)—what Rohlehr calls “Night Journeys” or “Night Healings”— and shows me how to find _jo_ to write them out on the computer. And the two together introduce me to fonts and the fonts take me across Mexico to Siqueiros and the Aztec murals and all the way back to ancient Nilotic Egypt to hieroglyphics—allowing me to write in light and to make sound visible as if I am in video.”
kamaubrathwaite  computing  howweread  howwewrite  poetry  memory  sound  video  fonts  computers  writing  reading 
12 days ago by robertogreco
nsangimwanawange[👻] on Twitter: ""the computer has moved us away from scripture into some other dimension which is writing in light" https://t.co/lTbVyoUk7R" / Twitter
“I think the computer has moved us away from scripture into some other dimension which is “writing in light”. It is really nearer to the oral tradition than the typewriter is. The typewriter is an extension of the pen. The computer is getting as close as you can to the spoken word–in fact it will eventually I think be activated by voice and it will be possible to sit in front of the computer and say your poem and have it seen.” –Kamau Brathwaite
kamaubrathwaite  secondaryorality  orality  typewriters  pens  computing  computers  writing  howwewrite  typing  spokenword  oraltradition  speechtotext 
12 days ago by robertogreco
The Secret Grace of Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers - Mn Artists
“Thanks to Alec Soth and the team of Little Brown Mushroom, a group of international artists and writers find themselves immersed in finding the stories hiding in plain sight within the marvelous mundanities of the Midwest.

“ALL OF THIS COULD JUST BE A MASSIVE FAILURE, one never knows,” Alec Soth shrugs, his slim frame curled into a Thinker pose as he rests in a swivel chair in the converted garage space that serves as his studio and office. He’s speaking about the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers, a recent arts workshop held at Little Brown Mushroom, the Saint Paul publishing house Soth co-founded. His “take it as it comes” attitude is fitting to the project, as Soth and his fellow instructors envisioned the camp as something of a repudiation of the glut of tightly scheduled, for-profit workshops that dominate the photography landscape.

As an internationally celebrated photographer, Soth gets invited to participate in those workshops all the time. “I’ve always avoided them for a variety of reasons,” he says, running a hand over his dark, close-cropped beard. “If it’s somewhere else, I don’t want to just fly off and go do a thing in Cuba or wherever. It always sounds exotic, but then that’s also problematic. They tend to be very expensive for the participants so that it can make money. And that’s fine, but it attracts dentists.”

Affordability and accessibility have always been cornerstones of the Little Brown Mushroom philosophy – their photo essay books generally retail for less than $20, with pricier special editions available for serious collectors. The idea is to produce high-quality artwork that stays in the price range of students, casual arts patrons and other folks who can’t or won’t pony up for the usual high-end art books. Not long ago, it dawned on Soth that the same ethos could be applied to those big-ticket workshops.

“I thought, I keep getting asked to do these workshops, but what if I did a workshop here? Because I’m hungry to be involved in education in some way, but I also want to do it on my own terms,” Soth explains. Once the seed was planted, the framework came together quickly: Little Brown Mushroom would invite artists to apply for a free, five-day workshop based in the cozily industrial confines of the company’s Saint Paul offices. Making the workshop cost-free was hugely important, not just because it kept things affordable for the applicants, but also because it provided Soth and his collaborators with a little more room to move. “It relieves some of the burden of having to fulfill a specific expectation,” Soth says. “It’s free to be more experimental. Also, it allowed us to cherry-pick really interesting applications. We got a ton of applications, really fascinating ones. We could’ve done it 20 times over. The only negative to this whole process so far has been saying no to people with these wonderful applications.”

That freedom also allowed the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers to focus on perhaps the stickiest aspect of the Little Brown Mushroom mission: exploring the possibilities of photo-centric narratives. In a side room the staff refers to as “The Cave” stands Soth’s sizable collection of photography books. The library ranges from well-known classics to recent obscurities, but in Soth’s eyes the real jewels are a smattering of books that attempt to wed photos to some sort of overarching narrative. There are children’s books, Mexican fotonovelas, even a few more adult-oriented artistic efforts like Daniel Seymour’s A Loud Song. Soth has long explored the intersection of storytelling and photography in his own work, most recently in his series of LBM Dispatch collaborations with author and Little Brown Mushroom team member Brad Zellar.

“The thing about Little Brown Mushroom is it’s always a combination of text and image,” Soth says. “We use a storybook, like Little Golden Books, as sort of a template for visual storytelling. It’s really storytelling at its most basic form. And then something like these “dispatches,” that’s more modeled after newspaper journalism, but also something like Life photo essays. It’s kind of a dated thing, but Dorthea Lange and Paul Taylor collaborated, Margaret Bourke-White and Erskine Caldwell, these writer-photographer collaborations. It’s kind of a bygone era.”

Despite Soth’s fascination with and enthusiasm for narrative photography, he’s not convinced that it’s a particularly effective format. “Truthfully,” he says, “I don’t think they go together very well, images and text. I think they fight each other. But I feel hungry for it. As an artist, [this workshop] is a way for me to play around and experiment with other artists in terms of, ‘what are the possibilities of this?’”

With that loose mission statement in hand, Soth and the Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers staff – Zellar, photographers Carrie Thompson and Ethan Jones, designer Hans Seeger, visual artist Jason Polan and filmmaker Galen Fletcher – sorted through the more than 400 applications and picked out 15 attendees from all around the world. The final roster included artists from corners as far-flung as Germany and Venezuela, with just one Minnesotan in the mix. (In the interest of getting as diverse a selection of perspectives as possible, the staff intentionally decided to limit the locals and only consider applicants with whose work they were unfamiliar.)

The campers roll in on Tuesday with little idea of what to expect from the undertaking. Much of their trepidation has to do with working in teams. “Collaboration is kind of a new thing for me,” says Jeff Barnett-Winsby, a photographer from New York. “But it’s definitely something that I’ve been enjoying. I think a lot of photographers [are concerned that], because our work is so representational, it’s also easily replicated or at least emulated. It makes for a really insecure artist. Those artists are notoriously bad at collaborating, because you have to give up control and authorship. I think we did a really great job – but maybe I’m just talking about me.”

When we speak, before camp starts, Soth admits that he himself has only a basic idea of how the week will unfold. “We’re going to pair people off for the first day to do little collaborative projects. Ideally we’ll get as much of a mix of mediums between those people as possible,” Soth explains. “They go out and they have to generate some sort of story. It can be a very simple thing… It’s like a children’s book, the primal form of storytelling. Like, ‘I went to Hawaii. I saw the dolphin.’ Except in a more sophisticated way: ‘I went to Menards. I photographed someone in a wedding dress.’”

He’s not kidding about Menards, either. Exploring the untapped wonders of Saint Paul, especially the nearby Saint Anthony and Midway neighborhoods, is very much a part of the workshop agenda. William Faulkner once said that a key to his success as a novelist was the realization that “my own little postage stamp of soil was worth writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it.” Soth clearly abides by a similar philosophy.

“They’re going out in this vicinity,” he says. “A big belief of mine is that I don’t have to go to Cuba to do a photo workshop, or to see the exotic people. It’s exotic here. It’s interesting. Menards is very interesting. One can do a photo workshop here as well as anywhere else. In some ways it helps to avoid some of the clichés.”

And so it is that a group of international artists and writers find themselves checking in at Al’s Diner in Dinkytown, wandering the woods outside of the city and otherwise immersed in the marvelous mundanities of the Midwest. The unstructured nature of the undertaking foments some peculiar – and, it seems, welcome – digressions. Easter Trouble Press founder Jim Reed, a fan of Soth’s work who traveled from Frankfort, Germany to take part in the camp, finds himself inspired to experiment with William Eggleston’s “democratic camera” concept during the group’s trip to the forest. “I decided I’m going to drink beer and get intoxicated, in the spirit of Eggleston, and go around and sit and stare at objects, try to give objects their full worth the way that Eggleston gave objects their full worth,” Reed says. He eventually evolves that idea into a sort of conceptual Easter egg hunt for the other campers.

There are probably a lot of arts workshops where that sort of thing wouldn’t fly, but as far as Soth is concerned, anything that helps an artist tap into a vein of storytelling is fair game. “Part of the name, the whole ‘Socially Awkward’ thing, is that photographers and writers are generally more reclusive people. Certainly I was. That’s part of my reason for doing it. But I am interested in storytelling as communication. Wouldn’t it be interesting just to experiment with this form of presenting material in a slideshow? And in part it comes from personal experience, because I’ve been forced into this situation. I’m not saying I’m good at it at all. I give the standard slideshow, like an artist’s lecture. But I thought there was potential here for something.”

From the look of things around the Little Brown Mushroom offices on Wednesday evening, after the second full day of workshops, the campers are finding the challenge daunting but are eager to rise to it. A dimly lit back room hums with quiet energy as duos hunch over MacBooks and try to pull loose narratives out of their day’s outing in the forest. Soth and some Little Brown Mushroom staffers mill about up front, chatting about upcoming projects and allowing the artists to go well over their allotted work time.

It’s pushing on past 8 pm when the instructors finally give the “pencils down” call. The campers have prepared a series of slideshows in which they’ve tied their photos together with some … [more]
2013  irabooker  campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  aprildobbins  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Popsicle #27: LBM Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers « Little Brown Mushroom
“The other day my daughter and I had a conversation about the event I was hosting at my studio, The Camp For Socially Awkward Storytellers. While she agreed that I’m something of an expert on social-awkwardness, she disputed the notion that I’m a storyteller. “You take pictures and put them into books,” she said, “but they aren’t really stories.”

Her words bruised a bit, but deep down I knew she was right. I know very little about storytelling. If anything, the camp was an elaborate con to get fifteen exceptional artists from around the world to travel to Minnesota to teach me about storytelling. Man, did it work. In five short days I learned more about the possibilities of visual storytelling than I’d probably learn in a year of grad school. But there was another lesson of equal importance: the value of having real encounters with real people in the real world.

I sometimes feel like I’m drowning in digital culture. More and more of my daily life is lived in a virtual space behind the screen of my computer. On Saturday night, this virtual space was turned inside out. Fifteen flesh and blood artists projected images onto a screen in front of a flesh and blood audience. The result was, in a word, alive.

In the last few weeks I’ve expanded my “social network” to include Instagram. As expected, I quickly became caught up in the Pavlovian ego-boost of the ‘like’ count. After Saturday night, I understand why screen actors return to the stage. The sound of people laughing and clapping means more than a million ‘likes.’

For the fourth time in 27 posts, George Saunders:
I began to understand art as a kind of black box the reader enters. He enters in one state of mind and exits in another… The writer… can put whatever he wants in there. What’s important is that something undeniable and nontrivial happens to the reader between entry and exit… The black box is meant to change us.

A ‘like’ is not a change. Nor is a thousand ‘likes.’ I believe virtual social networks have great creative potential, but it is almost impossible to quantify. Sometimes you just need to climb into the black box with other people.

I’m so grateful to everyone who climbed into that box with me last week. Along with thanking the Soap Factory and their amazing audience, I want to individually thank the camp participants:

Wenxin Zhang, Tara Wray, Caitlin Warner, Jim Reed, Diana Rangel, Bucky Miller, Colin Matthes, Adam Forrester, Brad Farwell, April Dobbins, Elaine Bleakney, Julian Bleecker, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Horatio Baltz, Delaney Allen.

The visiting artists: Brian Beatty, David Sollie, Vince Leo.

Our interns: Yara Van der Velden, Kayla Huett, Phil Bologna.

And the LBM team: Brad Zellar, Carrie Thompson, Hans Seeger, Jason Polan, Ethan Jones, Galen Fletcher.

I truly feel changed.

Alec”
campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  2013  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Photographer Alec Soth mounts storyteller's summer camp awkwardly | MPR News
“Internationally acclaimed St. Paul photographer Alec Soth constantly pushes the boundaries of his medium. This week, he’s running a summer camp for artists from around the world. No one – particularly Soth – claims to know how it will turn out.

Until now, there’s never been a Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers.

Sitting in one of the workrooms in his St. Paul studio, Soth tells the 15 participants he has decided speed dating is the best way to get everyone to meet as quickly as possible. Moments later, the room is filled with animated conversations across a very long table. Every two minutes at the clang of a cowbell everyone moves and meets another camper.

They are photographers, illustrators and writers. Soth and his staff selected them from more than 400 applicants for this free summer camp sponsored by Soth’s small press, Little Brown Mushroom. One came from Germany, another from Venezuela. All responded to a simple post on Soth’s website. There were few details.

Soth and Brad Zellar, his long-time collaborator writer, claim they are making up the camp as they go along. They use the speed dating session to decide what to do next.

Given that Soth called the camp Socially Awkward Storytellers because he’s so uncomfortable speaking publicly, that next thing - a slideshow - makes sense.

“This whole thing about social awkwardness and public speaking is that the slide projector is a great way to, like, pull people’s attentions away,” Soth says, switching on his projector. “That’s why I am diving right into it.”

This really is a camp about telling stories – with pictures. In a world where smart phones have made cameras ubiquitous, Soth challenges the group to return to an older form of storytelling – the slideshow.

“Given that we have a limited amount of time,” he says, “why don’t we use that as the model for this workshop and practice telling stories that way.”

And just to raise the ante, everyone will present their slideshow Saturday evening at the Soap Factory gallery in Minneapolis. It’s open to the public – another detail omitted from the original description of the summer camp.

No one seems too put off.

“You know I like Alec’s work, and I’d heard him talk and he didn’t seem like a jerk,” Brad Farwell says during a break.

Like many of the participants, Farwell, who came to the camp from New York, is interested in how photography has changed. He says for many people it’s become a performance, with people taking them without the intention of ever making a print.

“They sort of make a photograph, and then see it on the back of the camera and then a lot of those photographs exist on the back of the camera in the instant of their making, and then disappear.”

As the group ate lunch cooked on the grill in the parking lot, Wenxin Zhang – formerly of China, now of San Francisco – and Colin Matthes of Milwaukee, a visual artist who denies having any photography skills, compared notes.

“I think the schedule is like a spy schedule,” she says. “You are going to bomb this building today. Tomorrow you are going to dig into the ground and find some gold.”

“I like that we didn’t know anything beforehand,” says Matthes. “We had no idea about the schedule besides it starts around 9 or 10 every day.”

Twenty-four hours later the group is standing in a clearing in a Minneapolis park learning about their next mission.

It’s an artistic capture the flag game where they have to find their group leader hiding somewhere in the woods and document whatever he’s looking at. That group leader will be chugging beer too, so he may not be that focused.

Soth looks on, loving it. The previous evening he had sent the campers out to hunt down stories in the city.

“I mean they, within four hours, produced so much quality work, it was staggering,” he says.

There were explorations of Minneapolis, and a documentation of a receptionist’s life. One of the staff interns said they produced more in one evening than an entire year of grad school. Soth says the camp is still an exercise in spontaneity, but he this already thinks it’s been a success.

“This is fantastic,” he adds. “And it’s also a story. Something unexpected happened. I mean I had no clue that a fellow was going to run off in the woods and hide and we’re going to track him down. It’s an adventure, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Soth and Zellar both say, if nothing else, it’s given them a chance to get to know some interesting people.

“Some of these people are mind-blowingly talented,” Zellar says. “I mean some of these applications … they created a little project and a .pdf (document). It’s light years beyond anything I could conceive of, ever.””
campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  2013  alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  storytelling  camp  conferences  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  pop-ups  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  ephemeral  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Artists from around the world gather in St. Paul for Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers – Knight Foundation
"Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers culminates in a public event Saturday July 13 at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis.

This weekend, 15 “visual storytellers” from all over the world are convening at the headquarters of Little Brown Mushroom (LBM), an interdisciplinary publishing outfit based out of photographer Alec Soth’s St. Paul studio. The LBM team – including Soth and photographers Carrie Thompson, Ethan Jones, Galen Fletcher, writer Brad Zellar, plus a rotation of interns and collaborative partners – invited artists of all kinds to apply for a spot in their week-long Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers. LBM selected a final list of 15 artists and writers from the pool of more than 400 who responded to the call; the international assortment of “campers” gathered in Soth’s studio for the free, five-day workshop this week.

The original call for artists describes the endeavor this way:
Visual storytelling tends to be a lonely business. As such, it attracts more than its share of wallflowers. Here at LBM (home to more than a couple introverts), we thought it would be worthwhile to bring creative loners together to see what we can learn from each other. We’re envisioning a gathering that is more summer camp than classroom. After various daytime outings, we’ll sit around the digital projector and tell each other stories. From there we’ll discuss the ways in which visual stories can be translated into book form.

In a recent email, Soth said the group will spend four days this week in various workshops. On the fifth and final evening, Saturday, July 13, the participants will offer brief, Pecha Kucha-style presentations of their work, at a public event emceed by comedian and writer Brian Beatty at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis. A party will follow, with a cash bar, socializing and dancing to tunes spun by DJ Vu-Vu Zella (aka Brad Zellar).

Participating “campers” include: the LBM team, plus Hans Seeger, Delaney Allen, Horatio Baltz, Jeff Barnett-Winsby, Julian Bleecker, Elaine Bleakney, April Dobbins, Brad Farwell, Adam Forrester, Colin Matthes, Bucky Miller, Diana Rangel, Jim Reed, Caitlin Warner, Tara Wray and Wenxin Zhang.

Photo courtesy of Little Brown Mushroom. Pro tip: The “summer camp” t-shirts pictured on the LBM team above will be available to buy at the event on Saturday, July 13. As far as I know, the RV is not for sale.

I’m telling you – this can’t help but be interesting. Little Brown Mushroom has been publishing such surprising, compelling stuff in recent years. Of particular note is the “LBM Dispatch,” occasional road trip photo and text collaborations by Soth and writer Brad Zellar – tabloid-sized newsprint pieces produced in the style of a small-town newspaper. Thus far, LBM has published five installments: “Ohio,” “Upstate,” “Michigan,” “Three Valleys” and, most recently, “Colorado.” (The pair recently wrote a fabulous piece on the project for Vice magazine, if you’re interested in reading more.)

Little Brown Mushroom’s Summer Camp for Socially Awkward Storytellers runs from July 9 through 13. The camp culminates with an event, The Socially Awkward Storytellers’ Slideshow and Dance, on Saturday, July 13 at 7 p.m. at the Soap Factory, 514 Second Street SE, Minneapolis. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.littlebrownmushroom.com."
alecsoth  littlebrownmushroom  2013  camp  conferences  storytelling  writing  photography  bradzellar  slideshows  stories  socialmedia  tarawray  wenxinzhang  serendipity  spontaneity  unschooling  deschooling  education  curriculum  summerinwintercamp  campforsociallyawkwardstorytellers  ephemeral  lcproject  pop-ups  ephemeralinstitutions  ephemerality  hansseeger  delaneyallen  horatiobaltz  jeffbarnett-winsby  julianbleecker  elainebleakney  aprildobbins  bradfarwell  adamforrester  colinmatthes  buckymiller  dianarangel  jimreed  caitlinwarner  creativity  openstudioproject  walkerartcenter  minnesota  books  publishing  selfpublishing  visual  classideas  photobooks  ncmideas  carriethompson  galenfletcher  ethanjones  jasonpollan  projectideas  stpaul  self-publishing  adventure  fun  unconferences  experientialeducation  design  conferenceideas  camps  learning  collaboration  experientiallearning 
25 days ago by robertogreco
A return to blogs (finally? sort of?) » Nieman Journalism Lab
"I read plenty of newsletters, but I don’t subscribe to very many. Often — especially in the case of the personal and quirky, and the less overtly news-pegged — I scroll through the archives of newsletters on the web and read several editions at a time.

It’s great. It’s like reading blogs.

Newsletters seem to have circled around from being the new blogs to being like blogs (but with posts that are emailed to readers). The web interface of any given public Substack is basically that of a blog. You can even set up comments. And there are subscription apps like Stoop that organize newsletters’ content as RSS readers did for blogs.

One reason we might see a resurgence of blogs is the novelty. Tell someone you’re starting a new newsletter and they might complain about how many newsletters (or podcasts) they already subscribe to. But tell them you’re launching a blog and see how that goes: Huh. Really, a blog? In 2020? Wow.

It’s been long enough now that people look back on blogging fondly, but the next generation of blogs will be shaped around the habits and conventions of today’s internet. Internet users are savvier about things like context collapse and control (or lack thereof) over who gets to view their shared content. Decentralization and privacy are other factors. At this moment, while so much communication takes place backstage, in group chats and on Slack, I’d expect new blogs to step in the same ambiguous territory as newsletters have — a venue for material where not everyone is looking, but privacy is neither airtight nor expected.

Blogs offer the potential to broadcast, but not too broadly. We might even see a breakdown where newsletters begin to focus more on individual personal stories and daily digests, while blogs will fill in the gaps of all that might be written about otherwise.

It is genuinely pleasant to scroll through Jason Kottke’s blog when I have no idea where else to click on the internet. It’s pleasant to scroll through the archives of various newsletters too. Such spaces are escape hatches from the horse-race election cycle: People are looking for those escape hatches, and they’re looking to create them too. So why not start a blog?"
joannemcneil  2020  blogs  blogging  email  newsletters  archives  kottke  jasonkottke  substack  stoop  howwewrite  writing  online  web  internet 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
On Design Fiction: Close, But No Cigar - Near Future Laboratory
[also here: https://mailchi.mp/nearfuturelaboratory/seldom-dispatch-6-from-the-near-future-laboratory-2969593 ]

“We are super excited and thrilled that the term “Design Fiction” is being heard beyond the relatively small community of designers who have been practicing it over the last decade or so. More organizations and teams are now coming to us looking for a fresh and different approach to addressing their needs, concerns, fears, failures and ambitions that the old PowerPoint and Post-it Design Processes simply cannot handle.

This is encouraging for us as we believe the practice of Design Fiction has enormous potential.

We are also concerned — concerned for the many perspectives that present a misconstrued perspective on Design Fiction.

We appreciate the take on Design Fiction by IDEO in their Prototype the Future of Your Business With This 4-Step Design Exercise podcast. We’re fans of their work and have many friends there, so this is encouraging for us as we believe the practice of Design Fiction has enormous potential.

However, IDEOs discussion and description do not embrace the sensibilities of the canonical Design Fiction treatise, “Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction.” We feel the need to add a few notes to rectify some of the most common confusion about Design Fiction.

[image]

Note #1: Design Fiction is about understanding implications of decision making. Design Fiction is like a design-based A/B test.

— Have an idea or a range of possible ideas?

Run it through the Design Fiction process to understand how these ideas might play themselves out. Design Fiction allows you to engage the implications of your ideas deeply by creating some possible/probable outcomes. In those engagements you are actually creating artifacts that exist in those possible/probable futures. The artifacts you create are things from the future. When you do Design Fiction, you are like some kind of time traveling anthropologist bringing back things you’ve found. When you create these artifacts, you are engaging the context of its existence — why does this exist? what kind of world surrounds it? who are the people and what are their goals and ambitions?

In this kind of Design Fiction process, the discussions with your team and other stakeholders are bound to yield new ideas. The primary activity though, is to work with your team and stakeholders to understand the implications of decision making. Implications come first. New ideas follow.

Yes, we know that organizations often want to be told the solution to their problems and Design Fiction can certainly help here, as just described. Design Fiction is about studying possible implications — not all of them ‘preferred’, but they are always pragmatic and aligned with reality — not reality distorted.

— How do we do this?

Through the Design Fiction process we create design-based tangible artifacts that represent those implications. Sometimes we refer to these artifacts as props, as if they were the objects from that future, brought back to today to be considered, discussed, mulled over, debated and reflected upon.

With Design Fiction so may get your ’new possibilities’, but you will get something more valuable: a richer understanding of the results of your ideas, good, bad, normal. This ultimately better prepares you for what happens when your idea is in the world. It allows you to de-risk based on the unexpected outcomes (which always happen).

Design Fiction does something no other design process does — it analyzes the outcomes of decision making today, so you have a clearer perspective and understanding of your possible/probable futures.

[video: TBD, A Design Fiction Intervention https://vimeo.com/107034605 ]

Note #2: The Design Fiction process produces tangible future artifacts. It does not produce written stories about a future state. This is a common and understandable misconception, probably based on the fact that the word “Fiction” is in the name.

Design Fiction is not a literary style, nor a purely dystopian visual style, despite its roots in Science Fiction and more specifically the important work of Near Future Laboratory Ambassador, His Eminence, Bruce Sterling, one of the founding fathers of the cyberpunk genre and aesthetic.

If you end up with a draft of a short story or a few paragraphs of a typical UX interaction scenario, or a storyboard, or a little film of someone swiping on a screen to show how your App idea would work — you have not done Design Fiction.

What you’ve done is write a short story, which can only possibly be read as a short story. You haven’t created a designed artifact that is the result — an implication — of a set of decisions, current conditions and other inputs, and wrote something down about it.

What you should ideally produce is something a casual observer may mistake for a contemporary artefact, but which only reveals itself as a fiction on closer inspection. It should be very much “as if..” this thing really existed. It should feel real, normal, not some fantasy. Nor should it be construed as a representation of the future — like a short story, or an illustration of some kind of interaction. (My favorite example of an artifact based on a recent workshop? A pizza menu — from the near future. An actual menu that describes a future state of food tastes, ingredients, means of payment, etc.)

[image]

Note #3: Creating an artifact forces you to get into the details of your future world in a way that writing a story does not. When writing, it is easy to skip over uncomfortable details in favor of the “big picture”. Design Fiction makes you sweat the details. For example, if you create a Quick Start Guide for a Self Driving Car there are myriad topics that would need to be addressed to describe how to activate, switch into Uber mode, upgrade firmware, etcetera.

— What should you do then if Design Fiction is more than writing stories?

You should be creating artifacts from that world and going through the work of actually making them — not writing about them.

If you’re exploring a future of self-driving cars and the implications for urban policy, create a physical map for a city as might be given out to the local public, or tourists. What would be in the map and why? Have debates with stakeholders about the challenges that would be faced, the failures that might occur, the brand names of services, new kinds of signage, etcetera. Now you’re doing Design Fiction.

[image]

[video: #m3k – Design Museum Design Fiction https://vimeo.com/305574698 ]

Note #4: Creating artifacts happens early.

Design Fiction is called Design Fiction because it adheres to the principle of making-things-with-which-to-think. If you do this at the end, you’ve missed the point of Design Fiction. You have missed the opportunity to discuss, discover with your team and stakeholders the implications of decision making.

[image]

[video: Lost AI Notice – Design Museum Design Fiction https://vimeo.com/305574970 ]

Note #5: Design Fiction does not bias towards “perfect” or preferred outcomes — not because we wouldn’t like these, but because we’re pragmatic.

We are skeptical optimists. We have been doing this long enough to know that such things are always mired in the intractably complicated ways in which earnestly naive ideas (particularly from Silicon Valley) are disconnected from the way they are received and reacted to in the real world.

Most design processes fail to indicate the risks and challenges of decision making today. They are all “Blue Team” exercises that can only imagine the perfect outcomes. The world does not work this way. Decisions today never lead to ideal outcomes. Design Fiction allows you to run through multiple perspectives, multiple outcomes (Good. Neutral. Bad. Ugly.) It’s your “Red Team” exercise that goes along with the hopeful, optimistic outcome that explore a rich, wide, fulsome set of outcomes represented in tangible artifacts — Instagram Stories, YouTube Unboxing Videos, Customer Testimonial Videos (good ones, bad ones), a lower-thirds chyron crawl describing some epic fail of your idea as shown on Fox News, A Quick Start Guide that forces you to figure out how your “idea” would actually work so you can discover that even you can’t (yet) describe how it would actually work. These truly tangible futures help decision makers assess not only their “ideal” outcomes (which we always hope for and, if you’re honest, rarely get perfectly) but the neutral and completely failed outcomes.

This is also one of the reasons why we have pioneered a perspective on the future that we call “The Future Mundane”. There’s too much richness to summarize here but you can hear Nick Foster talk about Future Mundane at dConstruct. Here is Nick’s original essay on the Future Mundane.

[video: The Future Mundane https://vimeo.com/139358108 ]

3 Main “Take Aways”:

1. Design Fiction isn’t a literary form.

2. Design Fiction creates a range of possible future implications of decisions made today.

3. If you want to do Design Fiction, you should come to the folks who pioneered it — the Near Future Laboratory.”
designfiction  speculativedesign  nearfururelaboratory  2019  brucesterling  fiction  sciencefiction  artifacts  objects  design  definition  writing  howwewrite  making  anthropology  ethnography  film  filmmaking  video  decisionmaking  prototyping  futures  futurism  shortstories  storytelling  implications  nicolasnova  julianbleecker  nickfoster  fabiengirardin 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Newsletter: Here's why we stopped italicizing 'foreign' foods - Los Angeles Times
"If you’re a regular reader of the section, perhaps you noticed another recent change: Last month, we stopped the practice of italicizing non-English words in our food stories.

Setting non-English words in italics is standard practice at many publications. The L.A. Times style guide provides the following recommendation: “Use italics for foreign words or phrases that do not appear in the designated Webster’s or that appear there in italics.”

Italics are intended to facilitate clarity by signaling to readers that they haven’t stumbled onto a typo.

But many writers, me included, believe that the words we choose to italicize — and thereby highlight as “foreign” — can have an “othering” effect.

Here’s a brief sampling of words that we have italicized in recent months: shawarma; al pastor; pollo asado; birria; carnitas; taquitos de papa; chicharrón; salsa verde; taquero; and salsa roja.

Seeing the foods many of us grew up eating italicized can feel jarring and alienating.

Who are we writing for when we decide to italicize “salsa roja?” Salsa sales overtook ketchup sales in this country decades ago. Birria, xiao long bao, sai krok Isaan, crepes, American cheese — they’re all foods we enjoy and ought to consider without qualifiers. The sense of exoticizing foods through typography felt less like we were helping readers but rather signaling that one of these things was not like the other.

More than half of Angelenos speak a language other than English. Our work ought to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve.

The decision to drop italics may seem like a small one, but language has the subtle power to both empower and disenfranchise. I hope we always strive for the former."
language  translation  food  writing  howwewrite  2020  patriciaescarcega  latimes  losangeles  typography  styleguides  english  italics  formatting  bilingualism 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
k'eguro on Twitter: "(I'll never forget that Canadian Africanist telling a room of Kenyans to write books like the one he had written as though we couldn't possibly have our own interests and methods yes, yes he was)" / Twitter
"(I’ll never forget that Canadian Africanist telling a room of Kenyans to write books like the one he had written

as though we couldn’t possibly have our own interests and methods

yes, yes he was)


(I would love to see more talk about how African scholars create knowledge and innovate methods

Less talk about how African scholarship does not measure up to X or Y standard)


(Why assume scholarship should look or read a particular way?

Also, who gets applauded for writing in nonconventional ways?

Imagine someone claiming you’re a bad thinker because you don’t write sentences in “the approved way”?)


(I can write many different kind of sentences.

Depends on audience and material and mood and what I had to eat and drink.

My water prose does not sound like my cake prose.)"
kaguromacharia  2020  form  writing  howwewrite  africa  kenya  knowledge  knowledgecreation  innovation  scholarship  academia  highered  highereducation  deschooling  unschooling  howwethink  standards  standardization  audience  mood  material  prose  conventions 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Critic's Demon
"On Saturday, the NBCC announced that the latest recipient of the Balakian is Parul Sehgal, a young critic whose work appears in Bookforum, Time Out New York, and other publications. (A list of finalists in fiction, biography, and other categories is available at the NBCC site.) Despite chairing the Balakian committee, I had no real sense of this year’s winner -- apart from a certainty that her writing admirably met Nona Balakian’s demands. So I contacted Sehgal for an interview by e-mail. A transcript of the exchange follows; a PDF containing the work she submitted for consideration by the NBCC is available here."
parulsehgal  2011  books  criticism  reading  writing 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Perumal Murugan Was Resurrected Through Writing
“The old couple who own Poonachi, in “The Story of a Goat,” are poor villagers living in a thatched shed. When Poonachi arrives in their lives, given as a gift by a stranger, night is falling, and the old woman needs an earthen lamp to look at the kid. The lamp doesn’t have a wick, so she uses a strip from her husband’s discarded loincloth. This is the sort of detail that gives Murugan’s work its heft. His fiction scrupulously documents South India’s trees, its seasons, the behavior not only of people but even of animals. Take the following description, in the book, about a young male goat named Kaduvayan, before he is castrated:
He would visit every herd in the pasture and sniff the vaginas of the mother goats as well as the female kids. Then, with his upper lip pushed back to bare his teeth and head held high, he would relish the smell. He would stick out his penis and piss noisily. Entranced by his touch, a couple of female kids would contract their bodies and start peeing. Kaduvayan would put his snout in the stream of piss and drink a little. A few mother goats would butt him and knock him down. The female kids would become frightened and run away, their tails firmly in place.

This intimacy with the pastoral, channelled in a frank, brutal tone, is something I’ve envied Murugan. But I was curious about him even before I read his books. In 2015, while checking the news online, I came across one of Murugan’s Facebook posts. It wasn’t an ordinary status update about an upcoming reading or a favorable review, the sort of self-promotional thing that writers routinely do. Instead, his post read “Perumal Murugan the writer is dead. As he is not god, he is not going to resurrect himself. He also has no faith in rebirth. An ordinary teacher, he will live as P. Murugan. Leave him alone.”

That note pierced me. A fireman leaving his job or a politician quitting politics or even a young athlete retiring would most likely not describe leaving their professions as a death. And this was no ordinary death. In a simple but subtle way, Murugan was accusing his society of wanting to murder him. Authors complain constantly—writer’s block, a feud with a rival, lack of critical attention—but none of these grievances require literary suicide. How had the situation turned so dire for Murugan?

Slowly, I gleaned the nature of his plight. Five years after his novel “Maadhorubaagan” (later published in English as “One Part Woman”) first appeared, in 2010, Murugan was threatened by conservatives from his own caste in the small town in South India where he lived. The novel is a portrait of a rural childless couple, Kali and Ponna, who are loving to each other but under tremendous social pressure to conceive a child. When the annual chariot festival draws near—a celebration of the half-male, half-female god Maadhorubaagan—Ponna is obliged to participate. This is especially true on the festival’s eighteenth night, when all men are considered gods and when childless women are permitted to have sex with young strangers. For Ponna, the night marks perhaps her last chance to become pregnant.

This depiction of what Murugan claimed was a traditional ritual outraged a class of his readers. In 2015, he was forced to sign an unconditional apology and to withdraw unsold copies of his book. The previous year, India had elected to power the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P.), led by the controversial ideologue Narendra Modi. Modi himself had been a lifelong pracharak, or propagandist, for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R.S.S.), a militant ultranationalist organization whose founders had a fondness for Hitler. Nathuram Godse, the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi, was a former member of the R.S.S. A mob that assembled in the town where “One Part Woman” is set to burn copies of the book was egged on by the B.J.P. and the R.S.S.

The attack on Murugan was perhaps the first major assault on freedom of expression after Modi’s ascent to power. For a while, Murugan was forced into silence. What rescued him was the judgment delivered by the Madras High Court, in Chennai, in the summer of 2016. The judge had a piece of advice for those who disliked Murugan and wanted his book censored: “All writings, unpalatable for one section of the society, cannot be labeled as obscene, vulgar, depraving, prurient and immoral. . . . If you do not like a book, throw it away.” Particularly meaningful was the judge’s closing injunction: “Let the author be resurrected to what he is best at. Write.” For Murugan, the statement was both “a command and a benediction.”

During the first few months of his exile, Murugan hadn’t been able to write anything. Then he began to write brief poems. When he finally published them, in 2016—the English translation was titled “Songs of a Coward: Poems of Exile”—he gave a speech in Delhi to mark the occasion. “I chronicled the moment when I felt like a rat, dazzled by the light, burrowing itself into his hole,” he said. “A censor is seated inside me now. He is testing every word that is born within me.” Once we know this history, we are able to understand Murugan’s preface to the Tamil edition of “Poonachi”: “I am fearful of writing about humans; even more fearful of writing about gods. . . . All right then, let me write about animals. There are only five species of animals with which I am deeply familiar. Of them, dogs and cats are meant for poetry. It is forbidden to write about cows or pigs. That leaves only goats and sheep. Goats are problem-free, harmless and, what’s more, energetic. A story needs narrative pace. Therefore, I’ve chosen to write about goats.”

When I started reading the book that first got Murugan into trouble, “One Part Woman,” I immediately recognized the novel as belonging to a genre that we might call “rooted literature.” What Murugan was producing was locally grown, not a canned object sold on a supermarket bookshelf. It is rare to come across a writer who enjoys such intimacy with not just the land but also the customs that govern the lives of the people who live on it. Culture, as a particular mix of religion, superstition, and the calculations of power, and with caste as a crucial determinant, is central to the story that Murugan is telling. The book is so rooted in the soil of tradition that its rebellion against it is all the more unexpected and moving.

It struck me, when I finished the novel, that long before the protests that exiled him Murugan was already a dead writer. I have in my notebooks a remark by Christopher Hitchens: “One should try to write as if posthumously.” What Hitchens meant was that to be dead is to be relieved of all concerns about how your writing is viewed. “You’re free,” he wrote. Murugan’s willingness to look into the dark well of prejudice and see his society’s face reflected there suggested that he was writing posthumously. This lack of fear, or radical honesty, gave his writing its power.

During our conversation in Jaipur, Murugan told me that his father was an illiterate farmer who also ran a soda shop. Murugan was the first in his family to receive an education. At one point, I asked him about the happiest day of his life. He responded immediately: January 5, 1988. That was the day when, in college, in Coimbatore, he gave his teacher one of his short stories. The teacher deemed it worthy and asked Murugan to send it to a Tamil literary magazine. After that, Murugan rarely stopped writing. In the early nineties, while in his twenties, he published stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and read Shakespeare and several Russian novels in Tamil translation. He also read Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which seemed fitting. “The Story of a Goat,” despite its close attention to land and livestock, is above all a political allegory. The novel is an attempt to chart the ways in which what is ordinary or obscure survives in a society that’s at the mercy of nature and the market. It is a slim book, but Murugan has given it an epic form. Though we are technically reading the story of a goat, we could just as well be reading about a female laborer caught in a reproductive economy in which her experience of love is real and yet fleeting, her voice never silent and yet unheard.

Later, I asked Murugan to describe another day—the day that protests forced him to flee his town. “I’m very sorry. I can’t speak about that situation. I think this is not a good time. . . . After five years I will speak about that,” he said. A few months later, in the summer, India reëlected Narendra Modi. Among the other elected officials was a man I had known in my high school, who, as a minister, had garlanded a group of men accused of lynching a Muslim man. Another winner was a B.J.P. candidate from Bhopal who was accused in a terrorism case (she has denied all charges) and who called Gandhi’s assassin a deshbhakt, or patriot. In July, forty-nine writers, filmmakers, and artists wrote a public letter to Modi protesting mob lynchings; in October, they were threatened with a court case. Today, what I feel, much more than envy, is a real fear for Perumal Murugan.”
perumalmurugan  amitavakumar  writing  india  literature  2019  tamil  multispecies  fables  slow  small  goats  animals  rural  narendramodi 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
What Tweets and Emojis Did to the Novel - The New York Times
“To read Knausgaard or Ferrante, or indeed other writers of what critics have called autofiction, such as Teju Cole and Rachel Cusk, was less to enter a story than to spend a while as another person.

Of course, other, equally gifted writers sought to capture the era too, and it could easily be that we will remember the 2010s for producing the lovely slipstream fiction of authors like George Saunders, Kelly Link and Colson Whitehead, a subtler cousin of magical realism, and thus perhaps more closely reflective of how truly surreal things have gotten. (People in the White House may still be trying to buy Greenland.)

Yet what makes autofiction seem essential is that enough people felt an attraction to its length, gravity and honesty to make it, implausibly, into a phenomenon. That must mean something. But what? Perhaps the explanation lies in how starkly whole Knausgaard’s and Ferrante’s books appear to be. The lives we lead on our phones and computers are at once irresistible and uneasy — jittery, depressive, deceptive. As our social lives, typically the dominion of the novel, have partly mutated into a flow of adjacent but isolated images and captions, autofiction’s careful human pace is a protest that no matter how it may seem, we still haven’t quite merged with our computers. Not yet.

Many of us now alive are in the unique position of having been so both before and after the revolution of the internet. We’re a lost group — to me, anyway, even now none of my technological habits seem inevitable. There’s still a sense that this vast binge of novelty will stop and we’ll arrive at some levelheaded equilibrium between then and now. That’s no doubt delusional. Still, writers like Knausgaard and Ferrante, for whom I fell just as hard as other readers did, suggest something startling and comforting: that in each of us is reposed something too deep to name or alter, and which for that very reason has survived, for now, the glittering surfaces of our age. A self, I suppose.”
literature  writing  howwewrite  howweread  tejucole  rachelcusk  autofiction  fiction  characters  zadiesmith  jenniferegan  elenaferrante  karloveknausgaard  reading  ideograms  scrolling  georgesaunders  kellylink  colsonwhitehead  charlesfinch 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin--which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota--or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, etc.--and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say--and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment--that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one--is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology--and that is put in his own terms--he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx'--and his followers'--links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood--a replenishable, natural item--as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe they will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's … [more]
russellmeans  1980  writing  oraltradition  lakota  thinking  abstraction  indigeneity  genocide  resistance  marxism  culture  outsiders  education  unschooling  deschooling  leftism  anarchism  johnlocke  adamsmith  descartes  physics  politics  economics  christianity  religion  efficiency  spirituality  complexity  hegel  karlmarx  materialism  isaacnewton  dehumanization  despiritualization  progress  development  victory  freedom  loss  indoctrination  schools  schooling  scientism  rationalism  capitalism  redistribution  truth  revolution  society  industrialization  sovietunion  china  vietnam  order  indigenous  alternative  values  traditions  theory  practice  praxis  westernism  europe  posthumanism  morethanhuman  rationality  belief  ideology  nature  survival  extermination  whiteness  whitesupremacy  community  caucasians  deathculture  isms  revolt  leaders  idols  leadership  activism  words  language  canon  environment  sustainability 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
against lectures – Snakes and Ladders
"At the very heart of the academy we find a series of genres — discursive genres, which are also genres of social interaction — the mastery of which constitutes, more or less, mastery of the academic profession itself. Some of these are universal: that is, they may be found in all academic work. Others are specific to certain disciplines or disciplinary families. Some of them are performed in relation to colleagues, others in relation to students. Here are a few that I, as a professor of humanities, have had to practice:

- the classroom lecture
- the “job talk” lecture
- the invited public lecture
- the short lecture that you give when you’re on a panel at a conference
- the conference-panel discussion
- the “Socratic” seminar discussion
- the symposium based on a paper everyone is supposed to have read
- the peer-reviewed article
- the book review
- the peer-reviewed monograph

Some of these wear, over several decades, better than others. Some I will probably never do again (the peer-reviewed article, the job talk); others I will be doing to the end of my career (the classroom discussion, the monograph). Some I enjoy, some … not so much.

But I have one definitive and unshakeable opinion: I never want to hear, or deliver, another lecture as long as I live.

For one thing, lectures are very, very hard to do well. I’ve surely heard more than a hundred public or semi-public lectures in my life, and only one of them has been excellent: when I was a grad student at UVA I heard Stephen Greenblatt deliver a lecture that later became his famous essay “Shakespeare and the Exorcists,” and it was electrifying. (I was sitting next to one of my professors, and at the end of the talk he leaned over and said to me, sotto voce, “Do you still have your wallet?”) Otherwise they have been not-crushingly-boring at best. And while I work hard to make my lectures vivid and interesting, I am always aware that there are better ways to accomplish what the lecture is supposed to accomplish.

The lecture is an unfortunate holdover from the pre-Gutenberg age. It makes no sense to have me come and talk to you on a subject in circumstances in which I could write something, send it to you, and have you read it and think about it, after which you could bring me to your institution for a conversation. That would be more intellectually productive for everyone concerned. Of course, one might reply that a lecture is not as polished as a finished, publishable essay or article. Indeed: that’s a major reason why lectures aren’t much fun to listen to. Better to embrace the tentative and unfinished character of your thoughts by having a conversation about them instead.

It is true that fewer people can participate in such a conversation than can attend a lecture. But note the difference between “participate” and “attend.” Certain kinds of intellectual exchange simply do not scale. I truly believe that if, instead of asking me to deliver a lecture at your institution, you asked me to come prepared to talk with four different groups about my published work, or even my work-in-progress, the experience would be better for all of us. (And I would be much more likely to say yes, since I wouldn’t be committing myself to all those hours of lecture-writing — a problem for me, because my conscience won’t allow me to deliver the same lecture repeatedly at different places.)

Well, one can hope. Or lose hope. But this I am sure of: When I am lying on my deathbed, I shall heave a breath and whisper to whoever is near, “Thank you, Lord. I shall never have to attend, or deliver, another lecture.”"
alanjacobs  lectures  teaching  academia  conversation  2019  howweteach  howwelearn  print  writing  whywewrite  highered  highereducation  unschooling  deschooling  change  tradition  buckingtradition 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Are.na / First thoughts (draft manifesto?) for a computer/tablet based writing system for poets
"Keep it simple / reduce friction. Value the individual document, but also the way the individual document dynamically connects to others (metadata). Support easy resequencing (for managing collections, set lists, submission packs) etc. Portable, non-proprietary, application agnostic and robust metadata (tags and keywords in the body of the document). Low level tech vs high level of control so it's easy to fix something when it goes wrong. A system that supports workflows that match the way you think, rather than forcing you into an unintuitive way of working. Respect the throughline from first thought, through first draft and successive edits, to publication and/or performance. ...

Just recently refined my writing/publishing workflows on iOS. It occurs to me that so many tools for writers ignore the needs of poets. Let's talk about Markdown, for example. All the cool kids use Markdown. But it's completely counter-intuitive for me to double-space every time I need to force a line-break. And indents? Forget about it. (Quick hint, Markdown poet: the "pre" tag is your friend, if you don't already know.)

Currently, I write in plain text files, with a bit of Markdown for easy formatting. As my iPad is my primary creation tool, I use Drafts for quick capture and Editorial for any editing or other heavy lifting. In Editorial, I've been able to design workflows that compile collections and set lists or "scripts" for performances from individual documents. But I'm wedded to the idea of devising a set of baseline principles that might support any other poets who struggle trying to find a system that makes sense, or who simply make do with what they've got because they don't have the time or energy to fuss with the tech in order to figure out a potentially better way of doing things..."
jaconsam-larose  howwewrite  computing  ipad  ios  text  poetry  writing  tools  onlinetoolkit  howwework  markdown  formatting  texteditors  poets  metadata  technology  editing  publishing  workflow 
october 2019 by robertogreco
"The Politics of Persuasion versus the Construction of Alternative Communities: Zines in the Writing Classroom" by Aneil Rallin and Ian Barnard
"Abstract

We discuss how studying and creating zines in our composition classes allows our students to negotiate and explore the complexities of writing without the compulsions of many of the politically problematic commonplaces of composition pedagogy. We use zines to examine the unique ways in which their rhetorical devices address conflicts around questions of audience and diversity, as well as the particular questions that the zines raise about the politics of persuasion, our own writing practices, writing strategies that the zines suggest to us, and the construction of alternative communities."
zines  teaching  pedagogy  writing  aneilrallin  ianbarnard  2008  composition  alternative  soka  sua  sokauniversityofamerica 
september 2019 by robertogreco
/text: A Good Education
"Laws which harm parents for not forcing their children to attend school share a premise. The premise is that making children spend most of their waking hours navigating a numbers-driven bureaucracy will make them competent adults. These laws also beg a shared question: they imply (without evidence) that these bureaucratic skills are good, because living to serve bureaucracies is good.

I’m saying systems of education are miserable. In order to see and avoid this misery, we need only believe the promise of a liberal education: by understanding the workings of the world, you understand yourself. The converse—that by understanding yourself, you understand the workings of the world—is also true.

As a kid I retreated from boredom and social pains by reading. For twenty years, I’ve read books at least a few hours per week. After reading and writing independently for over a decade, I attended a small school in which people habitually read, discussed, and wrote about books. After these experiences, I believe the most reliable method of educating yourself is to regularly read books and talk about them with others. To concentrate and clarify these efforts, it’s good to get in the habit of writing down your thoughts. In conversations and in your writing, communicate as precisely as you can. Finally: you must not to be forced to do any of this.

A person can lift weights in a gym in order to move more capably outside—in a more complex, unpredictable, and exciting environment. In a similar way, one can regularly visit the place created by reading a story, having a conversation, or constructing an argument. What does visiting that place produce? A self-driven education with a small community makes you more capable of social care and political decision-making. If systematized schools make obedient citizens (consumers), a curiosity driven education makes people full. In this fullness—a private, powerful feeling—a person is ready to act and judge according to their chosen ethical commitments. A self-educated person prefigures a free person.

To learn, you don’t need to read books: learning is constant, physical. A peasant farmer without access to written knowledge will be deeply knowledgeable about what is at stake for his living. Yet some skills and habits enrich a person’s understanding of their behavior, as well as their ability to sense and appreciate what’s in front of them—two capacities useful in every situation. This enrichment is optional. In fact, it’s often harmful (think of Simone Weil, motivated by reading, working in an automobile factory to better to better understand—to better feel—the living of the working class). Every good education is a risk, because wholeness is a risk. Industrialized culture abrades people, and undoing these abrasions makes one a threat to the continuing function of cultural machines.

Some encouragement to feel whole:

Books

Read mostly books. They’re burdensome for their authors, demanding more skin in the game. (If you can tell a text was written for money, don’t read it.) If a book has been in print in various forms for hundreds or thousands of years, it’s likely to stay in print just as long; this can be a criterion for what texts you prioritize. Canonical books needn’t be “Great Books”, but they are influential books; they account for much of the society we’re sitting in. And don’t trust critics: influential books are necessarily weirder and more nuanced than they’re represented to be.



Conversations

Conversations are not arguments, though are made of them (and jokes). A good conversation is surprising and helpful for all its participants; don’t leave anybody behind. The most useful move in a conversation is called “the principle of charity”: summarizing someone’s argument, checking with them to make sure you’re being fair. Ideally, you help them make the best possible version of their argument, and then argue otherwise. Ignore claims that what you’re reading is “just” this or “just” that; not one thing is just one thing. A rule of thumb: if you’ve worked together to ask good questions, you’ll have learned something.



Reading

Read what you want to read, not what you should. Though frustration—challenge—is necessary to becoming better. Rereading a book is extremely useful; reading slowly is extremely useful. If you love a book written first in another language, read multiple translations. In general, try to see how a book’s parts connect, using as many parts as possible. Reading aloud is good (for most of history, people automatically spoke the words they read). Finally, quantities—of books and pages read; of points refuted; of authors collected on your bookshelf—don’t mean shit.



Ethics

It’s useful to understand arguments which piss you off and disgust you; understand, then moralize. No life is lesser because they haven’t read what you’ve read. Plus, if you can’t teach it, you probably don’t understand it. If reading about a topic doesn’t seem helpful enough, the quickest and most thrilling way to learn about something is to make it. (If you want to learn about a plant, grow it; if you want to know how a sonnet works, write one; if you want to learn about labor struggles, join in.) Though remember that many people don’t have the means to experiment this; most who self-educate are among the lucky. Do not think less of the unlucky. In fact, wholeness comes with thinking more of the unlucky—since the lucky have deprived them of the power to cultivate their own luck, and this deprivation has defined much of society. Think, too, of the silent.



Why?

Existence is testimony. Make time to listen.



Tools

Library cards are still free; libraries still loan out books; many libraries have computers with internet access; Wikipedia and most .pdf’s are light on data plans. If you can’t afford it, find a way. Asking for help is beautiful."
kenbauman  2018  education  unschooling  learning  howwelearn  libraries  wikipedia  tools  existence  testimony  listening  society  children  parenting  schools  schooling  compulsory  bureaucracy  reading  writing  self-directed  self-directedlearning  self-education  books  howweread  howwewrite  conversation  ethics 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry’s Lifelong Dissent  | The Nation
“At a time when political conflict runs deep and erects high walls, the Kentucky essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry maintains an arresting mix of admirers. Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2011. The following year, the socialist-feminist writer and editor Sarah Leonard published a friendly interview with him in Dissent. Yet he also gets respectful attention in the pages of The American Conservative and First Things, a right-leaning, traditionalist Christian journal.

More recently, The New Yorker ran an introduction to Berry’s thought distilled from a series of conversations, stretching over several years, with the critic Amanda Petrusich. In these conversations, Berry patiently explains why he doesn’t call himself a socialist or a conservative and recounts the mostly unchanged creed underlying his nearly six decades of writing and activism. Over the years, he has called himself an agrarian, a pacifist, and a Christian—albeit of an eccentric kind. He has written against all forms of violence and destruction—of land, communities, and human beings—and argued that the modern American way of life is a skein of violence. He is an anti-capitalist moralist and a writer of praise for what he admires: the quiet, mostly uncelebrated labor and affection that keep the world whole and might still redeem it. He is also an acerbic critic of what he dislikes, particularly modern individualism, and his emphasis on family and marriage and his ambivalence toward abortion mark him as an outsider to the left.

Berry’s writing is hard to imagine separated from his life as a farmer in a determinedly traditional style, who works the land where his family has lived for many generations using draft horses and hand labor instead of tractors and mechanical harvesters. But the life, like the ideas, crisscrosses worlds without belonging neatly to any of them. Born in 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky, Berry was but the son of a prominent local lawyer and farmer. He spent much of his childhood in the company of people from an older generation who worked the soil: his grandfather, a landowner, and the laborers who worked the family land. His early adulthood was relatively cosmopolitan. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with literary ambitions, he went to Stanford to study under the novelist Wallace Stegner at a time when Ken Kesey, Robert Stone, and Larry McMurtry were also students there. Berry went to Italy and France on a Guggenheim fellowship, then lived in New York, teaching at NYU’s Bronx campus. As he entered his 30s, he returned to Kentucky, setting up a farm in 1965 at Lane’s Landing on the Kentucky River. Although he was a member of the University of Kentucky’s faculty for nearly 20 years over two stints, ending in 1993, his identity has been indelibly that of a writer-farmer dug into his place, someone who has become nationally famous for being local, and developed the image of a timeless sage while joining, sometimes fiercely, in fights against the Vietnam War and the coal industry’s domination of his region.

Now the essays and polemics in which Berry has made his arguments clearest over the last five decades are gathered in two volumes from the Library of America, totaling 1,700 tightly set pages. Seeing his arc in one place highlights both his complexity and his consistency: The voice and preoccupations really do not change, even as the world around him does. But he is also the product of a specific historical moment, the triple disenchantment of liberal white Americans in the 1960s over the country’s racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. In the 50 years since, Berry has sifted and resifted his memory and attachment to the land, looking for resources to support an alternative America—”to affirm,” as he wrote in 1981, “my own life as a thing decent in possibility.” He has concluded that this self-affirmation is not possible in isolation or even on the scale of one’s lifetime, and he has therefore made his writing a vehicle for a reckoning with history and an ethics of social and ecological interdependence.”



“Throughout his work, Berry likes to iron out paradoxes in favor of building a unified vision, but he is himself a bundle of paradoxes, some more generative than others. A defender of community and tradition, he has been an idiosyncratic outsider his whole life, a sharp critic of both the mainstream of power and wealth and the self-styled traditionalists of the religious and cultural right. A stylist with an air of timelessness, he is in essential ways a product of the late 1960s and early ’70s, with their blend of political radicalism and ecological holism. An advocate of the commonplace against aesthetic and academic conceits, he has led his life as a richly memorialized and deeply literary adventure. Like Thoreau, Berry invites dismissive misreading as a sentimentalist, an egotist, or a scold. Like Thoreau, he is interested in the integrity of language, the quality of experience—what are the ways that one can know a place, encounter a terrain?—and above all, the question of how much scrutiny an American life can take.

”All of Berry’s essays serve as documents of the bewildering destruction in which our everyday lives involve us and as a testament to those qualities in people and traditions that resist the destruction. As the economic order becomes more harrying and abstract, a politics of place is emerging in response, much of it a genuine effort to understand the ecological and historical legacies of regions in the ways that Berry has recommended. This politics is present from Durham, North Carolina, where you can study the legacy of tobacco and slavery on the Piedmont soils and stand where locals took down a Confederate statue in a guerrilla action in 2017, to New York City, where activists have built up community land trusts for affordable housing and scientists have reconstructed the deep environmental history of the country’s most densely developed region. But few of the activists and scholars involved in this politics would think of themselves as turning away from the international or the global. They are more likely to see climate change, migration, and technology as stitching together the local and global in ways that must be part of the rebuilding and enriching of community.

The global hypercapitalism that Berry denounces has involved life—human and otherwise—in a world-historical gamble concerning the effects of indefinite growth, innovation, and competition. Most of us are not the gamblers; we are the stakes. He reminds us that this gamble repeats an old pattern of mistakes and crimes: hubris and conquest, the idea that the world is here for human convenience, and the willingness of the powerful to take as much as they can. For most of his life, Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading. In various ways, young agrarians, socialists, and other radicals now sound his themes, denouncing extractive capitalism and calling for new and renewed ways of honoring work—our own and what the writer Alyssa Battistoni calls the “work of nature.” They also insist on the need to engage political power to shape a future, not just with local work but on national and global scales. They dare to demand what he has tended to relinquish. If these strands of resistance and reconstruction persist, even prevail, Wendell Berry’s lifelong dissent—stubborn, sometimes maddening, not quite like anything else of its era—will deserve a place in our memory.”
wendellberry  2019  jedediahbritton-purdy  dissent  climate  climatechange  agriculture  farming  kentucky  amandapetrusich  activism  writing  christianity  violence  land  communities  community  anticapitalism  individualism  left  humanism  morality  life  living  howwelive  environment  environmentalism  interconnectedness  us  ecology  economics  labor  ronaldreagan  inequality  growth  globalization  finance  financialization  politics  storytelling  mining  stripmining  pacifism  collectivism  collectiveaction  organizing  resistance  mobility  culture  popefrancis  wholeness  morethanhuman  multispecies  amish  localism  skepticism  radicalism  radicals  jedediahpurdy  innovation  competition  hypercapitalism 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Brazil’s Malaise | Public Books
[via (the author):
https://twitter.com/_lucas_il/status/1163502471915941889

Still chewing over @magda8lena‘s essay about Ben Moser. In 2017, I reviewed a small book Moser wrote about Brazil. I noticed that his description of Brasília as a totalitarian nightmare bore a striking resemblance to the way Lispector describes it in her crônicas

I initially wrote “cribbed” to describe the relationship between the two texts, but after my editor flagged the word, I changed the word to “cites.” He does cite Lispector near the end of the essay - but only briefly, and without ref to the shared ideas about ruins and nightmares

Pains me to think how ready I was - in a piece of criticism, no less - to shy away from my initial instinct and give him the benefit of the doubt when the textual evidence was right there, in front of me.

Here’s that essay: https://publicbooks.org/brazils-malaise/ [image: "One can safely say that Moser’s thinking on Brasília is directly shaped by Lispector’s assessment of the capital city for a 1970 newspaper column. In “Creating Brasília,” Lispector reflects on the “great visual silence” of Costa and Niemeyer’s strange shapes. The city, in her eyes, began with “the starkest of ruins,” over which “the ivy had not yet grown.”2 Lispector’s Brasília lacks an entry point or an exit, and is utterly devoid of people. Moser cites Lispector’s cryptic reflections and adds to them his own more quotidian observations. Its main avenues, he notes, are impossible to cross by foot, and its buildings and homes are full of bored, wealthy Brazilians and diplomats who have already “seen it all” and can therefore tolerate life in a flattened, rigid place."]

An interesting wrinkle: in his translation, Giovanni Pontiero seems to have added a line (“The construction of Brasília: that of a totalitarian state”) that doesn’t exist in the original - and Moser’s essay is largely about how the monumentality of Brasília is totalitarian… [two images]

Anyway. If you haven’t yet, go read @magda8lena‘s essay: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/benjamin-moser-and-the-smallest-woman-in-the-world/
lucasibericolozada  brazil  brasil  brasilia  2017  brasília  benjaminmoser  claricelispector  cities  totalitarianism  2019  instinct  writing  howwewrite  editing  giovannipontiero 
august 2019 by robertogreco
T. S. Eliot Memorial Reading: Fred Moten - YouTube
“The first annual T. S. Eliot Memorial Reading honored the work of Fred Moten, who was introduced by Prof. Teju Cole.

Recorded on April 25, 2019, at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University.

Sponsored by the Woodberry Poetry Room and the T. S. Eliot Foundation.“
tseliot  fredmoten  tejucole  2019  towatch  freedom  vigor  love  witness  withness  breakingform  ephasia  art  writing  fluency  transformation  we  uninterrogatedwes  ceciltaylor  language  escape  édouardglissant  tonimorrison  howweread  howwewrite  difference  separability  meaning  meaningmaking  words  poetry  expression  togetherness  liberation  howweteach  lacan  criticaltheory  reading  purity  jamesbaldwin  race  beauty  criticism  self  selflessness  fugitives  fugitivity  work  labor  laziness  us  capitalism  politics  identity  society  belonging  immigration  africandiaspora  diaspora  violence  langstonhughes  looking  listening  queer  queerness  bettedavis  eyes  ugliness  bodies  canon 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Zuihitsu - Wikipedia
“Zuihitsu (随筆) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning “at will” and “pen.” The provenance of the term is ultimately Chinese, zuihitsu being the Sino-Japanese reading (on’yomi) of 随筆 (Mandarin: suíbǐ), the native reading (kun’yomi) of which is fude ni shitagau (“follow the brush”).[1] Thus works of the genre should be considered not as traditionally planned literary pieces but rather as casual or randomly recorded thoughts by the authors.”

[via: https://warrenellis.ltd/isles/zuihitsu-or-follow-the-brush/

“I have long had the notion that zuihitsu is, in fact, the sort of writing that weblog software best enables. That these are not diaries but fragments. Zuihitsu and fragment writing has fascinated me for a long time. I created the jotter category here to try and give myself permission for “casual or randomly recorded thoughts.”

I tend to re-read HOJOKI and ESSAYS IN IDLENESS once every year or two. A previous writing location of mine, Morning Computer, was intended as a home for this kind of fragment writing, but I found myself constrained by a place that was just that. I may be Full Hermit Forever, but I still need to be able to send signals out into the world, and it gives me pleasure to be able to draw your attention, reader, to the things in the world that I like.

We in the Isles of Blogging should consider ourselves allowed to follow the brush more.”]

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C5%8Dj%C5%8Dki ]
zuihitsu  japan  literature  writing  howwewrite  essays  words  place  surroundings  japanese  hojoki  idleness  hermits  warrenellis  diaries  classideas  jottings 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Cybergothic Acid Communism Now • Commune
"To the barricades, through the looking glass.

Once upon a time, way back in 2010, having just read his brilliant book Capitalist Realism, I went to see Mark Fisher speak. I walked in late and he was in the midst of denouncing the one-day strike as a pantomime, a meaningless echo of uprising. (He was right, as he was about so many things.) He moved through the financial crisis, to the soulless thing that neoliberalism had made of the university, to a demand to repoliticize mental health. I sat enthralled, too nervous to go say hello afterward. I wish I had.

Fisher died in 2017, leaving anyone who had read him bereft. I find myself, while reading and rereading, wondering what he would have thought of The Favourite or the new Robyn album; longing for his caustic words on the meltdown of the Theresa May government; wishing he had been here to tear “hopepunk” to shreds; wondering too what he would have made of AOC.

The new k-punk collection, all 824 pages of it, is out now from Repeater Books, gathering a decade and a half of Fisher’s writings on pop culture, politics, and theory. It contains everything from blog comment policies to the unfinished introduction to what would have been his next book. Even a quick skim will remind you that Fisher was a much more audacious, nuanced, and flat-out weird writer and thinker than almost anyone the left can claim these days.

Trying to do justice to a now-gone writer who regularly blew your mind is an impossible task, and yet someone who so regularly took aim at sacred cows — starting a piece with “Orwell is wrong about everything, but especially 1984” — should not become one himself. It’s hard to imagine him having any patience with such treatment, anyway. The combination of humility and raw confidence with which he wrote would prevent, I hope, any enjoyment of sainthood.

The only way to treat him right is to read him with the same eye for ruthless critique that he always brought. The same vitality that makes it impossible to imagine him gone courses through this book, whether he’s writing about the calcification of Glastonbury, the bloodless corpse of New Labour, or the privatization of stress. His long posts often come to abrupt ends; there is no wind-down, everything is full-tilt and then crashes to a halt, winded and satisfied with itself (but never smug, no, Fisher always had the bone-deep understanding that smugness is counterrevolutionary).

Fisher is closest in style to Ellen Willis. Like her, he is a brilliant pop-culture critic as well as political observer and actor whose politics were mostly knife-sharp, but capable like all of us of an odd conservative turn. His insistence on popular media as a terrain of struggle is too rare within a new left struggling for direction; Fisher more than anyone understood that the material conditions that drained the vitality from pop music and art and even TV were the same ones that had sucked the life out of the working class. Instead of the innovation that neoliberalism promised us, we’ve just gotten recycled versions of things we’ve seen a million times before, and all of it under the pretense of anti-elitism, of “giving the people what they want.”

Fisher had no patience for this kind of faux-populist tailing. He had a faith in the creativity of the working class that demanded better for and from it. Change — revolution — would not come from pandering but from the masses understanding their own power in all senses. “[T]here’s nothing ‘elitist’ about assuming intelligence on the part of an audience,” he insisted, returning over and over to a defense of a kind of leftist paternalism. (Paternalism, he knew, was the wrong word, but he didn’t quite land on a better one). “It is about having a wager that there is maybe a desire for the strange in people,” he wrote. “People don’t already know what they want and . . . the things which they really end up most valuing may be things which surprise them.”

Whatever we might call such a position, it’s one Fisher performed well. His love for a song or a film that sparks a feeling is contagious. Within a few pages of beginning the music section in the collection I was pulling up bands I’d forgotten or never known to soundtrack my reading. His hatreds — for Alan Moore, say — are not based in some High Culture snobbery but in a frustration with the mistaking of grimness, perhaps, or some other half-evoked emotion, for depth.

In goth, Fisher saw a subculture that could “teach us that egalitarianism is not hostile to, but relies upon, a will-to-greatness, an unconditional demand for the excellent.” The weirdness of Siouxsie Sioux and other such “painted birds” became, in Fisher’s hands, a feminist desire for bursting the confines of biological reproduction, to speed the destruction of a banal, boring world. It was no accident, he pointed out, that Marx himself was drawn to gothic metaphors for capital: “the living flesh it converts into dead labour is ours, and the zombies it makes are us.”

Derrida’s “hauntology” threads through his work, a curious recapturing of a concept developed as part of an extended critique of Marx. In Fisher’s hands it bears the idea of a lost future, of a mourning for a thing that could have been. It’s fitting in a way for his readers now to be haunted by the things he’ll never write. His blog posts still have an immediacy to them, a tang that we’ve largely lost with the rise of the clickbait-fueled “thinkpiece.” Far be it from me of all people to argue that unpaid blogging led to better writing — this is the opposite of what Fisher himself said, insisting that having some security would allow us to produce better — but the shittiness of most of the hot-take era’s writing feels stark when reading a k-punk post on the page. It makes me long for a world where writing could be a form of play. Instead, the lazy bourgeois art that Fisher so despised has only spread; it deserves the tactical nuke he wanted to send down on Glastonbury.

Capitalist Realism exists as a tight little bomb of a book that no one really has any excuse not to read. But in case anyone hasn’t, the concept threads through the k-punk collection; the idea that we live under the shadow of “there is no alternative,” unable to imagine a better way to organize society, let alone to struggle for one. Such “realism,” Fisher explained, was deeply unreal, particularly as we all live in the shadow of climate catastrophe; the tsk-tsking of the centrist ruling class is death drive posing as maturity, and the power of capitalist realism an expression of class decomposition, the fading of class consciousness. Peering through this gloom, Fisher nonetheless glimpsed some endings. After 2008, he wrote, “Neoliberalism is finished as a project, even if it lurches on, thrashing around like a decorticated terminator.”

We might now be able to imagine the death of capitalism, yet one problem of capitalist realism remains: our inability to imagine what comes next. Instead, the left too often gropes for the past, a trend Fisher despised. He insisted that “we must have the courage not to be nostalgic for this lost Fordist world of boring factory work and a labour movement dominated by male industrial workers.” Even communist nostalgia was impossible: “our desire is for the future.” Following Stuart Hall, he pointed out that the left and the labor movement had been too slow to grasp workers’ desire for something better than forty years of forty-hour weeks on the assembly line. The Thatcherites and their ilk had seized the moment to paint their reorganization of the economy as liberation while too many leftists sung (and still sing) paeans to the factory floor. The urgent need now is for a working-class politics that doesn’t love work.

This is where, I suppose, the Vampire’s Castle comes in. Like everything Fisher wrote, his oft-cited “Exiting the Vampire’s Castle” goes hard, but unlike most of what he wrote, the slippage it makes between the nastiness of Twitter pile-ons and the problems of liberal identity politics does his criticism of either issue no favors. Everyone, as Fisher himself pointed out, “has chauvinistic potentials of one kind or another,” yet in the Vampire’s Castle — his name for the social media war of position often conducted via hyperbolic outrage and exhausting, disingenuous engagement — he assumes that only “identitarians” turn social media into traps constructed from the mutual fear of attack, an assumption immediately disproved with a few clicks on rose-emoji Twitter these days. There is just as much of a hipster’s desire to be part of the in-crowd among today’s new socialists, even if they throw the word “class” around more often.

But even when Fisher is infuriating, he is never dull, which is what makes attempts to claim him for normie social democracy so utterly repellent — said reactionary turn in socialist “thought” these days is above all else boring. Though Fisher wrote of the “the luxury of feeling bored” and its potential for sparking new ideas, he insisted upon respect for the intellectual capacities of the working class, insisted that “anti-intellectualism is a ruling-class reflex.” Yet those who see in the Vampire’s Castle a club to whack so-called “identitarians,” or simply anyone to their left, often wind up claiming precisely the opposite: that working-class people are too stupid to be challenged or to challenge our ideas of race, gender, and the fundamental orderings of the world.

We can find a more generous solution for the slash-and-burn tendencies of the would-be left in Fisher’s writings on mental health — particularly on depression, his own and everyone else’s — and his insistence that the left make political demands around it. The “realism” of depression, which “presents itself as necessary and interminable,” with its “glacial surfaces [that] extend… [more]
markfisher  2019  sarahjaffe  communism  marxism  neoliberalism  counterculture  labor  work  organizing  unions  mentalhealth  socialism  socialdemocracy  democracy  identitarians  socialmedia  politics  policy  culture  society  k-punk  liberation  economics  uk  us  fordism  class  realism  future  imagination  glastonbury  writing  howwewrite  subculture  alanmoore  music  criticism 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
july 2019 by robertogreco
The Book That Made Me: An Animal | Public Books
"The Lives of Animals was the first book I read in college—or at least the first book I read in a strange, amazing seminar that rewired my brain in the first semester of freshman year. The course was about animals, and I signed up for it probably because it was a course my dad, who had been advising me on all things college, would have taken himself. He kept animal effigies all over the apartment: portraits of a donkey and a marmot in the bathroom; a giant poster of “The External Structure of Cock and Chicken” in the living room; dog figures of many breeds; pigs, his favorite, in all shapes and sizes, in every single nook and cranny. In the dining room he had a huge pig sculpture made of leather, which in retrospect was a strange and morbid combination: one animal skinned to make an image of another. Our cocker spaniel had chewed its face beyond recognition by the time my mom got around to throwing it out.

My dad passed away in 2016, two years after they got divorced, and I faced the monumental task of disposing of his menagerie. I kept many things, of course, but couldn’t keep them all. It was so easy to throw out or donate clothes, housewares, furniture, even books. I didn’t know what to do with the creatures, who seemed to contain his spirit more than anything else. I laughed when I found a key chain in a random drawer: a little brass effigy of one pig mounting another. That was his humor. That was his mind, his way of seeing, his culture—which was based, like all cultures, in certain ideas about nature. Frankly, he was a difficult man to know even when he was alive. The animals offered me a way in, as they probably did for him.

Anyway, he was the one who saw the listing for a course named “Zooësis” and thought I might like it. And I really did, from the moment our indefatigably brilliant professor, Una Chaudhuri, asked us to read J. M. Coetzee’s weird, hybrid book. The Lives of Animals is a novella, but Coetzee delivered it as a two-part Tanner Lecture at Princeton in 1997, and it centers, in turn, on two lectures delivered by its aging novelist protagonist, Elizabeth Costello. During her visit to an obscure liberal arts college, she speaks hard-to-swallow truths about the cruelties we visit upon animals, making a controversial analogy between industrialized farming and the Third Reich. But the content of her lectures is almost less important than the reactions they generate and the personal consequences she incurs, which Coetzee shows us by nesting the lectures within a fictional frame. People get incensed; the academic establishment rebukes her argument, her way of arguing, everything she represents. Even her family relationships buckle under the weight of a worldview that seems to reject reason.

Her first lecture is about the poverty of philosophy, both as a basis for animal ethics and as a medium for thinking one’s way into the mind of another kind of creature. But her second lecture is about the potential of poetry, and it’s captivating in its optimism about the ability of human language to imagine radically nonhuman forms of sensory experience—or, perhaps more radically, forms of sensory experience we share with other species.

As a person who has worked within the field commonly known as animal studies but has never worked with real animals (unlike so many great boundary-crossing thinkers: the late poet-philosopher-veterinarian Vicki Hearne, the philosopher-ethologist Vinciane Despret, et al.), I often find myself bummed out by the inadequacy of representation: Specifically, what good are animals in books? Are they not inevitably vessels of human meaning? In Flush, her novel about the inner life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Virginia Woolf has another way of putting the problem: “Do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?” To which I would add: Do they not destroy, or at least ignore, the creature beyond the symbol as well?

Coetzee has a different view. Or Costello, at least, has some different ideas about what poetry can do. She celebrates poems like Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Panther”—“poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him.” She finds value in poems that try to capture the fluid complexity of a moment of contact across species, rather than try to preserve an imagined essence of the animal in amber. She also defends the human imagination as something more powerful than we give it credit for. My favorite line from the book is her response to Thomas Nagel’s famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Nagel insists that it’s impossible for a human to know the answer to his titular question. Costello rebuts: “If we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?” I think it takes an effort of heart, more than mind, to follow her train of thought.

The novella reflects her resistance to the imperious voice of human reason—and her embrace of the messiness of the subjective imagination—on many levels. She’s uneasy at the bully pulpit, as was Coetzee himself. For the longest time I thought that the narrator was omniscient—an impersonal God figure aligned with Coetzee’s own position at that Princeton lectern. But then I read the novella again, preparing to teach it in a lit class where we were also reading Jane Austen. I realized that the narrator filters everything through the perspective of John Bernard, Costello’s son, who has a strange tendency to obsess over his mother’s body (paging Dr. Freud: “Her shoulders stoop; her flesh has grown flabby”) and profoundly ambivalent feelings about her. He is torn between sympathy and repulsion, connection and alienation. He is torn, also, between her perspective, which persuades him to an extent, and the perspective of his wife, Norma, a philosophy professor who loathes her and has no patience for her anti-rationalist message.

The question this novella raises is always that of its own construction: Why is it a novella in the first place? What does Coetzee communicate through fiction that he couldn’t have communicated through a polemic? I think the technique of focalization, which grounds everything in John’s perspective, shows us exactly what an abstract polemic about animals couldn’t: the impossibility of speaking from a position outside our embodiment, our emotions, our primordial and instinctual feelings toward kin. In other words, the impossibility of speaking about animals as though we were not animals ourselves.

Every time I read the book—definitely every time I teach it—the potentialities of its form grow in number. I find new rooms in the house of fiction that reveal how grand a mansion it is. I display it proudly, in the center of a bookshelf lined with animal books like Marian Engel’s Bear, Woolf’s Flush, J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Kafka’s stories, and John Berger’s Pig Earth. The shelf is my own version of my father’s menagerie, brimming with all manner of complex and contradictory creatures. All of them are representations, but that doesn’t make them feel any less real, or any less alive.

I regard my father with some of the ambivalence that John, the son in Coetzee’s story, feels toward his own mother and her thoughts on animals. But I encounter the creatures he left behind with warmth, solidarity, and hope."
via:timoslimo  jmcoetzee  multispecies  morethanhuman  senses  writing  howwewrite  language  whywewrite  fiction  animals  bodies  unachaudhuri  philosophy  elizabethbarrettbrowning  virginiawoolf  vincianedespret  animalrights  vickihearne  rainermariarilke  tedhughes  narration  thomasnagel  imagination  messiness  janeausten  perspective  novellas  kafka  johnberger  marianengel  jrackerley  hope  solidarity  communication  embodiment  emotions  persuasion  mattmargini  canon  books  reading  howweread  teaching  howweteach  farming  livestock  sensory  multisensory  animalstudies  poetry  poems  complexity  grief  literature  families  2019 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Left by Rekka & Devine
[See also:
https://100r.co/pages/left.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QloUoqqhXGE ]

“Left is a distractionless writing tool with auto-complete, synonyms, writing statistics, markup navigation and a speed-reader.

The application is free and Open Source, its original purpose was to help Rekka with the writing of the upcoming novel Wiktopher.

Find out how to use it, view the guide.”

[via: https://usesthis.com/interviews/rekka.bell/ ]
writing  wordprocessors  applications  windows  linux  macos  mac  osx  opensource 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Frase | AI Research Assistant
"For anyone creating content on a regular basis, Frase helps you research faster so you can focus on creativity."

The Frase AI Layer leverages 3 engines
• Article Summarization
• Topic Understanding
• Question Answering

The Frase Content Intelligence Platform

Content Creation

Frase Research Assistant
Only 1% of your content gets read, and that may be because it doesn't match user intent. The Frase Research Assistant helps you create content your audience cares about.

Content Experience

Frase Question Answering
Most people would rather Google again than use your website’s search engine. Frase allows anyone to browse your website’s content through a Question Answering bot."
software  research  writing 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Why books don’t work | Andy Matuschak
"Books are easy to take for granted. Not any specific book, I mean: the form of a book. Paper or pixels—it hardly matters. Words in lines on pages in chapters. And at least for non-fiction books, one implied assumption at the foundation: people absorb knowledge by reading sentences. This last idea so invisibly defines the medium that it’s hard not to take for granted, which is a shame because, as we’ll see, it’s quite mistaken.

Picture some serious non-fiction tomes. The Selfish Gene; Thinking, Fast and Slow; Guns, Germs, and Steel; etc. Have you ever had a book like this—one you’d read—come up in conversation, only to discover that you’d absorbed what amounts to a few sentences? I’ll be honest: it happens to me regularly. Often things go well at first. I’ll feel I can sketch the basic claims, paint the surface; but when someone asks a basic probing question, the edifice instantly collapses. Sometimes it’s a memory issue: I simply can’t recall the relevant details. But just as often, as I grasp about, I’ll realize I had never really understood the idea in question, though I’d certainly thought I understood when I read the book. Indeed, I’ll realize that I had barely noticed how little I’d absorbed until that very moment.

I know I’m not alone here. When I share this observation with others—even others, like myself, who take learning seriously—it seems that everyone has had a similar experience. The conversation often feels confessional: there’s some bashfulness, almost as if these lapses reveal some unusual character flaw. I don’t think it’s a character flaw, but whatever it is, it’s certainly not unusual. In fact, I suspect this is the default experience for most readers. The situation only feels embarrassing because it’s hard to see how common it is.

Now, the books I named aren’t small investments. Each takes around 6–9 hours to read. Adult American college graduates read 24 minutes a day on average, so a typical reader might spend much of a month with one of these books. Millions of people have read each of these books, so that’s tens of millions of hours spent. In exchange for all that time, how much knowledge was absorbed? How many people absorbed most of the knowledge the author intended to convey? Or even just what they intended to acquire? I suspect it’s a small minority Unfortunately, my literature reviews have turned up no formal studies of this question, so I can only appeal to your intuition..

I’m not suggesting that all those hours were wasted. Many readers enjoyed reading those books. That’s wonderful! Certainly most readers absorbed something, however ineffable: points of view, ways of thinking, norms, inspiration, and so on. Indeed, for many books (and in particular most fiction), these effects are the point.

This essay is not about that kind of book. It’s about explanatory non-fiction like the books I mentioned above, which aim to convey detailed knowledge. Some people may have read Thinking, Fast and Slow for entertainment value, but in exchange for their tens of millions of collective hours, I suspect many readers—or maybe even most readers—expected to walk away with more. Why else would we feel so startled when we notice how little we’ve absorbed from something we’ve read?

All this suggests a peculiar conclusion: as a medium, books are surprisingly bad at conveying knowledge, and readers mostly don’t realize it.

The conclusion is peculiar, in part, because books are shockingly powerful knowledge-carrying artifacts! In the Cosmos episode, “The Persistence of Memory,” Carl Sagan exalts:

What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
Indeed: books are magical! Human progress in the era of mass communication makes clear that some readers really do absorb deep knowledge from books, at least some of the time. So why do books seem to work for some people sometimes? Why does the medium fail when it fails?

In these brief notes, we’ll explore why books so often don’t work, and why they succeed when they do.Let’s get it out of the way: I’m aware of the irony here, using the written medium to critique the written medium! But if the ideas I describe here prove successful, then future notes on this subject won’t have that problem. This note is mere kindling, and I’ll be very happy if it’s fully consumed by the blaze it ignites. Armed with that understanding, we’ll glimpse not only how we might improve books as a medium, but also how we might weave unfamiliar new forms—not from paper, and not from pixels, but from insights about human cognition."



"Why lectures don’t work"



"Why books don’t work"



"What about textbooks?"



"What to do about it

How might we make books actually work reliably? At this point, the slope before us might feel awfully steep. Some early footholds might be visible—a few possible improvements to books, or tools one might make to assist readers—but it’s not at all clear how to reach the summit. In the face of such a puzzle, it’s worth asking: are we climbing the right hill? Why are we climbing this particular hill at all?

I argued earlier that books, as a medium, weren’t built around any explicit model of how people learn. It’s possible that, in spite of this “original sin,” iterative improvements to the form, along with new tools to support readers, can make books much more reliable. But it’s also possible that we’ll never discover the insights we need while tethered to the patterns of thought implicit in this medium.

Instead, I propose: we don’t necessarily have to make books work. We can make new forms instead. This doesn’t have to mean abandoning narrative prose; it doesn’t even necessarily mean abandoning paper—rather, we can free our thinking by abandoning our preconceptions of what a book is. Maybe once we’ve done all this, we’ll have arrived at something which does indeed look much like a book. We’ll have found a gentle path around the back of that intimidating slope. Or maybe we’ll end up in different terrain altogether.

So let’s reframe the question. Rather than “how might we make books actually work reliably,” we can ask: How might we design mediums which do the job of a non-fiction book—but which actually work reliably?

I’m afraid that’s a research question—probably for several lifetimes of research—not something I can directly answer in these brief notes. But I believe it’s possible, and I’ll now try to share why.

To begin, it’s important to see that mediums can be designed, not just inherited. What’s more: it is possible to design new mediums which embody specific ideas. Inventors have long drawn on this unintuitive insightSee e.g. Douglas Engelbart’s 1962 “Augmenting Human Intellect” for a classic primary source or Michael Nielsen’s 2016 “Thought as a Technology” for a synthesis of much work in this space., but I’ll briefly review it in case it’s unfamiliar. Mathematical proofs are a medium; the step-by-step structure embodies powerful ideas about formal logic. Snapchat Stories are a medium; the ephemerality embodies powerful ideas about emotion and identity. The World Wide Web is a medium (or perhaps many mediums); the pervasive hyperlinks embody powerful ideas about the associative nature of knowledge.

Perhaps most remarkably, the powerful ideas are often invisible: it’s not like we generally think about cognition when we sprinkle a blog post with links. But the people who created the Web were thinking about cognition. They designed its building blocks so that the natural way of reading and writing in this medium would reflect the powerful ideas they had in mind. Shaped intentionally or not, each medium’s fundamental materials and constraints give it a “grain” which make it bend naturally in some directions and not in others.

This “grain” is what drives me when I gripe that books lack a functioning cognitive model. It’s not just that it’s possible to create a medium informed by certain ideas in cognitive science. Rather, it’s possible to weave a medium made out of those ideas, in which a reader’s thoughts and actions are inexorably—perhaps even invisibly—shaped by those ideas. Mathematical proofs, as a medium, don’t just consider ideas about logic; we don’t attach ideas about logic to proofs. The form is made out of ideas about logic.

How might we design a medium so that its “grain” bends in line with how people think and learn? So that by simply engaging with an author’s work in the medium—engaging in the obvious fashion; engaging in this medium’s equivalent of books’ “read all the words on the first page, then repeat with the next, and so on”—one would automatically do what’s necessary to understand? So that, in some deep way, the default actions and patterns of thought when engaging with this medium are the same thing as “what’s necessary to understand”?

That’s a tall order. Even on a theoretical level, it’s not clear what’s necessary for understanding. Indeed, that framing’s too narrow: there are many paths to understanding a topic. But cognitive scientists and educators have mapped some parts of this space, and they’ve distilled some powerful ideas we can use as a starting point.

For example, people struggle to absorb new material when their working memory is already overloaded. More concretely: if you’ve just been introduced to a zoo of new terms, you … [more]
books  learning  howwelearn  text  textbooks  andymatuschak  2019  canon  memory  understanding  lectures  cognition  cognitivescience  web  internet  howweread  howwewrite  reading  writing  comprehension  workingmemory  michaelnielsen  quantumcountry  education  unschooling  deschooling 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Teju Cole, "Ethics", Lecture 3 of 3, 04.22.19 - YouTube
"The 2019 Berlin Family Lectures with Teju Cole
"Coming to Our Senses"
Lecture three: "Ethics"
April 22, 2019

How do our senses foster our moral understanding and ethical obligations to others? In the third and final lecture of the 2019 Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin Family Lecture Series, acclaimed author, critic, and photographer Teju Cole thinks through how our senses can help us understand the plight of travelers and migrants. Cole implores us to recognize the mutual and unshirkable responsibilities that bind all human beings.

This is the second lecture in a three-lecture series presented in the spring of 2019 at the University of Chicago.

Named for Randy L. and Melvin R. Berlin, the Berlin Family Lectures bring leading scholars, writers, and creative artists from around the world to the University of Chicago. Each visitor offers an extended series of lectures with the aim of interacting with the university community and developing a book for publication with the University of Chicago Press. Learn more at http://berlinfamilylectures.uchicago.edu.

If you experience any technical difficulties with this video or would like to make an accessibility-related request, please send a message to humanities@uchicago.edu."
2019  tejucole  ethics  senses  migrants  migration  travelers  responsibility  humanism  lauraletinsky  photography  location  situation  howwewrite  interconnectedness  interconnected  malta  caravaggio  art  painting  writing  reading  knowing  knowledge  seeing  annecarson  smell  death  grief  dying 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Teju Cole on the unpredictability and potential of the city: “Once you give up insisting on stereotypes, you can really start to see.” - Harvard Graduate School of Design
"The work of novelist, essayist, and photographer Teju Cole is a genre-defying exploration of race, governance, migration, justice, culture, music, and privilege. It is defined by a comfort with uncertainty and a commitment to defending the freedom and autonomy of others.

The city is the motif that recurs most frequently in Cole’s work. He is drawn to the unpredictability and potential of the urban environment and its endless narrative material. And he is intrigued by the “continuities” between cities—what makes them similar, regardless of size, median income, or hemisphere—as well what makes each one unique. He describes these peculiarities as “smaller zones of interest that, once you give up insisting on stereotypes, you can really start to see.”

“The guidebooks might say, ‘Check out fabulous Florence.’ Or, ‘Kinshasa’s a mess,’” Cole says. “The reality is that teenagers in Florence hang out at the mall, teenagers in Kinshasa hang out at the mall. People in both places who have money can go to nice restaurants. Florence has a trash problem, so does Kinshasa. It’s the same story. The task of insisting on that continuity feels to me like a writerly ethical responsibility. What makes one city different from another is the subtleties, the smaller things you notice when you relinquish the task of exaggerating.”

Cole spent nearly two decades each in Lagos and New York, and he says that they are examples of cities that serve “intellectually as a source of exploration of thinking for my work.” He explains, “If you draw a map around New York, Zurich, Lagos, and São Paulo, they represent the extremes of what cities are and what they do, and each in its own way precisely represents some interests of mine. New York, Lagos, and São Paulo are all part of what I consider the Black Atlantic, places that have been shaped by the black creative presence to a very large extent.” His 2007 debut novel, Every Day Is for the Thief, takes place in Lagos, while his second novel, Open City, and a number of essays are set in New York.

[photo with caption: "“Kitchen to living room. Bedroom to bathroom. Downstairs to get the mail. House to subway. An evening stroll. You take around 7500 steps each day. If you live to eighty, inshallah, that comes to 200 million steps over the course of your life, a hundred thousand miles. You don't consider yourself a great walker, but you will have circumnavigated the globe on foot four times over. Downstairs to get the mail. Basement for laundry. Living room to bedroom. Up in the middle of the night for a glass of water. Walking through the darkened house, you suddenly pause.” “Zürich,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Cole’s writing has been translated into more than 15 languages and has earned him numerous awards, including the prestigious Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. His photography has led to guest curating opportunities and solo exhibitions in seven countries on three continents. In addition to his two novels, he has published Known and Strange Things, a collection of essays on art, literature, photography, and politics; Blind Spot, a singular collection of photographs and writing; and Human Archipelago, a meditation on refugees and displaced people with photographer Fazal Sheikh. He has written for the New Yorker, Granta, and other magazines, and served as the photography critic of the New York Times Magazine from 2015 to 2019.

This afternoon, Cole, Harvard’s first Gore Vidal Professor of the Practice of Creative Writing, will deliver the Class Day address for the Graduate School of Design. He plans to use his address to encourage graduates “to think about our life together” and to imagine how a future can be conceived and built. Cole himself is a model for a cross-disciplinary creative practice that is at once intellectually rigorous, politically and socially engaged, and unbound to any singular medium.

[photo with caption: "“A gust of wind sweeps in from across the lake. The curtain shifts, and suddenly everything can be seen. The scales fall from our eyes. The landscape opens. No longer are we alone: they are with us now, have been all along, all our living and all our dead.” Excerpt from “Rivaz,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Cole’s fluidity between forms of expression can be credited, at least in part, to a background that has elements of multiplicity and movement, trial and error, switchbacks and reboots. Born in 1975 in Kalamazoo, Michigan to Nigerian parents, his life began with two passports, cultures, and languages. At four months old, Cole moved with his family to Lagos, Nigeria, where he lived until he returned to Michigan to pursue studies in art and art history at Kalamazoo College. Later he would go on to study African art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London and art history at Columbia University in New York.

“It was an important fact mentally to know that I belong to Nigeria and the United States,” he says. With time, that comfort with the in-between of dual identities evolved into a confidence in belonging to both places. “It’s always interested me, this idea of, ‘Oh, we don’t say it that way in America.’ To which my response is, ‘Well, we do now.’ Whatever I am, whatever I do, that’s part of America now. This imagined community that we call a nation is ever-expanding and ever-complexifying, and that’s a good thing. We’ve expanded the possibilities.”

Although he first made a name for himself as a novelist, Cole has always identified equally as a writer and a photographer. “I got into both at the same time, around 2004. With whatever I had studied, with whatever my education was, there was a certain voicing that I knew I wanted to explore more in writing. At SOAS, I started what I would say were the very first glimmerings of Open City. I wrote maybe five pages, but it was Mad Libs, no sentences. It was like a fever dream,” he remembers. “But by 2005, I started to feel like, ‘No, I need to write clear sentences’ and let the clarity convey the energy, just have it be cumulative. Around the same time, I started shooting with a film camera.” In Every Day Is for the Thief, a novella that follows a young Nigerian returning to Lagos after years in the US, Cole weaves black and white photographs throughout the narrative.

[photo with caption: "“I opened my eyes. What lay before me looked like the sound of the alphorn at the beginning of the final movement of Brahm’s First Symphony. This was the sound, this was the sound I saw.” “Brienzersee,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

In Blind Spot, images and photographs also have equal footing in a series of single-spread couplets—on one page a full-color image, on the other, prose. Inspired by the six months Cole spent living in Zurich, the book is a call-and-response between a snapshot of a place and a burst of associations. His aim is to come at a subject in such a way that the audience experiences something unexpected that, as he once said, “detonates on some deeper level.”

Cole credits his time writing monthly photography criticism for the New York Times Magazine with growing his photography practice. Reading the photographs of others opened him up to taking his own. Called “On Photography,” his column also gave him an opportunity to engage in a deeper dialogue with the history of photography and to consider himself in relation to artists including Stephen Shore, William Eggleston, Luigi Ghirri, and Guido Guidi. He says that contemporary Italian photographers like Ghirri have had an especially significant and validating influence on his work.

[photo with caption: "“I pray to Tarkovsky, Marker, and Hitchcock. I acknowledge the dumb skull, the verso of the face, the local globe from which all thinking originates. I pray to Ojeikere and Richter, in whose works someone is always turning away. In certain pictures, we can verify a character’s presence, but, without the clues of the confessional face, not what the character thinks. What has turned away contains itself.” Excerpt from “Chicago,” from Blind Spot, by Teju Cole."]

Yet Cole says that the most life-defining experiences behind his work have been purely interior. Becoming a born-again Christian at age 13 injected heaviness and seriousness into his life; coming out the other side as an atheist at age 28 changed his “relationship to the world and ethics.” And, at 33, he found what he calls an “even keel” spiritually, outside of religion. “Open City came out in 2011 and that was really what got the public aspect of my career going. But what was important happened eight years before [at 28]: discovering that I had a sense of how to move forward in my life. The pivotal moments have had to do with my relationship to my own being in the world. Some of the external stuff is nice, but I will never define myself around that. Ever. It could all be gone tomorrow. It doesn’t matter because that’s not the definition.”

Cole left New York to take up his teaching role at Harvard in January 2019. Being back in academia, on the other side of the lectern, is right for him, right now, he says. He clearly enjoys nudging his students toward the difficult interior places to find voice, material, and meaning.

“I’m trying to be free. I was influenced by people who are free, including Toni Morrison and John Berger, great artists…. Learning to prioritize that freedom is what led me to this work. Not in a glib ‘I could do anything’ way but in an ‘I have a responsibility to expand the field, to move the center’ way. So, what I say to students is not, ‘You can do anything,’ but ‘You can do a lot, if you’re serious about picking up the necessary skills for each of the things you want to do.’”"
tejucole  toread  2019  salaelisepatterson  cities  urban  urbanism  unpredictability  stereotypes  seeing  noticing  johnberger  tonimorrison  photography  writing 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Remediation: Understanding New Media, by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin | The MIT Press
"Summary

A new framework for considering how all media constantly borrow from and refashion other media.

Media critics remain captivated by the modernist myth of the new: they assume that digital technologies such as the World Wide Web, virtual reality, and computer graphics must divorce themselves from earlier media for a new set of aesthetic and cultural principles. In this richly illustrated study, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin offer a theory of mediation for our digital age that challenges this assumption. They argue that new visual media achieve their cultural significance precisely by paying homage to, rivaling, and refashioning such earlier media as perspective painting, photography, film, and television. They call this process of refashioning "remediation," and they note that earlier media have also refashioned one another: photography remediated painting, film remediated stage production and photography, and television remediated film, vaudeville, and radio."

Review:

"The authors do a splendid job of showing precisely how technologies like computer games, digital photography, film television, the Web, and virtual reality all turn on the mutually constructive strategies of generating immediacy and making users hyperaware of the media themselves...The authors lay out a provocative theory of contemporary selfhood, one that draws on and modifies current notions of the 'virtual' and 'networked' human subject. Clearly written and not overly technical, this book will interest general readers, students, and scholars engaged with current trends in technology."]

[via:
https://twitter.com/thezhanly/status/1135170311941492736

in this exchange:

Venkatesh Rao (@vgr): "I think several new genres of fiction are being born right now that will break the Industrial Age ones (SFF, mystery, romance, horror, thriller).

One I think is alt-realism. Or adjacent-realism. Not counterfactuals, more like fictional conspiracy theories."

Me (@rogre): "Have you done the same for *form* of fiction? (Think length, type of prose, formatting, use of multimedia, etc.) I think there is something similar going on there too. I also think that these genres and forms are not necessarily as new as they seem, just finally gaining traction?"

Venkatesh Rao (@vgr): I think that’s probably overtheorized already by all the hypermedia studies people. I’m more interested in content. I suspect @thezhanly has good knowledge on state of art there. But overall I think media form evolves much less quickly than people want it too.

Zhan Li (@thezhanly): Bolter & Grusin’s remediation concept is a crucial perspective for this https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/remediation ]
books  media  jaydavidbolter  richardgrusin  1998  photography  film  painting  art  writing  howwrite  publishing  theater  filmmaking  radio  television  tv  refashioning  culture 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Sensing & Knowing: David Abram in conversation with Dougald Hine - YouTube
"A conversation filmed in Oxford in September 2010. If you enjoy this, do check out the Dark Mountain Project (http://dark-mountain.net) which was how David and I came to meet. He had read the Dark Mountain manifesto and got in touch with us. A text based on this conversation appeared the following year in Dark Mountain: Issue 2."

[via:
"We began with the thought that animism might be the default mode of human existence… and anything else, a temporary aberration."
https://darkmountainproject.tumblr.com/post/53935222519/we-began-with-the-thought-that-animism-might-be ]
davidabram  dougaldhine  animism  2015  nature  writing  instinct  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Teju Cole — Sitting Together in the Dark - The On Being Project
"Writer and photographer Teju Cole says he is “intrigued by the continuity of places, by the singing line that connects them all.” He attends to the border, overlap and interplay of things — from Brahms and Baldwin to daily technologies like Google. To delve into his mind and his multiple arts is to meet this world with creative raw materials for enduring truth and quiet hope."



"I’m going to go back to a word I used earlier, which is how much help we need. We sometimes think of culture as something we go out there and consume. And this especially happens around clever people, smart people — “Have you read this? Did you check out that review? Do you know this poet? What about this other poet?” Blah blah blah. And we have these checkmarks — “I read 50 books last year” — and everybody wants to be smart and keep up. I find that I’m less and less interested in that, and more and more interested in what can help me and what can jolt me awake. Very often, what can jolt me awake is stuff that is written not for noonday but for the middle of the night. And that has to do with — again, with the concentration of energies in it.

Tomas Tranströmer, the Swedish poet, who died — can’t remember; maybe 2013 he died. He seemed to have unusual access to this membrane between this world and some other world that, as Paul Éluard said, is also in this one. Tranströmer, in his poetry, keeps slipping into that space.

In any case, I just found his work precisely the kind of thing I wanted to read in the silence of the middle of the night and feel myself escaping my body in a way that I become pure spirit, in a way. I remember when he won the Nobel Prize, which was in 2011. We live in an age of opinion, and people always have opinions, especially about things they know nothing about. So people who were hearing about Tranströmer for the first time that morning were very grandly opining that his collected works come to maybe 250 pages, that how could he possibly get the Nobel Prize for that slender body of work? — which, of course, was missing the fact that each of these pages was a searing of the consciousness that was only achieved at by great struggle. I think the best thing to compare him to is the great Japanese poets of haiku, like Kobayashi or Basho."



"But I wrote this today, and — for a long time now, but very definitely since January 1 of this year, I’ve been thinking about hospitality, because I wanted a container for some things I didn’t know where to put about the present moment. Who’s kin? Who’s family? Who’s in, who’s out? And just thinking this whole year about the question of hospitality has given me a way to read a lot of things that are very distressing, in this country and in the world, around the border but also around domestic policy. So this one goes against the grain, but I needed to put it down.

“The extraordinary courage of Lassana Bathily, an immigrant from Mali, saved six lives during a terrorist attack at a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes in 2015. He was rewarded with French citizenship by the French president, François Hollande.

“But this is not a story about courage.

“The superhuman agility and bravery of Mamadou Gassama, an immigrant from Mali, saved a baby from death in the 18th Arrondissement in May 2018. He was rewarded with French citizenship by the French president, Emmanuel Macron.

“But this is not a story about bravery.

“The superhuman is rewarded with formal status as a human. The merely human, meanwhile, remains unhuman, quasi-human, subhuman. Gassama crossed the Mediterranean in a tiny boat — that was superhuman, but no one filmed that, he remained subhuman, and there was no reward.

“Such is Empire’s magnanimity. Merci, patron. Je suis tellement reconnaissant, patron.

“The hand that gives, it is said in Mali, is always above the hand that receives. Those who are hungry cannot reject food. Not only those who are hungry but those who have been deliberately starved. But soon come the day when the Hebrews will revolt and once and for all refuse Pharaoh’s capricious largesse.

Hospitality.”

Because I wanted to think about this beyond what seemed, to me, too easy — the headlines, the gratitude — “Oh, he was heroic. He was like Spiderman, and the French government did a great thing and made him a citizen.”

How did we get here? Why is this enough? How did we get into the position where he kneels down to receive the crumbs?

If I were still on Twitter and I wrote that, I might get cancelled. You get cancelled when you’re out of step with the general opinion."



"I just find that anything really loud and hectic can just last for a moment, but it does not get to that deepest place, that place of self-recognition, which becomes indistinguishable from other-recognition, which is continuous with world-recognition. So I’m attracted, in all the arts, to those places where something has been quietened, where concentration has been established. I think one of the great artistic questions for any practitioner of art is, how do you help other people concentrate on a moment? This photograph, it’s a frontal portrait of a young woman, but it’s not a posed portrait. She’s in a crowd, and he has photographed her. She’s African-American, but her skin is dark, and he has made it darker still in the way he has printed it so that your first thought is, “Oh, could we lighten that a little bit?” And then you think, “No — no, no, no. Why am I feeling this way about this image?” In all the arts, there are those moments that are as though somebody has made the gesture of raising a palm, which is not a stop sign, but a — ”Attend, hush, listen.”

I think those are the moments we really live for in art, the moment where the artfulness falls away, and all that is left is that thing we don’t have a better word for beyond poetry."



"This is going to be my worst misquotation of the evening. But Toni Morrison talks about — we die, and that may be the — does anybody know it? — that may be the length of our lives or span of our lives; but we do language, and that may be the meaning of our lives — something in that direction. And I think it is somewhere in there. A frank confrontation with the facts is that between two cosmic immensities of time, you are born, you flare up for a moment, and you’re gone. And within two generations, everybody who knew you personally will also be dead. Your name might survive, but who cares? Nobody’s going to remember your little habits or who you were. So one meaning of our lives might be that we die.

But then the other is this other thing that has nothing to do with the noise out there — advertising, arguing on social media, which we all can get tempted into — or even our personal disputes or even our anxieties, even our struggles — but some other thing that is like this undertow that connects us to everyone currently alive and everyone that has lived and everyone that will live. So I think there’s just the stark, existential fact. It’s not fashionable to take up labels or whatever, but on some level, I’m sort of an existentialist. I don’t think it necessarily has a grander meaning. I certainly don’t believe that God has a wonderful plan to make it all OK. I used to. I don’t believe that anymore. You die; I don’t know what happens. I talk to my dead; I don’t know if they’re anywhere. You die, and it hurts people who love you.

But then, the other thing is that if there’s no grander, larger meaning, in real time there does seem to be a grand and large meaning. Right this minute, this does seem to be something that is real, that might not be meaning but comes awfully close to it: to be sitting together in the dark of this political and social moment, to be sitting together in the dark of what it actually means to be a human being, even if this were a euphoric political moment.

So there’s the grim view of, we’re not here for very long, and LOL no one cares, and then there’s the other thing, which is when your favorite song gets to that part that you love, and you just feel something; or when you’ve had a series of crappy meals and then finally, you get a well-spiced, balanced goat biryani — you know, when the spices are really fresh? Black pepper — a lot of people get black pepper wrong. Really fresh black pepper — and you have this moment.

So these moments of pleasure, of epiphany, of focus, of being there, in their instantaneous way can actually feel like a little nudge that’s telling you, “By the way, this is why you’re alive. And this is not going to last, but never mind that for now.” It happens in art, and it happens in friendship, and it happens in food, and it happens in sex, and it happens in a long walk, and it happens in being immersed in a body of water — baptism, once again — and it happens in running and endorphins and all those moments that psychologists describe as “flow.”

But what is interesting about them is that they happen in real time. As Seamus Heaney says, “Useless to think you’ll park and capture it / More thoroughly. You are […] / A hurry through which known and strange things pass.”

You’re just a conduit for that. But if you are paying attention, it’s almost — I’m not sure if it’s enough, but it’s almost enough. I’m certainly glad for it. I’d rather have it than not have it.

What do you think?"
tejucole  stillness  2019  truth  hope  interconnected  jamesbaldwin  brahms  place  borders  interstitial  tomastranströmer  smartness  reading  poetry  wokeness  kin  family  families  hospitality  photography  art  silence  quietness  listening  donaldtrump  barackobama  howwewrite  howweread  writing  tonimorrison  socialmedia  noise  meaning  seamusheaney  fear  future  optimism  johnberger  rebeccasolnit  virginiawoolf  hopelessness  kalamazoo  pauléluard  primolevi  instagram  twitter 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Laurel Schwulst, "Blogging in Motion" - YouTube
"This video was originally published as part of peer-to-peer-web.com's NYC lecture series on Saturday, May 26, 2018 at the at the School for Poetic Computation.

It has been posted here for ease of access.

You can find many other great talks on the site:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com

And specifically more from the NYC series:
https://peer-to-peer-web.com/nyc "

[See also:
https://www.are.na/laurel-schwulst/blogging-in-motion ]
laurelschwulst  2019  decentralization  p2p  web  webdesign  blogging  movement  travel  listening  attention  self-reflection  howwewrite  writing  walking  nyc  beakerbrowser  creativity  pokemon  pokemonmoon  online  offline  internet  decentralizedweb  dat  p2ppublishing  p2pweb  distributed  webdev  stillness  infooverload  ubiquitous  computing  internetofthings  casygollan  calm  calmtechnology  zoominginandout  electricity  technology  copying  slow  small  johnseelybrown  markweiser  xeroxparc  sharing  oulipo  constraints  reflection  play  ritual  artleisure  leisurearts  leisure  blogs  trains  kylemock  correspondence  caseygollan  apatternlanguage  intimacy  dweb 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Triumph of the Quiet Style - The Awl
"The clearest demonstration of the quiet style—the dominant, most provocative, most interesting aesthetic of our time—is in theater, where Annie Baker created a revolution by slowing everything down, inserting long pauses, setting plays at room temperature. Baker is, in America and for straight plays, the unquestioned superstar playwright of her generation. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and a MacArthur Grant in 2017. Her success is so sweeping that it’s almost hard to remember how weird her style seemed five or ten years ago, and how much it ran against all the prevailing headwinds of playwriting, which, for decades, had been all about making plays faster, more shocking, edgier.

American plays were already fast-paced (quick cuts, overlapping dialogue) and then, in the 1970s, David Mamet figured out a syncopated style that made them even faster. (“Arrive late, leave early,” is his prescription for writing scenes). Neil LaBute, Mamet’s heir, starts his signature play, Reasons to Be Pretty, with the stage direction: “Two people in their bedroom, already in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!” Edward Albee, the reigning granddaddy of American theater, admitted that he wrote The Goat, a play about a man’s love affair with a farm animal, more or less because he couldn’t think of any taboos left to break.

For Baker, studying playwriting at NYU, the contemporary approach to playwriting was a nightmare—a formula to get your turns and reveals as plentiful and as high up in the script as possible, and all of it about as artistic as working in the pit at Daytona. While in graduate school, she had a breakdown (by her accounting, one of many) and, stuck, declared to her mentor that what she really wanted to do was to write a play about her mom and her mom’s “hippie friends sitting around and talking about spirituality for two hours,” which, to Mamet and her NYU professors, would have been like saying that what she wanted most as a playwright was to make sure that her audience had the right atmosphere for a nice, peaceful nap."



"But it’s not as if the quiet style began ten years ago. Chekhov is quiet. Our Town is quiet. Beckett is quiet. French New Wave is quiet. Probably, in every era, ‘serious’ art is quieter and slower than commercial. What I am saying, though, is that something distinctive is happening, and it’s clearly resonating with audiences since the same tendencies are dominant in all these different mediums, producing what for years has been the the most unsettling, most challenging, most talked-about work.

The key figure for the quiet style, the one who lays its sociopolitical foundations, is J.M. Coetzee. In Coetzee, the ruling class relinquishes—reluctantly but voluntarily—all its entitlements and, in humility and debasement, acquires a kind of beneficence. “The alternatives [to the power structure] are not,” he writes in the Diary Of A Bad Year, “placid servitude on the one hand and revolt against servitude on the other. There is a third way, chosen by thousands and millions of people every day. It is the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.”

For the protagonists of the quiet style, most of whom descend from generations of easy living (their privilege is so patent and so internalized that they rarely deign even to speak of it), institutions no longer have anything to offer them and need nothing from them. They tend to be very willing to relinquish whatever societal power they have to those who want it more than they do. It’s characteristic to be an ex-pat (as in Lerner and Greenwell) or to be in some sort of internal exile (Vermont in Baker’s plays) or to be adrift in the ghettos of the unpublished, unproduced artistic underclass (as in Jarmusch, Baumbach, Heti, Dunham, etc). In other words, to have opted out.

What’s crucial—and, ultimately, what defines the quiet style—is the gesture of abnegation, a recognition by its heroes that success either is not for them or doesn’t matter to them. In spite of its heavy use of naturalism, the quiet style is not realism. Fundamentally, the quiet style is a mode of religious expression and it leans heavily on its confessional aspect, its blind faith that the moments of most abject, most senseless humiliation are also the moments when we are at our funniest and truest and (ultimately) most divine. For me, the great attraction of the quiet style is that it takes the attributes of my much-maligned generation—our restlessness, fecklessness, envy, solipsism—and turns them into something like a prayer."
quiet  quietness  slow  pause  pauses  art  film  theater  samuelbeckett  frenchnewwave  jmcoetzee  2017  style  playwriting  writing  davidmamet  anniebaker  abnegation  restlessness  fecklessness  envy  solipsism  naturalism  realism  antonchekhov  jimjarmusch  sheilaheti  lenadunham  noahbaumbach  filmmaking  taolin  benlerner  mumblecore 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Mαtt Thomαs on Twitter: "Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”"
"Gonna try to live-tweet @Jessifer’s talk at @uiowa today: “Designing Assignments: Redesigning Assessment.”

.@Jessifer begins by talking about some personal stufff, as a deliberate tactic to situate himself as a human being amongst other human beings. Something to also do on the first day of class, etc.

.@Jessifer says he doesn’t use the LMS at his school because he doesn’t want students to encounter and interface with it before him, a person.

.@Jessifer points out that today syllabuses are often generated from required, stock, auto-generated templates. This sort of “scaffolding,” however, presumes a lot of things about how learning happens that might not be useful.

For instance, many of us (read: teachers) are designing courses and assignments for students we don’t even know yet. To bring in the work of @saragoldrickrab, we need to design for the students we have, not the students we wish we had.

What happens, for instance, when you learn that 1 in 2 students face food insecurity issues? How might that change how you design courses/assignments?

.@Jessifer moves on to talk about grades. They’re not some universal constant, but rather a technology that we have to learn to use, or perhaps not use.

Grading reduces learning to a transaction instead of a set of human relationships.

College teachers have often internalized ways of grading that they can perhaps free themselves from. @Jessifer says we need to “raise a critical eyebrow” at our own grading practices — e.g., our rubrics. He argues against scale, for a return to subjectivity!

In the gradebook students are reduced to rows, in the rubric reduced to columns.

Especially important things to think about, @Jessifer points out, now that almost all colleges have adopted Learning Management Systems, course “shells,” and standardized syllabuses.

.@Jessifer has recently moved to shorter-worded assignments that ask for non-traditional products. Reconceptualize the internet using analog tools, re-order the words of a poem — then document your process!"
jessestommel  mattthomas  2019  rubrics  grading  teaching  syllabus  assessment  howweteach  howwelearn  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  humanism  lms  templates  standardization  writing  howwewrite  form  alternative  syllabi 
april 2019 by robertogreco
In Praise of bell hooks - The New York Times
In 1987, I was a sophomore at Yale. I’d been in the United States for 11 years, and although I was a history major, I wanted to read novels again. I signed up for “Introduction to African-American Literature,” which was taught by Gloria Watkins, an assistant professor in the English department, and she was such a wonderful teacher that I signed up for her other class, “Black Women and Their Fiction.”

Gloria — as we were allowed to address her in the classroom — had a slight figure with elegant wrists that peeked out of her tunic sweater sleeves. She was soft-spoken with a faint Southern accent, which I attributed to her birthplace, Hopkinsville, Ky. She was in her mid-30s then but looked much younger. Large, horn-rimmed glasses framed the open gaze of her genuinely curious mind. You knew her classes were special. The temperature in the room seemed to change in her presence because everything felt so intense and crackling like the way the air can feel heavy before a long-awaited rain. It wasn’t just school then. No, I think, we were falling in love with thinking and imagining again.

She didn’t assign her own writing, but of course my friends and I went to the bookstore to find it. Gloria Watkins published her first book, “Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism,” under her pen name, bell hooks, in honor of her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. Watkins wanted her pen name to be spelled in lowercase to shift the attention from her identity to her ideas.

Gloria Watkins was a 19-year-old undergraduate at Stanford University when she wrote her first draft of “Ain’t I A Woman,” and she published the book when she was 29 years old, after she received her doctorate in English from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Since then she has published three dozen books and teaches in her home state of Kentucky at Berea College, a liberal arts college that does not charge tuition to any of its students. She is the founder of the bell hooks Institute and is recognized globally as a feminist activist and cultural critic. For nearly four decades, hooks has written and published with clarity, novel insight and extraordinary precision about art, media, race, gender and class.

For this now canonical text, hooks took her title from a line in the 1863 published version of Sojourner Truth’s speech in favor of women’s suffrage, which she gave in 1851 in Akron, Ohio. As in Truth’s political activism, hooks asserts that one cannot separate race from gender, history and class when considering a person’s freedom.

Now, 38 years after its publication in 1981, “Ain’t I A Woman” remains a radical and relevant work of political theory. hooks lays the groundwork of her feminist theory by giving historical evidence of the specific sexism that black female slaves endured and how that legacy affects black womanhood today. She writes, “A devaluation of black womanhood occurred as a result of the sexual exploitation of black women during slavery that has not altered in the course of hundreds of years.” The economics of slavery, which commodified human lives and the breeding of more enslaved people, encouraged the systematic practice of rape against black women, and this system established an enduring “social hierarchy based on race and sex.”

hooks’s writing broke ground by recognizing that a woman’s race, political history, social position and economic worth to her society are just some of the factors, which comprise her value, but none of these can ever be left out in considering the totality of her life and her freedom.

For me, reading “Ain’t I A Woman,” was as if someone had opened the door, the windows, and raised the roof in my mind. I am neither white nor black, but through her theories, I was able to understand that my body contained historical multitudes and any analysis without such a measured consideration was limited and deeply flawed.

I was 19 when I took hooks’s classes, and I was just becoming a young feminist myself. I had begun my study of feminism with Mary Wollstonecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Virginia Woolf, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, among other white women, and perhaps, because I was foreign-born — rightly or wrongly — I had not expected that people like me would be included in their vision of feminist liberation. Women and men of Asian ethnicities are so often neglected, excluded and marginalized in the Western academy, so as a college student I’d no doubt internalized my alleged insignificance. bell hooks changed my limited perception.

Her book of theory taught me to ask for more from art, literature, media, politics and history — and for me, a Korean girl who had been born in a divided nation once led by kings, colonizers, then a succession of presidents who were more or less dictators, and for millenniums, that had enforced rigid class systems with slaves and serfs until the early 20th century, and where women of all classes were deeply oppressed and brutalized, I needed to see that the movement had a space for me.

In fostering a feminist movement, which can include and empower women from all different races and classes, hooks calls for an honest reckoning of its history. She indicts the origins of the white feminist movement for its racist and classist treatment of African-American women and repudiates its goals of imitating the power structure of white patriarchy. That said, she does not support a separate black women’s movement, and in fact, sees that as counterproductive to the greater power a well-organized collective women’s movement can have. hooks wrote in “Ain’t I A Woman”: “Without a doubt, the false sense of power black women are encouraged to feel allows us to think that we are not in need of social movements like a women’s movement that would liberate us from sexist oppression. The sad irony is of course that black women are often most victimized by the very sexism we refuse to collectively identify as an oppressive force.”

I am 50 years old now, and I worry when I hear that feminism is anything a woman chooses, because I don’t think that’s true. If a woman chooses to hurt another person or herself in the guise of feminism, surely that cannot eradicate sexism. bell hooks asserts that freedom “as positive social equality that grants all humans the opportunity to shape their destinies in the most healthy and communally productive way can only be a complete reality when our world is no longer racist and sexist.” This is very true, I think, and I wonder if today we are considering what is “most healthy and communally productive” for all of us, not just for some of us.

In college, I did not imagine that I could be a fiction writer. The wish to make art seemed like some incredibly expensive store I could never enter. Nevertheless, no matter what I would do with my life after graduation, “Ain’t I A Woman” allowed me to recognize the dignity and power of living privately and publicly as an immigrant feminist of color. At the time, I did not yet know of Kimberle Crenshaw’s brilliant term “intersectionality,” or Claudia Rankine’s vital concept “racial imaginary” — complementary and significant theories for understanding present day lives, but as a young woman, through hooks’s work, I was just beginning to see that everyone needs theory, and we need it like water.

bell hooks: A Starter Kit
‘Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center’ (1984) Considered a follow-up to “Ain’t I A Woman.” A smart analysis of the future of the women’s movement.

‘Talking Back: Thinking, Thinking Black’ (1989) Anthology of essays about feminism and finding her material and voice as a writer, including “to Gloria, who is she: on using a pseudonym” and “Ain’t I A Woman: looking back.”

‘Black Looks: Race and Representation’ (1992) Anthology of essays, including the knockout, “Eating the Other,” and film-studies canon essay, “The Oppositional Gaze.”

‘Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom’ (1994) An exciting and liberating work of practical pedagogy for teachers and students.

‘Outlaw Culture’ (1994) Anthology of cultural criticism, including film, music and books. A terrific essay on rap music, “Gangsta Culture — Sexism and Misogyny,” which my friend Dionne Bennett, another former student of bell hooks and an anthropologist at City Tech, teaches because “There is no better essay on this topic,” says Dionne.

‘We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity’ (2004) Anthology of insightful cultural criticism of how white culture marginalizes and represses black men."
bellhooks  2019  minjinlee  feminism  race  racism  sexism  writing  teaching  howweteach  patriarchy  freedom  history  art  literature  media  politics  class  whitesupremacy  whiteness  whitefeminism  oppression 
march 2019 by robertogreco
On the importance of being idle: Writer Anna Della Subin on the unsung values of doing nothing, procrastination as its own form of productivity, and the mythological power of sleep. [The Creative Independent]
"The real epiphanies of figuring out what I’m trying to say don’t happen when I chain myself to my desk. I let myself into the labyrinth, to get lost in the footnotes of arcane books from the 19th century, or just out on a walk. I need a sense of timelessness to do my best work."
annadellsubin  howwewrite  writing  thinking  howwethink  idleness  procrastination  2019  derive  meandering  walking  solviturambulando  laziness  insomnia  sleep  time  timelessness  howwework  immortality 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Blogging is most certainly not dead
"A few weeks ago, I asked the readers of the Noticing newsletter to send in links to their blogs and newsletters (or to their favorite blogs and newsletters written by others). And boy, did they! I pared the submissions list down to a representative sample and sent it out as last week’s newsletter. Here’s a smaller excerpt of that list…you can find the whole thing here.

Several people wrote in about Swiss Miss, Subtraction, Damn Interesting, Cup of Jo, sites I also read regularly.

Ted pointed me towards Julia Evans’ blog, where she writes mostly (but not exclusively) about programming and technology. One of my favorite things about reading blogs is when their authors go off-topic. (Which might explain why everything on kottke.org is off-topic. Or is everything on-topic?)

Bruce sent in Follow Me Here, which linked to 3 Quarks Daily, a high-quality blog I’d lost track of.

Marcelo Rinesi blogs infrequently about a little bit of everything. “We write to figure out who we are and what we think.”

Futility Closet is “a collection of entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible”. (Thx, Peter)

Michael Tsai blogs about technology in a very old school way…reading through it felt like a wearing a comfortable old t-shirt.

Sidebar: the five best design links, every day. And Nico Lumma’s Five Things, “five things everyday that I find interesting”.

Pamela wrote in with dozens of links, among them visual blog But Does It Float, neuroscience blog Mind Hacks, the old school Everlasting Blort.

Elsa recommends Accidentally in Code, written by engineer Cate Huston.

Madeleine writes Extraordinary Routines, “sharing interviews, musings and life experiments that explore the intersection between creativity and imperfection”.

Kari has kept her blog for the last 15 years. I love what she wrote about why she writes:
I also keep it out of spite, because I refuse to let social media take everything. Those shapeless, formless platforms haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it. I’ve blogged about this many times, but I still believe it: When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.

Social media is as compelling as ever, but people are increasingly souring on the surveillance state Skinner boxes like Facebook and Twitter. Decentralized media like blogs and newsletters are looking better and better these days…"

[See also:
Noticing Newsletter's "Blogging Is Most Certainly Not Dead" edition:
https://mailchi.mp/kottke/blogging-is-not-dead-edition-2575912502?e=9915150aa0

Noticing Newsletter's "The Best Kottke Posts of 2018 B-Sides" edition
https://mailchi.mp/kottke/noticing-the-best-kottke-posts-of-2018-b-sides-edition-12212018?e=9915150aa0 ]
blogs  blogging  jasonkottke  kottke  2018  writing  web  web2.0  internet  online  rss 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Jeff Sharlet en Instagram: “Wednesday night I worked on my father’s obituary. Thursday, in class, I pulled up on the projector this photograph, “Hyeres, France, 1932,”…”
"Wednesday night I worked on my father’s obituary. Thursday, in class, I pulled up on the projector this photograph, “Hyeres, France, 1932,” by Henri Cartier-Bresson. We’d read a book called H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald, a memoir of her grief for her late father. He was a photographer. It was he who taught her how to look, to have the patience to see what Cartier-Bresson called a “decisive moment.” “Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you,” wrote Cartier-Bresson, “and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. The moment! Once you miss it, it is gone forever.” // Because I was tired, because before I knew my father would die I had assigned this book about grieving a father—because for some reason I had assigned, across two courses, three books about lost fathers—I mentioned my own writing assignment of the previous evening. An obituary. I told my students the book we had just read was an obituary. An obituary, I said, should not be a recitation of facts; rather, a remembrance of decisive moments. Click. // He’s 18, in a campus movie theater with his football teammates. On screen: subtitles. The movie is French, Cocteau’s Orpheus. Bob Sharlet has never “read” a movie before. He has never, he thinks, really read at all. Now he’ll never stop reading again. // Christmas, 1991, Cairo, at a vegetable stand, seeing on a little tv at the back of the stand the Soviet flag being lowered, the end of the U.S.S.R., to which he had devoted his scholarly life—his life—and realizing, suddenly, that now he could read about anything. // A month ago Saturday.We’ve told him his prognosis—terminal, soon. He’d said he’d sleep an hour. Now he lifts his sleeping mask. He opens his eyes. “Okay,” he says. // Today, sifting through his boxes of photographs, I found this postcard. Blank. He kept it for the picture. The picture I taught Thursday. // I imagine—as I think my father imagined—Cartier-Bresson descending the stairs, noticing the rail, the steps, the curve. Stopping, stepping back. He thinks he’s waiting for a walker. Then comes the bicycle, circles and triangles and spokes. Click. And then it’s gone, forever."
jeffsharlet  writing  reading  howwewrite  life  living  howweread  2019  bobshartlet  photography  bricolage  moments  death  henricartier-bresson  teaching  howweteach  intution  memory  memories  change  decisivemoments 
february 2019 by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
february 2019 by robertogreco
The Creative Independent: Jonas Mekas on documenting your life
"Were you ever interested in writing a straightforward memoir about your life?

I don’t have time for that. There are fragments of that in this book, but I think my films are my biography. There are bits and fragments of my personal life in all of my films, so maybe someday I’ll put them together and that will be my autobiography."



"People talk a lot about your films, but you have a poetry practice as well.

Occasionally I still write poems. It comes from a different part of me. When you write, of course it comes from your mind, into your fingers, and finally reaches the paper. With a camera, of course there is also the mind but it’s in front of the lens, what the lens can catch. It’s got nothing to do with the past, but only the image itself. It’s there right now. When you write, you could write about what you thought 30 years ago, where you went yesterday, or what you want for the future. Not so with the film. Film is now.

Are most of your decisions intuitive? Is it a question of just feeling when something is right or when it isn’t?

I don’t feel it necessarily, but it’s like I am forced—like I have to take my camera and film, though I don’t know why. It’s not me who decides. I feel that I have to take the camera and film. That is what’s happening. It’s not a calculated kind of thing. The same when I write. It’s not calculated. Not planned at all. It just happens. My filmmaking doesn’t cost money and doesn’t take time. Because one can always afford to film 10 seconds in one day or shoot one roll of film in a month. It’s not that complicated. I always had a job of one kind of other to support myself because I had to live, I had to eat, and I had to film.

How do you feel about art schools? Is being an artist something that can be taught?

I never wanted to make art. I would not listen to anybody telling me how to do it. No, nobody can teach you to do it your way. You have to discover by doing it. That’s the only way. It’s only by doing that you discover what you still need, what you don’t know, and what you still have to learn. Maybe some technical things you have to learn for what you really want to do, but you don’t know when you begin. You don’t know what you want to do. Only when you begin doing do you discover which direction you’re going and what you may need on the journey that you’re traveling. But you don’t know at the beginning.

That’s why I omitted film schools. Why learn everything? You may not need any of it. Or while you begin the travel of the filmmaker’s journey, maybe you discover that you need to know more about lighting, for instance. Maybe what you are doing needs lighting. You want to do something more artificial, kind of made up, so then you study lights, you study lenses, you study whatever you feel you don’t know and you need. When you make a narrative film, a big movie with actors and scripts, you need all that, but when you just try to sing, you don’t need anything. You just sing by yourself with your camera or with your voice or you dance. On one side it is being a part of the Balanchine, on the other side it is someone dancing in the street for money. I’m the one who dances in the street for money and nobody throws me pennies. Actually, I get a few pennies… but that’s about it.

You’ve made lots of different kinds of films over many years. Did you always feel like you were still learning, still figuring it out as your went along?

Not necessarily. I would act stupid sometimes when people used to see me with my Bolex recording some random moment. They’d say, “What is this?” I’d say, “Oh nothing, it’s not serious.” I would hide from Maya Deren. I never wanted her to see me filming because she would say, “But this is not serious. You need a script!” Then I’d say, “Oh, I’m just fooling. I’m just starting to learn,” but it was just an excuse that I was giving, that I’m trying to learn. I always knew that this was more or less the materials I’d always be using. I was actually filming. There is not much to learn in this kind of cinema, other than how to turn on a camera. What you learn, you discover as you go. What you are really learning is how to open yourself to all the possibilities. How to be very, very, very open to the moment and permitting the muse to come in and dictate. In other words, the real work you are doing is on yourself."



"You are a kind of master archivist. I’m looking around this space—which is packed with stuff, but it all appears to be pretty meticulously organized. How important is it to not only document your work, but to also be a steward of your own archives.

You have to. For me there is constantly somebody who wants to see something in the archives, so I have to deal with it. I cannot neglect them. These are my babies. I have to take care of them. I learned very early that it’s very important to keep careful indexes of everything so that it helps you to find things easily when it’s needed. For example, I have thousands of audio cassettes, in addition to all the visual materials. I have a very careful index of every cassette. I know what’s on it. You tell me the name of the person or the period and I will immediately, within two or three minutes, be able to retrieve it. People come here and look around and say, “Oh, how can you find anything in this place?” No, I find it very easily.

I always carry a camera with me in order to capture or record a couple images and sometimes conversations. Evenings, parties, dinners, meetings, friends. Now, it’s all on video, but back when I was using the Bolex camera, I always had a Sony tape recorder in my pocket—a tiny Sony and that picked up sounds. I have a lot of those from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s. Hundreds and hundreds. I have books which are numbered, each page has written down what’s on each numbered cassette. I don’t index everything, that would be impossible, but approximation is enough. I advise everyone to do this. Record things. Keep an index. It’s very important."



"Aside from all of those projects, do you still have a sort of day-to-day creative practice?

I never needed a creative practice. I don’t believe in creativity. I just do things. I grew up on a farm where we made things, grew things. They just grow and you plant the seeds and then they grow. I just keep making things, doing things. Has nothing to do with creativity. I don’t need creativity."



"And the last remaining company that still made VCRs recently went out of business.

So, all of this new technology, it’s okay for now… but it’s very temporary. You could almost look at it from a spiritual angle. All technology is temporary. Everything falls to dust anyway. And yet, you keep making things."
jonasmekas  2017  film  filmmaking  poetry  documentation  archives  collage  books  writing  creativity  howwewrite  biography  autobiography  art  work  labor  technology  video  vcrs  temporary  ephemeral  ephemerality  making  howwework  howwemake  journals  email  everyday 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Translation Blogs We Think You Should Be Reading | Center for the Art of Translation | Two Lines Press
"Here are some of our favorite translation blogs (listed alphabetically). And we need your help! Which ones are we missing?

• Arablit was founded by M. Lynx Qualey and covers Arabic literature in (and not yet in) translation. There you can find roundups of forthcoming books translated from Arabic, book reviews, resources for teachers of Arabic literature in translation, and so much more. Plus, it’s the home of the ArabLit Story Prize.
https://arablit.org/

• Asymptote’s blog has a regular circulation of reviews, essays, and translations, as well as a weekly roundup of world literature news.
https://www.asymptotejournal.com/blog/
https://arablit.org/category/teaching-with-arabic-literature-in-translation/
https://arablit.org/2018/02/11/sunday-submissions-announcing-the-2018-arablit-story-prize/

• Biblibio is the blog of Meytal Radzinski, the founder of the Women in Translation movement and WITMonth. As Radzinski herself describes: “Biblibio is not a review blog. What does that mean? It means that the humble figure behind the veil sees the purpose of this blog as discussing a life in books in general, not only through reviews (though obviously somewhat). Bibli – book. Bio – life. This is a life in letters.”
https://biblibio.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/Read_WIT

• The Complete Review and its accompanying blog, The Literary Saloon, are run by M. A. Orthofer. Go here for reviews of books both popular and obscure, as well as international literary news that is rarely covered elsewhere. A great resource!
http://www.complete-review.com/main/main.html
http://www.complete-review.com/saloon/index.htm

• Conversational Reading is the blog of our own Publicity Director and Senior Editor, Veronica Scott Esposito. While not exclusively translation, the blog is largely translation-focused, including lists of interesting new and forthcoming books, Q&As with translators and authors, essays, and other related news in the field.
http://conversationalreading.com/
http://conversationalreading.com/category/interviews/

• Lizok’s Bookshelf is the blog of award-winning Russian translator Lisa Hayden. This is the go-to place for those interested in Russian literature. Lisa will let you know what is going on in the world of Russian literary prizes, tell you about interesting books coming out in Russia, books she’s reading, and, of course, books she’s translating.
https://lizoksbooks.blogspot.com/

• Reader@Large is the blog of Tara Cheesman-Olmsted, a freelance book critic, National Book Critic Circle member, and 2018 Best Translated Book Award fiction judge. The blog began as a general book review blog, but Tara currently only reviews books by international authors and translations, with a preference for small presses!
https://readeratlarge.com/

• Three Percent is the translation blog of the University of Rochester. Chad Post delights us with in-depth blog posts on a wide range of topics within the translation field. Home to book reviews, the Best Translation Book Award, and updates on trends in the translation field (including graphs and all kinds of fancy data analysis)!
https://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/

• Tony’s Reading List is the blog of a true international literature aficionado. Dive into the expansive book review archives (spanning back to 2009) or, if you’re feeling adventurous, dig into something a little different.
https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.com/
https://tonysreadinglist.wordpress.com/something-a-little-different/

• Translationista is the blog of Susan Bernofsky, German-language translator extraordinaire. She’ll keep you up-to-date on the latest literary prizes, as well as other news in the field. Make sure you check out: “Getting the Rights to Translate a Work: A How-To Guide” and “Tips for Beginning Translators.”
http://translationista.com/
http://translationista.com/2017/02/getting-rights-translate-work.html
http://translationista.com/2017/08/tips-beginning-translators.html

• WWB Daily, the blog of Words Without Borders, features a monthly watchlist of books coming out that month, in-depth essays by translators, excerpts from forthcoming books in translation.
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/tarsila-do-amaral-translating-modernism-in-brazil-elisa-wouk-almino
https://www.wordswithoutborders.org/dispatches/article/first-read-from-lion-cross-point-masatsugu-ono-angus-turvill "
blogs  translation  writing  language  languages  books  arabic  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Spaces of encounter: the performative art of reading | Thinkpiece | Architectural Review
"When the ‘counter novel’ Hopscotch by Julio Cortázar was published in 1963 it was celebrated as one of the most innovative experiments in 20th-century literature. The book was written to allow and encourage many different and complementary readings. As the author’s note at the beginning of the novel suggests, it can be read either progressively in the first 56 chapters or by ‘hopscotching’ through the entire set of 155 chapters according to a ‘Table of Instructions’. Cortázar also allows the reader the option of choosing their own unique path through the book. It’s no coincidence that the narrative – from the title of the book to the several overlapping stories that are contained in it – is based on a game often played in small groups in public spaces and playgrounds, in which the player has to hop or jump to retrieve a small object tossed into numbered patterns drawn on the ground. The book’s main structure has strong allusions to the notions of ‘space’ and the way we navigate through it, with its three main sections entitled ‘From the Other Side’, ‘From this Side’, and ‘From Diverse Sides’.

[image: "Since 2010, the ‘book bloc’ has been a visible feature of protests"]

Similarly, but from a different perspective, one of the first things the reader notes when flipping through Fantasies of the Library edited by Anne-Sophie Springer and Etienne Turpin and published in 2016 by MIT Press, is that the book itself can be understood as a kind of public space. In effect, it presents a brilliant dérive through books, book collections and the physical spaces of libraries from a curatorial perspective, going from private collections and the way their shelves are organised, to more ad hoc and temporary infrastructures, such as the People’s Library at Occupy Wall Street in New York, or the Biblioburro, a travelling library in Colombia that distributes books from the backs of two donkeys, Alfa and Beto. Various configurations and layouts have been designed in response to these narratives. They include essays, photos and interviews, setting up different kinds of encounters between authors, editors, readers, photographers and illustrators. Once you have the book in your hands, you gradually start to apprehend that the four conversations are printed only on left-hand pages, interspersed with other essays on right-hand ones. So it is only when you start reading voraciously and are interrupted by the ‘non-sense’ of these jumps, when the understanding of the dynamics imposed by the layout manifests itself, that you become aware you are already ‘hopscotching’ from page to page. The chapter ‘Reading Rooms Reading Machines’ is not only a visual essay about the power of books to create spaces around them and gather a community, it is also a curated, annotated and provocative history of these spaces as a conceptual continuation between the book and the city, ‘two environments in conjunction’, as Springer writes.

In some ways, it resembles the encounters you have in the streets of your neighbourhood. Some people you only glance at, others you smile at, there are a few with whom you talk and if you’re lucky, you might meet a friend. Within the texts, you can hop back and forth, approving, underlining, or absorbing in more detail. From individual object to the container known as the library, the idea of the book as a territory is explored in depth. Different kinds and sizes of spaces and the interactions that happen in and between them emerge. Springer describes the library as ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ – a place where the book is not a static object but a space in which the reader is an active agent, coming and going from the outside; outside the pages and outside the library. It recalls Ray Bradbury’s assertion that: ‘Books are in themselves already more than mere containers of information; they are also modes of connectivity and interrelation, making the library a meta-book containing illimitable intertextual elements.’

[image: "Improvised book blocs on the street" from source: Interference Archive]

In moving from the ‘hopscotching’ suggested by Cortázar to the idea of the ‘library as map’ as discussed by Springer and Turpin, it is clear that the inextricable relationship between books and space forms the basis of our understanding of books as spaces of encounter, and the importance of heterogeneous books – whether fiction, poetry or critical theory – as spaces of encounter for architectural discourse. In that sense, books can be perceived as new kinds of spaces, where empathy, alterity and otherness are stronger than ideologies. Catalysing dissent and open dialogue, they can be one of the most effective tools of resistance in times of censorship, fake news and post-truth. Social anthropologist Athena Athanasiou explains how books have been used in public space as part of political struggles. ‘People have taken to the streets to fight for critical thinking and public education, turning books into banners and shields against educational cuts and neoliberal regimes of university governance’, she writes. This activism emphasises the strong symbolic power of the relationship between books and architectural spaces, ‘where the books were not only at the barricades, they were the barricades’. Such agency can transgress almost any kind of limit or boundary, and can happen in any sort of space – from your mobile device to the library or the street. But it is in the public sphere where the book’s agency can have the ‘power to affect’, becoming ‘a hybrid site for performing the book’ beyond the confines of the library.

Books can be ‘performed’ in many ways, especially when critical writing and the act of reading create spaces of encounter in the city. In June 2013, after plans were unveiled to develop Istanbul’s Gezi Park, artist Erdem Gunduz initiated his Standing Man protest while he stood motionless in Taksim Square for eight hours. This thoughtful form of resistance inspired a group of ‘silent readers’ who successfully transformed a space of fighting and friction into a meaningful space of encounter by simply standing still and reading books. It became known as the Tak sim Square Book Club, paradoxically one of the most dynamic demonstrations in recent years. The strength and energy contained in the bodies of each reader, but also in every book and the endless stories and narratives between covers, transformed Taksim Square into a highly politicised space. Instead of being compromised by conflict between government and citizens, it became a space of encounter that gave agency to each silent reader and to the wider collectivity they brought into being.

[image: "Readers in Istanbul’s Taksim Square transform the space through peaceful activism"]

The moment when writing, often carried out in solitude, is published, circulated and made accessible to everyone is the moment of generating public space, argues the French philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman. This was demonstrated in the ‘Parasitic Reading Room’, a nomadic, spontaneous and parasitic set of reading spaces staged during the opening days of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. Initially consisting of a series of out-loud readings of texts at selected venues, it then expanded to become an urban dérive across the streets of the city in the company of a mobile radio broadcasting the live readings. In that moment, the ‘walking reading room’ became a space of exchange, knowledge and collaboration. Different points of view coexisted, enriching each other, forming knowledge assemblages. It reminds us that reading together, whether silently or aloud, forces us to interact, to respect the times and rhythms of others, to learn new words and their sounds and to think new thoughts. In doing so, we rediscover new territories of empathy that become visible when visiting these spaces of encounter, where we learn that we can host otherness as part of the self. Where comradeship is a means instead of an end. Books create the spaces in which to play hopscotch together again."
ethelbaraonapohl  césarreyesnájera  books  reading  howweread  howwewrite  rayuela  2019  neilgaiman  fiction  space  performance  etienneturpin  derive  collections  libraries  raybradbury  connectivity  interrelation  hypertext  athenaathanasiou  architecture  protest  biblioburro  nomads  nomadism  nomadic  ows  occupywallstreet  conversation  neighborhoods  urban  urbanism  cities  istanbul  geziprk  erdemgunduz  taksimsquare  georgesdidi-huberman  comradeship  solidarity  empathy  writing  visibility  hopscotch  juliocortázar  anna-sophiespringer  dérive 
january 2019 by robertogreco
The 'Future Book' Is Here, but It's Not What We Expected | WIRED
"THE FUTURE BOOK was meant to be interactive, moving, alive. Its pages were supposed to be lush with whirling doodads, responsive, hands-on. The old paperback Zork choose-your-own-adventures were just the start. The Future Book would change depending on where you were, how you were feeling. It would incorporate your very environment into its story—the name of the coffee shop you were sitting at, your best friend’s birthday. It would be sly, maybe a little creepy. Definitely programmable. Ulysses would extend indefinitely in any direction you wanted to explore; just tap and some unique, mega-mind-blowing sui generis path of Joycean machine-learned words would wend itself out before your very eyes.

Prognostications about how technology would affect the form of paper books have been with us for centuries. Each new medium was poised to deform or murder the book: newspapers, photography, radio, movies, television, videogames, the internet.

Some viewed the intersection of books and technology more positively: In 1945, Vannevar Bush wrote in The Atlantic: “Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.”

Researcher Alan Kay created a cardboard prototype of a tablet-like device in 1968. He called it the "Dynabook," saying, “We created a new kind of medium for boosting human thought, for amplifying human intellectual endeavor. We thought it could be as significant as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press 500 years ago.”

In the 1990s, Future Bookism hit a kind of beautiful fever pitch. We were so close. Brown University professor Robert Coover, in a 1992 New York Times op-ed titled “The End of Books,” wrote of the future of writing: “Fluidity, contingency, indeterminacy, plurality, discontinuity are the hypertext buzzwords of the day, and they seem to be fast becoming principles, in the same way that relativity not so long ago displaced the falling apple.” And then, more broadly: “The print medium is a doomed and outdated technology, a mere curiosity of bygone days destined soon to be consigned forever to those dusty unattended museums we now call libraries.”

Normal books? Bo-ring. Future Books? Awesome—indeterminate—and we were almost there! The Voyager Company built its "expanded books" platform on Hypercard, launching with three titles at MacWorld 1992. Microsoft launched Encarta on CD-ROM.

But … by the mid-2000s, there still were no real digital books. The Rocket eBook was too little, too early. Sony launched the eink-based Librie platform in 2004 to little uptake. Interactive CD-ROMs had dropped off the map. We had Wikipedia, blogs, and the internet, but the mythological Future Book—some electric slab that would somehow both be like and not like the quartos of yore—had yet to materialize. Peter Meirs, head of technology at Time, hedged his bets perfectly, proclaiming: “Ultimately, there will be some sort of device!”

And then there was. Several devices, actually. The iPhone launched in June 2007, the Kindle that November. Then, in 2010, the iPad arrived. High-resolution screens were suddenly in everyone’s hands and bags. And for a brief moment during the early 2010s, it seemed like it might finally be here: the glorious Future Book."



"Yet here’s the surprise: We were looking for the Future Book in the wrong place. It’s not the form, necessarily, that needed to evolve—I think we can agree that, in an age of infinite distraction, one of the strongest assets of a “book” as a book is its singular, sustained, distraction-free, blissfully immutable voice. Instead, technology changed everything that enables a book, fomenting a quiet revolution. Funding, printing, fulfillment, community-building—everything leading up to and supporting a book has shifted meaningfully, even if the containers haven’t. Perhaps the form and interactivity of what we consider a “standard book” will change in the future, as screens become as cheap and durable as paper. But the books made today, held in our hands, digital or print, are Future Books, unfuturistic and inert may they seem."

[sections on self-publishing, crowdfunding, email newsletters, social media, audiobooks and podcasts, etc.]



"It turns out smartphones aren’t the best digital book reading devices (too many seductions, real-time travesties, notifications just behind the words), but they make excellent audiobook players, stowed away in pockets while commuting. Top-tier podcasts like Serial, S-Town, and Homecoming have normalized listening to audio or (nonfiction) booklike productions on smartphones."



"Last August, a box arrived on my doorstep that seemed to embody the apotheosis of contemporary publishing. The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition was published via a crowdfunding campaign. The edition includes a book of images, three records, and a small poster packaged in an exquisite box set with supplementary online material. When I held it, I didn’t think about how futuristic it felt, nor did I lament the lack of digital paper or interactivity. I thought: What a strange miracle to be able to publish an object like this today. Something independently produced, complex and beautiful, with foil stamping and thick pages, full-color, in multiple volumes, made into a box set, with an accompanying record and other shimmering artifacts, for a weirdly niche audience, funded by geeks like me who are turned on by the romance of space.

We have arrived to the once imagined Future Book in piecemeal truths.

Moving images were often espoused to be a core part of our Future Book. While rarely found inside of an iBooks or Kindle book, they are here. If you want to learn the ukulele, you don’t search Amazon for a Kindle how-to book, you go to YouTube and binge on hours of lessons, stopping when you need to, rewinding as necessary, learning at your own pace.

Vannevar Bush's “Memex” essentially described Wikipedia built into a desk.

The "Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an iPhone.

In The Book of Sand, Borges wrote of an infinite book: "It was then that the stranger told me: 'Study the page well. You will never see it again.'" Describing in many ways what it feels like to browse the internet or peek at Twitter.

Our Future Book is composed of email, tweets, YouTube videos, mailing lists, crowdfunding campaigns, PDF to .mobi converters, Amazon warehouses, and a surge of hyper-affordable offset printers in places like Hong Kong.

For a “book” is just the endpoint of a latticework of complex infrastructure, made increasingly accessible. Even if the endpoint stays stubbornly the same—either as an unchanging Kindle edition or simple paperback—the universe that produces, breathes life into, and supports books is changing in positive, inclusive ways, year by year. The Future Book is here and continues to evolve. You’re holding it. It’s exciting. It’s boring. It’s more important than it has ever been.

But temper some of those flight-of-fancy expectations. In many ways, it’s still a potato."
craigmod  ebooks  reading  howweread  2018  kindle  eink  print  publishing  selfpublishing  blurb  lulu  amazon  ibooks  apple  digital  bookfuturism  hypertext  hypercard  history  vannevarbush  borges  twitter  animation  video  newsletters  email  pdf  mobi  epub  infrastructure  systems  economics  goldenrecord  voyager  audio  audiobooks  smarthphones  connectivity  ereaders  podcasts  socialmedia  kevinkelly  benthompson  robinsloan  mailchimp  timbuktulabs  elenafavilli  francescacavallo  jackcheng  funding  kickstarter  crowdfunding  blogs  blogging  wikipedia  internet  web  online  writing  howwewrite  self-publishing  youtube 
january 2019 by robertogreco
John Warner on Twitter: "I see defenses of the five-paragraph essay which describe the template as "training wheels" for developing writers. I unpack this in "Why They Can't Write" arguing that training wheels are not a help in developing essential skills
"I see defenses of the five-paragraph essay which describe the template as "training wheels" for developing writers. I unpack this in "Why They Can't Write" arguing that training wheels are not a help in developing essential skills, but a hack to prevent academic disaster.

This is true of training wheels on bikes. Research has shown that training wheels actually prevent the development of the most important skill for bike riding...balance. The training wheels function as a guard against children cracking their heads when supervision isn't available

Those bike training wheels may be a necessity so children can get around on a bike without being in physical danger, but experts now recommend children learning on "balance bikes" where their feet touch the ground from a young age. When it's time for a pedal bike, they're ready.

I believe one of the reasons we see the 5PE as a useful set of training wheels is because we fear (with justification) what happens if students have to practice the writing equivalent of balance (making choices) from the get go. None of this is the fault of teachers.

When students are being judged against standardized assessments from an early age, and teachers are judged on student performance, turning to the 5PE is a way of preventing potential disaster. It's sensible, rational, but I argue, it's not helping students learn to write.

IMO, writing is thinking, so anything that keeps students from developing their thinking and making choices ultimately delays or prevents their development. The 5PE is part of a system that punishes exploration, choice, freedom, because of an obsession with "assessment."

The 5PE has a long history that's always tied to assessment. It hasn't always been a part of schooling, however. I'm 48 and wasn't introduced to the 5PE until high school when it was introduced as a hack for AP exams. The saving grace is I'd already learned to think like a writer

When teachers say that students "need" the 5PE, I always want to know what they need it for, and it's almost always driven by a particular assessment, an assessment which may not be well-aligned with the experiences which help writers develop. This disconnect is at every level.

For a good chunk of my own teaching career, I enforced the disconnect by giving students more sophisticated versions of the 5PE in order to prevent disaster in "college" writing. Over time, came to believe I my prescriptions were hurting long term development more than helping.

My own big pedagogical shift came when I decided to look at my approach not as helping them do well on the assignment at hand, but looking more longterm, helping students develop their writing "practices" (knowledge, skills, attitudes, habits of mind of writers).

Taking that longer view often resulted in student writing artifacts that were not as accomplished as when I used more prescriptive methods. That was hard to swallow. But...I could see students engaged with a more challenging and ultimately rewarding struggle. That seemed worth it

As I became more familiar with the research on writing for transfer, I saw I'd stumbled on something lots of folks were already studying. Building a writing practice is just one framework for thinking about how experiences in writing transfer from one occasion to another.

Importantly, I had the freedom to make this shift. Even as a contingent college instructor, no one was breathing down my neck and I wasn't beholden to my students' performances on high stakes assessments. K-12 teachers are not allowed this same freedom.

Ultimately, this is why I decided that the front part of Why They Can't Write would have to examine the systemic problems underlying the teaching and learning of writing. Pedagogy is not a fix by itself. It isn't even the most important factor.

As long as we have a system which privileges compliance and conformity and constrains teacher and student freedom and agency, the 5PE will be useful. When it's a route to AP credit or college admission, it could be malpractice not to teach it.

But this is not the same as teaching students to write. It's training them to pass assessments, assessments which may be important, but which hold little meaning, particularly to students, which turns writing into something alienating, rather than liberating, a big problem IMO.

I do not criticize teachers who use the 5PE, but I will always question what's underneath that "need." Usually when we go looking, we see things that are actually not conducive to learning like standardization and surveillance, which inevitably lead to anxiety, or worse.

We must give K-12 teachers the freedom and power to work with the longterm development of their students in mind, rather than being beholden to these assessments which measure little that's meaningful. Without that freedom, we're stuck in this system.

To come full circle back to the training wheels theme, we have to make it so when students are developing their writing practices, they get to "fail" productively, rather than failure being something like flying over the handlebars and cracking a skull.

With writing, "mistakes" and error should always be occasions for learning, not punishment, and definitely not punishment of teachers. I spent years developing Why They Can't Write, and based on early readers, there's already stuff I'd change. That's exciting.

It's exciting because my ideas are being taken seriously by other people with similar concerns. My ideas matter to me, and them, and those ideas can be made better. Why wouldn't I want my students to have the same joy? It can be done, I believe.

Here is where I plug a forthcoming book which is my attempt to create the conditions under which students can experience similar pleasure with writing. Curriculum isn't going to save us by itself, but this is my best (current) attempt at living my values. https://www.amazon.com/Writers-Practice-Building-Confidence-Nonfiction/dp/0143133152/

And a coda. Here's a link to a dissertation by @jtdavisii which includes a deeply researched and fascinating history of the use of the 5PE. That part starts on P. 53 https://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1076&context=english_diss "

[See also:

Just got this important book in the mail... only a few pages in and I want every teacher who teaches writing (in other words, all teachers across all content areas) to read it. https://twitter.com/biblioracle/status/1079043288596992001
@biblioracle: I see defenses of the five-paragraph essay which describe the template as "training wheels" for developing writers. I unpack this in "Why They Can't Write" arguing that training wheels are not a help in developing…

@triciaebarvia
Especially consider what @biblioracle says about the faulty 5PE=training wheels analogy. Training wheels don’t teach balance. 5PE doesn’t teach thinking. #DisruptWriting

@triciaebarvia
I’ve also heard Ts say that 5PE is a scaffold. But scaffolds are temporary. A scaffold’s purpose is literally to render itself unnecessary. Yet the 5PE is being perpetrated into the middle and upper grades. #DisruptWriting

@triciaebarvia
Not to mention the fact that the 5PE, as a tool of standardization, is ultimately a tool that oppresses individual human voices—& by not making space for linguistic diversity & freedom, the 5PE is not culturally relevant pedagogy. (Or, I should say, it teaches culture but whose?)

@DulceFlecha
is #disruptwriting gonna be a thing??? online writing groups? sharing favorite mentor texts???

@edifiedlistener
Bring it. I'm ready. Still learning so much about process and potential. I still hold a lot of fear of experimenting which is why fiction writing stays out of bounds for me.

@DulceFlecha
I'm currently reading a book on trauma and memoir writing and its funny how many of these writers started off trying to write fiction instead. it's funny how desperately we cling to genre.

@DulceFlecha
and it's funny how desperately important the culture of a proofreader is. months ago I asked 5 (dope, wonderful) people to read a draft. only one caught the typo I made in the first sentence.

@TheJLV was the only Dominican. I forgot the A in tambora.

@DulceFlecha
it made me wonder how student writing changes when their primary reader-- the reader they give the most weight to-- is probably a white, middle class woman. what slips by? what changes does the teacher recommend that a cultural, racial peer wouldn't?

@DulceFlecha
when we prioritize the teacher as the most important reader-- the teacher grades, praises, deems finished or incomplete-- are we training kids to write for a white audience? and how can we disrupt that?

@triciaebarvia
Yes, yes we are. And I’d argue that most of what we’re doing in schools is teaching not just for a white audience but Whiteness itself. How to disrupt? Culturally relevant, responsive, sustaining pedagogy. I wonder how many Ts see their instruction as grounded in CSP, though...

@DulceFlecha
who gets to judge what is culturally sustaining? might be the next question. educators. families. students. communities. some combination of the four?

@triciaebarvia
Yes, definitely some combination. Too often it’s the culture of the teacher/school (Whiteness) that is perpetuated under guises like “college and career ready.”

@DulceFlecha
my new site yaught me that the only expert on a kid's culture is the kid. which I think I knew personally? my mother and I did not react the same way to the Poet X.

but I didn't know it professionally until immigration shelters.

@DulceFlecha
and now I'm always afraid, because the overwhelming majority of my kids are headed to U.S. schools. and there are so many aspects of culture we don't discuss in context of undocumented immigration."]
fiveparagraphessays  writing  howweteach  teaching  howwewrite  teachingwriting  eucation  johnarner  triciaebarvia  sherrispelic   
december 2018 by robertogreco
The Gay Love Stories of Moomin and the Queer Radicality of Tove Jansson | Autostraddle
"In 1955, Tove Jansson asked Tuulikki Pietilä to dance. They had sat all night around the gramophone together, guarding it whilst they played their records so that nobody could change the music. But Pietilä said no: same-sex relationships were still illegal in Finland — and would be until 1971 — and – the threat of judgement from peers and colleagues was intense. Queer people know well the hollow of panic, deep in the gut, when you think that your disguises may have failed. It is why, historically, we have avoided large displays of affection; why our histories take the form of private letters, fragments hidden inside books and diaries. The story of Tove and Tuulikki is no different; soon after she refused to dance, Tuulikki sent Tove a card with a cat, fat and striped, hand-drawn on the front. A code that meant: I am thinking of you. After telephone calls over the holidays, Tove finally set off to Tuulikki’s studio. It was March, and snowing, when she walked over; the streets were dark and the fat flakes fell in drifts that made the roads shine. When she got there, the studio warm and light like a ship’s cabin at sea, they drank wine and played French records.

Jansson’s queerness is often left out in stories of her life. Puffin editions of Moomin books talked about how she lived alone on her Finnish island; documentaries still talk of Pietilä as a lifelong friend. Jansson is no
 misnomer, rather, she fits in neatly with the trend of avoiding the personal lives of gay people
 – particularly lesbians – that exists to this day. Society dissolves queer realities: erases the two bodies sharing a bed, wrapped around each other, the two bodies fucking, the moments and hours and days, the holding hands and arguing and kissing and small talk. As seen throughout history, gayness is coded as dangerous for children. It is portrayed something purely sexual or purely chaste, rarely afforded the complexity and nuance afforded to heterosexual relationships. For Jansson to be a successful children’s writer she was portrayed as sexless, loveless. It’s particularly egregious when queerness informs the work of a writer to that extent that it did for Jansson. Not only do the themes of loneliness, family and love shape her work for adults and children, but she included characters based on her female lovers in many of her works.

Before meeting Pietilä, Jansson had been in a creative crisis. She knew the demand was high for another Moomin book, but dreaded the thought of repeating herself – she longed for new ground to tread, for the freedom of inspiration. As her fame had increased, so had her awareness that the Moomins were no longer hers alone; they now appeared on waste paper baskets and brooches and wrapping paper, and the public always wanted more. In 1955 she wrote of her conflicting feelings, saying, “I can’t recall exactly when I became hostile to my work, or how it happened and what I should do to recapture my natural pleasure in it.” The knowledge that she had to write another Moomin book loomed large in her mind. It was precisely Pietilä’s influence that helped overcome her writer’s block: “That I was able to write Moominland Midwinter was entirely due to Tooti,” Jansson stated to biographer Boel Westin in Tove Jansson: Life, Art Words. Out of their love letters the character of Too-tikky had been formed, first as an inky doodle of her lover’s likeness (‘My Tootikki!’, she nicknamed Pietilä), and then slowly as a fleshed-out form.

Moominland Midwinter was a radical departure from the sun-drenched summers of the Moomin valley that readers had seen before — sailing boats framed by orange-slice suns, picnics on the terrace, dances in the woods. Instead, Moomin wakes up from hibernation in the cold dark of a Finnish winter, pine trees blanketed with snow. He is disoriented and scared, eager to wake up his mother for comfort. However, when she turns away from him in her sleep he realises he must deal with this new world — and his yearning for spring — on his own. There to help him is Too-tikky, as no-nonsense as her flesh and blood counterpart, who describes to him the dancing colours of the Northern Lights, states “One has to discover everything for oneself.” Moomin realises that the winter is needed, for after it follows the spring, lush and bright and alive. It’s hard not to read this as a mirror of Jansson and Pietilä’s relationship, blooming out of the snow and cold — in Moominland Midwinter, our narrator states “There are such a lot of things that have no place in summer and autumn and spring. Everything that’s a little shy and a little rum. Some kinds of night animals and people that don’t fit in with others and that nobody really believes in.” The winter gives us as queer people the chance to show ourselves, to claim the world as ours.

This wasn’t the first lover she had included in her stories: Vivica Bandler, the married theatre director with whom Jansson had an affair in 1946, became the character of Bob. Bob’s counterpart, Thingumy, was Tove, who wrote to Bandler, “No one understands their language, but that doesn’t matter so long as they themselves know what it’s all about… Do you love me? Of dourse you coo! Sanks and the thame to you!” This exchange ended up almost entirely complete in Jansson’s next Moomin book, Finn Family Moomintroll, where Thingumy and Bob are introduced as intertwined, inextricable creatures, their names better known in conjunction than when on their own. They even look the same, only differentiated by the hat Bob wears. By placing them, idiosyncratic and unmissable, at the centre of the story, Jansson was able to make a public declaration of love in a private manner. Her passion – her willingness to depict their relationship for anybody who could decipher the code – led Bandler to warn her to be secretive. Not only was their love illegal, but it was classed as a psychiatric condition, and its reveal would have cost both women their livelihoods and families.

Queerness is Jansson’s works is never as simplistic as direct representation of lovers. It’s something that seeped into the pages, flowing along the lines in the illustrations. In a letter to Bandler, Jansson talks of how “everything has changed since I met you! Every tone is more vivid, every colour cleaner, all my perceptions are sharper.” Already so occupied with “pure, fresh colours” – fleshy greens and cornflower blues and sherbet yellows – Jansson’s passion for Bandler allowed her to utilise them further in her work, encouraging her to use them with a giddy joy on the front cover of Finn Family Moomintroll. Her renewed passion for colour around this time is also prominent in the murals she painted in Helsinki Town Hall, into which she painted Bandler, a tiny Moomintroll and herself; fan in one hand, cigarette in the other, turning her blue eyes away from the viewer’s gaze.

Throughout Finn Family Moomintroll there is a presence, cold and dark and flat, sucking the light from the sun, wilting the flowers. The Groke is the closest the Moomin books get to an antagonist, although even she is treated with sympathy. She is grey as a storm cloud, and wherever she goes the plants and creatures die. She is the antithesis of Thingumy and Bob’s happiness, the embodiment of loneliness to their companionship. It is they who get to keep suitcase of rubies in the end of the story, a treasure many long for but one whose dazzling contents are only available to those who have ‘the right’ to own it — their love makes them the only ones suitable for the honour. It’s tempting to read the Groke as an allegory for the bigotry of a society that seeks to separate lovers, and for the misery that follows. In typical Tove fashion, however, the Groke is not a figure of hatred or derision, but one of pity.

It is Too-Ticky who, in Moominland Midwinter, encourages us to empathise with the Groke — to consider how desperately lonely a life untouched by love must be. This is not to say that Jansson did not face the isolation that is inherent in the lives of most queer people — although she remained with Pietilä for the rest of her life, and although they shared connected apartments and their island cottage, she could never discuss her love with her family. Jansson was open with her friends, telling them that she the “happiest and most genuine solution for me will be to go over to the spook side;” a wonderfully matter-of-fact way of resolving her own conflicts over her sexuality. But both her father and her mother were unable to discuss it with her — Jansson describes how her father tried to speak with her after he had heard gossip, but ultimately, he could not say the “difficult word homosexual.” Jansson suspected that her mother knew, but never raised the subject, writing “I can accept this […] But it feels lonely.”

Only after her parents had died did Jansson write Fair Play, a collection of short stories that fictionalised her relationship with Pietilä. The characters in the book, Jonna and Mari, live as Jansson and Pietilä do – in adjoining apartments with connecting studios. They are – respectively – an artist, and an illustrator and writer. The stories are quiet: Jonna and Mari watch westerns together, try to protect their fishing nets from a storm, bicker over the way paintings hang on the wall. They travel to America, as their real-life counterparts did, and sleep in a tent when a guest stays in their island cottage. But it’s everyday-ness is precisely what makes it so calmly radical. It is a portrait of a lifelong lesbian couple, allowing us to see into their daily lives, the minutiae of how they live, and on display at the centre of everything is their love for one another. In her introduction Ali Smith brilliantly summarises it as “affectionate discretion […] a good-working love, a homage to the kind of coupledom that rarely receives such homage.” No longer forced to be… [more]
tovejansson  tuulikkipietilä  2018  moomins  sexuality  writing  hannahilliams  queerness  relationships  creativity  finland  love  boelwestin  1955  1946  vivicabandler  language  groke  empathy  literature  howwerite  homosexuality  alismith  affection  discretion 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Mendeley - Reference Management Software & Researcher Network
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mac  oscx  windows  linux  ios  android  research  software  writing  srg  education  academia  applications 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Is "Show Don't Tell" a Universal Truth or a Colonial Relic? | Literary Hub
"In his essay “The Storyteller” (1936), cultural critic Walter Benjamin mourns the death of oral and communal storytelling, taken over in modern history by the novel, the “birthplace of the solitary reader,” and information technology with a rise in capitalism. Yet, what Benjamin posits as the organic evolution of oral, communal practices of storytelling into modern modes of storytelling, consumed by a reader in “privacy,” is in fact, the understanding of a Western history of storytelling as a universal one. As Maggie Awadalla and Paul March-Russell suggest in the introduction to their anthology The Postcolonial Short Story (2012), many non-Western countries did not transition “organically” from oral to written storytelling with a rise in capitalism. For many formerly or currently colonized spaces like South Asia, Africa, Caribbean, American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalized, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture. In their study, Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts (1998), Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin defend “orality” not as a cultural precondition that morphed into a more advanced written culture, but orality as a counterpart to writing, where both co-exist, complement and transform each other constantly. This coexistence of oral and written modes of storytelling continues to thrive in postcolonial spaces, including those of Asia and Africa.

In her now-canonical essay “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (1934), Zora Neale Hurston makes a strong case for the use of vernacular—especially dialect and rhythm—in Black writing. In his story collection, Creole Folktales (1988) and equally canonical co-authored essay, “In Praise of Creoleness” (1989), Patrick Chamoiseau offers a manifesto for Caribbean storytelling that aims to free itself of French colonial gaze by transforming Martinican-French literature through a militant use of Creole. And while not through cultural theories or essays, contemporary writers like Salman Rushdie, Vikram Chandra, Roxane Gay, Junot Díaz, and Edwidge Danticat, among others, bring a strong, self-conscious vernacular in their stories. Their fiction questions not only an allegedly mainstream Euro-American storytelling marked by narrative brevity and an economy of words, as lauded by Edgar Allan Poe, John Barth and Francine Prose in their critical writing, but also the dominance of visuality in many fiction writing workshops with their show-don’t-tell credo, bolstered by our cinematic and digital age with its preference for images over sounds."



"James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Sandra Cisneros, Gish Jen, Tiphanie Yanique, ZZ Packer, Rajesh Parameswaran—the list of contemporary writing affirming oral and aural alternatives over a sight-based focus of storytelling is long. And I haven’t even gotten started with poetry-in-color, including an aesthetic legacy of rhythm in writing spawned by Papa Césaire and the Négritude movement. What I’ve explored above is a brief sampler on a multifaceted use of orality that challenges the boundaries of a more standard Euro-American literary English with its emphasis on brevity, clarity, and good grammar. In playing persistently with language, sounds and syntax, multiethnic fiction does not shy away from “writing in scenes,” however, it does dethrone the reign of eyesight to stress the importance of other senses in fiction, and hearing in particular.

That said, the use of vernacular or dialect is far from unique to non-Western writers writing within or outside the West. Time and again, major writers across the world have challenged the status quo of a hegemonic language by using the vernacular in different ways. I’m thinking here of Shakespeare and Louis-Ferdinand Celine’s linguistic innovation within English and French respectively, and of pioneering poets like Kabir who used the vernacular in Bhakti poetry to challenge the rule of Sanskrit in medieval South Asian literature.

And yet, the examples of multiethnic fiction I’ve shared above have all been published in the last couple of decades, following complex literary and historic changes that include mid-20th century’s wave of decolonization that swept the “third world,” the Civil Rights Movement in the US, the institutionalization of Ethnic Studies in the American Academy, and the literary canon wars that followed. This recent, layered, global history has led to a higher visibility of non-white, non-Western voices in the Western metropolitan publication scenes of New York, London and Paris. The content within contemporary multiethnic fiction often talks of identity, home and displacement; they ask questions like who has power and voice and who gets marginalized or silenced, these ideas fleshed out obsessively in stories through plot, theme, form, language, or a combination.

Orality within fiction that is deliberately engaging with power dynamics between the West and non-West—as evident in the title of Rushdie’s story collection East, West—thus becomes more than just a stylistic device or virtuosity with craft. The shift in sensory focus within multiethnic fiction from images to sounds holds a mirror to our contemporary, complex literary history, guiding the reader further to ways in which these stories maybe constructed, read, or deconstructed. Orality here becomes a political stance, an ideological move reminding the reader over and again that what we consume as universal in story craft, literary history, or aesthetic taste is anything but universal."
orality  oraltradition  visual  via:vruba  2018  storytelling  walterbenjamin  culture  tradition  namratapoddar  globalsouth  maggieawadalla  paulmarch-russell  billashcroft  garethgriffiths  helentiffin  vernacular  zoranealehurston  creole  creoleness  folktales  writing  salmanrushdie  vikramchandra  junotdíaz  edwidgedanticat  edgarallanpoe  johnbarth  fancineprose  criticalwriting  howwewrite  literacy  multiliteracies  dialect  rhythm  patrickchamoiseau  caribbean  africa  asia  colonialism  english  alicewalker  imperialism  gishjen  jamesbaldwin  tonimorrison  tiphanieyanique  zzpacker  showdon'ttell  sandracisneros  roxanegay  ajeshparameswaran  négritude  papacésaire  haiti  aural  oral  sight  brevity  clarity  grammar  fiction  aimécésaire  martinique  léopoldsédarsenghor  léondamas  postcolonialism  louis-ferdinandceline  latinamerica  indigenous  canon 
november 2018 by robertogreco
cameron tonkinwise on Twitter: "How long is the list of things you have learned from attending a conference (that you could not have learned by reading a blogpost/article [versus: would not have learned because TL;DR/‘pivot to video’]?"
"How long is the list of things you have learned from attending a conference (that you could not have learned by reading a blogpost/article [versus: would not have learned because TL;DR/‘pivot to video’]?

Of those things you did learn, how many did you put into (your) practice [without reading further to get more detail]?"

[my response, in a way:
https://twitter.com/rogre/status/1059178110703136768

"@jarrettfuller I fell asleep thinking about this"

@jarrettfuller and I woke up thinking about how your look into video essays http://jarrettfuller.com/projects/roughsketch … +

@jarrettfuller might go very well with the idea of the zero(/low)-carbon conference https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/t:conferences/t:sustainability … (first three bookmarks) + [no longer the fist three, but more than that]

@jarrettfuller and now I am wondering about what that would mean for teaching writing (video essay producing) and also what this all means now that we have seen the pivot-to-video debacle /fin ]
conferences  events  videoessays  jarrettfuller  sustainability  academia  climatechange  highered  highereducation  globalwarming  emissions  displacements  writing  howwewrite  teaching  teachingwriting  education  learning  howwelearn  camerontonkinwise  #displace18 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Frankétienne and Rewriting: A Work in Progress | French Studies | Oxford Academic
"In Frankétienne and Rewriting Rachel Douglas presents an elegant overview of Haitian Spiralist writer Frankétienne's literary praxis, connecting the author's ‘near-obsessive’ (p. 1) revising to broader postcolonial Caribbean literary phenomena. Douglas's study offers a comparative analysis of five major works, emphasizing the ethical and the aesthetic perspectives implicit in Frankétienne's ‘predilection for the process of writing over what is written; for production over finished product; and for the dynamic over the stable’ (p. 160). Douglas rightly insists on the importance of fully contextualizing the works in question, considering them always with respect to the changing historical, socio-economic, and cultural realities of twentieth-century Haiti. Yet, while noting the profound political imperative visible in Frankétienne's writings and rewritings, she is careful always to privilege the works' ‘literariness’ and the material, arguing that literary characteristics in Frankétienne connect with changing political, social, economic, and cultural circumstances in the Haiti he rewrites."

[See also:
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/481621
https://books.google.com/books/about/Frank%C3%A9tienne_and_Rewriting.html?id=ewyPMi4WZPAC
https://www.fabula.org/actualites/r-douglas-franketienne-and-rewriting-a-work-in-progress_31893.php
writing  howwewrite  process  frankétienne  2012  racheldouglas  kaiamaglover  2009  haiti  caribbean 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Frankétienne, Father of Haitian Letters, Is Busier Than Ever - The New York Times
"Frankétienne has had prophecies of death (his own) and destruction (Haiti’s).

The earthquake that wrecked this country in January 2010? It was foreseen, said Frankétienne, the man known as the father of Haitian letters, in his play “The Trap.” It was written two months before the disaster and depicts two men in a postapocalyptic landscape, now a familiar sight in his Delmas neighborhood here.

“The voice of God spoke to me,” said Frankétienne, 75, later noting he had also long dwelt on the ecological ruin he believes the planet is hurtling toward. As for his death, that will come in nine years, in 2020, he says, at age 84. He is not sick, he says, but he has learned to “listen to the divine music in all of us.”

And so the prolific novelist, poet and painter — often all three in a single work — hears his coda. He is vowing to complete a multivolume memoir “before I leave, physically,” while keeping up an increasingly busy schedule of exhibitions and conferences.

“I am going to talk about everything I have seen from age 5 or 6,” he said recently at his house-cum-museum and gallery. “And stuff that hasn’t happened yet because I am a prophet.”

Eccentric. Abstract. A “spiralist,” who rejects realism and embraces disorder. Frankétienne — he combined his first and last names years ago — embraces chaos as a style he believes befits a country with a long, tumultuous history birthed in a slave revolt more than 200 years ago and scarred by a cascade of natural and man-made disasters.

In chaos he finds order.

“I am not afraid of chaos because chaos is the womb of light and life,” he said, his baritone voice rising as it does when he gets worked up over a point. “What I don’t like is nonmanagement of chaos. The reason why Haiti looks more chaotic is because of nonmanagement. In other countries it is managed better. Haiti, they should take as reference for what could happen in the rest of world.”

Scholars widely view Frankétienne as Haiti’s most important writer. He wrote what many consider the first modern novel entirely in Haitian Creole, “Dezafi,” in 1975, and a play well known here that challenged political oppression, “Pelin Tet.” It is a biting work from 1978 that is aimed, not so subtly, at Jean-Claude Duvalier, the son of the dictator François Duvalier and himself a former dictator known as Baby Doc, who returned here from exile in January.

Although not well known in the English-speaking world, Frankétienne has star status in French- and Creole-speaking countries and was rumored to be on the short list for a Nobel Prize in Literature in 2009.

After the quake, his works gained more international attention, particularly in Canada and France. “The Trap” debuted in March 2010 at a Unesco forum in Paris that named him an artist for peace; galleries in New York have organized shows featuring his artwork. Still, he also holds informal Sunday workshops with young artists in Haiti to talk about and critique their work.

“He is not only a major Haitian writer, he is probably the major Haitian writer, forever,” said Jean Jonassaint, a Haitian literature scholar at Syracuse University.

Frankétienne’s output, about 40 written works and, by his count, 2,000 paintings and sketches, comprises dense, baroque affairs. He invents new words, blending French and Haitian Creole. Long digressions are de rigueur. His paintings, which he says are selling particularly well these days, blur swirling blacks, blues and reds, often covered with poems.

He admires James Joyce, and it shows. “ ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ was like a crazy book, just like I write crazy books,” he said.

Still, the Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat said Frankétienne remained popular among Haitians, in part because some of his plays had been videotaped and passed around in Haiti and in immigrant communities in the United States.

“Pelin Tet,” in which the grim life of two Haitian immigrants in New York deliberately echoes the oppression of the Duvalier era on the island, is a touchstone for many Haitians, said Ms. Danticat, who grew up in the same neighborhood as Frankétienne and was, in part, inspired to write by his rise to the top.

“His work can speak to the most intellectual person in the society as well as the most humble,” she said. “It’s a very generous kind of genius he has, one I can’t imagine Haitian literature ever existing without.”

Frankétienne was born as Franck Étienne on April 12, 1936, and raised in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, the son of a Haitian farmworker and an American businessman, who later abandoned her.

Frankétienne’s mother worked as a street vendor — selling cigarettes, charcoal, candies, moonshine — while raising eight children.

“Since I was 5 or 6 I was smoking or drinking, but my mother never knew,” he recalled. He was the oldest, and she strove to send him to school (he, in turn, tutored his younger siblings, leading him to establish his own school).

The school he attended was French-speaking. Frankétienne initially did not know a word of French, but angered at being teased by other students, he set about mastering the language and developing an affinity for words and artistic expression.

His best-known works came in the 1960s and ’70s, and he ranks his novel “Dezafi” as one of his most cherished. Set in a rural Haitian village, it weaves cockfighting, zombification, the history of slavery and other themes into an allegory of the country’s pain and suffering.

“It is the challenge of finding the light to liberate everyone,” he said. He wrote it in Creole, he said, because that was the voice of the characters he imagined.

But Frankétienne also felt a need to assert his Haitian identity, as people often look at his fair skin, blue eyes and white hair and doubt he is from this predominantly black country.

“They might think I am white or mulatto or whatever, but I am not,” he said. “I have black features, Negro features. My mother was an illiterate peasant and she had me when she was 16. She was taken in by an American, a very rich American. The American was 63 and my mother was 16 at the time.”

Switching from Creole to English, which he is usually too timid to speak, he added, “You understand who I am now?”

After completing “Dezafi,” he was frustrated that so few of his compatriots could read it, with nearly half the adult population illiterate. He switched to plays, even if that meant irritating the dictatorship.

“Dictators are mean but not necessarily stupid, so they knew I didn’t have any readers,” Frankétienne said. “What really gave them a problem was when I started with plays.”

Other writers and artists left Haiti during the dictatorship, but he stayed as his reputation grew outside the country and human rights groups closely followed him, providing, he believes, some cover from Mr. Duvalier.

Later, he joined other intellectuals in denouncing Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected president after Jean-Claude Duvalier was overthrown. Mr. Aristide, he said, became fixated on power and tolerated corruption and thuggery in his administration.

“He is a ghost, too,” Frankétienne said of Mr. Aristide’s return in March after seven years in exile.

His only regret, he said, is that his work is not widely translated and better known. If he knew Chinese, Japanese, Italian or other languages, he said, he would put them in his works.

“Everything is interconnected,” he said. “We are connected to everything, everyone.”

Frankétienne added, “The only thing not chaotic is death.”"
frankétienne  haiti  2011  literature  chaos  death  writing  form  theater  poetry  creole  language  identity  education  zombies  voodoo  vodou  voudoun  slavery  history  jeanjonassaint  edwidgedanticat  babdydoc  papadoc  jean-claudeduvalier  françoisduvalier  disorder  order  nonmanagement 
november 2018 by robertogreco
not a contrarian | sara hendren
"From this series of questions to Zadie Smith [https://losarciniegas.blogspot.com/2018/01/zadie-smith-i-have-very-messy-and.html ] comes Teju Cole’s question:

Cole: You must be under some pressure to be agreeable, to agree with the right opinions. But I notice that you think through things, rather than just agreeing to them. How do you defend that space of independent thought?

Smith: I don’t think of myself as a contrarian. I’m useless at confrontation. But I also can’t stand dogma, lazy ideas, catchphrases, group-think, illogic, pathos disguised as logos, shoutiness, ad hominem attacks, bombast, liberal piety, conservative pomposity, ideologues, essentialists, technocrats, preachers, fanatics, cheerleaders or bullies. Like everybody, I am often guilty of some version of all of the above, but I do think the job of writing is to at least try and minimise that sort of thing as much as you can."
zadiesmith  tejucole  sarahendren  2018  confrontation  opinions  pressure  contrarians  contrarianism  thinking  dogma  laziness  catchphrases  groupthink  logic  pathos  logos  adhominenattacks  pomposity  ideology  essntialism  technocrats  preachers  preaching  fanaticism  cheerleading  bullying  writing  howwewrote  howwwethink 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Welcome to Unfold Studio — Unfold Studio 0.4.1 documentation
"Unfold Studio is an online community for interactive storytelling powered by a programming language called Ink. Interactive storytelling brings together the power of programming with the ability of stories to represent and explore our lived realities. Free and open-source, Unfold Studio was developed as part of my PhD research on youth computational literacy practices.

Unfold Studio is used in schools, clubs, and by many individual writers. Interactive storytelling can be a way to integrate Computer Science into English, Social Studies, or other subjects. It can also be an excellent way to introduce Computer Science as a subject relevant to questions of identity, culture, and social justice. (We are currently doing research with a school which uses Unfold Studio for several months as part of its core CS curriculum.)

This documentation is meant for several audiences. If you need help using Unfold Studio or writing interactive stories, see the User Guide. (If you’re impatient, try the Quickstart.) If you are interested in using Unfold Studio with students, see Teaching Guide. And if you’re interested in Unfold Studio’s back story or research on transliteracies, CS education, etc. please see Research. We welcome questions, feedback, and random ideas. Please see Contact to get in touch.

The documentation is also available in PDF form in case you prefer to read it that way or want to print out any pages (such as the worksheets in the Teaching Guide section) for classroom use.

-Chris Proctor
PhD candidate, Stanford Graduate School of Education
Unfold Studio creator and lead researcher"
chrisproctor  if  interactivefiction  storytelling  ink  opensource  free  onlinetoolkit  compsci  education  identity  culture  socialjustice  unfoldstudio  transliteracies  multiliteracies  coding  programming  writing  twine  classideas  via:hayim  teaching 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Dodie Bellany: Academonia
"In this lively, entertaining collection of essays, Dodie Bellamy has written not only a helpful pedagogical tool, but an epic narrative of survival against institutional deadening and the proscriptiveness that shoots the young writer like poison darts from all sides. By the 90s funding for the arts had dwindled and graduate writing programs—“cash cows”—had risen to fill the slack. Simultaneously, literary production moved from an unstable, at times frightening street culture where experiment was privileged beyond all else, to an institutionalized realm—Academonia!—that enforces, or tends to enforce, conservative aesthetic values.

Among the questions Bellamy raises: how does the writer figure out how to write? How will she claim her content among censorious voices? Can the avant-garde create forms that speak to political and spiritual crisis? Can desire exist in a world of networking structures? To the keepers of the status quo, what is so goddamned scary about experimental writing? Bellamy’s textual body morphs through sex, ravenous hunger, aging, displacement, cuddling with animals. Along the way she invokes Levi Strauss, Kurosawa, Marvin Gaye, Christiane (the faceless daughter in Georges Franju’s 1959 horror classic Eyes Without a Face), Alice Munro, Michael Moore, Quan Yin, Cinderella, and the beheaded heroine Lady Jane Grey. On Foucault’s grid of invisible assumptions, Academonia casts a blacklight vision, making it glow in giddy FX splendor.

*****

There are the institutions that are created without our input and the institutions that we create with others. Both sorts of institutions define us without our consent. Dodie Bellamy’s Academonia explores the prickly intersection among these spaces as it moves through institutions such as the academy, the experimental writing communities of the Bay Area, feminist and sexual identities, and group therapy. Continuing the work that she began in The Letters of Mina Harker pushing memoir and confession out of its safety zones and into its difficulties, this book provokes as it critiques and yet at the same time manages to delight with its hope.

--Juliana Spahr

Way back in the seventies, and before Bellamy, pastiche and bricolage as applied to literature made me yawn. Smug attacks on linear narrative through the use of tired language games aroused my contempt. As far as I was concerned, theory had ruined fiction by making critic and artist too intimate. Then Bellamy’s pioneering graftings of storytelling, theory and fractured metaphor changed all that, giving birth to a new avant-garde. Her writing sweeps from one mode of thought to another in absolute freedom, eviscerating hackneyed constructs about desire and language and stuffing them with a fascinating hodgepodge of sparkling sensory fragments. The result is true postmodernism, not the shallow dilettantism of the “postmodern palette.” She sustains it on page after page, weaving together sex and philosophy, fusing trash with high culture, injecting theory with the pathos of biography and accomplishing nothing less than a fresh and sustained lyricism. What is more, her transfiguration of the trivial details of life by the mechanisms of irony, fantasy, disjunction, nostalgia and perverse point of view prove that it’s not the life you live that matters, but how you tell it.

--Bruce Benderson"
writing  howwewrite  books  dodiebellany  institutions  proscriptiveness  academonia  academia  highered  highereducation  akirakurosawa  levistrauss  marvingaye  alicemonroe  michaelmoore  quanyin  cinderella  ladyjanegrey  foucault  institutionalization  julianaspahr  brucebenderson  bricolage  literature  linearity  form  feedom  structure  language  senses  sensory  postmodernism  dilettantism  culture  bayarea  experimental  experimentation  art  arts  funding  streetculture  2006 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Carol Black on Twitter: "I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author ali
"I'm sorry, but this is delusional. If you don't read the book the first time for rhythm and flow, just *read* it, you haven't read the book. You have dissected it. This is like the vivisection of literature. There is no author alive who would want their book read this way."



"Look, the reality is that most people do not want to analyze literature. It's a specialty interest, a niche thing. There is absolutely no reason all people should have to do this. By forcing it we just create an aversion to books.

[@SOLEatHome "Would you consider someone re-reading a book they love and noticing things they missed the first time analysis? It at least fits what has come to be known as "close reading""]

Kids who become writers (or filmmakers, or musicians) re-read, re-watch, re-listen to their favorite things repetitively, obsessively. They internalize structure, rhythm, characterization, language, vocabulary, dialogue, intuitively, instinctively.

Close reading & analysis is a separate activity, it requires a whole different stance / attitude toward the book. It can enhance this deeper intuitive understanding or it can shut it down, turn it into something mechanical & disengaged.

I think it's a huge mistake to push this analytical stance on children when they are too young. I was an English major, & I don't think I benefited from it until college. Younger kids should just find things they love & process them in ways that make sense to them.

This is one of the many delusional things about the way literature is taught in HS. The reality is you have to read a book at the *bare minimum* twice in order to do meaningful analysis. But there is never time for this. So we just club the thing to death on the first reading.

One of the principal things a writer does is to work incredibly hard at refining the way one sentence flows into the next, one chapter springboards off the last. To experience this as a reader you have to immerse yourself, turn off the analytical brain, just *read* the damn book.

To insert analysis into this process on a first reading is like watching a film by pausing every couple of minutes to make notes before continuing. It's fine to do that in later study, but if you do it the first time through you've destroyed everything the filmmaker worked for."

[@irasocol: How a teacher destroys not just reading but culture. Can we let kids experience an author's work without dissection? How I tried to address this in 2012... http://speedchange.blogspot.com/2012/11/why-do-we-read-why-do-we-write.html "]



[This was in repsonse to a thread that began with:
https://twitter.com/SOLEatHome/status/1053338882496958465

"This thread details a real school assignment that was asked of a high school student to do while reading a book they hadn't read before. I assure you this is is not something isolated to one school:

Annotate.

Inside front cover: major character with space for...

...character summaries, page reference for key scenes or moments of character development. Evidently these are enormous books.

Inside Back Cover: list of themes, allusions, images, motifs, key scenes, plot line, epiphanies, etc. Add pg. references or notes. List vocab words...

...if there's still room. (big books or small writing?)

Start of each chapter: do a quick summary of the chapter. Title each chapter as soon as you finish it, esp. if the chapters don't have titles.

Top margins: plot notes/words phrases that summarize. Then go back...

...and mark the chapter carefully (more on these marks to come)

Bottom and side margins: interpretive notes, questions, remarks that refer to the meaning of the page (???). Notes to tie in w/ notes on inside back cover

Header: Interpretive notes and symbols to be used...

...underline or highlight key words, phrases, sentences that are important to understanding the work
questions/comments in the margins--your conversation with the text
bracket important ideas/passages
use vertical lines at the margin to emphasize what's been already marked...

...connect ideas with lines or arrows
use numbers in the margin to indicate the sequence of points the author makes in developing a single argument
use a star, asterisk, or other doo-dad at the margin--use a consistent symbol--(presumably to not mix up your doo-dads?) to...

...be used sparingly to emphasize the ten or twenty most important statements in the book.
Use ???for sections/ideas you don't understand
circle words you don't know. Define them in the margins (How many margins does a page have?)
A checkmark means "I understand"...

...use !!! when you come across something new, interesting or surprising
And other literary devices (see below)

You may want to mark:
Use and S for Symbols: a symbol is a literal thing that stands for something else which help to discover new layers of thinking...

Use an I for Imagery, which includes words that appeal to the five senses. Imagery is important for understanding an authors message and attitudes
Use an F for Figurative Language like similes, metaphors, etc., which often reveal deeper layers of meaning...

Use a T for Tone, which is the overall mood of the piece. Tone can carry as much meaning as the plot does.
Use a Th for Theme: timeless universal ideas or a message about life, society, etc.
Plot elements (setting, mood, conflict)
Diction (word choice)

The end. ::sighs::"]
carolblack  irasocol  howweread  reading  literature  closereading  2018  school  schooliness  education  absurdity  literaryanalysis  writers  writing  howwewrite  filmmaking  howwelearn  academia  academics  schools  unschooling  deschooling  analysis  understanding  repetition  experience  structure  rhythm  characterization  language  vocabulary  dialogue  noticing  intuition  instinct  film  flow 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Jonathan Rosa on Twitter: "When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread..."
"When decolonial perspectives ground your research, they completely transform questions, methods, analyses, modes of representation, proposed interventions, and political commitments. A thread...

Decolonial perspectives transform research questions by centering longstanding power relations in analyses of contemporary challenges, including racial inequity, poverty, labor exploitation, misogyny, heteronormativity, transphobia, trauma, migration, & ecological instability.

A normative research question vs. one framed from a decolonial perspective: What are the causes of educational achievement gaps? vs. How can “achievement gaps” be understood in relation to modes of accumulation & dispossession mainstream schools were designed to facilitate?

Methodologically, decolonial perspectives challenge positivist approaches to data collection that legitimate colonially constituted categories, boundaries, modes of governance, ways of knowing, and societal hierarchies.

As compared to normative Western scholarly methodologies, approaches informed by decolonial perspectives include collaborating with members of colonially marginalized communities as co-theorists to analyze & respond to the historically constituted challenges they face.

Whereas normative analytical logics narrowly frame what counts as legitimate evidence to make particular kinds of claims, decolonial analyses question conceptions of truth that have parsed the world in service of toxic modes of accumulation & dispossession.

While an analysis that presumes the legitimacy of normative scientific truth might seek to use evidence to disprove racial inferiority, a decolonial approach rejects such debates, instead investing in imagining and enacting forms of racial redress and reparation.

Whereas normative scholarly work adheres to rigidly defined representational genres & is often restricted to paywalled journals, decolonial approaches seek to fashion new modes of representation & strategies/platforms for circulation that redefine & redistribute knowledge.

Canonical anthropological uses of “thick description” often result in exoticizing & pathologizing representations of race, gender, & class; decolonial approaches enact a politics of refusal, challenging the demand for ethnographic disclosure, particularly in Indigenous contexts.

Normative scholarship often proposes interventions that focus on modifying individual behaviors rather than transforming institutions; decolonial scholarship challenges the fundamental legitimacy of prevailing societal structures that have led to the misdiagnosis of problems.

Normative scholarship might propose interventions encouraging civic participation to strengthen US institutions in the face of perceived threats to democracy; decolonial scholarship seeks to reimagine governance because the US never was nor could ever be a legitimate democracy.

Normative scholarship often seeks to establish objective facts & eschews explicit political commitments, thereby explicitly committing to political reproduction; decolonial scholarship owns its politics & engages in knowledge production to imagine & enact sustainable worlds.

Normative scholarship might seek to document, analyze, & even revitalize Indigenous languages; decolonial scholarship engages in Indigenous language revitalization as part of broader political struggles over sovereignty, historical trauma, dispossession, & sustainable ecologies.

In short, whereas normative scholarship invites you to accept, reproduce, or slightly modify the existing world, decolonial scholarship insists that otherwise worlds have always existed & demands a radical reimagining of possible pasts, presents, & futures."
jonathanrosa  2018  decolonization  norms  academia  highereducation  highered  dispossession  indigeneity  reproduction  colonization  form  writing  labor  work  convention  conventions  method  accumulaltion  sustainability  knoweldgeproduction 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Sean Ziebarth on Twitter: "The effects of outlining on writing. Via “Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg #teachwriting #aplangchat #2ndaryela #elachat #engchat… https://t.co/iu9kcxup0F"
"The effects of outlining on writing.
Via “Several short sentences about writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg
[https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/93789/several-short-sentences-about-writing-by-verlyn-klinkenborg/9780307279415 ]
#teachwriting #aplangchat #2ndaryela #elachat #engchat


[images with: ]

In the outline and draft model of writing, thinking is largely done up front.
Outlining means organizing the sequence of your meanings, not your sentences.
It derogates the making of sentences.
It ignores the suddenness of thought,
The surprises to be found in the making of sentences.
It knows nothing of the thoughtfulness you'll discover as you work.

It prevents discovery within the act of writing.
It says, planning is one thing, writing another,
And discovery has nothing to do with it.
It overemphasizes logic and chronology
Because they offer apparently "natural" structures.
It preserves the cohesiveness of your research
And leaves you with a heap of provisional sentences,
Which are supposed to sketch the thoughts you've already outlined.

It fails to realize that writing comes from writing."

[later: "I can’t believe I’ve survived the past six years without “Several Short Sentences About Writing” by Verlyn Klinkenborg. #zen #wordnerd"
https://twitter.com/MrZiebarth/status/1047722841532071937

[images with]

"There's nothing permanent in the state of being written down.
Your sentences, written down, are in the condition of waiting to be examined.

You commit yourself to each sentence as you make it,
And to each sentence as you fix it,
Retaining the capacity to change everything and
Always remembering to work from the small-scale—The scale of the sentence—upward.

Rejoicing and despair aren't very good tools for revising.
Curiosity, patience, and the ability to improvise are.
So is the ability to remain open to the work and let it remain open to you.

Don't confuse order with linearity.
You'll find more than enough order in the thought, and sentences that interest you.
By order I mean merely connections—
Some close, some oblique, some elliptical—
Order of any kind you choose to create, any way you choose to move."]
seanziebarth  verlynklinkenborg  writing  outlines  howwewrite  unschooling  deschooling  drafts  meaning  thinking  howwethink  sentences  poems  poetry  scale  linearity  order  thought  connections  meaningmaking  2018 
october 2018 by robertogreco
The Tangled Language of Jargon | JSTOR Daily
"What our emotional reaction to jargon reveals about the evolution of the English language, and how the use of specialized terms can manipulate meaning."



"How Jargon Can Exclude and Obscure

It turns out that, far from being objective, jargon—outwardly a sober, professional kind of talk for experts from different occupational fields—has always carried with it some very human impulses, placing power and prestige over knowledge. A doctor, for example, might inappropriately use jargon in explaining a diagnosis to a patient, which prevents the patient from participating in their own care. This quality of jargon attracts those that might want to obscure biases, beef up simplistic ideas, or even hide social or political embarrassments behind a slick veneer of seemingly objective, “scientific” language without being challenged.

Latinate forms happen to lend themselves well to new terminology like this, especially technical jargon, for those very perceptions of precision and prestige, as well as detachment. But this detachment comes with a price. The alienness and incomprehensibility of new jargon words we’re unfamiliar with might sometimes make us a mite uncomfortable. It can sound inauthentic, compared to other innovative language change, from slang to secret languages. There are all kinds of innovative speech used by certain groups not just to share information easily, or to talk about new ideas, but also to show belonging and identity—and to keep outsiders out.

It’s one of the reasons people hate jargon with a passion and have been railing against it for years, centuries even. H. W. Fowler called it “talk that is considered both ugly-sounding and hard to understand.” L.E. Sissman is a little more subtle. Sissman defines jargon as “all of these debased and isolable forms of the mother tongue that attempt to paper over an unpalatable truth and/or to advance the career of the speaker (or the issue, cause or product he is agent for) by a kind of verbal sleight of hand, a one-upmanship of which the reader or listener is victim.”

Jargon, as useful as it is in the right contexts, can end up being socially problematic and divisive when it hides and manipulates meanings from those who need to receive the information. This negative reception hasn’t stopped jargon that apes scientific language from being widely produced, by economists, academics, entrepreneurs, journalists… and probably even poets. Jargon has now become the devil’s corporate middle management’s language, making information harder to share and receive. It has seeped into almost every facet of a complex modern life, giving us new buzzwords not even a mother could love, with terms like self-actualization, monetize, incentivize, imagineering, onboarding, synergize, and the like. And there’s so much more where that came from.

When Jargon Becomes Dangerous

William D. Lutz talks about how jargon and doublespeak can often be carefully designed to cover up embarrassing or secret information. For example, a commercial airline that had a 727 crash, killing three passengers, was able to pass off the resulting three million dollar insurance profit on its books as “the involuntary conversion of a 727,” which was unlikely to be questioned by confused shareholders whose eyes would probably have glazed over from the cumbersome legal jargon.

Words aren’t equal just because they mean the same thing, especially when the stakes are high. It’s not simply a matter of knowing or not knowing the meaning of these words, or if they accurately describe facts, but what Sally McConnell-Ginet calls the conceptual or cultural baggage, the hidden background assumptions the language carries with them, the ‘ologies and ‘isms that pretend to be something they’re not. Most recently in politics, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings showed how deftly legal terminology can be wielded to avoid or plausibly deny or confuse clear facts. For example, denying knowledge of stolen documents is literally not a lie if you steadfastly assume they aren’t stolen, despite textual evidence to the contrary. The statement “I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land” literally defers to a fact, the meaning of which is true. The conceptual baggage the statement carries with it, however, strongly suggests the writer does not disagree with the opinion.

Linguist Dwight Bolinger suggests that this is exactly the kind of heinous abuse of meaning that makes linguistic activism critical, shining a spotlight on these egregious cases where lies are hidden by omission or avoidance of the truth in jargon, euphemism, doublespeak, and other linguistic trickery."
jargon  language  specialization  2018  chiluu  communication  manipulation  english  synonyms  williamlutz  georgeorwell  styleguides  writing  linguistics  words 
september 2018 by robertogreco
The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine
"Ren'Py is a visual novel engine – used by thousands of creators from around the world – that helps you use words, images, and sounds to tell interactive stories that run on computers and mobile devices. These can be both visual novels and life simulation games. The easy to learn script language allows anyone to efficiently write large visual novels, while its Python scripting is enough for complex simulation games.

Ren'Py is open source and free for commercial use.

Ren'Py has been used to create over 1,500 visual novels, games, and other works. You can find them at the official Ren'Py Games List, and the list of Games made with Ren'Py on itch.io."
games  gaming  gamedesign  design  ren'py  visualnovels  if  interactivefiction  lifesimulation  software  mac  osx  linux  chromeos  chrome  android  ios  applications  windows  gamemaking  classideas  writing  multiliteracies  opensource  onlinetoolkit  storytelling 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Keire Johnson en Instagram: “Shout out @finhan_ for making this after watching Minding the Gap! What I take from this piece (personally) : The paper bag over the…”
"Shout out @finhan_ for making this after watching Minding the Gap!
What I take from this piece (personally) : The paper bag over the skater's face to me represents how skateboarding suppresses all the negative emotions you can feel growing up and acts almost as a cloak of some sort.

When you take the bag off after skating, all of the bullshit comes back to you. Skateboarding cures heartache however it has limited powers. It can't cure everything.

That's where other creative outlets come in.
Music, art, dance, writing, and ect.
I am luck enough to have multiple outlets but I recommend finding a creative outlet that works for you. It's good for you.
Thanks again @finhan_"
keirejohnson  skateboarding  skating  2018  adolescence  youth  teens  self-medication  escape  creativity  music  art  arts  dance  writing  outlets  identity 
september 2018 by robertogreco
lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.

1/

Being able to relate, in and of itself, isn't the cause of my despair. It's the over-reliance on experience to the exclusion of other ways of creating conditions for understanding that worries me. This bent away from the traps of "cultural literacy" began w/good intentions;

2/

but this response -- understandably, in resistance to the hyper-testing mania that overtook and still dominates much of the schooling landscape -- may err too far in the direction of allowing some young people to never have to stray too far from their own thoughts.

3/

I want to know what young people think, what they notice and see, how they navigate and experience the world. AND, I want their insights on what others notice, see, conclude, design, and decide; for that, too, concerns young people --

4/

not only in their immediate, local, kinship networks, but about how they perceive others' perceptions of the they things they have noticed, or not. They are civic beings, active in their citizenry, and to deny this and allow otherwise is educational malpractice.

5/

I want young people to be seen and engaged as real interlocutors, not discursive window dressing to be written into curricula and grant proposals as the "participatory" element. I don't just want to hear what they think; I want to think with them, toward new questions.

6/

So, I return to a familiar, frustrating thought: My, how standardization, answer-driven teaching, & the greedy pursuit of efficiency-driven uniformity has royally screwed over kids & schools.
And (some) big data efforts want to help do more of the same.

7/7
#smalldatabigmoments"
lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
You can't teach writing (and why would you want to?) | The Open School
"volunteering as an after-school tutor for 1st through 8th graders. The place was technically a writing center, situated in suburban Seattle, and open, free of charge, to any kid in the city. Its mission was to help kids learn to write, which would presumably improve their school performance and their prospects for life success.

I walked past that writing center today (I’m visiting Seattle this summer), and spent a moment reminiscing fondly. I remembered the always-warm atmosphere and the kind, helpful teachers. I remembered the fun activities and writing prompts.

Then I remembered why I left, and why I can never work or volunteer at such a place ever again. In the final months of my volunteership, my faith in the basic premise of the writing center faded. The founders of that organization, and the dedicated people who staffed it every day, had to believe wholeheartedly in two things. And I no longer believed in either of those things.

Here are the two necessary beliefs:

1. It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing.
2. Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable.

And here is why I don’t believe those things anymore.

Belief #1: It is possible for a person to make another person better at writing
Writing is hard. I suspect that people who seek writing instruction are feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of the task and are looking for a way to make it easier — maybe some tips or tricks that the pros use which have somehow been kept secret from us plebeians. But there is no shortcut, no quick fix. There is only lots and lots of work.

A belief in the power of teaching shifts the responsibility for growth off of the learner and onto the teacher. This can only result in slacking on the learner’s part, frustration on the teacher’s part, and a bit of magical thinking to maintain the illusion of success in spite of perfect failure.

Stephen King, in his book On Writing, offered this piece of advice:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

Perhaps On Writing would have been a fine book even if King had left it at that. By reading a lot, you develop a sense for what good writing looks like and what bad writing looks like — just as a child learns her native language by listening to people talk a lot and learns to detect good grammar and bad grammar. She can’t define good grammar, but she knows it when she hears it.

Once you have that sense, you can start producing your own writing. You’re terrible at first, but now you know you’re terrible because you have that sense. Then you try it a different way and maybe it’s a little better, or maybe not. Then you read some more and refine your sense. Then you practice writing some more.

I suppose a writing teacher can provide prompts, but then again, so can a computer.

I’m reminded of this discouraging piece of wisdom from bestselling novelist Haruki Murakami:

“Being a novelist isn’t a job for everyone. Nobody ever recommended or even suggested that I be a novelist—in fact, some tried to stop me. I simply had the idea to be one, and that’s what I did.”

A person who loves and values writing will read a lot and write a lot on their own initiative. You don’t need to tell them to write and you certainly don’t need to make them. A person who doesn’t love or value writing will not write, and that’s that. Which brings us to belief #2…

Belief #2: Writing is inherently and objectively interesting and valuable
I suspect that 9 out of 10 of the kids who attend that writing center do not really care about writing, or only care about writing text messages.

I suspect that their parents want them to care about writing, or want them to get good at writing despite not caring about it.

I know that the staff feel, as I do, that writing is the bomb! We love to write and we love to share our love of writing with kids.

But further, the staff believe, as I no longer believe, that writing is inherently, objectively, and universally interesting and valuable. They believe that if a kid doesn’t like writing, it is our job as teachers to inspire a love of writing within them — to awaken that dormant fire that must exist deep down in every person. This process of inspiration can be arduous and uncomfortable, as depicted in this cartoon (which was shared on Facebook by one of those teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week):

[image]

This cartoon is a feel-good fantasy for teachers. No kid has ever been inspired by being chased down and violated. Some kids discover a passion for writing and some don’t. Teachers like to seek validation by pointing to the kids who ultimately discovered a love of writing and saying, “That was me, I did that.” They rarely draw attention to the vastly more numerous kids who were not inspired.

We all have a tendency to feel as though our personal interests are shared by all of humanity. We want others to get excited about the things we get excited about. It’s a way of connecting with one another. We have to learn, by repeatedly butting up against the stubbornness of other people’s interests and values, that everyone is different.

And it’s good that everyone is different! Maybe I’m good at writing but someone else is good at speaking, and yet another person is good at presenting graphs and charts. There is no end to the variation. We compliment others’ weaknesses with our strengths.

I can never go back to that writing center because the very premise of the writing center is this: kids who don’t want to write should be manipulated into writing anyway. Manipulating people in that way has no appeal to me. I look at the above cartoon and imagine myself chasing down that poor kid and prying off his skull while he’s crying in pain and it makes me sick. I don’t want to have that kind of relationship with children.

It’s okay if a kid doesn’t like to write. And it’s okay if he does like to write. I have a notebook, a pen, and a stack of books that he can use anytime."
writing  openschool  aaronbrowder  teaching  teachingwriting  pedagogy  2018  howwewrite  universality  unschooling  deschooling  education  compulsion  compulsory  interest  interests  schooling  schooliness 
august 2018 by robertogreco
These ain't no books […]
"These ain't no books [...]
Realized projects lectures / talks / workshops
[...] But aesthetic investigations
these ain’t no books (…)

(…) But pro­jects in di­gi­tal and hy­brid pu­blis­hing.

*******

MISSION

We work at the in­ter­sec­tion of de­sign and tech­no­logy, crea­ting and de­si­gning in­di­vi­dual di­gi­tal and hy­brid pu­blis­hing work­flows.

Take a set of en­cy­clo­pe­dias and ask, “how do i make this di­gi­tal?” you get a Mi­cro­soft En­carta CD. Take the phi­lo­so­phy of en­cy­clo­pe­dia-ma­king and ask, “how does di­gi­tal ch­ange our en­ga­ge­ment with this?” you get wi­ki­pe­dia.

Post-artifact books and publishing – digital’s effect on how we produce, distribute and consume content.

“Most people are tal­king about a 1:1 Text trans­fer to di­gi­tal. Much more in­te­res­ting is the ques­tion: What lies bey­ond that bor­der? how do new ways of books look like? how can they be dis­played on di­gi­tal de­vices?” —Leander Wattig

*******

DESIGN

The de­ve­lop­ment of an in­di­vi­dual, cha­rac­te­ris­tic vi­sual lan­guage for every pu­blis­hing pro­ject is the main goal in our pro­cess.

By ex­pe­ri­men­ting, using tools dif­fer­ently and con­nec­ting lose ends in a new way, we try to find our own me­thods and work­flows.

*******

TECHNOLOGY

Pro­gramming and de­si­gning at the same time al­lows us to take ad­van­tage of the cur­rent tech­no­lo­gi­cal pos­si­bi­li­ties, thus co­m­ing up with uni­que so­lu­ti­ons.

“I don’t know… pro­gramming and de­si­gning is the same thing…” —Erik van Blokland

“We live in a tech­ni­cal rea­lity.” —Mercedes Bunz

“How ex­actly does the tech­no­logy we use to read ch­ange the way we read?” —Ferris Jabr

*******

ABOUT

“These ain’t no books (…)” is a pro­ject by John­son / Kings­ton, emer­ging from the en­ga­ge­ment with the fu­ture of the book and rea­ding on screens.

Tech­no­lo­gi­cal pro­gress has a big im­pact on so­ciety – it is our duty to take part in sha­ping these ch­an­ges.

*******

These ain't no books [...]
is a project by
Johnson / Kingston
Ivan Weiss / Michael Kryenbühl
Bern / Luzern

Contact us:
info@theseaintnobooks.com
www.johnsonkingston.ch"
books  bookfuturism  digital  screens  print  leanderwattig  publishing  technology  design  programming  erikvanblokland  mercedezbunz  ferrisjabr  ivanweiss  michaelkryenbühl  microsoftencarta  encarta  multimedia  encyclopedias  projectideas  howweread  reading  howwewrite  writing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
it’s hard enough for me to write what I want to... • shapes, figures & forms
"it’s hard enough for me to write what I want to write without me trying to write what you say they want me to write which I don’t want to write"

—Tennessee Williams, The World I Live In: Tennessee Williams Interviews Himself, The London Observer, 7 April 1957
tennesseewilliams  writing  howwewrite  motivation 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Journalist Alex Frank on writing, reading, and always making your deadline – The Creative Independent
"[Q] Do you read more for pleasure or more with an eye towards what will make you a stronger writer?

Sometimes you read books that are not well-written but they have information in them that you want. Even that is probably gonna end up somewhere. But I think I mostly only read good writing now. Reading is the most important aspect of writing. There’s no question. It’s the only training you need. You don’t need to go to college. You don’t need anything else really. You just need to read.

I think fiction can be really helpful sometimes, because I want my scenes and my stories to have a lot of life and fantasy and fun, and to take the reader somewhere. Sometimes you get that from fiction in a really amazing way, and you can incorporate some of those aspects.

I definitely do sometimes specifically obsess over a writer and try to figure out how they write. With Janet Malcolm, when I have a question about writing or I’m thinking about her and I’m wondering how she’s so good at what she does, I will go read her with the express purpose of sitting there and trying to figure out the formula. I will look at her sentences and obsess over them. I always find something new.

I don’t think there’s ever a separation between the pleasure and the productive work of reading, because I just think that they’re the same thing. If you’re reading a lot, it’s making you a better writer. It’s just a guarantee, even if you’re reading bad writing. It’s really important to read bad writing and to know what bad writing is. That’s something I work at knowing. I want to know whether or not it’s just not for me, or whether it’s not so great. Knowing that can be really helpful.

[Q] Who do you think of your work as being for?

It’s for the editor. I know that’s not a sexy answer. Maybe because I’ve been an editor, I know that they’re just trying to go home and have dinner with their spouse or whatever, and I think I am really interested in making sure that they feel good and don’t have to suffer while editing me. They’re my audience.

One thing I try not to think about is Twitter. I’m on Twitter like everybody else, and I’m obsessed with it, but it’s not the whole world. It is part of the world, but it’s not the whole world. Sometimes I read writing that I can tell is for the conversation on Twitter. There’s nothing wrong with that, because that conversation is a part of things and it matters. But I don’t want to just write for that, and I don’t want to have that in my head, because I think that can really affect your writing in a bad way. Or at least for me it’s bad, because again, I just want everybody to be able to read it, not just the people in on the conversation on Twitter. I don’t think writing should require expertise or being an insider to read.

When you put the ideas behind that kind of barbed wire, I think it just turns a lot of people off and makes them think books are not for them. It makes them think that books are only for certain people. I really passionately disagree with that. There used to be a time in which the a vast majority of the country was engaging with words in a fun, vibrant, vital way. I don’t see why that can’t exist anymore. You can’t just blame the internet. The writers I like, they don’t talk down to people, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. The writers that I like can be intimidatingly smart, and make you think in new ways, but they are never hard to read. It’s really a worthwhile pursuit to write with accessibility in mind.

[Q] Do you think the type of career you’ve had is possible for someone starting out now?

It’s hard for me to answer that, because I do know that it seems to be getting harder. I got in at a good time, maybe the end of the good times, but still a good time. I moved to New York right before the stock market crash, so the publishing industry was still healthy. Literally four months after I moved here the stock market crashed. It’s arguable that I didn’t get in at a good time, but the effects of the crash took a little bit of time to hit the magazine industry.

The luxury that I had—that I want everyone to be able to have—is that I got to work for print. I don’t say that because print is better than digital, because I don’t believe that. But I do think there are things that you learn in print that you will never learn online. Mostly word count and being concise, because you have a limit to the number of words you can put in print. This is incredible to have when you’re a young writer, because the most important thing is saying the thing you want to say in the least amount of space. That doesn’t change whether you’re writing for online or print. That’s the golden rule."
alexfrank  reading  writing  howweread  education  journalism  howwewrite  2018  fiction 
july 2018 by robertogreco
@cmonstah: EULOGY FOR JONATHAN GOLD  (a cut-up poem taken...
[poem links to the reviews the lines were taken from, so click though for that]

"EULOGY FOR JONATHAN GOLD
(a cut-up poem taken from his restaurant reviews)
(Photo by Javier Cabral @theglutster)

You may belong to L.A.’s great brotherhood of taco eaters
huddled around trucks late at night.
You munch still-muddy radishes to sweeten your breath,
but the stink of onions and garlic and cilantro and pig flesh
haunt you like a friendly ghost for days.
When we’re hungry, everything tastes good
Hunger is the best spice.

Pico was where I learned to eat
I saw my first punk-rock show on Pico
was shot at, fell in love, witnessed a knife fight,
took cello lessons, raised chickens, ate Oki Dogs and heard X, Ice Cube, and Willie Dixon perform
(though not together)
on Pico.

When this dining room was Tiny Naylor’s
my mom used to take us here for patty melts
when she didn’t feel flush enough
to spring for the onion rings across the street.
You could drive by the restaurant 300 times
without ever being tempted to stop.

You dump your Lexus off with the valet,
march down a breezeway.
It looks like the path to Thunder Mountain at Disneyland
You walk past a watery ditch lined with shattered rock whose cracks ooze green light.
You are led to an elevator in the rust-colored steel structure.

If you spend much time watching period Asian movies,
you will remember scenes of dark inns,
a crew of women tending an ancient grill,
prodding battered cookpots licked with yellow flame.
Their interiors resonate with dark wood and leather,
stone and iron, surfaces oozing water and flame.
Like the fifth level of any first-person shooter.
You never know quite whether to order a Dirty Martini
or to search the ground for a pulsing golden key.

It is time to go down into the dining room.
The minimalist soundtrack,
which sounds like the part
where the icebergs float by in a National Geographic film.
If you try to muscle your way toward a seat
that may not officially belong to you,
a stooped Chinese woman will cut you off at the knees.

A waitress will try to sell you a third or fourth martini.
The skull of Simon Le Bon splats on your forehead.
His brains trickle down your cheek like warm yolk.
I wave toward the canapé,
telling him that I had always considered truffle oil
to be the Heinz ketchup of the overbred.
Traditional dishes are more austere
than what used to be served,
possibly because of the seediness
radiating from the adult-video store next door .

Ghost-white Kobe beef grilled to a crisp-edged liquid succulence.
A foil-wrapped construction the size and girth of your forearm
drapes over a paper plate like a giant oozing sea cucumber.
The bare hint of sweaty afternoon sex in the scent of a juicy midsummer melon.
This is the first of many flowers you will see tonight.
You will recognize none of them.

What will happen is
that your date will suck up the last of his or her Jolly Roger Bowl
and carve your initials in the booth.
You hear the occasional lonely moan of a train whistle
from the tracks that run a few blocks south of here.
It seems exactly right.
As if you are eating your lunch
at some railroad-station restaurant
a hundred miles in the countryside.

And it is hard to avoid feeling that everything
is pretty all right in the world."
carolinamiranda  jonathangold  food  eulogies  writing  poems  poetry  2018 
july 2018 by robertogreco
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