Archive for September, 2009

When do you get interested?

September 12, 2009

I started the last post in an attempt to talk about engagement–how we become personally invested in a topic–and ended up talking about my learning disability. The example I wanted to use was the economic turn–recession, if you will. It’s something I have known about, been affected by (got laid off) but have felt nonetheless distanced from. Part of this is that I feel like there’s nothing I can do. Another is that I don’t feel I really understand: something about mortgages, we were all borrowing more money than we ought to, paying low interest rates, and living the high life. But there’s a whole other level–the corporate stuff around the stock market and other “fake money”–that I didn’t hope to understand. I had picked the brains of a few friends, but I hadn’t found that engagement; I hadn’t found a way to FEEL it. And here comes the body-sense. The change from alienation to engagement is PHYSICAL. Sure, there’s a relevant intellectual case to be made: you could analyse my exposure to relevant information and deduce a purely pedagogical model. But I’m interested in the physical model. I felt outside of the issue–I had a few handles, but ultimately I felt I couldn’t enter into it. I read one long New Yorker article (in the bath after a Vespa ride in March, incidentally) and now I find myself reading a Star retrospective. How did this happen? Is it just a question of exposure: I’ve been liminally engaged for long enough that I am ready to enter into it on my own terms–I’ve spent long enough in the shallows and I’m confident enough to swim? I’m intrigued about this shift, because it’s something I want to encourage, to make the space for, and to be patient with, in my own students. I want them to enter into learning on their own terms.


Why can’t Jaya read?

September 12, 2009

After the fourth year of my English degree I learned I had Irlen Syndrome. In a way, this was a major victory–I knew the name of the problem. It was the reason I’d fallen asleep after ten minutes reading Jane Austen, the reason I couldn’t remember a character’s name from the previous page, the reason I had to reread a long sentence several times to find the subject, the verb. But it was confounding–I loved literature! I love words, I love learning, I love languages. I’d gotten by at Queen’s never reading more than 30% of a syllabus. So how was I getting the information? How could I write essays about books I’d read only part of, and about which I had heard a few lectures? This disconnection–not learning in the way we are supposed to–has fuelled my view on education. It has brought me back to the body and is the backbone of this blog and my interest in general: how are we engaged with learning/acquiring new information? Advertising has examples of this, music videos aplenty, Human Interface addresses this. Where is our BODY in learning?

Today I was thinking about this because of my relationship to the news. I don’t watch the news much. I don’t think many people from my generation do. It’s alienating and traumatic: you hear about deaths and crisis, and there’s never any follow up. But do I want that human-interest “angle”? It always feels like you’re being *pitched * to. It’s tiresome. I care about the people around me, I want community. I want engagement. Where the body is concerned, what is engagement? Is it touch? Is it counterbalance? Is it chasing, or being chased? Our body knows, and I plan on listening to it more.

I can never find quite the right picture for my posts when they’re abstract like this, so I just picked something strange. It’s from a blog about a Vietnamese modern dance performance.

City Distraction online

September 9, 2009

I’ve been bemoaning the distractions of living in the city, but if I’m honest it all starts online–the thousand directions of interest one can follow: learning my friend Pandora from Junior High is program coordinator at Banff,  her Twitter refers to this Bitch article about Mad Men, which in turn refers to this Jezebel article. Pandora’s friend Brent Kearney referred in this Tweet to Scrivener and this article. He also referred to university education at $99/month from this article. Yowza.

What are we to do with this pinning together of minutiae? This collecting of details? It looks central to this year’s Venice Biennale–externalizing the product of all these distractions. Trying to make something whole out of bits of things in every internet gutter. But you follow your own nose–each of these things adds a small detail of understanding to a picture I feel I’ve been trying to put together. What is the big picture and when can I stop collecting, and instead make a new thing? Move on.

Oh yes, and there’s redhead day.

The Guild – RPG lifestyle made accessible

September 9, 2009

I’ve been surrounded by RPG enthusiasts for a long time (thanks, bro–he’s also the man in the picture above) but have never really found a way to enter into it–a way to partake of the enthusiasm, a way to “get it.” But now, thanks to Felicia Day, my Twitter friend (haha), who shared a list of LA food-on-the-go/food trucks that Twitter, I have watched a whole season of the webseries The Guild. And after a dizzying first few (5-7 minute long) episodes, I started to get the lingo, the pace, the lifestyle. And now, I feel I’ve entered into some of the sincere enthusiasm of gaming. Thus, we have affirmed the premise that entertainment can bridge cultural boundaries. Check.

Relationship building for peace

September 7, 2009

I mentioned recently that one of the things celebrities’ tweets provide is insight into their personal relationships. The power of personal connection–friendship–has been coming up for me in new contexts. In particular, the way that when you know you’re loved by someone it’s a lot easier to hear criticism, given lovingly. But the proof has to remain there: it’s no good to get criticized by someone you thought was your friend, and never hear from them again. It’s much more meaningful–and easier to examine this perceived flaw–if you continue to receive compassion and be understood by this person.

So I am decidedly over the moon about the possibility that the American military is talking about trust-building and friend-making in Afghanistan. I am surely wearing very thick rose-coloured glasses about this, but the idea is truly beautiful. To sit at the table and hear the needs of the community is perhaps the only possibility for the conversation to start. However, real relationship building requires that both parties share gifts and needs together. Our freedoms are bound together, our struggles are one.

Woman to Woman: A New Strategy in Afghanistan

PS Looking for a citation for the quote I was loosely referring to above led me to the quotes page on the website for the Centre for Restorative Justice. Neat. Then to Dale Jonathan Terasaki’s pre-med blog, and his post about altruism. Very timely.

Dancing in bed

September 7, 2009

This video makes me want to lie in bed making pictures. There are details about its making on Oren Lavie’s myspace blog. Yuval and Merav Nathan also have a website with other 3D/2D stop motion videos.

Making movies about values

September 1, 2009

The Bridge Film Festival (blog, info, Brooklyn Friends site) is an international Quaker film festival in its tenth year. Olney students submitted this film about dating “Then & Now” for last year’s festival, which started a bit of movie-making bug. Among the results is this simple and beautiful time lapse:

I was thinking how one might make this aesthetically pleasing hallway time lapse into something that portrays values. You’d have to draw the eye to someone in particular (“character”) doing something (“plot”). But just speeding up or slowing down would let this happen, without necessarily even having to move the camera…interesting…how simple can a film be and still say something?

I was thinking how one might make this aesthetically pleasing hallway shot into something that portrays values. You’d have to draw the eye to someone in particular (“character”) doing something (“plot”). But just speeding up or slowing down would let this happen, without necessarily even having to move the camera…interesting…how simple can a film be and still say something?