robertogreco + 2017   782

American Paradise | Topic
“Disturbing and poetic, this short retells the true story of a troubled dude who committed a serious crime, with unexpected consequences.”

[See also:
https://nofilmschool.com/2017/07/american-paradise-short-film-vimeo-staff-picks-july ]
film  joetalbot  bayarea  2017  video  alameda  sanfrancisco  vallejo  race  racism  crime 
14 days ago by robertogreco
The Rules that Rule Japan - YouTube
"Some people think Japan is a strange and different land, that they'll never understand. Why do the Japanese do what they do? Well, Japan and its people are not so hard to comprehend, once you realize that it's all about the rules. Once you know them, your time here will be easy peasy, Japaneasy. It'd be my pleasure if you join me in discovering the rules that rule Japan."
rules  japan  culture  2017  srg 
15 days ago by robertogreco
0675 – being smart vs being kind - 1,000,000 words by @visakanv
"When I was a child, I was told that I was smart. I wasn’t great at socializing, but I was alright. I was the class clown, the smartass, so I did have some friends. But I never really developed the deep, lasting sort of friendships that some people have for life. Sometimes I felt like I was missing out, but most of the time – even now – I think of it as, ‘that’s just what life is like for misfits’. There’s good and bad, and that’s the ‘bad’. The price you pay.

It took me two decades to really begin to aspire to be kind.

What’s so good about being smart?

1. There is a certain intrinsic pleasure to knowing things. Richard Feynman describes this beautifully in “the pleasure of finding things out”. (He was also a very kind person, I believe.)

2. There’s a practical value to it. Smartness is generally correlated with making good decisions that lead to superior outcomes. (It’s necessary but insufficient – smartness is the sharpness of the knife. You still need to handle the knife well, and apply it to the right things. Lots of smart people obsessively sharpen their knives but don’t use it for anything useful or constructive.)

If you’re smart, in the conventional sense, you should recognize opportunities (in my view this requires sensitivity, in the ‘perceptive’ sense) and take advantage of them (in my view this requires strength, in the ‘executive’ sense). You should also spot potholes and avoid them. (Spotting the pothole is perception. Avoiding it is execution. Smartness is the gap between seeing and doing – smartness is orienting and deciding, maybe.)

3. There’s also a social aspect to smartness. I’m not saying that smartness guarantees social success (though I do believe that if you’re truly smart rather than superficially smart, you’ll figure out how to achieve your social desires and/or modulate them appropriately). What I mean is that there’s a sort of global subculture that venerates smartness. Think of all the tropes of trickster type characters, and how people love brilliant assholes like Tony Stark and Dr. House. If you’re smart, you can satisfy quite a lot of your social needs by scoring points with smartness geeks.

The smartness-as-spectator-sport trap

Here’s where it gets a little dicey – winning friends in most smartness tribes – their approval requires being right. It requires Winning. I’m talking about smartness as a contact sport for spectators. You get rewarded for the most brutal takedowns (“Liberal DESTROYED conservative with simple argument, leaves him SPEECHLESS!”)

When you start to get addicted to winning, you start to get attached. You start to avoid certain things – particularly areas that you’re not so sure about. You start picking your battles according to what’s winnable, rather than what’s most interesting or useful.

This is where we get to what separates the pros from the noobs. The smartest people embrace their ignorance. They are intimately familiar with the limitations of their models, and they are excited when they discover that they’re wrong about something. (I recall this book about physics – “Time, Space and Things” – where the author would spend paragraphs explaining the imperfections of all the models he was about to show us. It was lovely.)

Where does kindness enter the picture? Kindness nourishes (not coddles) fragile things and makes them strong

I find myself thinking about Pixar’s Braintrust. It’s a sort of council of storytellers who provide advice and counsel to whoever’s working on a story. They understand that ideas in their formative stages are precious, fragile things, like babies. You can’t shake them too hard at the start, or they’ll die. You need to nourish them and let them flourish first. You need to ask lots of exploratory questions with good-faith, rather than cross-examine them looking for flaws and mistakes. Once it’s found its legs, THEN you can start to challenge it, spar with it, and it’ll grow stronger as a result.

When I was younger, I truly believed that the best way to learn and grow and progress was to subject everything to relentless scrutiny. To debate, argue, attack from all sides. I still believe that that can be true in some cases, and that individuals who are deeply committed to learning and intellectual development can benefit tremendously from welcoming such behavior. Inviting criticisms and takedowns. Soliciting negative feedback.

BUT, I’ve also grown to learn that there’s this whole other side to the picture. What you see is NOT all there is. There’s a lot that you haven’t seen, that you can’t see – and if you saw it with an open mind, you’d almost definitely revise your model of reality.

In the past, I used to argue violently with everything and everyone. Not in a vicious way, just in a high-contact way. It was a sport, it was a way of life. With every fight, I was learning. (On retrospect, I was often just learning how to fight better, or to pick fights where I’d have a higher probability of winning, but that seemed like progress at the time.)

I lost some friends along the way, which I was sad about. But I usually found a way to live with it – mostly by convincing myself that they had in some way been too sensitive.

I had a Kurt Cobain quote in mind – “Better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you’re not”. It seemed radically profound at the time, but on retrospect that’s entire oversimplistic thinking. We have more than two options. (Also, I’m now the same age Kurt Cobain was when he died, and next year I’ll be older than he’ll ever be. Just a thought.)

Here’s what you miss if you’re unkind or non-kind: people opening up to you in private.

A lot of the most interesting information in the world is locked up inside other people’s heads.

If you care about having an interesting life, you have to care about winning over other people – so that you can access that information. If you really want to be smart, you’re going to have to tap into people’s perspectives, insights, questions and so on. You can’t learn it all from books and essays – because there’s a lot of “living knowledge” that never makes it into those things.

People only started opening up to me in private in the last 3-5 years or so, and it’s completely changed my life. I mean, I did have conversations with a handful of close-ish friends a decade ago, but now I have people actively coming to me and telling me things that they wouldn’t dare say publicly. And that’s some very powerful, very interesting stuff. It’s great at many levels. And it’s a very beautiful feeling to be that person that earns other people’s trust.

Just to wrap up – it’s possible to be both smart and kind, obviously. That’s the end goal. Being smart doesn’t mean you’re going to be kind, not-kind or unkind. Being kind doesn’t mean you’re going to be smart, not-smart or stupid.

What I’m saying is – there’s definitely a subset of smart people (and people who aspire to smartness) who think that being kind is unnecessary, or tedious, or for pussies, and so on. And I think that’s extremely unfortunate. Your intelligence gets enriched by kindness. That’s the case I’m making here."
visakanveerasamy  smartness  kindness  directives  intelligence  interestedness  listening  kurtcobain  learning  howwelearn  canon  winning  competition  spectators  action  activism  theory  richardfeynman  knowitalls  social  relationships  grace  reality  argument  2017 
25 days ago by robertogreco
Zombie Neoliberalism | Dissent Magazine
"For someone who demands that Democrats return to the questions of class that once supposedly drove the party, Frank has a fraught relationship with the radical left. Perhaps it’s to be expected of someone who cut his political teeth in the decades when the idea of socialism was all but dead. His books are peppered with denigrations of communists past that feel particularly dated in a post–Cold War era where many of today’s Bernie Sanders supporters and new Democratic Socialists of America members scarcely remember the USSR. He often draws equivalencies between left and right, positioning himself, like any good New Dealer, as the compromise keeping the commies at bay—the only reasonable position between two wildly irrational poles. This leads, at times, to a curiously apolitical reading of politics, one that strikes an above-the-fray pose that ignores the realities of struggle.

Frank is sharper when he examines the Democratic establishment. Listen, Liberal is a biting diagnosis of the cult of smartness that has become liberalism’s fatal flaw. Given his own weakness for pretending to float above partisan conflict, the book is a self-critique as much as anything. In previous books he glanced at the failures of liberalism, only to return to pointing out how very bad the right is. When he notes today that “Nothing is more characteristic of the liberal class than its members’ sense of their own elevated goodness,” this is an unsubtle rebuke to his own earlier assumptions.

Criticizing the fetish for smartness within the liberal class (the term that he uses for what others have called the “professional-managerial class”) puts Frank in familiar territory. His skewering of tech-fetishists from the first dot-com era turns into a skillful reading of Obama’s turn toward Silicon Valley (and the fact that so many former Obama staffers have wound up there). The failure of the “knowledge economy” has been a subject of Frank’s since way back. There is, he notes, a difference of degree, not kind, between the Republican obsession with entrepreneurs and business and the “friendly and caring Democratic one, which promises to patch us up with job training and student loans.”

Since Trump’s win, Democratic strategists have doubled down on the idea that victory lies with Frank’s “well-graduated” professional class, the “Panera Breads” or the suburban voters of Chuck Schumer and Ed Rendell’s famed predictions that Democrats would make up any losses with blue-collar voters who defected to Trump by gaining ground in affluent suburbs. The most obvious problem with this strategy is that it does not approach a majority: only a third of the country has a bachelor’s degree, and only 12 percent an advanced degree beyond that. The other, and more significant, problem is that this assumption encourages a belief in meritocracy that is fundamentally anti-egalitarian, fostering contempt for those who haven’t pulled themselves up by their bootstraps—and Republicans already give us far too much of that.

Liberalism’s romance with meritocracy has also fostered an obsession with complexity for its own sake—a love of “wonky” solutions to problems that are somehow the only realistic way to do anything, even though they require a graduate degree in public policy just to comprehend. Politics by experts gives us a politics that only experts can understand. Complexity allows people to make things slightly better while mostly preserving the status quo and appearing to have Done Something Smart.

In Frank’s description of Hillary Clinton we see where all this leads: a feeling of goodness that replaces politics. This isn’t entirely fair, of course—for the millions of Clinton voters (and there were, we should remember, some 3 million more of them than Trump voters), one can assume that at least as many of them were motivated by her actual stated policy goals as Trump voters were by promises of jobs and a wall. Yet Clinton came up short in the key states that lost her the Electoral College as much because poor and working people stayed home than because of any sizable flip of the mythical “White Working Class,” those bitter non-degree-havers of the coastal media’s imagination, to Trump.

Feeling good about voting for Clinton because she was less crass than Trump—the campaign message that the Clinton campaign seemed to settle on—was not enough to inspire a winning majority at the polls. Feelings, Frank would agree, are no substitute for politics.


What is left of liberalism these days, then? Surveying the wreckage of the Democratic Party, one is tempted to answer: not much. On the other hand, the 2016 election (and the 2017 elections in the United Kingdom and France) show us the rise of a current presumed dead for decades. In the wake of the Bernie Sanders campaign, the United States has seen the awakening of socialist politics, breathing life into the kind of class talk that Frank has yearned for his entire career. It is important, then, that we take note of the limitations of longing for a vanished past, that we salvage the lessons from recent history that Frank offers in order to move forward.

Frank’s books presume that a return to the New Deal is the best we can hope for. His frequent invocations of FDR demonstrate the problems with Frank’s take on “culture.” Many New Deal programs, after all, excluded workers who were not white men, and while the best parts of the New Deal have resisted right-wing attempts to take them down, nostalgia for its peak is similar to that which motivates right-wing populism. It is the left’s version of “Make America Great Again.”

The echoes of Kansian arguments have returned to a left grappling with the best way to respond to Trump; some have forthrightly said that pandering to presumably cultural-reactionary Trump voters is necessary, that Democrats should discard “identity liberalism,” in Mark Lilla’s words. In Kansas, Frank wrote, “If basic economic issues are removed from the table . . . only the social issues remain to distinguish the parties.” But this is also true in reverse: when Trump ran to the left on trade, denouncing deals that Hillary Clinton had backed, few people were able to successfully explain why Trump’s racism and sexism made him, still, a bad deal for working people.

Frank demonstrates both liberalism’s promise and its limitations—which are also the limitations of Bernie Sanders and those who, in trying to defend the left against its more disingenuous critics, wind up casting the New Deal–state as the apotheosis of all possible politics rather than as one temporary phase in the class war.

For it is class war that we are in, whether we like it or not, and we will not win it with smartness or with better billionaires. It is a power struggle in which the right will aim to divide and conquer, to mobilize racism and sexism to maintain a hierarchy, and the center will attempt to smooth the roughest edges in order to hold onto its own power or, what’s worse, because it genuinely believes that there is still No Alternative.

“Liberalism,” Frank notes in The Wrecking Crew, “arose out of a long-ago compromise between left-wing social movements and business interests.” In most of his books there is a brief acknowledgment of this kind of struggle—nods to what Kansas refers to as “decades of movement building, of bloody fights between strikers and state militias, of agitating, advocating, and thankless organizing.” We need that kind of fight once again, if we are to hope for things to get better.

John Feltner of Rexnord knew; he joined his union comrades on the picket line even as he was preparing to lose his own factory job. Feltner told me about his time at “union school,” held on the grounds of the great labor leader and five-time Socialist presidential candidate’s home, and how compared to Debs’s day, neither political party spoke to him.

We need to ensure that our politics are not just a welfare-state version of Make America Great Again, a kinder fetishizing of the industrial working class that leaves so-called “social issues” out of the picture. For that hope, we need to turn to the social movements of recent years, to the growth of the Movement for Black Lives and the promise of the Women’s March and particularly the Women’s Strike, to the activists sitting in and disrupting town halls to save healthcare and even improve it, as well as the burgeoning membership of socialist organizations and the rise of Chokwe Antar Lumumba in Jackson, Mississippi. The groundwork is being laid, but as Frank notes, no benevolent leader is going to bring us the change we need.

That is going to be up to all of us."
2017  neoliberalism  sarahjaffe  donaldtrump  thomasfrank  hillaryclinton  meritocracy  smartness  elitism  politics  us  elections  newdeal  economics  workingclass  class  classism  berniesanders  socialism  capitalism  chokweantarlumumba  liberlaism  unions  labor  activism  organizing  chokwelumumba 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
"The Ideal Education" - Sir Ken Robinson with Sadhguru - YouTube
"Someone said that education is a necessary evil. It is a necessary evil because there is a resident evil in the world. We have very convoluted aspirations. In the sense, largely, most part of the education is trying to manufacture cogs for the larger machine that we have built. Our children are the fuel unfortunately. We have to put them into some slot where they'll function well. And when we say the work, the world is no more about people. The world is about the economic engine that we are driving. It's become bigger than us. We have to keep the engine going. We are scared to stop it for a moment. We have to keep going. Now the problem is this that we have created a world if our economies fail we will be depressed. If our economies succeed we will be damned for good. I feel it's better to be depressed.

Now talking about the school as a way of manufacturing cogs for the machine, there are many ways to do it. Every nation has its own system. If I have to shape you into a particular shape that you must fit into a particular machine, it's a cruel process. But now we can't let the machine fail, it needs spare parts. Constantly it has to absorb and humanity is the spare parts. So our children are the fuel and the machine parts which go into this to run the larger machine. That's one aspect.

So this is why I have addressed education in three different dimensions, which people around me are still trying to grasp why these three different things? There is one form of education which is called Isha Vidhya, I think they might have showed something about that. This is for the rural masses in India where the problem is they are in a economic and social pit which they cannot get out by themselves. The only ladder for them is education. Employment generating education. But there are reasonably well-to-do people where they might have gone through that in the previous generation, but this generation need not think about how to earn my living. They have to look at how to expand who they are. So we have Isha Home School which caters to that. Because this kind of education costs money. So only people who can afford it can do that. Costs money means not like how it costs here, by Indian standards it costs money. And there is another form of education, where people are not interested in serving this machine or that machine, they want individuals to blossom, so we have Isha Samskriti where there is no academic education of any kind. They only learn music, dance, art, Sanskrit language, Kalari, which is a very .. the mother of all martial arts and classical dance, classical music, yoga, English language as a passport of the world.

So these children are a treat to watch. This is how children should have been. Just to give you a glimpse of what it is, at the age of fifteen, for three years, they go into monastic life. Compulsorily they must go and compulsorily they must come out at eighteen. They cannot continue. They'll take monastic life for three years, but after three years, they cannot continue, they have to discontinue that and get back to normal life. This is for discipline and focus. So I was to initiate this fifteen year olds and you know these sixty days, they are going through, from morning 3:30 to 9:00 in the evening, they are going through almost eight hours of meditation, varieties of Sadhana completely silent for sixty days, fifteen year old kids, totally silent. So I want to .. just another five days left for the initiation, I want to see how they are and I go there at 3:30 in the morning to see them. All these kids are just sitting like this unmoving. I just looked at them and they were literally glowing. I sat there and wept because I have never seen children like this in my life. Definitely I was not like this when I was fifteen. I was nowhere near what they are today but you can't make the entire world like that.

This is an ideal to work towards. The idea of this kind of schooling is just to develop human body and human brain without any intention. Without any intention as to what they should become. They can become whatever they want. Only thing is human body and human mind should grow to its fullest capability and attention is the main thing. An indiscriminate and unprejudiced attention is what we're trying to evolve in the children, that they learn to pay attention to everything the same way. That you don't divide the world as something as good and something as bad, something high, something low, something divine, something devil, something filthy, something sacred. No, you learn to pay the same attention to everything. This is the fundamental of this form of education. What will they do, what will they do is the aspiration, so I guaranteed them one thing. Twelve years, if you enter the school, the commitment is for twelve years. You have to.. six if you come, eighteen you can leave. So they asked me what will the children do. I said one thing I'll assure you, we will not give you a certificate at the end.

They said 'Sadhguru, what?' I said, 'Did anybody ask me what is my certification?' Only in the American embassy they asked me, you know when I almost .. about.. twenty years ago, or eighteen years ago when I went to apply for the visa to come to United States, the counsel general wanted to meet me. She was a lady. I went to meet her and she said, "Yes I know what you have done and all this but do you have a yoga certification because in America, you will need this." I said, "If I had asked for a certification from my guru, he would have killed me, so I don't have." So I said no certification because doors in the world may open little slowly for you, but when they open, they stay open. Because not because of qualification, but by competence you open doors."
unschooling  education  society  sadhguru  kenrobinson  2017  learning  children  schooling  schooliness  unlearning  certification  economics  politics  life  living  perfectionism  death  schools  purpose  depression  attention 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Ruth Asawa, a Pioneer of Necessity
"Black Mountain College was not Ruth Asawa’s first choice. Determined to be an art teacher, she enrolled in Milwaukee State Teachers College from 1943 to ’46. She chose Milwaukee because it was the cheapest college in the catalog she consulted while she and her family were interned in the Rohwer Relocation Center, in Rohwer, Arkansas. However, when she learned that her fourth year was going to be devoted to practice teaching, and that no school in Wisconsin would hire someone who was Japanese, she decided to go to art school. The war might have been over, and the Japanese defeated, but the racism it engendered was still officially in place.

This is perhaps why she and her sister Lois took a bus trip to Mexico City, where she enrolled in a newly formed art school, La Escuela Nacional de Pintura y Escultura La Esmeralda. She also enrolled at the University of Mexico, where she took a class with Clara Porset, an innovative furniture designer from Cuba who had been at Black Mountain College in 1934 and studied with Albers. Through the influence of Porset, as well as that of Asawa’s friend Elaine Schmitt, whom she had met at the end of her freshman year in Milwaukee, Black Mountain College and Josef Albers emerged as a viable American option — a small, relatively isolated environment where she had at least one friend, Schmitt.

Asawa was 20 years old when she and her sister arrived at Black Mountain in the summer of 1946. On the way there, at a stop in Missouri, they did not know whether to use the “colored” or “whites only” bathroom. Like other Asians living in America at that time (and even now), she was both visible and invisible, not always knowing which way she would be regarded.

I thought about the road that Asawa took to Black Mountain College on her way to becoming an artist when I went to the exhibition Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner (September 13–October 21, 2017), her first with this gallery, which now represents her estate. Asawa — whose work was included in the traveling exhibition, Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957, organized by Helen Molesworth — is the latest postwar American artist to be rediscovered by an establishment still waking up to its racist and sexist biases.

In the summer of 1947, Asawa returned to Mexico and worked as a volunteer teacher in the town of Toluca. While she was there, she learned about the crochet loop, which the locals used to make wire baskets. The act of making a loop, or bundling wires together and tying them with a knot, is central to her work. The loop, done in profuse repetition, gave her the freedom to make a range of transparent forms and to contain other transparent forms within them. Many of these works she suspended from the ceiling. Conceivably they could grow to any size, limited only by the dimensions of the room in which they were suspended. There are a number of works done in this way in the exhibition, spheres and cones and teardrop shapes, often with another shape suspended within. I was reminded of soap bubbles stretching but not dispersing, of a form changing slowly and inevitably as it descended from the ceiling.

Made of woven wire, the sculptures oscillate between solidity and dematerialization, which is underscored by the shadows they cast. I think this aspect of the work should have been dramatized more. The strongest works are the ones made of a number of what artist called “lobes” and forms suspended within forms. When she weaves a wire sphere within a larger, similarly shaped form, it evokes a woman’s body, an abstract figure with a womb.

The sculptures with an hourglass shape underscore this association. But this connection can be extended further. In some of Asawa’s sculptures, an elongated tubular form periodically swells into a globular structure with a small spherical form cocooned inside. It is as if these are models for cells undergoing a transformation, generative organisms giving birth to a similar being. At the same time, because they are suspended, gravity is registered as an inescapable and relentless force, an invisible presence manifesting itself on the very structure of the sculpture’s body.

Through the act of weaving the artist has transformed wire — an industrial material — into a cellular structure, something both microscopic and organic. Paradoxically, the structure is a kind of armor, at once protective and vulnerable, with inside and outside visible at the same time.

In other classes of sculptures, of which there are fewer examples, Asawa bundled together wires, which she tied with a knot. These spiky constructions — which are like abstract root systems — were inspired by nature, as were the artworks Asawa made while a student at Black Mountain: small oil paintings on paper, a potato print, a work in ink on paper made with a BMC (Black Mountain College) laundry stamp.

These pieces are complemented by archival materials and vintage photographs of her and of her works taken by Imogen Cunningham. The presentation is beautiful and clean, which made me happy and yet bugged. The wall text at the entrance to the show cited the difficulties Asawa encountered because she was a “woman of color,” which to my mind dilutes what happened.

In all of the work, a simple action or form is repeated. Asawa took this lesson and made it into something altogether unique in postwar sculpture. She does not weld or fabricate. There is nothing macho about her work. Rather, she weaves; her practice, gender, and race cast a shadow over her initial reception in the 1950s in New York, when she had shows at the Peridot Gallery in 1954, ’56, and ‘58. She was a woman of Japanese ancestry making art in the years after World War II, which was a double whammy. In the Time magazine review of her first show at Peridot, the writer paired her exhibition with one by Isamu Noguchi. That same writer identified her as a “San Francisco housewife.” The Art News review of her 1956 show by Eleanor C. Munro characterized her this way:
These are “domestic” sculptures in a feminine, handiwork mode — small and light and unobtrusive for home decoration, not meant, as is much contemporary sculpture, to be hoisted by cranes, carted by vans and installed on mountainsides.

Looking at this exhibition, and thinking about Asawas’ persistence and generosity, I realized why Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has often bothered me. In that poem, read by nearly all American schoolchildren, the poet talks about taking the road “less traveled.” That is all fine and dandy if you have that choice. Asawa did not. More than once, she had to make a road where there was none. She was a pioneer out of necessity."
ruthasawa  art  artists  education  arteducation  2017  blackmountaincollege  bmc  mexico  sanfrancisco  sculpture  josefalbers  claraporset 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
MUJI’s design philosophy is emptiness, not minimalism, says Kenya Hara — Quartzy
"Ku is not a poverty or absence of ideas or materials. Indeed, it’s a much richer concept than the Western understanding of “emptiness.” It’s a stance—a readiness to receive inspiration from outside. “To offer an empty vessel is to pose a single question and to be wholly ready to accept the huge variety of answers,” says Hara. ”Emptiness is itself a possibility of being filled.”"
ku  japan  japanese  kenyahara  muji  emptiness  minimalism  2017 
11 weeks ago 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 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Exposing Fake Companies & Free Products on Instagram | Topic
"25.
Maybe this explains what’s so galling to people about the Folsom & Co. not-really-scam: It simply lays bare the categorical deception at the heart of all branding and retail. The different watch values are, in the strictest sense, speech acts: the watch is $29.99 because someone said it’s $29.99. It’s $29.99 because a certain person is wearing it on Instagram; it’s $29.99 because it’s photographed next to flannel and a Chemex. While “Bradley” of “Bradley’s men’s shop” may not be the most fleshed-out character, he – and the entire existence of Folsom & Co., Soficoastal, etc. – are examples of the now-household term, “brand storytelling.” And the internet makes it possible for anyone to tell any story, about anything, from anywhere.

26.
The fact that Folsom & Co. is not in San Francisco is of a piece with many “brand stories.” In “How Madewell Bought and Sold My Family’s History,” Dan Nosowitz recalls the process by which J. Crew acquired and subsequently mythologized Madewell, his great-grandfather’s workwear brand, after its last factory shut down in 2006. J. Crew now uses the brand for a line of high-end women’s clothing. Its marketing draws heavily on the age of the original Madewell, and J. Crew is fond of including “since 1937” under the logo. This is part of a larger effort to portray the Madewell brand in retrospect as a venerable, solid company known for craftsmanship and quality. But Nosowitz points out that the original Madewell was actually unconcerned with style or design, and often contracted out their clothing or imitated existing designs. Not only does old Madewell not live up to the story told by new Madewell, it was a completely different company that made unglamorous overalls for cheap. Nosowitz writes, “J.Crew’s Madewell is grasping to emulate some sepia-hued commitment to quality in the original company, some moral or ethical standard from better, more authentic times. But that’s not what motivated my great-grandfather at all — his motivation was profit, and quality was a means to an end.”"
jennyodell  capitalism  watches  marketing  advertising  2017 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Sri Lankan Whale Researcher Calls for an End to ‘Parachute — Oceans Deeply
[via: https://twitter.com/ashadevos/status/1121574154367422464 ]

"Most of the planet’s coastlines are in the developing world. Western marine scientists and institutions could do better work by developing the scientific talents of the people who live there, says Asha de Vos, founder of Oceanswell."



"THERE’S NO HOPE to conserve the ocean’s biodiversity unless scientists look inward and improve diversity in their own ranks. That’s the message that Asha de Vos, a Sri Lankan marine biologist, delivered to an international meeting of marine mammalogists in Halifax, Canada, in October.

De Vos is founder of Oceanswell, an organization she launched this year to help students from underrepresented nations conduct and communicate marine science. She argues that the health of coastlines depends on local people, yet too often they are ignored or dismissed. The practice of “parachute science,” in which Western researchers drop into developing countries to collect data and leave without training or investing in the region, not only harms communities, it cripples conservation efforts, according to De Vos.

She has first-hand experience. From Sri Lanka, she made her research career by studying blue whales in the Indian Ocean, which she discovered to be the only population that stays in tropical waters year round. Few scientists had paid attention to the whales before.

Oceans Deeply spoke with De Vos about how marine research and conservation could be more effective by investing in scientists and communities around the world.

Oceans Deeply: You recently called on marine researchers to be better at sharing skills, knowledge and funding with people in developing countries. Can you describe what you meant by that?

Asha de Vos: Seventy percent of our planet is oceans. Seventy percent of our coastlines are in the developing world. But we have no representation at the global stage. I actually asked the audience to look at each other and look around the room, because there was hardly anybody from outside North America, some of the bigger European countries and Australia. We want to save the oceans. If that is what our drive is, then we need to have custodians on every coastline. We can’t save the oceans if all of the funds are being pumped into specific nations.

If you want to protect that coastline, you can’t have 10 people from one country going into different countries and trying to save entire coastlines. It doesn’t make any sense. Local people, they live on those coastlines. They speak the languages, and they see the problems every day. They may be part of the problem.

There is a community aspect to it – where they can communicate to the people who live next door to them better than people coming from outside and telling people what to do. That is really patronizing. As soon as you get people who come from within the system, who speak the same language and who are relatable, you will suddenly start to see change.

If we want to protect what is on all of these coastlines, we can’t have parachute science happening. We can’t have people from outside coming into our countries, doing work and leaving, because there is no sustainability in that model.

Oceans Deeply: In many Western countries, limited scientific funding often goes to a small number of people, largely based on experience and prestige. Are you also calling for a general reform of how science is done?

De Vos: Overall, I think that we do need general reform. Business as usual hasn’t worked, right? The oceans are not in a better state. They’re getting worse. We need to start thinking, “OK, how can we change what is happening? How can we invest in human capital in places that need it?”

Funding bodies should be more conscious about how they administer their funding. It is not just about having a local counterpart – you need to make that local counterpart a lead. You need to mentor them to write the grant. It is the big institutions and funding bodies that really control what happens in these fields. The reason people want to publish and publish is because their tenure track job depends on it. If institutions instead started saying, “Look, what is your actual impact? What are you actually doing on the ground? How does what you do translate?” Then people have an obligation to go beyond [publishing].

I can understand the plight of the scientist as well. I broke out of that system. I never believed in the system, so I couldn’t stay in academia because that just doesn’t work for me. I want to have impact.

Oceans Deeply: How did you end up in your career, and what challenges did you face because you’re from Sri Lanka?

De Vos: I was inspired by National Geographic as a kid. At 18, I told people that I wanted to be a marine biologist. I come from South Asia where the culture is: either you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer, a business person or you’re wasting your time. Lucky for me I had parents who said, “Do what you love, you’ll do it well.”

I went to the University of St. Andrews, where I did my undergraduate. I needed field experience, but I couldn’t get it in Sri Lanka, so I saved a bunch of money – I dug potatoes in potato fields in Scotland. I managed to get myself to New Zealand, and while I was there I heard of a research vessel that was stopping in the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

I wrote to them every single day for three months – and this was back in the day of internet cafes. I was living in a tent, but I was using the little bit of money that I had to convince people to let me get on board. Eventually, I think that they got so tired of me that they said I could come on board for two weeks in the Maldives. They loved me, so they kept me on for six months in Sri Lanka as well.

I got this experience, and then I went off to do my master’s at Oxford. When I was working on the research vessel, the Odyssey, I had my eureka moment because I encountered an aggregation of blue whales. I realized that these whales were not like normal blue whales, as my textbooks and professors had [told me]. Blue whales usually go to cold waters to feed and warm waters to breed. The poo was evidence that they were actually feeding in these warm, tropical waters 5 degrees above the equator. I thought that was fascinating.

Oceans Deeply: How did these experiences help form your understanding of the need for diversity in marine science?

De Vos: It is a result of me being Sri Lankan and local that I have been able to pioneer blue whale research in the northern Indian Ocean. I launched the first long-term study of this population. Over 10 years we have unraveled all of these mysteries, because I am local and I am interested in engagement.

The more people that I can touch with the stories of these whales, the bigger the army [of conservationists] and that is what is going to make the difference. When I started working with these blue whales, People didn’t know that we had whales in our waters. Now, there are more [Sri Lankan] students than ever before wanting to become marine biologists. I just established Sri Lanka’s first marine conservation research and education organization, called Oceanswell.

Oceans Deeply: Have you seen progress in training and investing in local communities?

De Vos: Yes. After the Society of Marine Mammalogy talk, I had people lining up to give their cards. There are people who invest, and not just in the developing world. There are now Inuit communities who are able to run their own PCR machines because someone went in there and helped set up a lab, even if you don’t have all the right conditions.

There are people out there who are doing incredible work and that don’t get highlighted, which is unfortunate. Transfer of knowledge is not valued in our scientific system in the same way as research.

I have had people approach me and say, “Can you get me a research permit so that I can do research in your country?” and I say no. We have talent, so provide opportunity. You come and train our people and then have the confidence to leave and watch this project grow, and then this becomes your legacy because it continues to grow for generations. You are creating something that is sustainable rather than coming in and trying to drive your own agenda"
ashadevos  science  decolonization  parachutescience  academia  local  srilanka  2017  oceanswell  whales  bluewhales  research  marinebiology  maldives  oceans  indianocean  inclusivity  diversity  marineconservation  conservation  impact  training  access  accessibility  mentoring  mentorships 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Are.na Blog / Unlearning hierarchy at the Free School of Architecture
"The Free School of Architecture is an experimental, tuition-free program founded in 2016 that brings architectural thinkers to Los Angeles for several weeks of participatory learning. Four of the original participants – Elisha Cohen, Lili Carr, Karina Andreeva and Tessa Forde – took over the project in 2017 and organized the 2018 edition, which is extensively archived on Are.na. We caught up with them via email to hear their thoughts on alternative education in art and design."



"FSA takes a maximalist and inclusive approach; this has the advantage of allowing us to connect seemingly different people and projects who might never have met, and between whom unexpected collaborations start to happen. It attempts to bridge the gap between academia and practice and allow the space for conversations about architecture that are often overlooked. This maximalist approach means that there will be some unavoidable confusion as a result. We focused on growth and development of participants over clarity to outsiders. Still transparency was a constant topic of conversation and a goal for us as the organizers, and we realize that this is an area we drastically need to improve.

At the core are a few aspirational (and perhaps naive) values that we hope FSA can act as a testing ground for, no matter how the program evolves in the future:

- Non-hierarchy

- Interdisciplinarity and inclusivity

- Freeness (free from constraints of academy and practice, tuition-free, free to be silent or to question)

Leo: How did you structure things in 2018? Were there instructors and students, or did every participant take on a range of roles in relation to one another?

FSA: We sought to challenge the typical hierarchy of a school and emphasize the value of those attending by removing the impetus on the ‘teacher and student’ relationship. We purposefully avoided using those terms. Everyone involved became a ‘participant.’

This began with the application process. Anyone could apply to be a participant by writing a statement and demonstrating experience engaging with a form of practice relevant to architecture. Then, those who wanted to could also submit a teaching proposal. Not all participants had to host a session, but those who did were also there to listen to others.

This included the organizers—we also submitted our own application statements. This was important because the second stage of admissions was peer-evaluation. We sent each applicant three other essays to respond to in order to be accepted. Some responses were funny, some were graphic, while some wrote long, thoughtful reactions. Here is one example. Most importantly, it generated a dialogue before the school was in session and set the tone for what was to come.

Leo: What do you think you took away from the challenges and advantages of being a more "horizontal" organization?

FSA: The structure and organizational model was a huge learning experience for all of us. It had some incredibly powerful results, including a truly non-hierarchical working dynamic between the four of us that enabled unanimous decision-making and open discussion. We shared responsibility for almost every aspect of the organization. To do this productively took time, discussion, and trust. It is certainly not the most efficient, but we believe in its benefits over this downside.

Despite our intentions as organizers to make the program itself non-hierarchical, it became difficult for us to blend into the participant group and separate ourselves from those roles as we attempted to hand over the torch. The incredible complexity of running a school and the huge amount of admin work involved proved almost impossible to part with. This is an area that we plan to focus on in the future. In many ways we did too much, and further iterations of the school may reimagine it with more flexibility and with a more established system for handing off responsibility."



"Leo: Has working on Free School of Architecture offered ways to share knowledge with other groups thinking about alternative education?

FSA: We are only one example of many types of alternative educational initiatives arising, in the architecture education world but also in the art world, as education becomes increasingly more expensive and continues to perpetuate the agenda of those with cultural power and capital. We have been in touch with other schools with similar intentions, like Utopia School, Learning Gardens, and Aformal Academy, and there is an incredible opportunity to develop a kind of global network of knowledge and ideas exchange. Eventually, we would like to compile a “Free School Tool Kit” to allow others to run similar events and build on what we have learned so far. In fact, we used are.na throughout the summer as part of this same intention towards knowledge sharing. We wanted it to be both a resource for participants but also a growing archive to document the summer in the hopes that it might be interesting or useful to others. It still needs another layer of editing and uploading in order to work as a full archive or tool kit, but it did act as an ongoing platform for exchange at the time. Hopefully in the future we can continue to use it as a way for non-participants to engage as well.

Next up, we (the organizers) are traveling to the Bauhaus in Dessau, Germany to take part in their “Parliament of Schools,” along with others from around the world, including Public School for Architecture, Open Raumlabor University, and many more. It should be a fantastic occasion to engage with and learn about other organizations and explore the future of pedagogy within the architectural field. We’re very excited about how it might influence what we do next!"
unlearning  hierarchy  horizontality  elishacohen  lillicarr  karinaandreeva  tessaforde  2019  freeschools  2017  2018  unschooling  interdisciplinary  freeness  inclusivity  responsibility  decisionmaking  participation  participatory  experimentation  experience  architects  architecture  design  are.na 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
White paper: Debt, tuition dependence doom small colleges
"Scholar looks at history of U.S. higher ed and finds that vulnerable colleges, most of them private, tend to close or merge when crisis pushes them "over the cliff.""



"The 2008 recession has heightened the significance of closures, since fewer new nonprofit institutions are arising than at nearly any time in history. That makes each closure matter more, since the total number of seats shrinks.

In the past, colleges have evolved slowly, often from tiny operations into regional and sometimes nationally recognized institutions. She noted, for instance, that the Anna Blake School, which opened in 1891 to offer training in economics and industrial arts, became the Santa Barbara State Normal School after the state of California took it over in 1909. Twelve years later it became Santa Barbara State College, then Santa Barbara College of the University of California. It's now known as UC Santa Barbara.

Likewise for the Pacific Sanitarium and School of Osteopathic Medicine, which opened in 1896. Long story short: it's now the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Sapiro urges those who would predict hundreds of closures to consider that most colleges have spent “significant parts of their institutional existence teetering on the brink of ruin, deeply vulnerable to having to close.” A high proportion of colleges and universities have survived through troubled financial periods -- even back to Harvard University. Actually, institutions that we think of as elite have often been the beneficiaries of outside aid, either from donors, subscribers or even government largess. She noted that Harvard enjoyed “substantial public support” when it was founded in 1636. The Massachusetts Bay Colony donated the land for its campus and handed over revenues from a nearby toll bridge. “They had a whole bunch of public funds that served as the basis for their success later.”

She also noted that most of the U.S. colleges and universities with roots prior to the 20th century began as academies -- sometimes they began as primary schools, seminaries or even orphanages. That suggests the next great wave of colleges could evolve from very different-looking institutions.

While many observers these days would say that poorly run colleges deserve to close, Sapiro cautioned that a college is not like your typical business. For one thing, managers can't simply make its core product cheaper.

“We’re very confined,” she said. “We’re businesses, but we don’t run our institutions in the way of a for-profit business that buys and sells stuff.”

Colleges and universities that are under threat of closure “have a full range of bad choices to make,” she noted: they can lower standards, defer maintenance, create new programs to generate new students or cut unpopular programs that aren't attracting enough students. All of these, she suggested, are terrible ways to save money or bring in new revenue. A former dean, Sapiro said abolishing even an entire department “doesn’t save money the way you think it does.”

Colleges like Hampshire or Green Mountain, which have sought to provide a niche by focusing on sustainability and ecology, for instance, often find that this simply isn’t enough to differentiate themselves from others. “What Green Mountain found is that not every student who wants to be green and ecological is going to go there,” she said. “Some [students] are going to go to UCSD.”

In a few rare cases, colleges such as Boston University have intentionally planned for smaller entering freshman classes to be more selective -- in the process, she said, BU also increased acceptance of transfers with good records elsewhere (including at community colleges). That helped it become more desirable, while at the same time increasing access across different demographic groups, including first-generation students. “If you become an institution that is more prestigious, that can beat other institutions more at admissions, you win,” she said.

Sapiro also suggests critics pay closer attention to what she calls higher ed's “ecology” -- literally its cycle of birth, death and rebirth. When colleges die, they don’t simply disappear. Their physical assets, as well as their faculty, staff and students, often enrich another, sometimes related, college. “In some way or another, they feed the birth of another institution,” she said.

She noted that Wheelock College didn’t simply disappear in 2017 -- it merged into Boston University, bringing together two institutions with campuses separated by about a mile. The former college now houses the Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development.

Struggling denominational colleges serve another interesting function, Sapiro said: when the religious institution that oversees one finally decides that it's unsustainable, it typically transfers funding to another educational undertaking that is sustainable, much as a holding company might do.

“It’s very sad when your alma mater or your institution goes down -- and it’s bad for the community because of all those business that depend on it," she said. "But very often it feeds the sustainability of another institution.”"
2019  colleges  universities  highered  highereducation  hampshirecollege  ucsb  greenmountaincollege  newburycollege  atlanticunioncollege  ucirvine  bostonuniversity  wheelockcollege  2017  niche  virginiasapiro  gregtoppo 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
The Notre Dame Fire and the Invisible Tragedy of the Everyday
"Executive director of the World Peace Foundation Alex de Waal says that almost all the famines that occur today are political decisions, a “matter of system” as Kinsella puts it. In the modern world, hunger, homelessness, lack of proper healthcare, and lack of access to education are all political decisions as well. The simple truth is that we can take care of everyone on Earth, but we choose not to."

[See also:
"The Nazis Used It, We Use It: Alex de Waal on the return of famine as a weapon of war"
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n12/alex-de-waal/the-nazis-used-it-we-use-it

"Reaction of the rich to the Notre Dame fire teaches us a lot about the world we live in"
https://www.joe.ie/life-style/notre-dame-feature-665670

"Billionaires raced to pledge money to rebuild Notre Dame. Then came the backlash."
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/billionaires-raced-to-pledge-money-to-rebuild-notre-dame-then-came-the-backlash/2019/04/18/7133f9a2-617c-11e9-bf24-db4b9fb62aa2_story.html ]
health  suffering  humanity  politics  alexdewaal  hunger  healthcare  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  choices  capitalism  policy  education  2019  notredame  society  via:lukeneff  inequality  shame  famine  tragedy  2017 
12 weeks ago by robertogreco
Agnès Varda's Ecological Conscience
"“Existence isn’t a solitary matter,” says the shepherd to the wanderer in Agnès Varda’s 1985 film, Vagabond. This vision of collectivity, the belief that we are all in it together, recurs throughout Varda’s films, from her early, proto–New Wave La Pointe Courte (1954) to her acclaimed Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961) to her most recent film, Faces Places (2017), made in collaboration with the young French street artist JR. (Filmmaking isn’t a solitary matter, either.) “This movie is about togetherness,” she told New York Magazine. Watching Faces Places, I couldn’t help thinking about Varda’s 2000 film, The Gleaners & I. Both are road-trip movies in which Varda interviews the kinds of people we don’t often see in movies—farmers, miners, dockworkers, and their wives. Both films proceed by chance, gleaning whatever they happen upon. But though The Gleaners is now seventeen years old, old enough to drive a car and almost old enough to vote, it’s feeling as fresh and relevant as if it had been made in parallel to Faces Places. It rewards rewatching.

The Gleaners & I is a documentary about the time-honored act of gathering what other people have abandoned or thrown away. Gleaning is most often associated with what’s been left behind after a harvest; think of that famous Millet painting, The Gleaners (1857), which you can find in the Musée d’Orsay. The women—gleaners used to be mainly women—bend over to collect the bits of wheat the harvesters have left on the ground; they gather what they find in their aprons. It looks like back-breaking work. “It’s always the same humble gesture,” Varda comments in voice-over: to stoop, to glean.

Today, they tell Varda, harvesting is more efficient because it’s done by machines, leaving less for gleaners to pick up. In her film, Varda interviews present-day glâneurs; some glean to survive, some out of principle (“Salvaging is a matter of ethics with me,” says a man who’s eaten mostly garbage for ten years), others just for fun. One woman Varda interviews demonstrates how they used to do it: with a sweeping extension of her torso she gathers ears of corn into her apron. It was a social occasion, when all the women in the neighborhood would get together and, afterward, go back to the house for a coffee and a laugh.

Varda enlarges the concept of the glâneur to include people like the artist Louis Pons, whose work is assembled from trash, from forgotten things, from pens, empty spools, wires, cans, cages, bits of boats, cars, musical instruments: “He composes,” Varda says, “with chance.” Or to Bodan Litnianski, the Ukrainian retired brickmason-turned-artist who built his house (which he calls “Le palais idéal”) from scraps he found in dumps—dolls, many dolls, and toy trucks and trains and hoses and baskets and plastic fronds—effectively brickmasoned into place. “C’est solide, eh.” Litnianski died in 2005, but there’s a corresponding figure in Faces Places who made me sit up in recognition.

All of the gleaners Varda speaks with are appalled at the amount of waste our culture produces—especially food waste. “People are so stupid!” says a gleaner who strides around his village in Wellies, going through the garbage for food, freegan-style. “They see an expiration date and think, Oh I mustn’t eat that, I’ll get sick! I’ve been eating garbage for ten years and I’ve never been sick.” Back in Paris, Varda interviews people who come around after the market’s been through, to save money. “You should see what they get rid of,” one says. “Fruit … vegetables … cheese, but that’s rare.” His entire diet, it seems, comes from eating the castoffs from the market and the boulangeries. Varda, intrigued by him, follows him back to the shelter where he lives and volunteers as a French teacher to immigrants.

The urban gleaner has often gone by another name: the chiffonnier, or rag picker. Until the 1960s, you could still hear his cry in the streets of Paris: “chiiiiiiiiiffonnier!” Baudelaire, in Les fleurs du mal, sees them “bent under piles of rubbish, jumbled scrap,” collecting “the dregs that monster Paris vomits up.” The rag picker moves through the city on foot, like the flaneur, collecting what it has cast off. Other cities have long had this tradition—the raddi-wallah in India, for instance (which can refer to both the scrap collector or the place where the scraps are brought). In Paris, the chiffonniers, like self-employed sanitation workers, went through the trash, separating out what was useful from what was not, collecting rags, rabbit skins, bits of metal, scraps of paper, bones, glass, yarn, fabric, old clothes, all manner of chemical compounds, anything that could be repurposed, reused, repackaged, or transformed into something else. “Very little went to waste, in Baudelaire’s Paris,” notes the scholar Antoine Compagnon in his recent book on the chiffonnier. Georges Lacombe’s 1928 short silent film, La zone, shows the process of rag picking and what happens to the detritus they collect. They would drag this in bags or in wheelbarrows to a collection point, of which there were many in the city; the rue Mouffetard, on the Left Bank, was the center of this reselling (side note: Varda made a short film about this street, 1958’s Opera Mouffe). The metal, of course, would be taken to factories where it was melted down and turned into other things made of metal. How many lives has metal had, how many shapes has it taken? How many more lives does any object have before it eventually finds its way to some landfill?

Today, this canny recycling spirit lives on in the brocantes, which you can find around town on any weekend afternoon. In among the real antique dealers, you can find people selling all the bits and bobs of things they don’t want or they found in their basements, laid out on tables or blankets. They are “objets that can be found nowhere else: old-fashioned, broken, useless, almost incomprehensible, almost perverse,” as André Breton writes in Nadja, visiting the flea market at Clignancourt. How many different people have made use of the same cast-off calculator, the little porcelain dish, the copy of a minor album by Renaud?

The threat to the environment posed by waste is incredibly pressing; the need to recycle is a question of ethics. If we must consume, let us consume each other’s castoffs. “All these old things,” Baudelaire noticed back in 1857, “have a moral value.” This is the ethos of The Gleaners. Yet it’s difficult to watch the film at times, to be reminded that others are living off what some of us throw away so carelessly, something Varda’s literary kindred spirit, Virginie Despentes, has also managed to do in her recent masterpiece, Vernon Subutex. But neither Varda nor Despentes sentimentalizes this cycle; the gleaners Varda interviews are gleeful. If there’s anyone to pity here, it’s us, paying retail, paying anything: we’re the suckers. Varda helps us see the hyperactive cycle of our materialism and, through the act of glanage, shows us a way to consume less and to engage with our environments more.

Before I watched the film, my suburban ways clung to me. Everything had to be new, of course. I’d never gotten out of the car to pick up some apples from the ground, or brought in a piece of furniture from the street. (I think of Patti Smith in Just Kids, scrubbing with baking soda the mattress she and Robert Mapplethorpe found in the street. She had that pluck and resourcefulness.) Even after it, I’m not sure I would go rummaging through the garbage after the market had finished. But Varda helped me see myself as not only a consumer but a participant in some greater cycle of custodianship. As Varda films people recuperating the copper coils from inside television sets that have been abandoned, or finding old refrigerators and repairing them, or turning them into very chic bookshelves, she seems to be asking us not to limit ourselves to accepting products as they’re offered to us commercially but that we take them apart, turn them into other things, that we imagine new uses for them, even, and especially, when they seem to be useless."
2017  agnèsvarda  environment  sustainability  film  laurenelkin  gleaners  waste  documentary  observation  noticing  women  gender  glâneurs  scraps  scavenging  chiffonnier  recycling  reuse  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Language Is Migrant - South Magazine Issue #8 [documenta 14 #3] - documenta 14
"Language is migrant. Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.

What is then this talk against migrants? It can only be talk against ourselves, against life itself.

Twenty years ago, I opened up the word “migrant,” seeing in it a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined “migrant” was probably composed of mei, Latin for “to change or move,” and gra, “heart” from the Germanic kerd. Thus, “migrant” became “changed heart,”
a heart in pain,
changing the heart of the earth.

The word “immigrant” says, “grant me life.”

“Grant” means “to allow, to have,” and is related to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root: dhe, the mother of “deed” and “law.” So too, sacerdos, performer of sacred rites.

What is the rite performed by millions of people displaced and seeking safe haven around the world? Letting us see our own indifference, our complicity in the ongoing wars?

Is their pain powerful enough to allow us to change our hearts? To see our part in it?

I “wounder,” said Margarita, my immigrant friend, mixing up wondering and wounding, a perfect embodiment of our true condition!

Vicente Huidobro said, “Open your mouth to receive the host of the wounded word.”

The wound is an eye. Can we look into its eyes?
my specialty is not feeling, just
looking, so I say:
(the word is a hard look.)
—Rosario Castellanos

I don’t see with my eyes: words
are my eyes.
—Octavio Paz

In l980, I was in exile in Bogotá, where I was working on my “Palabrarmas” project, a way of opening words to see what they have to say. My early life as a poet was guided by a line from Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.” Living in the violent city of Bogotá, I wanted to see if anybody shared this view, so I set out with a camera and a team of volunteers to interview people in the street. I asked everybody I met, “What is Poetry to you?” and I got great answers from beggars, prostitutes, and policemen alike. But the best was, “Que prosiga,” “That it may go on”—how can I translate the subjunctive, the most beautiful tiempo verbal (time inside the verb) of the Spanish language? “Subjunctive” means “next to” but under the power of the unknown. It is a future potential subjected to unforeseen conditions, and that matches exactly the quantum definition of emergent properties.

If you google the subjunctive you will find it described as a “mood,” as if a verbal tense could feel: “The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.” Or “the ‘present’ subjunctive is the bare form of a verb (that is, a verb with no ending).”

I loved that! A never-ending image of a naked verb! The man who passed by as a shadow in my film saying “Que prosiga” was on camera only for a second, yet he expressed in two words the utter precision of Indigenous oral culture.

People watching the film today can’t believe it was not scripted, because in thirty-six years we seem to have forgotten the art of complex conversation. In the film people in the street improvise responses on the spot, displaying an awareness of language that seems to be missing today. I wounder, how did it change? And my heart says it must be fear, the ocean of lies we live in, under a continuous stream of doublespeak by the violent powers that rule us. Living under dictatorship, the first thing that disappears is playful speech, the fun and freedom of saying what you really think. Complex public conversation goes extinct, and along with it, the many species we are causing to disappear as we speak.

The word “species” comes from the Latin speciēs, “a seeing.” Maybe we are losing species and languages, our joy, because we don’t wish to see what we are doing.

Not seeing the seeing in words, we numb our senses.

I hear a “low continuous humming sound” of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the drones we send out into the world carrying our killing thoughts.

Drones are the ultimate expression of our disconnect with words, our ability to speak without feeling the effect or consequences of our words.

“Words are acts,” said Paz.

Our words are becoming drones, flying robots. Are we becoming desensitized by not feeling them as acts? I am thinking not just of the victims but also of the perpetrators, the drone operators. Tonje Hessen Schei, director of the film Drone, speaks of how children are being trained to kill by video games: “War is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. ... I think this ‘militainment’ has a huge cost,” not just for the young soldiers who operate them but for society as a whole. Her trailer opens with these words by a former aide to Colin Powell in the Bush/Cheney administration:
OUR POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE FUTURE. WATCH IT AND WEEP FOR US. OR WATCH IT AND DETERMINE TO CHANGE THAT FUTURE
—Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel U.S. Army (retired)


In Astro Noise, the exhibition by Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the language of surveillance migrates into poetry and art. We lie in a collective bed watching the night sky crisscrossed by drones. The search for matching patterns, the algorithms used to liquidate humanity with drones, is turned around to reveal the workings of the system. And, we are being surveyed as we survey the show! A new kind of visual poetry connecting our bodies to the real fight for the soul of this Earth emerges, and we come out woundering: Are we going to dehumanize ourselves to the point where Earth itself will dream our end?

The fight is on everywhere, and this may be the only beauty of our times. The Quechua speakers of Peru say, “beauty is the struggle.”

Maybe darkness will become the source of light. (Life regenerates in the dark.)

I see the poet/translator as the person who goes into the dark, seeking the “other” in him/herself, what we don’t wish to see, as if this act could reveal what the world keeps hidden.

Eduardo Kohn, in his book How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human notes the creation of a new verb by the Quichua speakers of Ecuador: riparana means “darse cuenta,” “to realize or to be aware.” The verb is a Quichuan transfiguration of the Spanish reparar, “to observe, sense, and repair.” As if awareness itself, the simple act of observing, had the power to heal.

I see the invention of such verbs as true poetry, as a possible path or a way out of the destruction we are causing.

When I am asked about the role of the poet in our times, I only question: Are we a “listening post,” composing an impossible “survival guide,” as Paul Chan has said? Or are we going silent in the face of our own destruction?

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla, transcribes the words of El Viejo Antonio, an Indian sage: “The gods went looking for silence to reorient themselves, but found it nowhere.” That nowhere is our place now, that’s why we need to translate language into itself so that IT sees our awareness.

Language is the translator. Could it translate us to a place within where we cease to tolerate injustice and the destruction of life?

Life is language. “When we speak, life speaks,” says the Kaushitaki Upanishad.

Awareness creates itself looking at itself.

It is transient and eternal at the same time.

Todo migra. Let’s migrate to the “wounderment” of our lives, to poetry itself."
ceciliavicuña  language  languages  words  migration  immigration  life  subcomandantemarcos  elviejoantonio  lawrencewilkerson  octaviopaz  exile  rosariocastellanos  poetry  spanish  español  subjunctive  oral  orality  conversation  complexity  seeing  species  joy  tonjehessenschei  war  colinpowell  laurapoitras  art  visual  translation  eduoardokohn  quechua  quichua  healing  repair  verbs  invention  listening  kaushitakiupanishad  awareness  noticing  wondering  vicentehuidobro  wounds  woundering  migrants  unknown  future  potential  unpredictability  emergent  drones  morethanhuman  multispecies  paulchan  destruction  displacement  refugees  extinction  others  tolerance  injustice  justice  transience  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  eternal  surveillance  patterns  algorithms  earth  sustainability  environment  indifference  complicity  dictatorship  documenta14  2017  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
‘With or Without You’: Naturalising Migrants and the Never-Ending Tragedy of Liberalism | Salvage
"To be homeless is to be nameless. He. The existence of a migrant worker.

John Berger

*

The One Day Without Us campaign was launched in the UK in October 2016 ‘in reaction to the rising tide of post-Brexit street- level racism and xenophobia’ and, according to its website, ‘the divisive and stridently anti-migrant rhetoric emanating from too many politicians that has accompanied it.’ It held its target protest day on Monday 20 February 2017. ‘At a time when the political discussion about migration too often depicts a false narrative of “us versus them”, and when migrants are too often excluded from a debate that is supposedly about them, we wanted to provide an opportunity for migrants and British nationals to come together and celebrate the vital role that migrants play within their own communities.’ The campaign thus aimed to showcase a variety of pro-migrant sentiment and action across the UK. At my workplace, students and staff were encouraged to write on Post-its pinned to a map of the world their messages of support and solidarity, and what migrants meant to them. In other workplaces, one particularly striking message passing on social media emerged from a series of pictures of people contrasting what their work cohort looked like with and without migrants.

Emphasising how many migrants constitute our workforce and everyday life is a helpful way to create a contrast between the rhetoric of anti-immigration politics and the reality of migrant integration. Yet numbers are also threatening to some when imagined through The Sun-fuelled metaphors of hordes, swarms, and floods of monsters, coming here, taking our jobs. In its more extreme forms, the vocabulary of anti-immigration rhetoric shifts between the registers of environmental disaster to war and crusade. Against this, the One Day Without Us actions send out a powerful message of solidarity by numerically performing the sudden disappearance of the migrants amongst us to conjure up a bond that feels increasingly unbound."



"Specifically, it seems logical to this ideology that where and to whom one is born should determine what resources and conditions one should survive in – justified legally by the respective principles of ius solis and ius sanguinis for determining nationality rights. The anti-immigrant rhetoric in most European countries today reinforces and restricts these principles. However, in other contexts such as North America, as Jessica Evans reminds us, indigenous peoples are ‘internal outsiders with a prior claim to both jus solis and jus sanguinis’ and yet ‘access to the state and to the right for a state of their own’ remains denied to them. In both contexts, however, xenophobic and exclusionary rhetoric finds refuge in the cataclysmic sense of emergency where everybody is meant to accept that the world is dying, resources are limited and cannot be shared, and, crucially, (European) Christian culture is threatened. Thus, people should stay where they are and deal with the lot they were given, whether this means war, famine, persecution, discrimination, colonial theft and trauma, unemployment, lack of healthcare, and more. What this implies is the erosion of the principle of solidarity. Although this principle, when coupled to Western liberal ideals, has often led to the worst of liberal interventionism’s civilising missions, it remains a cornerstone of basic human decency and co- existence, and of socialist politics. It therefore must be protected from European liberalism’s securitisation, retrenchment and paranoia.

Thus, the ‘with and without us’ message signals the challenge of this tragic yet never-ending liberalism, which, like the narrator character in the U2 song ‘With or Without You’, threatens to die but remains loudly and infuriatingly alive and dominant. Liberalism is currently deemed at risk by the advance of the far right; as critics of liberalism, should we not be rejoicing? No, because what is really at risk is not liberalism, but the principle of solidarity that some liberalism contains. Instead of dying, liberalism is merely becoming more and more securitised and economically ‘rational’. The principle of solidarity is trapped in the farcical tragedy of liberalism’s never-ending schizophrenic dance-off to two different songs; trying to cleave to its ideal of harmonious economic migration and human- rights discourse on one hand, and its need for retaining and cajoling the interests of state and capital through cheap labour and border controls on the other.

In ‘With or Without You’, Bono is wailing, taunting us with despair and the threat of death because the subject of his love brings him both joy and pain. He personifies today’s dominant ideology, asking migrants to stay and save liberalism’s soul, while complaining of how they threaten it, justifying the need to exploit them, detain them or kick them back into the equivalent of outer- space. Economic liberalism maintains and reproduces a moral discourse of righteousness and an institutional façade of human rights. Nevertheless, it must be rejected in toto because it necessarily also furthers a policy agenda of fear and social hierarchy that fills up the pockets of employers and fuels the growing migration security agenda and industry. Sonja Buckel captures this relation well when explaining that ‘managing migration’ means that ‘neoliberal open-border politics has been interwoven with a left- liberal humanitarian and human rights strategy, while also needing to make concessions to the conservative project’. Thus, she writes, ‘what is currently happening with the immigration crisis is not a crisis of neoliberalism. Instead, “managing migration” remains effective’.

The left can of course be co-opted into this management of migration, and this calls for vigilance towards instances when we see these categories and subjectivities being invoked and performed. To teach migration from a more critical perspective is to acknowledge and disturb our role as ‘educators’ or conductors of these categories and subjectivities. This means, firstly, to teach the origins of migration as a process tied to the commodification and value theory of labour, where workers are necessarily ‘moving- workers’ but have been alienated to only identify as national citizens or ‘bordered-workers’; and secondly, to rethink on a basic level how we are all necessarily migrants under capitalism.[2]"



"Specifically, it seems logical to this ideology that where and to whom one is born should determine what resources and conditions one should survive in – justified legally by the respective principles of ius solis and ius sanguinis for determining nationality rights. The anti-immigrant rhetoric in most European countries today reinforces and restricts these principles. However, in other contexts such as North America, as Jessica Evans reminds us, indigenous peoples are ‘internal outsiders with a prior claim to both jus solis and jus sanguinis’ and yet ‘access to the state and to the right for a state of their own’ remains denied to them. In both contexts, however, xenophobic and exclusionary rhetoric finds refuge in the cataclysmic sense of emergency where everybody is meant to accept that the world is dying, resources are limited and cannot be shared, and, crucially, (European) Christian culture is threatened. Thus, people should stay where they are and deal with the lot they were given, whether this means war, famine, persecution, discrimination, colonial theft and trauma, unemployment, lack of healthcare, and more. What this implies is the erosion of the principle of solidarity. Although this principle, when coupled to Western liberal ideals, has often led to the worst of liberal interventionism’s civilising missions, it remains a cornerstone of basic human decency and co- existence, and of socialist politics. It therefore must be protected from European liberalism’s securitisation, retrenchment and paranoia.

Thus, the ‘with and without us’ message signals the challenge of this tragic yet never-ending liberalism, which, like the narrator character in the U2 song ‘With or Without You’, threatens to die but remains loudly and infuriatingly alive and dominant. Liberalism is currently deemed at risk by the advance of the far right; as critics of liberalism, should we not be rejoicing? No, because what is really at risk is not liberalism, but the principle of solidarity that some liberalism contains. Instead of dying, liberalism is merely becoming more and more securitised and economically ‘rational’. The principle of solidarity is trapped in the farcical tragedy of liberalism’s never-ending schizophrenic dance-off to two different songs; trying to cleave to its ideal of harmonious economic migration and human- rights discourse on one hand, and its need for retaining and cajoling the interests of state and capital through cheap labour and border controls on the other.

In ‘With or Without You’, Bono is wailing, taunting us with despair and the threat of death because the subject of his love brings him both joy and pain. He personifies today’s dominant ideology, asking migrants to stay and save liberalism’s soul, while complaining of how they threaten it, justifying the need to exploit them, detain them or kick them back into the equivalent of outer- space. Economic liberalism maintains and reproduces a moral discourse of righteousness and an institutional façade of human rights. Nevertheless, it must be rejected in toto because it necessarily also furthers a policy agenda of fear and social hierarchy that fills up the pockets of employers and fuels the growing migration security agenda and industry. Sonja Buckel captures this relation well when explaining that ‘managing migration’ means that ‘neoliberal open-border politics has been interwoven with a left- liberal humanitarian and human rights strategy, while also needing to make concessions to the … [more]
capitalism  migration  border  borders  citizenship  2017  maïapal  nationalism  race  racism  immigration  canon  liberalism  frédériclordon  johnberger  onedaywithoutus  neoliberalism  sandromezzadra  policy  politics  economics  identity  division  marxism  subjectivity  mobility  containment  society  migrants  immigrants  jessicaevans  indigenous  indigeneity  outsiders  accumulation  materialism  consumerism  jeffreywilliamson  sonjabuckel  security  industry  humanrights  humanitarianism  ideology  labor  work  territory  territorialism  colonization  west  xenophobia  naturalization  sovereignty  globalization  globalism  slavery  servitude  war  environment  climatechange  climate  globalwarming  colinmooers  supremacy  backwardness  davidharvey  jasonmoore  dereksayer  structure  agency  whitesupremacy  criticalpedagogy 
march 2019 by robertogreco
David Bowles – Medium
[via: Mexican X Part X: What the Hex a ‘Latinx’?
https://blog.usejournal.com/mexican-x-part-x-what-the-hex-a-latinx-706b64dafe22 ]

[some of the contents:

Mexican X Part I: Why Is México Pronounced Méjico?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/why-is-m%C3%A9xico-pronounced-m%C3%A9jico-266278c73e11

Mexican X Part II: ¡Hijo de su Mexica Equis!
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-ii-hijo-de-su-mexica-equis-76342d845176

Mexican X Part III: Dude, Where’s My Xocolate?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-iii-dude-wheres-my-xocolate-b7998439b111

Mexican X Part IV: You Say “Tomato,” I Say You’re Missing a Syllable, Bro!
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-iv-you-say-tomato-i-say-youre-missing-a-syllable-bro-1f002f4f110c

Mexican X Part V: Rise of the Bruxa
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-v-rise-of-the-bruxa-df3d2b2abc4f

Mexican X Part VI: And the Xicanos, Ese?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-vi-and-the-xicanos-ese-91534614ad1c

Mexican X Part VII: The Curse of Malinalxochitl
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-vii-the-curse-of-malinalxochitl-71be0cde6e95

Mexican X Part VIII: ¿Qué Onda, Xavo?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-viii-qu%C3%A9-onda-xavo-4f46c7ad674c

Mexican X Part IX: True Chiefs and False Friends in Texas
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-ix-true-chiefs-and-false-friends-in-texas-5e8763b10db9

Mexican X Part X: What the Hex a ‘Latinx’?
https://blog.usejournal.com/mexican-x-part-x-what-the-hex-a-latinx-706b64dafe22

Mexican X Part XI: Rise of a New X
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-xi-rise-of-a-new-x-4c30c0f74ad8

Mexican X Part XII: Xochihuah and Queer Aztecs
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-part-xii-what-did-a-xochihuah-possess-3784532d8023



Mexican X-plainer: Tolkien, Sephardim, and Northern Mexican Spanish
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-tolkien-sephardim-and-northern-mexican-spanish-e7235c0f9585

Mexican X-plainer: Tacos, Not Tlahcos
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-tacos-not-tlahcos-62f7a72826fb

Mexican X-plainer: Al-Andalus & the Flour Tortilla
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-al-andalus-and-the-flour-tortil-5a7d10346b8f

Mexican X-plainer: Is “Cigarette” Mayan?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-is-cigarette-mayan-771475b58dce

Mexican X-plainer: The Aztec Calendar(s)
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-the-aztec-calendar-s-8a7757bf8389

Mexican X-Plainer: Mustachioed Racists?
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-mustachioed-racists-800644589804

Mexican X-plainer: Balls, Nuts & Avocados
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-balls-nuts-avocados-6611eab0a64f

Mexican X-plainer: Chiclets & Aztecs
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/mexican-x-plainer-chiclets-smacking-gum-cf204c6d9c67



Nahuatl, the Past, and the Future
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/nahuatl-the-past-and-the-future-9e54bc1f6586

Nahuatl’s Lack of Grammatical Gender
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/nahuatls-lack-of-grammatical-gender-5896ed54f2d7

Feminist Nahuatl Lexicon, Part I
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/feminist-nahuatl-lexicon-part-i-85207604f796

Anti-Trump Nahuatl Lexicon
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/anti-trump-nahuatl-lexicon-c13cacfc0978




Retranslating Nezahualcoyotl
https://medium.com/@davidbowles/retranslating-nezahualcoyotl-3a868eeb4424 ]
davidbowles  x  latinx  mexico  language  spanish  nahuatl  español  2017  2018  2019  history  etymology  aztec  linguistics 
march 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
Jim Merod | Oral Histories | NAMM.org
"Jim Merod is the founder of BluePort Sound recording studio and BluePort Jazz, his record label. Since the early 1990s, Jim has recorded a long list of legendary jazz, blues, and latin musicians including Herbie Hancock, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Kenny Barron, Clark Terry, and Wayne Shorter, just to name a few. Over the years, Jim has also written about music, recording, audio gear, and the jazz scene for the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union, Jazz News, the Jazz Link, Jazz Now, and other publications. Jim was a member of the board of directors at the Napa Valley Jazz Festival and played a vital role in establishing Elario’s Jazz Club, in La Jolla, California, as one of the premier jazz venues on the west coast."
jimmerod  jazz  music  history  2017 
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
Tips for Beginning Translators - TRANSLATIONiSTA
"It’s not as if every young and/or aspiring translator is the same as every other one, but I do get a lot of notes asking basically the same thing: If I’m interested in breaking into the field of literary translation, how do I start? How do I get published? Here’s the sort of advice I tend to give out, starting with the question: You do understand that being a literary translator is probably not a way to make a living without a day job, right? If that’s all right with you, keep reading.

For starters, you should be submitting your work to literary magazines. These don’t have to be magazines that specialize in translation; most literary mags are happy to consider translated work, especially if you let them know in your cover letter that you’ve already looked into the rights situation. As with any other work you’d submit to a magazine, you should take care to match your submission to the magazine’s aesthetic preferences and literary tastes, which you can determine by reading the magazine. You shouldn’t be in the business of trying to get published in magazines you don’t actually read. So your first order of business is to head over to your local bookstore or library and check out the rack of literary magazines; get to know which ones specialize in which sorts of work (plot-driven realistic stories? formally experimental work? the fantastic?), and then you’ll be well prepared to place your work sensibly; mention in your cover letter what made you think the particular translation you’re submitting would be a good match for the journal in question. Well, you might say, that’s a lot of work! Indeed, it is. Getting your translations published in magazines will help you confirm both to yourself and to other potential publishers (of books, say) that you are capable of producing professional-level, publishable work. As the list of your publications grows, so will your desirability to publishers. Note that there are also a number of journals (online and paper) actively seeking translated work; this list comes to you courtesy of the PEN Translation Committee. Oh, and speaking of literary magazines, you should also make a point of reading journals published in the countries where the language you translate from is spoken; it’s a great way to discover newer authors who haven’t been translated yet.

The second thing you should do is network with other emerging translators. Go to readings in your town and make a point of meeting other translators there. Join ELTNA (the Emerging Literary Translators Network in America). Check out the yearly conference of the American Literary Translators Association, which offers a lot of opportunities for networking (as well as competitive travel fellowships to attend the conference). If you can find peers interested in getting together to swap and critique work, that’s a great way to hone your skills if you’re not in a position to do coursework somewhere and are still learning.

The third thing you should do is get on the mailing list of any cultural institute relevant to the language you translate. Many countries have these – they promote a country’s language and/or culture internationally, and many of them sponsor readings, workshops, contests, and other sorts of events.

The fourth thing you should do is enter any competition relevant to your language (which you’ve found out about through the relevant cultural institute) and apply for grants, especially the PEN/Heim Translation Fund grants, which are open to emerging translators and are a great way for someone new on the scene to come to the attention of potential publishers. Since you apply with a specific book project, it’s a great grant to try for if you already have your heart set on translating a particular work.

When you’ve gotten your first magazine publications under your belt, then it’s time to shoot for the big league: book publishers. Look for publishers that print the sort of work you’re most interested in, and send around a few letters of introduction, including samples of your work and a list of your publications. Often publishers need translators to prepare sample translations from books they’re thinking about acquiring, and often the professional translators who regularly work for these publishing houses don’t have time for these samples, so this is your easiest way in. It’s also a good idea at this point to introduce yourself to the program staff at any relevant cultural institution; they too sometimes need sample translations and synopses for books they’re promoting.

Finally, here’s a paragraph for brand-new translators who’ve discovered a fantastic unknown-in-English author they want to pitch to publishers: Sure, you can do that, but first, imagine the situation from the publisher’s point of view. To publish (acquire rights, edit, copyedit, print, distribute, promote) a book involves a seriously substantial investment of money and time on a publisher’s part. Even if you’ve produced a strong short sample from the book (which you might have gotten help with, for all the publisher knows) – for an editor to trust that a translator without a track record is really going to be able to produce a translation of the entire book that is of the same quality as the sample within a reasonable time frame is a leap of faith. The more previous publications you can demonstrate (including in journals), the easier you make it for a publisher to decide to take you on. And of course if you win a competition or a grant, that’s an excellent calling card right there. In preparing a pitch, think about what you yourself would want to know about a project before deciding to invest in it; among other things, that will probably involve an assessment of where the author you’re proposing fits in the context of international writing as well as in the English-language literary landscape, and also what the book in question has in common with other works published by this publishing house.

There’s no one right way and no easy way to get into the translation business, but it’s definitely quite possible to break in to the profession if that’s your goal. Did I remember to mention that it’s a really really hard way to pay your rent?

P.S. I’ve been hearing from annoyed colleagues who are professional literary translators who do make a living translating literature, so obviously it’s possible, particularly in the UK (where the Translation Association of the Society of Authors recommends minimum rates that are widely adhered to), and particularly if you live in a place with a lower cost of living than, say, New York. In the United States, surviving as a literary translator without also performing other sorts of work (or having resources from another source) is much less common, and I myself have never managed to make a living that way, even though “literary translator” has been my primary professional identity for a long time now, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, of course, and it doesn’t mean a translator shouldn’t negotiate for a living wage with publishers. Two years ago I posted a discussion of translation rates in the U.S. that covers a lot of bases – check it out!

I also recommend you consult the ALTA Guides published by the American Literary Translators Association."

[See also: http://literarytranslators.org/resources/alta-guides ]
publishing  tips  translation  susanbernofsky  2017  literature  srg 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Deprived, but not depraved: Prosocial behavior is an adaptive response to lower socioeconomic status. - PubMed - NCBI
"Individuals of lower socioeconomic status (SES) display increased attentiveness to others and greater prosocial behavior compared to individuals of higher SES. We situate these effects within Pepper & Nettle's contextually appropriate response framework of SES. We argue that increased prosocial behavior is a contextually adaptive response for lower-SES individuals that serves to increase control over their more threatening social environments."
generosity  2017  poverty  wealth  behavior  social  research  ses  socioeconomicststatus  society  mutualaid  unschooling  deschooling  economics  psychology  care  caring  helpfulness 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Inside and Outside the Cage – spottedtoad
"School, as I’ve said a number of times, serves this purpose already. I’ll sometimes encounter people who treat the idea that kids learn relatively little in school, that it’s a pointless hamster wheel that doesn’t get anyone anywhere, as some kind of scandal or shock. Maybe, but have you seen adult life lately? Is what kids do on an average school day so much more pointless and lonely and anomic than what you did yesterday- not than your ideal of what a ten year old or thirty year old should be doing, but what you actually, personally did? American parents are insanely competitive and push their kids and their kids’ schools to do all kinds of pointless shit, because we literally don’t have any other idea how to fill their and our days. They’re already staring at screens for nine hours a day. It could get worse. Four times as many young women 25-34 years old overdosed last year as in 1999. I don’t think school is the problem.

Maybe it’s a Tragedy of the (Missing) Commons. Maybe if you, and you, and you, and you, all pulled your kid out of school, tuned in, turned on (to Jesus or Allah or John Dewey or whoever), and dropped out, let them run around and build forts and make out or read Dante or whatever, maybe they can reinvent society on better grounds. The Benedict Option, like Rod Dreher says.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, and maybe we all need to be more utopian on our home turf even while being less so on other people’s. The ideal- or at least our own ideals- might be more within our grasp than we think. Maybe.

Or maybe what limited store of self-reliance we have is going to be destroyed, utterly, by the next wave of technology, or the next, and the best we can hope for is a benevolently paternalist technostate, the FitBit vibrating on our wrist to tell us to stop being inert, urging us to less self-destruction than we’d otherwise tend, telling us, whether we’re ten or fifty, to turn in our homework next time they see us and to remember to put our names on our papers if we want to get credit on the test."
education  homeschool  2017  unschooling  deschooling  commons  johndewey  benedictoption  roddreher  utopia  self-reliance  individualism  schools  schooling  freedom  technology  via:ayjay 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Indigenous myths carry warning signals about natural disasters | Aeon Essays
"Indigenous peoples around the world tell myths which contain warning signs for natural disasters. Scientists are now listening"
indigeneity  indigenous  storytelling  science  nauraldisasters  carriearnold  2017  warnings  nature  environment 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Ethnic markets and community food security in an urban “food desert” - Pascale Joassart-Marcelli, Jaime S Rossiter, Fernando J Bosco, 2017
"In recent years, the concept of food desert has come to dominate research and policy debates around food environments and their impacts on health, with mounting evidence that low-income neighborhoods of color lack large supermarkets and therefore may have limited access to fresh, affordable, and healthy foods. We argue that this metaphor, which implies an absence of food, is misleading and potentially detrimental to the health of poor and racially diverse communities because it ignores the contribution of smaller stores, particularly that of so-called ethnic markets. Current applications of the food desert concept in this setting reflect classed and racialized understandings of the food environment that ignore the everyday geographies of food provision in immigrant communities while favoring external interventions. Our investigation of ethnic markets in City Heights, a low-income urban neighborhood in San Diego with a diverse immigrant population, offers evidence of their positive role in providing access to affordable, fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods. Our results contribute to research by providing a nuanced description of the food environment beyond access to supermarkets, focusing specifically on immigrant neighborhoods, and pointing to ethnic markets as valuable partners in increasing food security in diverse urban areas."
2017  sandiego  cityheights  food  supermarkets  markets  fooddeserts  race  ethnicity  class  culture  geography  immigration 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Inside the EarthBound strategy guide, one of the rarest Nintendo collectibles - Polygon
"We’ve already linked you to a lovely collection of Super Nintendo game manuals that Nintendo uploaded in honor of the SNES Classic Edition’s launch. But it’s important to highlight that EarthBound’s strategy guide is included in the mix — as it’s long been coveted by fans of the role-playing game, still fetching high prices because of its extreme rarity.

Here’s the story behind this cool collectible: When EarthBound came West in 1995, it carried a higher price tag than most other games on the console. For $70, buyers received not just the cartridge, but a full-sized player’s guide — a book that ran 135 pages-long. Even cooler was that this guidebook included some scratch-and-sniff stickers in the back, another special piece of memorabilia for Nintendo fans.

But as those same fans know well, EarthBound failed to make waves with buyers who hadn’t quite warmed to the RPG genre, or who were ready to move on from the late-in-life SNES. Nintendo reportedly sold less than 150,000 copies, which isn’t a huge hit, considering the added manufacturing costs from the guidebook.

This has led to the wildly in-depth strategy guide becoming the EarthBound diehards’ holy grail of artwork, strategies and, above all else, nostalgia. Not only does it have tips and tricks, but it has a “travel guide,” which is a funny and totally engrossing take on the classic walkthrough. Instead of drily charting where to go and when, the book introduces players to the game’s various locations through newspaper clippings, shopping tips and some beautiful character art.

Used copies of the physical edition of the guide routinely go for more than $100 on eBay even now, 22 years later. It’s especially wild that this remains the case, as Nintendo actually uploaded an optimized digital version of the guidebook back in 2013, when EarthBound launched on Wii U virtual console.

But the file that’s available through the Super Nintendo Classic Edition portal is a much more legible recreation of that classic manual. There aren’t any stickers included, sure, but printing out this file is a lot cheaper than buying the book from eBay. If nothing else, it’s a spectacular glimpse into a time when Nintendo actually took a chance on the Mother series. And what a chance it took!"

[PDF of guide is here: https://www.nintendo.co.jp/clvs/manuals/common/pdf/CLV-P-SAAJE.pdf ]
earthbound  mother2  videogames  games  gaming  nintendo  2017 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Why Do Some Hate the Nickname ‘Frisco’? | Bay Curious | News Fix | KQED News
"Working on this story one day, I grabbed a Lyft and got to talking with the driver, a guy named Lorenzo Beasley.

“I grew up on the bottom of the city, a small neighborhood called Visitacion Valley,” Beasley says. “I think more of the urban community, like blacks or Hispanics in the city, those people always grew up using that word.”

Beasley says you hear it in Hunters Point, Lakeview, the Fillmore, Potrero Hill and especially the Mission.

I asked him who doesn’t like Frisco.

“It’s like a higher class of people, I guess,” Beasley says. “People who stay in Nob Hill and stuff. They look at it like slang, so they’re not really with it. It’s definitely a bit of snob thing involved.”

For Beasley, whether you use Frisco says what neighborhood you’re from.

Stanford linguist Teresa Pratt echoes that. She says that when you’re talking about language and word choice, like nicknames, you’re virtually always talking about money and power.

“Institutions or people who have power have an interest in maintaining that the way they speak is the right way to speak,” Pratt says. “Because it helps them. Because it’s coupled with this ideology that’s really widespread, that there’s a right way to speak, that there’s a way to speak that gets you ahead.”

Pratt says word choice is like a signal.

“Language as cultural capital, right?” she says. “It’s something like knowing exactly where to put your forks at the end of a meal.”"



"The famous Herb Caen eventually flip-flopped on Frisco a couple of times in the 1990s. It turns out we’ve built our anti-Frisco bias on some shaky ground."
frisco  sanfrancisco  names  naming  nicknames  2017  herbcaen  class 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Compulsory SRE? How about we stop teaching children that their consent doesn’t matter in the first place. | Sophie Christophy
"Consent isn’t something you can teach, it is an experience and a feeling. When someone asks you for your consent, to be able to consent in an meaningful way, a person needs to be able to pause, think and reflect – Do I want to do this? Do I want this to happen to me? – without coercion. They experience a feeling of being in control of their own destiny, of looking within themselves, to see if they do indeed want to consent to what is being proposed, or not. They need to know that the person asking for their consent genuinely means it, and will respect their response, in order for the consent to be meaningful.

Trying to ‘teach’ this, whilst persistently exposing children to a non-consensual environment, I just don’t see how it works."
sophiechristopy  unschooling  deschooling  education  learning  howwelearn  consent  sexed  sexuality  schooling  schooliness  2017 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Differences Between Self-Directed and Progressive Education | Psychology Today
"Self-Directed Education, not progressive education, is the wave of the future."



"I’ve found that when I speak or write about Self-Directed Education some people mistakenly believe that I’m speaking or writing about progressive education. Progressive education has many of the same goals as Self-Directed Education, and its advocates use much of the same language, but the foundational philosophy is quite different and the methodology is very different. In what follows I’ll review the basic tenets of progressive education, then review those of Self-Directed Education, and, finally, explain why I think the latter, not the former, will become the standard mode of education in the not-too-distant future."



"To the advocate of Self-Directed Education, it is the child’s brilliance, not a teacher’s, that enables excellent education. The job of adults who facilitate Self-Directed Education is less onerous than that of teachers in progressive education. In Self-Directed Education adults do not need to have great knowledge of every subject a student might want to learn, do not have to understand the inner workings of every child’s mind, and do not have to be masters of pedagogy (whatever on earth that might be). Rather, they simply have to be sure that the child is provided with an environment that allows the child’s natural educative instincts to operate effectively. As I have argued elsewhere (here and here), that is an environment in which the child (a) has unlimited time and freedom to play and explore; (b) has access to the most useful tools of the culture; (c) is embedded in a caring community of people who range widely in age and exemplify a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and ideas; and (d) has access to a number of adults who are willing to answer questions (or try to answer them) and provide help when asked. This is the kind of environment that is established at schools or learning centers designed for Self-Directed Education, and it is also the kind of environment that successful unschooling families provide for their children.

Education, in this view, is not a collaboration of student and a teacher; it is entirely the responsibility of the student. While progressive educators continue to see it as their responsibility to ensure that students acquire certain knowledge, skills, and values, and to evaluate students’ progress, facilitators of Self-Directed Education do not see that as their responsibility. While progressive education is on a continuum with traditional education, Self-Directed Education represents a complete break from traditional education.

I wish here to introduce a distinction, which has not been made explicit before (not even in my own writing), between, Self-Directed Education, with capital letters, and self-directed education, without capitals. I propose that Self-Directed Education be used to refer to the education of children, of K-12 school age, whose families have made a deliberate decision that the children will educate themselves by following their own interests, without being subjected to an imposed curriculum, either in or out of school. I propose further that self-directed education, without capitals, be used in a more generic sense to refer to something that every human being is engaged in essentially every waking minute of every day. We are all, constantly, educating ourselves as we pursue our interests, make our living, and strive to solve problems in our daily lives. Most of what any of us know—regardless of how much curriculum-based schooling we have attended—has come from self-directed education."



"Progressive educators often cite Rousseau as an early proponent of their views. Rousseau’s sole work on education was his book Émile, first published in 1760, which is a fictional account of the education of a single boy. If this book has any real-world application at all it would be to the education of a prince. Émile’s teacher is a tutor, whose sole job, sole mission in life, is the education of this one boy, a teacher-student ratio of one to one. The tutor, by Rousseau’s description, is a sort of superhero. He is not only extraordinarily knowledgeable in all subjects, but he understands Émile inside and out, more so than it is ever possible (I would say) for any actual human being to understand another human being. He knows all of the boy’s desires, at any given time, and he knows exactly what stimuli to provide at any time to maximize the educational benefits that will accrue from the boy’s acting on those desires. Thus, the tutor creates an environment in which Émile is always doing just what he wants to do, yet is learning precisely the lessons that the tutor has masterfully laid out for him.

I think if more educators actually read Émile, rather than just referred to it, they would recognize the basic flaw in progressive educational theory. It is way too demanding of teachers to be practical on any sort of mass scale, and it makes unrealistic assumptions about the predictability and visibility of human desires and motives. [For more on my analysis of Émile, see here.] At best, on a mass scale, progressive education can simply help to modulate the harshness of traditional methods and add a bit of self-direction and creativity to students’ lives in school.

In contrast to progressive education, Self-Directed Education is inexpensive and efficient. The Sudbury Valley School, for example, which is approaching its 50th anniversary, operates on a per student budget less than half that of the local public schools (for more on this school, see here and here). A large ratio of adults to students is not needed, because most student learning does not come from interaction with adults. In this age-mixed setting, younger students are continuously learning from older ones, and children of all ages practice essential skills and try out ideas in their play, exploration, conversations, and pursuits of whatever interests they develop. They also, on their own initiative, use books and, in today’s world, Internet resources to acquire the knowledge they are seeking at any given time.

The usual criticism of Self-Directed Education is that it can’t work, or can work only for certain, highly self-motivated people. In fact, progressive educators are often quick to draw a distinction between their view of education and that of Self-Directed Education, because they don’t want their view to be confused with ideas that they consider to be “romantic” or “crazy” and unworkable. For example, I’m pretty sure that Alfie Kohn had Self-Directed Education in mind when he wrote (here again): “In this cartoon version of the tradition, kids are free to do anything they please, the curriculum can consist of whatever is fun (and nothing that isn’t fun). Learning is thought to happen automatically while the teachers just stand by, observing and beaming. I lack the space here to offer examples of this sort of misrepresentation — or a full account of why it’s so profoundly wrong — but trust me: People really do sneer at the idea of progressive education based on an image that has little to do with progressive education.”

Kohn’s “cartoon” characterization of Self-Directed Education is not quite right—because children do, on their own, regularly choose to do things that aren’t fun in an immediate sense and because staff members don’t just stand around observing and beaming; but, yet, it is not too far off the mark. And it does work. Don’t trust me on that; read and think skeptically about the evidence. Follow-up studies of graduates of schools for Self-Directed Education and of grown unschoolers have shown that people, who educated themselves by following their own interests, are doing very well in life. You can read much more about this in previous posts on this blog, in various academic articles (e.g. here, here, and here), and in my book Free to Learn.

Self-Directed Education works because we are biologically designed for it. Throughout essentially all of human history, children educated themselves by exploring, playing, watching and listening to others, and figuring out and pursuing their own goals in life (e.g. here and Gray, 2016). In an extensive review of the anthropological literature on education cross-culturally, David Lancy (2016)) concluded that learning—including the learning that comprises education—is natural to human beings, but teaching and being taught is not. Winston Churchill’s claim, “I always like to learn, but I don’t always like to be taught,” is something that anyone, any time, any place, could have said.

Children’s educative instincts still work beautifully, in our modern society, as long as we provide the conditions that enable them to work. The same instincts that motivated hunter-gatherer children to learn to hunt, gather, and do all that they had to do to become effective adults motivate children in our society to learn to read, calculate with numbers, operate computers, and do all that they have to do to become effective adults (see Gray, 2016). Self-Directed Education is so natural, so much more pleasant and efficient for everyone than is coercive education, that it seems inevitable to me that it will once again become the standard educational route.

Coercive schooling has been a blip in human history, designed to serve temporary ends that arose with industrialization and the need to suppress creativity and free will (see here). Coercive schooling is in the process now of burning itself out, in a kind of final flaring up. Once people re-discover that Self-Directed Education works, and doesn’t cause the stress and harm that coercive schooling does, and we begin to divert some fraction of the billions of dollars currently spent on coercive education to the provision of resources for Self-Directed Education for all children, Self-Directed Education will once again become the standard educational route. Then we’ll be able to … [more]
unschooling  self-directed  self-directedlearning  deschooling  progressive  2017  petergray  cv  tcsnmy  sfsh  openstudioproject  lcproject  freedom  children  parenting  alfiekohn  learning  howwelearn  education  society  democracy  coercion  compulsory  sudburyschools  davidlancy  canon  teaching  unchooling  pedagogy 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Ricardo Cavolo - Periferias en El Independiente - YouTube
[See also:
https://www.elconfidencial.com/cultura/2017-01-28/ricardo-cavolo-periferias-libro-ilustracion_1320492/
Este libro, subraya, "es un ejercicio de amor que quiero que sirva de protesta para levantar la voz y hacer ver a la gente que tiene que cambiar la mirada, pero evidentemente es un ejercicio para darles cariño". De esta selección destaca esas periferias humanas con las que arranca el libro como las más personales. Especialmente los gitanos, pero también la comunidad trap —"en Estados Unidos los negros son como los gitanos para lo bueno y para lo malo. Es un colectivo en el que me fijo e inspiro"— o las mujeres soldados kurdas — "una nueva versión de aquellos 300 espartanos que se hicieron valer con coraje y honor por un fin superior"—.

https://www.elnacional.cat/ca/cultura-idees-arts/ricardo-cavolo-periferias_134232_102.html
Ricardo Cavolo publica el seu àlbum Periferias (Lundwerg) que es presenta com un homenatge als "altres", a aquells que per motius geogràfics, físics, d'orientació sexual o pel motiu que sigui se surten de les pautes de la normalitat. Per les seves pàgines hi passen presos, siamesos, albins, gitanos, guerrilleres kurdes... Però no només hi ha individus i col·lectius, també inclou territoris, com les illes Fèroe, o Tristao d'Acunha; i animals poc coneguts, com el tapir, el pangolí o la hiena. O fins i tot afegeix el que anomena "perifèries vegetals", plantes i bolets que tenen formes insospitades, com les molses, els bolets fosforescents o les roses de Jericó (unes petites plantes que es conserven durant anys seques i que reviuen quan se les mulla)... I el llibre es clou amb un homenatge a artistes i literats fora dels circuits habituals, com Lovecraft, William Blake o Sam Doyle. Tot un cant a la diversitat del món, dels seus éssers, dels seus homes i dels seus creadors.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5g9Uoo4k8s
https://guardianadelibros.blogspot.com/2017/01/periferias.html
https://www.amazon.com/Periferias-Gran-libro-ilustrado-extraordinario/dp/8416489696

https://ricardocavolo.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ricardocavolo/
https://twitter.com/RicardoCavolo

https://elpais.com/cultura/2013/04/17/tentaciones/1366194108_667727.html ]

[via:
"“Periferias” tells the stories of people (and places and plants and animals) that sit outside of what’s typically understood as “normal,” living at the periphery. I bought it even though I can’t even read it properly. I love that this exists."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BpfYl5UBIem/ ]
ricardocavolo  periferias  periphery  margins  liminality  liminal  2017  comics  illustration  gypsies  sexuality  outcasts  edges  outsiders  betweenness 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Rethinking Learning to Read, by Harriet Pattison — A Book Review | Alliance for Self-Directed Education
[via: https://twitter.com/cblack__/status/1056254550397485056 ]

"Parents in the sample drew on a diversity of approaches and practices when supporting their children in learning to read. Perhaps unsurprisingly parents’ views in the sample were heavily influenced by phonics. However what was significant was that not all families used phonics based methods, some were openly critical of it and some of the children did not respond well and resisted a phonics based approach. Families shared: “No phonics, no flash cards, no traditional teaching methods were used in our home – for reading or anything else” and “Phonics doesn’t suit every child – as a very strong visual learner my daughter finds the individual sounds in words meaningless ... she hears words as a single sound.”

Some families drew on whole word learning approaches, some an eclectic mix, while others acknowledged the limitations of using methods and a number preferred to use no methods at all because this is what they felt was the best approach for their particular child and that they would learn to read naturally by engaging in everyday life. “Living a life style of literacy”; “Living life in a world where words are everywhere” and “Given time and exposure children will learn to read and will enjoy it.”

Some children also developed their own methods which drew on word recognition, memorisation and guessing, or together with a parent they co-created a unique approach which suited them. It was apparent that what suited one child may not suit another and this included children within the same family, one parent said: “There is not a “one-size-fits-all” magic formula” and another family: “often requiring different resources to be available at different times rather than following a single ‘method’ throughout.”

Away from phonics families were actively and pragmatically choosing methods and approaches with the best fit for the child and they were using those methods in ways that were facilitative of their relationships, the child’s learning and their emotional well being. In taking this open and flexible approach families were placing the child at the centre of the learning experience. For example, a parent said “Go with what works for that particular child” and another “The method is not important; the important [thing] is that the child likes it.“

The sample was characterised by a diversity of accounts, there was no one singular approach that could be used to describe the theoretical positions adopted by this group of parents. In fact as a home educating parent and also as a researcher Pattison explains that it is not necessary for a parent to hold an understanding of what reading is or how reading happens for it is precisely this “not knowing”, questioning and flexible state of mind that enables a parent to be reflexive and responsive to their child, putting the relationship first and re-thinking what reading actually is."
howweread  reading  education  unschooling  phonics  pedagogy  2017  emmaforde  harrietpattison  children  language  deschooling  schooling  schools  homeschool 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Can we hope to understand how the Greeks saw their world? | Aeon Essays
"The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?"
color  history  language  mariamichelasassi  ancientgreece  perception  2017  at  culture 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Virgil Abloh - YouTube
"Young architects can change the world by not building buildings."

"Irony is a tool for modern creativity."

[via: https://twitter.com/bobbyjgeorge/status/1024691065843081218 ]
virgilabloh  via:bobbygeorge  unproduct  nonproduct  2017  creativity  opportunity  irony 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Paper Road, by Nicole Lavelle
"PAPER ROAD is a book. It is a research narrative capturing my process of re-orienting myself to an important home-place. A heart-place.



This book is the final document of a year-long research project conducted while I was a Graduate Fellow at the Headlands Center for the Arts from July 2016 to July 2017.

What is PAPER ROAD about? See a weird concept framework I made for this project.

The research process and story both begin at my family's summer cabin in Lagunitas, California. I have spent a lot of time in this place. I use houses as vessels for situating my own located experience within broader California cultural contexts and land use histories. The book is a non-linear narrative of fragments, recontextualized image and text collected from private and public archives and collections. The content I assembled from research materials is annotated in first-person narrative, explaining the wild connections that emerged between everything.

The book contains 450 pages of annotated narrative, an introductory essay, a conversation with archivist and independent scholar Rick Prelinger, a non-functional (but poetic!) index, and a bibliography."
nicolelavelle  books  place  lagunitas  archives  rickprelinger  bibliographies  indices  culture  classideas  projectideas  lcproject  openstudioproject  experience  california  collections  curation  research  storytelling  identity  2016  2017 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Welcome to Drawbridge: The Bay Area's Last Ghost Town | Bay Curious - YouTube
"On an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay sits a series of abandoned wooden buildings, slumped over and sinking into the ground. They’re all that’s left of the town called Drawbridge — often referred to as the last ghost town left in the Bay Area.

Read more: https://www.kqed.org/news/11549263/the-island-ghost-town-in-the-middle-of-san-francisco-bay "
drawbridge  bayarea  sanfranciscobay  ghosttowns  history  2017 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Open offices are overrated - YouTube
"Open offices have been around a surprisingly long time. But they're relatively misunderstood for their role in workplace culture. Where did open offices and cubicles come from, and are they really what we want?

This episode of Overrated explores the history, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Herman Miller, and other key figures in the office design movement. Our workplaces haven't always been this way — this is how we got here."
openoffices  offices  architecture  interiors  design  2017  productivity  interaction  openness  franklloydwright  hermanmiller  furniture 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Breaking the Sequence
"When I created the channel on which this case study is based, I put the whole title in quotation marks—“experimental” “comics”—and initially made it private, wary that my descriptors were either too broad or too limiting. Categorizing these works as experimental, or even as comics, served as little more than to create a placeholder. This is where I would collect and organize works that didn’t quite look like any comics I’d seen before, but that I liked a whole lot, and wasn’t entirely sure why.

As the channel grew, patterns arose, and it became clear that the comics that read to me as experimental were ones that integrated aesthetic principles and practices from fine art, graphic design, experimental music, sculpture, architecture, poetry, video games, and text adventures. They often didn’t employ the typical narrative devices—dialogue, plot, climax, even characters—but they still told a story. Sometimes it was the form that I identified as experimental, other times it was the processes by which they were made.

That explained the experimental. But if these works were so genre-fluid, what kept them considered comics?

In a lecture, the writer and webcomics artist Daniel Merlin Goodbrey provides a helpful outline of characteristics that are distinct to comics as a visual medium. Defining the norm gave me a framework for understanding the works that deviate from it. Goodbrey’s characteristics were a useful jumping off point for articulating what the works I was collecting were doing, and why they struck me so powerfully. They are:

Juxtaposition of images
Spatial networks
Space as Time
Temporal Maps
Closure between Images
Word & Image Blending
Reader Control of Pacing

Experimental comics, then, are works that acknowledge the traditional framework of comics but, rather than adhere to it, tend to tilt, twist, and warp it into other things. This case study offers a survey of comics that abandon one or more of these characteristics, honoring innovations by artists, video game designers, poets, and educators alike. It should go without saying that these categories are by no means mutually exclusive. There are comics that exist outside of and in between these make-shift categories. As you may expect, there are very few rules.

1. Abstract Formalist Comics
2. Comics Poetry
3. Digital and Game Comics
4. Scores, Maps, and Designed Constraints"

[each of those four examples is expanded on in the following text with images and videos to explain]
sheafitzpatrick  comics  form  design  are.na  2017  graphicnovels  art  poetry  games  gaming  videogames  space  time  words  images  experimental 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Are.na / Blog – Towards A Library Without Walls
"Collaboration has also become key to the way we conceive associative indexing on today’s version of the Internet, which could not have been anticipated by Bush at today’s scale. In “As We May Think,” Bush does acknowledge the possibility of sharing links generated by the Memex in the example of a researcher reproducing a trail on the Turkish bow for inclusion in a colleague’s “more general” trail.6 However, the scale of a hypertextual tool such as Are.na, which has over 20,000 users, far exceeds the one-to-one exchange Bush envisioned for his Memex, with significant implications for associative indexing. This phenomenon has its own neologism, “crowdsourcing,” wherein large numbers of users, most typically through the Internet, contribute to an information platform, as seen widely from commercial endeavors such as Google-owned Waze to non-profit projects such as Wikipedia. The relative advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourcing for knowledge production are the subject of much literature but could be briefly alluded to here in terms of diversity of material, collective intelligence, increased scale, and lack of consolidated control. But at its most promising, crowdsourcing creates the potential for rich communities that can form around information sharing, as is well articulated by Paul Duguid and John Seely Brown writing on the social life of information:
“[D]ocuments do not merely carry information, they help make it, structure it, and validate it. More intriguing, perhaps, documents also help structure society, enabling social groups to form, develop, and maintain a sense of shared identity. Viewing documents as mere information carriers overlooks this social role.”7
"



"Considering the ways in which Are.na operates within a community of artists and culturally-engaged individuals, contrasting Are.na with Bush’s Memex highlights the importance of conceiving how knowledge forms, knowledge tools, and knowledge communities all interplay with one another. By acknowledging other forms of knowledge beyond the scientific and better understanding the role sociality plays in our contemporary experience of information, we can better define what constitutes information and how best to describe, classify, organize, and make it accessible as librarians. Rather than prioritizing static information, fixed organization, and solitary experiences as the conventional library environment is known to do, those of us who work in LIS can adopt the more boundless strategies that we encounter in hypertextual tools such as Are.na for the benefit of the communities that we serve, essentially working towards becoming a library without the brick walls that Lampland and Star refer to in regards to infrastructure that fails to serve user needs. Parallel to thinking about what Are.na might mean for librarianship, we can look to extant projects such as the Prelinger Library and the Sitterwerk’s Kunstbibliothek, whose methods for organizing their material also exist as an alternative to more traditionally-organized libraries.

So to expand on Sam’s question and its inverse: What could a reference interview that uses Are.na look like? What would happen if books in an OPAC were nodes that could be linked by users? And what if the discovery tools we design actually encouraged research that is social, elusive, and nonlinear?"
are.na  libraries  internet  web  online  2017  karlywildenhaus  mlis  archives  archiving  marthalampland  susanleighstar  hypercad  hypertext  vannevarbush  paulotlet  tednelson  stéphanemallarmé  knowledge  information  clissification  taxonomy  accessibility  librarians  social  memex  paulduguid  johnseelybrown  crowdsourcing  aswemaythink  connections  collaboration 
june 2018 by robertogreco
The world is poorly designed. But copying nature helps. - YouTube
"Japan’s Shinkansen doesn’t look like your typical train. With its long and pointed nose, it can reach top speeds up to 150–200 miles per hour.

It didn’t always look like this. Earlier models were rounder and louder, often suffering from the phenomenon of "tunnel boom," where deafening compressed air would rush out of a tunnel after a train rushed in. But a moment of inspiration from engineer and birdwatcher Eiji Nakatsu led the system to be redesigned based on the aerodynamics of three species of birds.

Nakatsu’s case is a fascinating example of biomimicry, the design movement pioneered by biologist and writer Janine Benyus. She's a co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute, a non-profit encouraging creators to discover how big challenges in design, engineering, and sustainability have often already been solved through 3.8 billion years of evolution on earth. We just have to go out and find them."
biomimicry  design  classideas  janinebenyus  biology  nature  trains  shinkansen  japan  birds  sustainability  biomimetics  form  process  plants  animals  2017  circulareconomy  ecosystems  systemsthinking  upcycling  cities  urban  urbanism 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Lekhfa Album [Official Audio] ألبوم الإخفاء - YouTube - YouTube
"Three musicians who came of age in 1990s Cairo, their disparate paths in music intersect a couple of decades later when they’re drawn to each other’s work, and agree to meet at a seaside cabin in Alexandria, followed by residencies in Amman, Cairo, and Beirut to create and record a new album.

Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca and and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, names that have turned heads in alternative Arabic music with solo albums and conspicuous collaborations."
music  maryamsaleh  mauricelouca  tamerabughazaleh  mostakellrecords  2017  egypt  cairo 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein - Fields of Cosmological Dreams - YouTube
"The discovery of the Higgs boson reinforces the possibility that similar, scalar particles may exist in nature and could drive cosmological inflation. This talk describes scientific research in theoretical cosmology through the lens of the experience of a Black, Jewish, queer and femme physicist."
higgsboson  chandaprescod-weinstein  physics  2017  cosmology  race  gender  science  academia 
may 2018 by robertogreco
'The Cult of Hattie': 'wilful blindness'? - Darcy Moore's Blog
[via: https://twitter.com/alfiekohn/status/996382167772160000 ]

"Since the original publication of John Hattie’s book, Visible Learning, there have been questions raised about the statistical methodology underpinning his research and representation of ‘what works best for learning’. By 2014, the year Professor Hattie became the Chair of AITSL, it was clear, even to tertiary statistics students, that serious mathematical errors had been made. There continues to be a steady flow of journal articles contesting Hattie’s ideas. By 2017, concerns about flawed use of statistics and how the politics of education works in Australia sees many practitioners not really needing to read a journal article to know all about “the cult of Hattie” in our schools.

Hattie continues to rank the “195 Influences And Effect Sizes Related To Student Achievement” without acknowledging the concerns raised by statisticians. After reading the latest paper which derides the methodology, I decided to see what some influential educators thought."
2017  johnhattie  meta-analysis  darcymoore  education  teaching  pedagogy  schools  policy 
may 2018 by robertogreco
HOW TO ENGAGE IN PSEUDOSCIENCE WITH REAL DATA: A CRITICISM OF JOHN HATTIE’S ARGUMENTS IN VISIBLE LEARNING FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A STATISTICIAN | Bergeron | McGill Journal of Education / Revue des sciences de l'éducation de McGill
"The work of John Hattie on education contains, seemingly, the most comprehensive synthesis of existing research in the field. Many consider his book, Visible Learning (Hattie, 2008), to be a Bible or a Holy Grail: “When this work was published, certain commentators described it as the Holy Grail of education, which is without a doubt not too much of a hyperbole” (Baillargeon, 2014, para. 13).

For those who are unaccustomed to dissecting numbers, such a synthesis does seem to represent a colossal and meticulous task, which in turn gives the impression of scientific validity. For a statistician familiar with the scientific method, from the elaboration of research questions to the interpretation of analyses, appearances, however, are not sufficient. According to the legend, the Holy Grail is kept in the elusive castle of the Fisher King. When taking the necessary in-depth look at Visible Learning with the eye of an expert, we find not a mighty castle but a fragile house of cards that quickly falls apart. This article offers a critical analysis of the methodology used by Hattie from the point of view of a statistician. We can spin stories from real data in an effort to communicate results to a wider audience, but these stories should not fall into the realm of fiction. We must therefore absolutely qualify Hattie’s methodology as pseudoscience. The researcher from New Zealand obviously has laudable intentions, which we describe first and foremost. Good intentions, nevertheless, do not prevent major errors in Visible Learning — errors which we will discuss afterwards. The analysis process then leads to a list of questions researchers should ask themselves when examining studies and enquiries based on data analyses, including meta-analyses. Afterwards, in an effort to better understand, we give concrete examples that demonstrate how Cohen’s d (Hattie’s measure of effect size) simply cannot be used as a universal measure of impact. Finally, to ensure that our quest does not remain unfinished, we offer pathways of solutions with the objective of demystifying and encouraging the correct usage of statistics in the field of education."
johnhattie  research  visiblelearning  2017  education  pedagogy  teaching  schools  learning 
may 2018 by robertogreco
School leadership and the cult of the guru: the neo-Taylorism of Hattie: School Leadership & Management: Vol 37, No 4
"As one of the central institutions of society, schooling is subject to significant public interest and scrutiny. Fads and fashion successfully developed elsewhere are often rebadged and relaunched in education for the purpose of improvement. Such interventions are often quickly identified as intruders and frequently fade into obscurity, but what of internal interventions, the education research that becomes widely accepted and promoted? In this paper I argue that contemporary thought and analysis in Australian school leadership has submitted to the cult of the guru. Specifically, I contend that dialogue (much less debate) has settled on the work of John Hattie’s meta-meta-analysis giving rise to the Cult of Hattie. This paper is not an attack on Hattie as a person, or even his work, rather an argument about the conditions which have facilitated the rise of a guru. I argue that the uncritical acceptance and proliferation of this cult is a tragedy for Australian school leadership."
johnhattie  neo-taylorism  taylorism  2017  meta-analysis  education  pedagogy  teaching  learning  schools  visiblelearning 
may 2018 by robertogreco
The Problem With “Measure” – Teachers Going Gradeless
"Measurement requires a standard unit, a recognized standard that can be objectively applied in a context. I can measure my bike ride to school in units of length. If I share that measurement with my colleague who also bikes to school, we can objectively determine who travels the greatest distance each day. What isn’t measurable is the peace that twenty minute ride brings to my day.

When it comes to measurement, learning fits into the same category as love, pain, anger, joy, and peace of mind. Learning can’t be objectively measured. There is no standard unit of measurement to apply to learning. A skill can be demonstrated, progress can be noted, understanding can be communicated and shared, but technically this evidence of learning isn’t measurable."
measurement  assessment  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  grades  grading  scotthazeu  2017  objectivity  subjectivity  skills  standardization  standards  understanding  love  pain  anger  joy  peaceofmind  emotions 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Sheep Logic - Epsilon Theory
"These are baby-doll Southdowns, and yes, they’re exactly as cute as they look in this picture. We only have four today on our “farm”, as sheep have a knack for killing themselves in what would almost be comical fashion if it weren’t so sad. We keep them for their so-so wool, which we clean and card and spin and knit. It’s so-so wool because the Southdowns were bred for their meat, not their fleece, and I can’t bring myself to raise an animal for its meat. Well, I could definitely raise birds for meat. Or fish. But not a charismatic mammal like a baby-doll Southdown.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about sheep over the years. They are never out of sight of each other, and their decision making is entirely driven by what they see happening to others, not to themselves. They are extremely intelligent in this other-regarding way. My sheep roam freely on the farm, and I never worry about them so long as they stay together, which they always do. But if I only count three in the flock, then I immediately go see what’s wrong. Because something is definitely wrong.

That’s the difference between a flock and a pack. A flock is a social structure designed to promote other-awareness. It has no goals, no coordinating purpose other than communication. A flock simply IS. A pack, on the other hand, is a social structure designed to harness self-aware animals in service to some goal requiring joint action — the raising of cubs, the hunting of meat, etc. Both the flock and the pack are extremely effective social structures, but they operate by entirely different logics.

We think we are wolves, living by the logic of the pack.

In truth we are sheep, living by the logic of the flock."
sheep  animals  behavior  multispecies  morethanhuman  2017  wbenhunt  flocks  groups  awareness  communication  social 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Taeyoon Choi on drawing, teaching, disability, and the difference between work and project – The Creative Independent
"I think the common mistake of a beginner teacher is giving too much: too much preparation and too much energy, too much love. They end up feeling burned out easily.

I try to limit how much I prepare and leave room for students to fill that. I’ve had good success with that recently. Also, I think teachers are often exhausted even before the class begins simply because of mental anxiety. Before class, I try to sleep well, eat a good meal, and be energetic.

Acknowledging that I’m not an expert always really helped me as well. I don’t have answers for many student questions, especially technical questions. Conceptual questions can be confusing too. Sometimes it’s good to say something like, “I don’t know, I’m sorry. Let’s look at it together.” This relieves a lot of burden from your shoulders.

I learn best when I see a teacher working on a problem. If you have a code problem, you’re stuck, and you have an error, what do you do? You open up Stack Overflow. How do you search it? How do you fix things? Learning how to work through a problem is way more important than doing it the “right way.” I try to teach the emotional roller coaster of coding, which is similar to the experience of working on art and having breakthrough moments.

There are many different kinds of teaching. It depends on context. For SFPC, we select students so that we can collaborate with them. The focus is finding and building a community we are excited about. When I teach elsewhere, sometimes it’s more technical and transactional. I think that’s fine; schools have different goals.

Lately I’m trying to focus on supporting future teachers. I think I’m quite good at helping people teach. I taught a class at NYU called “Teaching as Art” and want to do more of that.

I teach because I want to be a student. I still go to classes a lot. Right now I’m learning American Sign Language, which is completely changing everything. I also do yoga. My yoga teacher is an amazing teacher: very generous and supportive. My teacher also takes other teachers’ classes. I think reciprocity is about always learning and respecting another. That’s the only way you could actually offer something."
taeyoonchoi  teaching  howweteach  learning  interestedness  interestingness  2017  pedagogy  cv  unschooling  deschooling  howwelearn  education  disability  sfpc  schoolforpoeticcomputation 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering | Literary Hub
"In the most egalitarian of European—and New Mexican—traditions, forests were public commons in which common people could roam, graze flocks, hunt and gather, and this is another way that forests when they are public land and public libraries are alike: as spaces in which everyone is welcome, as places in which we can wander and collect, get lost and find what we’re looking for.

The United States’s public libraries sometimes seem to me the last refuges of a democratic vision of equality, places in which everyone is welcome, which serve the goal of an informed public, offering services far beyond the already heady gift of free books you can take home, everything from voter registration to computer access. I’ve joked for a long time that if you walked up to people in the street and asked them whether we could own our greatest treasures collectively and trust people to walk away with them and bring them back, a lot of people would say that’s impossibly idealistic and some would say it’s socialist, but libraries have been making books free for all for a very long time. They are temples of books, fountains of narrative pleasure, and toolboxes of crucial information. My own writing has depended on public libraries and then university libraries and archives and does to this day. I last used a public library the day before yesterday."



"So let’s begin by recognizing that all this was—and in many moral ways still is—Coast Miwok land, before the Spanish came, before Spanish claims became Mexican claims, before this was considered to be part of Mexico, before it was part of the United States."



"Browsing, woolgathering, meandering, wandering, drifting, that state when exploring, when looking to find what it might be possible to find rather than seeking one particular goal, is the means of locomotion. I often think that hunter-gatherers must move a lot like this, seeking game or plant foods, flexible about what might show up on any given day. I was lucky that children were weeds, not hothouse flowers, in those days, left to our own devices, and my own devices led in two directions: north to the hills and the horses, south to the library."



"These linked paths and roads form a circuit of about six miles that I began hiking ten years ago to walk off my angst during a difficult year. I kept coming back to this route for respite from my work and for my work too, because thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking. Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart. It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing. It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals. After all those years of walking to work out other things, it made sense to come back to work close to home, in Thoreau’s sense, and to think about walking.

Walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord. Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them. It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."



"Moving on foot seems to make it easier to move in time; the mind wanders from plans to recollections to observations."



"Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go…"



"Like many others who turned into writers, I disappeared into books when I was very young, disappeared into them like someone running into the woods. What surprised and still surprises me is that there was another side to the forest of stories and the solitude, that I came out that other side and met people there. Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working. Before writers are writers they are readers, living in books, through books, in the lives of others that are also the heads of others, in that act that is so intimate and yet so alone."



"Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao Tsu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens into another world, which might be the magic that all those children’s books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds. All readers are Wu Daozi; all imaginative, engrossing books are landscapes into which readers vanish."
rebeccasolnit  2017  children  unschooling  deschooling  parenting  education  libraries  wandering  howwelearn  freedom  autonomy  forests  childhood  novato  california  learning  canon  publicgood  us  egalitarianism  democracy  socialism  thoreau  walking  cv  unknowing  uncertainty  woods  writing  howwewrite  books  literature  stories  storytelling  listening  reading  sanctuary  vanishing  nature  plants  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  society 
april 2018 by robertogreco
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