robertogreco + essays   51

Zuihitsu - Wikipedia
“Zuihitsu (随筆) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning “at will” and “pen.” The provenance of the term is ultimately Chinese, zuihitsu being the Sino-Japanese reading (on’yomi) of 随筆 (Mandarin: suíbǐ), the native reading (kun’yomi) of which is fude ni shitagau (“follow the brush”).[1] Thus works of the genre should be considered not as traditionally planned literary pieces but rather as casual or randomly recorded thoughts by the authors.”

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

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

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

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

[See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C5%8Dj%C5%8Dki ]
zuihitsu  japan  literature  writing  howwewrite  essays  words  place  surroundings  japanese  hojoki  idleness  hermits  warrenellis  diaries  classideas  jottings 
august 2019 by robertogreco
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
lalitha vasudevan on Twitter: "Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, where
"Overhearing tutoring session between adult tutor & suburban hs student. I despair at the extensive focus on relatability (between student & text) as strategy for responding to comprehension questions and essay writing, wherein to relate to have personally experienced.

1/

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

2/

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

3/

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

4/

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

5/

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

6/

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

7/7
#smalldatabigmoments"
lalithavasudevan  education  standardizedtesting  standardization  experience  relatability  teaching  learning  schools  schooliness  kinship  perception  culturalliteracy  howweteach  howwelearn  comprehension  essays  writing  howwewrite  teachingreading  teachingwriting  noticing  civics  citizenship  democracy  democratic  malpractice  participatory  participation  unschooling  deschooling  pedagogy  uniformity  efficiency  bigdata  testing 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Haibun - Wikipedia
"Haibun (俳文, literally, haikai writings) is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. The range of haibun is broad and frequently includes autobiography, diary, essay, prose poem,[1] short story and travel journal.

History
The term "haibun" was first used by the 17th-century Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, in a letter to his disciple Kyorai in 1690.[2] Bashō was a prominent early writer of haibun, then a new genre combining classical prototypes, Chinese prose genres and vernacular subject matter and language.[2] He wrote some haibun as travel accounts during his various journeys, the most famous of which is Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior).

Bashō's shorter haibun include compositions devoted to travel and others focusing on character sketches, landscape scenes, anecdotal vignettes and occasional writings written to honor a specific patron or event. His Hut of the Phantom Dwelling can be classified as an essay while, in Saga Nikki (Saga Diary), he documents his day-to-day activities with his disciples on a summer retreat.

Traditional haibun typically took the form of a short description of a place, person or object, or a diary of a journey or other series of events in the poet's life.[3] Haibun continued to be written by later haikai poets such as Yosa Buson,[4] Kobayashi Issa[5] and Masaoka Shiki.[3]

In English
Haibun is no longer confined to Japan, and has established itself as a genre in world literature[6][7] which has gained momentum in recent years.[8]

James Merrill's "Prose of Departure", from The Inner Room (1988), is an earlier example.

The first contest for English-language haibun took place in 1996,[9] organized by poet and editor Michael Dylan Welch, and judged by Tom Lynch and Cor van den Heuvel. Anita Virgil won first prize, and David Cobb won second prize. The contest resulted in the publication of Wedge of Light (Press Here) in 1999. As credited by Welch,[10] the first anthology of English-language haibun was Bruce Ross's Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun (Tuttle), published in 1998.[11][non-primary source needed]

Jim Kacian and Bruce Ross edited the inaugural number of the annual anthology American Haibun & Haiga (Red Moon Press) in 1999; that series, which continues to this day, changed its name to Contemporary Haibun in 2003 and sponsored the parallel creation in 2005 of Contemporary Haibun Online, a quarterly journal that added Welsh haibun author Ken Jones to the founding editorial team of Kacian and Ross.

Characteristics
A haibun may record a scene, or a special moment, in a highly descriptive and objective manner or may occupy a wholly fictional or dream-like space.[citation needed] The accompanying haiku may have a direct or subtle relationship with the prose and encompass or hint at the gist of what is recorded in the prose sections.

Several distinct schools of English haibun have been described,[12] including Reportage narrative mode such as Robert Wilson's Vietnam Ruminations, Haibunic prose, and the Templum effect.

Contemporary practice of haibun composition in English is continually evolving.[13][citation needed] Generally, a haibun consists of one or more paragraphs of prose written in a concise, imagistic haikai style, and one or more haiku. However, there may be considerable variation of form, as described by editor and practitioner Jeffrey Woodward.[14]

Modern English-language haibun writers (aka, practitioners) include Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, Mark Nowak, Nobuyuki Yuasa,[15] Lynne Reese,[16] Peter Butler,[17] and David Cobb, founder of the British Haiku Society in 1990 and author of Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore, a 5,000-word haibun which has been considered seminal for the English form of kikōbun (i.e., travel diary).[18]"

[via: "So I've been experimenting with writing haibun lately, and as a lifelong diarist (who's recently slacked in a major way but is now jumping back into it!) this form is opening things way up for me. Shoutout to Bashō."
https://twitter.com/gumbo_amando/status/1017249109416267776 ]
japan  japanese  journals  journaling  srg  haibun  poetry  prose  haiku  writing  diaries  essays  autobiography  bashō  classideas 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Against Interpretation
[before quoting the entirety, quoting one line:

"What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more."]

"“Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash. It’s very tiny - very tiny, content.”
- Willem De Kooning, in an interview

“It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances. The mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible.”
- Oscar Wilde, in a letter

1

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual. (Cf. the paintings in the caves at Lascaux, Altamira, Niaux, La Pasiega, etc.) The earliest theory of art, that of the Greek philosophers, proposed that art was mimesis, imitation of reality.

It is at this point that the peculiar question of the value of art arose. For the mimetic theory, by its very terms, challenges art to justify itself.

Plato, who proposed the theory, seems to have done so in order to rule that the value of art is dubious. Since he considered ordinary material things as themselves mimetic objects, imitations of transcendent forms or structures, even the best painting of a bed would be only an “imitation of an imitation.” For Plato, art is neither particularly useful (the painting of a bed is no good to sleep on), nor, in the strict sense, true. And Aristotle’s arguments in defense of art do not really challenge Plato’s view that all art is an elaborate trompe l’oeil, and therefore a lie. But he does dispute Plato’s idea that art is useless. Lie or no, art has a certain value according to Aristotle because it is a form of therapy. Art is useful, after all, Aristotle counters, medicinally useful in that it arouses and purges dangerous emotions.

In Plato and Aristotle, the mimetic theory of art goes hand in hand with the assumption that art is always figurative. But advocates of the mimetic theory need not close their eyes to decorative and abstract art. The fallacy that art is necessarily a “realism” can be modified or scrapped without ever moving outside the problems delimited by the mimetic theory.

The fact is, all Western consciousness of and reflection upon art have remained within the confines staked out by the Greek theory of art as mimesis or representation. It is through this theory that art as such - above and beyond given works of art - becomes problematic, in need of defense. And it is the defense of art which gives birth to the odd vision by which something we have learned to call “form” is separated off from something we have learned to call “content,” and to the well-intentioned move which makes content essential and form accessory.

Even in modern times, when most artists and critics have discarded the theory of art as representation of an outer reality in favor of the theory of art as subjective expression, the main feature of the mimetic theory persists. Whether we conceive of the work of art on the model of a picture (art as a picture of reality) or on the model of a statement (art as the statement of the artist), content still comes first. The content may have changed. It may now be less figurative, less lucidly realistic. But it is still assumed that a work of art is its content. Or, as it’s usually put today, that a work of art by definition says something. (“What X is saying is . . . ,” “What X is trying to say is . . .,” “What X said is . . .” etc., etc.)

2

None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what it said because one knew (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art. We can only quarrel with one or another means of defense. Indeed, we have an obligation to overthrow any means of defending and justifying art which becomes particularly obtuse or onerous or insensitive to contemporary needs and practice.

This is the case, today, with the very idea of content itself. Whatever it may have been in the past, the idea of content is today mainly a hindrance, a nuisance, a subtle or not so subtle philistinism.

Though the actual developments in many arts may seem to be leading us away from the idea that a work of art is primarily its content, the idea still exerts an extraordinary hegemony. I want to suggest that this is because the idea is now perpetuated in the guise of a certain way of encountering works of art thoroughly ingrained among most people who take any of the arts seriously. What the overemphasis on the idea of content entails is the perennial, never consummated project of interpretation. And, conversely, it is the habit of approaching works of art in order to interpret them that sustains the fancy that there really is such a thing as the content of a work of art.

3

Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation.

Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really - or, really means - A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?

What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness - that of the seemliness of religious symbols - had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic Song of Songs), they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Interpretation in our own time, however, is even more complex. For the contemporary zeal for the project of interpretation is often prompted not by piety toward the troublesome text (which may conceal an aggression), but by an open aggressiveness, an overt contempt for appearances. The old style of interpretation was insistent, but respectful; it erected another meaning on top of the literal one. The modern style of interpretation excavates, and as it excavates, destroys; it digs “behind” the text, to find a sub-text which is the true one. The most celebrated and influential modern doctrines, those of Marx and Freud, actually amount to elaborate systems of hermeneutics, aggressive and impious theories of interpretation. All observable phenomena are bracketed, in Freud’s phrase, as manifest content. This manifest content must be probed and pushed aside to find the true meaning - the latent content - beneath. For Marx, social events like revolutions and wars; for Freud, the events of individual lives (like neurotic symptoms and slips of the tongue) as well as texts (like a dream or a work of art) - all are treated as occasions for interpretation. According to Marx and Freud, these events only seem to be intelligible. Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.

Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

4

Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.

Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world - in order to set up a shadow world of “meanings.” It is to turn … [more]
art  interpretation  philosophy  theory  essays  susansontag  plato  artistotle  film  representation  innocence  nietzsche  proust  kafka  tennesseewilliams  jean-lucgodard  rolandbarthes  erwinpanofsky  northropfrye  walterbenjamin  yasujirōozu  robertbresson  culture  thought  senses  oscarwilde  willemdekooning  content  appearances  aesthetics  invisibile  myth  antiquity  karlmarx  freud  jamesjoyce  rainermariarilke  andrégide  dhlawrence  jeancocteau  alainresnais  alainrobbe-grillet  ingmarbergman  ezrapund  tseliot  dgriffith  françoistruffaut  michelangeloantonioni  ermannoolmi  criticism  pierrefrancastel  mannyfarber  dorothyvanghent  rndalljarrell  waltwhitman  williamfaulkner 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How YouTube Changed The Essay | Evan Puschak | TEDxLafayetteCollege - YouTube
"Evan Puschak, creator of The Nerdwriter, traces the history of the written essay and the essay-film, showing how these two strands feed into a new form of the essay which is becoming increasingly popular on YouTube: the video essay.

Evan Puschak is the creator and producer of The Nerdwriter, a popular web series of weekly video essays about art and culture. Evan launched The Nerdwriter in 2011, a year after graduating from Boston University, where he studied film production. One of his first videos landed him a job at MSNBC as a writer and web content producer. Almost three years later, the Discovery Channel asked him to write and host a show on their digital network called Seeker Daily. After launching a successful show for Discovery, he left to pursue The Nerdwriter full time. Evan has never been fond of offices or working for other people. He hates meetings and quarterly earnings reports. Now that he’s working for himself, pursuing his passion on YouTube, Evan has never been happier."
via:lukeneff  writing  essays  evanpuschak  nerdwriter  videoessays  2016  hansrichter  fforfake  orsonwelles  documentary  commentary  sanssoleil  1973  1983  1940  chrismarker  everyframeapainting  tonyzhou  education  knowledge  explainers  mikerugnetta  vox  internet  web  online  audiovisual  learning  thinking  micheldemontaigne  montaigne 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Rough Sketch for a Video Essay as Design Criticism—Jarrett Fuller
"The video, or film, essay gained popularity in the 1950s and 60s that trades typical narrative plots for themes and investigations. Drawing inspiration from Orson Welles, Charles and Ray Eames, and film critics working today, I how the video essay can be used to further design criticism online and bring critical writing about design to different audiences."
essays  videoessays  2016  jarrettfuller  film  eames  charleseames  rayeames  design  designcriticism  visual  orsonwelles  everyframeapainting  mattzoller  tonyzhou  fisforfake  filmcriticism  criticalwriting  criticism  srg 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Wunderkammer - Chris Marker
"The essayist’s aesthetic is that of the collector, or the ‘amateur’ in an archaic sense: such works seem destined for the writerly equivalent of the Wunderkammer – the essayist thrives on miscellanea. Except to say: the discrete essay may itself be an omnium-gatherum; there’s no duty to thematic unity, and because the notion that the essay is necessarily a short text is just a convenient rule easily broken, none to concision either: in his Anatomy of Melancholy (1621), Robert Burton starts composing an essay about a single affliction and ends up writing a book about everything – but everything – he can think of." —frieze, “Energy & Rue”, Issue 151 (November-December 2012)
chrismarker  2012  collectors  collections  essayists  amateurism  amateurs  wunderkammer  miscellanea  gathering  cv  robertburton  essays  everything  eclecticism  collection  commonplacebooks  writing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
More About My New Writing Assignment | Snakes and Ladders
"When, a few days ago, I posted the details of my radically subversive new writing assignment [http://blog.ayjay.org/uncategorized/assignment-commentary-and-anthology/ ], I got a number of replies from my friends on Twitter. They fell into three categories:

• This sounds great!
• Um … let me know how it goes.
• I’d feel better about something like this if my students were skilled at writing conventional thesis essays.

Here I want to address that third response.

Some of my students are quite skilled at writing “conventional thesis essays” — the kind that have an introductory paragraph announcing the thesis to be supported, followed by evidence for that thesis taken from the primary source under consideration plus relevant secondary sources, and a conclusion that wraps things up nicely. Some of my students are not so skilled at working in that genre. By eschewing it I am definitely passing up the opportunity to give my students detailed instruction in how to write that kind of text.

Which leads me to a series of questions: How much does that matter? How important is it that my students get better at writing thesis essays? After all, the thesis essay is just one of many genres of writing: how did it become so utterly dominant in the academic study of the humanities? Does it deserve such dominance? Presumably we assign thesis essays not because we think that genre uniquely valuable in itself, but because we think it inculcates certain valuable skills (how to research and sift one’s research, how to defend an arguable position, etc.) — but what if those skills can be taught through assigning different kinds of writing? What if there are other equally valuable skills that can’t readily be taught through the assigning of thesis essays?

Yes, students who are going on to graduate school in the humanities will need to become quite skilled at writing thesis essays — but why should we craft our assignments in order to meet the needs of a small percentage of our students? Moreover, especially if those students get practice writing thesis essays in other classes, why shouldn’t I use my class to teach them some skills and intellectual virtues that could later set them apart from peers?

Questions like those.

One of the primary things I’m hoping to achieve through this assignment is to bring reading and writing into closer and more constructively interanimating relation. In the traditional model, students read and discuss a text and then, at some point later in the term, write about it. Reading is generally done on an almost daily basis, while writing (serious, in-depth writing anyway) is done infrequently and in intense bursts of activity, probably over little more than 48 hours.

I want to see what happens if students have to write, and write seriously, in more-or-less the same rhythm as they read: read a section of a text, write about it, read some more, see what others (scholars and classmates) have said about it, revisit your earlier thoughts to extend or correct them, etc. I feel quite confident that this will make students more incisive and reflective readers; what it will do for their writing skills I am not certain. But it’s worth an experiment.

(P.S. The assignment is neither radical nor subversive, but I thought that might be a cool thing to say.)"
writing  teaching  teachingwriting  2015  alanjacobs  howwewrite  essays  thesisessays  reading  howweread  classideas  humanities  reflection  commentpress 
january 2015 by robertogreco
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: A Generic College Paper.
"Since the beginning of time, bullshit, flowery overgeneralization with at least one thesaurus’d vocabulary word. In addition, irrelevant and misleading personal anecdote. However, oversimplification of first Googled author (citation: p. 37). Thesis statement which doesn’t follow whatsoever from the previous.

Utterly contrived topic sentence revealing pretty much every flaw of structured essay writing. Therefore, supporting sentence invoking source that exists only in the bibliographies of other cited material (pp. arbitrary to arbitrary + 5). Contemplative question? Definitive refutation paraphrased from a blog found at 2AM:
“Massive block text to lend legitimacy to this sorry endeavor.”
— Legitimate-sounding Anglo Saxon name (year between 1859 and 1967)

Obviously, non-sequitur segue. Utter misinterpretation of the only other author researched for this paper. Blind search for evidence reflecting increasing desperation (authors 4, 5, and 6). Moreover, loose observation to try to force coherence. Indeed, an attempt at humor!

Hence, statement violating every principle of syllogism followed by unnecessary semi-colon; forgettable punch line. Open-ended question undoing what little intellectual progress has been made? Filler sentence, which breaks entire flow of argument, specifically designed with maximum complexity in mind so as to solve lingering word minimum concerns.

Unconvincing conclusion statement. Empty belief that prompt has been answered sufficiently and requires no further investigation by anyone, ever. Last sentence, which consumed approximately 95% of the total mental effort dedicated—still reads clunky."
writing  education  essays  academics  howwewrite  howweteach  schooliness  fiveparagraphessays 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The novel is dead (this time it's for real) | Books | The Guardian
"Literary fiction used to be central to the culture. No more: in the digital age, not only is the physical book in decline, but the very idea of 'difficult' reading is being challenged. The future of the serious novel, argues Will Self, is as a specialised interest"



"I repeat: just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you. When I finished my first work of fiction in 1990 and went looking for a publisher, I was offered an advance of £1,700 for a paperback original edition. I was affronted, not so much by the money (although pro rata it meant I was being paid considerably less than I would have working in McDonald's), but by not receiving the sanctification of hard covers. The agent I consulted told me to accept without demur: it was, he said, nigh-on impossible for new writers to get published – let alone paid. At that time the reconfiguration of the medium was being felt through the ending of the Net Book Agreement, the one-time price cartel that shored up publishers' profits by outlawing retailer discounting. In retrospect, the ending of the agreement was simply a localised example of a much wider phenomenon: the concertinaing of the textual distribution network into a short, wide pipe. It would be amusing to read the meliorism of the Panglosses if it weren't also so irritating; writing a few months ago in the New Statesman, Nicholas Clee, a former editor of the Bookseller, no less, surveyed all of the changes wrought by digital media – changes that funnel together into the tumultuous wordstream of Jeff Bezos's Amazon – before ending his excursus where he began, with the best of all possible facts implying we were in the best of all possible worlds: "I like," Clee wrote, "buying books on Amazon."

Groucho Marx once said to a man with six children taking part in his TV show: "I like my cigar, but I know when to take it out." By the same token: I also like buying books on Amazon, but I'm under no illusion that this means either the physical codex, or the novel – a form of content specifically adapted to it – will survive as a result of my preferences. Because I'm also very partial to sourcing digital texts from Project Gutenberg, then wordsearching them for a quotation I want to use. I like my typewriter as well, a Groma Kolibri manufactured in the German Democratic Republic in the early 1960s, but I'm under no illusion that it's anything but old technology. I switched to writing the first drafts of my fictions on a manual typewriter about a decade ago because of the inception of broadband internet. Even before this, the impulse to check email, buy something you didn't need, or goggle at images of the unattainable was there – but at least there was the annoying tocsin of dial-up connection to awake you to your time-wasting. With broadband it became seamless: one second you were struggling over a sentence, the next you were buying oven gloves. Worse, if, as a writer, you reached an impasse where you couldn't imagine what something looked or sounded like, the web was there to provide instant literalism: the work of the imagination, which needs must be fanciful, was at a few keystrokes reduced to factualism. All the opinions and conceptions of the new media amount to nothing set beside the way they're actually used.

While I may have registered the effect of digital media on my sense perception, I by no means feel immune from them; on the contrary, I've come to realise that the kind of psyche implicit in the production and consumption of serious novels (which are what, after all, serious artists produce), depends on a medium that has inbuilt privacy: we must all be Ambroses. In a recent and rather less optimistic article in the New Yorker on the Amazon phenomenon, George Packer acknowledges the impact on the publishing industry of digital text: the decline in physical sales; and the removal of what might be termed the "gatekeepers", the editors and critics who sifted the great ocean of literary content for works of value. He foresees a more polarised world emerging: with big bestsellers commanding still more sales, while down below the digital ocean seethes with instantly accessible and almost free texts. Packer observes that this development parallels others in the neoliberal economy, which sees market choice as the only human desideratum. The US court's ruling against the big five publishers in the English-speaking world and in favour of Amazon was predicated on this: their desperate attempt to resist Amazon's imposition of punitive discounting constituted a price cartel. But, really, this was only the latest skirmish in a long war; the battles of the 1990s, when both here and in the US chain bookstores began to gobble up the independents, were part of the same conflict: one between the medium and the message, and as I think I've already made clear, in the long run it's always the medium that wins."

I've no doubt that a revenue stream for digitised factual text will be established: information in this form is simply too useful for it not to be assigned monetary value. It is novels that will be the victims of the loss of effective copyright (a system of licensing and revenue collection that depended both on the objective form of the text, and defined national legal jurisdictions); novels and the people who write them. Fortunately, institutions are already in existence to look after us. The creative writing programmes burgeoning throughout our universities are exactly this; another way of looking at them is that they're a self-perpetuating and self-financing literary set-aside scheme purpose built to accommodate writers who can no longer make a living from their work. In these care homes, erstwhile novelists induct still more and younger writers into their own reflexive career paths, so that in time they too can become novelists who cannot make a living from their work and so become teachers of creative writing.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, I have just supervised a doctoral thesis in creative writing: this consists in the submission of a novel written by the candidate, together with a 35,000-word dissertation on the themes explored by that novel. My student, although having published several other genre works, and despite a number of ringing endorsements from his eminent creative-writing teachers, has been unable to find a publisher for this, his first serious novel. The novel isn't bad – although nor is it Turgenev. The dissertation is interesting – although it isn't a piece of original scholarship. Neither of them will, in all likelihood, ever be read again after he has been examined. The student wished to bring the date of his viva forward – why? Well, so he could use his qualification to apply for a post teaching – you guessed it – creative writing. Not that he's a neophyte: he already teaches creative writing, he just wants to be paid more highly for the midwifery of stillborn novels.

If you'll forgive a metaphoric ouroboros: it shouldn't surprise us that this is the convulsive form taken by the literary novel during its senescence; some of the same factors implicated in its extinction are also responsible for the rise of the creative writing programme; specifically a wider culture whose political economy prizes exchange value over use value, and which valorises group consciousness at the expense of the individual mind. Whenever tyro novelists ask me for career advice I always say the same thing to them: think hard about whether you wish to spend anything up to 20 or 30 years of your adult life in solitary confinement; if you don't like the sound of that silence, abandon the idea right away. But nowadays many people who sign up for creative-writing programmes have only the dimmest understanding of what's actually involved in the writing life; the programme offers them comity and sympathetic readers for their fledgling efforts – it acts, it essence, as a therapy group for the creatively misunderstood. What these people are aware of – although again, usually only hazily – is that some writers have indeed had it all; if by this is meant that they are able to create as they see fit, and make a living from what they produce. In a society where almost everyone is subject to the appropriation of their time, and a vast majority of that time is spent undertaking work that has little human or spiritual value, the ideal form of the writing life appears gilded with a sort of wonderment. The savage irony is that even as these aspirants sign up for the promise of such a golden career, so the possibility of their actually pursuing it steadily diminishes; a still more savage irony is that the very form their instruction takes militates against the culture of the texts they desire to produce. WB Yeats attributed to his father the remark that "Poetry is the social act of the solitary man"; with the creative-writing programmes and the Facebook links embedded in digitised texts encouraging readers to "share" their insights, writing and reading have become the solitary acts of social beings. And we all know how social beings tend to regard solitary acts – as perversities, if not outright perversions.

As I said at the outset: I believe the serious novel will continue to be written and read, but it will be an art form on a par with easel painting or classical music: confined to a defined social and demographic group, requiring a degree of subsidy, a subject for historical scholarship rather than public discourse. The current resistance of a lot of the literate public to difficulty in the form is only a subconscious response to having a moribund message pushed at them. As a practising novelist, do I feel depressed about this? No, not particularly, except on those occasions when I breathe in too deeply and choke on my own decadence. I've no intention of writing fictions in the form of tweets or text messages – nor do I see my future in computer-games design. My apprenticeship as a novelist has lasted a long time now, and I still cherish … [more]
books  culture  reading  writing  essays  willself  2014  bookfuturism  digitalmedia  novels  narrative  mfa  teaching  highereducation  highered 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Can Writing Be Assessed? A Five-Paragraph Essay
"The New York Times had yet another of its delightful "Room for Debate" sessions, in which various experts throw quick-take opinions on a subject past one another. The subject: Was the College Board right to have decided to make the essay portion of future SAT tests optional? Or, more broadly, "Can Writing Be Assessed?" Although Gawker was not specifically invited to participate, below is our contribution to the conversation."
essays  writing  sat  standardization  standardizedtesting  2014  humor  teachingwriting  assessment 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | A New Project from Orion
"Once a point of national pride and identity, America’s infrastructure is showing its age. Even in their heyday, the big infrastructure projects of the past were not always mindful of the communities in which they were built, nor did they reflect or respect the realities of life on a finite planet.

But this is a finite planet, and many communities are imagining new systems and structures for transportation, food, water, waste, energy, and information. In the process, they’re creating new, more beautiful, more resilient public works.

Welcome to Reimagining Infrastructure, a new series from Orion exploring infrastructure solutions for the next generation."
orionmagazine  infrastructure  environment  sustainability  2013  2014  erikhoffner  rownjacobsen  cynthiabarnett  rosemclarney  jeffreyharrison  peterbrewitt  hemersonblake  writing  poetry  essays  systems  systemsthinking  food  water  waste  energy  information  publicworks 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Boom: A Journal of California
"Thoughtful, provocative, and playful, Boom: A Journal of California aims to create a lively conversation about the vital social, cultural, and political issues of our times, in California and the world beyond.

Boom is currently edited by Carolyn de la Peña, Professor of American Studies at UC Davis and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute, and Louis Warren, UC Davis’ W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History.

Jon Christensen, Adjunct Assistant Professor and Pritzker Fellow in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and Department of History at UCLA, is taking over as editor beginning with the Fall 2013 issue.

Boom includes a wide range of photography, art, and writing, from scholarly articles to journalism, personal essays, interviews, and short informal pieces."
california  journalism  journals  culture  photography  art  writing  essays  interviews  politics  boom  californiastudies 
june 2013 by robertogreco
On Quitting – The New Inquiry
"A symptom: long periods of “silence” on my blog. Long absences marked by infrequent, cryptic declarations. It is not that I don’t want to write. But reading Freud has taught me that symptoms speak. And I have a career ahead of me."



"I begin to wonder about the relationship between geo-history, the saturation of space with affect, and psychic health."



"I’m wrestling with my own disorganization. My own “persistent undoing” given the occasion of the social. I am “undone” when I leave the house, walk down the street, encounter an absenting normality. I have learned not to trust myself. Perhaps it’s all the chemicals that are working and not working in my head."



"I am leaving the United States, resigning from my job, and moving back to Kenya. As I have been trying to narrate this move to those who have known about it—over the past year—I have wondered about the partiality of the stories I was telling. They were not untrue; they were simply not what I really wanted to say, not what I permitted myself to say. In the most benign version, I have said that I cannot build a life here. Some might reasonably say that I could build a career here, as I have been doing, and build a life elsewhere, perhaps negotiate some kind of contract that would permit me to live here for one semester and work in Kenya for the rest of the year. Even assuming some institution was this generous with a junior faculty member, I am not sure that one can so easily separate moments of living from moments of working for extended stretches of time. I’m not sure that’s a sustainable model."



"I’m not sure this is “the life” I want to imagine. I worry about any life that can so readily be “imagined.” Where is the space for fantasy, for play, for the unexpected, for the surprising?"



"At a required end-of-year meeting with my then department chair, I confessed that I was exhausted. I was tired of the banal and uncomprehending racism of white students who spoke of blacks as “they” and “them” and complained about “their broken English” and “bad dialect”; I was tired of a system that served black students badly, promising an education that it failed to deliver, condemning them to repeat classes, to drop out, to believe they were stupid; I was tired of colleagues who marveled when I produced an intelligible sentence; I was tired of attending conference panels where blackness was dismissed as “simple,” “reactive,” “irrelevant,” “done”; I was tired of being invited to be “post-black” as the token African, so not “tainted” by the afterlife of slavery; I was tired of performing a psychic labor that left me too exhausted to do anything except go home, crawl into bed, try to recover, and prepare for the next series of assaults.

Blyden, of course, got it wrong. Fanon got it right.

Leaving the U.S. will not remove me from toxicity and exhaustion. At best, it will allow limited detoxification, perhaps provide me with some energy. Perhaps it will provide a space within which scabbing can begin, and, eventually, scars that will remain tender for way too long."
academia  keguromacharia  2013  essays  writing  mentalhealth  precarity  lucidity  lifeofthemind  education  quitting  deracination  webdubois  toxicity  exhaustion  bipolardisorder  linearity  non-linear  non-linearity  blogging  multiplicity  discipline  labor  humanities  stem  race  guilt  shame  gender  ethnicity  idabwells  edwardwilmotblyden  racism  highered  highereducation  psychology  frantzfanon  linear  nonlinear  alinear 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Debates in the Digital Humanities: What’s Wrong with Writing Essays, MARK L. SAMPLE
"As a professor invested in critical thinking—that is, in difficult thinking—I have become increasingly disillusioned with the traditional student paper. Just as the only thing a standardized test measures is how well a student can take a standardized test, the only thing an essay measures is how well a student can conform to the rigid thesis/defense model that, in the hands of novice scholars, eliminates complexity, ambiguity, and most traces of critical thinking."
gaming  videogames  publicwriting  2012  criticalthinking  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  essays  writing  via:lukeneff  marksample  from delicious
january 2013 by robertogreco
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson - review | Books | The Guardian
"Henderson's project: a spellbinding book that seeks to astonish us with the sheer intricacy, diversity and multiplicity of life forms that share our planet. In what he modestly calls a "stab" at a 21st-century bestiary, he fuses zoology, literature, mythology, history, paleontology, anecdote and art through 27 brilliantly executed essays…"

"These are essays in the original, Montaignesque sense of the word, and range freely over whatever topic takes the author's fancy."

"In 1959 CP Snow delivered his famous Rede lecture on "The Two Cultures", in which he lamented the gulf between intellectual elites fluent either in the sciences or in the humanities, but all too rarely in both. Fifty years on, the landscape seems as divided as it was in Snow's day. It's a gulf of which the likes of Leonardo could not have conceived, and one that Henderson – an English graduate turned science writer – seeks to bridge. We have a great deal that we can learn from one another…"
gavinfrancis  anniedillard  toread  books  laurencesterne  sirthomasbrown  enlightenment  philosophy  art  anecdote  paleontology  history  mythology  literature  zoology  julesverne  darwin  italocalvino  robertburton  wgsebald  cv  essays  micheldemontaigne  writing  borges  multid  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  leonardodavinci  bestiary  casparhenderson  2012  cpsnow  animals  montaigne  charlesdarwin 
december 2012 by robertogreco
dOCUMENTA (13) - dOCUMENTA (13)
"Note taking encompasses witnessing, drawing, writing, and diagrammatic thinking; it is speculative, manifests a preliminary moment, a passage, and acts as a memory aid.

With contributions by authors from a range of disciplines, such as art, science, philosophy and psychology, anthropology, economic- and political theory, language- and literature studies, as well as poetry, 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts constitutes a space of dOCUMENTA (13) to explore how thinking emerges and lies at the heart of re-imagining the world. In its cumulative nature, this publication project is a continuous articulation of the emphasis of dOCUMENTA (13) on the propositional, underlining the flexible mental moves to generate space for the possible. Thoughts, unlike statements, are always variations: this is the spirit in which these notebooks are proposed."

[via: http://frieze.com/issue/article/books2027/ AND http://halloween-in-january.tumblr.com/post/21407577412 AND http://www.jennasutela.com/frieze ]
publishing  conversations  collaborations  essays  notebooks  hatjecantz  memoryaids  memory  noticing  witnessing  writing  drawing  diagrammaticthinking  thinking  2012  2011  notetaking  notes  literature  language  economics  politics  politicaltheory  philosophy  anthropology  art  psychology  books  documenta(13)  documenta  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Responding to Responses to “What Automated Essay Grading Says To Children” | Bud the Teacher
"I wrote a post the other day about what I feel like the use of machine scoring for student writing looks like to children.  The responses were strong.  I thought it made sense for me to clarify what I was saying, what I wasn’t saying, and what I didn’t say. #

Let’s tackle the last one first.  I didn’t say that I’m unsympathetic to the idea that more writing would happen if there was less grading to do.  Certainly, one reason that writing isn’t happening enough in classrooms now is that there’s a perception that every piece written must be “marked” or “graded” or “bled upon” by a teacher.  That’s completely false and a terrible idea. #

What our students need isn’t so many end comments or suggestions for grammatical or technical correction, but they need to be responded to as writers by readers who are reading their work.  Peter Elbow says this far smarter than I ever could, but we teachers should be doing less evaluating and more responding. #

So, yes.  Teachers are taking too long with papers.  The answer isn’t to stop reading them. It’s to read them differently.  Or to have more teachers reading fewer students’ writing.  And we don’t need to read everything that a student writes.  We certainly don’t need to grade everything a student writes. #"
machinescoring  via:lukeneff  standardizedtesting  grades  grading  writing  assessment  teaching  feedback  cv  howwework  howwelearn  budhunt  automatedgrading  essaysgrading  essays  peterelbow  2012 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Large study shows little difference between human and robot essay graders | Inside Higher Ed
"The differences, across a number of different brands of automated essay scoring software (AES) and essay types, were minute. “The results demonstrated that over all, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores for extended-response writing items,” the Akron researchers write, “with equal performance for both source-based and traditional writing genre.”"
writing  research  via:lukeneff  grading  essays  automation  software 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Roberto Bolaño's essays: More clues for detectives | The Economist
"For Bolaño, even his non-fiction defies clarity. He shows little interest in providing order or streamlining his thoughts. For him, order is a lie. The purpose of both his fiction and non-fiction then is to capture this disorder on the page and make it feel as real as possible. In Bolaño’s writing one can only recognise sanity within the context of insanity. Answers—if there are any—are found not by searching, but in searching.
 
Bolaño was a nomad of the planet and the mind. While much of this collection is standard criticism or brief observations, the pleasure is less in the writing than in experiencing—for just a brief moment—the world of a man immersed in his art."
robertobolaño  nonfiction  nomads  nomadism  essays  neo-nomads  writing  toread  books  fiction 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Minneapolis: Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business: Behind the scenes of standardized testing
"Then came the question from hell out of Louisiana: “What are the qualities of a good leader?”

One student wrote, “Martin Luther King Jr. was a good leader.” With artfulness far beyond the student’s age, the essay delved into King’s history with the civil rights movement, pointing out the key moments that had shown his leadership.

There was just one problem: It didn’t fit the rubric. The rubric liked a longer essay, with multiple sentences lauding key qualities of leadership such as “honesty” and “inspires people.” This essay was incredibly concise, but got its point across. Nevertheless, the rubric said it was a 2. Puthoff knew it was a 2.

He hesitated the way he had been specifically trained not to. Then he hit, "3."

It didn't take long before a supervisor was in his face. He leaned down with a printout of the King essay.

"This really isn't a 3-style paper," the supervisor said."

[Also here: http://www.citypages.com/2011-02-23/news/inside-the-multimillion-dollar-essay-scoring-business/ ]
tcsnmy  writing  essays  standardizedtesting  standardization  mediocrity  rewardingmediocrity  fiveparagraphessays  rubrics  grading  organization  assemblylinewriting  sausagemaking  pearson  cv  questar  testgrading  dandimaggio  from delicious
february 2011 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine - nature / culture / place
"Once upon a time, Orion published a regular department called The Place Where You Live. Though the department was discontinued in 2003, we’ve been asked about its fate ever since—and reminded by readers of how important it was to them.

So we’re bringing it back. This is a space for you to exercise your sixth sense and tell us about your place. What connects you to it? What history does it hold for you? What are your hopes and fears for it? What do you do to protect it, or prepare it for the future, or make it better?

A few of the contributions we receive will appear in the print edition of Orion. The Place Where You Live will be published in every issue of Orion (as well as online), so submissions will be considered for the print magazine on a rolling basis…

Your contribution can take the form of a short essay or story of no more than 350 words, up to six photographs, a painting, drawing, or handmade map."
place  landscope  onion  nature  orionmagazine  classideas  local  hyperlocal  life  theplacewhereyoulive  writing  newmedia  drawing  maps  mapping  essays  stories  photography  culture  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Simple Software That Could -- but Probably Won't -- Change the Face of Writing - James Somers - Technology - The Atlantic
"Writing is different. A writer explores, & as he explores, he purposely forgets the way he came.

…word "essay" derives from French "essayer," a verb meaning "to try."…coined in late 16th century by Michel de Montaigne, in many ways the father of the form. Montaigne wrote as a kind of maieutic exercise, a way of drawing his thoughts into the light of day, of discovering what he wanted to say as he said it.

No need, then, to drop so many breadcrumbs along the way. Especially when such a trail could do more harm than good. Readers could use it to find places where you massaged the facts; they'd be able to see you struggle w/ simple structural problems; they'd watch, horrified, as you replaced an audacious idea, or character, or construction, w/ a commonplace.

This is not to mention the legal ramifications (teasing out someone's "intention" just got a whole lot easier…) nor the mere fact that working under this kind of surveillance could drive you crazy w/ self-consciousness."
writing  etherpad  technology  software  paulgraham  jamessomers  classideas  thinking  learning  essays  from delicious
december 2010 by robertogreco
College Applications Continue to Increase. When Is Enough Enough? - NYTimes.com
[Lots here, but I'm particularly interested in UChicago's *old* approach.] "For years, Chicago’s admissions office emphasized the university’s distinctiveness: one offbeat mailing was a postcard ringed with a coffee stain. Its application has long included imaginative essay prompts, like “If you could balance on a tightrope, over what landscape would you walk? (No net).” This became known as the “Uncommon Application,” in contrast to the Common Application, the standardized form that allows students to apply to any of hundreds of participating colleges.

That some students wouldn’t like Chicago’s quirky questions was the point. “If understood properly, no given college will appeal to everyone — that wouldn’t be possible,” says Theodore A. O’Neill, the university’s dean of college admissions from 1989 to 2009. “It’s important to signal something true and meaningful about yourself. The more signals, the more honest you’re being, and doing that does limit the applications.”"
universityofchicago  admissions  essays  applications  insanity  highereducation  highered  parenting  schools  colleges  universities  education  tcsnmy  identity  distinctiveness  standingout  standingapart  standardization  blandness  trends  competition  ivyleague  harvard  princeton  ucla  lcproject  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Cool Tools: The Best Magazine Articles Ever
"This is a work in progress. It is a on-going list of suggestions collectively made by readers of this post. At this point the list has not been vetted or selected by me. In fact, other than the original five items I suggested, all of the articles mentioned here have been recommended by someone other than me. (Although I used to edit Wired magazine none of the article from Wired were suggested by me or anyone who worked at Wired. I also did not suggest my own pieces.)"
kevinkelly  lists  magazines  instapaper  writing  toread  reading  essays  culture  bestof  journalism  davidfosterwallace 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Longform.org
"We post articles, past and present, that we think are too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser.
content  longform  reading  instapaper  media  news  journalism  writing  toread  iphone  ipad  aggregator  culture  design  essays 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Oxford Tradition Comes to This - ‘Death’ (Expound) - NYTimes.com [via: everywhere]
"The exam was simple yet devilish, consisting of a single noun (“water,” for instance, or “bias”) that applicants had three hours somehow to spin into a coherent essay. An admissions requirement for All Souls College here, it was meant to test intellectual agility, but sometimes seemed to test only the ability to sound brilliant while saying not much of anything.
education  essays  writing  words  classideas  philosophy  tradition  oxford  tcsnmy 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Persuade xor Discover
"It's hard enough to overcome one's own misconceptions without having to think about how to get the resulting ideas past other people's. I worry that if I wrote to persuade, I'd start to shy away unconsciously from ideas I knew would be hard to sell. When I notice something surprising, it's usually very faint at first. There's nothing more than a slight stirring of discomfort. I don't want anything to get in the way of noticing it consciously.

I didn't make a deliberate choice to write to discover, rather than writing to persuade. In fact, I didn't realize how opposed they were till I wrote this. This essay was originally about being ingratiating. It started from the faintest sense that something was amiss: why do so many people take a violent dislike to Michael Arrington? But I'm glad I picked at that anomaly instead of ignoring it. It was only by writing to discover that I learned I don't write to persuade."
writing  essays  michaelarrington  discovery  paulgraham  analysis  persuasion  communication 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The List of N Things
"Because the list of n things is the easiest essay form, it should be a good one for beginning writers. & in fact it is what most beginning writers are taught. The classic 5 paragraph essay is really a list of n things for n = 3. But the students writing them don't realize they're using the same structure as the articles they read in Cosmopolitan. They're not allowed to include the numbers, & they're expected to spackle over the gaps with gratuitous transitions ("Furthermore...") & cap the thing at either end w/ introductory & concluding paragraphs so it will look superficially like a real essay. [2]...Another advantage of admitting to beginning writers that the 5 paragraph essay is really a list of n things is that we can warn them about this. It only lets you experience the defining characteristic of essay writing on a small scale: in thoughts of a sentence or two."
writing  essays  lists  paulgraham  rhetoric  communication  teaching  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco
The Age of the Essay
Classic Paul Graham essay on writing essays: "Remember the essays you had to write in high school? Topic sentence, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs, conclusion. The conclusion being, say, that Ahab in Moby Dick was a Christ-like figure.

Oy. So I'm going to try to give the other side of the story: what an essay really is, and how you write one. Or at least, how I write one."
paulgraham  education  learning  writing  essays  creativity  literature  teaching  rhetoric  english  language  howto  communication 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Public Education - Change.org: Why Schoolwork Doesn't Have to Suck: Learning 2.0
"And I want this quick post to highlight an issue that parents should be attuned to, but probably aren't: the use of the internet for learning. If your child's schooling - their classroom, their homework, their textbooks, their major assignments - looks like it did when you were in school, then dear parent, you may have a problem: your children are being given an education that will help them succeed in a bygone age: the 20th century.
clayburell  teaching  schools  learning  education  essays  writing  readwriteweb  tcsnmy  wikis  blogging  students 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Books, beaches and Bierut - the johnson banks thought for the week
"...it became clear that Mr B was a good writer...a really good writer. One of his partners once confessed to me that they got him to write their proposals because he was so much better at them. Perhaps a bit of context is needed here because there still aren’t that many designers who can write. It’s not a great surprise that primarily visual people should feel a little word shy - designers have often gathered around them good suits to help them communicate, whether through proposals, powerpoint or presentations...In essence the main writing tips I’ve gleaned from the essays are as follows: Don’t be afraid to write in the first person...Don’t be afraid to side-track yourself or try a different topic…Don’t worry about revealing the subject of your article until the first or second (or sometimes third paragraph)...Do be afraid to hand out advice...Do worry about how you start, and crucially, end, a piece...Oh, and don’t be afraid to write a list."
michaelbierut  writing  design  designwriting  communication  essays  howto  tips  via:blackbeltjones 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Consider the Lobster
"For 56 years, the Maine Lobster Festival has been drawing crowds with the promise of sun, fun, and fine food. One visitor would argue that the celebration involves a whole lot more."
davidfosterwallace  lobsters  culture  writing  food  animals  philosophy  ethics  journalism  essays 
september 2008 by robertogreco
Dwelling in Possibilities - ChronicleReview.com
"For students now, life is elsewhere. Classes just part of ever-enlarging web of activities, diversions...seek to master work, not to be taken over by it...live in future, not present; live w/ prospects for success & pleasure...dwell in possibility."
humanities  academia  attention  literature  culture  society  speed  slow  philosophy  generations  romanticism  essays  education  future  technology  socialsoftware  colleges  universities  students  youth  teaching  internet  psychology  learning  millennials  computers  life 
march 2008 by robertogreco
The New Invisible Competitors
"Human beings evolved in small groups & hunter-gatherer societies...all competition was face­to­face...new arena, with faceless/anonymous competitors, those driven mostly by adrenalin will not fare well."
competition  cooperation  culture  economics  education  employment  essays  globalization  invisibility  jobs  policy  tylercowen  trade  work 
january 2008 by robertogreco
Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC)
"The Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC) is a web-based, peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Its focus is social science research on computer-mediated communication via the Internet, the World Wide Web, and wireless technologies."
academia  anthropology  behavior  blogs  communication  computing  copyright  culture  danahboyd  dunbar  education  essays  facebook  history  im  internet  magazines  networks  socialnetworks  socialsoftware  socialnetworking  research  society  sociology 
november 2007 by robertogreco
The American Idea [Atlantic Monthly]
"Scholars, novelists, politicians, artists, and others look ahead to the future of the American idea"
culture  essays  history  us  america  ideas  thinking  future 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Wired 15.03: Snacklash
"Yes, it sometimes seems as if we're living off a cultural diet of blog posts and instant messages - until we find ourselves losing an entire weekend watching season three of The Wire. The truth is, we have more snacks now only because the menu itself has
stevenjohnson  media  entertainment  culture  complexity  essays  time 
march 2007 by robertogreco
Confessions of an Aca/Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins: In Defense of Crud
"Consider...school children being taught to produce pots. We don't do this because we anticipate [ them ] to grow up to be professional potters...[but] because we see a value in the process of creating something, of learning to work with clay as a materia
art  creativity  participatory  social  writing  process  quality  media  internet  community  culture  online  essays  web  ncm  participatoryart 
february 2007 by robertogreco
gladwell dot com - the talent myth
"In terms of how we evaluate schooling, everything is about working by yourself. If you work with someone else, it's called cheating. Once you get out in the real world, everything you do involves working with other people."
business  essays  management  productivity  social  people  schools  organizations  collaborative  collaboration  bigidea  design  malcolmgladwell  innovation  ideas 
february 2007 by robertogreco
Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology — A Group Blog » a brief philosophy of “anti-teaching”
"Teaching is about providing good information. Anti-teaching is about inspiring good questions. Since all good thinking begins with a good question, it struck me that if we are ultimately trying to create “active lifelong learners” with “critical th
anthropology  blogs  education  methods  teaching  essays  learning 
february 2007 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis - Shop Class as Soulcraft - Matthew B. Crawford
"So what advice should one give to a young person? By all means, go to college. In fact, approach college in the spirit of craftsmanship, going deep into liberal arts and sciences. In the summers, learn a manual trade. You’re likely to be less damaged,
capitalism  business  culture  creativity  crafts  make  life  labor  work  trends  productivity  philosophy  projects  engineering  education  tools  ideas  essays  sociology  society  design  diy  history  politics  technology 
october 2006 by robertogreco
Brian Eno - The Big Here and the Long Now | DIGITALSOULS.COM | New Media Art | Philosophy | Culture
"Everyone seemed to be ‘passing through’. It was undeniably lively, but the downside was that it seemed selfish, irresponsible and randomly dangerous. I came to think of this as "The Short Now", and this suggested the possibility of its opposite - "Th
bighere  longnow  environment  creativity  future  awareness  context  sustainability  technology  society  culture  space  sociology  brianeno  psychology  philosophy  essays  art 
september 2006 by robertogreco
Copy What You Like
"It can be hard to separate the things you like from the things you're impressed with. One trick is to ignore presentation. Whenever I see a painting impressively hung in a museum, I ask myself: how much would I pay for this if I found it at a garage sale
writing  essays  philosophy  thinking  advice  art  literature  taste 
august 2006 by robertogreco
Wired 12.10: The Long Tail
"Forget squeezing millions from a few megahits at the top of the charts. The future of entertainment is in the millions of niche markets at the shallow end of the bitstream"
future  internet  society  economics  essays  amazon  books  business  longtail  marketing  media  money  movies  music  television  copyright  creative  culture  content  consumption  data  entertainment  industry  history  journalism  social  statistics  technology  web  video  trends  theory 
december 2004 by robertogreco

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