Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Different Kind of Thinking? How would we know it if we saw it?

Creative Instruction

Dear Jeff,

One of the advantages of being an old guy,
geezer, barking at both ends—presbyter for
crying out loud, (nothing pious about a
Presbyterian: age is all—walking on 3 legs)
— is:

I can play the fool: good for elders who can
rush in where youngers fear to tread.

“for nonconformity the world whips you
with its displeasure” says Emerson . As it
should. We maintain convention and call it
sustainability. Homeostatus quotidian.
Otherwise we'd all go nuts.

In my leisure (“schola”) time this summerI've
been giving a little thought to the idea of
General Education, and also to the interest
in assessing if not reassessing What We Do
strategically to put our selves through this
century (in all its turbulence) in accord with
our desire to be sustainable in every way
possible —a la Ray Anderson and his
observations on Industrialized Education:
it's impact on

The 2 Environmentalities:

internal as well as external
pneumatic as well as erotic:
collective frame-of- minding
(cultural, conventional)
as well the nitty gritty cash for
clunkers, second-hand smoke,
steep slope, clean coal, stimulus
packages and universal health
care & careful kinds of concerns.
. .
And I've become fascinated with Einstein's
observation that it takes a different kind of
thinking (level of thought) than the kind that
got us where we are (assuming where we are
is problematic—a pickle if you like:

Goedel's theory that a system might could
chose (as it were) to be consistent OR
complete—but not both, damnit; which
seems like a variation on: “Look: you can
determine your PLACE or your SPEED,
but not both--comes to mind.

I know, I know: loose thought.
Free associational. Images flap in like storks,
scissors, paper, rock characterizing my effort
to bootstrap out of the box & think a different
kind and level than I've BEEN thinking, know
what I mean? when I'm not sure I can represent
the kind of thinking I have been thinking so as to
move beyond, leap,jump….


Credo Ut Intellegam

Teaching students to try to understand poetry
which defies their sense of sequence & cause
& effect and discursive conventions, I urge
them FIRST: as operating assumption, to believe
it has its own local sense, idiosyncratic coherence
and consistency and evolution toward some
emergent insight.

SECOND (as if this where chronologic): look for
the literal and the explicit stuff that we as a group
of rational readers might acknowledge to be the case:
what happens, is happening on the page at least
if not ib our minds.

Sample specimens:

some red wheelbarrow in the rain,
corpse with her feet sticking out of
the winding sheet, a spinning wheel ...
snowman in the snow (nothing that
is there and the nothing that is not there),
a chambered nautilus dead on the sea
shore, all structure & Fibonacci series
to contemplate; a jar upon a hill in

In each poem we can usually agree on the literal
level: a. literalness any fundamentalist would accept:
the words the sentences, sequences, images..

THIRD: the implicit, the metaphorical, the so-what,
the emergent meaning rising up from juxtapositions
and syntax of—our interpretation, sense, signification.

Here: it’s not so easy to agree, damnit—going round
and round, unless some central authority nails it for us
& then, docile, we comply for the sake of convenience
or to put an end to the endless talk and get on to lunch.

FOURTH— throughout the back & forth of literal
and metaphorical “levels” of consideration I urge
us to cultivate and nurture the irrational: the play of
free association: what pops up as we hackysack
the literal and the metaphorical—what comes to
mind, jack in the box as we go round the mulberry bush.:

my grandmother’s pjs,
bushel of peaches under the elms,
dead man slumped over the steering
wheel, Christmas carolers late at night,
Johnstown snow covering the sooty street;
dead fish & relay towers on steep slopes

Idiosyncratic emergent notions. No rational justification,
neither literally nor metaphorically: conjured up by
entertaining converse-action turning over what
happens with page & mind: what’s going on?
what’s going on? Signs & symbols: & why
don’t these poets just say what they
mean, mean what they say?

Emergent phenomena:
when the poem hits
the fan.

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