Friday, March 23, 2012

Spring Break Photoessay

These are a few of my favorite things:

                                 . . . early morning with fog over the Potomac . . .

                                                                                           . . . and in the gardens . . .

. . . slow time on the porch . . .

. . . and at times a bit faster . . .

. . . most of all breathing in the beauty from before dawn and on after dusk . . .

. . . that's more than enough . . .

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Switcheroo: Playing with the Other

     I chose for the oral narrative in yesterday’s Good Stories class to tell my version of Tatterhood .*  The tale offers entry into an experience of the “other” as the queen gives birth to twins who are opposites in certain traits but still best buddies and destined to give and take from each other the essential life force.  As the subtitle (or main title) of our course is “Teaching Narratives for Peace and Justice,” this communion with the other plays center stage. 
     We are also in the midst of composing our own narratives where we imagine ourselves forward in a co-construction of a better world, both inside our personal identities and in our social cosmos.  We began yesterday’s session by watching a delightful and touching video from South Africa that explores our understanding of Mother Earth, especially through the faces, voices, and fingers of young children (  We responded to the video to elaborate its technical excellence and its success in blending the universal and local levels (as termed by our textbook author Brian Boyd in The Origin of Stories).
     The previous evening I’d attended a lecture by Michael W. Apple in which he exhorted us to tell the truth that publishes the hidden face of poverty and injustice, but to do so in a way that also avoids adding to the disempowering tide of despair.  As public intellectuals, we are responsible for pointing to spaces of opportunity that give voice to the silenced and that bear witness to our own collusion in imbalances of power. 
     So the next day a light shadow was trailing along behind me as I brought the Tatterhood tale into our consciousness.  It wanted to point out a vent where the experience of the other might draw us a bit further into empathy, where the force of creativity might nudge an insight that advantages our potential for collaboration so that we don’t keep riding the tide of the fearful and self-centered.  At least in our digital media projects, we can tell ourselves into a possibility of a more peaceful, a more just place.
     I’m pretty sure that this potential comes from images that speak to us more than from our school text that dictates, “You have to write the script first.”  So I was set to search out a way to engage us in this week’s labs that would focus on play with image making: maybe computer art apps or comic-making or remixing photos.  Then I checked out my inbox this morning, and it came in the ScoopIts that I follow.  Mary Ann Reilly leads my artistic edge with her amazing work, and in her ScoopIt she featured one on Switcheroos: .
     The Switcheroos perfectly pointed to a vent of opportunity.  It offered us an invitation to play with an other.  The photos in the Switcheroo looked to take on possible fear of homophobia.  If we could be honest about the separations that block us from caring about others or even about some aspect of ourselves, composing the switcheroo pairs could be just the act of composing that was coming in on that light shadow.

     So here we go.  My sample is shown below. Thanks to my wife (and dog) for playing along.

*From Asbjornsen, P. & Moe, J. (Collected by). G. Dasent, Trans., East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon. NY: Dover, 1970 (1843). "Tatterhood,” pp. 345-353.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


The adjustments made in iPhoto to the photograph I took in the almost mystical morning yesterday perhaps show more clearly what I see, at least looking back and through the prism of mind, of thought and feeling and wishing.  I'm wishing for a state of being that paints the world, "like this," Rumi is translated.  I can hear Coleman Barks' resonant voice vibrant with knowing that crosses a decade or so of centuries and countries.  It's about the transmission of civilization and consciousness and about moving toward beauty and peace.
I'm wondering about how a certain presumption of cognitive science unbalances our being so that peace cannot be advanced.  When we attempt to bring digital composing into the landscape of a culture dominated by thinking in words and in words that are more like a lecture on regurgitating exact facts, what chance has imagination?
In reading Children's Picturebooks: The Art of Visual Storytelling, I'm stunned to find "there is always the possibility that art may be utterly stifled within the university atmosphere, that the creative impulse may be wholly obliterated by the pre-eminence of criticism and scholarship" from Ben Shahn's The Shape of Content, 1957!
It's like this is the day for liberation.