Friday, July 12, 2013

Reflections/Diffractions on NWP's Making Learning Connected



Very surprisingly, CLMOOC (National Writing Project’s on-line Making Learning Connected) is carrying to me the tone of NWP in-person events; the tone that vibrates a certain voltage of the small-retreat quality, signaling community and the kind that I seek out and prefer over other gatherings.  The NWP-tone has provided me with a balm in a profession that forces isolation because working at the edge of consciousness drives one into an inarticulate zone where easy conversation has the luke-warmness that Revelation 3:16 despises. 

In the hot/cold tumultuous shoreline, I have to bumble about.  And while I’d rather be alone than banal or criticized for using fragments, yet I yearn for professional intimacy. And, more importantly, I’m certain that acting toward social justice depends on collaboration right here at the shoreline, not in the calm waters where words have high clarity and formulaic reactions that have already been tried, found failing, and harnessed by powers-that-be, rendered lukewarm.

How many years did I endure large professional conferences and their excruciating publications because I didn’t even know that there was an option to sharing and extending scholarship.  Finally along came in-person NWP.  And now, this summer, I’m getting the NWP-tone even in the bumptious choppy fragmatic tweetchat (Storify summary forthcoming).  How surprising is that!

The special resonance hums in like-mindedness; perhaps the word “soul” could even be used; it’s a dangerous term that needs to be reserved for times when we trust its special meaning to be shared.  The vibration that I value has to penetrate into the inarticulate, like Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” and so often association with persons who flaunt the term leads into disappointment, possibly on into deeper isolation and alienation, even despair.  It’s better to be alone than to be false.

This calls to mind the Rilke poem, “Too Alone,” translated by Robert Bly in Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke
     I want my own will, and I want simply to be with my will,
     as it goes toward action,
     and in the silent, sometimes hardly moving times
     when something is coming near,
     I want to be with those who know secret things
     or else alone.

Passion such as this has the distinctive quality of demanding action because it “contains” suffering, not so much personal but toward compassion for injustice in the world.  To choose the passionate life calls one toward companionship and to service or stewardship that tends the “soul of the world” (elusive meaning but more toward Carl Jung than Google’s top responses: Coelho’s Alchemist).   

I’m hesitant to sound the name anima mundi because it draws us toward the out-of-control and reminds me of that bar where Luke Skywalker found so many weird creatures.  But to traffic with passion means going where it takes you.  In last night’s tweetchat, the conversation around “access” and “equity” and then “collaboration/co-labor” carried the kind of tingling in my skin that said “yes.”  Isn’t it time to venture ahead trusting in the NWP-tone and a few reckless adventurers?