Authorial Voice

This will probably sound odd. But I feel like I need some kind of dialogical therapy on my authorial voice.
As I was going through my notebook to see if I had once written about dialogical therapy (because I do not know what it is, but it sounds helpful in a Bakhtinian type of way: 'let's get all of the various perspectives out on paper' and not tainted with specific context like the 'talking cure' is), I came across an apposite note - and nothing on dialogical therapy. The note read: "Health - mental and physical - strangely not prioritised."
What happened to my voice?
How do I restore it back to health?
First, the diagnosis. I discovered something was wrong when I was trying to write my ideas, which are quite clear, but which could not be formulated in text because of decorum, which rhetoric recognises as structuring pedagogy and procedures of the discipline and governing the overall uses of language. In communicating, and communicating about communication on learning how to learn, the ideas must (obviously) be submitted to dictates of decorum. But how to get it right?
Then, I discovered another depth of the problem through comparison when I read the work of a very clear and authoritative-sounding writer who had assembled such a similar network of ideas as those I am working on, except her voice sounded like it was coming from a place of expensive good social dinners, which is definitely where I am coming from as I continue to make vegetarian pozole without the hominy and vegetables, which is to say, I continue to make chili - noted here for the recipe recommendation (which is to say, the acidic-hot 'sauce' added to the cooked beans towards the end).

Every time I begin to write, I look around to see if the enemy is approaching. I deploy theory like so many soldiers and leave a mess on the field. Or, I allow for Rothkoian approach and allow myself to paint the associations as they occur to me, but then remember I need to publish for academic reasons and drown that flight in declamation.
That's the melodrama - but if this were therapy, the emotions be brought out to play like children so as to have the opportunity to help them grow - so this type of story goes.
I am finishing off a paper that must be turned in today, but feel so strongly that so much academic writing (mine, in this case) suffers from the Midas touch, rendering the ideas it grasps 'unactionable' by pinning them down in respective bell jars, stripped from their vital context, smothered by the arcane which is necessary to respect a lot of complexity in a small space. Also, this language is so obviously not my own - with figurative like spoken languages, I am a fluent reader, not speaker, prioritizing the never finished work of comprehension. So I ask: is there a purpose for one who can listen but who is less able to speak?
Not all scholars (note: I am only an aspiring one) calcify and smother; just the majority. It is therefore a gift to do the academic job of delimiting a subject holistically: like choosing for the delimiting a statue whose finger happens to be pointing beyond the discourse.
Because I am pressed for time, which is to say, because it takes me so much time to write so little (or, sometimes, nothing), I will end this post with the B/Logroll links I prepared. I've decided to add a new feature to the series: ending by listing a blog or text whose author I'd like to have dinner conversation with.


Simon Sinek, "Most Leaders Don’t Even Know the Game They’re Playing In" (YouTube) seems to sum up the gist of his work in 30 minutes - with a very helpful section on how to relate to an emergent type of youth (insofar as one can speak of types...)

A Paris Review article on Fra Angelico that criss-crosses from the globe trotting associative to a silent monastery - also, made me think of how the enjoyment of Catholic religious art requires an understanding of history to be fully appreciated, as opposed to the Orthodox icon

The Community of Inquiry: Insights for Public Administration from Jane Addams, John Dewey and Charles S. Peirce (PDF) diss. by Patricia M. Shields which has a nifty section where the community of inquiry takes the form of an actual map: the graphic facts of a city assembled in Maps and Papers (Holbrook 1895) mapping out local evidence of problems for a community practise of politics. I like how this work could parallel nicely with CoPs, explained below.
I will make a note here on contemporary pedagogy: little of it - except nominally, occasionally - does the work to relate its approaches back to the tradition/trends it emerged from. Lave and Wegner popularised the so-called Community of Practice (CoP), which, by the way this term is cited in so much recent work, would appear to be an entirely contemporary phenomenon. But there's even a passage in Plato's Phaedrus that encapsulates something of CoP.
It is true that the genesis of CoP emerged from Lave's anthropological work - and out of the CoP of an IBM think tank if I remember correctly, but we know that ideas can surface in different environments at around the same time - Thony has written about this in the history of science.
But the uncanny similarities to Peirce/Dewey's approach combined with how CoP is being used in pedagogy makes these historical connections relevant. To illustrate, CoP was not just plunked down on a 'panopticon-style' classroom, but coherently fit with the constructivism that emerged through Dewey, who was influenced by Peirce's work on inquiry.

Dinner conversation I'd like to have with the author of this blog.


This week's posts could be said to address empty spaces: areas of society where people have found something missing and have sought to build something constructive or begin a potentially constructive dialogue.
There are definitely quandaries that need creative, discerning, thoughtful guidance. Subito.
So, as usual, life continues to be interesting and to provide plenty of areas in need of work.
Or, in Confucian terms, we should do a little rectification of naming: are we living up to the promise of our professions?
Finally, on a personal note, it has been a pretty lonesome summer as I put my time towards my book and I console myself by thinking of how Erasmus spent three years teaching himself ancient Greek, begging his friends to buy him the books he needed. But I have taken breaks, often to put the mind out to pasture. I am finding it 'cleaner' to think, and think a lot, before I write (so not much is written, but the idea is gaining lucidity and cogency).
One type of break has been to make desktop icons from images of museum displays (one is in the bottom image) which I consider not to be a waste of time because sometimes when I am struggling to compose my thoughts as I write, having this constellation of images that span time and geography, with such different contexts, it is a help to the mind, like a mind map.
A second is to explore music, which also helps the thought - not only for its rhythm. There was a period in my life when I socialised very heavily with musicians and could write a lot about that. Liu Sola has written the best short story about musicians, "In Search of the King of Singers" and composed a modern rendition of the Chinese classic about Zhong Ziqi and Yu Bo Ya who form the model of ideal friendship, and about whom the term 知音 was coined, literally meaning "to know the tone" but which denotes a close friendship. That classic encapsulates so well something of the essence of music. I have included links to music at the end of this post.

Howard Gardner updating his multiple intelligences with the priority of doing good work.

Speaking of AI: a Fresh Air podcast on all of our data that is being mined and sold;
also, this old podcast put out by Mozilla with Zuboff, author of Surveillance Capitalism.

Another area in need of addressing is the surge in the use of public lands - as people are now in need of instruction in how to be in the outdoors. The exact figure is cited in this Trail Show podcast episode which features the curator of the Our Public Lands Hate You instagram account, who has taken it upon himself to start dialogues (mostly) with the social media influencers who are using public lands irresponsibly (the famous recent incident being how they damaged the super bloom in CA).This person has essentially taken on an extra, thankless, unpaid job.

I cannot recommend enough this blog post on centrism, which I have sent to my relatives, because it is always nice when the message comes, for the nth time, from someone else.
An article on the Japanese origins of 8chan (Tablet Magazine).
Also from Tablet, "The Left's Race War."
Lastly, for this section, this quote: "Censorship nowadays isn’t done by constricting speeches; it’s by flooding the information space with so much bullshit that people don’t know what the hell’s going on anymore." From a LitHub interview.

The NPR series Tiny Desk Concerts (on iTunes; YouTube; their site) - perhaps I am late to the party on this one. Excellent sound engineering. Special performances (we have all seen A Capella-type live performances, but there is something so intimate about these, even watching them online).
I will link to the Jeremy Dutcher performance, and agree he is unique, not just in terms of his byline: hailing from an indigenous tribe of 100; trained in classical music and opera. The series has clips with artists ranging from Bilal to Florence and the Machine. The series introduced me to TX siblings The Oh Hellos and to Oddissee (links lead to their Band Camp pages). The latter reminds me of an artist who one took out a prohibitively large loan to go to Columbia, seeking there to learn strategies of how to more successfully produce 'positive' hip hop (there is a term for that that I forget). He was talking to Mick Taussig who gave him a look that I will never forget though of course I may have misinterpreted his signal that what he was looking in the wrong place.
On the 'positive' note, two Red Eagle videos: Still Here and Song of Survival - the latter shows a young boy on the reservation who combats the misery through music, which is not a new theme, but sometimes I think about life on the reservation... It is also interesting to see in the first video fusions of traditional dance and breakdance. And this electric pow wow inspired video incorporating a Cree singer group by Tribe Called Red. Also interesting is their 360 degree video.
The potentials of electronic music and other artistic applications of technology are still being explored and it is exciting to watch it develop (this is no Jean Michel Jarre synthesiser!)

Amateur Scholarship

I was initially going to write a very short post pointing out the similarities in two extracts on the 'views of the universe' and the ideal orientation of man's mind within it. It turns out the underlying theme of the dispassionate took on a new dimension, and warranted a longer post, once I looked into the author of one of the extracts cited.
Does that ever happen to you, where you look for something you know you know, but you want to see it in a text, and googling for that knowledge leads you to a brand new source, and by extension, new ideas?
Before embarking on the theme of disinterested scholarship, I will begin with my original topic, which is now an apt preamble.
Behold, after the image, how both the extract by a 17th century Japanese sword-saint on the Way and the extract on Egyptian mythology, specifically about Horus' eye once recovered from its injury by Seth, are founded upon a knowing that surpasses man's knowledge yet is also connected to things that exist/ a physical, material consciousness:

What is called the spirit of the void is where there is nothing. It is not included in  man's knowledge. Of course the void is nothingness. By knowing things that exist, you  can know that which does not exist. That is the void.   People in this world look at things mistakenly, and think that what they do not  understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is bewilderment. ... Until you realise the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in common sense, you may think that things are correct and in order. However, if we look at things objectively, from the viewpoint of laws of the world, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. Know well this spirit, and with forthrightness as the foundation and the true spirit as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly. Then you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void. In the void is virtue, and no evil. via
... Seth is said to “steal or injure” the Wadjat  𓂀, because sensorial and fractioned consciousness (solar vision) inhibits the perception of universals, archetypes, or Ideas which is “lunar vision”. To regain the Lunar Eye or Wedjat   means that one regains a cognitive power, and the power which allows this “recomposition” of the Eye of Horus is Toth. … The loss of the left eye   Wedjat  𓂀 in the Egyptian mythology symbolizes a loss of vision, but more specifically a loss of holistic  or  holy vision   which allows for the reunion or  reconciliation of two  opposites in Unity .… Seth has the eye or vision in his grasp until Horus is able to recover it through the power of Toth . ... We cannot fail to point out how important it is that Toth: the  neter representing God’s Intelligence, is the one that allows for   the reconciliation of the reciprocal powers of Horus and Seth . This is not something that Man can achieve by himself, for as an image of the Supreme Being, the “gods” or neteru are the cosmic functions living in him, and to control them he must return to his innermost Origin and Unity.…In as far as the psychic or mental order of the Eye of Horus, it is demanded that one achieve the equilibrium of vision wherein one does not deny all metaphysical and divine qualities of the universe by an excess of analytical and sensorial (solar) consciousness, nor does one deny the manifest reality of the physical or material consciousness by total holistic idealism (which is excess of lunar consciousness). via

The latter appears (through superficial googling; my apologies if I am wrong) to have been written by an amateur Egyptologist, Christian Irigaray. The text seems to be a chapter in a book - which, considering no apparent professional involvement, betrays that it is a labor of love. The author's internet presence is made up by a series of related papers and an active Goodreads page - so part of the map of the intellectual activity that has gone into the amateur work is visible.
We live in an age of institutional "scholarship" that is obsessed with peer review - a direct outcome of the outmoded organizational principles that rule university, such as its hyper insistance on various forms of quality control (e.g. "publish or perish"; time-sucking administrative obligations; unpaid editing or writing work that is not necessarily related to one's area of expertise or teaching) that stifles the actual jobs that one is officially responsible for. What is more, the quality even despite this quality control is suspect. My experience is that articles in recent decades reveal how comparatively little their authors seem to be reading (where possible, I look for older articles on a subject which often contain a surfeit of sources). So, these institutional systems are not only outmoded but also ineffective.
I write outmoded because in this century's sequel to time and motion management that is  characterized by managers, managers of managers, and consultants, there is actually quite a lot of stellar (popular) work on what kind of leadership and organizational principles work most effectively in the long term. Spoiler: they are not focused on quality control. One model that I have heard mentioned by three independent 'leaders of leaders' (and Harvard's Good Project) stresses the importance of alignment of mission or purpose. The mission is to be negotiated on a local level, the larger mission being clearly connected to each individual's mission.
A labor of love is bound to be connected to a mission. Also: it has the power to be free range. Publish or perish "scholarship" is more likely to resemble the force-fed sickly chick of mass production, caged in, existing on an unnatural schedule.
This is not to say that I do not believe in university. There is a lot to be said in favor of much of the convention behind respective disciplines. Also, universities should be places where expert knowledge keeps getting passed down, so also increases. Also advantageous is being exposed in real life to the people thinking intelligent ideas: one can see how they live, how they move through space and information &c., and that can be another kind of important instruction. Universities are supposed to be disinterested places of learning, so with greater creative, liberal agency. Etc.
But where the writing is forced, how can university education expect to survive?
We are so quick to discount mythology or lessons from other arts. But, as our author above who may be an amateur scholar pointed out so niftily, Aristotle had rejected Egyptian mythology because, unlike Plato, he had not been educated in it. My elaboration would explicitly state that these sources still convey lessons that could stand to be repeated and internalized by everyone. One such lesson is contained in the passages above: the more accurate understandings are those that are holistic, and good (this latter word is not as problematic as it seems: the sword-saint in another work writes that good reveals itself if one is committed to living according to it; dedication makes up for lack of understanding and knowledge). Vico argued about the importance of both particularly in connection with university education, but how much of university work today upholds these points?

Brushes: link 404s but tape brush by Pfefferminzchen; Horus eye png.


I am ostensibly trying to write my publish-or-perish book again, and as I have done until now, ended up discarding most of my thinking on the subject matter. Also, as one of the topics is culture, I am having a hard time finding an approach to the subject without getting mired down in extant scholarship, so much of which I do not entirely agree with.
It seems to me that much "theory" (which can be less theory than doctrine - see Myers' writing on this; also see), to which I would add more recent theory, lacks full consideration of consequences. There is plenty of literature (the roots of which now decades old) that argue against "nation" as a construct. Empirically, there is indeed evidence of a back and forth (and other directional) exchange of ideas and ways of being among 'nations' today. It is argued that nationhood is a bunk concept. National symbols, in intercultural literature, are often presented as essentialist propaganda. Nationhood is argued as an outmoded concept to be "disrupted" for the betterment of an international flow of economics and ideas, or at least acknowledgement that this flow moves outside of older geographical patterns.

This is related to the problem of multiculturalism. A glance at my blog reveals a little bit of different cultures, but in my case, I actually lived in these places for years, have (or more accurately today, had) competence in the languages; have family members representative of these cultures. People like me are not uncommon today, and related labels have been coined, such as "third culture kid". I am explicitly making this disclaimer, because I have observed a superficial multiculturalism, or even careless cultural appropriation (see Root's book Cannibal Culture). I see people who praise themselves for their cultural awareness, but already from the point of view of hubris, this is problematic. What I prefer to call interculturalism is hard and often uncomfortable. It is also something that is very difficult to explain to people who have not been exposed to different cultures. Perhaps it can be compared to the idea of growing another set of eyes.
Not quite like this but similar is when you have a friend in palliative care, and on your runs you look for beautiful things to take pictures of to send: an extra awareness of surroundings can be gained, and once obvious things have been photographed, you begin to notice increasing subtleties, like how light itself can create beauty as it falls on or through segments of nature; how the wind causes foliage to drape like the expensive gowns of yesteryear. Awareness of another's being can call into relevance and sight more than what one had before. This can be explained by hermeneutics.
My favorite book on the topic of cultural 'knowing' continues to be Kristeva's Etrangers à nous-mêmes, because it ultimately brings the difficult point down to our virtue and responsibilities as individuals. This is different from the euphoric individualism that celebrates every last detail of the separation of person into their own unit. Rather, it draws from οἰκείωσις, the Stoic theory of appropriation which sees individuals as part of a greater whole.

This has been my experience of cultural exchange. I will never forget a childhood experience of being given a shell necklace in Thailand (this was back in the day when fair-skinned people were a sight to be beheld there; we got to these places because my mother spoke Thai) and feeling so inadequate at only having the little trinkets my mother had us bring; this act of giving what one has has stayed with me, and something I have looked to do myself, though any introductory class in anthropology will cover just how problematic giving is. Diseased blankets is only one example.
The model I try to follow is one of respect and listening to others.
In American history, the right to due process has played a very important part. I mention it here because of its role in listening.
But speaking of law, I read (via) an interesting Gibbon quote today that sums up quite well the practical difficulties of multiculturalism:
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, chapter XXVI:
As long as the same passions and interests subsist among mankind, the questions of war and peace, of justice and policy, which were debated in the councils of antiquity, will frequently present themselves as the subject of modern deliberation. But the most experienced statesman of Europe has never been summoned to consider the propriety or the danger of admitting or rejecting an innumerable multitude of Barbarians, who are driven by despair and hunger to solicit a settlement on the territories of a civilised nation. 
Or consider the difficulties of achieving equality: would we be able to afford our laptops? Difficult questions arise.
To everything I write, I can hear people slapping potential labels on me. But I have rarely been content with labels.There are other ways of defining and looking at these matters.
I am keeping that for the book.

And I definitely have my biases, models I respect and wish to cultivate.
As a cliffhanger, I will note the existence of an early American text drawing on Varro in praise of agriculture and related  virtues of thoroughness and patience. Lessons from the natural world. Lessons only had through exposure to nature.
To illustrate, because I run long, I often pass one of the natural springs at the outskirts of the city where I live. At first, I was puzzled by just how many people would go to fill up bottles at that spring. But over time, and through increasing heat, I filled up my handheld there with increasing frequency and noticed two things. First, the taste, which is so good. Second, the water clearly contains minerals - I not only did not miss any salt, but found the water 'more nourishing'. As a result, I think a lot about water on my runs. How up to 60 per cent of the human body is made of water. How even twenty years ago, I knew people worried about the depletion of water tables. Water is important. Are we preserving its sources?
The etymology of culture has roots in the cultivation of the earth. I think this is important. The word gained its figurative meaning referring to collective customs only recently (according to Etymonline; I have not looked into this in more detail and my memory is not cooperating as I write this post - I am still working on how and where I store things in my mind). The thesaurus ends with a beautiful quote by Yeats, which I think will provide a sufficient if not conclusive end to this post:
For without culture or holiness, which are always the gift of a very few, a man may renounce wealth or any other external thing, but he cannot renounce hatred, envy, jealousy, revenge. Culture is the sanctity of the intellect.

Brush: misprinted type; png made from Vesuvian memento mori floor mosaic from grey ghost's pinterest (found via google images).

Plogging Blogging

A central theme of my summer seems to be cleaning up. While I thought I had been reasonably free of superfluity, recent circumstantial challenges have revealed a lot that would benefit me by being removed. I feel unprecedented gratitude for the trials, for I see their direct correlation to opportunities for improvement. I had not been aware of how critical this was.
Plogging is a Swedish portmanteau, coined to describe a recent trend of jogging while picking up litter. I am comparing it with blogging because I wonder if this activity might also result in cleaner sections of the internet landscape, places where bees thrive - as opposed to the trash heaps that attract flies, who, as that spiritual tale warns, will seek the tiny piece of trash even in a landscape of flowers; bees, the opposite.
My thought here about plogging the blogging is to make a renewed attempt to the motion of blogging, with an added attempt to clean up my thinking (cf. para one, above). As I have written before, I think that blogging can be a virtuous activity.
A central topic of my blog is learning how to learn. I see this as a continued touchstone even now. Last year, I wondered about including management skills in my teaching, and did in fact develop this. It was enough that I had been open to this idea: circumstance itself brought certain pieces, through networked learning and collaboration, that allowed this to be developed. I can reaffirm, then, the thought I sometimes have to console myself when I feel that teaching is a task so far above my competencies/knowledge/skills (problems include how to reach all students when only meeting with a hundred of them once a week; the problem of knowledge itself - a topic I will shorthand here by referring to Hadot's brilliant consideration of Heraclitus' Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ - often translated (problematically) as 'nature loves to hide'). This consoling thought is that my ability to teach will always be wanting, so my main concern must be to not close doors to the learning of my students. My primary task is therefore to try to foster a love of learning, not quash it. To reward attempts. To acknowledge that a seed planted can suddenly be registered years after it was first planted.

I don't know if I will be able to get some momentum going again with blogging, but I hope I will. I think I might include an aggregated component, which I have benefited from on other blogs (e.g. Siris' evening notes). To this end, I will end this post with a short list of interesting links I have found. But not before sharing a paragraph that has helped me immensely with the fact that I have not had a break or holiday in years. This could be elaborated on but the spirit of it is in this post. I am still processing quite a bit. The spirit of this post is: some things are not up to us; what is up to us is how much cleaning up we are doing of that which is up to us. I've condensed the passage below, though the original is already wonderfully condensed, so that it would fit tidily into the desktop wallpaper I made for myself: 
You don't get weekends off.
Here, there's no such thing as weekend.
Today, I'm putting the pressure on.
I'm on the attack.
I will get beat up, knocked down and drilled.
But I
- Jocko Willink, Discipline Equals Freedom Field Manual
There are many kinds of soldiers, and many kinds of cleaning up. To learn this requires more than one kind of learning. Learning how to learn is not only beneficial, it can also be a matter of survival. I think that this message is also delivered in Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One. Such as where he writes: “I learned that in each of us there burns a flame of independence that must never be allowed to go out. That as long as it exists within us we cannot be destroyed.” To clean up is to find this flame that cultivates our fruitful continued growth.

Links of interest:
Aeon, "Atoms and Flat-Earth Ethics" on objectivity and overcoming commitments
Book Haven, Chris Fleming on the Tyranny of Cool Ideas
"If", Rudyard Kipling
NYR Daily "Orientalism: Then and Now"

Books of interest:
Living Dangerously, Ranulph Fiennes
The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll
(topic) doctrine of signatures
Aristippus of Cyrene
(topic) dialectical behavioural therapy
Organizational Trauma and Healing, Pat Vivian, Shana Hermann

Coyote Waites
All Passion Spent (1986)

Nick Brandt's Inherit the Dust
The Pine Trees screen (松林図 屏風, Shōrin-zu byōbu)
Gongshi decent enough explanation here (included because I put one in the images accompanying this blog post)
Préhistoire : le vertige du temps Entretien avec Rémi Labrusse
Au-dessus de tout  À propos de : Pierre-Henry Frangne, De l’alpinisme, Presses universitaires de Rennes
Prolific the Rapper x A Tribe Called Red - Black Snakes [edited]

Deng Xiaoping's, cross the river by feeling the stones. One stone was Shenzhen. (From one of the many YouTube videos about Shenzhen - I think it was WIRED's.)

Brushes: misprinted type. Gongshi png.