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Breaking Esem 2012: Reflection

Van Le

Emily Balch Seminar: Creative Breaking

Professor Lesnick

17 December, 2012

Breaking Esem 2012: Reflection


What to take note/Possibilities for a memory:

Reproducing a classroom on a paper requires agile maneuver of both eyes and ears. What should you follow as the classroom explodes and diverges? Gathering words and silence, shallow and resonant truths into layers of text, the classroom abounds in directions to pursue for further personal quests, and lksounds to hum along after class and echo in your head. What remains of a class? Where were you and everyone else?  Roam wildly and you may pump into averted eyes, walls of silence, or tiny, broken sounds that are not picked up. Dive deeper and you may plumb the depth of what is (not) being said. As the sounds flow with the vigor of a river the silent thoughts murmur beneath. As the people talk on a few stay stranded somewhere in the middle of ideas surging forward. There is clinging and perpetration of a moment. Your mind may decide to walk off track and break away from the turbulent question popped up somewhere in the talk. You may then decide to resurface and merge in the ambience of sounds. To submerge and emerge, to break away from and then melt back into the community, to answer partially and leave your question in an emergent state, is the poetic freedom that you have to conduct your consciousness in a classroom.

Below are the roads I have walked on, abandoned, and sometimes went back to during the course.

Complete your thoughts/ Be prose:

Towards an ending:

I have the same problem with all of my classes in this new country: I don’t understand the point of it.

What I define as knowledge is a whole and detailed argument. I would picture it as a book - a text carefully prepared and contextualized, a written and thought-out speech now released in spoken words. Sages walk down the hall and issue a sentence. The student jot it down and let it stay. He does not argue back immediately. The words, carrying the weight of the past, crystalizing years of researching and contemplation, take their time to resonate within the student. It filters and distils the surfeit of things bombarding us to a durable stillness – something to hold onto, like a theory.

Every word gathers layers of emotional history as it circulates through the memories of talks in the past. Each is a cluster of remnants of the fullness that used to be there – the full speech, or the full talk. Each opens up a path towards a morning, a walk in the garden, a talk with our mother. Each works as a trigger for an unconscious flashback. That is why the feeling of time is the sense of deep resonance, a journey back to a ruined, erased yet intense bodily experience through a small linguistic trace. The further the truth resounds, the more profound it becomes.

A concentration of time also concretizes into eloquence. Eloquent people are charming and, whether they want it or not, also powerful, in the classroom and elsewhere. They often strike me as full – full of words, experience and meaning.  They give out a sense of completion and achievement, of knowing where they have been. They possess the past.

I often turn my head away from incoherent or broken speech. I simply do not know how to face them. I do not know if they know what they are saying.

A dialogue explodes in all directions and carries us away from the truth. Speaking spontaneously grasps words that are within reach instead of those that are more reflective of the depth of your being and ethinking. Rather than approaching the truth, we divert from it. Everything’s simply tumbling from the top of the mind – a shallow resonance of some borrowed phrases heard or read but perhaps not lived.  I cannot help but wonder from what depths of their beings the words surface as the students go on speaking about breaking and transforming like a daily business, or a scientific requirement for progress. In this eruptions of abundant sentences I saw corpses of words, empty of embodiment, floating the deep water around me. I cannot cling to what they say.

I think that’s why I did not take any note. I was not able to embrace texts created in such an expedient manner, texts that keep expanding in all directions, texts that fail to resolve itself. I keep searching for a good conclusion, a sense of an ending, a sign of closure, an intuition to complete what has begun. There is no steadfast pursuit and thus no conclusions reached. I only saw questions mushrooming simultaneously and answered inadequately- a graveyard of abandoned projects.

I also did not speak in class in the end.

Let it be/Be Poetry

Towards an opening:

Facing the emptiness of my experience in the course – the lack of notes taken and ideas spoken, my absence of connections within the classroom, I realize, within hindsight, that there should have been another way to approach the dialogues generated and celebrated by this small community.

When I was in high school I used to make a vow not to write or say something unless it was the truth, “the right answer”. I do not want to tarnish the paper or burden the people around with insignificant and shallow words. It is understandably inevitable that I say and write very little until now, taking the time to weigh the gravity of everything. I need to make sure that I understand it deeply, that I have gone over it again and again until it’s a déjà vu, a place where I have returned to many times, a place I really “know”. I want to drive the truth home, so that talking about it is almost like coming home, like an ending of a journey.

I have never noticed how it began because I wanted to forget the poverty of words I can generate in face of a question – the utter emptiness, or shallowness of my being that yields no answers, the fact that I have never thought about that. In the text that is co-creating by many and carried away, I found the sound too dispersed, the truth too thin. I found everyone at the beginning of a word that is not filled with meaning.

This is where little time has accumulated, and there we found little eloquence, resonance, or authority. The texts that weave out the core of the course are not enclosed with lengthy bibliography, or congealed from years of academic research. Most of the authors did not talk from their arena of expertise, reporting from the “center” of their life-work commitment, where they must have been for years. They were there, practicing unrehearsed, unresolved, incomplete thoughts that gather on the margins, somewhere in the night before going to sleep. I heard Alice talk about her mother and Rob returning to his story after “a long time leaving”. It must be hard to tell them, and the stories break their way to the surface (of both private and public consciousness) without giving a sense of an ending.

This course is about the beginning of everything, about what is small and vulnerable within us – our emptiness, our lack of words - that needs to be tightly embraced with gentleness when it reaches out. Those tiny fragments of words, phrases and stories are intuitions for truth, points to return to and tame until they are home for our (and others’) consciousness and not some small, dark, frightening corners that we sometimes glimpse in the night.

To build homes for ourselves and invite people in is the goal of articulation. It takes time, hard work, and most important of all, an unwavering faith that there is going to be a home. So we must start somewhere: the emergent, unrehearsed wor(l)ds understood in half and the other always let loose, open to promises of meanings, to be filled by time, space and other people. Call it our poetry, and let it be heard, remembered and kept for further returning.



Breaking Project Author/Creator: 
Van Le