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bolshin's picture

Comments on Our Initial Meeting

This seems like a good group -- and I mean that seriously, as I've worked in a lot of groups, some good, some quite difficult!
A few thoughts: First, what seems new is that we are not a typical group in that we don’t have a particular assignment or mission. We don’t really have roles, and each person seemed to also want to avoid even “roles of expertise”. So, we are in new territory, ministers without portfolios. Which I like. What seems particularly important to me is that while we might not want to adopt a “deconstructionist” approach, we take apart things every time we seem to be going down a time-worn road. For example, we might avoid things like “we have to agree on”, or “let’s decide”, etc. Let’s see what kind of “non-processes” our interactions lead to...

I say this because my head is often heavily into politics, even as I hate the political scene. Here, I think politics is a useful (negative) model, in that most political parties, especially the ones claiming to be different, or agents of change, follow the same tired methodologies, and even use the same language, as the other parties. So, same for groups. We've got to change the very processes and language that we use, our way of thinking and interacting.

That being so, I would never prescribe to the group what we should do. However, I'd like to re-iterate an example that I brought up in the initial meeting -- I had mentioned that this past spring I was given a graduate course to teach entitled "Landscape". I was told to teach it with an emphasis on texts and readings. Absurd. I quickly dumped that idea, and ended up having the students go outside most classes, explore, take photos, build things, and so on.

Perhaps we could also think beyond talk and text for some of our interactions? Build things? Explore?
I also say this because I've spent a lot of time recently doing research on non-literate and pre-literate modes of information transmission through the ages.
As to the interesting comments already posted by other members of our group:
I like how Hank put his query: "the reasons we study what we do and the implications and ramifications of these yearnings or proddings" -- a good mystery there, and one that would be interesting to explore further...
I also agree with Bharath: "it would be helpful to discover, rather than simply lay down as a rule from a presumed privileged perspective, how we can best engage with each other..."

Alice's comment is also key, I believe: "a sense of enough time, absence of hurry" -- this whole time issue is something of great interest (at least to me!!!)

Anne wrote about: "our searching for conversations where the outcome is not “predictable” (as it so often is in departmental or disciplinary conversations)..." This is also an important point: I am interested, too, in why it is that in departmental and disciplinary conversations -- and in political ones, even personal/romantic ones (!) -- this is the case. I think that this "predictable" nature of conversations has something to do with modernity; take a look at the essay "Industrial Society and its Future"...
See you all soon...


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