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Towards Day 15 (Wed, Mar. 19): Reading Economically, Educationally....

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Coursekeeping
360° dinner, 6:30-8:00 tonight in the London Room
(pick yours up in Haffner and bring with...)

preview Wissahickon Valley Park before our trip on Friday, 10-2:
focus especially on the history, the geology, the dams and statues, and the bridges
* drivers/lunches, etc?
* weather generally sunny, temp @ noon 45 degrees
* How are we all for 1? (and/or 1 3/4? hour stroll?
(should we park car 1/2-way for emergency get-away...?)
* By 5 p.m. on Sunday night: post on-line one paragraph about your experience
(placeholder/some field notes, which we'll get back to the week after....)

come to class on Monday ready to share your creative project in our "gallery"
(do we want to move location so it's more "gallery"-like?
Bryn offered to find us another room, though the lecture hall isn't free...)
will anyone need projection capacities?

come to class on Wednesday ready to speak briefly (no more than 5 minutes)
about your eco-artist; Sophia has created a google doc where you should
put up your images ahead of time, so we have a single, easily manipulatable
source for projecting them all, aren't wasting time w/ various devices....

further questions about any of this....?

Agatha's quote: "In spite of the cost of living, it's still popular.”
is not from Kathy Morris, but from Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
a meditation on the links between geography and spirituality, which says
(for instance): “Many people are just waking to the reality that unlimited expansion,
what we call progress, is not possible in this world, and maybe looking to monks
(who seek to live within limitations) as well as rural Dakotans (whose limitations
are forced upon them by isolation and a harsh climate) can teach us how to live
more realistically." [or: context is everything! extractors should be held accountable?!]

II. Welcome back to aphorisnt, Jo, Simona
on Monday, we talked about what a good/powerful eco-story might look like:
how to construct a tale in which "everything is connected"?
how to highlight the power/poignancy of the local, while
challenging conventional assumptions about border and scale?
how to tell a good story, once you see how ecologically/
economically/culturally interconnected the world is?

we imagined creating films of All Over Creation that could do this
(remind you that when you miss a class, I expect you to read my on-line notes,
and participate in the conversation by doing an extra posting
about "what you might have said," had you been here...)
we thought we might "trick" our viewers--hook them in w/ humancentric stories...
and then begin to show them the larger ramifications and connections...

Our focus on Monday was on filmic/literary techniques, used to highlight the central question:
how to tell ecologically "true" stories, if they are all so complex/interrelated?
Is the Wolf a Real American Hero? (NYTimes Opinion Pages, 3/9/14):
Famous/classic example of a "trophic cascade"--the reintroduction of wolves in the mid-1990s
returned the Yellowstone ecosystem to health by limiting the grazing of elk--is not true.
Elk are tougher, and Yellowstone more complex, than we gave them credit for...
the decades without wolves changed Yellowstone too much to undo....
Amid this clutter of ecology, there is not a clear link
from wolves to plants, songbirds and beavers.

Talking w/ Sara afterwards, it came clear to me that "creating a clear link" is what
narratives do; maybe the eco-art form can't be a narrative, has to be something more
diffuse/diverse....? poetic? associative? NOT narrative?

III. Today, I want us to continue working this same question,
from the other end of the stick--two disciplines that simplify,
because each has a clear orientation:
the first to scarcity/limitation, the second to capaciousness/possibility.
What dimensions of All Over Creation would an economist highlight, if he were making the movie?
What dimensions would an educator bring to the fore?
What would be neglected/left out by each of these perspectives?

Education [and its presumptions of capaciousness/possibility?]--> 
focus on human flourishing?
(Lisa on the function of Frankie's "cluelessness"-->
capacity for learning/"saving the world"?!)

Economics [and its presumptions of scarcity?]-->

p. 172: Adjunct teachers are the professorial equivalent of the migrant Mexican farm laborers hired during harvest. If you can score a good contract at the same farm every year, where the farmer pays on time and
doesn't cheat or abuse you, then it's in your best interest to show up consistently from year to year....The nontenured faculty form a downtrodden, transient underclass, inferior in everyway to the landed professorial gentry.
p. 221: "but most farmers settled. Guys around here operate on pretty tight margins. Can't afford to go up
against a corporation...and they're not worth suing, not for damages anyway--they're so far in debt a
court case would bankrupt them. The idea is to slap 'em back down but keep 'em in business. It's just maintenance."
p. 270: The fact was, some things had to die so that others could live, and the idea was to try to
maximize your chances of staying on the living side for as long as you could.
p. 327: "Love is not free, Elliot. It costs. And you're just a fucking stingy bastard who's too cheap to pay."

Write for 5 minutes: what does an economist value? what does he look @?
How would you describe (or chart?) the plot, in terms of cost-benefit analysis, marginal utility, etc??
What economic issues does the novel highlight? Can you highlight in the novel?
Same questions for an educator....

The Rise of Anti-Capitalism, by Jeremy Rifkin (educated, teaches @ Wharton;
author of 19 books on the impact of scientific  and technological changes on the economy,
incl. The Third Industrial Revolution--a vision of a sustainable, post carbon economic era;
“The Zero Marginal Cost Society”: collaborative rather than capitalistic approach--
people are using social media sites, redistribution networks, rentals and cooperatives
to share not only cars but also homes, clothes, tools, toys and other items at low or
near zero marginal cost….We are…entering a world partly beyond markets, where
we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent,
collaborative, global commons.

Then: relation/negotation between economics and education...and literary study?
"I think that for fiction writers, there is this latitude that is special - you don't have to follow any narrow line of thought.
You don't have to prove something that is already often obvious. The presentation in fiction is very free, and you can
play with or examine different ideas that you might not be able to if you have to focus or narrow your investigation"
(Karen Tei Yamashita, The Latitude of a Fiction Writer: A Dialogue).

Cf. all these forms of representation with Dorceta's sociology talk:
what's foregrounded/what left in the background in these
different depictions/genres of environmental injustice?

Think about a time when you
1) changed your mind/"had" your mind changed
2) took action--what motivated/prompted you?
--i.e.: what works to move us?

IV. (by 3:40)
Break up into small groups to discuss your papers on "porosity"--

these were nicely anchored in our texts (for which thanks!)
where do you see yourselves intersecting/contradicting/expanding
on each others’ ideas…?  What surprised you in your classmates’ work?
Do you have ideas/suggestions about where they might go next?
How they might grow these ideas, in a paper about All Over Creation, for instance?
Simona, Lisa
Kelsey, aphorisnt, smilewithsh,
Jo, Agatha, Sophia
Sara, Jessica, Jenna