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Notes Towards Day 16 (Thurs, Nov. 1): Catching Up!

Anne Dalke's picture

Michaela will structure our silence
(Owl is up for Tuesday...we've lost our day
@ the labyrinth unless someone wants to
re-schedule that....)

I've responded to all your on-time web events;
was very heartened by the range:
1 on the silence of being queer, 1 on the silence of academia
4 on cross-cultural silences, 5 on family silences, 6 on/or inspired by deafness
I also really enjoyed the range of forms--along w/ 10 essays,
we now have 1 graphic narrative, 1 podcast, 3 videos, and 3 scripts for plays;
so check 'em out, enjoy, comment, respond...
sarina wrote back to me, for instance, and then ishin commented on my comment...
it's fun to have the conversation go on...; erin got a coupla of shout-outs for her webevent...

this weekend, we will also pick up again on our new system of 1/2 of us posting on Sunday @ 5,
(reflecting back over the week, anticipating conversation upcoming...)
with the other 1/2 of us reading/responding to those posts by Monday @ 5. The posters this
week are chandrea, couldntthinkof, Dan, Erin, HSBurke, Hummingbird, ishin, jhunter (of
course there's no prohibition against posting if you aren't assigned to do this....!); the other
1/2 should read these postings, and (if you would like) respond by Monday @ 5 (so I can
figure out how to kick off the class w/ this conversation....)

Everyone also has a SECOND POSTING DUE for the whole 360 early next week. Please review the postings everyone did, on returning from fall break, describing the sort of activism that interests you--and then BY TUESDAY @ 5 PLEASE POST AS A COMMENT HERE a description of your current thinking about our final projects for this class.

How have your own thoughts about your project evolved? Do you see your project as standing alone, or as allied w/ others? What independent actions, and what clusters of activism, can you now see emerging among our proposals?

We will meet in the DVR for supper, 6-7:30 on Wed, Nov. 7th, to discuss and organize further. Before coming to supper, please also read the second round of comments posted here, and arrive ready to share your thoughts towards next steps.

for Tuesday (back now to this class), we will focus on the two chapters of Tillie Olsen's Silences,
which we are unlikely to get to today...
also please read two other very short essays, both about different forms of silencing--
Michelle Balaev's piece on "Trends in Literary Trauma Theory,"
and Jason Stanley's NYTimes article on The Ways of Silencing.

II. As you know, we have multiple videos/readings to catch up on:

Released: 5 Short Videos about Women and Prison;
Mark and Catharine's visit/performance of "Footfalls" last Tuesday;
all the reading/viewing we did about sign language poetry;
Christine's visit on Thursday, and Friday's opening/installation ...
(if there's time, then we'll shift from "cultures of silence" to
"engendering silence," with the help of Tillie Olsen....)

so! multiple sheets, w/ multiple starting points...
get up, see which of these interest you/you'd like to discuss....
and say something to kick-start the conversation...
(part of this is a sorting exercise, so don't comment if you don't have a comment!)

1. RELEASED (only checked out 4x?)
any reflections on the range of formats used,
the visual, oral qualities of the films?
independently or taken as a whole?

"we need treatment centers more than we need prisons….
everyone who has been in prison will need therapy…."

"prison is designed to break a person's spirit, to deprive them of any
degree of autonomy, to make them unfit to live in the world…"

A Gram O' Pussy (activist video feel)
("I was in possession of a  gram of pussy w/ an intent to sell.")
"Incarceration does not rehabilitate…it creates resentment…
"How can I turn myself around?…I am the substructure of a system."

"Sheltered" (video art style)
"Christine never has anywhere to go..."
"what would a sheltered girl from the country have to hide from?"
"What else could be out there? It has to be something better than what we've seen so far..."

"Unyielding Conditioning" (music video)
Angela Davis: "I happen to be an abolitionist."
decriminialization of drugs is the first step
corporations are deeply implicated in the expansion of the prison industry
"you put your life in somebody else's hands...someone else is dictating how your life plays out...
the worse thing is the emotional learn to show no fear... it's hard to be vulnerable"

"Breathe" (animation)
"The inside and outside of prison are not strictly confined."

"Making the Invisible Invincible" (video-diary feel)
the poor women behind prison walls are the most invisible
"prison becomes a place for love"
"stranger babies"

Hummingbird: I found the play ... incredibly silencing and frustrating because I couldn't understand what was happening and what I could take from it...I got angrier and angrier because I felt like I was being shut out...I still don't know what the theme of the play even is....I feel as though I've missed out on something really important...a learning opportunity and that makes me feel like I've wasted time...

Sarah: AGREE AGREE AGREE! I was so frustrated!...don't you need to have some very basic level of understanding to interpret? I didn't get what was happening...I felt extremely shut out...

Danielle: I read it as being about the ghosts that haunt our silences...our voices playing in other people's heads ...May's solitude and her silence are filled with her mother's presence..."ghosts are always talking to us, but we think their voices are our thoughts."

Hummingbird: This definitely helps ease the feeling of lost understanding...I wish we'd gotten some of this analysis before/during the class ... if I'd had this, I would have been able to engage in a more worthwile dialogue about the play...

Sarah: One of my go-to questions with any sort of "Is it accessible?"...I don't like to leave feeling absolutely clueless.  Maybe this is a privileged state of mind: that I should have some ownership over the thoughts or ideas that people present....maybe some performances and presentations aren’t meant to be easily accessible, and you are supposed to just enjoy the ambiguity...

3. Mark Lord on "the different flavors of silence":
"silence doesn't mean that nobody's talking....
talking and saying nothing is intense....
silences are never empty..."
"I like Beckett so much, more than anybody, because he helps to articulate the big
silence we perceive from the universe, when we wish it would speak, and it doesn't...
all other silences are related to this one, some politically, some wistfully..."
"Although Beckett would prefer never to speak, he provides some shape for the big silence
of the universe, by registering the way it echoes, in ways we can share...."

Catherine Slusar: "silence for me is an extremely loud experience...
since she didn't know me as an adult, my dead mother's voice is now filtered through mine"


sdane on black and white vernacular in American Sign Language
John G. Rives, Deaf Jam
Clayton Valli, Hands
Ella Mae Lentz, Eye Music

Bruggeman's essay puts these poems into words and analyzes them;
she describes the "outlaw ontology" of deafness,
sees sign language poetry as emphasizing presence:
participating communally in antielitist, antiauthoritarian, anarchic practice
that is stepped in immanence, simultaneism and impermanence
it uses space, and cannot be disembodied

The "Voice" of "Vision": sign language asks us to consider the poetic tradition from the angle of de-voiced bodies…the distinctiveness of ASL is rooted in …a radical visuality, which sets it apart from any spoken tongue. For deaf people…vision is voice…"I listen with my eyes"....silence here is not the absence of voice but the foregrounded presence of body and image...

when silence signifies a choice, not a questions ascriptions of disability and pathology

[her footnotes apologize for creating written versions of the poems, making them sit, static, on the page...]

what was your experience of watching and hearing her and her work?

she said, "silence is very imposing;
it's not about hearing nothing, but is very energy producing"

she spoke about currency (the value of sound/oral language), ghosts,
and ownership ("I have no access to the files I make; if I am
making sounds I can't hear: do they belong to me?")

she shared some performances, including
Feedback: Now Hiring (building on the concept of the
hired "wailer": balloons commemorating loss), and
Face Opera ("my friends were like my choir")

calling herself "a collaboration whore," she asked also questions
about sound translation/negotiation/collaboration/creating a "global voice"-->
where then does the voice come from?
and she taped us together and asked us to collaborate on writing

Dan: "I am really interested in Christine Kim's work….examining the physicality of sound….
sound does not belong to hearing people. Sound can have a physical form, a body in the world.
It can vibrate. Or mediated through an amplifier, can create shapes – can move a paintbrush…
Sound can have texture."

what do those who attended want to share?

"Silences" (about why women don't write):

Literary history and the present are dark with silences...
These are not natural silences....
hidden silences; work aborted, deferred, denied...
Censorship silences..."the knife of the perfectionist attitude"....
other claims, other responsibilities....
the absence of creativity where it once had been...
the foreground silences, before the achievement....
the silences where the lives never came to writing....
Where the claims of creation cannot be primary, the results are atrophy...
women's silence of centuries....
of the women whose achievements endure...most did not marry or...
have been childless...all had household help....
Where the gifted...have remained is because
of circumstances...which oppose the needs of creation....
women traditionally trained to place others' needs first...
making it possible for others to use their abilities....
it took family deaths to free women writers into their own development...
in intelligent passionate motherhood there is...almost cerain death to creation....
the circumstances for sustained creation have been almost impossible.
The need cannot be first. It can have...only part self, part time....
Work interrupted, deferred, relinquished, makes blockage....
no part-time, part-self persons--have created enduring literature....
"Evil is whatever distracts"....

Silences--Its Varieties:
Censorship Silences
Political Silences
"The knife of the perfectionist attitude in art and life"
"The sacrifice of talent, in pieces, to preserve its essential value"
Absences that are a Kind of Silence
Virulent Destroyers: Premature Silencers
Foreground Silences
Silences Where the Lives Never Come to Writing

How much of the silence Olsen describes is imposed? How much chosen?