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Notes Towards Day 21: Crossing Some Borders

mlord's picture

I. 11:25-11:35: course-keeping

* here is your $35 back!!

* note re conferences
--none next week (week of Thanksgiving)
though we will have class on Tuesday); the final round of conferences
will take place the two weeks after--come to your last conference
ready to talk about the whole semester's work,
and having selected one essay to re-vision for your portfolio
(= the one you can learn the most from re-doing, playing deeply)

* Re
: Humanities undergraduate conference--Play.Power.Production--
to be held on April 3-4, 2014 --is now seeking proposals for papers from
undergraduates who "apply digital methods to traditional humanities research,
while posing critical humanities questions about those technologies."
* Mary Flanagan (who wrote Critical Play) will be speaking (?!).
Proposals are due on December 1; more info on attachment and Anne'd be happy to talk w/ you
individually about what digital humanities is, and/or what you might propose to do
for the conference--it sure sounds up! our! alley!

* for Thursday, read The Power of Patience; plus the first
20 pp. of Albert Barnes' 1925 book, The Art in Painting

* on Thursday (please don't be late!) we will meet in the Seminar Room in Canaday 205,
to take the time to look--in Barnesian/Deweyian fashion--@ some paintings in Bryn Mawr's
collection of Arts and Artifacts

* for the weekend: has each of you ordered her ticket to the Barnes?

* we are asking you to spend @ least two hours there, including a pleasing "reprise" of your
isolating experience @ Eastern State, by spending @ least 1/2 hour alone with a single painting

* by Sunday @ midnight, your eleventh 3-pp. web-event is due, responding to the painting
you got to know best while @ the Barnes (if an image of the painting is electronically
available, please insert it into your web event)

* we haven't forgotten that you want to spend more time on your papers--
this is the first version of a project you will revise after Thanksgiving break: so you
should fill it w/ as much detail as you can gather now, to be re-worked again later.

II. 11:35-11:50: last week we didn't get to talk about John Dewey's essay
"The Live Creature", so let's take some time to consider this/write:
1) what is "the live creature"?
2) why is he calling our attention to this?
3) what does this have to do with apprehending art?
4) what's it have to do w/ "deep play"?
(remember Ackerman's birds @ play...?)
Go 'round and discuss...

Reading Notes from Dewey's essay:

The world is full of things that are indifferent and even hostile to life....Form is arrived at whenever a stable...equilibrium is reached.....Order cannot but be admirable in a world constantly threatened with disorder (14-15).

There are two sorts of possible worlds in which esthetic experience would not occur. In a world of mere flux, change would not be cumulative; it would not move toward a close. Stability and rest would have no being. Equally is it true, however, that a world that is finished, ended, would have no traits of suspense and crisis, and would offer no opportunity for resolution. Where everything is already complete, there is no fulfillment (17).

Most mortals are conscious that a split often occurs between their present living and their past and future....To the being fully alive, the future is not ominous but a promise....But all too often we exist in apprehensions....we do not enjoy the present beause we subordinate it to that which is absent....Art celebrates with peculiar intensity the moments in which the past reenforces the present and in which the future is a quickening of what now is (18).

The activities of the fox, the dog, and the thrush may at least stand as reminders and symbols of that unity of experience which we so fractionize when work is labor, and thought withdraws us from the world. The live animal is fully present, all there, in all of its heightened signifies active and alert commerce with the world...complete interpenetration of self and the world of objects and events (19).

III. 11:50-12:30--We didn't write papers this weekend on 17 Border Crossings,
let's take some time to conduct a collective reflection on the play:

1) Go around and say:
what stuck with you/ "gave off heat":
where were you captivated? (or if not, why not?)
What seemed to you "live" (in Dewey's terms) about the play?
How full of "flux," how "stable" (again: Dewey's terms) was it?

2) What do our observations have in common?
Where do they differ?
Where shall we now direct our shared inquiry?
What lenses did/might we bring to reflecting on 17 Border Crossings?

3) how many stories do we remember?
(or are they too similar to be separated out?)
What physical borders did Thaddeus Phillips cross?
What not-physical borders (like the eruv) did he delineate?

4) how do "border crossings" relate to the travel/exploration we are doing?
(why did Thaddeus Phillips do all this international travel?
do we know? can we guess what lies behind this
"Visual and Aural Travelogue that Reveals and Considers the True Adventures
in the Crossing of International Frontiers as told by one Thaddeus Phillips"?)

5) what’s it mean to do (a) play in relation to such travel?

where is the "critical play" in representing the crossing of borders
(w/out context, w/out knowing how/why it happened-->
like reading all the opening scenes of Shakespeare's plays?)

6) Was it "a deep play"? Deeply played/playing?
Was Phillips gesturing toward deep play, or ducking it?
the tourist--> the traveling playwright--> the immigrants?
(he portrayed two exceedingly risky events: crossing the Mexico/U.S. border,
and riding the wheel of a 747 from Africa to England)-->
what is their relation to the larger whole?)

8) cf. the article on the Jewish eruv ("ay-roov"), integrating
an idiosyncratic religious practice into center city--a meditation
on the existential relationship between self, time, physicality, and the infinite-->
an “intentional community space” created in order to facilitate
the work of the Sabbath: "cultivating one’s own being in place,
in part by refraining from transformational and make-permanent actions" (!?)

9) Dewey's description of The Live Creature passing through waves of unbalance/out of rhythm and returning to--momentary, provisional--order might be a good way to think about what Thaddeus is up to. Crossing borders is the international community's version of rhythm changes; Thaddeus may be using the out-of-synchness of humans crossing borders to represent our being jostled and buffeted in our citizenship--and to create a theatrical landscape in which this buffeting and out of synchness becomes The New Normal--unlike our fantasy of globalization, a dream of stable and efficient global markets. This is what Dewey describes as inhospitable to life, a world in which form cannot be recognized because flux is all there is.

10) what has emerged for you in this conversation?
your short posting
tomorrow/Wednesday night should report on the current state of
your thinking about 17 Border Crossings, "The Live Creature," and/or Deep Play--
what are you thinking now? write a paragraph describing this

II. 12:30-12:45: so, speaking of "deep play"--
let's read aloud some of what happened with/
you learned from writing your papers on this round:

Abby: I do not believe I will ever be able to experience deep play...
I exist [and am willing to stay] within "The System."

most of the rest of you testified--some of you quite movingly--to the experience of deep play:

Amy: Deep play is too personal to be shared with others.

Jessica: I can't control the exhileration and happiness I get...on the dancefloor...

Marcia: there is no visible or inherent risk with looking at artifacts, but I was out of myself,
totally absorbed in the moment, liberated from the rest of the world.

Tessa: dreams can be interepreted as a subconscious having a romp around its keeper's mind. Deep play so deep, we can no longer boast control....I find myself becoming a more chaotic and intriguing version of myself.

...and many you were able to link this experience/take the risk of applying it to education/
the classroom/analytical/critical writing
(though none of you really developed that possibility...)

Claire: Transcription of deeper meaning is so would lead to nothing but opinion, my intelligence, my hopes, my dreams, my memories...come back torn to little pieces....

Marcia: deep play in critical writing...all depends on the reader. The reader must be interested and have an open mind...

I think if I add more about what I thought, about the deep play in my mine or even mood, instead of just telling a story, it would have an idea.

Agatha: Let me hear you say what you already know, but use a different voice so you can hear yourself do the talking.

deep play is where people concentrate themselves into something....Critical writing is a form of deep play. It involves intellectual risk-taking....My high school Chinese teachher used to tell us: Writing is to resist time...It was a deep play when I look back to my mind and try to seize something out of my experience....the things I am interested in can enable me to concentrate...things I am familiar with can drive me to think deeper and harder.... In critical writing, I can hardly feel the deep play beecause I have to write with another lens...I have to imagine I'm the one with all the knowlege which I originally lack...

silence is everywhere, and there is no one else in my eyes. Friday night, the wonderful night, because others take part in parties...the library seems so spacious for spirit is concentrated in those codes....I do not care how much time I will spend in this work, and how difficult the work is....Those codes are regular, beautiful, and creative...when I am writing codes, I experience the deep play.

Frindle: If deep play contains a spirit, a hint of danger, and an unlikely place, then deep play in critical writing contains these aspects as well....By writing an essay, one is opening oneself up to danger...we have been taught in this class to look for the "crack," the "break" in our essays that really makes something of it. It is to that unlikely place we should go. If I were to change an essay using deep play, I'd have to rewrite the whole thing. It is only after I wrote my essays that I found the break in them.

tomahawk: Play involves both free will and danger. Deep is a consequence of play; it is a sense of greater understanding....Deep play is...characterized by free will, danger, concentration, and greater understanding....
what I need to do is adjust my perspective. I need to view each of these essays as a risk-taking endeavor...view my writing as a place to experiment....

nightowl: when I write a paper the majority of it feels like critical play because I'm trying to be all smart with the structure and ideas, but...every so often there is a second of deep play, like when I finally make decision on a conclusion or idea...this moment of clarity...I wonder if deep play is a kind of celebration of change. It is supposed to involve a risk...there could be deep play in changing your opinions, making art, or performing something that you didn't think you could do.

...many things could trigger deep play. They seem to usually have a connection with testing oneself...Posing a question, especially one I do not know the answer to could have expanded my first essay. Asking questions while writing expands into the unknown instead of staying with things that already assumed for fact. Questioning brings in the aspect of testing in deep play, which facilitates learning. In this class I have been taught to notice how answering one question, triggers another question. The sanctuary of space in writing where I can ask questions functions as the playground for deep play, which in turn invites the potential for deep play to happen.

everglade: I consider my experience in an American liberal arts college as deep play...this class allows me to express myself and someone actually reads it and takes it seriously...thoughts burst out into clumsy, naive, illogical, underdveloped words...the moment that I'm finally able to articualte an idea of myself...I'm overwhelmed by ecstasy---a very nerdy kind, but still, ecstasy....I feel confirm my former 18 years as valuable, and I'm hopeful for the remaining 60 years....A lot of thinking is full of risk and uncertainty...these processes are very uncomfortable and focusing on my life. But putting all these togehter, I've had an unexpected deep play.


these things CAN/MUST find their place in your critical writing
(if school is going to connect to Anything of Actual Value...)

Rehumanities call for proposals copy.pdf444.45 KB