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Notes Towards Day 5 (Tuesday, 9/17): "Walking the road on foot"

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Coursekeeping
Introductions: look around: whose name don't you know? (ask and be educated)
Let's see how far we can get, going around, naming...

Our reading for Thursday
will prepare us for our next trip, this coming weekend:
it's the opening section of a book by Terry Tempest Williams, about making mosaics,
Finding Beauty in a Broken World; you can find it in our password protected file
(which is linked to from the top of our homepage). You should also explore another site
on Serendip Studio, called The Breaking Project (this is the primary text of another ESem;
it will also invite you to think about why you might want to "break" things, or
relationships, or ideas, and then put them back together....); you might want to
check out one essay, Breaking Glass, in particular...but go exploring a bit @
what else "surrounds" us on the "digital eco-system" that is Serendip...

By 5 p.m. tomorrow, make things out of the rendered/broken/ fragmented text (shades of Quiet Volume) and post them on line.

Examples: a range of possibilities....
1. render it. print the rendered pieces out. chop it up. piece it together. photograph.
2. create a new rendering system. draw those words. assemble them.
3. Copy out a paragraph (as for today). rearrange the words.
4. NOTE: in your collaging of words, you can use words to make sensible sentences OR non-sensible sentences OR you can use the images of words to help you make either a representation of something OR an abstraction.
5. Copy out a paragraph. Rearrange the words into another paragraph. Use video to show how the words of paragraph 1 can be arranged to make paragraph 2.
6. Wordle. (hmmm....maybe not the best way to go??)
7. You can use color, size, texture, collision strategies...shape...all kinds of variables to MAKE your piece.

By midnight, look at ALL the examples and respond to one of them (not your own!) with a simple sentence beginning "A MOSAIC IS... "--a provisional definition based on the inspiration of specific pieces, reading the work of your classmates and describing mosaic based on/inspired by what you have looked at.
This is all preparation for our next jaunt into Philadelphia, next weekend,
to see the mosaics of Isaiah Zagar, @ The Magic Gardens on South Street, and on the streets surrounding...

We will take this trip on the Paoli-Thorndale local, as last week;
we want you to self-organize into groups of four who want-and-can travel together
this weekend (we'll ask for a list of those groups on Thursday; you can of course
--are encouraged to--mix-and-match yourself w/ students in Mark's group);
figure out not only who you will go with but WHEN YOU WILL GO:
The garden is open 11 A.M.-8 P.M. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday;
we expect you to spend at least an hour in the garden, and at least another hour
on the surrounding streets, using a map to find @ least six more of Isaiah's neighborhood murals.

We will give you round-trip tickets on the Paoli-Thorndale line, as last week,
directions on how to walk to the gardens,
[Mark is working on how we'll handle the $5 admission...stay tuned!]
and a map of the mosaics in the neighborhood.
If some of you would feel more comfortable going with Mark or me,
we can be available to take a group on Friday and/or on Sunday afternoon--
we'll need to know that when you give us your groups on Thursday.

[Traveling instructions: you will take the train past 30th Street, past Suburban Station
to the next stop, Market East; rather than walking north, as we did on Saturday,
you will head south: follow the signs out of the station to 10th and Market;
walk across Market, Chestnut, Walnut, Locust, Spruce,
(Anne’s street, Clinton), Pine and Lombard, to South.
Look to your right and you’ll see The Magic Gardens, @ 1020 South Street.

II. did anyone hear Susan Hagen talk @ HC on Monday about her sculptures of "Citizens (People of Philly)"?

So: let's talk about the trip we just took, as a group
how did you get from here to there, from suburbia into the city?
what happened to the landscape? why did it change?
what surprised you, about exploring the city w/ your classmates?
Were you "taking play seriously"?
What happened to you during Quiet Volume?
(Kate? Ziyan?)

What were you silent about?

Reading others' essays, what did they remain silent about?
What did we not describe? (Or: what were the "cracks" in our essays?)
What was the "strategy of play" that you used while writing?
How did you organize your essay? (What was the grid?)
How did you deviate from that organization (how did you "play" with it)?

III. I had asked you all to copy out one paragraph from the essays written by the others in your writing cluster, and sent you a paragraph by Walter Benjamin, explaining why. Let me read it to you:

"The power of a country road is different when one is walking along it from when one is flying over it by airplane. In the same way, the power of a text is different when it is read from when it is copied out. The airplane passenger sees only how the road pushes through the landscape, how it unfolds according to the same laws as the terrain surrounding it. Only he who walks the road on foot learns of the power it commands, and of how, from the very scenery that for the flier is only the unfurled plain, it calls forth distances, belvederes, clearings, prospects at each of its turns like a commander deploying soldiers at a front. Only the copied text thus commands the soul of him who is occupied with it, whereas the mere reader never discovers the new aspects of his inner self that are opened by the text, that road cut through the interior jungle forever closing behind it: because the reader follows the movement of his mind in the free flight of daydreaming, whereas the copier submits it to command. The Chinese practice of copying books was thus an incomparable guarantee of literary culture, and the transcipt a key to China's enigmas (Walter Benjamin, "One-Way Street," Reflections, p. 66).

Get into small writing groups. Read to one another the paragraphs you have written out. Think of this as giving one another the "gift" of a paragraph that each of us has authored. Take some time to do this deliberately--and then discuss what came up for you in the writing-out and the reading-to....What happened when you did this?

IV. Re-gather, to share what we are learning about composing-and-reading essays in community...