Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Towards Day 19 (Wed, Nov. 14): Scrambling

Anne Dalke's picture

I. Our Blind Field Shuttle with Carmen Papalia has been cancelled

II. Our alternative plan:
1) we'll meet in the classroom @ 1:10

2) talk about the weather (part of our evolving agenda--when you pick the site of our meeting);
rachelr for Monday, when we will continue discussing An Unspoken Hunger (& I'll start by asking you what that hunger is....)

prediction: 46 degrees, 11 mph winds, 0% chance of precipitation, clear

3) make some shared decisions

a) what to do about class on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving-->
meet in person--hira, smacholdt, graham, SarahShaw
online extension of Mon discussion--rachelr
compromise (cut class short, form a collective collage version of class for those not attending)--ekthorp
threaded discussions, based on interest/timing--etong
(5 other views....?)

b) whether/when/how to manage another class-wide (or individual?) field trip(s)-->
visit a body of water/get beyond our boundaries--mturer
Phila Water Works--graham, smacholdt, ekthorp (to learn about industrialization/treatment of Delaware watershed)
Tinicum wildlife refuge--hira, srucara (diversity of wildlife; gov't protection)
want to build a relationship w/ water (not hear someone talk about it), but it's too cold/not safe--froggies315, SarahShaw
explore all these sites separately/send delagates to each and have them report back to the group--etong
(3 other views....?)

Public Transportation to Tinicum: SEPTA's Regional Rail Line has a stop at the Eastwick Station. This is several blocks southeast of the Refuge's Main Entrance at 86th St. and Lindbergh Blvd. (two stops up from Amtrack 30th street station on R1 yellow line towards airport).

To Waterworks: take R5 to suburban station, walk 1/2 hour to Art Museum

c) final project/collaborative presentations to the campus? (SarahShaw)

current schedule for 3 weeks following Thanksgiving-->
Sun, 11/25: 9-pp. web event due re: "ecocultural complexity"
Mon, 11/26: Aldo Leopold
Wed, 11/28: Timothy Morton
Mon-Wed, 12/3-5: J.M. Coetzee's novel
Mon, 12/10: ?
Wed, 12/12: teach-in!
Fri, 12/20: Final web event due

III. from Carmen Papalia's essay Caning in the City:
Michel De Certeau (French Jesuit scholar in history, psychoanalysis, philosophy, social science, who wrote "Walking in the City," cf'ing government "strategies" that produce maps of the whole, with individual "tactics" for negotiating it) : Looking down…one becomes a voyeur, and is able to see the city as a system….from this distance the city becomes a text, readable, and such a view is impossible through the act of walking….On street-level walkers become blind to the forces that govern a city ie: social, political, economic, structural….

Cf. Carmen Papalia: the view from the summit is useless, flawed, and the blind become some of the only walkers who do not "lack" a place as they walk it, but write a place as they read it…..the journey is not as important as the moments that it is built from. These "jumps" of place and subject provide "flashes" of vision, individual sketches

[trip into Knighton's poem, "Charles Street, Pandemonium"]

Certeau paints pedestrians as mindless drones, unaware of the forces that govern their travel. However as an individual with partial vision, i am lead to believe otherwise. For me, the view from above provides only a fragmented and skewed image of the city as a whole, and I am unable to, like Certeau, focus and critique. It is only through caning the city that I receive information about my surroundings. My constant contact with the street through the scraping of my cane provides me with a direct, uninfluenced connection to visual information. In order to navigate through a crowd or busy sidewalk, I must be aware of patterns and structures, the characteristics of fellow walkers. It is only through street travel that the "visually independant" are able to read a city.

From Alone on the Friendship Bench:
I wonder about this notion of knowing things directly. Am thinking here of Walker Percy's piece on "The Loss of the Creature" (which I teach frequently), and which argues that the "preformed symbolic complex" of a category, an abstraction, a preconception, prevents us from perception. If you see a postcard of the Grand Canyon, before traveling to the Grand Canyon yourself, Percy says, you will only compare your looking to what you saw before, measure it against what you expected to see, rather than seeing it directly. Or if you want, afterwards, to have your experience certified by an expert (someone who knows about Mexican tribal culture, after your visit there; or a prof reading a paper about ecological education, after you have written it), then you will have sacrificed your own sovereign knowing:

I wish to propose the following educational irregular intervals, poetry students should find dogfishes on their desk and biology students should find Shakespeare sonnets on their dissecting board....we notice two traits [in this situation:] (1) an openness of the thing before one--instead of being an exercise to be learned according to an approved mode, it is a garden of delights which comes to one; (2) a sovereignty of the knower--instead of being a consumer of a prepared experience, I am a sovereign wayfarer, a wanderer in the neighborhood of being who stumbles into the garden.

But, I wonder: Is our knowing sovereign? Should it be, rather than shaped by what others have seen? Can it be, really? Do we ever see anything directly? Isn't all perception mediated….by what we have seen before? If your first encounter with a sonnet isn't framed by your English prof, if your first encounter w/ a dogfish isn't in a lab, guided by instructions on dissection from your bio prof--what does guide your seeing?

Cf. on-line thinking about boundaries:
Srucara: Earlier this semester…I came to the conclusion that physical, "man-made" boundaries do little to separate "bryn mawr" from the rest of the world. Our world is not entirely physical - it is also energetic, interconnected, cyclic, and continually transforming. This idea …is further expanded upon by both Waring and Laduke…Waring writes in Counting for Nothing, "One of the things that nature could demonstrate was that it didn't know anything about nation-state boundaries...When the ocean was demarcated into 200-mile economic zones and fishing quotas, did cod carry passports to indicate that they belonged to North America or Scandinavia?"...Laduke states in Honor the Earth…"in the big picture of things, it is natural law in the end."
We can no longer afford to negatively separate ourselves if we would like to help improve the state of the Earth. It's time to shift to a new level of consciousness, and begin working on a larger holistic level if we should begin solving the issue at hand. 

froggies315:  Boundaries are interesting….Boundaries are what keep us safe.  I think boundaries are important and inevitable in the grander scheme of things too.  What is a world without boundaries?  Where do I find my “right to determine what my destiny is” without boundaries?  Who am I without boundaries?  …and often I find them infuriatingly limiting.  
…What obstructs my ability to think differently is crisis.  Crisis is paralyzing fear about the future.  The motif which unites nearly all of the ecological imaginings we’ve read this semester is crisis.  This rhetoric creates proselytizers….These interactions certainly give me something to think about; they do not change me.  

I think that representations of a world in crisis are precisely what have created all of our very real quagmires.  Crisis begs me to become something that I am not.  I hate this….I am human being.  I think, worry, plan, read, cook, judge, wonder, sing, and love.  The world does not need me to save it.  What I need for myself is to be humble and grateful. 

IV. from Terry Tempest Williams' An Unspoken Hunger,
"Water Songs," pp. 39-48:
"The idea of finding anything natural in the built environment...seemed unnatural" (p. 41).
"Our wetlands are becoming urban wastelands" (p. 43).
"Lee Milner's...stalwartness...offers wetlands their only hope...she was showing us the implacable focus of those who dwell here. This is our first clue to residency" (p. 44).
"I kept thinking about Lee, who responds to Pelham Bay Park as a lover, who rejects this open space as a wicked edge for undesirables, a dumping ground for toxins or occasional bodies. Pelham Bay is her home...a sanctuary she holds inside her unguarded heart...the water songs of the red-winged blackbirds...keep her attentive in a city that has little memory of wildness" (48).

"Winter Solstice," pp. 61-65:
D.H. Lawrence writes, "In every living thing there is a desire for love, for the relationship of unison with the rest of things." I think cautious I have become with love. It is a vulnerable enterprise to feel deeply....If I choose not to become heart cannot be broken because I never risked giving it away. But what kind of impoverishment is this to withhold emotion, to restrain our passionate nature in the face of a generous life...? A mind...who reins in the heart...can only expect more isolation and greater ecological disease. Our lack of intimacy with each other is in direct proportion to our lack of intimacy with the land....Audre Lorde tells us, "We have been raised to fear...our deepest cravings"....Wildlands' and wildlives' oppression lies in our desire to control and our desire to control has robbed us of feeling (pp. 63-5).

V. End w/ a "blind field shuttle"??