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Towards Day 11 (T, 10/7): Playing with "Others"

Anne Dalke's picture

Anne's class has agreed to meet outside once/week
(as long as the weather is fine)--> making class more playful?
more "open" to "contact" with other species?
today we will meet in the Cloisters

I. coursekeeping

this afternoon's talk about mass incarceration, in Carpenter 21 @ 4:30

check in re: your 10-week projects-->
go round and say what you did last week,
and what your plan is for this week;
questions about the process?

for your sixth paper/web event, due Friday: use concepts drawn from the essays theorizing play
(by Henig, Brown, Edensor et. al, and Rose et. al) to re-read a posting by one of your classmates
(either on their childhood experience of play, or on the limits of play).
We'll talk more about this
@ the end of class, and actually do some of that work during classtime on Thursday.

We've done some syllabus juggling (so "refresh" when you go back to it).
Over break, we are asking you to read Ruth Ozeki's novel, All Over Creation.
It's delightful (we hope you'll enjoy it!)--and it's over 400-pp. long. SO READ-READ-READ.
Does everyone have access to it? If you haven't figured out how to get it, speak to me.

II. last Thursday, we worked our way laborously through "playing in industrial ruins"--
reviewing strategies on how to read for main ideas/find the thesis/check on how the authors "back it up"...
feedback on that process? how useful did you find it?
we're going to do the same thing with the reading assigned for today,
"Ravens at Play," by Deborah Bird Rose, Stuart Cooke and Thom Van Dooren.

Count to 3, to break into three sections, to focus on
1) Debbie: En route
2) Stuart: Play at the Coyote's Burden Basket
3) Thom: An Ecology of Play

Come back to report to the rest of us on what each of them says--
when you do so: speak as your author, enacting their tone
(in what style does each one write?)
as you tell us what "you" take from the encounter "you" describe.
(for ex: Debbie--what was your encounter?
what did you take from it?
be sure to tell us this, speaking in "your own" voice...)

Then as a whole group: anything you want to say to each other?

And then, what DO all three of "you," say, together, in the last section, "Death in the Valley"?

III. the next question is what Debbie, Stuart and Thom might have to say about your own postings.
(any initial thoughts...?)

To prepare for answering this question, and to prepare for writing your next paper,
your assigned reading for Thursday's class is ALL the new postings on the limits of play--
AND a review last week's, describing your childhood experiences of play. Come to class
having selected one of these (not your own), that you will be interpreting for your next paper.
Also bring all the readings we've done, so far, on play--and we will work together with these materials.

IV. Turn now to Teju Cole, The White-Savior Industrial Complex. The Atlantic. March 21, 2012.
Go round and share your intial reactions....

So here's another piece of homework for Thursday: think about the relation of this to "Ravens @ Play."
Reading Notes
Deborah Rose, et. al. "Ravens at Play."
--lovely, deep piece on multispecies possibilities for social interaction--
great to use, though located "elsewhere"--
and so maybe exoticizing "nature"? but VERY nice re: play....
corvids and coyotes are not exactly performing trust, but rather are testing possibilities of encounter:
"Perhaps, in the entangled agendas and motivations that come together when species meet,
interactions cannot be organised out into dualised categories that put playing and hunting,
or trust and suspicion, at odds with each other. Life and death, play and predation,
are all possibilities in an emergent field of uncertainties where events and relationships erupt and are actualised....
willing to test the possibilities of contact, but the same time suspicious of where our attention might lead."
"Was the best gift we could offer actually a restraint—that we would withhold ourselves, our food, our play?
We couldn’t play in good faith, because while the game was a transient moment for us, it was a trajectory toward death for him...
Suddenly, in that moment of encounter and address, we were forced to encounter ourselves as members of a species,
other members of which have declared war on coyotes, ravens, tortoises and so many others.
What we might become in the contact zone was thus constrained and our becoming moved toward withdrawal:
diverse possibilities were both opened up and foreclosed by any kind of play we might choose or be able to engage in with others."

Teju Cole writes, in his essay on "the White-Savior Industrial Complex,"
the banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality
this is not about justice; it is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege
"I am a novelist. I traffic in subtleties, and my goal in writing a novel is to
leave the reader not knowing what to think. A good novel shouldn't have a point."
cumulative effect of policed language/enforced civility:
speaking plainly is seen as unduly provocative.
Jason Russell is "tonally similar" to Nicholas Kristof:
"HIs good heart does not always allow him to think constellationally.
He does not connect the dots or see the patterns of power behind the isolated "disasters"...
he sees no need to reason out the need for the need."
more to doing good work than "making a difference":do no harm/consult w/ those being helped
Cole writes from "multiple positions": as an African, American, novelist, story-writer,
resisting the song of Africa as backdrop for white fantasies,
acknowledging the genuine hurt of the continent,
naming its problems as both intricate and intensely local?
American "help" begins with some humility...
respect for the agency of people in their own lives.
If Americans want to care about Africa, maybe they should
consider evaluating American foreign policy...
before they impose themselves on Africa itself....
"American interests"...have a bearing on our notions of our right to "help."...
begin our activism with the money-driven villainy @ the heart of American foreign policy.
If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.