Questions, Intuitions, Revisions:
Telling and Re-Telling Stories About Ourselves in the World
A College Seminar Course at Bryn Mawr College

Forum 1 - Stories From/Of A Picture

Name:  Anne Dalke
Subject:  Welcome!
Date:  2002-08-31 13:09:26
Message Id:  2462
Welcome to the course forum area for "Questions, Intuitions, Revisions: Telling and Re-telling Stories About Ourselves in the World"; we are very glad you are here. This is a place for continuing (or sometimes jump-starting!) the conversations we'll be having in our class sessions: not in "formal" writing, but as a form of "thinking out loud" so others can learn from your thoughts in progress, and you from theirs. Paul, Hayley and I are looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say, learning from all of it, and hope that you are too.

This is also a place where people beyond our classroom can listen in, and perhaps find our conversations useful in their own explorations of the world.

Let's start in thinking together by telling one another what we saw when we looked at the image on the front of our course packet. What were your first thoughts about it? Try making up, or sketching, a story about the image.


Name:  Paul Grobstein
Subject:  More welcome ...
Date:  2002-09-01 10:31:15
Message Id:  2464
Looking forward to seeing what we can make this semester, hope you too.

As Anne says, this is a sort of "half-way" place, a place to "think out loud". So don't worry about getting it "right". Writing here is part of a process of you finding out what you're thinking, so you can go on to other, maybe different thinking. And part of a process of helping others/learning from others at the same time. Enjoy.

Name:  Victoria Thoman
Subject:  book cover description assignment
Date:  2002-09-02 17:00:59
Message Id:  2465
This is the assignment that we were asked to do in the first day of our CSem, in which we were told to describe or tell a story about the front cover of our course book. I hope I'm posting this in the right place! I wrote about my experiences in doing this assignment.

I walked into my first college seminar today, and ten minutes into the class, we were given an assignment. Not only did we have an assignment, but it involved creative writing, the bane of my existence.
"Write about the cover of your course book. You have ten minutes."
Immediately, my mind went blank. All I could see was a box on top of some kind of a stand, a few random puzzle peices floating around, and a multicolored, almost tie-dyed sphere. At least there was some writing on the stand.
"Understanding is ??????"
"Hmmm, not much help." Already these meager observations had wasted a few precious moments of my quickly vanishing ten minutes. All I could think of was that this class had better not be entirely based on my creative writing skills or else I had just walked into a serious stressful class.
"I guess I should start thinking." This thought, of course, came five minutes into the elapsed time period and was completely useless.
Maybe the box and the cryptic writing contained some hidden meaning about my coming experiences at Bryn Mawr.
"Yeah, like the fact that they're totally unintelligible," I thought to myself, "oh well, time's up; looks like it's all still a puzzle to me!"

Victoria Thoman, Section 16

Name:  Kristen Coveleskie
Subject:  CSEM story about the picture
Date:  2002-09-02 18:32:24
Message Id:  2466
The pieces to the puzzle of life can come from many places. They can be many colors and when mixed together form a beautiful mosaic. The ball of knowledge is indeed complex and colorful. When we take information from the pole of understanding, we question what this understanding really is. How sturdy can this pole be if it is supported by the unknown? Still we take all we can from the world and add it to our own sphere. It is never complete and grows more colorful with every new piece.
Name:  Xuan-Shi, Lim
Subject:  "Cover" Story
Date:  2002-09-02 18:38:11
Message Id:  2467
I see the cube to be a symbol for my mind. There are many sides to reality, as there are multiple sides to a cube. Each side of the cube represents a window of perception. Sometimes when I am sad, I look out into the world through the blue window. When I'm happy, I like to stand by the red window. The globe represents the world which constantly feeds information into my mind. My resulting reactions, emotions, and thoughts sometimes overwhelm me as strongly as the jugglesaw pieces are being hurled towards the cube. It is only human to want to have something definite to hang on to, for the sense of security, or safety. So, I have my favourite window. When I look through that side of the cube, everything falls into place. Things and people are categorised neatly into groups. I stereotyped people, or stick to old patterns of thinking. Everything outside of my window is familiar. I stand on any one side and feel the world tinting. Sometimes, I like it this way. Sometimes, it bothers me. My rigid way of perception throws me into extreme emotions. If only I were to stand in the centre of the cube, I could have a clear, rational, unjudgmental view of my surroundings. That explains why the box is supported by the pole of understanding. To be able to understand myself, the people and the world around me, I have realized, is a great balancing act. Suffering ceases with understanding that brings fresh insights. As I have gradually realized over the years, courage is not always about making the leap over the cliff, and in this case, a window. It is about standing still, at the position where you can get the best view of things, and hearing yourself amid all the noises in the chaotic world. As the Buddhist teaching go, our thoughts are like the restless waves on the ocean. We must only watch them from a distance. Then could we get in touch with our true essence, our Buddha nature. I know the feeling: you expand, and feel open and free. The vast space inside you is no longer emptiness, but peaceful solitude. I guess that is when I am present in the centre of the cube, but my universe has extended beyond the cube to encompass the sky. The act of understanding, is really about telling yourself stories in different ways, till you realize that reality is not monotone.
Name:  katie kemezis
Subject:  The cover page
Date:  2002-09-02 19:20:08
Message Id:  2468
The time had come. Every piece of the puzzle knew that this day had arrived. Identities had been completed and confidance cultivated. They each had prepared for the day when they would leave the precision and uniformity of the Magnificent Box to enter the world of questions and new interactions. So, holding strong to their identity, each one wiggled a bit to loosen the hold. Finally with one great leap, the pieces fell letting go of a world of placement and reliance. Tumbling down through unknown space, unsure of their future, the puzzle pieces became just that individual pieces no longer a crux to the success of a larger entity. They were falling into, essentially, a realm of their own ambitions and goals. Now, they are able to ponder other relationships with new puzzle pieces, creating completely new ideas.
Name:  samea
Subject:  cover
Date:  2002-09-02 21:34:39
Message Id:  2469
The cover asks the question of "understanding is...?" and i believe the picture itself answers it. the puzzle pieces come from a circular shape that has multiple colors and it seems very unclear... therefore, it seems to represent an idea that one may be encountering for the first time. when we are first presented with an idea it may be unclear and vague at first, and we try our hardest to work with it until it is molded into something we better understand. thus, we have the box. the box consists of standard colors and is very clearly illustrated. in the same way, once an idea has been changed n molded, its true colors become clear and we are able to fit into a topic that we have come to understand more clearly
Name:  Kristina Copplin
Subject:  CSEM
Date:  2002-09-02 22:08:12
Message Id:  2470
In the illustration, there is a colorful box that is composed completely of puzzle pieces. Though some of the pieces are missing, and the box appears to be incomplete each missing piece is connected in the sphere at the righthand corner of the picture. Though neither object (sphere and box) are completely whole, each has potential to become something better. The phrase "understanding is questioning" furthers the images on the cover as we are invited to realize how one missing piece can often be an opportunity to create and discover something completey different and exciting. Thus, it is only through curiosity that new ideas are born.
Name:  Abigail Bruhlmann
Subject:  Story about Course Guide Cover
Date:  2002-09-02 22:10:22
Message Id:  2471
My story:

I'm relieved that this cover had some words in addition to pictures! I looked beyond the art to find a question, "Understanding is ?" which caused me to look past the art that is surely 1,000 symbols rolled into one, into my memory.

From the distant echoes of my high school days (it feels like I've been away from high school for years, not months), only a few of the lessons I learned have any relevance to my life at its present stage. Oddly enough, or perhaps not, none of these lessons were learned from a textbook. Rather, the life lesson that reminded me of this cover came from my AP Biology teacher, who reminded his students not to get frustrated over difficult concepts to understand. He emphasized that the more one learns, the more questions one has about the surrounding world.

So often in grade school, we are taught that there is one simple and straightforward answer to every question. In high school, we learn that this is not the case. In fact, it often happens that the more one learns, the more confused one feels, which isn't the most comforting fact.

So, how can I relate my intellectual journey to this cover art? I suppose that the sphere represents mhy mind at is present state: ready absorb information, but lacking the know-how with which to do it. The puzzle pieces floating up slowly and steadily to complete the cube are really my sophomore and junior years in disguise. Hopefully, the cube represents me as a BMC graduate: a person who can qustion the world around her, learn a bit from her experiences, keep pondering what more there is to be known, and realize that nothing in life is an absolute truth.

So, what is understanding? That's a good question.

Abigail Bruhlmann, Section 16

Name:  Jessica Kasten
Subject:  Understanding
Date:  2002-09-02 23:03:20
Message Id:  2472
The path to understanding is very puzzeling. Sometimes when you think that you nearly completely understand you may not be seeing the entire picture. If you take a step back you get to see hwere your understanding is coming from. An indecipheral mass of experiences, people, adn views all combind to shape how we understand things. We may think that we have everything figured out, then 'wham' you see something, or something happens to you that makes you question whether or not you really had anything figured out at all. This is what the picture represents to me. As you can see the picture of understanding is almost finished. A few final pieces are coming out of a collected mass of many colors which to me represents wonderment. One piece seems to fit the puzzle, but doesn't look as though it belongs. I see the jumbled ball of colors to be the experiences that we draw from with each piece contributing to our understanding.
Name:  jessica moore
Subject:  Understanding Is ? ? ? ?
Date:  2002-09-02 23:51:33
Message Id:  2473
understanding is a multi colored cube, solid and complete.
but first, there are holes to fill in, empty spaces and unknowns, that comprosmise the strength of this box's walls. so we hatch jigsaw pieces out of this sparkling egg; they're just the right size, a perfect fit. with our cube complete, the shadows shrink away and in comes a light from above.
understanding is study, whole and enlightened.
Name:  Phoebe Anderson
Subject:  Front Cover of Workbook
Date:  2002-09-02 23:52:35
Message Id:  2474
There were three worlds--one red, one green, one blue. Each looked among its people to find the strongest member who would represent their world and go forth to an energy source to obtain knowledge. Once the members were selected they journeyed away from their worlds and became immersed in the energy source. Here their ideas and perceptions were shared and when they eventually returned to their worlds they had gained much insight. They not only had their original beliefs but they had the beliefs of the other worlds and the general knowledge of the power source. When they were immersed in the power source they were forced to question their own beliefs and see the value and importance of others beliefs. They then brought this knowledge with them to enlighten their worlds so all members could grow and learn.
Name:  winnie
Subject:  cover page
Date:  2002-09-03 00:52:02
Message Id:  2475
please excuse the lack of capitalization:

the box is full of puzzle pieces. little bits of infomation and questions, and, mabye even some answers. it rests on the understanding that these pieces will come together, one piece at a time. afterall, to understand anything, you have to ask questions. even after the puzzle piece are put together, you can still see the different colors. it seems to be saying that every piece counts. no one piece is more significant than the other, nor can that piece be done without. without those pieces, a ball cannot be formed, it is incomplete and unpefect. in some abstract way, i suppose, the ball symbolizes what we've put together, what we've learned. though what we have (the puzzle pieces) is not enough. the puzzle box can always be refilled and it can be added to the ball, which stands for the analysis of all the knowledge.

Name:  Rachel Steinberg
Username:  rsteinbe@brynmawr.edy
Subject:  Picture Cover
Date:  2002-09-03 13:40:37
Message Id:  2476
I think the colored square on the stand represents a person. Out of the scope of the picture, there are many other "people". The person thinks he/she has an understanding of a certain subject, hence the solid colors. However, when the person interacts with other people, small pieces of their understanding (the puzzle pieces) fall out and combine with other people's pieces of understanding, creating the colorful sphere. This sphere is a collective understanding, one that enlightens each person that contributes to it. To me, the main idea of the painting is that together, people will understand more than they can on their own.
Name:  Claire Mahler
Subject:  comments on interpretation of the cover illustration
Date:  2002-09-03 14:58:51
Message Id:  2477
I see the cover illustration of the "Questions, Intuitions, Revisions" C-sem booklet as a metaphor for knowledge, learning, and world views in general. The falling pieces come from information gathered by person X, each color and side of the cube representing a specific genre of learning. Not all information, however may aptly be pigeonholed into one specific genre. Thus, the tidbits of knowledge fall together, overlapping and bonding together to form one sphere, a more diverse understanding which allows one to view and accomodate information and experiences with heightened awareness in a more informed manner.
Name:  Adina Halpern
Subject:  Cover
Date:  2002-09-03 15:25:32
Message Id:  2478
In the picture, gravity is pulling pieces of the puzzle into the colorful ball of confusion. The different colors represent different ideas which I strive to form, no matter how rigid, creative, traditional or eccentric they might be. It is comforting for me to know what I am thinking; my feelings, my beliefs and my understandings. But often, life doesn't work like that and I can't even understand my own thoughts. Just when the last piece of the puzzle comes into place, another piece tumbles down into colorful chaos.

This chaos is essential for human life. It keeps our minds open and our thoughts flowing. It keeps us from going crazy from boredom and narrow mindedness. When our beliefs and understandings no longer make sense, we are able to refresh our minds and see the world in new and exciting ways.

Name:  Ashwini Sebastian
Subject:  cover
Date:  2002-09-03 15:45:25
Message Id:  2479
Based on the question of what understanding is lies a large depth of knowledge built into a cube. However, there's never an absolute truth and hence some parts of the cube fall off to be replaced by the depths of knowledge stored by the rest of mankind living on the globe. The different colours indicating different cultures, histories and pasts held by people of different countries, tribes, religions. Knowledge is a mass of infinite weight that cannot be properly confined to the limits of a cube because perceptions differ.
Name:  Lauren Smith
Date:  2002-09-03 17:33:14
Message Id:  2480
At a young age, we are forced to learn the difference between good and bad, right and wrong. Our knowledge is acquired from textbooks, interactions with others and everyday life. As we accumulate facts and idea, our mind forms a cube, and as we learn, we slowly fit together the missing spaces and gaps. Each thing we learn fits together with a belief or idea we already possessed; each thought is a puzzle piece waiting for the chance to complete our mind's cube.

Throughout life we are giving many opportunities to learn. We can learn from those around us, we can learn through the systematic educational means of classes, teachers and textbooks, or we can learn by experiencing things for ourselves. In each of these cases however, we learn by taking advantage of the resources offered to us. We learn from our environment, we draw knowledge from our peers and we experience the world. From this infinite sphere of opportunity, we learn.
Name:  Whitney
Subject:  Judging the Course by Its Cover
Date:  2002-09-03 17:36:33
Message Id:  2481
I see the pieces falling from the box into the sphere. The box embodies tradition and all that is regimented, "right", and "safe" in our society and minds. The sphere is a collection of these ideas- a more complete way of knowing and perceiving the things we THINK are true. I see the box's stand as the idea that questions lead to concrete answers, but from these answers we can develop abstract ideas and theories, which complement to the shape of the sphere. In essence, this cover portrays (at least it speaks to me as thus) the way we collect all that we know to be true into a more complete consciousness and existence in our everchanging world.
Name:  Margaret Ketchersid
Subject:  CSEM cover writing
Date:  2002-09-03 18:21:26
Message Id:  2482
This looks like a mailbox. I'm not very good at creative writing so I will apply this picture as a metaphor of earlier childhood experiences and dreams.

My Grandfather help me get started with stamp collecting when I was about seven or eight. Each stamp was a tiny piece of information about its country of origin, like secret messages from foreign lands. They intrigued me; I wanted to know more. I began to read maps and travel books and wished I could have pen pals from all around the world. I see the pieces falling from the box as the scraps of information I gathered about different countries and their cultures. The multi-colored ball is my understanding of the world-- as each piece comes to the whole my understanding becomes more thorough, while also becoming broader and more nuanced and subtle at the same time.

Name:  Molly Cooke
Subject:  Understanding ??????
Date:  2002-09-03 18:41:13
Message Id:  2483
Shadows of understanding are stilted, blocky, untrue and incomplete. Gobs and gobs of truth muster, bring light, expose little. Magnetic and irresistable and instinctive and involuntary and addictive. Make sense of this murky, mushy, delectible, desireable thing. Make sense of it I dare you - then let go cuz its nothing, or very little, or every thing.

Once the piece in in place, it may fit and it may be sent back. or another piece falls out. steadily. flux, flood, drought. Wholeness is a myth, but we're all going to be ok.

We want to own Truth. I want to know Truth. I want to understand, have understanding, complete the puzzle...but just as soon as you think you know something, really understand it...

Name:  Beth Ann Lennon
Subject:  Cover story
Date:  2002-09-03 18:43:12
Message Id:  2484
The Recreation of the Nation
I have never understood the limits that have bound others. For me, it was always a mishmash of seemingly unorganized thought, ideas, and impressions which created an artful blend that scared and enthralled others. They would always notice the differences first, perplexed by my spherical shape in a world of distinct lines. Then, gradually, I began to notice too. I was different. And I saw such beauty in the controlled and always so well organized colors. And a cube! Perfecly linear. They surely lived with no fear of rolling out the door, never truely grounded. But it was through this shared acknowledgement that our worlds began to meld. We each gave of ourselves and recieved, in return, a piece of the other fascinatingreality. It was through understanding that we were separated. But it was through this same understanding that our worlds could be shared.
Name:  Ro. Finn
Subject:  Understanding is ????... Hello!
Date:  2002-09-03 18:51:49
Message Id:  2485
Hi all,
A modest offering...
Understanding is ?????

Not knowing, AND admitting that you actually see the question marks of gaps and flaws gives rise to through some sort of phenomenal and maybe unnatural birthing, ... that thrust of work-honesty-listening well to whatever...

Out of which comes our new selves, free falling from the rigidly predictable primary-colored existences we may have now to join and contribute in a new community, new kaleidoscopic meld...

The end-game of all that effort, a pleasing mass with blurred edges, fluid form that, we trust, will make more sense, and in any case, will surely be more appealing, more fun.

But what's really happening inside that sinister red-green-blue box? What transforming process takes place upon us to enable the Community and its continuous evolution?

Name:  Alex Frizell
Subject:  c-sem picture assignment
Date:  2002-09-03 19:51:14
Message Id:  2486
There are many different ways of viewing something, be it an object, a conflict, or an idea. The picture on the cover of our csem book illustrates this concept. The colorful puzzle pieces can be seen as falling from the square, unforgiving box to a multicultural sphere full of many colors and ideas. It could also be interpreted as the sphere exploding, the massive amount of information and different prospectives it contained couldn't be contained in one space any longer. The pieces soar up to the box, forming one solid structure, made of thousands of smaller pieces before them. Whichever side is taken, I interpret the picture as being many points of view combining to form one concept.
Name:  Gwenyth Cavin
Subject:  CSem Section 15
Date:  2002-09-03 20:52:45
Message Id:  2487
I have a few ideas as to what this picture may represent and listening to others' ideas began to change my perspective on this illustration. I really liked what I heard today in class, one idea that "the box appears to be on a pedestal." So if I go from there, in my own opinion that on this pedestal rests a box full of what we may think are solid ideas, facts we have taken for accurate and true. But it seems to me as if this box is breaking down, and these "facts" are falling from their solid foundation into a multi-colored sphere. This sphere is not on a pedestal but instead on the ground, "down to Earth" perhaps?!? The sphere may be a new understanding, blending our once separate facts, notions, ideas etc. and conceptualizing them all to form a more broad understanding. One that is not restricted by the straight lines of a boring box, but exploding from the center into a much more fluid shape. Also the colors of the two differ greatly, instead of being composed strictly of solid, run-of-the-mill colors, the sphere is filled those same colors, but mixed into brillant new hues, wholly different from their parent colors. However, there are also spaces in the sphere where no color is formed. Perhaps that is the idea that even when we gain a new understanding of an idea, there still maybe some things that we do not know, which of course...leaves room for more exploration!
Name:  Hayley Thomas
Subject:  ever welcoming....
Date:  2002-09-03 21:13:24
Message Id:  2488
Lovely to be with you all between and betwixt the revisionary spaces of this forum and our various class meetings. I recall very clearly the narrative I envisioned when I first encountered this course material and, in particular, the cover picture on the course packet.

Then and now, I can't help but approach all of this stuff as a folklorist, whatever that might mean. Even knowing what I know(?), the story I produced the other day leading my first CSEM class was entirely unlike my first tale about the cover picture. I'm persuaded, taken by both, and by others I've read and heard in this forum.

Luckily for me, mine is among the most undisciplined disciplines. I'm free to be promiscuous in my references and inspirations and forgetful (sometimes) about the stories I've met.

Looking forward to your revisions, re-thinkings and forays into undisciplined terrain this semester.


Name:  Bridget Dolphin
Subject:  Understanding Picture
Date:  2002-09-03 22:07:52
Message Id:  2489
Each side/color of the cube is one area of study. Red is psychology, blue is anatomy, and green is botany. As they fall off the cube and out of their strict, structured, self-contained little areas, they begin to breech the lines that separate them and combine within certain aspects of eachothers' fields. As they fall they combine with every other area and together form a perfect sphere. The end.
Name:  Natalie
Subject:  box-sphere-what
Date:  2002-09-03 22:40:14
Message Id:  2490
The truth about this picture is that there are infinite ways to interpret what it means. It depends which way it is approached, from the top, backwards, frontwards, sideways. (backwards, in no sense meaning wrong.) The first thing that came to mind was "thinking outside the box", could I be any more unoriginal... But in actuality as our thoughts carry us outside the confines of self, society, and world, it enables us to understand more. Not to say the picture becomes clearer, for it seems a higher understanding leads to more questions (even more complexity) but this exploration, the spark that is the unknown, is what will bring us closer to perhaps the ultimate, a complete unity of sorts.
Name:  Kate Shiner
Subject:  my interpretation
Date:  2002-09-03 23:32:53
Message Id:  2491
My first thought of the meaning of this illustration was that the pieces from the sphere were moving up into the box. The word understanding and the question marks following it led me to assume that that this work explores an individual's quest to obtain understanding through knowledge of the significance of his or her experiences in the world. I see the box as the knowledge and the sphere as the experience. Before any experience can be given a significance, it must be put through the filter of the mind and given a label or a category so it fits in with the already intact personal schema of previous experience. These schema might be personally created or inherited from a wider culture, I see some as possibly being genres such as art or physics. I see the different colors in the box as representing these different schema. The box alone, however, only resembles the reality of what the multicolored experience is. No one category can encompass all of it. I see the line moving down from the box to the question marks as the attempt to move from mere subjuctive knowledge of these contrived areas to some type of more universal "understanding."
Name:  Joy Woffindin
Subject:  my opinion on the cover's meaning
Date:  2002-09-04 00:05:00
Message Id:  2492
To me the cover art means this:

The dappled, multi-colored globe represents the many people/experiences/viewpoints/pieces of knowledge that one encounters in life. Unlike many others in my class, I viewed the "puzzle pieces" as eminating from the sphere and being absorbed into the cube (rather than the other way around). In my interpretation, the cube represents one's own being/consciousness/sense of self, the many experiences we encounter throughout life are absorbed and categorized by us to shape who we are.
I also thought the significance of the "self" being on a post - with a base that has question marks on it, means that we think of ourselves as a stable and unchanging entity, but perhaps we are less "steady" than we think since we are constantly imbibing new information. The sphere of experience and the "outside" world is a sphere because a sphere will never stay stable if you place it down somewhere, just as the world and our experience is constantly changing.

Hope that makes sense to everyone.

- Joy : )

Name:  Ro. Finn
Subject:  Take Two... the watercolor
Date:  2002-09-04 08:09:20
Message Id:  2493
Mulling over what we discussed in CSEM yesterday AFTER we wrote what we wrote about the watercolor, I couldn't let it lie. I could see the sense of it either way -- falling from the cube or floating up into it from the ball. Wanted to write the other version, so this burbled to the surface.

Take Two (aspirins?...): Understanding is ?????

The mass: all people, all possibilities -- still child-like, nave, amorphous. Most are content to hunker down against the warm colors and soft shape, but some of us are lured away by the mountain that must be climbed.

We lock onto a path that transforms us. We molt again and again, taking on distinct form and color. We have chosen a one way ride. Innocence lost, along with the promise of all things possible? Like junkies on a new high, we float. Like junkies on an old high, we need more just to stay straight. We're hooked.

Box Mountain holds us, rattling around inside its disciplines, boundaries, constraints. No way out? Or have we gained the power to move to the challenge, the next "high"... how to think our way out and on to the next mountain.

Name:  Jessie Posilkin
Username:  Anonymous
Subject:  CSEM writings
Date:  2002-09-04 11:05:22
Message Id:  2494
Well, I viewed the picture in more of a "picture book" kind of way-the following is what ended up on my paper.

And so the tye-dyed ball rolled on, through meadows and parks. As the ball rolled on, it grew happier, content with itself. Swirling with red and blue, green and yellow, it made it's way down the road. Suddenly, it was stuck, confused. The ball was bored with itself- "Something is missing," it said, "but I am all in one piece!" Confused, it rolled onward. Suddenly, something came into view straight ahead. The ball maoved closer and closer, and this THING came more into focus. It was not a circle, but...a square! It too, had many colors. But it was different than the ball- it's edges were pointy, and it was missing a piece.
"I know," thought the ball, "I will share some of my colors." It wriggled a few pieces loose, and away they flew. The sqare was now in focus. The square seemed whole. And the ball, even though it was missing a piece, felt whole too!

[Perhaps i need help with this, but my point was that while it can be scary to be open and to share, by sharing, we will grow and figure out who we are, and others around us will do the same.]

Name:  risa
Subject:  cover
Date:  2002-09-04 13:51:58
Message Id:  2495
the blue offends. it offends the red every time. greedy & persistent, blue places itself in front as much as possible. green harbors hope, without rights to it at all- pointing up- only the tall ones can ever hope to see its densely colored expanse as it perceives itself. green thinks about what it would be like to face the world at eye level instead of staring up into the empty, clear sky. red spits more pieces out. blue keeps eating them but when blue eats them and swallows, red suddenly finds them in back. a reason to cough & spit. red spits the pieces out. they shatter, fracture & crack, revealing all colors encased in each sliver. in the pieces red blue green are one, each other. but no one can see where this takes place, stuck together on a stand that will not bend, to which no one will grant a view to another.
Name:  Anne Dalke
Subject:  an old story....
Date:  2002-09-04 14:30:44
Message Id:  2496
I promised my class my story of "Understanding is ????" (which, I confess, I wrote a year ago, when we posed this question for the first version of this CSem). Here 'tis:

for me, the box (colored so brightly, brightly and w/ beauty; i revel in the intensity of these primary colors) clearly represents academic "knowledge," the sort of "packaging" that shows up as disciplines like"biology" or "literary studies" or "anthropology," while the globe is the multiple pleasing richnesses of the world. but i really don't like the way this artist has figured the relationship between these two images. rather than "reading" what she's drawn, i'd prefer to re-draw the picture/re-arrange the interaction between the parts. i'd get rid of the stand and its label, put the box and the globe on the same level, let the puzzle pieces flow back and forth between them, in order to "say" that the rich multiplicity of the world is what feeds our academic "packages," but the sense those packages make of the world has the capacity for re-shaping it in turn...and on and on/round and round/back and forth it goes. (in the picture, as it's currently drawn, gravity works against that back-and-forth process) WOULDN'T i just like it a LOT if, before class ends in december, each of us could not just describe (as i just have), but actually DRAW our own figure of what "understanding" looks like....

Name:  Bonnie Balun
Subject:  Cover picture
Date:  2002-09-04 16:20:05
Message Id:  2497
Our understanding of something is often not complete. Like the pieces of a puzzle, we acquire understanding a little at a time, piece by piece. There are holes in our personal puzzles, left undone, unexplored, not completed. Education and life experiences can help us to acquire particular sections of our puzzle. Difficult subjects talked about, written about, explored, lead to more puzzle pieces, and once we have them they become a part of us and are so much easier to talk about, write about, and think about in the future. We never really complete our puzzle. However, part of the responsibility of coming close to completing it is sharing our ideas, experiences, and knowledge with others. This makes for a dynamic, invigorating, and stimulating world.
Name:  Abigail Bruhlmann
Subject:  What is a story?
Date:  2002-09-04 17:36:06
Message Id:  2498
A story is an interpretation of an object, event, or idea. This interpretation can take the form of a written work, an oral telling, or even artwork. Any topic can become the subject of a story, as long as it has meaning to the author. We can compose personal stories that need not be shared with others. Stories that are to be shared however, usually are significant to the listener as well. Stories help explain the way we view the world around us. Transforming and organizing our thoughts into story form with a subject, some characters, and a central theme can help others understand what we are thinking.

An object itself, like the now famous blackboard example we used in class, is not a story. The way we see this object, its significance to our own lives, or its history of being can be shaped into a story.

Is this explanation a story? Of course not. There is no plot, no setting, no flow of interconnected events. Rather, this passage is a definition. It tries to define the word "story" which contradicts all that a story is. Rather than a definition that tells the reader what to think, a story provides a loose structure about a topic while allowing the person experiencing the story to interpret it her own way.

As the word "story" can be viewed differently by everyone, perhaps coming up with a precise definition of this word isn't as important as understanding the message of what we expeience, be it a story or not.

Name:  Anne Dalke
Subject:  mow famous?
Date:  2002-09-04 21:44:35
Message Id:  2501
Tell the rest of us, Abigail: what is the now famous blackboard example used in your class?
Name:  Mel Brickley
Subject:  Understanding is questionable
Date:  2002-09-05 00:22:31
Message Id:  2504
Understanding is questionable.
Are the puzzle pieces making up the tower or they falling to earth? We know that earth is a diverse place full of different puzzle
Perhaps they aren't puzzle pieces at all but spirits or souls.
I believe that we come to the place, earth, to learn a lesson and complete a mission.
The more I look at this illustration, I see me leaving my neat little square plane to enter a circle which looks eclectic and jumbled.
My comfortable square (box) is being challenged -- where are my boundaries?
Name:  Diane Gibfried
Subject:  CSem-Reading an Image
Date:  2002-09-05 05:23:01
Message Id:  2506
Pieces kept falling out of the box; hard pieces, fragments, abstractions, concepts, ideas. They floated down like leaves on an autumn day. But once airborne, they became translucent, electric. Some dissolved into the atmosphere. Others were absorbed by the gravitational pull of the planet below. A core of desire, unseen burned within. Once absorbed they lost their edges - softening, blending, forming continents, oceans, depths, heights, climates and weather patterns.

What is the box? It breaks apart violently. It heaves a heavy load. The sound can be heard for miles. A world breaks apart. A new world in it's birth pangs receives it. Is the box real? Some say it has always been there and always will. Others say it isn't really there at all.

When pieces fall, does a void remain? What is behind the blackness of the places where the pieces have left shattered. What is the nature of the box? Why does it cast bits of itself like bread upon the water?
The core of the planet summons it.

Name:  Paul Grobstein
Subject:  spoiler?
Date:  2002-09-05 10:04:22
Message Id:  2509
Don't read until you've written your own story of Sharon's picture ...

The original form of the picture is in an exhibit called Transformation at Click through the exhibit until you get to the three doors, go in the middle one, look on the right wall.

For Sharon's story of the picture, see

Is that actually a "spoiler"? How relevant is it what Sharon says she had in mind when she painted the picture?

Name:  Victoria Thoman
Subject:  story definitions cont'd
Date:  2002-09-05 13:24:53
Message Id:  2512
I have been thinking about our discussion in class yesterday on the definition of a story, and I've come up with a few more of my own ideas on that topic. I thik that in class we started to confuse the idea of an actual story with the idea of an object which might have a story connected to it. A computer in and of itself does not constitute a story. I think that it is possible to tell stories about the computer, its construction, uses, etc., but the computer, as an inanimate object, cannot be classified as a story. I think that something can be classified as a story when it is an effort to communicate or express emotions, events or information. Stories can be told between two people (either orally or in writing) or even within a person's mind. Something only becomes a story when it is told or interpreted by people. For example, a bookcase or a painting can tell a story if a person takes the time to look at it and interpret its meaning or history, but it is not a story just because it is there. If a person does not make the effort to interpret or express something, it isn't really a story. I think a story is a form of communication and/or expression used by humans, and without a human to tell or interpret a story, something cannot exist as a story.
I don't know how well I have just expressed myself about the nature of stories, but I hope that at least I have clarified my own personal views a little bit more.
Name:  Victoria Thoman
Subject:  about the famous blackboard....
Date:  2002-09-05 13:32:56
Message Id:  2513
I was just reading through the comments and noticed that people from other sections were confused about our allusions to the "famous blackboard example," so I'll try to clarify a little bit. As we were discussing the definition of a story the other day, we became engaged in a debate about whether or not the blackboard on the wall constituted a story or not. Some people argued that because the blackboard had stories behind it, or that because people might come up with stories about it, it was, in and of itself, a story. That was the basic argument, although I'm sure other people might be able to explain a little bit more clearly than I just did.
Name:  Kim Cadena
Subject:  Telling the Picture
Date:  2002-09-05 16:00:34
Message Id:  2518
The puzzle pieces are escaping the boxy confines of their conformist starts and heading for the mixing of the sphere. As they go, they are transformed into different, more colorful pieces, but they keep the same shape because that's how they were made. The box has holes in it because it is missing community members and all that is left of them is their outlines. Some of the pieces come back and fit themselves back into the community, but most stay in the sphere. The box is on top of the understanding pillar because the box thinks that it knows, while the sphere knows that it does not know. I think that's it.
Name:  Elena
Subject:  cover revisited
Date:  2002-09-05 19:22:09
Message Id:  2523
Before I looked upon the sphere as an exterior enigma-- something that someone else created and totally impersonal to me. Now I realize there's something more familar to it. I know these twinkling pieces, I've seen them before. Every so often I can feel them resonate in me, down to the bottom of my feet, when my spirit comes out of the dark.
Name:  Kristen Coveleskie
Subject:  What is a story?
Date:  2002-09-05 21:36:06
Message Id:  2527
When I am asked the question, "What is a story?" I pause to think. At first it seems like a simple question and I am transported back to my grade school days for a simple answer. A story is something you read in a book. In high school, stories had a plot, setting, characters, etc, etc. After discussing this question in class and reading the assigned readings, I am lead to believe the answer is not as simple as it might seem. Sure stories can be told about anything. Any person, event, or object can be transformed into a story if there is enough meaning behind it. These things, however, are not stories in themselves. They make up the moments that Patricia Hempl discusses in her work. What I think constitutes a story is perhaps taking these moments and using them for a particular purpose. Each story much have its function, rather it be to inform, entertain, or relay a message. A story isn't constricted by length or form. It's a story if it has meaning to the one who wrote it and the audience reading it.
Name:  orah minder
Subject:  cover of c-sem book
Date:  2002-09-06 13:25:45
Message Id:  2532
There is no understanding without questions. We cannot 'know' anything unless we inquire about it. After we have asked questions we may aquire knowlege that leads scientists and psychologists and historians etc. to develope facts. The puzzle is complete, color coded. but when we try to apply these facts, these generalizations, to ourselves the colors fade and the angles are blurred. There is so much diversity amoung individuals that it is impossible to be able to say that because something applies to John then it will also apply to Mary. So the peices that we thought we had figured out are filtered through us and are no longer facts built on understanding- for the understanding, the generalizations have been lost amidst the diversity of humanity. We must begin again with questioning. The base of all is questioning. Undrestanding can topple, and facts can topple but we will always be able to question. So we continue to build on this base, trying to aquire understanding and each time we acheive this understanding we make facts and apply them to the earth, and each time they are applied to us on earth they are no longer facts and again we must question. It is human nature to want to be on the top, to reach up to the unknown and take power. And each time the tower topples. And each time we again reach. And each time we are left scrambling for understanding in a world of diversity.
Name:  Phoebe Anderson
Subject:  What is a story?
Date:  2002-09-09 12:36:47
Message Id:  2568
I think that all stories rely on emotions. Even the simplest tale is suppose to evoke some kind of emotion in the reader. The fairy tale Cinderella is a perfect example. Although many people enjoyed reading it as children and watching the Walt Disney version of it without really getting passionate about the story, the story presents many important issues. The injustice Cinderella suffers at the hands of her evil stepmother and stepsisters, and the disctinction of class between the rich Prince and the poor servant, Cinderella, are addressed.

I think that a story is a described event or situation that involves a person's opinions or feelings. The author's ultimate goal is to evoke similar or different emotions in the reader and hopefully form a connection with the reader. In some stretch of the imagination, the reader should be able to relate to the issue discussed in the story.

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