Mind and Body:
From René Descartes to William James

"Women (un)like myself":
Re-Writing Descartes ...

Story Evolution
Dalke/Kerman/Butler/ SBurgmayer

A quadralogue triggered by Grobstein's Writing Descartes ...

Michael McGrath, The Windsock Visitation

July 7, 2004

Women like myself ... have long understood Descartes' dualistic position as that of the (frankly clueless) enemy. Overhearing your conversation has nudged me to reconsider that opposition....

Overhearing the varieties of dialogue which that first conversation between Paul Grobstein and René Descartes generated among Sharon Burgmayer, Anneliese Butler, Lucy Kerman, Paula Viterbo and me , I now want to return to this matter of how (this particular subset of) women understand a linked set of issues....

Not so long ago, Paul and I wrote an essay about our teaching called Story-Telling in (At Least) Three Dimensions:An Exploration of Teaching Reading, Writing, and Beyond in which we identified "two intellectual styles," corresponding "roughly to a preference for, on the one hand, focus, precision and 'objectivity,' and, on the other, breadth, allusiveness and engagement"; we argued that the latter arena is too little attended to in college classrooms, although much creative work is carried out by that sort of thinking. A little later, with Liz McCormack of the Bryn Mawr Physics Department, Paul and I wrote a linked essay called "Theorizing Interdisciplinarity: Metaphor and Metonymy, Synecdoche and Surprise," in which we similarly compared a way of thinking that emphasizes "simple and unifying relations that capture key aspects of an object under study" with one handling "many variables and complicated relations." What we hesitated to say outright in either article, but I'm going to take the risk of saying here, was that women (VERY generally speaking) seem to exhibit a preference for the latter form of making sense of the world within and without. And I'm going to claim, further, that such a preference is pretty well demonstrated in the commentary provided here by Sharon, Anneliese, Lucy, Paula and me.

What strikes me amid the wide range of our observations is how much we have all, in speaking w/ these two profoundly skeptical guys, been focusing on the activities of the (more "trusting," if not more "trustworthy"?) unconscious. Each of us highlights activities occuring in the same arena: Lucy is acute in identifying the inadequacy of "treeness" as a figure for the complexity of all the unconscious does for us. Sharon is particularly cogent in describing the sense of authenticity she feels when operating out of the unconscious, creative aspect of her brain, rather than the conscious rationalizing part. Paula actually channels René, refusing to accept (refusing to respect??) the boundaries not only between conscious and unconscious, but also between (his)self and (her) self, as well as between matter and spirit. And the commentary provided by Anneliese (who was long ago a student of mine) struck me in how it traced the same territory I was covering: her existential query about doubting the existence of self (that conscious "I" Paul unthinkingly takes for granted), her commentary on the ineffectiveness of "thinking" in bringing about change, her observations about the social nature of the process, and finally, her search for worlds that better reflect the fullness of what is being here described. Annaliese tries out "influence" and "imagine"....

and may be interested to know that another student of mine, Alisa Conner, once invented a term that is here very apt, by combining the antonyms "teaching and learning" into "tearning": "Said out loud, it sounds like 'turning'...and evokes our efforts to turn, shift and change [the world, Alisa said; in this context I say] ourselves.

All of which is to say: for those of us with a busy (if very slowly changing) unconscious, which handles "many variables and complicated relations," which prefers "breadth, allusiveness and engagement," a series of two-way dialogues doesn't cut it: there need to be multiple intersecting conversations across the porous boundaries within each of our brains, AND amongst us all. Social, yes. And multiply-dimensional in the extensive kinds of teaching, learning, and turning that can occur when there is not a single axis of engagement.

July 14, 2004

I was interested to see that you added me to your dialogue of July 7. As someone who doesn't live according to binaries -- including the old male/female one -- I thought I would clarify. I didn't intend in my comments to be read as "focusing on the activities of the (more "trusting," if not more "trustworthy") unconscious." While I commented that Paul was simplistic in his equation of treeness and unconscious, I agree with him that thinking in the way he is defining it (the self as agent) is one essential way to change. I don't think it is a matter of either the unconscious or the conscious having primacy (it's that old either/or again), but rather understanding the relationship between them and then acknowledging and insisting that the conscious mind has the power to act. I'd extend the idea from the personal (intra- and inter-) to the political: there is no way to work toward collective change without a deep respect for and commitment to "thinking" in that sense.

Nice to hear from you directly, Lucy, and nice to have this forum for speaking directly back. Two things especially interest me in what you say. I'm thinking that the disjunctive experience (we all have so frequently) of intending our comments to be read in a certain way, and then having them read differently, may lie right at the heart of this range of conversations about
changing both self and social structure. One way that change happens is when one speaks, feels mis-heard, finds the need to re-speak, to clarify....yep: perpetually, as both speaker and listener are continually altered by the process. I'd posit, too, that there must be both minimal "docking" (=enough shared understanding) AND substantial enough "mis-understanding" (=room for correction/clarification) for the conversation to continue productively. If we "get" one another perfectly, who needs to go on talking? Conversation stops. If we miss entirely, ditto. (Much more on this @ both the Brown Bags on Information, Meaning and Noise, as well as at the Language Working Group, especially the sessions on Norretranders and Hofstadter.)

The second bit that caught my ear, above, was your saying that you do not belong in the category ("women like myself..." who see the world in terms of male/female [or any] binaries). Seems an important claim for you to make, and also a useful refinement for me (who had firmly placed myself in a category I don't belong in --thanks for helping get me out) and, more generally and much more interestingly: a neat case of niche displacement (or what the biological literature seems to call, more precisely, niche partitioning and character displacement). In my own terms (that of a literary critic, not a biologist), the identification of a category inevitably generates both an "outside" (what is not included) and multiple sub-sets inside, as folks (like yourself, above) decline to be included in whatever group identity they've been assigned to.

There was a marvelous example of this going on during the conversations in last semester's course on the Evolution of Literature, in which Ahab's Wife was presented as a "female" version of Moby-Dick: the (all female) students were variously inclined to claim the way in which Ahab's wife represented what it meant to be an "intellectual woman." The same process was also traced in the Graduate Idea Forum last spring, as we saw not only Gould displacing Wilson, as Wilson had displaced Mayer (as the authoritative storyteller of evolution), but, more generally, how the act of telling a story=creating a category has a polarizing function that may well amplify difference.

That would be a good reason, I think, for us to go on talking...?

Interesting points. But before we begin: it is hard for me to comment on, or frankly even to understand, "marvelous examples" of conversations I wasn't part of. So the references to other forums and courses and conversations are lost on me. In the spirit of enlarging the circle of conversation to folks outside of the particular working groups, which I think is a wonderful goal, can we just talk in present time to each other? If there's an idea you had somewhere else that you'd like me to understand, could you just share it with me directly, in today's language and without all the original context? It would help me and perhaps others who would like to feel part of the conversation.

Am surprised @ what offended/put you off.... need to say, in response, that it is hard for me to be "in the present," to leave behind all my own experiences in a new conversation, not to bookmark them, give portals that lead back to them (and just as importantly, it's very hard for me--seems actually unethical to me-- not to give them credit as the source/ground for where I am now).

I wasn't at all offended or put off--am simply explaining how it seems to me. I think it is an important issue, so let me expand on it a bit. As you know, the possibility of inclusive public conversations is of great interest to me, too, and I've thought a lot about it. Yes of course, we all have a lot of influences on us, experiences, books, conversations that have shaped who we are and how we think, and they are important. To us, at least. And in academic writing, we use footnotes to help others understand better the basis for our thinking. The question, it seems to me, is how much we do that in other kinds of conversation, and why. Maybe it is a matter of degree. But when you and I talk, do you really want or need to know that I read book A, B and C, saw movie D, talked with E and then F, then read article G and thought about H, and talked to I, which is how I come to be saying J to you? And is it really reasonable to expect you to go through the entire history of my thinking to be able to have a conversation with me today? To read through all the densely written and nuanced conversations I have had in the past in order to understand me? I don't leave behind my intellectual history when I embark on a new chapter, but that doesn't mean I need others to read it before we can talk. Yes, I might refer you to a favorite book or movie, share a quotation, refer you to an article. But most of what I want to say is ME, today, talking to YOU.

Of interest to me--perhaps to return to?--is your notion that if I provide links when I talk, I'm insisting, or even asking, that you read 'em. Raises for me the question, then, of why I include them. I think it's primarily as a record for myself of how I got where I am, secondly an ethical matter (your observation above re: how we use footnotes in academic writing). Perhaps there is a third impulse, too: an inherent "teacherly" gesture. Certainly there is one when I put links in the postings I make in my course forums, and I think I probably put so many links in the various pages of these dialogues because, well: they are so complex and layered. Someone dropping in might find it helpful to go back to the beginning, or to read something adjacent.

But talking here with you and Anneliese is helping me to see how you both--and many others--might find that sort of gesture patronizing, or hear it as identifying a gateway you need to go through (or, worse: that--having not participated in the earlier discussions/readings--one that you can NOT go through) in order to speak to me. 'T i'sn't so intended. Come on in, bringing who you are, making whatever choices you want to make about how much of what I say you want to listen to.

I can only speak for myself, of course, but the bottom line is that I don't understand what you are saying when you refer back to your course or the Grad Idea Forum or whatever. I've even read them, and I STILL don't understand what it is you want me to understand. It just isn't clear to me, however much sense it makes to you. So, the point about niche displacement is .. ?

You're right though that I shouldn't ask you to change the way you write. I apologize for that. Please, write the way you write and I will respond the way I respond. I will, though, keep pushing back, because I find it hard to follow what you're saying when it is heavily embedded that way.

Okay, I like--and agree to--these rules of engagement. And I'll push back, saying that what I say is only embedded if you let it be. You are your own filter. (That's one of the main things I like about this sort of webby-conversation: each of us gets to decide for ourselves how much we want to take in. No teacher's deciding for us what each of us should be reading.)

It is indeed the case that one often feels misunderstood, and in the explaining of oneself, one discovers more of one's thinking. And I agree, the trick is to keep the conversation going, rather than having it close on an misunderstanding. I'm not sure I agree, though, that there needs to be misunderstanding: sometimes being well understood and exchanging ideas effortlessly is exciting and very productive too. For me, at least, it is hard to talk about imperatives ("must") in human interactions and behaviors.

Yes, I am often at odds in situations where people want to categorize me and I don't buy it. My sense of self, a healthy dose of alienation, and a couple of chips on my shoulder. That doesn't mean I'm right -- someone else may have a much clearer sense of me, I may be too heavily defended to see me -- but my sense of self is what I have to go on. Part of Paul's "thinking" argument, it seems to me, is about constantly checking in, comparing how one feels with how other people see us, and when there is a real disagreement, it's worth thinking about whether people are really wrong or whether... we're just kidding ourselves.

Appreciate your flagging/questioning the categorical imperative--I was raised as a Methodist and a Republican, and despite my recent rather insistent education into profound skepticism, it's still very hard for me to shake the "should"-ness of my claims.

So now I'll lob that ball back to you: wrong/right...dunno about that. Dunno if checking in with others, comparing their sense of me w/ my own actually tells me whether my own sense of self is wrong or right....But I do have lots of experience of the comparing, and how it seems to lead (...yep: not quite done with that thought) to "niche displacement," especially at a woman's college like Bryn Mawr, especially in pursuit of a contemporary feminism that might actually involve "de-centering oneself," not taking one's own experience as the norm.

Unlike myself, indeed.

Help me understand where you are going with this. I didn't mean to focus on the "right" and "wrong" of it, but rather to suggest that my sense of myself isn't the only one out there and that I may indeed have something to learn from how others see me. In situation A, I may think I am acting compassionately and sympathetically when others see me as hostile and aggressive. Perhaps I really am feeling hostile, but am not admitting it. Or maybe they resent me, so they always see me as hostile. Tough to know. But the point is, I may not see my behavior for what it is -- I don't have complete perspective on myself. Is it worthwhile for me to understand how I am appearing to others? and to take seriously that there may be some self-deception or protectiveness in my picture of myself? For me, yes. Does that mean I was "wrong" about me? I don't think that is a very useful term. But I do think checking in with others (particularly people I trust) helps me learn to think. That's all I meant.

But you seem to be getting at something else, something about placing one's identity in connection to others? Tell me about this idea. I never think of my experience as the norm, so I am curious.

Oh, I was just picking up on your language, above, re: "whether people are really wrong..." So if "wrong" isn't useful to you, either, then we are less unlike in this arena than I thought...

But I have noticed, I think---you'll correct/revise if you see it differently, of course--another difference between us: my quickness to alter how I speak, when you complained about its effect on you, and your quickness back in saying "no, don't revise your way of talking, just understand its effect on me." My notion is that we stand @ different ends of another spectrum here, with me more willing, you less so, to revise how the (public) self speaks? Or (a stronger claim), with me marking (or just quicker to claim?) the (more?) "mutable," you the (more?) "persistent" self?

I say that in smiling remembrance of a passage, from George Eliot's Middlemarch (Chapter 15), which you shared with me nearly a year ago, and which was so strong for us both:

He had two selves within him apparently, and they must learn to accommodate each other and bear reciprocal impediments. Strange, that some of us, with quick alternate vision, see beyond our infatuations, and even while we rave on the heights, behold the wide plain where our persistent self pauses and awaits us.

So, persistently: how about we go public with this conversation, invite now some other "unlikely" women and men to join us...?

So, let's go back into the question of public speech and how to "make the conversation larger," as you say in your conversation with the Burgmayers. Just to clarify: while I believe in the existence of the "persistent" self, I certainly don't equate that with "unchanging." Change IS persistent, at least for me. And, as I said in my dialogue with Paul, the point is to use thinking to change the self. I suspect I have more faith in people's ability to change fundamentally than you do.

Touché. Bet you do, too. But don't give up on me yet, okay...? Am working pretty hard on this.

But that seems a different issue than the public conservation, and how one accommodates style or topic to be effective in public discourse. How much do you accommodate your style to be read by -- say, the non-academic, or the first generation intellectual, or the zero generation? Is there a single place where everyone can gather to talk? is it necessary to translate between groups? and do we care about the boundaries we may set up by the way we talk (getting back to my original comment about my difficulty with all the insider references)? is the point to show who we are or to accommodate others?

Well, as someones who don't live according to binaries, let's refuse THAT one too, and try for both: showing who we are, as we open ourselves to changing ourselves in conversation with others...

Anyone else want to join us in the process, enlarge the conversation beyond...

Anne and Lucy?

July 18, 2004

Greetings (and inner skip of delight to be remembered)--

Am intrigued, and also relieved to read Lucy's comments re: difficulty (and potential impediments) posed by oversaturating dialogues in the "now" with references to past conversations/readings. Having a tendency to feel the need to catch (and keep) up, such references do discourage my consistent and, perhaps more importantly, confident participation in this curious community that Paul has spawned (referring to the original founding of Serendip). My guess is that he feels differently, and indeed he said as much in a recent conversation on precisely this topic (i.e., question of why forums not more lively). His idea(l) is for people to jump into the conversation wherever, whenever, with whatever degree of 'background reading' they please.

And so, I jump.

Hi Anneliese. Nice to hear you share my sense of discomfort at breaking into these conversations -- not only because it confirms something I've been trying to explain for years, but also because it opens up the possibility of finding a way that positively encourages folks like us to come and play. Though it would be nice if people always felt free to talk whenever they wanted to, whatever "background reading" they've done or whoever is talking, the truth is it's not always that simple. So, what I've been wondering is, is this kind of public conversation possible and what would make the conversation more comfortable?

Most immediately, Anne, your initial comments remind me of Deborah Tannen's ideas about male versus female conversational styles (I assume she's not making claims to cultural universals). Was reading/skimming "You Just Don't Understand" a while back, and she suggests a similar (general) difference between men and women in how they think and speak (and experience the world) as you do when you read the Descartes dialogs on Serendip. Men worry about maintaining their independence and building/maintaining/moving up the social hierarchy, women care more about connecting with others and fostering community (of equals). I can't help but be skeptical about the blatant dualisms she sets forth, but then again her examples are too familiar to dismiss.

I am uncomfortable with what I read as a subtle divisiveness suggested by the phrase "those of us who..."--I question the (I think) implied suggestion that "we" (assuming that you are referring to women) have a busier unconscious than men do. Also, I have not had nearly as much contact with the two "profoundly skeptical guys" as you have (actually, I have not yet met one of them), but from my conversations with Paul, I gather that he shares a preference for, perhaps a dream of, "multiple intersecting conversations" that are both "social" and "multiply-dimensional." Maybe I'm missing something, but I would hazard to suggest that the achievement of such an ideal is hampered more by our medium of interaction than by different preferences for making sense of the world. Do you have any ideas for creating multiple, simultaneous axes of engagement?

At any rate, I still don't feel like I fit one mode of making sense better than the other. To wit, my response to Paul's original essay flowed from a combination of both--I brought in other "variables and complicated relations" in an effort to improve the "precision and 'objectivity,'" of his ideas.

Nicely said, Anneliese; I completely agree. As I said in my own conversation with Anne, I don't see myself as fitting into a stereotypical way of thinking, and I suspect most people don't. Maybe the point is to follow the content of what we are saying, rather than trying to define or categorize who is saying it? Let's just speak for ourselves, as engaged and interested minds.

I'm beginning to feel a bit lost...I cannot define what exactly we are exploring here, what our 'object(ive)' is. My guess is that the kinds of conversations/dialogs you long for are not occurring at Bryn Mawr, and so it makes sense that I cannot (yet?) relate to your dissatisfaction. Fill me in a bit about the local context in which these ideas are being spun...

The beauty of Serendip, of course, is that it is not just about Bryn Mawr. Some of it is, of course, which is why following the forums that come from the working groups is sometimes hard for outsiders (at least for this one). But some of the conversations (including this extended one on Paul's Descartes essay) are bigger than that, and that seems to me significant. I come back to a comment Anne made in her conversation with the Burgmayers about the possibility of the web opening conversations to a wide audience. In my own work, I have been involved in public conversations (face to face conversations, that is) with very diverse audiences, with people from different ages, classes, races, backgrounds, levels of education, and agendas, all in the same room. They're satisfying when they work -- i.e., when people talk, listen, agree or agree to disagree, and come away with more basic caring and personal flexibility than they had before the discussion. For me, that kind of conversation is a profoundly political act. It seems to me that the goal is to have that kind of conversation here.

So, Anne, what IS niche displacement when it is home?

For me, that question's oxymoronic: being displaced means not being any longer at home. As I understand and use the term (to apply not just to the multiplication of different biological organisms, but to the growth and evolution of the self), niche displacement really is about displacement: about being willing not to be home, about being willing to have the home unsettled, about being both able and willing to live in exile from what is most comfortable, most secure, most known and understood. Although I'm feeling I should apologize for mentioning it (and am willing to acknowledge, in this company, that I am most at home among my classrooms and books, find it difficult to speak without them in my backpack; see the discussion re: first-generation intellectuals to understand why this might be so). Anyhow: Jody Cohen of the Ed Dept. here and I taught a College Seminar some years ago called Transition and Location: On Leaving Home, In Search of a Place of Understanding, that tried to play these two poles against one another (apologies again: recognize the binary as I write it--but such poles DO give us a tension to work with, something taut to push off from...)

We spent the course trying to figure out how to negotiate a useful and productive space inbetween "claiming location" and "making transitions." For instance, we paired essays by Walker Percy, Edward Said and Cynthia Ozick (all of whom use the imagery of travel and exile to explain what it means to do intellectual work) with the arguments of feminist activists-- Maria Lugones, Adrienne Rich, bell hooks and Minnie Bruce Pratt--who drew on their own life narratives to argue for a politics of resistance, an insistance on speaking from a located position, a refusal to be moved.

Maybe "the game" involves speaking from where home is now...but always keeping the door open, acknowledging that if you listen--really listen--you are liable to be changed, that the homeplace will change, turn out to be too small, too closeted? Two stories from my life to illustrate this idea: I come from a very stable, settled, warm and LARGE extended family (my grandparents actually lived @ "The Homeplace") and I found the life they offered claustrophic, the web of expectations too oppressive. Needed more air. Needed the displacement. Second story is a similar one, about the "local context" you asked about, Anneliese. For me, over my 22 years at Bryn Mawr, "English House" became the homeplace, the rest of campus the more open, more unpredictable, and so more un-easy place.

Have just coined a new word: the campus was the Dis-place (the place where, out of one's element, one could easily get dissed...?)

For me, conventional arenas for the publication of literary scholarship are likewise homeplaces, the web the more open, more unpredictable, and so more un-easy place, because exposed not just to a coterie of scholars with similar training, but to the examining eye of the world.

The web is, likewise, the Dis-place.

So you'll see what (paradoxically?) continues to unsettle me, in our particular trialogue here, is how both of you have felt unwelcome in arenas like this one, excluded from what is the most free and open place I've ever known. It's such a surprise to hear your perception of my various (not entirely random, but certainly free-ranging) associations as some sort of gate-keeping that keeps you from talking.

Are you looking to find a home here?
If so, what do you need to make it feel like home?

July 20, 2004

To continue the conversation here, as well as expanding out into the forum: I'm still not understanding the idea about identity that Anne is playing with, or how that relates to the class readings, to travel or located-ness, or to "home". Is the point to be willing to operate outside your normal groups -- what I think of as living outside your comfort zone? talking and listening to people from different backgrounds, who have different assumptions and expectations? learning to talk and respond in new ways? and then learning about oneself in the process? acknowledging that one is always changing and being open to it, rather than being afraid and resistant?

In answer to Anne's question: I, at least, am not looking to find a "home" at Serendip, if that is what you are asking. I would, though, like to follow the conversations, understand what is being said, and feel free to jump in and become part of it all, even if I haven't been part of all the previous discussions. I am particularly interested in how rhetoric includes and excludes people, how people misunderstand each other, and how to create inclusive communities of all sorts, in person and through vehicles like the web. This seems to me a good place to play with some of these ideas.

I appreciate Anne's definition of "home" for herself, the classrooms and books, her constant "backpack." As for me: unlike Anne, I am a second-generation intellectual -- I grew up in an intellectual household, on a university campus. I take thinking for granted, and I am comfortable speaking just for myself, without referencing anyone. That doesn't mean I "know" more than anyone else, just that I'm not particularly self conscious about what I know. Like any good intellectual, I too have a complete list of references, favorite books, influential lectures, and earth-shaking conversations that have influenced me. But I confess, I travel light, turtle-like, with my home on my back, and probably think more about where I am and where I am going, than where I have been. I believe in change -- in "thinking" (to bring us full circle) -- and am always eager to see what else is possible.

I would actually venture to say that web conversations seem so compatible to me precisely because they are so un-heimlich-- open-air places where the familiar becomes strange (where a literary critic, for example, can try out publicly her attempt to make sense of what a word she thought she understood, "ramification," means to a biologist).

When Anneliese hazarded, above, that the achievement of 'multiple intersecting conversations' that are both 'social' and 'multiply-dimensional'... is hampered ... by our medium of interaction," and asked for "any ideas for creating multiple, simultaneous axes of engagement," I laughed with pleasure, because I think that we are actually creating them by speaking here together. We've moved on from the original framing of these discussions, as dialogues Paul was conducting independently with a number of individuals, to conversations among the discussants--which are more social, multiply intersecting, and multiply dimensional. To my mind, they are also moving us well beyond what Anneliese flagged as the subtle divisiveness of my initial framing of the connections among us (=our female-inflected unconsciousness-valorizing distinctiveness from men).

I've found it very exciting to be part of this development, and I actually spent a good portion of the weekend trying to shape it into a story (which turned into a letter, which turned into a play, which turned into two plays...) I'm afraid its centrifugal associative form may not make much sense outside my brain, so I offer it you with some trepidation, but you're welcome to read Writing Sam--and to ignore every single link as you do so.

Ann Dixon, Serendip's webmistress, gave me the idea of altering the "link" color on my web pages to something less startling than Serendip's default blue; I've just revised them all to a dark maroon that may allow others to read on/over my links more easily--would be very interested to hear if it helps us all talk more comfortably together...

Speaking of which--

Emily Madsen stopped in on this conversation; her visit evolved into a new forum that also traces a few more new directions in the dance that occurs as we step into and out of dialogue with one another.

Elizabeth Catanese also came by to visit. She moved our conversation to the on-line forum...

...where what has been a consistent theme for us in this space got picked up again by

July 27, 2004

Sharon Burgmayer:
Elizabeth ...helped me understand a bit better my own response to the link-laden forum pieces. Her comparison of digression vs more linear reading made me realize that I always approach words from an analytical, a ->b ->c ->d, etc, way. This is my scientific training, due to a major chunk of my life devoted to texts scientific rather otherwise (a sad statement perhaps, but alas, true). Hence, like Lucy (?), I AM driven to understand every link before ever attempting to translate my thoughts into words. "Driven", as in "compulsive", as in, if I haven't completely digested all precedents, I have not fully completed my "homework" to earn the privilege of making public my contribution. This may seem like a harsh, self-inflicted sentence, but in fact it accurately reflects the expected norm for publishing scientists. So, true to that form, before I wrote this posting, I read all the postings, made notes in a separate WORD file, then edited it all into (hopefully) some clarity...

(This brings up the related issue of time: if one feels compelled to read all, and all encompasses pages, it takes more time than one has? More time than feels justified?)

....I conclude that, indeed, [doing all this reading and note-taking and editing] got me to THINK. To delineate and understand who I am. That surely is THE point of Serendip. And thanks folks for helping.

For more thinking? More help with thinking? Go to the "I am, and I think, therefore ... " Forum on Serendip.

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