When I get busy, I typically leave windows open on my computer; webpages I want to bookmark or write about, documents I haven’t finished and will save later. Ongoing conversations in instant messenger programs, and so on. Eventually, it gets to the point where I just have to close out everything I’m working. Sometimes it is because things stop working. Sometimes it is simply because I need to tie things up. Today, it was a little bit of both.
I am starting vacation and I want to have as clean a slate as possible. There was a lot to close out, because it has been a particularly challenging week, mostly because of #CLMOOC starting and because of Pokemon Go.
I’ve saved all kinds of thoughts and links in various documents, and some of this needs to come together into a blog post. First #CLMOOC
The starting point for CLMOOC is this page. It isn’t too late to join in. One way of joining in is to simply jump in. CLMOOC is divided into Make Cycles. The first Make Cycle is around getting to know one another. Make Cycle #1: Make with Me: Who Are We?
An important part of CLMooc is the connections, reusing and mashing up content. Some of the posts that jumped out at me, not in any particular order, included Ronald Rudolf’s variation on Jennifer’s Poem, RON LEUNISSEN’s reuse of art-cards, Jeffrey Keefer mind map in Who Am I? A CLMOOC UnIntroduction (which inspired some of my writing this past week), Sarah Honeychurch’s Who am I this month? and Deanna Mascle’s<./a> Notable Notes: Exploring Identity with/in #CLMOOC. For those exploring mapping, Deanna’s post points to one of Jeffrey Keefer’s post, one of my posts, and several others. I also want to highlight Kevin Hodgson’s poem about vocal harmony in a world of so much disharmony in the world around us.
Deanna’s comments about my post hit on another big topic for me this week, Pokemon. She provided a link to two great articles, 14 reasons #PokemonGO has a future in education; or, Why #PokemonGO deserves the thoughtful, creative, attention of schools and teachers and Pokémon Go Has Created a New Kind of Flâneur
Another really important article, I thought, was Ezra Klein’s Pokémon Go isn’t a fad. It’s a beginning.
Meanwhile, at work, we’ve been talking a lot about Pokemon. In a blog post, Pokémon Go: In, Near, and Around the Health Center, in Mark Masselli’s LinkedIn post, Pokémon Go and Community Health, in a Facebook Album, Pokemon GO at CHC, and in various news articles: PokeMon at CHC New Britain and
Pokemon Go gaming craze has players getting outside to find Pikachu.
So now, I’m heading off to vacation. I’ll see what is available for Pokemon on Cape Cod. I’ll stop at the 2nd BIG Tiny House Festival in Concord, MA on the way, and hopefully, I will get time to read, relax, and maybe even get more writing done.
As I drive, I’m listening to a Librivox recording of Evelyn Underhill’ Mysticism. Her comments about the phenomenal world and the transcendental world, that which is around us that we don’t normally see, makes me think of the various Pokemon characters that everyone is busy capturing in Pokemon Go. I think of it in terms of the networks and super-networks we are part of and how they shapes who we are. How does the network of roads, of food distribution networks, of electronic communications, of our social connections all connect with one another and shape the way we live and learn?
All of this is part of a spectrum of the phenomenal, the electronic, the social, and the transcendent. There is also the aspect of hallucinations, whether drug induced, or induced by other means. How do we know the validity of our perceptions, both of those things we receive and those that we don’t notice?
The section of Underhill’s Mysticism that I’m listening to right now is about introspection and the practice of contemplation; how you put yourself into a space where you can observe the transcendent. It seems to relate very well to levelling up in Pokemon Go or related augmented reality games. It seems as if the same applies to connected learning; practicing of being connected, of think about how our connections shape us and those around us.
So, I am spending time levelling up in my augmented reality games. I am spending time in contemplation. I am exploring my connections online and the learning opportunities they relate to.
For my CLMooc friends, how does this relate to your learning?
I try to wrap my mind
a tribe of connected learners
sharing their introductions
to other introductions
I am a new comer
to the tribe
not yet acclimated
as I look at the maps
of physical space
and mental space.
In one mind map
jumps out at me.
This is a liminal space for me
at this liminal time in my life.
Connected to the word
is the question,
“How do we make meaning
when we are most confused?”
Is there any other way?
The words Beckett gave to Pozzo
echo in my mind:
“They give birth astride of a grave,
the light gleams an instant,
then it's night once more.”
All life is liminal
birth and death,
and perhaps the best we can do
is map the rhizome
the liminal landscape.
The pains returned Friday night. It had been a few months and I was hoping that maybe the kidney stone had passed, undetected. Nope. It was a painful sleepless night, leading up to my birthday.
So, as I sat in my chair, shifting my weight, trying to find ways to get comfortable, I started thanking friends who have wished me a happy birthday on Facebook. Last time I checked, it was 378. It is interesting to think about who shared greetings. Conservatives and liberals, priests and atheists, people whose houses I went to over fifty years ago and people that I’ve only met online through shared interests, white, black, Hispanic, gay, straight, trans, cis.
After this past week, where there has been so much violence, it is good to feel connected to all of mankind.
Some friends share a link to Choir, Choir, Choir, a large group of people gathering together to sing inspiring popular music, sort like massive karaoke on steroids, people connected to one another, like at Falcon Ridge, or, I imagine, at Miranda’s Hearth gatherings. I’ve been listening to a bunch of their recordings on YouTube.
Meanwhile, my youngest daughter has started playing Pokemon Go. For those who’ve missed it, Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game played on your smartphone, where you go to specific locations in real life and interact with objects in the game there. It is based on Ingress, which I’ve been playing for years. As such, the locations I go to for Ingress are the same locations that Fiona goes to for Pokemon Go. It is interesting to see the strong popular interest in Pokemon Go, when compared to the niche geek interest in Ingress.
All of this leads nicely into Connected Learning MOOC. It starts today, Sunday July 10th and goes til August 6th. I will try to participate as much as I can, although during this period I will be on Cape Cod for a week, and later at a folk music festival for several days.
The first Make Cycle asks, “Who are we?” During this coming week, I look forward to finding out who else is participating on CLMooc. Who will I be excited to connect with? What thoughts, projects, and ideas will we want to pursue?
I’m excited about the poetry part of CLMooc. For those interested, you can read some of my poems in the Poetry section of my blog. I’m also interested in mysticism. I’m currently listening to Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism during my commute, and reading some of St. Teresa of Avila’s The Interior Castle. All of this will probably feed into my poetry. It is fed by my religious journey in which I am exploring the possibility of becoming an ordained Episcopal priest. I’m very interested in online learning around religious and spiritual matters.
I heard about CLMOOC from RHIZO15. I’m very interested in a connectivist model of learning, the work of Deleuze and Guattari, and a bunch of other writers I lump together in the same larger group, from Lacan to Foucault. I work in social media in health care, and I’m working on an online health care professionals learning environment.
So that was my birthday, with kidney stones, and lots of interesting connections as part of my introduction to #CLMOOC 2016. I look forward to connecting.
Saturday evening, at about 8 pm, Kim, Fiona, and I had finished dinner and were sitting on the deck, getting ready for the final phase of the evening, when my phone rang. It was my eldest daughter, Mairead, calling from Japan, where it was already Father’s Day.
Perhaps some fathers, especially those interested in gardening receive rhizomes for Father’s Day, maybe irises to plant, or ginger, or asparagus. I have been interested in the works of Deleuze and Guattari, and particularly around the idea of rhizome as a philosophical and educational concept.
We ended up having an hour long discussion, covering all kinds of different ideas, a very rhizomatic discussion.
It is hard to say where to start, with everything so interconnected, and it probably doesn’t matter. Instead, I will provide a little context and then try to map out some of the rhizomatic discussion.
Mairead left for college when she was fourteen, heading off to Mary Baldwin College in Virginia. She explore several different majors and ultimately ended up getting a degree in history from University of Connecticut before heading off to teach English in Japan, and then enter graduate school there.
From time to time, we get the opportunity to talk about her studies, and this evening was a good example. She talked about a presentation she gave in her seminar which is being led by a professor very interested in Guattari. Mairead mentioned to him that I was interested in Guattari and he asked if I was a history professor or something like that. She said something like, no, he’s just weird that way. He said that he would like to meet me some time, and I hope that will work out.
I remembered meeting one of Mairead’s Asian Studies professors at Mary Baldwin. We had joke beforehand about how she should teach me a phrases to say to him, introducing myself, but instead of being a proper introduction, being the sort of phrase that someone might convince someone else to say, as a joke. So, Mairead taught me how to say “Hi. I’m weird” in Japanese. I didn’t know what she had actually taught me to say, but I figured it was a good thing to do, so I said it to the professor, who raised an eyebrow as I said it.
This evening, Mairead who only knew rudimentary Japanese at that time, told me that she might not have used the best word for “weird”. The word she taught me had connotations of “deep” and “mysterious”.
One of the ideas that came up in our discussion this evening was one that people who don’t speak multiple languages and travel circles where different languages might be spoken are unlikely to encounter, the decision of what language to talk in.
It seems there are many factors that go into this decision, in terms of the context of the discussion, the content, the participants, the goals, etc. I guess the closest I get to that is deciding, especially in my work role, whether to write something as an email, a tweet, a Facebook post, a blog post, or some other format. Perhaps it is something we all have to decide in terms of whether we call someone, text them, send them an email, a Facebook message, or many other options.
It made me think of a Group Relations conference I attended in Holland back in about 2000. It led to a brief digression to talk about Wilfred Bion, S. H. Foulkes, and Melanie Klein. We talked briefly about psychoanalysis, Object Relations, Group Relations, and Group Analytics. We did not digress as far as Jacques Lacan which could have brought us all the way back to Guattari.
The Group Relations conference was international and was supposed to be in English, but at one point, some of the participants rebelled and chose to speak in Dutch, leaving me and some of the other international speakers out, or “othered”.
I also spoke around recently listening to a recording of Evelyn Underhill’s 1911 book Mysticism. We went off on a brief tangent about Underhill, Tolkien, and hobbits. Evelyn Underhill did write to C.S. Lewis, who was a friend of Tolkien. It is curious to wonder if Tolkien knew Evelyn Underhill. I suspect he did.
Thinking about Underhill’s work, it is interesting to think about how our approaches to realism, idealism, pragmatism, etc shape our thoughts about the transcendent. It is even more interesting to think about this in terms of how the language we speak or choose to speak shapes our thinking. Mairead spoke of the choice on language in a multi-lingual setting as being automatic, and I thought of how Underhill spoke of some of the writings of the mystics as being automatic. A tangent we didn’t get off onto was Jackson Pollack and automatic painting or approaching Pollack from a context of Deleuze and Guattari
Mairead recounted writing a paper about some female Christian mystic back when she was in junior high school. We had a good discussion around women and mysticism. We talked about how this might relate to the education available to women in the middle ages, their relationship to the dominant power structures of the time, how it related to other forms of expression, particularly in the arts.
This led to an interesting discussion about the relationship between religions and power structures. We talked about the established church verses the counter-cultural church. Mairead spoke about a Buddhist friend who had visited the United States during one of the Gulf Wars and was shocked to find Christians that supported war, since there was a strong relationship between Christianity and pacifisms in Japan. This led to talking about Buddhists that were not pacifists in Japan, which may seem equally hard to fathom for American’s that have a strong association between Buddhism and pacifism.
Perhaps the interesting relationship isn’t between pacifism and specific religions, as it is between pacifism and how the religion relates to the power structures of the culture. Perhaps pacifism is more about a rejection of the use of violence by the dominant power structures to maintain power, and so established religions are less likely to be pacifist and counter-cultural religions are more likely to be pacifist.
It was particularly interesting to think about this in terms of the discussions about Islam, and particularly some of Donald Trump’s rhetoric, and Obama’s response.
We veered over to touching on R.G. Collingwood’s Idea of History as well as a discussion of one of Mairead’s classes where different professors come and lecture on different methods of research. It made me think of a class I took on Marx back in my college days, not the Marx of the Red Scare, but the Marx of Philosophy, History, Economics, Sociology, Political Science, and more. This provided another chance to return to the thought of Guattari, but instead, it was time to end to phone call and attend to other stuff.