The Rain, It Pounds Down to the Effing Umpteenth Power: A Poem for Love and Against Numbers




39,430,257.6936 pounds.


That’s how much rain fell on our 43.5 acres this last week.   How many water molecules is that?

50,505 moles/ton of water

995,712,582 moles on our farm multiplied by the number of water molecules per mole (6.022 times 10 to the 23rd power)

5996181171.26 times 10 to the 23rd

That equals approximately 6 billion to the  23rd power or 6 to the 32nd power

And what does all that quantifying tell us?

Jack to the effing umpteenth power.


What Does the Rain Mean to the Land?


If you would walk with it

the land might bawl out

a parable,

The mushrooms would roar you

a song,

The trees could bellow

their sodden mouths

The pasture might

riot and shove

Answering your question,

“Jack to the umpeenth power!”


“Jack to the umpteenth power!”


“Jack to the umpteenth power!

And love,





A Big Little Idea Called Legibility


Breathing with Another’s Eyes: Thinklinking with Thinglink

I have been creating a series of mashup responses to Nick Sousanis’ grand vision of the world, his graphic dissertation, Unflattening.  He and Kevin Hodgson and I have been tweeting back and forth about some of his other illustration and writing including a marvelous collection called Possibilities, some of which you can see here.

One of his pages has a panel full of rabbit-ish allusions that serve as an object lesson in what comix have to teach us ‘too busy’ adults.  A lot.  In fact I have included a public, shareable, editable ‘Thinglink’ annotated image below so that you can follow his trail or my trail or blaze your own trail.

I find that the benefit of annotation is very similar to reading a poem out loud–it allows the reader to haunt the poet.  In this case it allows me to slowly (and that is the damned key, slow down as a reader) consider what Sousanis has written and drawn. Part of that reconsideration is commenting upon, adding to (and I hope not distracting and subtracting from) and translating his work into my heart.  Or to use the poetry analogy above–I am breathing exactly the same breaths the poet wants me to breathe as I speak the words aloud.  Only in this case I am ‘breathing ‘ through his eyes, seeing and considering as he has.

This is not just close reading: this is macro reading. And we can think this together with Thinglink.  What I am discovering is old nodes and new and the connective sparks between.  For example, I hadn’t thought about how common the rabbit trope is and that makes me wonder why.  Nor had I thought about a comix page as a game board to be played which I immediately connect one of my favorite thinkers, James Carse, and the idea of infinite games.  So play the infinite game of connecting and linking and sharing with us here or on Thinglink.  Or start your own and invite me over.

Bonus Question:  can you see the Fibonacci sequence on the page?  I didn’t at first and had to have it pointed out to me.

A: Comedy Is the Cure. Q:What’s the Disease?

Susan Watson does her best ‘bull in a China shop’ imitation on her blog.  So much fun.  Her comic message is a constant reminder to never take oneself nor one’s borrowed ideas  too seriously.  I suppose that is the context for all comedy and this is very funny.  Take your medicine, children!



How to Annotate a Comix Page

I am working with Dr. Steve Berg and his class in sharing Nick Sousanis’ book Unflattening.  They have created a tremendous portal for all aspects of the book including reviews, background resources about how to read and make comix, and lessons for use in the classroom. A great model to follow and powerfully useful tool for following Sousanis’ book.

I have created an instructable-style Hackpad on how to annotate a comic using a page from his new book.  The annotated result is below followed by my the Hackpad.


Click on the hyperlinks below to follow the instructions.

View Annotating Unflattening on Hackpad.




OK, Rhizomatic Learning Theory Is Just a Crock

17782574151_02eb592251_zThere are two parts of rhizomatic learning. One is intellectual and represents a European philosophical tradition that rises through the great upheavals of the 20th century but the other is biological, an analogy to the power of the root, the corm, the bulb, and the rhizome. I really don’t like the mishmash that Deleuze and Guattari make of the the two. I have been an observer of the natural scene for almost thirty years where I am now and longer. One truth I know is that when it comes to knowing, I am humbled every day. What D&G know about the natural world they are drawing their metaphors from is even less than humbling. (Sometimes it seems like an in-joke.  I can’t imagine anything more disingenuous.)

And how do I know this truth? Directly through my own experience and indirectly in part through the work of one of my fellow Kentuckians, Wendell Berry. Read what Berry has to say below and tell me that D&G are not absolutely full of shit. And don’t give me an ‘apples and oranges’ argument either.

Then read the poem and be suffused with light from someone who has no use for the vapid conjurings of metaphysicians who use spells and ward words like “multiplicity/contextualism/heterarchy/Plane of immanence/asignifying rupture/decalcomania” instead of the real magic below.

Berry on form and its usefulness

It is true that any form can be applied with a stupid rigidity… But a set form can be used also to summon into a poem, or into a life, its unforeseen belongings, and thus is not rigid but freeing — an invocation to unknown possibility. Form, crudely or stupidly used, may indeed be inimical to freedom. Well used, it may be the means of earning freedom, the price of admission or permission, the enablement to be free. But the connection may be even closer, more active and interesting, than that; it may be that form, strictly kept, enforces freedom. The form can be fulfilled only by a kind of abandonment to hope and to possibility, to unexpected gifts. The argument for freedom is not an argument against form. Form, like topsoil (which is intricately formal), empowers time to do good.

I think that this also applies to the forms we use in teaching, the scaffolds, the templates, the checklists.  Note the caveat:  stupid rigidity.  A clear and useful statement on the power of intelligent form, “Form, like topsoil (which is intricately formal), empowers time to do good.   D&G wouldn’t  know clarity from a hickory chicken. Dryland fish? Morel? OK, mushrooms–a real rhizome instead of the faux crap being fed to us by D&G.

So , after playing the believing game for this long, for anteing up, for having skin in the game, for pretending that these guys have anything to say to me except insofar as I can make it mean something through ugly hoop jumping, I …call…bullshit.

This is two years of thinking about this. Perhaps those who “understand” the private language can use it.  I can’t. I appreciate them bringing it my attention. Now I can safely ignore it.  And besides, my limited knowing indicates that there is nothing in this that substantively differentiates it from the connectivism/constructivism/whimmydiddlism that passes for guiding theory.

And this comes from me, a sheep farmer who happens to know that ‘theorizing’ can be the most practical verb in the language.  This doodah ain’t practical.  I tried to find examples of it and ended up discovering cool useful stuff that I tried to characterize into a rhizomatic whackamole black hole. I failed, but it was worth doing if only for myself. It was worth sharing even though almost no one shared.  Truth tell, it was just an exercise of my own rhizome that most folks just call a brain.

If you want theory that you can practice, read Wendell Berry’s poetry. It is useful, applied knowing.  And if it isn’t, then it will be clear what you can push back against.



(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.

Sit down. Be quiet.

You must depend upon

affection, reading, knowledge,

skill – more of each

than you have – inspiration,

work, growing older, patience,

for patience joins time

to eternity. Any readers

who like your poems,

doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath

the unconditioned air.

Shun electric wire.

Communicate slowly. Live

a three-dimensioned life;

stay away from screens.

Stay away from anything

that obscures the place it is in.

There are no unsacred places;

there are only sacred places

and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.

Make the best you can of it.

Of the little words that come

out of the silence, like prayers

prayed back to the one who prays,

make a poem that does not disturb

the silence from which it came.



The One Panel Universe|University: A Close Read of Nick Sousanis’ Unflattening

I discovered this book via #rhizo15.  Thanks.

I know that the comments swamp the content in the image below–noise flattening the signal–so read his text first. Better yet, buy the book. ‘Tis worth the price just for the cool smell so much ink gives off. And if you like this be watching as I use popcornmaker to begin to do some unflattening of my own in an unsanctioned multimodal translation of Sousanis’ book.