#Rhizo14: the Uncomfortable Future Emerges, Flux Happens. Part One.

Here are some initial notes on the “course” Rhizomatic Learning and Dave Cormier’s introduction..

“Rhizomatic learning is a story.”

Is this a narrative played out in nature or is it an artificial, man-inspired sortie? The reason I ask the question is because I think of nature’s story as anthropomorphizing.  There is no story in nature.  A rhizome is a rhizome and nothing more. Move along, no story here folks.

I think of stories as part of our newer DNA, the social DNA that comes from orality and literacy.  By itself, nature tells no stories.  Humans mediate stories.  We try to interpret nature as best we can and that’s none too good.  It fails to varying degrees because of the approximate nature of analogy and metaphor.  Words piled high into stories only approximate the unknown and perhaps unknowable basis of nature.

And as Thomas Berry warns, “It’s all a question of story.”

We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story.  We are in between stories.  The old story, the account of how the world came to be and how we fit into it, is no longer effective (123).

(Berry, Thomas. The Dream of the Earth. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988. Print.)

To go even further, some of the old stories (earth dominion, capitalism, be fruitful and multiply) might be destroying us all with their re-telling and re-enactment.  I think the education story that Cormier outlines in the first paragraph is one of those self-destructive stories.  Acknowledging that makes us all iconoclasts.  I just don’t think we have found our new story yet. I would love to think that ‘rhizomatic learning’ in all its vague glory might be just the ticket.

The video below isn’t specifically about rhizomatic learning, but it represents the thinking of one of its most important proponents, , Slavoj Žižek.  Just look at it ‘slant’as dear divine Miss Emily suggests and you might see the connection.  If not, down a couple of shots of Four Roses Yellow Label, and come back to it.

RSA ANIMATE: First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

In this RSA Animate, renowned philosopher Slavoj Zizek investigates the surprising ethical implications of charitable giving. This was taken from the RSA’s free public events programme. The RSA is a 258 year-old charity devoted to creating social progress and spreading world-changing ideas. For more information about our research, RSA Animates, free events programme and 27,000 strong fellowship.

Zizek on Cultural Capitalism


Dogtrax Riffin’ and Spiffin’ Up My Pome.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/128976536″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

I got the idea for the poem as I did my morning chores in this week’s polar express.  We got down to -4 F with numbing gusts from the northwest.  I used an ax to bust through the ice and the moment I did memory arose, the perfume of honey in hives on the hottest days of summer. Why?  Memory does not justify itself.  It just is.  The Muse beckoned and I wrote upon her command.

On a whim I threw the poem to the Internet winds, manna from my mind onto other shores.  Kevin snapped it up like driftwood from the shore and remixed, re-infused, and re-released it, a grand re-silvered mirror for someone else to consider. See the soundcloud above to look into it.

There is much to be said and learned from this for my part–the nature of digital collaboration, the unalloyed beauty of process within product, the power of friendship and sharing, and the eternity of creation in the moment. That does not suffice. What I want to say is ‘thanks’ to Kevin for proving the worth of this Ivan Illich truth:

“Schools are designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets. An individual with a schooled mind conceives of the world as a pyramid of classified packages accessible only to those who carry the proper tags.”
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Kevin’s is an un-schooled mind in the best sense. And Kevin deschools us all with his unregenerate and continuing whacks at the secret pinata of schooling. Keep on, Kevin! Keep on!