We permit the state to ascertain the universal educational deficiencies of its citizens and establish one specialized agency to treat them. We thus share in the delusion that we can distinguish between what is necessary education for others and what is not, just as former generations established laws which defined what was sacred and what was profane.
Durkheim recognized that this ability to divide social reality into two realms was the very essence of formal religion. There are, he reasoned, religions without the supernatural and religions without gods, but none which does not subdivide the world into things and times and persons that are sacred and others that as a consequence are profane. Durkheim’s insight can be applied to the sociology of education, for school is radically divisive in a similar way.
The very existence of obligatory schools divides any society into two realms: some time spans and processes and treatments and professions are “academic” or “pedagogic,” and other are not. The power of school thus to divide social reality has no boundaries: education becomes unworldly and the world becomes noneducational.
Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society
for John Berger
as the brick of the afternoon stores the rose heat of the journey
as the rose buds a green room to breathe
and blossoms like the wind
as the thinning birches whisper their silver stories of the wind to the urgent
in the trucks
as the leaves of the hedge store the light
that the moment thought it had lost
as the nest of her wrist beats like the chest of a wren in the morning air
as the chorus of the earth find their eyes in the sky
and unwrap them to each other in the teeming dark
hold everything dear
the calligraphy of birds across the morning
the million hands of the axe, the soft hand of the earth
one step ahead of time
the broken teeth of tribes and their long place
steppe-scattered and together
clay’s small, surviving handle, the near ghost of a jug
carrying itself towards us through the soil
the pledge of offered arms, the single sheet that is our common walking
the map of the palm held
in a knot
but given as a torch
hold everything dear
the paths they make towards us and how far we open towards them
the justice of a grass than unravels palaces but shelters the songs of the searching
the vessel that names the waves, the jug of this life, as it fills with the days
as it sinks to become what it loves
memory that grows into a shape the tree always knew as a seed
the child who reaches for the truths beyond the door
the yearning to begin again together
animals keen inside the parliament of the world
the people in the room the people in the street the people
hold everything dear
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese, via.
This is moving me deeply right now.
Wall above my bed plastered in maps, this one my favourite.
When I was eighteen, I put a map of Antarctica on the wall of my room in the fleabag residential hotel that was my home. It represented a kind of cold hope beyond suffering and passion, beyond society and personality, beyond the familiar and ordinary, a landscape for extremists. That pure far world still fascinates me, that world north or south of trees, of cities, of almost everything, seemingly even of color in those images of white expanses through which white and drab animals move, under a pale or cloudless sky, the elemental earth, the other world at the ends of the world.
—Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby
I tweeted this:
Hi friends! I spent the month of July in Israel at @WeizmannScience working on cancer immunotherapy under an amazing PhD student there. ~ I was wrestling with ideas about science & art, architecture & landscapes, history & culture, and travelling, communities & growth… ~ & thinking about conflict, justice, peace, & the privilege of going to the Middle East on mostly my own terms (I had a very safe trip). ~ I also visited many corners of the country and hiked Israel’s gorgeous deserts. I want to tell you all about it, but it’s a lot to untangle. ~ (and I have a lot of questions) ~ So for now, I’ve put up a tiny fraction of the photos I took, my favourites, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/selinjessa/sets/72157635074848936/ ~
I have so many thoughts and feelings about this trip that for now, the best I can do is show you my favourites of the pictures I took and keep mulling over those questions. Not certain that there are answers, but at some point I’ll get enough of a handle on them to think about them more publicly on here (I hope) (cf. The art of working in public) (also cf. ‘Trying’ in this Paul Graham essay).
Here is a thing about photography and the ineffable:
Photographs capture the ineffable, translating experiences… A photograph has a subject matter and pictorial structure which we may read according to discourse - interpreting sense and reference. However, in its attestation to the infinite detail of materiality, in its unwitting record, a photograph sometimes has its transparency clouded…The photographed world is rarely ever fully controlled. The heterogeneity of photowork, with all those possible interconnections, may break the predictability of mis en scène. Roland Barthes calls this the punctum of a photograph. Indeed this is part of the working of association and discourse: resistances to the order imposed upon the world are endemic… To end then I extend an invitation to conceive of the dialectical text and image as tangent to the past - a vector (from the present) touching the past at the point of sense and then moving off to explore its own course, partaking of actuality, the temporality of memory.
Michael Shanks, Archaeologies of the contemporary past
Going to look into that idea from Barthes.