Whether by necessity, tradition or desire, it is a fact of our present situation that the arts have become intimately tied to education. With TEACHING IN THE MARGINS Full Stop seeks to further explore the implications of this reality, the ways the writing happening now is influenced and influences the teaching of reading and writing. Further, at a cultural and historical moment when funding for arts non-profits is increasingly being cut and University presidents are dethroned for not moving fast enough, the question is no longer should the way artists and educators operate change, but how?
With this in mind, we sent our questionnaire to writers and curators, academics and educators, with an eye open to the interface between innovative artistic practice and progressive pedagogies, taking stock of the untapped potential of these unconventional ways of knowing, discovering how art pushing borders creates new spaces for teaching and learning at the margins.
1. Standing in a public space, face Eric Ellingsen.
2. Raise your arms to both of your sides like an airplane.
3. Move your hands little by little in front of you until your hands cross the threshold of your peripheral views. Try to hold your hands at the exact border between seeing your hands appearing and Eric Ellingsen.
Why did you become an educator? How has your perspective on teaching changed as your career has developed?
I don’t know why I became an educator other than that I love it. But I also love being in a kind of continuous adult education. Like I’m always learning, like there is always a sensitive brailing of content and questions going on, a refinement of my own language and experimentation within an operative confidence that stays naïve. How do we negotiate the systems around us as a way to understand the constraints of those systems and recondition the interrelationships that give those systems forms? Maybe the best way to talk about my perspective on education experimentation is to describe a teaching experiment I choreographed in Chicago, an attempt to walk and dance our questions.
In an architecture/landscape architecture studio I taught in Chicago a few years ago, I asked each student to design a scenario for vertical farming, an urban agriculture program, in a Garfield Park. Each student needed to latch into other hybrids in social and art and cultural programming. The studio was hosted by the Garfield Conservatory, and involved consultants from the Chicago Botanical Garden — the CEO (Chief Environmental Officer) of the garden used to be the head curator at the Art Institute, I think) — and the Mayor’s office, as well as an epidemiologist from Columbia in NYC who spearheads work in Vertical Farming, field trips to Growing Power, critiques by poets and policy makers and food systems planners, and other experts in polyvalent programing including people from an experimental school in Chicago called Archeworks.
And the best way I could imagine starting to communicate the complexities of these systems, which I was also learning about rather than simply teaching what I already knew (not the old one-way street walker pedagogy, a method of flatness and boredom and death to the … ) was by engaging one of my favorite pieces of writing ever, that four page part of Beckett’s WATT where the character walks back and forth between parts of a room —- heat (fireplace), light (window), work (table), rest (bed), action (door), etc. It is a tense situation. A situation of dailyness. And each thing is a complex system. A window is a thermodynamic release, a flow moderator, changing what we see and smell, and hear — R- values we don’t often consider in architecture. Anyway, we could call a door and a window what we needed. We could dream into the metaphors, stir up and irritate our questions, feelings, and strategies for thinking about what we needed to think about in terms of design.
What I find inspiring about translating Beckett’s WATT into an architecture experiment, is that when the reader reads these four pages the reader reproduces an actual experience of that tension, that anxiety in the novel is felt and negotiated. The writing is actually experiential not simply descriptive of something that happens to the author’s character. This changes the author into the reader, in some respects . . . We’d have to invite Calvino in to continue that discussion…
So the 15 or 16 of us danced. I danced the WATT too, and I find this works for me in teaching, to do the experiments together so that everyone’s vulnerable and critically split open so to speak. And by dancing I mean we found a way to move and map a space of our questions into the very real space of the room and into our preconceived notions of symbols for door window wall in regards to conversations of performativity, and then translate that into what these urban systems required as architectural solutions. So we swarmed collectively, literally, all at once, in the space of a few afternoons, guided by WATT not. We would start with constraints: we have to touch each of the things in the rooms when the word is read. Soon we would find ways of spreading out in the room so that when each thing-system is mentioned, like a door, someone could touch the door without moving.
We were synchronizing into a collective working together in space to engage a set of variables which were there before we arrived and required a kind of choreographed awareness fused with speed and agile movement. Then we could change what we thought a door was. Where a wall is. Etc. And all of us would improvise as a group of individuals different micro-constraints, vectors inside of the dance, we could find the spatial movements which would then cascade through the group, while still meeting the constraints of responding within and to the words in WATT. So WATT was encountered as a kind of score, but not one predetermined, more like John Cage’s A Dip in a Lake, and that score twisted together our bodies and actions into an ecology of thinking and doing. We used the words to dance the space around us, then diagrammed and talked about those movements and spaces as sets of open instructions to incubate and interrogate our critical, intellectual and creative imagination infused by an ecological worldview. And, at the same time, a side-effect was that what emerged was a kind of group embodied softness, an openness of experience together which softened up our reservations while building up our confidence in thinking out loud and not being insecure in what we didn’t know.
It was this weaving rhythm of our own movement between these things in the room and the text and the project ready at hand which we could attach a physical feeling to our thoughts. It was a repetition like a garden is a repetition of: squash squash squash row row worm row, garlic garlic garlic fly, beet beet beet beet, or like a kind of concrete poets forest of T’s rather than trees. It was also a kind of dance where we literally walked paths together, like a Steve Reich piece back and forth to hear different phantom words, in the same way that we walked and subwayed back and forth to work to school to studio and home to bed each day, something that changes as you do it, something that you perceive in the duration of doing. And we could look at how we see what is there in those systems and rhythms like Georges Perec advises. And in that duration we generated questions and dialogue and approaches to the complexities that resonated throughout the entire semester and cultivated a feeling of risk taking and responsibility for constraint and systems based thinking and doing.
It sort of helped synchronize the conditions of critically thinking and doing things and movements together and at the same time into our personal languages as a tangible rhythm. I mean if you go back to big D’s Bergsonism, framing a question is the creative and critical act. And it takes intuition and precision to develop a question, and that intuition is scientific as he says, in that it is critically sharp, honed, annealed and worked. The sediment becomes hard stone, and those stone stone rafts, like the kind Saramago writes about.
This is a long way of answering your question, and clearly my thinking between doing the experiment described above and now has also been informed by 3 more years of teaching experiments which I am involved in today in Berlin, and trying to articulate teaching methodologies and experiments critically while also conducting them in the realm of uncertainty. The uncertainty has to be preserved. I mean the example I just went through is a kind of methodological way of thinking and teaching which I still exist in some evolutionary line of descent today. All this might not sound like a precise answer but it feels on its way to being precise to me. And maybe you finish that precision rather than have it pre-packaged for you. But I guess I could also say all my teaching perspectives constantly change, but they also retain a relationship to a way of working in an art and writing and design language as a way of learning. You can call it career, but I’m not so keen on that word. I think of if a way of living and trying to stay awake.
Someday I really want to open another school combining art and poetry, urbanism and architecture and landscape architecture and food systems . . . Something that takes all these intense teaching experiments I am lucky to be a part of and orients them into . . . , but it’s too early to really talk about. Though ideas abound . . .
One last note, is just to mention a hero of mine, Ranciere and his The Ignorant Schoolmaster — I would advise to put my interview down and read his book . . .
Who or what has been the biggest influence in your approach to teaching?
There are tons and tons of things, people, experiences, schools. Studying landscape architecture was pivotal in my life, maybe the tool that most sharpened my thoughts and actions. Imagine spending half a year designing a single path, mapping city with the body to find it, then the second half of that year designing a path in a garden, then a garden in a park and the park on a waterfront site and that site being on a brownfield post-oil refinery dredged out waterway across from a metropolitan landfill boarded by an international port, so international waters, and next to a sacred symbol for a political democracy and other ideological terrorisms. That site is Bayonne, New Jersey, the 9/11 tower wreckage and proposed memorial was at Fresh Kills, Staten Island, within sight lines of Bayonne. This was the context for a first year landscape architecture studio which continues to inform the way I think about the complexity of choreographing techniques of learning and teaching and poetry and art and personal relationships etc.
And Bayonne is every city in the world from Beijing to Berlin to Lexington, Kentucky to Addis Ababa in terms of constraints and ecologies coupled to modernisms and industrialisms and ideologies which bump our actions around and converging in our lives as life and place and morphological space shapers . . . I mean, it’s not some Russian doll inside a doll inside of a doll inside of Virginia Woolf’s room inside a room. It is a translation between scales and materials and research, hard research, movement and ecologies and constraints and feelings, physical and biological systems, social, cultural, perceptual, things — roads, run-off, urban rivers, raccoons, tap roots, rats, rip-offs, people, rights. It is negotiating terms of movement and tools of perception, publics and privates, globals and locals, ideas of culture and nature, hegemonies and Harmony Korine’s, from Latour to loams to post-humanisms to labyrinths of solitudes to lazy-boy recliners pitched onto the Chicago curbs as urban dirties unloaded in populations of people with names like Lance and Lucia and Liebe. And then taking all those things and designing a path! Of sounds, or sights, of temperatures, of the body moving through space bending to an ox-bow and bike tread and baby-pram. But there are so many of these kinds of influences in my life, which influence my thoughts on learning.
For instance, I was given the privilege to help start and design a graduate landscape architecture program in Chicago Illinois Institute of Technology, IIT. Teaching is an amazing privilege! And helping to structure other teaching, I feel so lucky. And it was an amazing influence on how I feel responsible for the way I think, because sometimes those thoughts risk materializing around me as forms. IIT had one of the most entrenched pedagogical experiments surviving in the west, initiated by the Bauhaus pedagogy of Mies ver der Rohe, and Gygory Kepes, and others planted in Chicago, and the Black Mountains, in our less is more school. And that architecture department had over 1000 arch students, and over 100 faculty, and there was no professional and accredited landscape graduate architecture program the big shouldered sometimes little brained (like all cities) powerhouse of the mid-west. Amazing to be able to help influence and structure a three year curriculum, create vectors and trajectories through courses and skills and tools, to be able to interview teachers who knew things I didn’t and still don’t, experts in soil ecology, planning, digital fabrication tools.
I also did a masters degree in classical philosophy and literature/mathematics at St. John’s College, Annapolis which was a big influence in how I think about teaching and learning. It is a Great Books program, where there are no teachers except the books; an amazing pedagogical experiment that is built on discourse, oral defense, written argument, and a kind of discursive dialogical path-making. Wonderful for the world and diplomacy if you can get out of the talk talk talk eddies that separate thinking from doing. In other words, maybe any teaching is an acting of ideas, rather than ideologies. Ideas are more alive. Are breathing. While ideologies are cleaned, polished, shined and pigeon netted to keep the shit off. Maybe ideas are acted thoughts. Anyway, but imagine, arguing intensely what virtue or honor is with a NAVY seal using King Lear and Euclid as tennis ball and racket with a tutor that is a heart surgeon curating the seminar. What spins! Even DFWallace would have a hard time mapping those spins. Remember how he writes about playing tennis with the wind as a partner . . .
But there are so many amazing amazing amazing teachers and influences I’ve had. So many things non-pedagogical, non-institutionalized, like building hand dug wells in Ghana for a year after college, or doing construction in Virginia, or years of waiting tables and learning how to carry six plates of food and four tables of orders and as many conversations while Jose in the back plays grab ass with Antonio.
But I have to say the most important influence in my approach is the one I am living now. I think the most important influence is always the one you are living. I am a part of this extraordinary extraordinary education experiment started by the artist Olafur Eliasson. It’s a five year experiment through the University of the Arts, Berlin, called the Institute für Raumexperimente. It is a part of everything I am and do and believe in and question and somehow everything else too. It’s that because we try things out which we don’t know and risk operating in a kind of uncertain certainty.
I think Olafur’s most complex art is the way he practices, and the school is a living practice of the complexity of thought in methodology, experimentation, experience, and trying to crystalize shapes and actions and art from a place of content, criticality, and heart. The institute is an art school so perhaps there are leeways we can risk unlike tinkering in an engineering or medical program . . . But it’s a space where we experience our experiments. A space where all the participants dance our questions together, as we say sometimes, where we curate the curriculum together, work through networks and art works and critical tools in ways that possess and free me at the same time. It’s an influence that resonates through my work and life and thoughts. Impossible to say there is a more influential force in my thoughts on teaching and pedagogy than this now. But it’s so now that to talk about it tips the electrons spin into different thought orbits. We continually ask question like how can we feel like what we learn and do? How do we feel ourselves in the world around us, thus more responsible for it? How can we design walking in the city as an education experiment so that we understand that the way we walk down the street reinforces or renegotiates the political and economic speeds investments feelings and systems in public space?
I mean, in less than two weeks I move with the institute participants, the artists in the school, the other co-director and teacher, along with myself – Christina Werner, and a little handful of grantees — artists and architects and curators, to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will live together and work together and eat together and learn together and unlearn together and learn together. Which also reminds me that I need to wrap this up and get back to some work, finish some Piaget videos and articles my sister sent me for a performance lecture I need to give, and finish watching a documentary on the recent president of Tibur, a Nobel Peace Prize whom Olafur brought into our institute to open our semester last week – the documentary and his visit will probably need to be contextualized when it comes up inside of a talk with a correspondent for the Economist who comes to our institute this Friday, and I have to send off a 10meter translation art-poetry-work which I did with a Chinese poem into French into English in Paris with around 400 people which has been killing me for the past 4 months to finish because editing . . . And I have to organize a meeting for the professional journals we started in the institute: TICKjournal. Check it out if you have a chance. TICK TICK TICK. Really exciting. And I have a three week old son – wow. It’s like trying to fashion those wings that Rilke talks about, it takes wings to see the nearest things sometimes.
Sir Ken Robinson makes the claim that the current American education system constructs the boundaries of learning in a way that makes true creativity impossible. In your experience, what is the relationship between arts and the education system or the academy? Symbiotic? Parasitic? Ambivalent? From your perspective, how does the American education system constrain the potential for innovative creative modes of thinking, creating, and writing?
Can I come back to this question later, like in a year or two and without having to frame a response in a liturgical accuse and defense dialogue? I have many thoughts and feelings about this. I try not think in terms of creative impossibilities, which operates from a negative, and so I’m a bit turned off by questions which launch from what is not happening or a lack of something or what is missing, be it resources or a methodology. That framing of a question tenders the ground for an oppositional thinking, a scenario of unproductive othernesses which I then find it hard to sidetrack interior to the question’s frame. And by the American education system would we be talking about kindergartens and lab schools, public schools and preps, colleges or grad schools? That like saying the US has no good food. Just depends on the site conditions and gardening skills.
But the question also suggests its own answer, a kind of path I have to follow in responding, which suggests that the arts are even a part of the system, or that the system considers itself at all as a whole, as a single entity like a super organism. Which is nonetheless an interesting accusation to make, as if the ‘education system’ as a whole has yet to reach it’s mirror stage, has yet to see itself in relation to the world as an actor acting and being acted on (in the ANT (Actor Network Theory) sense). But see, here I am answering because I still find thinking about a more parasitic mind exciting, in the way that I find the viral vectors in our DNA exciting, the 90% of us that isn’t human. Where am I going with all this? And maybe that is a symptom of any education system, it always feels like it needs to know where it is going before it gets there, or needs to make points and lessons.
Basically, I try to pick up as many experiences I can by teaching and lecturing in different universities and departments. I am hyper interested in how different schools and departments critique and evaluate themselves, how they experiment, what kind of dissent and difference is allowed. But there are so many differences in ‘the American Education system’ that sweeping evaluations especially in terms of creativity are hard. It’s like those old Loktra Volterra model for complex systems, simple s-curve carry capacity equations for ecologies and species; it just lumps crucial and robust differences like ages and performances together and maps a kind notion of graspable neatness. That’s sad.
We are afraid of messy things, and yet that’s what we also are drawn to. The riparian borders of beaches and rivers, the edges of coasts and lakes and canyons. But I think a real risk which we are living now almost everywhere in the world in terms of curating infrastructures of learning is that we apply a machine metaphor rather than an organic or ecological metaphor. Daniel Botkin writes about this a lot. As if what we need to design in schools are courses and content containers like parts of a machine, as if each part can be crafted, shaped, then assembled into disciplinary knowledge. Very Newtonian notion, which somehow slipped our attention in structuring degrees and a dissemination rather than a co-production of knowledge. I taught part time at the University of Toronto, a philosophy of ecology course – what a constraint is was central to ecological world-view, to ecological thinking.
And now teaching in Germany, while still somehow maintaining fibers and relations in the US because of friends or colleagues, gust guests that visit the institute where I teach bringing in storms of ideas. And it helps that the institute I’m a part of now collaborates with the GSD at Harvard, the ETH in Zurich, and the Sciences Po in Paris. And next week we move the institute to Addis Ababa. I need more time to think about comparing all this to the American Education system. But it’s another reason I have started dreaming to start another teaching experiment someday back in the States . . . Maybe a second start of my answer can happen then.
Is it possible to teach creativity within these constraints? Is it possible to teach creativity at all?
Have you seen how queen bees are impregnated when a colony diminishes? A researcher takes forceps and uses an ovipositor, a kind of medicine dropper with a slender proboscis of an insect, and pumps a loads of bee semen into the queen. I kind of see that as similar to a lot of teaching methods that are employed. A kind of one-way filling from professor to student. Open up, Let me pour what I know into you.
I don’t know if teach is the right word, and I don’t know what creativity means. Maybe that sounds like too cool of an answer. I think creativity could mean what is lived infused with imagination and responsibility and pragmatics and lots of other things from the heart. It sounds cheesy maybe, but I can live with the cheeses in this part of the world. I think creativity is an operative mode, not like some mystical élan vital or luminescent ether coursing mysteriously through our curriculums and pedagogical attempts. Creativity is a force, but something we generate as we live it and develop a long-term relationship of acting and thinking within and within others and other things as sources of it. Maybe something like what Wallace Stevens meant when he says the wave is in the water.
Brecht called each of his plays attempts, versuche, things complete and still on their way, something complete and precise and yet incomplete and more. Maybe because they were performed when those thoughts were lived in life not on a stage . . . If you look at ecological systems, constraints are built up be feedback, they are the relationships which help co-constitute the energy flowing and material cycling as a system. They are like banks of a river; they erode, they shift, they ox-bow. What a constraint is is such an important question.
Take an ice crystal as an example. All those little microgradients nudging the unique ice-crystal around. There is a guy named Kenneth Libbrecht, (has an amazing website) that studies ice-crystals. Imagine as a student playing in freezers studying frost all summer in California – maybe our poets should intern . . . Anyway, the genetic 6-fold symmetry crystallizes around the dynamics of the place through which it moves, which also, over the cascades of many small things changing at once, changes that place. The whole thing is liquid, even the solids.
The dust centers which the legs dreaming of symmetry in warm and cool and wet dreams, form in the hydro-thermal glyphs and phonemes of the sky. A form that is made as it performs, a container which is content too. An immediate latching into the systems of difference like temperature which is coupled to altitude, weather through which that crystal rises and falls. That ice-crystal is a system of coupled constraints, the terms of phase changing, the rates of change and other calculus.’
And it only becomes infinitely more complex when we add the other social and cultural systems to that weather, like Sloterdijk talks about the wind as a transport war machine mechanism of chemical plumes, or, we add in layers of production like cloud seeding and ski slope markets and the CO2 produced by an international airplane, and the perception of pollution to what the weather is and the extent in which we are responsible for it, coupled to all our inherited prejudices and jellies of what nature is which are not innocent because all of our thoughts and beliefs about what things are are coupled to our actions, from opening the refrigerators and washing our clothes, to voting for presidential candidates, to picking a part of the city near a park to live in because of the way it makes us feel. All these systems overlap; it’s messy.
And all of these overlaps engages and encounters and involves those us as things/systems/selves with fears, anxieties, apprehensions and desires. We are one of these thing/system/selves too, I think. So are our schools and cultural institutions. And maybe the six-fold symmetry of education today involves more dimensions, more poetry arm coupled to architecture and landscape arms coupled to philosophy arms coupled to art arms coupled to history arms to economy arms to spirituality arms and other things involved in acted patterns of belief and ritual and custom and desire and memory and hope and habits and necessity. All these things, these arms, are the weather of micro-gradients which an idea falls through.
So as an artist or an architect or a policy maker has an idea, that idea is nudged around by all those arms, those systems, and the extent to which we are conscious of those arms make those arms available as tools for us in manipulating the idea as it crystallizes as a poem, an art work, a teaching experiment, a critical essay, an interview maybe. Then we can salt the roads of our critical collective actions so that those lovely and scary forms don’t make us all slip up. So we can track and traction and move better. I mean remember that scene from the Old Man and the Seeing it, when the old man rigs the tiller as a tool as a weapon. The thing by which he steers, the old kybernete, the thing which is also rudder is also arm as a weapon, a tool of another sort, to get there . . . But that could go in so many other directions . . .
What, for you, constitutes a piece of writing as experimental or innovative? What, if anything, does this sort of experimental practice have to contribute to the classroom?
There are some amazing writing experiments going on today; the ones I am most a part of or following or fighting with or being squeezed into clouds by is in translation and the lyric essay. There are such great experiments in translations and essay today, English to English translations of Emily Dickenson, Trakls, the Telephone Journal, homophonic translations, trans-literal translations, Rothenberg, LANGUAGE people n+1ing, Anne Carson, etc. Maybe this is an art piece not simply an interview. Go back to Spicer writing letters about translations with a dead Lorca writing back, or going into Paz Chingada-ing.
I think translating is a great metaphor and tool and mode for any classroom today. And I keep adding the ‘I think’ before these thoughts, even though an old comparative lit friend of mine says that we think is assumed by the reader. But I think that contract of thinking is defunct today and cannot simply be assumed.
But anyway, the real classrooms today are out of the school but maybe still inside the institutions, or at least the institutions that believe in being elastic and expanding like the universe expands. It is the first thing Olafur decided about the institute I am a part of, to move it out of the University of the Arts, and above his art studio.
To translate is to take an idea from one place to another within the tension of terms and feelings or obligation and responsibility for the things carried in that carrying. Translation, etymologically speaking, goes back to carrying something from one place to another. And after our philosophies of 20th century thermodynamics, our theories of being ice-crystals and heat waves and dirt, means that as the things we carry move they change and change us and change the places through which they are carried, so they and we are also those places too. I think the writing experiments going on in translation today, can complexify the tools of other disciplines in ways which help us act and bloom those palm fronds and the ends of our little elastic minds.
What role do you see new technologies and non-academic spaces playing in transforming the way we learn in everyday life?
There are many. I go back to people like Romano Guardini, a kind of theological philosopher for some in the modern movement actors in the early to mid 20th. The idea was to embrace the technology of the time, not reject it. But not worship it or use it uncritically either. His example was that there are tools, contrivances and machines. A tool is a hammer, directly connected to our body, sending vibrations when used, which allows us to gage the force through which and by which we use it. It has an immediate resonance with us. It connects us to the force in which we apply it and still increases our capacity of change.
The example he gives of a contrivance is a sailboat, an innovation which couples sea to the wind, liquid with gas within which we can chart more semi-solid directions. Inside of the convection cycles and trade winds, the body has a relationship to the space it moves through and the speed of the movement and the mechanisms by which that movement works. One can steer by feeling in the contrivances, the tilts and slanted truths and Nietzschean nauseas. The third example Guardini gives is an ocean liner. Too big to feel the place through which it moves, it bulldozes, bullies, Biffs its way in scale through the weather, not coupled to but not uncoupled from those systems either. But the body is detached, missing, numb to the sensitivities of the place it is in and sadly, unstimulated to the sensitivities of being in touch, literally relationship of being in touch with our movement as space. He says then that though we can do everything it’s how and to what scale and in what speeds, in what co-relationship do we do things with things, what significant otherness are we in-companionship with, to use terms of Donna Harraway.
It is not very hard to take the third metaphorical layer of Guardini and apply Ulrich Beck’s notion of a Risk Society. Maybe we shouldn’t do something just because we can. It still absolutely amazes me that how we as policy makers, politicians, lawyers, citizens, researchers, students, can work so hard to screw up the constraints of the world which is coupled to us, and, which is the most scary, going numb at the same time. How not to simply get distracted by all the effects and style techniques which technologies can inscribe on the surfaces of our everyday life? How can we critically engage with the possibilities, in a way that not only respects differences but actually cultivates them in non-threatening ways, in ways which inspire us rather than make us paranoid?
I mean there are examples from neuroscience that show using Google search engines for 3 months changes the way which, not only we find information on-line, but also how we negotiate choices for moving and choosing which way to take on the street. That’s powerful resonance between our tools and being simultaneously tooled. It goes from the GMO’s in the criminal’s guidebook to agriculture, to fracking techniques for natural gas, to using ovipositors to fill queen bees with next colonies. There was a great show at the Cooper-Hewitt years ago called Extreme Textile showing military to commercial, gaming to sport, using telling technological examples as bridges between all these parts of our lives. So many ways to talk about this, these questions. Heidegger gives examples of damns designed like piers into rivers, rather than blocking the entire and changing the entire river’s ecology. Biological theorist Stewart Kauffman talks about weather vanes and fitness landscapes, coupling devices to orient the constraints perpendicular to the flows like bacteria do. These are philosophes of our relationships to technologies and simultaneously critiques of that relationship and techniques possible. Of course all technologies can become technological terrors, to quote Darth Vader.
Is literature (or art in general) inherently didactic? What do you hope to teach through your writing?
I don’t think so. And I hope not. Literature and art as terms, as categories, is just a way to generalize a mode of operation, a way of being, of working, of researching, of poeming, of dancing. The only thing inherent in them is, I don’t know. Maybe nothing. Maybe they work because they are not sitting there, static, waiting for us to use them like manuals, like little inert Platonic matters, but rather they are dynamic complex non-linear poly-everything systems which crystalize as forms which are affective and inspiring when worked with and within. And I really don’t hope to teach anything through my writing. I don’t think writing is a place to teach. Writing is not a point making factory. I’m not a good point maker. To me writing it’s more sacred than that, spiritual than that, secular than that, material than that, it is promiscuous, loose, dirty. Writing it a tool which I learn though and which makes me feel a certain way in flow and motion with the world when I do it. If my writing falls into the teaching trap and tries to concrete anything then I think it’s bad writing and less than any lesson readers could teach themselves. But then again I may change my mind tomorrow. I hope so.