Despite our semesters apart this blog has remained my touchstone because in so many ways it is about the intersections of digital and material culture. I’ve decided to make it my home base for this month’s participation in a MOOC (a massively open online course) on e-learning and digital culture facilitated through the University of Edinburgh. Last I heard there were 32,000 people enrolled in this course, with a few dozen of us interacting on facebook and now quad-blogging together. I’ll get into all that later.
For now I just wanted to pause and mark my return.
In the past year I’ve done a lot of hands-on exploring–learning much more about the materiality of literacy by making books, paper, and other fiber arts in OKC and, most wonderfully, at the Penland School of Crafts; messing around with clay; experimenting with more digital storytelling tools (had a great experience at the Center for Digital Storytelling). I spent more time pounding the pavement and pondering the relationship between artifacts and public memory in Singapore, NYC, and OKC. 2012 was an interesting year. In 2013 I’d like to bring more of it into focus–for myself, for my students, and for anyone else who might make use of what we’re learning.
One important dimension of this project is the exploration of rhetorical metaphors not as metaphors but as actions and experiences.
In other words, instead of discussing various ways critics and others have compared writing to, e.g., weaving I’m going to weave.
Why does this matter? Does it matter? Yes, I believe it does. In so many ways. For example, I’ve sometimes used the concept of “warp and weft” to describe the interlacing of ideas, the interdependency of communities, and so forth. But what do I really know about the relationship between warp and weft?
So I’m spending the next two months at a local arts center working on a loom. So far I’ve learned that it will take me about as long (or longer) to set up the loom–getting the warp on–as it will to actually weave my first piece of sampler cloth. I’ve also learned that some textile artists intentionally make their warp strings or weft strings more prominent (til now I always viewed the two as equally balanced, visually and otherwise).
Does setting up a loom, putting warp strings and weft strings in place, getting things tangled and wrong and ultimately owning their configuration–does all this enable me to better appreciate the metaphor and the metaphor’s insights into writing (and other matters)? You betcha. But it accomplishes more than that. It gets me working in three dimensions, composing non-verbally or transverbally an altogether different kind of narrative.
Heh. Now I’m using metaphors of writing to explain weaving.
One last thing I discovered this week: people who actually understand the community-as-warp-and-weft metaphor and who are doing something real with that insight. Their organization is called Weave a Real Peace