The last word

What you said on the last day of class under the title:

How To Succeed On Your Final

To Do:
-Place your self within the world.

– Have fun with it.
– Turn it in on time. (5 p.m.)
– Make sure you have included all posts.
– Include those 500 new words. Where do they come from? You can make a whole new post, edit something you’ve written, stunt journalism.
-Read it over before you turn it in.

To Not Do:

Here. Voices.

Photo Credit: Catherine Keefe

A Monday Morning Game

Compose a paragraph. Well actually, compose  three.  Select one different aspect of yourself, one different voice, to present in each.

See an example of how this works:

Sending smiles and hugs, love and good cheer.

We went green this year – highlighted most picturesquely by a family vacation to Costa Rica to hike, raft, watch lava tumble from a volcano, body surf, and play some wickedly competitive games of Heart and Gin Rummy. Low impact to the earth, perhaps, but highly impactive to the innocent bamboo table upon which the nightly dramas unfolded…From my 2008 Christmas letter.

The establishment of preciousness residing in each individual creates two new hypotheses.  First, if each individual is a “delight”, then there must be a corresponding distress whenever “the human form” falls.  Secondly, if this poetry gives voice to the feelings of the common man, the assumption must follow that the common man has experiences which warrants attention.  The given in this equation is that humanity, in particular the artistic soul, is tuned to resonate to good.  Wordsworth establishes the location and legitimacy of this reverence for all mankind in the title of  “The Prelude, Book VIII”:  “Love of Nature Leading To Love of Mankind”.  Nature is the model for this assumption as nature provides beauty….From “The Accidental Traitor: Gandhi as Wordsworth’s “Happy Warrior,” a paper I presented at the International Wordsworth Conference in England.

Well hello gorgeous! I’m talking to you morning sun on the kitchen table once again… My current Facebook status, posted Saturday.

Who says you can’t speak different languages?  Which self will the readers of your final project discover? Why?

What personal vocabulary belongs in this self?  Write a list of words to draw from. Include images and references that relate to this self.

Hide and seek

(Photo Credit: Theresa Lower)

This class falls under the Written Inquiry designation.

We write to question.

We get on our hands and knees and dig deep and if we read the signs we notice that we’ve never been guaranteed that the search will uncover definitive answers.  In the same way that we’ve been able to keep watching “How I Met Your Mother” and at some point become comfortable with the possibility that Ted will never disclose the mother of the two children sitting on the couch in the year 2030, we’ve finally settled into the reality that composing self is not something you cross off a to-do list. Well, unless you’re speaking of Composing Self in the proper noun sense of a class and then certainly you’re about ready to finish this thing.

I embrace the unfinished business of composing self because there’s great energy and urgency at a cliff’s edge. I’m reminded of this particularly at the end of the semester as I read student comments:

Throughout the semester, I’ve been able to compose my idea of self. I will carry that through into my final blog and will infuse ideas found in literature, religion, medicine, and other aspects of the outside world. I learned that integrating personal stories with facts and research creates balanced, trustworthy nonfiction.

You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your self and the self and how to use words and it will be really great even if you leave the class and realize that you no longer have any idea what the word “self” means.

Yet, no matter how much study we do about self, a concrete definition of self still eludes me. Perhaps I am looking for too much of a solid, dictionary definition and am unsatisfied that my own definition is still a little unclear or unofficial.

So writers, here’s the big secret I didn’t tell you in January.  I never promised you a definitive self. I did offer you books and films, articles and lectures, writing assignments and talking time to help you test theories of what a self is and why a writer might choose to present a certain authorial self.  But you’ve got to take it home from here.  Go out on the ledge. Look deep into the canyon.  Go on. Compose a self. There’s nothing to lose, but your voice.

(Photo credit: Catherine Keefe)

Sometimes moms really do have the best advice…

There’s light at the end of the Bridge to Wisdom. Costa Rica.
Photo Credit:  Catherine Keefe

It came.

Kony 2012, the “most viral video in history,” captured our attention in class.   One student called it, “pure propaganda, very well done.”

It bothered us.

We discussed why we did or didn’t donate to the Invisible Children campaign; why we did or didn’t order the Action Kit which comes with the tagline, “People will think you’re an advocate of awesome,” and includes a t-shirt, two bracelets, a poster and stickers all designed to raise awareness about the atrocities committed in Uganda by one Joseph Kony.  We discussed why we did or didn’t plan to Cover the Night on April 20.

Is it gone?

On the West Coast, on the morning of April 20, we have a vantage point which will allow us to watch events unfold east of us in response to the Cover the Night campaign which, according to the Kony Events page means that – “The rest of the world will go to bed Friday night and wake up to hundreds of thousands of posters demanding justice on every corner .”  So, as of this writing, it’s too soon to tell, but by the time we go to bed, we should already know what’s happening on other continents.

As of this writing, the film has had 88, 017,991 hits on YouTube.  To get  a perspective on the size of that number, imagine every single person living in the three most populous cities on the planet: Tokyo, Delhi, and São Paolo.  Now add the entire population of Miami and Caracas and imagine this sea of humanity all watching one film.

During this historic phenomenon, there’s been no dearth of comments from detractors of the Invisible Children organization but what I haven’t read, until today, is a thoughtful analysis about lessons to be gleaned from the eerie way this film spread so quickly and abundantly and why that makes the task of informing digital natives how to be discerning consumers of information.

Nathalie Hopkinson on The Root , gives a personal narrative that, in the words of your Creative Nonfiction Assignment, places herself within the world and in some obvious, but skillfully graceful way, integrates a larger issue into your prose.  Check it out:  “A Child’s Wisdom About Kony 2012: As Cover the Night hits the streets, parents can help kids learn the truth from spin on the web.”

Interestingly, like the film, Hopkinson’s commentary is structured around the story of a parent, a mom, teaching a child a lesson.  Breaking big ideas down into small narratives, now that’s an excellent writing technique.  Have you ever heard of it before?