Next Places

Posts related to my book “Next Places”

The mother of the fledgling organist – the student of my partner in music – exclaimed in some musing wonderment: did Bach compose much for the violin, too…she supposed. I giggled, the awed knot inside my deepest self giggled too, and I said, simply, “yes, quite a bit.”

Details, she didn’t want. I supposed she had realized, finally, that in her son’s playing of Bach, something of import might be happening; finally, after many years of experiencing Bach, but not within any realization.

Right now, preparing to perform a Bach Trio (D minor) with flute and organ, I am struggling to discover the whole of the music written-in to that composition. This trio, like the violin-keyboard sonatas, a sort of aberration from what is ordinarily Bach. Each change of string a new voice written in counterpoint to the flute: this sonata, of-a-piece in many ways.

Some 18 years ago a friend wondered if I could play the unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas, and I responded that I thought (was certain: lolling in my unpracticed, pre-humbled days) I could play any Baroque pieces.

What surprise, what ignorance, what pleasure to discover these masterpieces inspired my beginning to restudy the violin. Now, imagining my competency to play some of them (!?); imagining at last performing a few movements, Bach is at once thrilling and tough. The strength, the memory, the knowledge and confidence necessary to play them, makes them good practice for so many other techniques, for hearing chords, for…everything musical.

Maybe that mother will learn, too, to study Bach, to study with Bach, to hear, to feel all the sounds and voices and timbres resonating on this earth, calling out the spirits of our gods of music so we may hear them and they us…

(Currently playing-at the unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas – far, far to go…!)

The search for, the wondering of asking Why, always imposes its power over the quest for Where I Am, pushing out, nudging the stay-in-this-day backwards into all-of-times. ‘Why?’

Away, go away silly question. You do me no good. Why do you impinge? Why do you ask, ‘Why?’

Today, house-cleaning, my intellectual vacuum cleaner running at high speed, sucking the dust of my memorized questions, trying to free my mind for what is today, and what I have to do; need to do. ‘Why?’

[Download the PDF version or read the full text below. Updated from previously published version in Organization, May 2001; vol. 8: pp. 403 – 415.]

Abstract. My vision for the future university acknowledges the facts of rapid change in the world. It attempts to conserve the idea of the university as structures and process by centering the university on a study of changes as they are redefining knowledge. As vision, it asks that faculties join in Centers for the Study of the Present Age to discuss, teach and attempt to shape the futures of Science and Technology and their ramifications. Key words. future university; new vision; re-center the university; study of present age

The vision: when I speak and think of the university, I have in mind the largest institution, the greatest number of students at all levels, professional as much as academic; graduate and postgraduate, as well as undergraduate.

The curriculum is at its maximum: some 150 subjects/disciplines in which one can garner a PhD. I have in mind, then, the largest public research universities, especially those which (also) educate their students to serve their states in the traditions of Land Grant: including agriculture and the mechanical arts.

While there are ample reasons to describe a private (research) university of fame or privilege as the descriptor of the university – say, the top of the pyramid of American universities, an Oxbridge or a Berlin – I think it important for our understanding of the present toward the future to consider the university serving the interests of the widest public or publics. In this setting, I intend to focus on the structure-processes of the institution, but particularly on how the idea of a university will intersect with, even help to define, the nature of the future.

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“What scientists do when a paradigm fails is, guess what, they carry on as if nothing happened.”

After watching this TED video of Elaine Morgan, updating us about the latest evolutionary research supporting the hypothesis that we evolved from primate ancestors who dwelt in watery habitats and the connection between nakedness and water in mamals, I thought I’d share my unedited essay on Elaine’s other examined ideas about m/other-child interaction from her book “The Descent of the Child: Human Evolution From a New Perspective“. Many paradigms need updating these days!

So, first the TED video updating on how we evolved, followed by my essay updating how we become somebody (interested folks might also like to see my (shorter) post about this.)


Seeing Somebody There


The broader context of this essay explores the fact that we humans are socially interactive creatures: “bodies-in-interaction.” Our individuality, the development of the self and/or the I, is an “emergent” aspect of the human condition.

Fact is italicized since the history and current thinking about the human and how we are, think, know…has managed to omit this fact. Why so, and what differences it makes in how we think about the human, the world…are at the heart of this discussion.

The human has been characterized as each (physical) individual, essentially separate or independent of others – at least early on in life. The individual has been characterized in terms of knowledge or mind: the individual is taken to be an embodied mind. The mind – how we know or have knowledge – is the factor of our being which is raised to the status of definition of our being.

In my experience, thought, and observations, this is not an accurate characterization of the human. Though it has been the completely dominant idea of the human – particularly in Western thinking – it leads us away from the experience and truth of our being – tends to focus on certain of our (presumed) abilities as definitional – and mis- or under-estimates many others. The facts of our faces being central to our being, for example, has been hardly studied or much considered in thinking about what is the human.

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Am I on target?

Do I know where I am going? And why am I headed in a particular or certain direction; and not in some others?

Where I am?

I am often confused: between doing what is polite and what is right – and clearing some sense for which is which.

Confused between knowing what my work was and was for, and what is my work, now, in changing times, between being who I am for others, and who I am for myself. Confused about the future and its possible directions.

Living in a world where everyone is presumed to be out for oneself, for success, for power, fame and gain…I am pulled and pushed and yanked around by an aging vanity.

But which sense of self endures; which will I find, and be found?

If I am so smart: “why ain’t I rich,” my neighbors ask; “why am I not at Harvard,” my colleagues whisper; “why am I here,” I ask. “And where am I?”

The meanings and concepts of our being in the world reduced by language; reduced to a language in which opposites proclaim each other’s territories: War is Peace, and Peace is War, and so it is in the actuality of 1984.

1984 – the novel; 1984 – the year of our being; appear so different.

1984 – the novel, dark, brooding, each day rewritten, revised so there is no longer any sense of tomorrow. Each next moment is promised, then stolen. Time is guaranteed, robbed, promised…a theoretical exercise in “Doublethink.” The concept of time, of history reduced is going, going…gone

1984 – today, this weekend; our experience, not Orwell’s imagination.  Yet here we are pondering what he said, wondering what was warning; what was prophecy. What is this time, 1984, the year of our being, here together? The wars, vague; the blanket upon our lives the darkness and dystopia of nuclear holocaust that each next moment does not rewrite the last moments, but that Life itself may disappear and all our concepts flow down some Divine drain: opposites, metaphors, histories, ironies, concepts, words, gone; all gone.

1984 – the novel, warned us that we would not recognize 1984, the year of our being, for what it would be, and what it is.

1984 – our being cast into a deepening quest and search for meaning, not that words and history reduce, revise, but that the concept of existence is cast in deepening doubt.

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