Next Places

Posts related to my book “Next Places”

H (age 30).  Help! I am stuck. I am at the end of my rope. Running about the edges of a cul-de-sac, I have seen what there is so many times, I forget to look because it is all memorized. Help me! I want to get out of here.
H (age 70).  Really? That’s too bad. Why don’t you just stop. Get off, get out. What’s the problem?
H (30). Help me! I’ve put in so much time, energy, my life. My life…is here. I can’t get out, can’t give up.
H (70).  Are you stuck on being stuck? Have you fallen in love with what you are doing so that finishing, at this point, will leave you with nothing to do? Are you afraid to hang your work out in public like Monday’s wash? They’ll find out it’s you, you know. The torn and tattered underwear will give you away.
H (30).  But I want it to be right. No mistakes. I’ve put so much time in this. Help me!
H (70).  O.K. I’ll help. But only if you stop at this task of fifty years which you want done yesterday. You took on a difficult task. What did you expect, you thirty-year-old genius? Mistakes, embarrassment? Too bad. You wanted to be very good, but didn’t expect the high prices?  Everything’s inflated, especially your ego dancing still, just above the plateau of the do-able. Easier to deflate your ego than to complete this task? The impasse is you…not your work.

I taught how people think about success, and he asked about self-satisfaction; perhaps the only thing which lasts, which serves the psyche more, the outside judges less (or damn them!).

Ooh-h-h! I breathed deeply, the breath expanding, invading all the areas of my body where the edges of hurt reside.

Self, I thought, where are you so I can feed you, so I can satisfy you?

My self answered back, that place-in-me which ranges from a rather bitchy aesthetic which prefers the whipping of birch bark on frozen days, on sauna-ed flesh’s excesses, to a gluttonous obesity of countenance whose satiety is reached only at near collapse, that self answered back with some sort of sardonic grin which blinded me and turned-off thinking.

I worried. It worried me. It pushed, bent, I wanted to run into the mirror so its silvered surface would dissolve and welcome me into Lewis Carroll’s domains behind; so I could look out, protected, and glance at my self glancing at its self looking for some satisfaction, pleased…

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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