I have to capture some ideas real quick. Quick because I’m behind. Capture because I want to remember and then do more with this later.
Over on, 8040: Rhetoric of Motives, Emotion & Affect (a blog for one of the classes I’m taking this semester), I spiraled off onto an idea about someday teaching a class on the rhetoric of fear in our culture and mentioned Barry Glassner’s book, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, which I haven’t read, but has been on my list for quite a while.
Then, Will Richardson posted today about some environmental problems and what might we do about them. The way he started the post, with the question, “So does this give anyone else pause?” uses a bit of a rhetoric of fear to talk about environmental problems. I mean, I share his POV, we need to be concerned, but I also think we need to create more ways of talking about environmental problems with people who aren’t so concerned about the environment.
I think this connects with the way we talk with each other about politics. All of us need to understand how we’re using the concept of fear to torture each other and consequently, not pay attention to what really matters, such as the type of environmental problems that Will mentioned, or the war in Iraq, just to name two. I mean with the war, one side is saying, ‘we need an immediate withdrawal of the troops because people are dying.’ and the other side is saying, ‘we need to stay the course because if we don’t do this now, more people will die.’ Both sides are saying similar things – people are dying. We need a plan that isn’t binary.
After reading Massumi, I’m realizing how optimistic his perspective is. It is dynamically situated in potential. An affective approach would be learning is not “anchored” in fear, but “starts” with experimenting.
Then, over on this post at 8040, Donna quoted Foucault:
History becomes “effective” to the degree that it introduces discontinuity into our very being–as it divides our emotions, dramatizes our instincts, multiplies our body and sets it against itself. “Effective” history deprives the self of the reassuring stability of life and nature, and it will not permit itself to be transported by a voiceless obstinacy toward a millenial ending. It will uproot its traditional foundations and relentlessly disrupt its pretended continuity. This is because knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting.
(“Nietzsche, Genealogy, History” 154)
So: how can we make these historical works “effective”? How can we ask not just what do they say, but what do they do? What did they do? And how can we use them to “introduce discontinuity into our very being”–and why would I want to ask you to do such a thing?
The phrases, ‘knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting’ and ‘introduce discontinuity into our very being’ really reverberate. Yes, we need to get more acquainted with discontinuity. Things are discontinuous. Things change.
One thing I’ve noticed — change happens at the proverbial snail’s pace in academia.
Yes, so here is the disconnect I has having with the word fearless. Fearless when standing alone would mean the absence of fear. Fearless when modifying learners could mean the absence of fear about learning, or even enthusiastic or creative learners, but I don’t think that goes far enough, at least on the surface of things because I haven’t read Alan’s book.
Here’s the paragraph from Will’s post that I want to explore more later:
Well, the point is we’ve got to find some answers, change our behavior, start thinking past next week. We’ve got to start thinking more imaginatively about how we deal with the problems we’re facing, self-created or not. And we’ve got get more imaginative in the ways we educate the kids who are probably going to be the ones to come up with many of the answers we need. We need to teach kids to be real stewards of the earth, to be members of a global community, to work efficiently and productively with other people from disparate places. Alan always talks about creating “fearless learners” and I think it’s an apt label. Which is why we can’t be paralyzed by fear ourselves.
What he is saying about ‘thinking imaginatively’ connects with some stuff Massumi says. I’ve no more time now to make more explicit connections.
A big YES to: ‘we’ve got to start thinking past next week’ and ‘we can’t be paralyzed by fear ourselves.’