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Going Continental!

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Pete said it, summing up the party.

2 bouquets, combined SMALL.jpg

We started at the UMass Sunwheel circa 6:15 pm. The clouds cooperated, beginning to clear an hour in advance of sunset. The wind was bitter, though: fortitude was required to make it through until the moon cleared the 7 degrees of forest obscuring the horizon in the East.

full moon rises.jpg

Dr. Judith Young from the Astronomy Department at UMass regaled the crowd (52 brave souls who stayed) with enlarged photos, anecdotes, history, and education. I was struck by the range of nuance embedded in the careful alignment of static stone with the motions of our solar system. In particular, I learned of the Callanish Stones for the first time. Dr. Young showed some pictures and explained the presence of an “extra” stone that – if one stands just right – creates a visual notch with the stone next to it that outlines the precise location on the horizon where the summer solstice sunrise occurs. “They found,” she said, “a way to let us know.”

Hmmm, a way to know – what? If there is a message in these stone circles, what might it be? Was there an active intent to leave a sign that would invite us to wonder? What would people from four or five millennia ago want to convey to us, their descendants in a future as dim to them as their present is removed in a distant past? I considered these questions: they want us to know there is another mode of perception. They want us to remember that scientific measurement with all its technical specificity is not the only way to apprehend life. (My conviction was profound in the moment. Some hours later, I imagine that the possibilities of their intended meanings range beyond imagination, yet in this time – our time, now – this meaningfulness jumped into consciousness.)

I missed parts of the lecture walking around taking photographs and whispering with friends, still – the qualities of the equinox that I did learn struck me as propitious. Were there four? Equal lengths of night and day, sun (and moon?) rising and setting due east and west, sun directly above the equator, and . . . well. At the moment I heard the list I thought, this is exactly how I need to go about my upcoming research. (When I told Anne the good news she described it as “impossibly cool!“I know!” I hollered.)
Just-in-Time and I spoke about the need for evenness in one’s emotional life as we drove from the Sunwheel to the apartment for soup. Suppose 80% of your emotional experience is “okay,” 10% is elation, and 10% is all the other stuff? That 80% takes in a lot, eh? It’s good! Is such a spread worth the highs of the high and the lows of the low? “Hey, maybe I’ve already done my ten percent? Five years or so of the lows….finished! It’s out of my system! Been there, done that!” :-)

Option A: Tissue + Plastic Wrap/Newspaper
or
Option B: Clean, Dry Container

The Béguine Cream Soup was a hit. (Yah!) I confess I doctored it a bit. (Who, me?) Check out this description from Twelve Months of Monastery Soups:


“This recipe is a version of a soup from Flanders in northern Belgium. Its name suggests it originated among the Béguines. Béguinage was a medieval institution that allowed pious laywomen to lead a form of religious life in common, without becoming actual nuns. It was one of the few alternatives to either marriage or the cloister…In general, they were a progressive group of women who wished to assert, as much as the times allowed, their independence from men. They were women of great culture, and some of them became renowned mystics.”

“Open flap of Collection Card”

The recipe calls for chervil, which I could not locate. Having received an email from one of my teachers about the Apache New Year (which, like many other cultures, recognizes the spring equinox as the beginning of the year), sage seemed an ideal replacement. We were cold coming in from our hour in the wind; it took a few minutes to settle in and get the soup warming. Soon enough, the Wanokip put on The Doors and the party started. :-) Pete and Sinead got me going on my research question, so much so that I had to take notes! They gave me an absolutely crucial framing, later clarified even further by The Ever-Smiling Evil Indian and Ambarish, who asked, “Isn’t it obvious [why certain people use or don't use the interpreters]?” Aha! The fact that they are making a choice is obvious, but the reasons for the choice are not! I have no idea what their reasons are, and (to be honest, gulp) I’m not sure (?) they have thought (?) very much (?) about it themselves. This is what I need to find out!

“Collect a pea-size sample with provided Applicator Stick.”

Searching human behavior for patterns is not so far removed from searching the stars for meaning, is it? I mean, come on, Renee found her way to the event by approximating a time in memory and correlating that temporal position with its internal references to other times (if she received the invitation two days ago and the event was specified as “tomorrow” then that meant “tonight” not Friday). A skill she has improved, apparently, after reading Longitude by Dava Sobel. (What role does the chronometer now play as “control” in a cybernetic civilization?!) Then there was the long convo with Anuj about inattention blindness and the basic fact that our brain must select – and therefore also de-select – where to aim one’s focus. (We also conjured the amazingly cool idea of eye tracking deaf people as they watch sign language.)

“Apply sample to top half of window.”

Obviously, with so much goin’ on in this puny brain, I had to take notes and remind everyone about the blog. “Is this informed consent?” I was challenged. I responded with the options. “Shut the F*** Up” has been duly noted.

sunset in the west.jpg

“Reuse Applicator Stick… spread samples over entire window…”

I say “another” because the most powerful use of research that I’ve encountered is proof of the national sovereignty of the Hawaiian Kingdom.
Rigorous scholarship now aims to re-interpret the Islamic Haddith.

EUROPA – Education and Training on Multiculturalism, offers a report of a Group of Intellectuals for Intercultural Dialogue.

In a Europe which will always be multilingual, learning languages opens doors. For individuals, it can open the door to a better career, to the chance to live, study or work abroad, even to more enjoyable holidays. For companies, multilingual staff can open the door to European and global markets.
But there is more than this. The language a person speaks is part of their identity and their culture. So learning languages means understanding other people and their way of thinking. It means opposing racism, xenophobia and intolerance.
The Commission’s Eurobarometer survey in November-December 2005 showed that in some European countries, nearly everyone speaks at least two languages. This proves that everybody can be multilingual. Language learning is not just for an élite.

Language learning obviously trumps the other option. (Is there another option?!) Must everyone become “cosmopolitan”?

initiatives in line with the objectives of the Lifelong Learning Programme including activities to make language learning more attractive to learners through the mass media and/or marketing, publicity and information campaigns, as well as conferences, studies and statistical indicators in the field of language learning and linguistic diversity (‘Accompanying Measures’)

2001 was the European Year of Languages, which was/is to be sustained by the 2003 Action Plan to fulfill European Parliament Resolution B5-0770, 0811, 0812, 0814 and 0815/2001 (final text) “on regional and lesser-used European languages.” The entire resolution omits (?), avoids (?) the use of “interpretation,” but does not hesitate to promote “translation software:”

F. whereas languages must be used in order to stay alive; this includes their use in new technologies and the development of new technologies such as translation software,

Note: the resolution references six previous resolutions.
Motion (10 December 2001): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B5-2001-0770&language=EN
Motion (11 December 2001): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B5-2001-0811&language=EN
Motion (11 December 2001): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B5-2001-0812&language=EN
Motion (11 December 2001): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B5-2001-0814&language=EN
Motion (11 December 2001): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B5-2001-0815&language=EN
Official languages of the EU – twenty-three as of today.
A resolution for ending retour of Finnish.
AIIC’s webzine.

Not a surprise:

Dutch decline
English has overtaken Dutch as the city’s second language, according to a study published by the Free University of Brussels in January. Some 35% of city residents claimed to know English, but just 28% knew Dutch. When the survey was first conducted in 2000, Dutch had the edge. The number of Arabic-, Turkish- and German-speakers has also declined, whereas Italian- and Spanish-speakers have increased. The study’s publication coincided with news that Zaventem, a Flemish suburb of Brussels, had introduced a law letting only Dutch speakers buy or sell property there. Officials claim the new rules will preserve the area’s “Flemish character”.

from The Economist’s Brussels Briefing
It is 12:06 a.m. Thursday in Brussels, 48

Gosh – those eastern Europeans are just getting in everywhere!
Romania and Bulgaria celebrate EU membership
This adds a new wrinkle to potential research I might get to do there . . . again . . . someday . . . perhaps . . . one hopes! I’ll raise my glass, and also hope language is one of the factors that keeps uniformity at bay.

I’m not satisfied with the presentation; it was too shallow. The one question I received basically asked, What’s the point? Specifically (paraphrased), “what is the connection between the media artifacts analyzed by your multinational, multilingual team and the reflexive summary of group process?” I had thought (albeit vaguely) that I was enacting “polycentricity” by folding two presentations (two “centers”) into one, tacking back and forth between both. The question confirmed my ‘read’ of the energy in the room. The ‘depth’ of meaningfulness I perceived while brainstorming with my colleagues and constructing the powerpoint slides was not translated into full potential by my delivery.
Dang.
This situation is an example of me doing my best to ‘fly by the seat of my pants’, with less than optimal results. However the experience itself is doublesided (at least). On the one hand, I’m embarrassed to have let down my colleagues by not appearing at my best on our behalf. :-( On the other hand, I’ve stretched myself into an extended zone of being, reaching for something I cannot quite yet grasp. In this act of seeking, I understood better what it was I attempted to do. I actively resisted the monocentric desire of theoretical academic discourse by refusing to provide only a definitive description of an abstract ‘external’ object (the interaction that we constructed among four accounts of the Israeli military’s forcible removal of settlers from Neve Dekalim, a town in the Gaza Strip surrendered in August 2005 to Palestine). To the extent that I did provide selected details of our media analysis, I enacted polycentricity by ‘bouncing’ among the layered and diverse “centers” evident in the intersection of
a) a sociopolitical event,
b) media texts (four) about this event,
c) subjectivities (four) engaging in mutual knowledge construction about the event and its associated media,
d) within a particular epistemology (critical discourse analysis),
e) comparing and contrasting written text in four languages,
f) combining online textual interaction (online versions of the four newspaper articles, a socialtext webspace, email, skype)
g) with face-to-face verbal interaction using a lingua franca (English).
In other words, (and this came clear to me while listening/watching Simon Faulkner present “Re-viewing Occupation: Art, Photojournalism and Israel”), I attempted to perform a work of discursive art within (under) the occupation of the form of academic discourse – “conference paper presentation” – whose “proper” focus is theory, not practice; abstract analysis not application.
Ironically, I had intuited the (potential) performance quality of this presentation last week. I had not, however, clarified its purpose. Or, even more precisely, even as I articulated certain purposes &emdash; negotiating parameters with my colleagues, confirming understandings, and coordinating intentions &emdash; I still did not comprehend the meaning of what we set out to do.
Taking the best possible interpretation of outcome, I wonder if a learning might be that the enactment of polycentricity is a state-of-being of just this kind of uncertainty? What I found myself doing throughout this presentation (and the entire process with my colleagues) is continually turning Bakhtin’s notions of centrifugality against centripetality and centripetality against centrifugality in counter-movements to those expected from sheer momentum (tradition, expectation, dialectics). If I can become more conscious and deliberate regarding when to flag this for audiences and interlocutors, and when to let such turnings be what they are, perhaps I can enhance the performance of this art in everyday dialogue. Ultimately (!), such practices may lead to more theoretical clarity, bringing “the point” of Decentering Conflictual Discourse into focus.

Proposal:
Utilizing critical discourse analysis, this paper examines the discourse of transaction in headline stories in four different languages &emdash; Finnish, Swedish, Persian (Iran) and US English &emdash; regarding the 2005 Israeli pullout from Neve Dekalim in which Jewish settlers resisted relocation. A textual analysis yields themes (indexes and icons) that are intertextual.
Intertextuality, as conceptualized by Fairclough and Foucault, refers to the way that statements always reactualize other statements. Each newspaper account generates its centering effect (Threadgold) in both horizontal and vertical ways (Bahktin) along the dimensions of time, space, place, and motion. For instance, aggression is attributed to different actors and along opposing trajectories in the Persian text than among the three western versions &emdash; which also have some significant distinctions from each other. The stories reported in these four online newspapers thus work interdiscursively to replicate and perpetuate a global, monocentric discourse of perpetual conflict. According to Irvine, interdiscursivity is “a specific semiotic effect [that] must be created in practice” (2005, p. 72). Most interesting, the examination of these media accounts reproduced similar interlinguistic dynamics among the four researchers, whose national identities align with the languages and newspapers chosen.
Such social metonymy highlights the challenge of decentering dominant discourses: the same referents can be treated differently in various national and/or media discourses yet still work to generate an overarching monocentric discourse. We argue that simultaneous attention to the workings of ideology at all levels – including our microsocial interactions with each other – enables the recognition of polycentricity and the interruption of interdiscursively monocentric repetitions. Such analyses and the linguistic options they support can contribute to the decentering of present discursive hegemonies of conflict and occupation.
I’ll (attempt ! to) present on behalf of Ehya, Jussi, and Karin, of Dexus Nexus 3.0 (August 2005), on Wednesday Nov 8 at 3 pm in the “transaction” thread of Dialogue Under Occupation: The Discourse of Enactment, Transaction, Reaction, and Resolution, hosted by Northeastern Illinois University.

According to Erdem, it is a Turkish custom to put a slice of bread under your pillow the first night that you spend in a new place. Supposedly there is a relationship between the bread and the dreams you have: a message about the future in the new place.
I awoke disoriented to the alarm yesterday morning, thinking I was home but knowing it wasn’t so. When the confusion settled I knew where I was and felt good about it: I am comfortable here, this next new place will be “home” for some time. I didn’t recall any dreams, my sleep was deep and restful. There were some other thoughts right when I awoke: as if I had been somewhere else but was yanked away too fast for memory to function.
Turkey – as a place I was in memory – already seems long ago: life here in the US occurs at such a fast pace in comparison. The stories I have told most since returning have to do with the people I met and the quality of the interactions we had. I was asked how I knew so many people there…the thing is, I didn’t! I met people, or – people met me. “I can just imagine Steph on the street going up to strangers, “Hi, I’m Steph!” Some clown-friend of mine concocted this fantasy. :-) In fact, I was approached much more often than I approached others. I think, in part, that I connected with so many people because I was open to being connected with, but there is a deeper cultural element as well. It has something to do with collectivity ~ perhaps this is a characteristic of the “Asianness” of Turkey?
My temporary roommate bachelor buddies quizzed me about this as something distinctive from the US. Their initial experience and continuing observations as international students from India regard the loneliness of US culture. Lee and Donna also commented on this based on their own travels, that one just wouldn’t be taken in by Americans like I was by so many Turks. Such openness and reaching out, making sure a stranger is ok, doesn’t often happen here (certainly not to the same extent, and not on such a personal level).
The last three weeks of the visit was amazing. I established a home base at the World House Cafe, a hostel I highly recommend. (Tip: providing cookies for the staff is a surefire way into their hearts.) The view of the Galata Tower is amazing:

world house view of Galata Tower.jpg

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It was Gizem’s dad who recommended Patrick Kinross’ biography of Atatürk to me. I found it compelling, even though this critique by David Fromkin describes “Rebirth of a Nation” as “an uncritical “official” account.” There’s plenty to dislike about Atatürk the man. Such is discussed in a new biography by Andrew Mango (2000), as described in the aforementioned critique: “It reveals the long suppressed darker aspects of its subject, showing us a far more complex personality than we had seen before. Curiously, however, the main lines of Kemal’s policy and accomplishments emerge as having been much the same as we had believed them to be in the past.”

family tree.JPG.jpg

I did not meet a single Turk who had anything bad to say about him, despite the tricks he pulled on them to drag them away from a religious to a secular government. (Granted, I only spent significant time with one devoutly Muslim family, who described themselves – passionately! – as “moderates” who hate Hezbullah, asserting that their version of Islam is “based on lies.”)

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“It’s the longest Sunday,” June observed, after Deb commented on my whipping out the camera to record the spread at Lee and Ralph’s last night: “You’re still on vacation!”
Yes. :-)
Once again I had no idea how the day would unfold. Lee had offered that I could stay in Long Beach for a few days upon my return and I looked forward to a day or so of rest and adjustment from jetlag. Ambiguity was immediately introduced, however, as other company had arrived. I was chauffered to June’s instead.

3 sunflowers.JPG.jpg

I hardly hesitated to make myself at home – how could I, when she’d already drawn a bath in the jacuzzi for me?!!! I slept deep and well, waking up early yesterday to begin in earnest the task of being back. I commandeered the dining room table for a few hours of work, then meandered through the day. Before leaving the house, I met June’s turtles (among the rest of the menagerie, which includes a cat named Bob). Lee collected me and I resumed mediterranean mode, tagging along wherever, whenever: a tagsale (or was it a yardsale?), a jaunt on the boardwalk (15 minute massage for $10!), a visit to Deborah and Steven’s which turned into lunch with Raki.
Next up? Shopping. Oooo, my favorite! (not) I was aimless for awhile. After a few hours though (!), what could one do but join in the spirit? “That was a frivolous day,” said Lee, when we finally pulled out of the TJ Maxx parking lot, dispelling my perception that she lives this way all the time. ;-)
I have already learned many things this day: about hosting, giving gifts, taking care to be sure no one feels the least bit extraneous. I adjusted to shifts in conversation – from intensive, animated political discussion with Deb to general care and concern for issues and persons in each other’s lives. In the past these would have caused me some angst but today was merely the way of the flow. All this was, it seems in retrospect, prelude to the deep and sweet stuff to come.
When I entered Deb’s living room I felt almost assaulted by the large canvas leaned up against one wall. My reaction was gut, visceral; I had no words. As we drove away at the end of the evening, June told me about teasing Deborah about “a lot of red” and asking, “Where’s the crime scene?”
Yes, my first reaction was to the implicit violence. I wondered about the insides of this woman: what sources inspire such production?
I almost cried in her studio, standing on the toilet (!), taking in the full visual presence of #40 after her description of its material, theoretical, and spiritual elements. I showed her my tattoo. “That’s a lot like my work!” she exclaimed. :-) Yes, our canvasses differ, but the stuff of our work – genetics (dialectics) and dialogue (creation) run parallel.
From there we went to dinner, eventually dubbed my welcome home party. (I only grinned from ear-to-ear for most – not all – of the evening.) ;-) Lee brought out Sam’s last bottle of wine. June finally found us and we toasted the spirit of Sam, the day, new and old friends, good food, and memories.
Ralph manipulated the musical environment masterfully as we chomped and chatted our way through several courses, including a dessert to die for – the best canoli and chocolate-covered blueberries!
dessert by Lee.JPG.jpg
Can you believe all that was followed by tiramisu? Stop already! (No, don’t!) ;-) Not long thereafter I hit the wall. Deb and June noticed immediately – poof, within ten minutes we were on the road.
Chance moves on.
Goodbye for now.

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