So, I’ve been thinking about this more since Gabi asked if it was a “feedback wrapping” (per the interpersonal communication curriculum utilizing Seashore, et al). I don’t think it was just my wrapping. I think folks might have recognized their own reactions, at least some of them. Today, while I was sharing some of this “story” with Uncle Sam, I again characterized it as “funny”, and we did laugh together. David shared that he’d had a similar, somewhat taken-aback (?) reaction upon meeting me for the first time. It is funny, on one level, that we (people? in a universal sense?) are so sensitive to first impressions and… maybe the laughter is a self-laughter that also protects us from recognizing how strongly these first impressions (especially of difference) may affect our willingness to learn about/try to understand someone else? I dunno. I’m reaching….trying to understand….I don’t think the laughter is a “bad” thing. It definitely protects me from some pain, but it also…opens communication? Maybe if we share the laughter together, we somehow “own” or acknowledge a connection, a similarity?

I remembered this morning that once in awhile a stranger will comment positively about my hair. “I like your haircut.” So the reaction isn’t universally negative. Raz and I talked about what impact my hairstyle might have in Turkey…(if I ever make it there!) I remember a few people walking past us in Arad last year just STARING. 🙂 Andrea kept complaining about being invisible. 🙂
Sam also recognized something about the vulnerability of putting myself “out there” so much. I don’t remember exactly what he said. I’ve definitely been feeling a bit of…strain? from it…it’s hard work, especially when people have other priorites, as they usually do (Sam hastened to point out!). Not only with this project, but David’s too. Sam wondered if anyone had read about me yet, and David teased about the book he’s going to publish with me on the cover. “Wouldn’t that be something!”
Yes, perhaps. But only if it is co-constructed, eh? Truly (!) poststructural. Nikki brought this point up in class yesterday while everyone was debriefing their experiences with the Blythe McVicker Clinchy article on Ways of Knowing. “How do we know what we think we know? Do we really know or just think that we do?”

3 thoughts on “laughter”

  1. I found it interesting that you talked about your appearance today at Sam’s both as a “barrier,” something that people stumble on in the first moment of contact with you, AND as your way of being open to others. I’m fascinated by the metaphorical contradiction here. Closed by a barrier, and being wide open. I guess I’m closing in of the title of the book 🙂

  2. Hmmm….my first reaction when I read your comment, David, was am I actually saying both things about the haircut itself? Because I had linked openness (in the comment above) to laughing about reactions to the haircut…but, yes….in backing up to part of the actual presentation, one of the theoretical points I was playing with was the performative notion of fully “inhabiting my body” through a visual appearance that draws attention, thereby signalling my presence and hence inviting others to be present too…
    It seems important to admit that I’m discovering this only in retrospect…which won’t save me from every day henceforth when I can no longer claim naivete! Gulp!

  3. A quick note from Katie (via email on 11/17):
    “I really enjoyed your presentation a lot; I rarely laugh that much at NCA, or at any conference, for that matter….”

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