Last night’s democracy class was a rollercoaster, to say the least! We started on the floor in the hall, got sucked into Iris’ latest crisis and her protests of not wanting to disturb us. “They’re all disturbed,” said Stephen. “Some of us more than others,” said I. “You’ve gone over the edge,” said someone to somebody.
After a round of jokes about the number and length of emails we segued into Shannon’s presentation on community-based performance, Performing Democracy. (It strikes me now that we didn’t discuss the “international” aspect at all.)
Background: Dao of the body (unable to locate a targeted websource), tantric sex, and bathos (or was it Bathos?). And a latin word I can’t spell which means selective blindness: “Humans, too, are victims of selective blindness. We often fail to see things around us because they are too familiar and seem to convey no new information, or because we are focusing our attention elsewhere. We don’t know nearly enough about attention though it’s a vital survival function. Visual attention seems to be a pair of processes. The first, the process of focusing on a stimulus or idea, has received a lot of research. The other equally important process involves concurrent decisions about which stimuli to ignore. Let me emphasize that. Visual attention is always partly, and often largely, selective blindness to other stimuli considered to be irrelevant at the moment” (from How a Poet Sees).
Laughter punctuated the reading of the play, composed of excerpts from the recent email spree. (Viveca, rumor has it that from now on you’re going to get THREE copies of EACH email sent to the list.) But actually the mood of the class was quite serious. Is it because we’re close to ending? Viveca asked Shannon about “the hope, the promise of performance.” It seems there is none. It may or may not work. Shannon characterized the reading of the poem (in which we read other’s words, not our own, randomly, so the most conservative member of the class read the Green, and other interesting juxtapositions) as “defamiliarization“, and Stephen compared it with Burke’s, “perspective by incongruity.” The challenge is – how do we make the comic move, instead of the tragic one? (Hmmm, this last link seems to suggest that while Burke preferred the comic, this was subsumed within a dialectic between frames of acceptance and frames of rejection. Is that what was happening in our discourse about how to move the class forward?)