Notes Towards Day 5 (Tues, Sept. 18): Seeking a green grammar

Anne Dalke's picture


I. coursekeeping
* Alex (via Hannah, Susan, Maddie)-->inside!
(prediction's  iffy--> 80% chance of rain showers...)
(Thursday, the weather is predicted to be 67 degrees,
overcast, w/ 0% chance of rain....Alex: where will
we be? Sarah C, you're up next!)

* I have put up a link to wundergound @ the top of the home page (so you can plan ahead; this adds a whole new dimension/complication to teaching/learning--an object lesson in how we normally shut the environment "out" of/in our studies)

* do we all know one another's names? let's see...
in both directions

*
go around again: tell us what site you'll be visiting throughout the semester; don't repeat your posting/explanation, but relate it to the one before: how is it like/different?...and as we do so, let's put these on the campus map

me: Friendship Bench in Morris Woods (behind English House)
Rochelle: the space behind (backyard of?) English House
Sarah C and Barbara: labyrinth
Susan: place near the labyrinth where we met for class last week
Cahier: weeping birch near the labryinth
wanhong: edge of campus near Brecon
mtran: lounge behind Rhoads, looking @ pond
Sara L and CMJ: Cloisters
Shengjia-Ashley: Fong Reading Room, Carpenter Library
alexb: beginning of small trail next to Goodhart
Zoe: campus green
mbackus: ?
Hannah: ?

where have we located ourselves?
can we describe the pattern/s in our selections?

what are we omitting to attend to in our "environment"?

* I had also asked you to each "represent" this place pictorially--> what strikes us about this range of representations? each one has a foreground, a background, and a terra incognita: what are we highlighting, collectively, about Bryn Mawr? and what are we leaving out/not attending to? (in this discussion, not rehearsing your post, but placing it in relation to what others are foregrounding, & looking for larger patterns...)

--more coursekeeping--
*finishing off conferences:
Shengjia @ 11:05 on Wed, Barbara and Alex before class on Thursday;
everyone else either met w/ me y'day or received her paper back w/ responses (yes?)

* you'll see that in each case I started w/ last week's paper, and read this one in that context,
seeing if you addressed the issues that arose last week this time 'round, so my focus was very individual

* there were also a couple of common questions/comments:
--I expect you to work on things we talk about in your conferences, and that so of those will take a while...
but you can correct immediately technical things (like pagination!) I marked on earlier ones
--I asked most of you to re-write a single, sample passage to make it tighter, sharper, more "defensible,"
and to bring those revisions w/ you to your next conference; I do not have time to read a second draft
of your paper each week....
--"where did your image come from?" (we are moving into citation-land: images, like quotes, need to be cited, following the directions in Writing with Sources; turns out it IS the social-science format; if you would rather use MLA, there is an on-line site that is very good...)
--what is your thesis? I asked you to mark your theses--I wanted us to look @ these together,
and think about what makes a "good" one--but only 2 of you did this!

so we're going to focus on your titles:
Kate
The Owl
The Brightest Spot
All the Wonders Great and Small
A door to Memories
The Cloisters and a Childhood Not Left Behind
How I met Bryn Mawr College
From Pembroke We Set Out
Old and Green: Representations of Bryn Mawr College
Map and Origins
On Layers Of A Campus Map
A Pretty (but incomplete) Image of Bryn Mawr
Mixing Old with the New
Divining Meaning From Lines on Paper

How do these work? (Are any "rheomodic"?)
What should a title do? (make me want to read the paper--
evocative/poetic?--AND/BUT signal its key idea!)

What makes a good thesis?
    •  a critique of common sense, of concepts taken as natural
    • 
analytical and speculative - but both supportable and falsifiable
    •  reflexive, thinking about thinking, enquiry into the categories we use in making sense of things.

In this context, does "this map is inadequate as a representation of the campus" work as a thesis?

*for class on Thursday, bring a copy of your paper #2; we're going to work in pairs and help one
another generate theses...

alexb2016 <--> Barbara
Cahier <--> CMJ
Hannah <--> mbackus
mtran <-->Rochelle W
Sara L <--> Sarah C
Shengjia-Ashley <--> Susan
wanhong <--> Zoe

also: read Chapter 13 from Raymond Williams' book on Keywords
, which will model

* your third 3-pp. paper, which is due (of course!) by 5 p.m. on Friday: select three keywords you might find of use for the next stage of our shared exploration (some possibilities include--but are by no means limited to-- "place," "nature," "environment," 'home," "housekeeping," "economics," "ecology," "deep ecology," "ecosystem," "ecocentric," "egocentric," "biocentric," "anthropocentric," "speciesism," "growthism," "interrelationship," "interaction," "interdependence," "diversity," "adaptation," "sustainable," "green," "ruderal," "succession," "resilience," "permaculture"....).

Go to three dictionaries, including the Oxford English Dictionary, to uncover a historical range of definitions, meanings, histories, etymologies (and future use values?!) for these words. Record what you've found (cutting and pasting works well here!). Then (taking Williams as a model) write a short essay with an explanation of what you have learned about the complexities of one of your words (or maybe two related ones: for example, what's the relation between "economics" and "ecology"?).

Williams looks up "community," "individual," and "education, and, for example, saw a tension between two meanings of community: to describe a sense of direct common concern, and to describe organizations which don't express this...noting, nonetheless, that it's never used "unfavorably"....

Be sure to cite your sources following standard citation procedures and to UNDERLINE YOUR THESIS: WHAT IS THE ARGUMENT YOU ARE MAKING? Mail a copy of this project both to Anne AND TO your writing partner.

questions about any of this?

II. wanhong's post on the difficulty of describing motion w/out matter:

So...This is not a homework post...(By the way, professor, could you give us a title format, like adding a few words before title, so that we could distinguish our posts for HW and for spontaneous thoughts? )

After Thursday's class, I've been thinking--why we weren't able to escape from the odd trap of using verbal-noun (gerund)?

Personally speaking, I believe it is because the noun is the source of the motion. I mean, the noun produced the motion, right? The motion itself can be describe by one or a few words, like "running", "flying"...etc. I don't know why this quantum physicist was so into this motion-centered idea, and I think it's really not necessary.

In my junior high physics class, my teacher introduced a concept:"motion is eternal while stability is relative." I may have translated it badly--the meaning of the words could be lost easily during translation--because in Chinese this sentence was a poet-like motto. The main idea was that everyone, everything in this universe is moving, and you can only discribe one thing as stable because it can only be stable relative to sth. else. (This may explain why the physicist focus on motion so much.) But everytime we studied a form of motion, accelerated or not, we draw diagrams, and in the diagrams, the major object is represented by a dot, or a square.

Therefore, even in physics, the major object could be represented, but could not be eliminated. Similarly, in language, the noun denotes the thing we are looking at.

III. great intro for our discussion of today's readings:
Goatley and Schleppegrell, on "green grammar"--> initial reactions?
I had asked you to come to class having written down what makes sense to you from this--
something "added to you" by reading it (as well, of course, w/ whatever questions
may have arisen for you in the reading!)...let's hear some of these....

IV. Anne's reading notes
Goatly's proposal for an "ecological critical discourse":

agrees w/ Bohm that ordinary language is inadequate to represent
the world of modern scientific theory and ecology; but also thinks that
more adequate grammar can be developed (which Bohm failed to do...):
nominalization and metaphor can be used to emphasize the primacy
of process and to downplay anthropocentrism

cf. congruent= literal w/ metaphoric = equating unlike things:
a discrepany/incongruence/incompatible tension
metaphors make new meanings possible, expand the range of meanings by flouting conventions

congruent structure uses agent as subject, process as verb, and affected as object:
cause and effect are separable; one permanent entity affects another one =
incompatible w/ current scientific theory

the congruent/ metaphoric distinction is arbitrary:
it depends on conventional classification that selects some
similarities as valuable, ignores others (so what is "literal" is an illusion)
speech is seen as closer to reality, metaphor as more "abstracted"

Newton focused on the laws of motion
= experiences of the infant body
language reinforces this sense of an external force acting on an object to set it in motion

Later scientific theory challenges 3 dimensions of the Newtonian world view:
* nature is passive and controllable (there's spontaneous change)
* basic building blocks of nature are permanent rigid bodies extended in space
(particles are events and processes)
* man is outside nature he describes/acts on (the living observer is part of the system).

Primary emphasis is on undivided wholeness, not separation
increasing focus on evolutionary biology, open systems, increase in order, complexity
(vs. entropy of closed systems)
Gaia theory
sees world as large self-regulating organism, defying 2nd law of thermodynamics
("Mining the earth for minerals is as sensible as eating your liver for nutrients")

false division into agent-> affected, false unidirectionality of cause-> effect:
location is affected; process and things are not separate categories
Looking for environmentally friendly alternatives to goal-directed grammar:
conflate medium w/ process: "it's winging" instead of "birds are flying in the sky";
state a process w/out a participant: "there's been a death" instead of "someone died";
use plural subjects, reciprocal verbs: "Anne and Sarah collided"
promote location to subject: "the bed was crawling with ants..."
ergative forms (medium does the process, provides own energy;
human as instigator, not agent): "the rice cooked," "the meat went on boiling"

nominalization recodes processes as nouns, suggests their permanence-->
or might they be seen to represent self-generated processes?
"water condenses" -> "condensation occurs" (medium absorbed in process)
seeking an image of the world in which processes prodominate and human actors disappear

Conclusion: congruence represents a Newtonian, anthropocentric, infantile ideology
grammar more consonant w/ ecological ontology can be constructed
2 possible directions for critical language awareness:
name actors responsible for environmental degradation
more radically, target anthropocentrism, focus on interrelated process
(overcome the "thingification" of the world)
deconstruct things into processes, transitive effective clauses into reciprocal actions

Schleppegrell: purpose of a green grammar is to represent
real relationships in the world, in order to change patterns
a truly green grammar reveals real forces, institutions that result in env'l destruction
nominalization diffuses responsibility, suppresses social agency, obscures those relationships

Goatly: nominalization can obscure agency of non-specific human actors,
carry inference of general, not specific institutional/corporate destruction
but no grammer can represent the real relationships in the world,
all are models for what's "out there," mediations
Newtonian model is flawed, outmoded, reactionary
@ least nominalization is ambiguous!
(does it turn processes into things, or does it indicate the processual nature of all things?)
cf. Blackfoot = post-relativity models of the physical universe

V. today's exercise is a repeat of Tuesday's:
this time, instead of re-writing your Thoreauvian walk in "rheomode,"
trying introducing "nominalization"--what happens?
then try to get rid of the anthropocentrism....
to focus on interrelated processes and reciprocal actions

what have we learned?!





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