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Month July 2012

On Learning from the Knowmads…

 

 

On June 25th, I had the privilege of following the Knowmads around on the day in which they were examining the effects of capitalism on education. The Knowmads are a small group of Riverdale Country School rising juniors and seniors who participated, this past June, in a two-week summer course, entitled Capitalism and Its Critics. The course was designed as an interdisciplinary workshop and structured thematically to examine the implications of capitalism on various aspects of our culture and institutions. We all met at 10 a.m., flash-mob style, in the Grand Central terminal to start our day of interviews and discussions. Here are some of the insights and observations I gathered from shadowing the Knowmads.

Capitalism and Its Critics

Capitalism: friend or foe? Is capitalism humankind’s greatest achievement, responsible for harnessing the world’s resources for maximum benefit, or is it a catastrophic development in human history that has sacrificed creativity and compassion for the relentless accumulation of wealth?  Is there “wisdom in the markets,” or is capitalism just a way to rationalize unbridled greed?

Capitalism will be under the microscope during a two-week interdisciplinary workshop bringing together students and teachers to investigate the history, meaning, and impact of capitalism in our lives today. In addition to examining capitalism from a theoretical perspective, we will look at how capitalism is portrayed in film, music, and literature. Students will formulate their own research questions and present their findings at the end of the workshop. Students and teachers will spend considerable time “in the field,” researching and interviewing subjects for their research question.

My experience with the Knowmads confirmed what I had imagined when I first heard of the workshop: a group of teachers and students, engaging deeply and freely with what teaching and learning mean and how might they rethink those definitions to better suit their needs and those of other students and teachers. But there’s more to the concept, as the students taught me through their conversations, questions and behaviors. Knowmad means ending the perceived and institutionalized segregation between Knowledge and Learning in the classroom and every day life learning–academic or otherwise. The Knowmad concept is about better preparing students for the challenges of school and life; it means giving them the tools and the freedom to experiment as we nurture their sense of agency in creating new tools and developing innovative ways to use them. Taking the learning experience outside the classroom, as the Knowmads did, created the necessary space to gain some perspective on what works and doesn’t work about the ways we teach and learn.

The idea that teaching occurs only in schools and classrooms creates the erroneous assumption that we do not all collectively share the responsibility and duty of teaching all children we encounter through our own behaviors. Our first meeting of the day, with Leo Casey of the United Federation of Teachers, really drove that point home. Before meeting with Mr. Casey, Jed Silverstein, one of the Knowmad teachers, gathered the class to give them some last minute tips on how to stay respectful even as the students ask potentially thorny questions. After telling us a little bit about UFT and his own work within it, Mr. Casey opened up the discussion to the student’s questions. One student, Benny, expressed his concern that unions and tenure might lead to keeping mediocre teachers in schools for longer than they should be. Benny phrased the question very thoughtfully and respectfully, putting into practice Mr. Silverstein’s tips on asking smart respectful questions and showed a genuine interest in hearing Mr. Casey’s take on the matter. All of this makes Casey’s response all the more surprising–he evaded Benny’s question and when he found that Benny was not just ‘some kid’ he could shake off, he became outright aggressive and unprofessional, telling Benny that he ‘didn’t understand what he was talking about and was just regurgitating things he had heard or read and not understood’. While I was appalled by Casey’s behavior towards Benny, I don’t mean to single him out. I think that what he did is something that we are all guilty of to varying degrees. We think and debate passionately about education, learning, teaching, the well-being of students yet there are times when we fail to translate these concepts into real life opportunities for teaching the students we come into contact with. As the concept of the ‘global village’ moves from an abstract academic concept to an evermore tangible aspect of contemporary life, it might be time to remember the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child.”

Later that day we met with Ian Rowe of Girls Prep. Mr. Rowe told us about the Girls Prep model in particular and Charter Schools in general. He gave us a tour of the school and explained the lottery process through which all students must go through if they hope to get into Girls Prep. The day of the lottery is an emotionally intense moments for a lot of families that come from lower socio-economic backgrounds and who view getting their child into a charter school as the only option they have to give them a decent education. (For a poignant portrayal of the process, watch Waiting for Superman). Mr. Rowe shared one particular anecdote that had really affected him. On the day of the lottery, one of the fathers came up to him and told him how before his daughter had even been born, he and his wife had dreamt that she, if it were a she, would attend Girls Prep, which the family could see from the window of their low-income apartment. The father told Mr. Rowe, how, ever since his daughter had been born, the parents had pointed to the Girls Prep building and told her that one day this is where she would go to school. Unfortunately, on the day of the lottery, the child’s name was not selected and she was unable to attend Girls Prep that year (her name did get drawn the year after).

This brings me to my next point, which is that the concept of the ‘classroom’ doesn’t mean anything in contemporary America. The classroom as a space, a set of furniture and resources, and an environment that nurtures growth and opportunity simply does not exist as a single entity; there is too wide of a disparity across schools and educational opportunities. Contemporary education is not democratic. Like the Riverdale Knowmads, I had the privilege of attending a school with immense resources, The Lawrenceville School, while other students, a mere 15 miles away in Trenton, NJ, were dealing with gun violence, overcrowded classrooms and a dire lack of resources.  We live in a world of gross inequalities, with the gap between rich and poor growing wider still. We can talk ad nauseam about rethinking economic and political systems. We can stage protests and call ourselves the 99% or the 1% and fight to keep our ground, whichever side were on. But in the meantime an entire generation of students is growing up and only a small fraction will enjoy the benefits of a decent education. We need to rethink the learning model entirely. We need to find ways to instill a standard and quality of teaching and learning that goes beyond physical resources. It is high time we move away from thinking of the classroom as a physical space in which we perform static roles as students and teachers. We need to rethink the role of the classroom, not as a space or a stage for rote assimilation of knowledge, but as a mindset that shakes assumptions and broadens perspectives on both sides of the teaching divide.

A final observation from my day with the Knowmads is how deeply absurd and wasteful it is that we, as adults and policymakers, activists, and proponents of change, make such little use of our children’s potential in rethinking and redesigning the future. The systems and patterns we have built no longer work. The scale of our consumption has far surpassed our resources and we are feeling tangible and devastating consequences, global warming chief among them. It is time to admit failure and collectively redesign our future so that it is more inclusive of our collective needs as humanity and as individuals, as well as the needs of our planet and the many other animals and forms of life that we share it with. Children, of all ages, provide an immense, and until now, noticeably untapped source of inspiration and direction in rethinking and redesigning our future. Small children have unbound imaginations and a very immediate, very aware sense of their surroundings, which often leads them to express deeply empathetic and authentic insights about the human condition and relationships. Older children lose a bit of that immediacy but develop deeply analytical, fresh and fruitful perspectives on the world and events around them, as did each of the Knowmads I met that day.

It is time to rethink the learning environment and experience. It is not about one-way lectures or rote transmission of knowledge. Learning is a creative act in which the ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ engage in the exchange of ideas that results in both party thinking a little bit more deeply and differently about their own world. That’s what learning is, it’s a give and take and it shakes assumptions on both sides.  Children of all ages need to be involved in rethinking what tomorrow should look like; they have deep insights on the world in which they are embedded. As Brian, one of the Knowmads said, “I’m going to live in the future so I want to know what’s going on.”

Visit our Facebook page for pictures of my visit with the Knowmads

 

Remembering Chris Marker

“That there was a certain relationship between these two films [La Jetée & Sans Soleil] was something I was aware of, but I didn’t think I needed to explain–until I found a small anonymous note published in a program in Tokyo that said, “Soon the voyage will be at an end. It’s only then that we will know if the juxtaposition of images makes any sense. We will understand that we have prayed with film, as one must on a pilgrimage, each time we have been in the presence of death: in the cat cemetery, standing in front of the dead giraffe, with the kamikazes at the moment of takeoff, in front of the guerrillas killed in the war for independence. In La Jetée, the foolhardy experiment to look in the future ends in death. By treating the same subject twenty years later, Marker has overcome death by prayer.” When you read that, written by someone you don’t know, who knows nothing of how the films came to be, you feel a certain emotion. “Something” has happened. Chris Marker March 5, 2003 Interview, first published in Libération.

We were deeply saddened to hear of french filmmaker, Chris Marker’s passing today.

Marker is an exemplary rethinker; a man who sought to break past the confines of linearity and form to rethink not only filmmaking but the storytelling process itself. We are lucky that a small part of his vision and beautiful, unfathomably deep imagination, empathy and understanding of humanity are forever captured in his art. Join us in celebrating his work and life!

View Junktopia ~ 6 minute film by Chris Marker, John Chapman & Frank Simeone (1981)

Enjoy this retrospective image gallery on Criterion

CHRIS MARKER INTERVIEW BY SAMUEL DOUHAIRE AND ANNICK RIVOIRE

This interview first appeared in the Paris daily Libération, on March 5, 2003, to mark the French DVD release of Sans Soleil and La Jetée. It was translated by Chris Marker for the 2007 Criterion Collection of the La Jetée/ Sans Soleil DVD release. The interview is printed on the booklet that accompanies the La Jetée/ Sans Soleil Criterion Collection DVD and can also be found on Filmlinc.com

Cinema, photo-novels, CD-ROMS, video installations–is there any medium that you haven’t tried? 

Gouache.

Why have you agreed to the release of some of your films on DVD, and how did you make the choice?

Twenty years separate La Jetée [1963] from Sans Soleil [1983]. And another twenty years separate Sans Soleil from the present. If I were to speak in the name of the person who made those movies, that wouldn’t be journalism but rather spiritism. In fact, I don’t think I either chose or accepted: somebody talked about it, and it got done. That there was a certain relationship between these two films was something I was aware of, but I didn’t think I needed to explain–until I found a small anonymous note published in a program in Tokyo that said, “Soon the voyage will be at an end. It’s only then that we will know if the juxtaposition of images makes any sense. We will understand that we have prayed with film, as one must on a pilgrimage, each time we have been in the presence of death: in the cat cemetery, standing in front of the dead giraffe, with the kamikazes at the moment of takeoff, in front of the guerrillas killed in the war for independence. In La Jetée, the foolhardy experiment to look in the future ends in death. By treating the same subject twenty years later, Marker has overcome death by prayer.” When you read that, written by someone you don’t know, who knows nothing of how the films came to be, you feel a certain emotion. “Something” has happened.

When Immemory, your CD-ROM, was released, in 1999, you said that you had found the ideal medium. What do you think of DVD?

With the CD-ROM, it’s not so much the technology that’s important as the architecture, the arborescence, the mood of play. There will continue to be DVD-ROMs. DVD technology is great, but it still isn’t cinema.

Godard nailed it once and for all: at the cinema, you raise your eyes to the screen; in front of the television, you lower them. Then there is the role of the shutter. Out of the two hours you spend in a movie theater, you spend one in the dark. It’s the nocturnal portion that stays with us, that “fixes” our memory of a film (the way you fix color on a canvas) in a different way than the same film seen on television or on a monitor. But having said that, let’s be honest, I’ve just watched the ballet from An American in Paris on the screen of my iBook, and I very nearly rediscovered the exhilaration that we felt in London, in 1952, when I was there with Alain Resnais and Ghislain Cloquet, during the filming of Statues Also Die, when we would start every day by seeing the 10:00 a.m. show of An American in Paris at a theater in Leicester Square. An exhilaration that I feared I had lost forever when watching the film on cassette.

Does the democratization of the means of filmmaking (DV, digital editing, distribution via the Internet) seduce the socially engaged filmmaker that you are?

Here’s a good opportunity to get rid of a label that’s been stuck on me. For many people, “engaged” means “political,” and politics, the art of compromise (which is as it should be–if there is no compromise, there is only brute force, of which we’re seeing an example right now), bores me to death. What fires me is History, and politics interest me only to the extent it represents a slice of History cut in the present. With a recurring curiosity (if I identify with any Kipling character, it’s the Elephant’s Child of Just So Stories, with his “satiable curiosity”), I keep asking myself: how do people manage to live in such a world? Hence my mania to run and see “how things work” here or there…For a long time, those who were the best placed to describe how things work didn’t posses the tools to give shape to their testimonies–and raw testimonies quickly wear out. And now, suddenly, these tools exist. It’s true that for people like me, it’s a closed loop.

A necessary caution: “the democratization of tools” gets rid of many financial and technical constraints but does not save us from the constraints of working. Owning a DV camera does not magically confer talent on someone who doesn’t have any or who is too lazy to even ask himself if he does. You can miniaturize as much as you want, but a film will always require a great, great deal of work–and an incentive. That was the whole story of the Medvedkin groups, those young workers who, in the post-’68 era, tried to make short films about their own lives, and whom we tried to help on the technical level, with the means of the time. Did they moan! “We come back from the grind, and you ask us to work again…” But they stuck with it, and apparently something happened there, too, since thirty years later, we saw them present their films at the Belfort festival in front of an attentive audience. The means of the time was 16mm silent, which meant three-minute camera rolls, a laboratory, an editing table, some way of adding sound–everything that you have now right inside a little case that fits in your hand. A little lesson in modesty for the spoiled children of today, just like the spoiled children of 1970 got their lesson in modesty by putting themselves under the patronage of Alexander Ivanovich Medvedkin and his cine-train. For the benefit of the younger generation, Medvedking was a Russian filmmaker who, in 1936, and with the means that were proper to his time (35mm film, editing table, and film lab installed in the train), essentially invented television: shoot during the day, print and edit at night, show in the next day to the people you filmed (and who often participated in the editing). I think that it’s this fabled and long-forgotten bit of the history (Medvedkin isn’t even mentioned in Georges Sadoul’s book, considered in its day the Soviet cinema bible) that underlies a large part of my work–in the end, perhaps, the only coherent part. To try to give the power of speech to people who don’t have it, and, when it’s possible, to help them find their own means of expression. Such were the workers I filmed in 1967 at Rhodiaceta. Such were the Kosovars I filmed in 2000, who had never been heard on television: everyone was speaking on their behalf, but once you no longer saw them on the road, bloody and sobbing, people lost interest in them. Such were the young aspiring filmmakers in Guinea-Bissau whom I found myself introducing, to my great surprise to the editing of Battleship Potemkin, using an old print on rusty reels, and who have now had their films selected for competitions in Venice (keep an eye out for the next musical by Flora Gomes). I found the Medvedkin syndrome again in a Bosnian refugee camp, in 1993–a bunch of kids who had learned all the tricks of television, with anchorpersons and special effects on the credits, by pirating satellite TV and using equipment supplied by an NGO, but who didn’t ape the dominant idiom: they just used the codes in order to establish credibility, and they fed back the information to other refugees. An exemplary experience. They had the tools, and they had the incentive. Both are indispensable.

Do you prefer television, movies on a big screen, or surfing the Internet?

I have a completely schizophrenic relationship with television. When I assume I’m the only one in world, I adore it, particularly since there’s been cable. It’s curious how cable offers an entire catalog of antidotes to the poisons of standard TV. If one network shows a ridiculous TV movie about Napoléon, you can flip over to the History Channel to hear Henri Guillermin’s brilliantly nasty commentary on him. If a literary program makes us submit to a parade of currently fashionable female monsters, we can change over to Mezzo to contemplate the luminous face of Hélène Grimaud, surrounded by her wolves, and it’s as if the others never existed. Now there are moments when I remember I am not alone in the world, and that’s when I fall apart. The exponential growth of stupidity and vulgarity is something that everyone has noticed, but it’s not just a vague sense of disgust–it’s a concrete, quantifiable fact (you can measure it by the volume of the cheers that greet the talk-show hosts, which have grown by an alarming number of decibels in the last five years) that comes close to a crime against humanity. Not to mention the permanent aggressions on the French language…And since you are exploiting my Russian penchant for confession, I must say the worst: I am allergic to commercials. In the early sixties, that allergy was rather well considered. Today it’s unavowable. I can do nothing about it. This manner of placing the very mechanics of calumny in the service of praise always made me bristle, even if I have to admit that this diabolical patron has occasionally given us some of the most beautiful images you can see on the small screen (have you seen the David Lynch commercial with the blue lips?). A small consolation in the vocabulary: sometimes the cynics spill the beans. Stopping short of calling themselves “creators,” they trade it for “creatives” (in French, créatifs). And there the unconscious functions rather well: imagine what “gladiatives” could be.

And the movies in all this? For the reasons mentioned above, under Jean-Luc’s wing, I’ve said for a long time that films should be seen first in theaters, and that television and video are only there to refresh your memory. Now that I no longer have any time at all to go to the cinema, I’ve started seeing films by lowering my eyes, with an ever increasing sense of sinfulness (this interview is indeed becoming Dostoyevskian). But to tell the truth, I no longer watch many films, only those by friends or curiosities that an American acquaintance tapes for me on TCM. There is too much to see on the news, on the music channels, or on the indispensable Animal Channel. And I feed my hunger for fiction with what is by far the most accomplished source: those terrific American TV series like Deadwood, Firefly, or The WireThere is a knowledge in them, a sense of story and economy, of ellipsis, a science of framing and cutting, a dramaturgy, and an acting style that has no equal anywhere, and certainly not in Hollywood.

La Jetée inspired a video by David Bowie and a film by Terry Gilliam. And there’s also a bar called La Jetée in Japan. How do you feel about this cult? Does Terry Gilliam’s imagination intersect with yours? 

Terry’s imagination is so rich that there’s no need to play with comparisons. Certainly, for me 12 Monkeys [1995] is a magnificent film (there are people who think they are flattering me by saying otherwise, that La Jetée is much better–this world is peculiar…) It’s just one of the happy signs, like Bowie’s video, like the bar in Shinjuku (Hi, Tomoyo! To think that for forty years lots of Japanese have been getting happily plastered every night beneath my images is worth any Academy Award…), that have accompanied the strange destiny of this particular film. Since it was made like a piece of automatic writing, I’d have a hard time taking credit for it. It just happened, that’s all. I was filming Le joli mai, completely immersed in the reality of Paris 1962 and the euphoric discovery of Direct Cinema (you will never make me say “cinema verité”), and on the crew’s day off, I photographed a story I hardly understood. It’s in the cutting room that the pieces of the puzzle came together, and it wasn’t me who designed the puzzle. 

You are a witness of history, are you still interested in world affairs? What makes you jump to your feet, react, shout?

Right now there are some very obvious reasons to jump, and we know them all so well that there’s no need to overreact. What remains are the small personal resentments. I give you two examples. Among our group of friends in the forties, the one we all considered to be a future great writer was François Vernet. He had already published three books, and the fourth was to be a collection of short stories that he had written during the occupation, with a vigor and an insolence that obviously left him little hope with the censors. The book wasn’t published until 1945. Meanwhile, François had died in Dachau. Don’t misread me: I’m not trying to blackmail people in the name of martyrdom. Even if this death puts a kind of symbolic seal on a destiny that was already quite singular, the texts themselves are of such a rare quality that there is no need to seek extraliterary reasons for loving them and introducing them to others. Last year a courageous publisher fell in love with the book and took the risk of reprinting it. I did everything I could to mobilize people I knew, not in order to make it the event of the season but simply to get it talked about. But no, there were already too many books during that season, and there was hardly a word in the press.

Another example: Capriccio Records released a new recording by Viktor Ullman. Under his name alone this time. Previously, he and Gideon Klein had been recorded as “Theresienstadt composers” (for younger readers: Theresienstadt was the model concentration camp designed to be visited by the Red Cross; the Nazis made a film about it called The Führer Gives a City to The Jews). With the best intentions in the world, that name was a way of putting them both back in the camp. If Messiaen had died after he composed the Quartet for the End of Time, would he be the “prison camp composer”?

This record is astounding: it contains lieder based on texts by Hölderlin and Rilke, and one is transfixed by the vertiginous thought that, at that particular time, no one was glorifying the true German culture better than this Jewish musician who was soon to die at Auschwitz. This time, there wasn’t total silence–just a few flattering lines in the arts pages. Wasn’t it worth a bit more? What makes me mad isn’t that what we call “media coverage” is generally reserved for people I personally find rather mediocre–that’s a matter of opinion, and I wish them no ill. It’s that the noise, in the electronic sense, just gest louder and louder and ends up drowning out everything, until it becomes a monopoly just like the way supermarkets force out the corner stores. That the unknown writer and the brilliant musician have the right to the same consideration as the corner storekeeper may be too much to ask.

Have your travels made you suspicious of dogmatism?

I think I was already suspicious when I was born. I must have traveled a lot before then! 

 

Celebrate Marcel Duchamp’s Birthday with These Cool Links…

Marcel Duchamp, French artist and renowned rethinker, was born 125 years ago today. Duchamp is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements and is famous for rethinking the boundaries of art.

Here is a portrait of Duchamp, dressed up as his alter ego, Rrose Sélavy meant to sound like “Eros c’est la vie” (Eros it’s life).

(Source: Wikipedia.org)

Anémic Cinema ~ Duchamps’ experimental 1926 short film with his rotoreliefs

Marcel Duchamp’s Discs and John Cage’s Music ~ From Dreams That Money Can Buya 1947 experimental feature color film written, produced, and directed by surrealist artist and dada film-theorist Hans Richter. (I showed this to my cat yesterday and he freaked out! He didn’t take his eyes off the screen once for the whole 4 minutes)

A 1925 demonstration of the Rotary Demisphere 

Marcel Duchamp on his 1923 Why Not Sneeze? and the ready made

Marcel Duchamp in His Own Words ~ I   II & III

 

Rethinking material…* Quotes from Tim Brown’s Change By Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation

Did you know that we’ve assembled a large database of Design Thinking resources, to which we add daily? We collect all things Design Thinking–from books, videos, interviews, articles to toolkits and graphics. We’ve also curated an extensive list of quotes from Tim Brown’s Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation that detail and communicate main ideas, terms, principles and assumptions of the design thinking discipline. To make this static list of quotes more interactive and user friendly, I have highlighted, in bold red letters, key concepts and terms so that you may easily browse through the list and zero in on the quotes of interest and relevance to you.

For those of you who have signed up for the Edutopia-IDEO-Riverdale Country School free virtual workshop Design Thinking for Educators our Design Thinking database gives you the chance to explore the topic more broadly and more in depth. And for those of you who want to learn more about Design Thinking before committing to a 5-week long virtual workshop, this is the place to get an overview of what DT is and what it can achieve. (Don’t wait too long to register, the workshop starts July 30th)

 

Here is a selection of some of our favorites quotes from Tim Brown’s Change By Design. Head over to the Design Thinking tab under Rethinked*Annex for the full list of quotes and other DT resources. Enjoy!

Source: Brown, Tim. Change by Design: How Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. New York: Harper Business, 2009. Print.

 

“We are at a critical point where rapid change is forcing us to look not just to new ways of solving problems but to new problems to solve.” -Tim Brown

 

*…on design thinking…*

 

[…] design thinking is neither art nor science nor religion. It is the capacity, ultimately, for integrative thinking. 85

There are at least three significant areas where design thinking can promote what the Canadian designer Bruce Mau calls the “massive change” that is called for today. The first has to do with informing ourselves about what is at stake and making visible the true costs of the choices we make. The second involves a fundamental reassessment of the systems and processes we use to create new things. The third task to which design thinking must respond is to find ways to encourage individuals to move toward more sustainable behaviors. 194

Design thinking starts with divergence, the deliberate attempt to expand the range of options rather than narrow them. 229

The greatest design thinkers have always been drawn to the greatest challenges, whether delivering fresh water to Imperial Rome, vaulting the dome of the Florence Cathedral, running a rail line through the British Midlands, or designing the first laptop computer. They have searched out the problems that allowed them to work at the edge because this was where they were most likely to achieve something that has not been done before. For the last generation of designers, those problems were driven by new technologies. For the next generation, the most pressing—and the most exciting—challenges may lie in the highlands of southeast Asia, the malarial wetlands of East Africa, the favelas and rain forests of Brazil, and the melting glaciers of Greenland. 203

[…] design thinking extends the perimeter around a problem. 205

[…] design thinking needs to be turned toward the formulation of a new participatory social contract. It is no longer possible to think in adversarial terms of a “buyer’s market” or a “seller’s market.” Were all in this together. 178

Design is about delivering a satisfying experience. Design thinking is about creating a multipolar experience in which everyone has the opportunity to participate in the conversation. 192

The process of the design thinker, rather, looks like a rhythmic exchange between the divergent and convergent phases, with each subsequent iteration less broad and more detailed than the previous ones. In the divergent phase, new options emerge. In the convergent phase it is just the reverse: now it’s time to eliminate options and make choices. It can be painful to let a once-promising idea fall away, and this is where the diplomatic skills of project leaders are often tested. William Faulkner, when asked what he found to be the most difficult part of writing, answered, “Killing off your little darlings.” 68

David Kelley calls prototyping “thinking with your hands,” and he contrasts it with specification-led, planning-driven abstract thinking. Both have value and each has its place, but one is much more effective at creating new ideas and driving them forward. 89

[…] designers learn to draw so that they can express their ideas. Words and numbers are fine, but only drawing can simultaneously reveal both the functional characteristics of an idea and its emotional content. To draw an idea accurately, decisions have to be made that can be avoided by even the most precise language; aesthetic issues have to be addressed that cannot be resolved by most elegant mathematical calculation. Whether the task at hand is a hair dryer, a weekend retreat in the country, or an annual report, drawing forces decisions. 80

But the mark of a designer, as the legendary Charles Eames said often, is a willing embrace of constraints. 17

a well-constructed brief will allow for serendipity, unpredictability, and the capricious whims of fate, for that is the creative realm from which breakthrough ideas emerge. If you already know what you are after, there is usually not much point in looking. 23

To harvest the power of design thinking, individuals, teams, and whole organizations have to cultivate optimism. People have to believe that it is within their power (or at least the power of their team) to create new ideas, that will serve unmet needs, and that will have a positive impact. 76

Although it might seem as though frittering away valuable time on sketches and models and simulations will slow work down, prototyping generates results faster. This seems counterintuitive: surely it takes longer to build an idea than to think one? Perhaps, but only for those gifted few who are able to think the right idea the first time. Most problems worth worrying about are complex, and a series of early experiments is often the best way to decide among competing directions. The faster we make our ideas tangible, the sooner we will be able to evaluate them, refine them, and zero in on the best solution. 89

As the challenges of the industrial age spread to every field of human endeavor, a parade of bold innovators who would shape the world as they have shaped my own thinking would follow him [Isambard Kingdom Brunel]. We have met many of them along the “reader’s journey” that I have tried to construct: William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, the American industrial designer Raymond Loewy, and the team of Ray and Charles Eames. What they all shared was optimism, openness to experimentation, a love of storytelling, a need to collaborate, and an instinct to think with their hands–to build, to prototype, and to communicate complex ideas with masterful simplicity. They did not just do design, they lived design. 242

 

*…on storytelling…*

 

Mostly we rely on stories to put our ideas into context and give them meaning. It should be no surprise, then, that the human capacity for storytelling plays an important role in the intrinsically human-centered approach to problem solving, design thinking. 132

We have already seen hints of storytelling at work: in ethnographic fieldwork; in the synthesis phase, in which we begin to make sense of large accumulations of data; and in the design of experiences. In each case, we are talking about adding not just a widget but a whole new dimension to the designer’s toolkit: the “fourth dimension,” designing with time. When we create multiple touch points along a customer journey, we are structuring a sequence of events that build upon one another, in sequential order, across time. Storyboards, improvisations, and scenarios are among the many narrative techniques that help us visualize an idea as it unfolds over time. 132

“We are designing verbs,” [Bill] Moggridge kept reminding us, “not nouns.” 134

To design an interaction is to allow a story to unfold over time. 134

The specific set of tools will vary according to the particular disease or treatment, but two underlying principles are the same: first, as with every other type of time-based design project, each patients’ journey through the process will be unique; second, it will be far more effective to engage individuals as active participants in their own stories. Designing with time means thinking of people as living, growing, thinking organisms who can help write their own stories. 136

From the perspective of the design thinker, a new idea will have to tell a meaningful story in a compelling way if it is to make itself hear. There is still a role for advertising, but less as a medium for blasting messages at people than as a way of helping turn its audience into storytellers themselves. Anyone who has a positive experience with an idea should be able to communicate its essential elements in a way that encourages other people to try it out for themselves. 142

[…] storytelling needs to be in the tool kit of the design thinker–in the sense not of a tidy beginning, middle and end but ongoing, open-ended narrative that engages people and encourages them to carry it forward and write their own conclusions. 148

Synthesis, the act of extracting meaningful patterns from masses of raw information, is a fundamentally creative act; the data are just that–data–and the facts never speak for themselves. Sometimes the data are highly technical–if the task is a sophisticated piece of medical equipment, for instance; in other cases they may be purely behavioral, for example, if the problem is to encourage people to switch to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs. In every case we may think of the designer as a master storyteller whose skill is measured by his or her ability to craft a compelling, consistent, and believable narrative. 70

 

*…on education & learning…*

 

Our objective, when it comes to the application of design thinking in schools, must be to develop an educational experience that does not eradicate children’s natural inclination to experiment and create but rather encourages and amplifies it. As a society our future capacity for innovation depends on having more people literate in the holistic principles of design thinking, just as our technological prowess depends on having high levels of literacy in math and science. 223

Perhaps the most important opportunity for long-term impact is through education. Designers have learned some powerful methods for arriving at innovative solutions. How might we use those methods not just to educate the next generation of designers but to think about how education as such might be reinvented to unlock the vast reservoir of human creative potential? 222

“They liked the fish. Next time give them the net.” 171

Above all, think of life as a prototype. We can conduct experiments, make discoveries, and change our perspectives. We can look for opportunities to turn processes into projects that have tangible outcomes. We can learn how to take joy in the things we create whether they take the form of a fleeting experience or an heirloom that will last for generations. We can learn that reward comes in creation and re-creation, no just in the consumption of the world around us. Active participation in the process of creation is our right and our privilege. We can learn to measure the success of our ideas not by our bank accounts by their impact on the world. 241

As soon as two or three children get together they start to role-play: they become doctors and nurses, pirates, aliens, or Disney characters. Without prompting, they begin to perform lengthy enactments full of complex plots and subplots. Research suggests that this form of play is not only fun but also helps establish internal scripts by which we navigate as adults. 96

All children draw. Somewhere in the course of becoming logical, verbally oriented adults, they unlearn this elemental skill. 80

Fail early to succeed sooner. 17

Like every other kid, I was thinking with my hands, using physical props as a springboard for my imagination. This shift from physical to abstract and back again is one of the most fundamental processes by which we explore the universe, unlock our imaginations, and open our minds to new possibilities. 87

 

*…on empathy…* 

 

It’s possible to spend days, weeks, or months conducting research of this sort, but at the end of it all we will have little more than stacks of field notes, videotapes, and photographs unless we can connect with the people we are observing at a fundamental level. We call this “empathy” and it is perhaps the most important distinction between academic thinking and design thinking. We are not trying to generate new knowledge, test a theory, or validate a scientific hypothesis–that’s the work of our university colleagues and an indispensable part of our shared intellectual landscape. The mission of design thinking is to translate observations into insights and insights into products and services that will improve lives. 49

The movement from insight to observation to empathy leads us, finally, to the most intriguing question of them all: if cultures are so diverse and if the twentieth-century image of “the unruly mob” has given way to the twenty-first century discovery of the “wisdom of crowds,” how can we tap that collective intelligence to unleash the full power of design thinking? The designer must not be imagined as an intrepid anthropologist, venturing into an alien culture to observe the natives with the utmost objectivity. Instead we need to invent a new and radical form of collaboration that blurs the boundaries between creators and consumers. It’s not about “us versus them” or even “us on behalf of them.” For the design thinker, it has to be “us with them.” 58

We build these bridges of insight through empathy, the effort to see the world through the eyes of others, understand the world through their experiences, and feel the world through their emotions. 50

Empathy is the mental habit that moves us beyond thinking of people as laboratory rats or standard deviations. If we are to “borrow” the lives of other people to inspire new ideas, we need to begin by recognizing that their seemingly inexplicable behaviors represent different strategies for coping with the confusing, complex, and contradictory world in which they live. 49

 

*…on innovation…*

 

Instead of an inflexible, hierarchical process that is designed once and executed many times, we must imagine how we might create highly flexible, constantly evolving systems in which each exchange between participants is an opportunity for empathy, insight, innovation, and implementationEvery interaction is a small opportunity to make that exchange more valuable to and meaningful for all participants. 187

If it is truly innovative, it challenges the status quo. 136

[…] invention is not the same as innovation. 164

Divergent thinking is the route, not the obstacle, to innovation. 68

A purely technocentric view of innovation is less sustainable now than ever, and a management philosophy based only on selecting from existing strategies is likely to be overwhelmed by new developments at home or abroad. What we need are new choices-new products that balance the needs of individuals and of society as a whole; new ideas that tackle the global challenges of health, poverty, and education; new strategies that result in differences that matter and a sense of purpose that engages everyone affected by them. 3

In contrast to the champions of scientific management at the beginning of the last century, design thinkers know that there is no “one best way” to move through the process. There are useful starting points and helpful landmarks along the way, but the continuum of innovation is best thought of as a system of overlapping spaces rather than a sequence of orderly steps. We can think of them as inspiration, the problem or opportunity that motivates the search for solutions; ideation, the process of generating, developing, and testing ideas; and implementation, that path that leads from the project room to the market. Projects may loop back through these steps more than once as the team refines its ideas and explores new directions. 16

We see evidence of innovative strategies meant to enhance the collaboration between creators and consumers everywhere. In an initiative funded by the European Union to look at ways in which digital technology might strengthen the fabric of society, Tonny Dunne and Bill Gaver of the Royal College of Arts in London developed a set of “cultural probes“–journal exercises, inexpensive video cameras–that enabled elderly villagers to document the patterns of their everyday lives. In industries more geared to the youth culture–video games, sports apparel–it is now quite common for developers to work with tech-savvy youths at every stage of the development process from concept development to testing. Sweat Equity Enterprise in New York (the term refers to contributing time and effort to a project as opposed to “financial equity,” or money) works with companies as diverse as Nike, Nissan, and Radio Shack to codevelop new products with inner-city high school kids. The sponsoring companies capture cutting-edge insights “from the street” (a somewhat more reliable source of creativity than the executive suite) while at the same time making a lasting investment in education and opportunity for underserved urban youth. 60

 

*…on collaboration…* 

 

Social issues are, by definition, human-centered. The best of the world’s foundations, aid organizations, and NGOs know this, but many of them have lacked the tools to ground this commitment in ongoing, sustainable enterprises fueled not just by outside donations but by the energies and resources of the people they serve. 213

Ideas should not be favored based on who creates them. (Repeat aloud.) 74

There is a popular saying around IDEO that “all of us are smarter than any of us,” and this is the key to unlocking the creative power of any organization. We ask people not simply to offer expert advice on materials, behaviors, or software but to be active in each of the spaces of innovation: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Staffing a project with people from diverse backgrounds and a multiplicity of disciplines takes some patience, however. It requires us to identify individuals who are confident enough of their expertise that they are willing to go beyond it. 27

If we are to build on one another’s good ideas—one of the key tenets of design thinking—we will, at least for the time being, have to focus on a finite set of problems so that our successes can be cumulative over time and place. This begins with nurturing the natural creativity of all children and keeping it alive as they advance through the education system and into professional life. There is no better way to fill the pipeline with tomorrow’s design thinkers. 225

The Internet, in other words, characterized by dispersed, decentralized, mutually reinforcing networks, is not so much the means as the model of the new forms of organization taking shape. Because it is open-sourced and open-ended, it allows the energy of many small teams to be brought to bear on the same problem. 29

One of the techniques we have developed at IDEO to keep the consumer-designer involved in the creation, evaluation, and development of ideas is the “unfocus group,” where we bring an array of consumers and experts together in a workshop format to explore new concepts around a particular topic. Whereas traditional focus groups assemble a random group of “average” people who are observed, literally or figuratively, from behind a one-way mirror, the unfocus group identifies unique individuals and invites them to participate in an active, collaborative design exercise. 61

Brainstorming, ironically, is a structured way of breaking out of structure. It takes practice. 78

 

*…ode to the Post-It note…*

 

The Post-It note, in all its pastel glory, embodies the movement from the divergent phase that is the source of our inspiration to the convergent phase that is the road map to our solutions. 82

Initial Thoughts on Change by Design

 

Change by Design: How design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown with Barry Katz

Perhaps the first thing I want to do during the Design Thinking (DT) cycle is research opposing views or perspectives that put DT into a larger context of tools and principles for practicing and nurturing a deeply human, embodied and innovative way of thinking. I loved everything about Change by Design–from Brown’s prose and voice to the tools, methodology and worldview he described. I really buy into design thinking as a set of principles for rethinking how we design products, services, environments and experiences. I attended the Design Thinking For Educators Workshop this past June at the Riverdale Country School and saw, first hand, what an exciting, refreshing and deeply human process it is. Because I am obsessed with design thinking as a solution to many of the pressing problems we face in the twenty-first century, I think it is important that I gain some perspective on the discipline by seeing how it fits in with other, similar and opposing, views and methodologies.

Tim Brown is deeply aware of the costs and consequences of our current consumption culture. He highlights the fact that we, collective we–as citizens and consumers, are no longer content to be treated as passive consumers of products and services; we want to participate. Perhaps it is  a result of how much we have come to invest emotionally in goods, products, brands and services over the past few centuries that we now expect them to provide us with deep, meaningful and participatory experiences. (Check out this very current article on Why Millennials Don’t Want to Buy Stuff Anymore via Fast Co. for more on the experience economy.)  Whether this is the cause or not for this new expectation on the part of consumers, the fact remains that organizations, teams and individuals now need a set of principles to redesign how they think and approach problems, experiences, and interactions. The principles and tools of the design thinker, Brown suggests, offers just such a methodology.

For most of the DT cycle of rethinked*annex, I want to do as many quick challenges one after the other as I can; prototyping the design thinking process itself. One of the essential elements of the design thinking process is an integrative team of passionate and open people. This is not to say that design thinking cannot be practiced at the level of the individual, it is a method of thinking after all, but I think it will require some adjustment learning to do solo “design challenges”.

I also want to do the design challenges to practice some important elements of design thinking, such as the brief, brainstorming, visual thinking, prototyping from the beginning, etc., which I plan on using when designing the other cycles of rethinked*annex. The reason for using various element of the design thinking process to design and implement the other cycles is that the design paradigm, from which a design thinker approaches new problems, always operates within known constraints (the brief) and is grounded in reality by tangible deadlines. Given that rethinked*annex is based, to a large extent, on experimenting with ways to live out precepts from a few core books in my daily individual life, DT provides a great way to keep the goals and strategies tangible and grounds this intellectual exercise in praxis and reality.

Many of the principles of design thinking are, to be honest, foreign to my own way of thinking. I am one of those great anxious of the white page. I obsess over ideas—shape, define, tear them down and start all over again–but always in my head. It takes me ages to get ideas out of my head and onto paper or other forms of tangible representation. Quick, cheap and dirty prototyping has been mostly inexistent in my own approach to problems and situations in need of better resolutions. This has been an issue for me, mainly in academia but it does reflect a tendency to not act on ideas that occurs in my daily life and which bothers me. I hope that by practicing, and hopefully, over time, mastering, the various element of design thinking–such as prototyping all along the way of a project, defining a grounded and fruitful brief, learning to express my ideas visually and building upon the ideas of other–I might overcome my avoidance of execution.

I plan on doing repeated solo design challenges, starting with very small concrete things that I identify as not working optimally, such as, for example, “how might I rethink how I organize my clothes?” This “how might I” question, the expression of the design paradigm, is what will lead to the brief–the set of grounded constraints which are actually springboards of possibility for the project. Each stage requires discernment and decision-making, and this, as Brown repeatedly reminds us, takes practice. If the constraints are too strict, the possibilities of true innovation become stifled, but if they are too broad, the rethinkers will be unable to find an optimal focus through which to approach the challenge. Tim Brown does a great job of explaining what a well designed brief should encompass and gives plenty of examples of how other people and organizations have mastered the art of the brief and other elements of the design thinking process. But as he notes, nothing beats doing it repeatedly yourself to really understand what the various elements of design thinking are really about. I hope that as I learn to work through the various elements of DT in small, tangible contexts, I will gain the skills and confidence necessary to progressively move on to more abstract and complex design challenges, based on, for example, behaviors and routine dynamics.

I cannot recommend the book enough. Skip to the last chapter for a very concise summary of all the main ideas and concepts that Brown describes throughout the book, or read it all the way through for detailed case studies and descriptions of successful implementations of the tools and methods of design thinking and the assumptions and worldview behind them.

Register today: Design Thinking Workshop for Educators (7/30 – 8/31)

 

So excited to announce the Design Thinking For Educators Workshop, a 5-week, FREE virtual course brought to you by IDEO, Edutopia and the Riverdale Country School.

Registration is now open! Go to Edutopia.org and sign up before the workshop starts on July 30th.

Enjoy and rethink…*

Design Thinking Workshop Schedule

Each Monday we will post a new assignment. Participants will use Edutopia.org and a Ning site to complete the assignments at any time during the week. The workshop exercises are designed to take roughly 2-5 hours/week. We will send detailed emails once a week with links and resources for that week’s assignment.

July 30 – August 3 (Week 1): Introduction to the Design Thinking Process 
What is Design Thinking? How does it work? 
We’ll do some exercises to familiarize ourselves with the process and help us get into the Design Thinking mindset.

August 6 – 10 (Week 2): Discovery & Interpretation Phase 
I have a challenge. How do I approach it? I learned something. How do I interpret it?
We’ll define a group challenge, prepare research, and gather inspiration. To interpret, we’ll tell stories, look for patterns, and frame our opportunities.

August 13 – 17 (Week 3): Ideation
We have a better understanding of our challenge. What are some solutions? 
Now we brainstorm. No idea is wrong or too stupid. This week, we generate ideas, and refine them.

August 20 – 24 (Week 4): Experimentation & Evolution 
I see an opportunity: What do I create? I tried something new: How can I use it? 
We’ll create prototypes and refine them using real world feedback.

August 27-31 (Week 5): The Future 
In our final week, we’ll work to apply Design Thinking in our school or community setting.
At the end of the five weeks, the content will be archived, but we will continue the conversation about Design Thinking in education on Edutopia.org and social media.

Want to learn more about design thinking and how it relates to education before signing up for the course? Go to designthinkingforeducators.com to download a free toolkit that explains the design thinking method and tools and presents some case studies on the successful use of design thinking in education. You can also read about past design thinking workshops held on the RCS campus in partnership with IDEO here.

announcing rethinked*annex

WHAT IS RETHINKED*ANNEX?

rethinked*annex is a rethinked…*  side project and is first and foremost a year long experiment in being. It is a more focused and self-aware version of what we all do every day–attempt to live out our values and ideas as we seek to lead meaningful, satisfying lives.  At rethinked…*  we are particularly drawn to certain philosophies and disciplines, notably Design Thinking (DT), Integrative Thinking (IT), Positive Psychology/Character Strength (PP) and Applied Virtue (AV). How might we apply abstract concepts from these disciplines to our daily lives to maximize our experiences of self and existence. To explore these questions at a truly individual, micro level, I have volunteered to spend the next year living out one or two principles from each of five core books that rethinked…* team members have selected as being most representative of the four disciplines. The rethinked*annex project has two main goals:

MISSION

  1. CREATE & CURATE a database of resources surrounding the methodologies and philosophies rethinked…* believes in and recommends for living meaningful, authentic and happy lives (DT, IT, PP, AV).
  2. ENGAGE & EXPERIMENT in a deep and systematic manner with the rethinked…* ideas, values, philosophies and world views at an individual level. We seek to find easily implementable ways to modify behaviors and systems in our lives to enhance our experiences. In the process, we hope to discover new ways to articulate potential questions that rethinked …* will focus on in the future.

To guide my inquiry we have created a list of questions to explore throughout the duration of the project. It is impossible to formulate hypothesis for questions which we have not yet asked, and which we might not even have the language and concepts to formulate in the first place. We are not trying to arrive at a finite conclusion of how one should live his or her life. In fact, we reject whole-heartedly the notion that such a single ideal does exist. We do not seek ultimate truths but ways of being that can be easily implemented by myriad people to illuminate and reenergize their existence.

 THE QUESTIONS

CREATE & CURATE: 

  • How do we map out a user friendly database of knowledge?
  • How do we record ideas so that we can access them seamlessly?
  • How do we create an environment and method to document and organize new ideas that we are exposed to in such a way as to maximize our engagement forming new connections among various other concepts?

ENGAGE & EXPERIMENT

  • We seek to approach every new situation free of judgment yet we ascribe to certain values and philosophies; what does it mean to live  out our values and the tension that creates with our desire to be judgment free in all new encounters?
  • How can we help the individual implement relevant behaviors, resources, language and ways of thinking from DT, IT, PP, AV, in his or her daily life?
  •  How do we shatter our own assumptions on a daily basis?
  • What does it mean to the individual in his or her everyday to live with intent?

STRUCTURE

To explore DT, IT, PP, AV, the rethinked…* team has selected one book from each discipline (two books for Positive Psychology) to be the focus of my inquiry. The aim is not to follow every idea and precept in the book but rather to select one or two key features from each on which to base that discipline’s cycle of the project.

THE FIVE BOOKS

I will craft my investigation of these disciplines mainly as design challenges surrounding one or two key concepts highlighted in each of the books in relation to how they apply to tangible problems or dreams for my daily life. Each of the cycles will last three months and be broken down into three phases. I will observe, reflect on and record all of my findings and questions in the rethinked…* blog.

EACH CYCLE

  • DISCOVERY/BRAINSTORMING (1 month)
    • Read the book
    • Build database of resources mentioned in the book
    • Find other and opposing perspectives
    • Select one or two aspects of the book that I am going to use to rethink and redesign aspects of my life.
  • IMPLEMENTATION/PROTOTYPING (6 weeks)
    • Experiment with various ways of implementing the resources, tools and behaviors that I have selected from the book in my every day life.
    • I will also actively seek out conversations about the discipline through interviews, impromptu conversations, and visits to places or people that embody similar values and systems to the ones detailed in the book.
  • FEEDBACK/EVOLUTION (2 weeks)
    • The next two weeks will be dedicated to reflecting on my experiences living out the chosen concepts from the book. I will examine the impact, the questions that emerged and the new connections created in the process. I will record and observe my own feedback to the prototypes for implementing these ideas and will begin to brainstorm what the next phase of that particular challenge will look like.

GOALS

Our overarching aim with the database is to create and curate a vast resource of interconnected ideas about Design Thinking, Integrative Thinking, Positive Psychology/Character Strength and Applied Virtue. The database’s raison d’être is to nurture an environment where people can experiment freely with the ideas and concepts of the three disciplines and where they can rethink connections between these concepts and the things in their lives. I will explore various ways to make ideas highly accessible, malleable and user friendly in the hopes of broadening the conversation and expanding our perspectives about what it means to live a meaningful, happy and authentic life.

By the end of each of the four cycles, we want to have a complete database that encompasses

  • Quotes from the book
  • A review of the book
  • A list of resources from the book
    • Descriptions and links to the studies, authors, people, ideas and movements mentioned in the book
    • A glossary of relevant terms
    • A list of resources pertaining to the field as a whole
      • Links, videos, articles and descriptions of other major players, contested or opposing ideas, history, offshoots and influences.

TIMELINE:

July 16th  ~ September 1 DISCOVERY

rethinked*annex starts July 16, 2012  with a seven-week period during which I will read the five core books to get a sense of which aspects of each book I intend to focus on in the following months. I will outline themes and areas of interests for each book to ensure some coherence and diversity over the course of the project.

I will also read five different accounts from other people who have attempted to design their lives around various ideals. I will try to learn from their experiences and perspective the most salient ways to tangibly implement abstract ideas and values into one’s every day life. These are:

September 1 ~ December 1 POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY & CHARACTER   STRENGTH

December 1 ~ March 1 INTEGRATIVE THINKING

March 1 ~ June 1 DESIGN THINKING

July 1 ~ November 1 APPLIED VIRTUE

CONTACT

I hope that you will join me in conversation and experimentation with these ideas. Examine and observe your daily life and create design challenges to rethink behaviors, spaces, beliefs and attitudes that you identify as not working optimally. As always, feel free to contact me with ideas, suggestions, feedback, complaints and creative obsessions ~ elsa@rethinked.org

 

E Haunting Index

Wow! I spent most of this morning trying to think about my own Haunting Index and it was an incredible experience. I was flooded with memories of so many of the things and people that have touched and changed me.

Here are one or two from each category:

Book ~ And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos ~ John Berger

Film ~ Aguirre, The Wrath of God ~ Werner Herzog

Poem ~ Where the Bastard is God ~ Dambudzo Marechera & Musée des Beaux Arts ~ W.H. Auden

Image ~ The Swing ~ Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Place ~ The market in Port Louis, Mauritius

Smell ~ Mix of incense, horse, sweat & wine during Bartabas’ show Loungta in Paris

Sound ~ My grandfather clearing his throat in the room next door to reassure me at night in the summers

Taste ~ My grandmother’s macaroni & cheese and her fillet de boeuf sauce madère

Moment ~ Descending into the Ngorongoro crater in the Serengeti, at dawn

Ritual ~ Sharing a Bounty bar with my mother, sitting in the car while going under the washing rollers

Childhood ~ ladybug cemetery, Arthur, new kid, stars, reading, Marine, playing

Obsession ~ theviolenceofpunctuation & getting lost

Object ~ my grandmother’s ring, a mounted Napoleon III coin

Other~ The life/memory of trees

What haunting means to me: Haunting is eternal. It’s when the external feels immediate inside. It leads to joy, ecstasy even, but also despair and depression. You don’t always know when something will haunt you, or why it does.

What does your Index look like??

Haunting me…? [DAAR]

Constraining myself to one choice…

Book: Tristram Shandy by Laurence Stern

Film: Withnail & I by Bruce Robinson

Poem: “This Be the Verse” by Philip Larkin

Image: Duckrabbit

Place: Budir, Iceland

Smell: Oudh

Sound: “Let it Loose” the Rolling Stones

Taste: Laphroaig whiskey from Islay

Moment: Marriage in Sainte Nathalene, France

Ritual: Annual walk up Red Hill, NH

Childhood: Cornerways, Finchampstead, Berkshire

Obsession: Walking boots (Limmer, White’s, Wolverine…)

Object: Montblanc 149 Diplomat fountain pen

Fear: Losing my umbrella

Food: Blanquette de Veau

Concept: Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

Wine: Minervois, La Liviniere

Spice: Tellicherry black pepper

Other: 3-speed British roadster bicycle

What haunting means to you: feeling as though it fits or you have already experienced it…*

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