Monday, November 3, 2014

Knowledge, acquisition thereof

Below is a piece I wrote in an effort to elucidate my understanding of how one comes to know, how one transitions from innocence to experience, from ignorance to illumination and edification; how one comes to trust those transitory phases as valuable and worthy and necessary and formative of self. Give it a read:


Enclosed in a darkness
Interrupted only by the twinklings
Of others' ideas,

I imagine the path, the light.
Straight, narrow--
A plank jutting away.
I walk it, knowing I will fall
But not for long.

So I leap from that
Narrow refuge,
Falling free and
Spinning through the blinking darkness,
Arcing, swanning,
Head-long and head-strong
Into the abyss.

I see my port, a haphazard series of
Held in a loose raft
By the mind of another.

I slow my fall,
Drift to this sanctuary,
And alight.

I walk the construct,
Study its form and frame and
Fulcrums and fusions,
Until I know it well and
My feet know its Gordian map
And can dance its tangles and
Its angles and its lurches and
Its leaps.

Then I leap, diving away from
That sanctuary into the dark again.
To build my own,
I will need more planks:
Ignore the ignorant and build.
Others come behind who will need
Respite and refuge.
                              --R. C-A, 2002

Notice the control exercised by the narrator? These are anything *but* suicide leaps, though my sometimes emo-centric kids could see nothing but dark in the joyful light of this piece.  Do you see evidence of *joy* herein? Can you source it? Purpose in action? in form? in alliteration? Do you see that this narrator is anything *but* selfish in pursuit of ever more illumination?

(And, to give credit to those emo-kids, do you see how at essence, one must vanquish the old self in order to allow the new self to emerge?)

What metaphor do *you* employ to express intellectual/spiritual/philosophic change? We all do, you know...

I sometimes shared this poem with my students as part of an exercise in general poetic explication, as a piece on which to re-engender one's ability to adjudge mood and tone, structure and form, metaphor as meaning.  Most never learned that I had authored it; I feel there is something skeevtastic about a teacher requiring students to read them. It is difficult enough in conveying the essay prompt or the exam questions or the 'blog entry that is "just sayin'" rather than *say* sayin', know what I mean?How is a student to compose comfortable critical analysis under that sort of pressure?  Too often, especially early on in a teacher-student relationship, the acolyte wonders "What is expected of me? What does she want? What is *the* *answer*?  Before long, most of my students came to believe me when I told them I only wanted *their* answers, that I stood to learn as much from them as they from me, that I do not believe there is such a thing as *the* *answer*.


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