Saturday, December 31, 2016

Sea monster.

Nick Cave.

I am unable to write.

I am unable to draw.

I am unable to speak.

I am unable to sing.

I can barely breathe.

I cough compulsively.

"I still am."

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Mapping ground up.

Here I am again...imagining a play-space.  

The photo above is representative of open space in which I want to play. 

The photo above is representative of the call of open space in which I want to walk.

Past experiences have confirmed that I need to follow my intuition but at the same time to be realistic about the scope of the play.

Thinking about the remarks of Dave Snowden concerning heroic disasters brings me to Terry Elliott's media stream in Twitter. 

I stop an instant and pick and choose some pertinent landmarks.

I remember previous experiences of spinning off into the ether.

Icarus comes to mind.

I am comfortable with poetry. I am suspicious of "master-plans".

I keep telling myself, that curiosity has its dangers...

I shall attempt to remain grounded...this time.

In the meantime I have rediscovered my Popplet cloud space.

I map out a play space which I shall embed here.

It gives me possible directions - no certain outcomes.

I remember the importance of conversation and time.

We can get lost in the webs or our own making...

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.”

― Walter ScottMarmion

I am wary of webs...of lies.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Return on investment.

I am unfortunate, my course has a low interest rate, students are quick to calculate returns on investment and place resources elsewhere.

Compared to other classes, learning a language requires considerable effort.  

If you haven't built up socio-cultural capital over the years or generations, you start with a deficit. 

Such deficits demand drastic efforts to compete, relocation even.

This little world.

Oh we have a joyous band of brothers in the English class.

'Tis a sanctuary against the rude elements.

"This happy breed of men, this little world, 
This precious stone set in the silver sea, 
Which serves it in the office of a wall 
Or as a moat defensive to a house, 
Against the envy of less happier lands,-- 
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England."

William Shakespeare Richard II

Mythomanes, and bad actors find it easy to wax lyrical thus.

It is easy to focus one's attention on that little course for which one is responsible.

It easy to lose sight of the big picture.

We would do well do change perspectives.

Should we not see ourselves from the point of view of an administrator?

Of a region
Of a country 
Of a public institution.
Of a multinational corporation within a globalised economy. 

Should we not see ourselves at threat from vicious competition?

Should we not stop overestimating our importance?

Should we not only think of our value in market terms?

"But we're human beings with inherent value," I hear you whine.

"We have an important social and educative role," I hear you pine.

"Grow up! We're not living in Care Bear Land," I retort.

"This is serious business matey!"

We should be thankful that we don't find ourselves in a war zone.  
("You do? Oh Sorry...Jolly bad luck.")

We should be thankful that we don't find ourselves in a zone for redevelopment.
("Don't be so sure.")

We should be thankful that we don't find ourselves threatened by flooding due to rips in the ozone.
("Just make sure you don't forget the sun-cream")
("That's just quack science.")

Market forces.

Intelligent teachers generally choose the best, brightest, smallest of classes which offer comfort, charming company, the latest in tech, intellectual stimulation, academic accolades.

Stupid, masochistic, naive, idealistic, dumb teachers, (I place myself in all these categories), don't choose the easier classes.

Poor losers, such as these kind haven't understood the business, the education market.

You have to fight for your piece of the glory gateau.

Simple arithmetic.

Those who count don't teach.

Those who count don't listen.

Those who count don't care.

Haggling in the souk.

It was rather a surprise to see him.

He hadn't been anywhere near a class.

He had only taken the unembodied form of intermittent, curt emails.

He was, I suppose, a virtual student.

I suppose I should have counted myself lucky that he had appeared in the flesh.

With the benefit of hindsight I would have counted myself lucky that he had remained absent.

At no time was there a real exchange between people.

This would be purely transactional.

He was a market vendor, I was a market buyer.

He was clearly trying to take me for a mug.

I didn't buy his spiel. I didn't like the tone. I shook my head.

He mumbled some vile about the quality of the course.

He folded his wares, and walked off in a huff.

Overseas, and far away.

I overheard the news on the radio.

French students were coming up short in comparison with the Koreans on PISA.

UK students were protesting against  a  "disastrous direction" taken in higher education.

South African students were protesting against tuition fees.

Return on investment.

I am considering my own personal investments in light of recent market trends.

There are those who stand to lose, there are those who stand to gain.

Some will lose all.

There are those who are shouting wildly:  "Sell, sell, sell."

I am a hopelessly dumb, naive investor.

I tell myself frequently:

"You're a fucking idiot. Stop Caring."

"Sell out while you can."

Image credit.

1960's Riot Police 

Minoru Karamatsu

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Web We Weave.

The Spider and the Fly

“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
 'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
  The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
   And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.”

“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
 For who goes up your winding stair
     -can ne'er come down again.”

Monday, December 5, 2016

Open: light & dark.

“The real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the workings of institutions that appear to be both neutral and independent, to criticize and attack them in such a manner that the political violence that has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them.”  

Michel Foucault

"We couldn't be doing today what we're doing right now without openness." Alec Couros

"By high school you should have a fully developed outside (digital) presence." Alec Couros
 "If I ever really wanted to leave Facebook, I couldn't 'cos the imposters would basically subsume, would take over that role, they would take over me." Alec Couros.  

"We let technology into our lives. And now it's starting to control us."

Two years later, in 2000, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig predicted that the internet would become an apparatus that tracks our every move, erasing important aspects of privacy and free speech in our social and political lives. “Left to itself,” he said, “cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control.” A sceptical reviewer scoffed: “Lessig doesn’t offer much proof that a Soviet-style loss of privacy and freedom is on its way.”

"How can I protect myself from government snoopers?"

"As an ordinary citizen with a life, you can’t hide from the security services, any more than you can defend your house against a tank regiment. If they want to hack your devices, they will."

Jack Schofield 

Information retrieval.

Jill Layton: Doesn't it bother you, the sort of things you do at Information Retrieval?

Sam Lowry: What? I suppose you'd rather have terrorists.

Jill Layton: How many terrorists have you met, Sam? Actual terrorists?

Sam Lowry: Actual terrorists?

Jill Layton: Yeah.

Sam Lowry:... Well... It's only my first day.

Terry Gilliam. Brazil. 

"Google, democracy and the truth about internet search"

I feel like I’ve fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what I’ve actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016 and found one of the underground springs that has been quietly nurturing it. It’s been there all the time, of course. Just a few keystrokes away… on our laptops, our tablets, our phones. This isn’t a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. It’s hiding in plain sight.

Carole Cadwalladr



"On a lighter note."

"We couldn't be doing today what we're doing right now without openness." Alec Couros

I had no words to add.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

No child left behind.

The successful outcomes benefit from sophisticated monitoring and advanced data analysis, a continuous stream of the latest intelligence, distant human piloting and decisive engagement.

No child left behind.

The board meets to congratulate themselves on yet another successful year.

Training budgets for apprentices are up.

Local schools are flourishing.

Unemployment is at a new low.

Faith in freedom is reborn.

The president cuts the ribbon for a new line.

The people come to wave their flags and cheer.

No child left behind.

I watched as the young people around me froze.

A deathly silence fell upon us.

The camera moved around the room.

Chairs and tables had been overturned.

People seemed as if suspended in the air.

All activity stopped.

Nobody was laughing now.

No child left behind.

I looked at the data in the spreadsheet.

1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1.

It was marvellous news.

I tweeted to my colleagues in the UK.

The students seemed to be engaged with their distant correspondents.

Isn't this what we call "a global classroom"?

Don't we need a [global] "village to educate a child"?

No child left behind.

I concentrated my energy on the person behind the zero.

He was a high level sportsman..

That was what explained the zero.

Column 5 - Date.

Column 6 - 1 for presence 0 for absence.

He had done the work.

I didn't have a trace.

Fantasies fill the void.

"He's not interested in my classes."

"He's doesn't care about my subject."

"I am the One with power."

"Zero! He's worth zero."

Fantasies fill the void.

Dialogue 1 - 1 was facilitated by the tools.

Dialogue 1 - 1 helped us to build respect.

Dialogue 1 - 1 moved us to another place.

No child left behind.

Tools extend our reach.

Maps extend our reach.

Words extend our reach.

I look at the blog statistics.

"Touches of sense..."

142, 000 hits.

No child left behind.

Ronald reminded me.

@sensor63 Searching for children of Native Americans and aboriginals to bring them to the institutions to take their own culture out of them
— Ronald_2008 (@ronald_2008) November 27, 2016

I watched the video again.

No child left behind.

I did a search for Australia.

Education down under is nothing if not inclusive.

I watched Walkabout on Youtube with an English rose.

I watched the test match.

We won the ashes.

No child left behind.

"I reconciled myself to separation."

We learnt about 1066 and all that.

Shall we ever venture into  "Noman's land."?

We learnt to march.

We learnt to drill.

We learnt to bat.

We did "Target Practice."

Teachers inspired us.

Teachers abused us.

Teachers thrashed us "Behind closed doors."

We escaped an instant the day of the deluge.

No child left behind.

We have a common core, a common culture.

Standards are kept.

Competition is fierce.

Money speaks.

Scores cards are tallied.

Numbers never lie.

No child left behind.

I read Terry's post.

I listen to the song.

"Road to nowhere."

I tweet a response.

I see Kevin's response.

That gets me thinking.

Fantasy fills the void.

I think back to Kevin's tweet.

"We are on the road to somewhere...."

I think back to the spreadsheet.

No child left behind.

"We are on the road to somewhere..."

No child left behind.

I think back to the spreadsheet.

I think of all those zeros...all those ones.

At times, I despair.

"I do not think words alone will solve humanity's present problems. The sound of bombs drowns out men's voices. In times of peace I have great faith in the communication of ideas among thinking men, but today, with brute force dominating so many millions of lives, I fear that the appeal to man's intellect is fast becoming virtually meaningless."

Albert Einstein.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Men in iron masks.

"We show the room where the man in the iron mask was imprisoned for seventeen years, it's quite big, has a vaulted ceiling and is lit by a single window. It is perhaps the only place on the island which is dark and cool, at the time of the year when we were visiting, we could appreciate the shade all the more, but the contrast of this darkness with the startling light which floods the bay and the wonderful amphitheatre of the Var mountains, must have worsened the sadness of the poor prisoner."

Hang dog.

He sat there alone, a beaten dog, his whole being was caving in on the chair. Each time he attempted to verbalise, his eyes welled up, his shoulders dropped, it was all that he could do not to sob.

He could see no further than the bars.

We were his jailers.

He was waiting for the bullet.

Burning in hell.

"You were in a bad way." she said.

I knew that to be true.

I let it bleed.

I could say it.

Who might listen, I didn't care.

I could say it.

I could shriek it.

It was a first step.

Hang dog.

"It's OK to cry," I said,  

"I spent months unable to do more than weep."

"I know it is not OK."

"It is shit."

"It is worse than shit."

"That is where you are."

"I know."

While we can, while we are not threatened in our candour, let us weep.

In that box.

There was a dark stain on the faded wall-paper.

We sat watching the stain, it did not move.

We looked at the the place where the TV had been before its repossession.

We became suddenly aware of the poverty of the decoration.

Angular, low ceiled, square windowed, we saw the ugliness of "social" architecture for what it was.

We were in the box marked: "Trash".

"Things can always get worse," I said.

All amusement had been stripped away.

Chains of sorrow.

I read the bleakness of my friend's words.

"I been brought down to zero, pulled out and put back there.
I sat on a park bench, kissed the girl with black hair
And my head shouted down to my heart
“You better look out below!”
Hey, it ain’t such a long drop don’t stammer don’t stutter
From the diamonds in the sidewalk to the dirt in the gutter
And you carry those bruises to remind you wherever you go."

It had taken a while to summon the courage, to return there.

We insulate ourselves.

We hope for better.

Until the train crash.

They record the facts.

We are the small print.

On the railroad.

I am propped up, my face gazing at reflections, stuck to the pane of the carriage window.  Condensation mists my view, water drops slide down the glass like so many tears. 

All is darkness.

Little lights, 
Of little lives, 
Of little homes, 
Rush by.

I catch glimpses of family life.

I catch glimpses of bedsit life.

I imagine, fights, parties, laughter, anger, birth and grief.

My mind reaches out an instant, and then they are gone, gone into the darkness.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We never meet.

We are never met.

Men in iron masks.

There are those who have a black heart, who revel in a living death.

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” 

Dorothy Parker

Wealth is just deserts.

Poverty is indigestion.

You are the shit.

You don't like it?

They don't like it.

It's an annoyance.

"Be happy to live, dog!"

"Your fucking misery is polluting the mediterrenean."

"Die, drown, weep but not on my fucking beach."

There was a time, their gloves were velvety Dolce and Gabbana.

Now their gloves are off.

They have iron fists.

They have iron hearts.

They have iron souls.

They have iron bars to ruin any view.

Weep, so that they may rust and rot...

A hidden message.

Three hundred years later, we walked into the cell.

We saw a little hole in the painted wall. 

We stretched up, poked a stick in the hollow. 

Pulling the stick back, we drew out a bundle of manuscripts tied up in string.

The bundle belonged to an Irish prisoner.

We took it out into the light to inspect it.

Half written in English, half written in French.

The words of Andrew Mac Donagh spell


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Maya Angelou. I know why the caged bird sings.

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” 

Virginia Woolf.  A room of one's own.

Steel my poem friends.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016














"If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way."

Emile Zola.

"The umpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

"There should be equality among all people save only the king. There should be no serfdom and all men should be free and of one condition. We will be free forever, our heirs and our lands."

Wat Tyler.

"Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you want them to understand."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth.

"If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation."

Vaclav Havel.

"The basic confrontation which seemed to be colonialism versus anti-colonialism, indeed capitalism versus socialism, is already losing its importance.  What matters today, the issue which blocks the horizon, is the need for a redistribution of wealth. Humanity will have to address this question, no matter how devastating the consequences may be."

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth.

"Once the rage explodes, they recover their lost coherence,they experience self-knowledge through the reconstruction of themselves; from afar we see their war as the triumph of barbarity; but it proceeds on its own to gradually emancipate the fighter and progressively eliminates the colonial darkness inside and out. As soon as it begins it is merciless. Either one must remain terrified or become terrifying - which means surrendering to the dissociations of a fabricated life or conquering the unity of one's native soil. When the peasants lay hands on a gun, the old myths fade, and one by one the taboos are overturned: a fighter's weapon is his humanity. For in the first phase of the revolt killing is a necessity: killing a European is killing two birds with one stone, eliminating in one go oppressor and oppressed: leaving one man dead and the other man free."

Frantz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth.

"Although the scythe isn't pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end, of, say, a peasants' revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome."

Terry Pratchett.

"Zombies, believe me, are more terrifying than colonists."

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of The Earth.

"Get this into your head: if violence were only a thing of the future, if exploitation and oppression never existed on earth, perhaps displays of nonviolence might relieve the conflict. But if the entire regime, even your nonviolent thought, is governed by a thousand-year old oppression, your passiveness serves no other purpose but to put you on the side of the oppressors."

Jean Paul Sartre.

Image Credit