Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Paradoxes of hospitality.

Was the blank wall an invitation?

Was this graffiti first seen as a criminal desecration of property?

Is the tagged wall accepted, protected now?

What do tags tells us about the vibrancy of citizenship?

Do they speak of inclusion?

Do they speak of exclusion?

Are they artistic statements, vandalism?

One house owner appeared to have taken things into his/her hands.

The double garage door appeared to have a commissioned piece of street art.

Would tags superimposed on the masterpiece be an embellishment or a sacrilege?

Was the art gallery a consecration?

Is this another example of cultural appropriation?

Basquiat Skull

Or is the presence of the artist here a Trojan Horse?

"How Basquiat Challenged Police Brutality Through Art."

I wandered through the gallery in Lyon.

At first sight the sculpture was a meaningless jumble of junk.

On closer inspection, the assemblage demanded reflection.

There was purpose in the positioning of objects.

There was a meeting of minds.

It begged attention.

We need to take our time to revisit, to explore, to question our own assumptions.

I read "It's like a Jungle" an installation of  Henry Taylor.

"In his installation work It’s Like A Jungle (2011), Taylor presents an assortment of used objects, including boxes, crates, and furniture, suggesting the refuse that accumulates on L.A. streets from provisional downtown community housing."

What does the presence of the ensemble say about power?

What does the ensemble say about hospitality?

What does the title evoke?

It's like a jungle?

What is like a jungle?

Did the black oil cans evoke black power salutes as I read somewhere?

The Californian beach house was a burnt out wreck.

Viewed through the lens of John Divola, what is there left of our Californian dreams?

The hashtag was an "open" invitation.

How open was the invitation really?

Were the hosts ready for all comers?

Were the guests ready for all comers?

What were their expectations?

How did they imagine the stream in Twitter?

Was there an implicit injunction to bar transgressive behaviour, to bar transgressors?

I felt out of place.

I left a few tweets.

Was I tagging territory?

Was there an "in-crowd"?

It appeared so.

How did the "in-crowd" recognise each other?

Did they have history? Did they share gender? Did they share marginality?

Were the memes I left  seen by some as unwelcome noise?

Was I an ungracious guest?

Having blogged angrily, having tagged haphazardly, having felt an outsider, I felt sensitive to criticism that might come.

I found a video left by Chris Gilliard.

I watched it. It made me sit up and think.

Was I a rude, invasive guest?

I felt like jacking in the whole #digciz malarkey.

Then I thought a while.

I doubled back and reread Kate Bowles' comment on my post "For giving"  

"Hello, I wrote a long comment but I think the Internet whisked it away. 

So this is the shorter thought: is it the word "hospitality"? Does it come with something? Or is it the problem of conversation itself, in this world?

I'm really troubled by the idea that dialogue is the opposite of action. 

(Have read your blog many times, thank you for writing it)"

I was all ready to rush off a reply - "of course hospitality is a problem!"

I felt like I had found myself back in bloody church with people all terribly nice.

I remember their knowing looks, "Poor boy, he's a lost soul." 

I remember feeling an undercurrent of polite violence.

I went and read Betjeman - Death in Leamington (birth place of my mother).

Death in Leamington.

She died in the upstairs bedroom.
By the light of the ev'ning star
That shone through the plate glass window
From over Leaminton Spa

Beside her lonely crochet
Lay patiently and unstirred, 
But the fingers that would have work'd it
Were dead as the spoken word.

And Nurse came in with the tea-things
Breast high 'mid the stands and chairs-
But Nurse was alone with her own little soul, 
And the things were alone with theirs.

She bolted the big round window
She let the blinds unroll, 
She set a match to the mantle,
She covered the fire with coal.

And "Tea!" she said in a tiny voice
"Wake up! It's nearly five"
Oh! Chintzy, chintzy cheeriness.
Half dead and half alive.

Do you know that the stucco is peeling?
Do you know that the heart will stop?
From those yellow Italianate arches
Do you hear the plaster drop?

Nurse looked at the silent bedstead, 
At the gray, decaying face, 
As the calm of a Leamington ev'ning 
Drifted into the place.

She moved the table of bottles 
Away from the bed to the wall;
And tiptoeing gently over the stairs
Turned down the gas in the hall.

On reflection Kate's comment stirred action.

Indeed dialogue is not the opposite of action.

Genteel conversation in conferences often feels to me like Death in Leamington.


I suppose being caught between boiled eggs with the bishop at the Rectory and pub talk with the apprentices from the factory, I felt drawn to those who lacked veneer but brimmed with candour.

This explains why I get allergic reactions to those who I feel (perhaps wrongly) are performing intellect.

Then I went and found a video that I remember I had watched before.

A bloody French seminar on the philosophy of hospitality.

Oh la la.

I confess to a weakness for French philosophers since Rhizo14.

Before going back and watching Anne Dufourmantelle's seminar for the fourth time, I try to remember some stuff.

First this idea of Derrida (if I remember rightly)  "hospitalité inconditionnel"  - the idea that one can not expect a foreigner to adopt the language or the expectations of the host.

Connections between host-hostis-hostile-hostility-hostage-hospice-hospitality.

Inherent violence in the relationships of hospitality.

Dialogue between host and guest, host and hostage.

On reflection, I started to wonder whether the video that Chris Gilliard had shared was not an injunction of my multiple meme posting but rather an story about the black man brought as hostage by the host to the white sofa. I thought of the language and the gestures of Rick James, who makes his mark on the white sofa not in the way that one might expect.  There is no compromise given to the host who offers him his place on the sofa. There is no means for him to be a genteel part of the furniture.  I began to wonder how others might react to the behaviour of others, foreigners, outsiders leaving their marks on a Twitter stream.

I came back to think about the conflict between Torn Halves and Maha Bali during the run up to the aborted Rhizo16. Maha has been hurting from the episode ever since, has blogged at least twice, and her trust in myself and others was undermined.

How could people who said that they cared for her be seen to support the rudely aggressive intellectual jousting of a Torn Halves?

I have hurt from this episode as well.

I posted at least three blog posts on the story, tried to talk it over with Maha.

Nothing would change how Maha felt it appeared.

That hurt, that really hurt.

I do care. I cared about Torn Halves too...I don't know why.

I felt that there were no doubt good reasons for being apparently uncaring for others' feelings.

I tried writing about being kind to monsters.

Be kind to monsters.

That did nothing to keep Rhizo16 from splitting up into factions.

That did nothing to keep Maha from feeling that I had betrayed her.

I am reminded of  "hospitalité inconditionnel" that Derrida suggests we should have as our horizon.

Of course, we all have different vulnerabilities, different levels of resistance, different burdens of oppression to unpack.

Retrospectively, it is unthinkable for people with some experiences to be able to confide in those who are members of an oppressive group - whether they be white, men, straight.

We all need places of safety.

We all need places where we can speak our minds and spill out our vile without fear of retribution.

Art is a start, it is not enough.

Hospitalité cadré.

For there to be hospitality one needs to have a witness.

For myself, I only survived this far thanks to the "hospitalité inconditionnel cadré" of a psychoanalyst.

With this person, I was able to say nothing, for hours.

With this person, I was able to explore what is was to hurt, to hate, to love, to fear, to live.

Nothing was taboo.

With each act, acte Sarte might say, I came to see the confines of the world in which I had been born.

With passing months, I came to see the implicit rules by which I had been expected to live.

One moment, I suppose they call it transfer, I took it upon myself to be host to the child that had been hostage.

I welcomed the child.

I learnt to speak anew.

I learnt to learn anew.

I came into being here, through dialogue, year upon year of dialogue in a place of trust, of safety.

There are those who don't understand this vital need to retreat into ourselves, to be with those who can listen to our stories without judgement nor aggression.

I found this shared by Maha

Online hospitality.

I saw somewhere that Sundi had talked about starting not from "me" but from "us".

I started psychotherapy not from a position of me, but from them.

I is never ever singular it is always plural.

I think now of online hospitality.

I suggest that we are often starting from a simplistic idea about receiving others into our conversations - as long as they behave to our own rules.

We are hospitable in the sense that we say HI! Welcome on board!

We are jolly nice, we are jolly inclusive.

Until we are wounded by the guest who has not understood our rules.

Then we start being defensive and putting up the battens and calling people names.



"White privileged guy"

"Noisy neighbour"

We are never so hospitable as when we are not moved to question our own assumptions.

We are never so hospitable as when we are appreciated in our self-given role of host.

Oh thank you!

We speak of insertion.

We speak of assimilation.

We speak of coming onboard.

Fuck that my friends.

Let us rock this boat.

OK, Twitter is not a Quaker reading room.

OK, Facebook is a trap.

OK, Mastodon has a lot of echo.

"Hello, Hello, Anybody there?"

Let's look at what we have managed to do so far.

Never in my life have I been thus challenged.

Never in my life have I been able to be kind to trolls who shared my childhood.

Never in my life have I been able to have my own colonial family story put into such relief by those who now I count as friends.

Never in my life have I been able to simultaneously write poetry with people in three continents.

The value of "digital citizenship" is to constantly question my own visions of hospitality, my own practices of learning, my own prejudices concerning those who are noisy, those who are silent, those who are aggressive, those who are contemplative, those who frankly I would never ever come across in a non-digitally networked existence.

We must take time to be changed by the other, to celebrate the graffiti on our walls.

We mustn't run away from each other when faced by conflict, we must consider that we are in this together for the long term.

We must take risks to learn to live together in peace when our interactions spark fight or flight instincts.

When Maha talks of love, there is a choice.

We love despite our differences.

There is something there of a "cadre".

There is something there of "hospitalité inconditionnel."

Sunday, June 18, 2017

For giving.

Whose territory?

Whose conversation?

What story?

"I don't really understand your blog posts."

I have had to come to terms with the apparent inhospitability of much of my writing here.

I am not expecting others to do so.

Touches of sense...is my meaning making in space.

It is an inhospitable space.


If I do this openly, in a blog, it is for giving to those who might find something.

If I do this in a blog, it is a sort of ritual, it is for giving of myself openly.

I am searching.

I am reassured if there are those who find something meaningful to hang onto in this wilderness.

I wouldn't want to feel less free here.

I am already not so free here.

We are not so free here.

I find much to hang onto here, strangely.

It's easier for me because I can interpret what I write from my own context at a particular moment in time.

I am sure that is the same for all of us.

We feel moments of conviviality, moments of connection, moments of communion.

Then we are alone.


I have been lurking in the margins of a #digciz conversation which brings together a few (self-) select(ed) people to discuss issues connected to digital communication, amongst them: digital citizenship, data privacy, belonging and hospitability.

The hashtag has already marginalised many potential participants who have no idea what a/this hashtag indicates, neither what Twitter is, nor what anything in English means.

I could make it worse and speak about Mastodon or APIs (don't ask, I don't know).

I apologise for the obscurity of digciz, for its inherent inhospitability.

Actually, I don't.

Others don't either.

Despite my better sense, it has become a part of my life here.

Lurking in the margins, has sparked a couple of blog posts, a fair degree of frustration and a few memes.

It's not very much, I grant you, when faced with the bigger picture of things.

Somehow, I feel I would be better off slinking silently away.

I feel a fraud spending time on games of intellectual tennis when faced with so many pressing needs.

Just turn away from their lives and tweet.

I feel irrelevant.

Some people are gifted at spinning conversation endlessly.

I get bored after a while.


I want to know what we are doing here.

I feel that we can spend hours inhospitably talking about hospitality in inhospitable spaces.

We pat each other on the back, while spinning off into the ether.

I feel this is irrelevant to many people's lives.

I am still thinking of how I couldn't help a family of Romanian "migrants".

I should have found time to give them more time.

I couldn't.

Those moments of hospitality, when they were so happy to be part of the family left a bitter taste.

I find it hard to get upset with intellectual banter.

There are more pressing issues.

I have been betrayed,  insulted, abused, I still need to find a way to forgive.

Feeling offended is a privilege I can't afford.

Pride has no value but a very high cost.

I feel a strong desire and need to remain grounded.

I feel that rather than talk about stuff I need to do stuff, despite or by using these hostile hybrid spaces.

I would rather spend a few moments with a student that I have never spoken with, a man on a train who is a complete stranger, a homeless person on the street who I can be human with than worry too much about online hospitality and hashtags.


I may be considered a resident on Twitter or in certain online circles.

I am not at home there, anymore than I am at home here.

I use these tools because they enrich my learning, my possibilities to connect.

This is not my home.

And yet, it is where I have found myself.

Like other marginal people the internet has enables us to find and develop tribes.

Having sent myself into space, I have worked on developing physical connections around me here.

This is what worries me with online communities - the fear that they exist as a form of escapism.

I was trying to think of analogies.

I remember seeing groups of fantasy games players meeting in pubs.

I remember the warmth of applause from a group of friends invited to performances of plays.

Everything in the world appeared as irrelevant for a moment, when for those in the audience we were awesome.



What is the difference between some academic groups and the World of Warcraft?

There it is my sealing my exclusion, my excommunication, yet again.

Why oh why can't I pretend?


This is an awesome post.


OK you are.

This post is crap.



I have spent a good deal of time attempting to forgive what I couldn't forget.

I suppose forgiving myself at the same time.

I was unable to understand how people could be so aggressive with me.

I was unable to understand how threatening I can be to some people.

I was unable to forget the hurt that they caused me.

Sometimes only time will give us the strength to forgive and attempt to accept our differences.

Aikido taught me to say thank you to those who shared conflict with me.

Yes there were rules to avoid as much as possible lasting injury.

Rules are never absolute.

We live and learn and hurt.

It is easy to dismiss those who are hurtful.

It is easier to be dismissive online.

It is reassuring to have a supporting chorus...



I feel that we need to deepen our relationships with people.

I feel that we need to go beyond conflict, to discover the stories, the wider contexts of other people.

I feel that the nature of social media encourages superficial binge socialising in echo chambers.

I feel that we need to go beyond our marginal safe spaces to engage with people who have no care for concepts of digital citizenship, have no idea if they be natives, residents, guests.

I am not interested in fantasy worlds, manifestos of cyberspace.

Some people are only looking for a smile, a bit of respect.

They are not sure if they are residents, natives, guests, visitors, immigrants, trash.

Do we give up parts of ourselves to make sure others feel welcome?

I found this tweet and it sparked this post.

I am giving up parts of myself here.

I am not giving up who I am.

I am not being someone I am not.

I am being myself - however inhospitable, however offensive to you that may be.


I respect myself and you too much to imagine engaging in polite niceties.

OK some people will not accept those who are different to them.


I have great difficulties with this idea of "welcome" of "hospitality".

We need to meet people in places where power doesn't come into it.

Not my home.

Not your home.

Not publicly.

We have to meet alone, unaccompanied by our choral supporters, who undermine our courage.


We have to spend the time really to BE with the other.

We have to accept that we may never understand each other.

We have to accept that time may never bring us together.

We have to give ourselves a chance.

We have to be ready accept to lose something of what we thought was ourselves in meeting the other.

We have to be ready and to accept to gain, to learn something we never imagined in contact, in conflict perhaps with the other.

We have to be ready to accept our potential for transformation.

We have, above all, be ready for giving, for forgiving.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

NOT your citizen

Not your citizen


Prisoners of sorry states 

of affair$.



DAMN sorry children are
dying of hunger Mama
drowning in Med Mama,
disintegrating in Mosul D-A-D-A 


Not your citizen

Have rights - 

all 3 of them

Not your citizen

have wrongs all

More than 3 of them.

Not your citizen
have friends
in far off places.

"So much of how I think about this is the "idea" of a Commons in the good world ... that doesn't always exist. I want it to exist. I know that such thinking is ridiculous in the face of reality. But I keep at it, finding pockets of people I can call friends in a networked Common that does not have one home, nor should it. I know such metaphors fail as soon as you look closely. I cling to the friends and thinking partners anyway."


Beyond the cell

My friend 

Fellow Prisoner

Not your citizen


Here our cell.



Not your citizen

“I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world."


[As quoted in Plutarch's Of Banishment]”

A Free MAN

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dystopian tales

laser: you utopia my dystopia

Trigger tales.

“That is what you have to do before you kill, I thought. You have to create an it, where none was before. ” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

He's hunched over, body taut, automatic weapon loaded, trigger taught, ready to shoot on sight.

Blood splatters across the wall as his victim crumples under the impact of the bullets.

Another kill is notched up.

I can hear my son upstairs, whooping with joy.

Subversive tales.

“By telling you anything at all I'm at least believing in you, believe you're there, I believe you into being. Because I'm telling you this story I will your existence. I tell, therefore you are. So I will go on. So I will myself to go on.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

"So what do you do then?" I ask them.

One, apparently the senior academic, chortles.

He nods his head to a silent partner across the table.

"So what do you do then?" he echoes.

"Subversive...huh? You have a lot in common with him." he adds.

His colleague, head down, speaks.

It's hardly more than a whisper.

"Well, there's a parallel system. If I like the guy and I want to help him out then I send a copy of my article freely."

Conversations flow naturally from academic pay walls, to walled gardens of VLE's,  to Berlin wall, to Trump wall, to Pink Floyd's Wall.

Surveillance tales.

“A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Here we are around the lunch table, talking of freedom to connect across frontiers, internet, social media, open education, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, the Wild West East of capitalism, the rise of individualism, the threat to community, the greed, the misery, the miserlyness, the lack of care.

A guy from the STASI listening through walls to the lives of others.

A guy from Facebook collecting data on the interests, the emotions, the friendships, the movements, of others.

Tribal tales.

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Here we were, separated by a generation and a computer screen, talking of our (dis)connected lives. Listening to him, I felt both ignorant, and lacking in imagination.

Who was the researcher, who was the teacher, who was the learner, who was the mentor?

He talked of the differences between playing online solo, online in network, offline together, together.

Am I missing something there?

Who will be having to revise the lesson?

He talked of heroes, leaders, tribes, communities, affinity groups, generations, clans, castes, crowds, students, teachers.

He talked of roller, skate, scooter, bmx.

Conflicts over wax on rails.

Invasions of space.

Am I missing something there?

Who will be having to revise the lesson?

Measured tales.

“Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

She looked tired, she sounded downbeat.

Their ship had been swept away in the flood.

“I want everything back, the way it was. But there is no point to it, this wanting.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Some guys had jumped ship.

Entire departments around the country had been wiped out.

Health services were up for sale to the highest bidder.

Cost cutting measures were on the agenda.

Debt schemes are being leveraged.

Wave after wave of management schemes had been sent to try the staff, to size them up, to cut numbers down to size.

Those in power lie as they breathe.

They have no care for care.

It's an economy measure.

Spreadsheets, efficiency, customer satisfaction.

Best practice no doubt.

"I feel no motivation whatever to work so that they can swan off around the world and be seen with the great and good."  

She said, to my unreliable memory.

Hand made tales.

“All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn't be that hard.” 

"I almost left." He said, remembering those first months.

He wasn't to be bought.

He paid the price.

He almost left.

"I made you what are." came a thinly veiled  threat.

"You owe it all to me."  added the addition.


Was there fear of power waning?

He stuck at it.

He learnt to navigate.

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Dystopian tales

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

She shared her pain. 

She revealed the abuse.

She warned of vicious troll attacks.

Those words, those threats had cut deep.

She was vulnerable there in the open.

He talked of the joy of spreading fake rumours across the net.

"It's part of our culture, they've picked up on it."  he said.

How far, how fast will this fakery flow?

How much will it make a buzz?

Pooh Sticks. 

Broom Sticks.

Fidget Spinners.

Where the wild things go...

Sticks and stones may break our bones.

Words may forever mark us.

Does adolescence seems so far away?

I looked through the DVDs.

  • Maze Runner.
  • Hunger Games
  • Harry Potter
  • Divergent.
  • Matrix.
  • Inception.
We were on air. 

Virtually connecting, we were massive.


"We are the good guys," he said, " The Jedi."

They were tiny specks on the stage.

Off air marked the exit.

"I am your father."

Does obsolescence seems so close?

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.” 

Margaret Attwood. The Handmaid's Tales.

Image Credit

Laser: Your Utopia My Dsytopia.

Eddie Dangerous