Christian Wiman, “Every Riven Thing”

Every Riven Thing

God goes, belonging to every riven thing He’s made
Sing his being simply by being
The thing it is:
Stone and tree and sky,
Man who sees and sings and wonders why

God goes. Belonging, to every riven thing He’s made,
Means a storm of peace.
Think of the atoms inside the stone.
Think of the man who sits alone
Trying to will himself into the stillness where

God goes belonging. To every riven thing He’s made
There is given one shade
Shaped exactly to the thing itself:
Under the tree a darker tree;
Under the man the only man to see

God goes belonging to every riven thing. He’s made
The things that bring Him near,
Made the mind that makes Him go.
A part of what man knows,
Apart from what man knows,

God goes belonging to every riven thing He’s made.

From Christian Wiman, Every Riven Thing: Poems (2011)

Bill Moyers interview with Christian Wiman

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One foray of internet exploration

Normally, I do this kind of thing all the time and don’t think to document it. But to document it this once might be useful as an example of the kind of serendipitous discovery process possible on the internet if you have lots of free time. That’s a big “if.”

It happened yesterday morning. As is my Sunday morning habit, I started out listening to NPR’s On Being with Krista Tippett. Finding that it was a rebroadcast of an interview with Mike Rose that I’d already heard, I began exploring the related links on the NPR web page for the program. I read the selected readings by Mike Rose and checked out some of the related links, one of which led me to a conversation with Adele Diamond on Being Educated in Not-So-Obvious Places. Which made me think about the work I’ve been doing in developing a service learning project for LIS 7963 Older Adults and the Web. There was enough food for thought that I began exploring the work of Adele Diamond, head of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab.  (An aside: the visual chaos of this site drove me a little crazy.) I discovered Tools of the Mind through one of Diamond’s publications, and was off exploring various like-minded educational projects, one of them being El Sistema, the celebrated Venezuelan national music education program started by visionary José Antonio Abreu in 1975. Two of its most illustrious “graduates” are Gustavo Dudemal, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Edicson Ruiz, double bassist and youngest (aged 17) member of the Berlin Philharmonic.

I couldn’t help but listen to/watch some of Dudamel’s performances on YouTube. Down (and happily) I went into the rabbit hole of music concerts on YouTube. Where I ended up was interesting and surprising. I began to wonder about the differences in training and culture between Dudamel and someone he greatly reminded me of, Leonard Bernstein. Dudamel came apparently from a poor family in Venezuela and developed his interest in conducting and evident natural talents through growing together with a community of passionate young, impoverished musicians. This led to a spectacular conducting debut at the 2007 BBC Proms.  Bernstein grew his interest in music through a multidisciplinary education at Harvard, which led to connections with the musical and intellectual luminaries of his time. In 1973, when in his mid-50′s, he gave a series of masterful Norton Lectures at Harvard (now available on YouTube and gathered at Open Culture), which reveal how his educational influences stimulated a high intelligence and artistic sensitivity.

 

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Gardening

From Vigen Guroian’s book The Fragrance of God:

“In spring, I cultivate the perennial bed with the magenta petals and sweet citrus fragrance of the rugosa rose in mind. In excitement, I wait also for the green bouquet of the broccoli plant and the calm, clean scent of the cucumber.

“This was not always so. In the beginning, in my first garden in Richmond, Virginia, I farmed for food on the table. But in Charlottesville, Virginia, in Eldersburg and Reisterstown, Maryland, and last, here in Culpeper, the garden has finally reformed my disposition toward it. It has entirely transfigured my vision of life.

“… For the sake of beauty, I gladly leave the ruffled red cabbage to grow long beyond its time for harvest. I let the mustard reach high with bright yellow bouquets. I cultivate carefully the asparagus row not just for the taste of its buttery spears but also for the verdant fern foliage that shoots up after the spring cutting. I let volunteer sunflower, cosmos, and cleome seedlings grow where they choose. And I sneak orange nasturtiums into the hills of sweet-potato vines.

“… Gardening grows from our deep longing for salvation, so that beauty fills our lives.”

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Dear Jon: Be Accessible

Somebody needs to work with Jon Stewart to get The Daily Show website to meet accessibility standards (me, me, me!). I accessed the site to look at the latest full episodes and for the life of me couldn’t find the link to do this in the normal place. In fact, the whole page was missing important pieces of information. Aha! I had disabled all images using the Firefox Web Developer Toolbar when I was doing a demo in my Web Usability/Accessibility class and had forgotten to re-enable images. Without images or alt tags, the site was impossible to navigate! The Web Accessibility Checker detected 98 known accessibility errors on the site at WCAG Level AA (not to mention numerous HTML and CSS validation errors). For anyone with limited visibility using a screen reader, the site would be a nightmare to navigate.

The Daily Show (images disabled)

Without alt tags, The Daily Show home page is inaccessible.

 

 

Dear Jon, please be accessible … at least to me. ;)

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Rosanne Cash, luminous

Calming, subtle, and luminous interview with Rosanne Cash, On Being. To return to again and again are Cash singing “God Is In the Roses” (26:00) and ” The World Unseen” (1:05:25), as well as a wonderful bit (around 53:15) on her creative uses of Twitter and her self-characterization as a “neo-folk, Buddhiscopalian, pagan, post-feminist, progressive.”

In the Room with Rosanne Cash (live stream version) from On Being on Vimeo.

This one-hour video of the interview of Rosanne Cash can be listened to at the On Being site for the program: http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2012/time-traveler/

 

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Genesis

On Being with Ellen Davis, The Poetry of Creatures:

Poetry is language that speaks to our hearts. And I’m using the biblical word “heart,” which I think the closest equivalent to that in 21st-century language is our imaginations. The heart, in biblical physiology, the heart is the center of our emotions, but also of our intellect. And those two things cannot be separated. And poetic language is precise. It is detailed, it’s realistic, but it is not the discursive language of mere fact. And so I think it’s important that in different ways the first and second chapters of the Bible are telling us about our place in the world, telling us about the web of relationships into which we are born as a species. And we are placed creatures.

Wendell Berry:

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Victoria Safford, The Gates of Hope, The Nation, September 2, 2004

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Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life,”
Jobs said. “Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results
of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions
drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to
follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you
truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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Disrupted education, disrupted libraries?

This 10/2/11 opinion piece by Bill Keller in the NYT caught my eye: The University of Whatever. The piece focuses on two ideas. One is that elite universities (namely, Stanford and Cornell) are establishing bricks-and-mortar presences in major urban areas (namely, New York) to stimulate new enrollments and new businesses, particularly in IT. The assumption here appears to be that physical proximity and face-to-face interactions are preferred by those who are paying for education or risking capital on entrepreneurial ventures.

The second idea (at Stanford) is to create a virtual university where “the best professors broadcast their lectures to tens of thousands of students. Testing, peer interaction and grading would happen online; a cadre of teaching assistants would provide some human supervision; and the price would be within reach of almost anyone.” It’s estimated that this can be done at a fraction of the cost (1-2%) of current Stanford prices. The traditional university “serves a fortunate few, inefficiently, with a business model built on exclusivity … The on-campus experience has a lot of things which cannot be replaced by anything online. But it’s also insanely uneconomical.”

But there are also “serious quality-control problems to be licked. How do you keep an invisible student from cheating? How do you even know who is sitting at that remote keyboard? Will the education really be as compelling — and will it last?” If we can solve this, “it will disrupt all of higher education.”

If we disrupt all of higher education in the future, will libraries be a vital part of the mix?

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Matthieu Ricard’s photo gallery

Taking just a moment to enjoy Matthieu Ricard‘s brilliant photo images of people, life, and Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and India.

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Healthy minds

On Being today, Investigating Healthy Minds with Richard Davidson, Director of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and a principal investigator at the Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Based on research on how the brain changes (neuroplasticity), he’s done pioneering work on contemplative neuroscience, which investigates the impact of contemplative practices on the brain. It all started with a challenge from the Dalai Lama:

When I met the Dalai Lama for the first time in 1992, the Dalai Lama challenged me at that meeting in a very direct way and said that, you know, you’ve been using the tools of modern neuroscience to study qualities like depression and anxiety and fear and disgust. Why can’t you use those same tools to study qualities like kindness and compassion?

Why not, indeed? This takes us beyond the six classic emotions identified by Western psychology: happiness, fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and surprise.

Those are the six that have been classically studied as so-called discrete basic emotions. So surprise can be either positive or negative. The others are negative, and then there’s one positive emotion. You know, when we talk to the people in the contemplative traditions about this, I mean, they just are amazed that this is the best you can do in Western psychology?

Davidson and his colleagues have done better. Through studying the brains of meditating Buddhist monks, they’ve discovered that our brains can be intentionally rewired through mindfulness.

Mindfulness is moment-by-moment nonjudgmental attention or awareness. Self-awareness, but also other awareness, including awareness of what’s going on in one’s body, which can be very helpful in understanding what emotions you’re experiencing. But also very much focused on being aware of others, being aware of one’s environment.

That strikes me as also a wonderful definition of the researcher as instrument in qualitative research.

Davidson and colleagues have also learned that happiness is not an innate state of mind, but a skill that can be developed through practice and experience, with implications for how we, from early childhood (Pre-K Kindness Project) through adulthood (Teacher Wellness Program), can make positive changes in our lives.

I’d like to believe that some of the work that we do may have some implications or relevance for on-the-ground, in-the-trenches psychotherapy or related strategies for behavior change in several ways. One is a kind of meta-level which helps a client or patient understand that, based upon everything we know about the brain in neuroscience, that change is not only possible, but change is actually the rule rather than the exception. It’s really just a question of which influences we’re going to choose for our brain. But our brain is wittingly or unwittingly being continuously shaped.

Another thing is the idea of practice. The classical model of Western psychotherapy, which is a client coming to a therapist for an hour a week for a 50-minute session without doing daily practice in between, just flies in the face of everything we know about the brain and plasticity. If we want to make real change, more systematic practice is necessary, in my view. Certain kinds of cognitive therapies, for example, do assign specific kinds of homework or practice for people to engage in on a daily basis. Most people still don’t think of qualities like happiness as being a skill rather than as a fixed trait and some people have more of it; some people have less of it. But if you think about it more as a skill, then it’s something that can be enhanced through training. Fundamentally, I think that the kind of mental exercise that we’re talking about is no different than physical exercise. People understand that they can’t just do two weeks of physical exercise and then expect the benefits to remain for the rest of their lives. And the same thing with mental exercise. I think that that’s a very different conception of happiness, one that is a more enduring and I think more genuine in the sense that it’s a kind of happiness that is not dependent on external circumstances.

An aside on multitasking, the bane of my web-embedded life:

One question is whether we actually ever are truly multitasking in the sense of literally doing two things simultaneously or whether we are rapidly oscillating between the things that we are doing when we’re multitasking. But the larger issue, I think, is really just being present with whatever it is that we’re doing. So if what we’re doing is multitasking, being present with the multiple tasks that are before us. I have a wonderful picture of Matthieu Ricard. When he comes to Madison, he stays at our house. And he was sitting in the living room with a laptop computer on his lap, looking at the computer, and he was talking on his cell phone and he also had a book right next to him opened. This wonderful picture of this Tibetan Buddhist monk who is our digital monk engaged in multitasking, but, you know, I think doing it in a way which was really quite present to all of the various tasks in which he was engaged. I do think it’s possible. I’ve seen it in others. I’ve seen Matthieu do it, I’ve seen the Dalai Lama do it.

:)

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