Monday, July 16, 2012

a twist of rope...

As a kid, I loved to play with ropes, tie knots, etc. There are things you will learn about ropes either by handling them yourself, or by watching the subtleties of how another person handles rope. I was reminded of it this morning as I was coiling the cord of the vacuum cleaner, which like a good rope, tends to make a better coil if you remember to give each loop an eighth or quarter twist with one hand as it lays up in the other.

Yesterday, I was thinking about consciousness, and there is a difference between consciousness as a sense of self, and consciousness as it plays out in the real world. I guess the one could be called "self-consciousness" while the other in which we take into consideration the needs of others, including the fostering of human culture is of a more profound nature. For example, the coil of rope shown in the photo above is from the Port of Helsinki on the deck of a wooden boat. Rope is actually an imprecise term, as what it would actually be called would reference what it was used for and its size, and whether you were speaking Finnish, Swedish, English or some other language, YLMV. Still the coil of rope speaks in a language more universal. It was laid with care, each loop being laid with a quarter twist to keep it laying in perfect order. It was laid as though it mattered how it was done, and it did matter in three ways. First, the way it was laid made the rope available to play out without further attention and without tangling at the feet. It mattered also in that it showed the seaman's sense as to the importance of detail, showing that he or she actually cared about his or her work, and was conscious and caring in the performance of it. Third, it showed that the seaman cared about him or her-self, knowing that he or she would be viewed by others with regard to how the work was done. It served also in a special fourth way. It alerted any passers-by like myself, that the vessel was sacred ground, in which great care was the norm and was to be admired and not messed with. In that way, the coil of rope might serve either as welcome or warning depending on the character of the viewer at hand. Can you imagine schools in which such craftsmanship was the norm?

Yesterday we met a friend and attended the The Magic Flute performed in Bentonville, AR by the Inspiration Point Opera Company from here in Eureka Springs. Every summer opera students from all over the US gather here to practice their performance skills, while putting on three different operas for our local enjoyment. In preparation, they rehearse all three each day. They bring a lot to our community, and we know that many of the students we watch on stage may at some point become opera greats, following in the footlights of others who've spent summers here. One could not watch such a fine performance with a sense that there was something unconscious about it. In order to witness ( by both eye and ear) what we did in yesterday's performance, it was first necessary that a whole cast of people work and practice, and hone their skills to the point at which self-consciousness passes from view, and consciousness of larger self emerges as the expression of creative art. In a very simple way, this expression is like the careful coiling of a rope.

This all may seem unrelated to education. One thing you learn from play with ropes is that it is ineffective to try to push one, and from that comes the old Southern expression, "you can't push a rope." When it comes to kids in schools, it is far better that they be pulled by their interests than forced by our own, in which case we are boring them and wasting their time and ours.

Make, fix and create...

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