Teaching Process

November 26, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Unconscious

One of the astonishing things about being a human is that the great majority of us open our mouth to start a sentence with almost no awareness of a process that will culminate in a relatively articulately communicated thought or experience.  Talk about unconscious.  We have no clue how we do this, yet we associate it with our conscious experience.

Being part of the process that produces the words that appear on this blog is no less mystifying.  The fact that so much of the content emerges as my fingers type the words, while I subvocalize content having to do with the nature of evolution and transformation, is beyond me.  The stuff feels interesting.  I start to feel connections.  My fingers type.

So, opportunities emerge that suggest how two or more of these various strands connect to one another.  A connection feels interesting.  I type.  Yet, there come moments when I’m feeling stumped.  I intuit a connection or connections but they feel so deep, subtle or variable that describing them feels more like making a map than like traveling a territory.  All words are maps.  Using words, I’m playing with associations.  Nevertheless, there are times when I’m happy if I can just impart the flavor.  Real bites of experience feel tentative and far away.

Collecting together in book form the many strands and themes that have wound across this blog for more than a year and a half, I am presented with what feels like a deeply arbitrary sorting of associations into categories meant to offer a clear pathway to visitors interested in what I have to say.  Whereas inventing sentences seems to require not an iota of attention to make some sense, creating a doorway to an alternative way of viewing biological and social evolution requires making believe the world is really organized in the categories I’ve made up in order to make the imbedded concepts easier to grasp.

It’s a little like a toboggan ride down a mountainside filled with trees.  There are lots and lots of ways to get to the bottom of the hill.  Writing a book, I leave a specific path marking the particular way that I took to get down the incline.  Each reader follows my words down that specific path.  I imagine that that arbitrary path, invented to enhance the prospect of reaching bottom in one piece, ends up with traffic only because I went down it first.

How do I write the book and impart the concepts in ways that feel natural to the readers so that they can go tobogganing on their own?  How can I make the concepts feel so familiar that the speakers of the patterns, the makers of words can invent their concepts, identify their own patterns, unconsciously express connections that they’ve made?

At least as important as the theory is the ability to make this stuff up.  I guess I’ll know that I’ve succeeded if folks absorb the content and then invent new content, saying better and more elegantly what I’ve been trying to say.


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