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Current Issue: Volume 25, No.13 , Week of October 30, 2005

Alexis Smith, Dove, 2003.

Alexis Smith, Dove, 2003
Opening Friday, November 11, 2005
7:00 till 9:30 p.m.
The Art of Engagement
Jack Rutberg Fine Arts Gallery
357 North La Brea
Los Angeles, California 90036

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Previous Issue: Volume 25, No.12 , Week of October 23, 2005
News and Announcements from the Department of Criminal Justice, UWP
News and Announcements from the Department of Sociology, CSUDH


California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: October 28, 2005
Latest Update: November 1, 2005

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Topic of the Week:

The Art of Engagement

jeanne's first version of

will i still be me?

The intensity that Brenda was feeling last week in trying to make me understand that I needed to understand a given interpretation of the Bible, led me to wonder about why it mattered whether I understood or not. Today I tried to explain that, and I'd like to summarize it for you.

Brenda's admonition was that I did not properly understand Proverbs. Undoubtedly she was right on that score. Bible reading is not part of Catholic training; nor is it part of rabbinical studies, or at least the courses that I pursued. But my affirmation and feelings were very strong that an understanding of Proverbs, from any perspective was not the issue. For me, the issue was my willingness and good faith in listening to Brenda's feelings as an Other. We have reached tentative understandings throughout the class, and also reached tentative impasses. I wanted to accept Brenda as Brenda, not as someone who interpreted Proverbs in any given way.

My concern was that if I am told that some interpretation is the "right one," my instinctive response is to deny that there is any "right" interpretation, as Lyotard would have denied that there is any one metanarrative. I must seek to understand for myself, or I will not be me. That means that I am equally unwilling to accept anyone's interpretation of the Koran as the "right one." I simply do not accept anyone's insistence that I think in any certain way. To accept such insistence would be to silence me, to deny my answerability, to constrain my creativity. And I have been focused in the last week or so, in connection with a professional listserv to which I belong, on how it is possible to teach, interactively and deeply, without imposing my creativity, or my perspective, on those whom I teach. That was what led me to say that I am not a Christian. It was my rebellious need to deny the imposition of any given perspective.

One's creativity and answerability or that which makes one human. A gift that goes with that humanity. A gift that cannot be denied without some loss of our humanity.

Will I still be me if I accept such imposition? Not for me. For me, that's what freedom means. The God-given right to respond as a human to the situations in which I find myself. Our focus today on the coming election was part of my concern. This is a very important election. Important in that those of us who find that we have been silenced, as workers, as those who must work for owners (corporations, institutions), for we have failed to accumulate enough wealth to let our money work for us, must refuse the silencing of anyone who denies our human answerability. Whether that be the governor, or the president, or any religious or other institutional group.

My problem, as Mevysen Ambrosius keeps pointing out, is that I must learn to accept the strangeness of some of the things Others choose to put forth as validity claims in our naked space. I need to let go of my need for control of chaos, and allow us as a community to happen, to evolve. And I am very controlling. (Would have made a great alcoholic if I had been able to drink, for it is said that alcoholics are very controlling.) So isn't it remarkable that the naked space has grown around such insistence on the guarantee of the freedom to be oneself?

Today there was an article in one of our papers about the Christian right boycotting all corporations who have contributed any way to freedom of choice for women on reproductive rights, or on acceptance of homosexuality. Logically, all that we who oppose such deniability of who we are have to do is encourage those who agree with us to boycott the boycott and buy from the corporations that support our political and social perspectives. Somehow, for me, that seems to carry the mixing of church and state too far. I don't want to commodify my beliefs. But I will if it seems a necessary alternative to being bullied into someone else's perspective of Christianity, of Islam, of spirituality.

I wonder how we could have so easily forgotten the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The taking of positions, as long as you allow Others to take their own positions, to answer your validity claims with their own validity claims, for all to be considered in good faith, in the name of illocutionary understanding, will lead us to speak clearly to one another, to do our collective best to clarify our claims, and to help one another do so, in the interest of embracing differences as a human gift.

In the Art of Engagement we will examine the extent to which the visual aids us in such illocutionary discourse and frees each of us to be whoever he/she needs to be.


NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Events Discussion Topics:


Propositions on Ballot for Special Election Tuesday, November 8, 2005.

Revised Syllabi for jeanne's Fall 2005 Classes
Instructions for Tutoring Requests and to Upload Learning Records

Famous People and Concepts We Should Have Heard Of, But Often Haven't.


Jeanne's Lectures for Fall 2005

Using Academic Language Effectively

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

and Careers

  • Resumes:

  • Letters of Recommendation:

    • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
    • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

  • Career Options You Might Not Have Considered

    • visual media and their interdependence with other means of knowing to understand that we are not totally rational creatures deciding things apart from our feelings and values. Wolfowitz (new President of the World Bank to aid developing countries AND principle advocate of the Iraq War) might feel very differently when he is exposed to visual and aural images of the poor developing countries that have not before been his primary concern. So we want to know how best to present those developing countries visually. And we might find that we can have a career doing that sort of thing, so it does reflect on us as individuals. Added April 2, 2005.

That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've ever come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

  • Index of Nice Things We've Said to Each Other

  • Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.