"Like the study of science and art, accounts of historical events can be intrinsically fascinating. But they have a wider significance. I believe that people are better able to chart their life course and make life decisions when they know how others have dealt with pressures and dilemmas---historically, contemporaneously, and in works of art. And only equipped with such understanding can we participate knowledgeably in contemporary discussions (and decisions) about the culpability of various individuals and countries in the Second World War. Only with such understanding can we ponder the responsibilty of human beings everywhere to counter current efforts at genocide in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia to bring the perpetrators to justice."
"...we humans are the kinds of animals who learn chiefly by observing others---what they value, what they spurn, how they conduct themselves from day to day, and especially, what they do when they believe that no one is looking."
----Howard Gardner, from The Disciplined Mind, published in 1999

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day; or, How MI Theory Helped Save My Life

Visual/spatial intelligence
Capacities to perceive the visual-spatial world accurately and to perform transformations on one’s initial perceptions.
• End states: navigator, sculptor
----Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4-10.

A system that's neat and orderly and hast to keep struggling to fight off randomness, and when randomness inevitably leaks in, the system is thrown off. Being open to a certain level of randomness, on the other hand, allows it to work in your favor.----Abrahamson, E., & Freedman, D. (2006) A Perfect Mess. New York: Little, Brown, and Company

Dear reader, please know that I do so appreciate your visits here. Such seemingly small acts of kindness are most important, and I just wanted to begin here today by thanking you. You do have the power to impact for such good in the world, and limitless opportunities in which to do it.

I've provided a link to an article speaking about the suicide of a young man, David Ritchenson. He was the victim of an extremely hateful and brutally violent act. He testifed before Congress this April during hearings concerning a proposed hate-crimes bill. He jumped to his death from a cruise ship earlier this week.


Mr. Ritchenson's story resonated with me. Simply put, I have been on the receiving end of violence. I express it this way, as it is one of the most apt ways I might convey to you in words what occurred. Violence was put forth, and I received it, completely. And this is the thing about receiving something so completely: you have room for nothing else; this, this becomes what is your sustenance.

Perchance, maybe, just maybe, you had digested just enough to make a little room for something different, something good. You can scarcely believe it's there, that little space; it's a secret, you see, like a little life itself within you. Furtively, because, really, it's dubious how long that little space will remain; it's in doubt how long you can keep it, really---you reach for something good, just a little, for there's such a small space, you can only manage a little sliver: and violence hands you your order (but it's not really, it's a dis-order: it's violence's order), and shoves it down to cram that little space full.

It is considered best practice to fill the tea vessel with boiling water before brewing the leaves with fresh, hot water. A hot vessel is considered to bring forth the most fragrant tea.

The method that I eventually deployed to tailor the disorder of violence so that I might stomach it without its poisoning me completely was to visualize other things whilst the violence was active and open. It's not a new method, for many of us in these situations, and indeed, situations far removed and in much happier light, do use visualization techniques.

So whilst, say, I assented to the perpetration of most abjectly humiliating and violent acts lest my-then-toddler child be taken away for the night in a car piloted by one in an alcoholic stupor; or, say, being restrained and used as an ashtray, I would smile, picturing completely in my mind such things as say, the sunlight and shadow coming down on me as I climbed the large tree in my childhood home backyard. Or my grandmother's plump raisin cookies, always wrapped in waxed paper in pairs, flat sides pressed together (like two hands, like namaste) and presented with simple, complete affection. And so I would smile; and so violence would spit in my face or decide to go an extra hour, or light another cigarette.

Who is to say what is a good way to cope with violence and what is not a good way? And does it matter if the violence came suddenly and left, or if the violence was sustained over time? When I wrote in a previous post about wishes that one could communicate with the future in some way, so that the message was, hey, this is the picture---dear reader, I was thinking very much of myself at this time. How I would love to be like Admiral Janeway, and tell that person what will happen. That little boy so fiercely protected is now so grown and smart, so gifted, so himself. That another little boy would come, marvelous himself, with a marriage that is not picture-perfect, but perfectly suited, to someone I saw in my dreams long ago as a child. Summer nights sleeping out with the stars and the crickets and the rain on the tent lulling us all to sleep. That there are classrooms full of lively, funny, wonderful kids. Good friends, great friends. That this person's life will be so different, so good, so full of flavor and sustenance.

Would that have been true for Mr. Ritchenson. I would have loved to have been able to tell him.

I truly believe, my friends, we have infinite chances. We do have infininte possibilities to find what we need, what we love; who we need and who we love: to find home.

"Set a course...for home."

Captain Janeway, Endgame (Star Trek: Voyager)



The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Visual spatial thinking is indeed a sanctuary to be grateful for. I am so glad you are opening up your private world a little and I doubt the chaos will be deformative now that you are daring to live with it. Your blog entries are such precious little gems to happen upon in a rather flattened and unambitious blog world. Thank you for every ruby and sapphire.

neroli said...

Dear Artist,
You know how kind you are to me, yes? And that you are one of the great friends mentioned in my post?

min said...

I too find your posts refreshing, although 'refreshing' is a horribly inappropriate word to use in a discussion of violence.
I will be thinking about your reactions and responses throughout the day and have already coined and adapted the new phrase "tea violence" into my mind's database. Initially, I want to reject this oxymoron, but I remind myself that it reflects the kind of balance that I am always striving to achieve.

The Artist formerly Known as Purpleworms (!) said...

Funny that Min mentions tea violence - because that was exactly what I was thinking. I appreciate the great trust you give me in your friendship as I hope you know!

neroli said...

Dear Min,
I'm right up there with you, teetering and steadying, to keep a balance.
Here's something I bought some time ago to remind me to always be agile:

He's just as good as any professional, and I absolutely love him.

Artist, of course I do---thank you again.

Min and Artist, when you mention "tea violence," I hear in my mind Google shuffling for a more seemly term. Certainly, Google says, she can't mean "tea_violence."
Maybe she means "tea_violets?" "Teen violence?"
And so on...
word-play maybe in the genre of lotus and brain stew?
Maybe so. A seemly balance!