“To say or to do? I think that’s the question at hand.”

~ Hippo86, Comment 25

the sordid process of nation creation and occupation


In mad raving? I take the first-year students to task on this very point.


most of them reiterated (as noted by junior likeboldcolors, Comment 17) the WHAT or WHY of the assignment rather than experimenting with the HOW. I believe that they understand what comes next in a real conversation (instead of this artificial one in the educational frame of simply answering the teacher’s obvious (?) and boring (?) question), but the actual shift from accustomed form (give the teacher what she wants) to active engagement (independent, individual thought about the content, in this case, the internationally recognized national independence of Hawai’i) has not yet occurred.


Likewise, most of the juniors responded to the assignment with some assumption (apparently) of writing whatever they wanted. Well – yes and no. There were three specific elements, the successful completion of which required a certain labor of reading, thoughtfulness, and construction of a coherent response. Most comments follow a similar theme (without naming that they are doing so, leaving me to wonder about their level of conscious attention). Only one student provided the requested “map” of the conversation among the (approximately) thirty-five participants in the conversation. About half the juniors “added” something, although the relevance of the addition is questionable: mere opinion? Random firing of neurons in a thought that felt smart? What are the relevant criteria? kmb04 appreciates learning although is convinced none of our course activities have anything to do with writing (Comment 27).


These are tricky matters.


elr6 dispenses with the formal task completely and addresses redbeardthewriter (Comment 10) directly:

I like how you have distilled conversations, rhetoric, and ideas. I think you’re right on the money when it comes to “ideas […] do not [end]”. I also appreciate the distinction between old ideas and new ideas. My own thoughts on this subject have turned toward a more fluid process of idea generation and evolution. It’s not always about new ideas overcoming old ideas in revolution. Sometimes (if not always), progressive ideas are just products of old ideas. I suppose we agree that it is the conflict between ideas that allows for a “new idea” to be created. Cause and effect is very relevant here. We would never get anything done if we all agreed. But we really don’t need to worry about that ever happening, eh? (Comment 26)

Now, I have to take elr6 to task because he has “done” (instead of “said”) so well (!) that the conversation is practically private. Who else can enter? Any of us can – I hope some of you will! – but joining has been made difficult by the lack of explanation, absence of context, and void of application of the theoretical to the practical. There is a subject at hand! At least two: nation creation/occupation, and writing effectively.


Relevance: The context is never absent: are you “in” and aware of it, writing “to” (within or against) its boundaries?


Saying as doing: I am not going to pounce on Hippo’s classic error too hard: language is action, speech or writing no less a force than the crass and brutal forms of murder or setting oneself on fire. The distinction is in effect, and the effects are determined more by those who listen (or ignore) than those who say. Want evidence?

I found the intertwining of all these quotes comforting to see. As volatile as Hawaiin Occupation/independence be, the topic can without a doubt lead to some hot discussion as well as debate. Who really occupied who? Who’s at fault? Who the hell cares? It was very intriguing to see how all these opinions/statements can blend into one conversation and make it out alive. It’s a shame so many politcal debates about US occupation don’t end up the same way (Rocketsredflair, Comment 23).

Meanwhile, some comments function as teasers or incomplete tangents. likeboldcolors mentioned “a penetrating effect on our classes” of “research presented in the film [The Larsen Case]” (Comment 17) but did not elaborate… I am left wondering, with my mind grasping to make connections. Is this related to the “it” in anon136’s statement: “It also says something about the power of information and the power of information leading to change” (Comment 18). What is the “something” that is said? What is the distinction between “power of information” and “power of information leading to change”? I very much want to know. 🙂 Can connections be drawn – made! – among these notions (penetration, effect, power, information, change) and the comfort of synthesis? Can connections be made with redbeardthewriter and elr6’s conversation about old and new ideas, cause/effect, fluidity, conflict, progress?


Finally, ciaobella says “we will never escape Babel!!” (Comment 20). Why not? 🙂

For some reason, this post along with shininginthewind’s resonse of, “…she [Steph] shows the conversation between her two classes on the same topic. She brings together two groups of people who have never met and show how people have learned from each other,” remind me of Babel.

Well well well. How so? 🙂