In Tom Barrett’s newsletter, he asked the question, who owns the learning?

This left me thinking about ownership and instead wondering about assemblages and systems.

A desiring machine is an assemblage “always in relation to the big social machines and technological machines” (Deleuze, 2004, p. 243). Language, media, literature, education and capitalism for example always orient a body towards a particular way of expressing desire, to produce a desiring subject so to speak. Desire always precedes subjectivity; subjectivity is the codification of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ desires within a given body.

From that perspective, it feels like learning becomes about components rather than ownership. Maybe it is technology, maybe teachers, maybe heutagogy or maybe space? Maybe it is about the shock?

Learning, for Deleuze, is an experience which cannot be planned or organised, but that all learning is an event that shocks, causing some form of transformation within the body and mind of the learner.

I have been recording a number of tutorials lately for work. One of the challenges I have is remembering to include every piece of the process. This is easy enough in print form as you can add after the fact, but when you are clicking, talking and checking the script, things become a bit more complicated. To me, it is like texting while driving, it just doesn’t work.
In Fiona Hardy’s novel How to Write the Soundtrack to Your Life, the protagonist, Murphy, reflects on the association between songs and feelings.

As more songs played, I kept thinking about that. How songs made people feel different ways, like they were in different seasons. Like they were running, or sitting calmly, or at the beach; or the feeling they had when their dog had gone to the vet and not come back; or when they were at their grandma’s farm and it was night and so dark they could see everything and nothing. And the more they spoke, the more I knew I was desperate to play my keyboard. To make something like these things. To build a feeling.

This had me thinking about the role of music in setting space. For example, the soundtrack to Sons of Anarchy draws on many familar tracks, but interprets them to fit a particular feel. Or David Lynch’s subversive choices, such as the use of Roy Orbison’s In Dreams in Blue Velvet.

To me, Lynch and Orbison both occupy a space in their respective art forms as singular voices. Each seem to traverse or explore more dream-like or subconscious terrain and each bring back a vision that is unique, that is, perhaps, candy colored.

Another way of looking at the creation of space, is the search for a space long lost. This is what Daniel Leviton unpacks in regards to the association between music and the memory of a particular time in life,

I have started reading Cory Doctorow’s novel, Attack Surface. A novel that explores the stories that we tell ourselves. Central to this is the notion of compartmentalisation:

Compartmentalization is a subconscious psychological defense mechanism used to avoid cognitive dissonance, or the mental discomfort and anxiety caused by a person’s having conflicting values, cognitions, emotions, beliefs, etc. within themselves.

Compartmentalization allows these conflicting ideas to co-exist by inhibiting direct or explicit acknowledgement and interaction between separate compartmentalized self-states.

Masha is constantly reorganising her mental space to stay on top of things.

Far as I could tell, there was nothing underneath Ilsa but more Ilsa. It was amazing. I wanted to be like that someday. In one of my compartments, anyway. In another compartment, I hated her and myself for that.

“You realize that you’re compromised now.”

I shrugged. Compromised is only a few letters away from compartmentalized.

It has me thinking about Gilles Deleuze and the concept of multiplicity:

A multiplicity is an entity that originates from a folding or twisting of simple elements. Like a sand dune, a multiplicity is in constant flux, though it attains some consistency for a short or long duration. A multiplicity has porous boundaries and is defined provisionally by its variations and dimensions. Deleuze and Guattari redefine as multiplicities many of the key terms of Western political theory—including race, class, gender, language, state, society, person, and party. Their method aims to render political thinking more nuanced and generous toward difference.

In an interview with Metal Hammer, Tom Morello rues the fact that young people are unwilling to put in the time and effort these days when it comes to mastery.

“I’m disgusted by the fact that a lot of young people these days aren’t willing to sit down and practise the electric guitar for eight hours a day. They are all looking for an easier route to becoming famous. Look at the Top 50 songs on the radio in the US – there are no guitar solos in them. I see [Tom’s 2018 all-star solo album] The Atlas Underground as a Trojan horse. I want it to turn a new generation of kids on to cranking up the guitar.”

In an interview with Tim Shiel, Kate Miller-Heidke touched on the effort and sacrifices required to maintain her skills. In order to preserve her voice, she does not drink, smoke or go out in loud venues.

This sense of dedication reminds me of the story about Picasso’s napkin.

The story goes that Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer approached and asked if he would do a quick sketch on a paper napkin. Picasso politely agreed, swiftly executed the work, and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather significant amount of money. The admirer was shocked: “How can you ask for so much? It took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”

It can be so easy to judge a provide off the cuff remarks on a piece of music, without any recognition of the time, effort, sacrifice and nuance that may sit behind it. However, this only captures a part of the space. I guess this is part of Ed Droste’s point it usually takes five listens to form a judgement.

I remember when my mother passed, in the last month it felt like the whole world stopped. However, when I was finally forced by life to reconsider things, it occurred to me that space does not stand still.

In getting the backyard organised for my daughter’s birthday this morning, it dawned on me that during the last month when the last thing on my list of things to do was cutting things back and nurturing the garden, that the garden didn’t care, it just kept on growing. Whether it be the passionfruit vine stretching out even further along the fence line or the lemon tree growing even taller, the garden had kept on going.

I had a similar experience recently as the restrictions put in place to get on top of Melbourne’s second wave were lowered. I breathed again and moved beyond the day-to-day to consider again with the world outside. In the process I discovered that an old friend had been diagnosed with cancer.

In Alex Hern’s recent newsletter, he discusses the importance of ‘setting your eyes on the horizon’.

I think it’s important to set your eyes on the horizon. Find some things a couple of weeks away, a month away, maybe more, and just let yourself get excited about them. Maybe try and book some time off work in the middle of the week to do something you wouldn’t normally devote a day to. Upgrade your TV dinners to film nights with popcorn, and rent a movie you actually want to see rather than just picking whatever’s included with your Netflix subscription.

I agree with that, this is how I got through. Keep an eye on the prize. However, I guess it is also important to keep connected to world around you.

When my mother died, a colleague told me it can take years to come to grips with it. A part of me understood, but was also perplexed with why. As our daughters grow older, they have me reflecting on my own childhood, about what I did and how I acted at the time. Maybe it is one of those mysteries of time and memory that cannot be known, but I still find myself wanting to ask my mother questions. It has taught me that there are just some spaces in life that cannot be filled, merely acknowledged.
After six months, I got my hair cut today. Playing it safe, I got it cut short. I know with all the discussion of donuts and lowering of restrictions that I should be more confident, however for me, confidence takes time. One of the things I noticed afterwards was my experience of space. In particular, I felt more aware of the temperature, of the breeze blowing or chill in the air.
Just behind my old office there was a box. An innocuous box. I only noticed it when my principal showed it to me one day. It was a pump for a spring, with the water pumped into a nearby lake. For me it is a reminder of how we can think we are in control of land and space, but it would seem that we are only ever managing it, at best?
With Melbourne slowly opening up, I had to go to an appointment. The specialist is located on the first floor of a business centre. Unable to locate the stairs, I pressed the button for the lift. As I entered the lift, two other people turned up. I entered wondering what the protocol is. When I was last in the office, our policy was one person at a time. The other two people entered. It was at that point that I noticed that neither person was wearing a mask.

For me, this epitomises the real challenge. We can talk about Dan Andrews and a failed hotel quarantine. However, neither of these things are necessarily within our control. Wearing a mask is. I think that Kin Lane captures this best:

It is fascinating to be able to see who cares about other people and who doesn’t, simply by looking around to see who is where a mask and who isn’t.

As David Truss asserts:

The economy can stay open if people wear masks, socially distance themselves and sanitize appropriately. Some people might disagree with me, and on a topic like this we can agree to disagree.

However, with 40,000,000+ cases worldwide 1,118,443 deaths, and over 9,000,000 known active cases worldwide this is not just a bad flu, it’s a pandemic. And if you want to disagree with that well then sorry… you are wrong.

Put a mask on, and thank those around you for being respectful and doing the same.

The problem I have is what do I say or do in this situation? Sometimes I feel like asking where they got their cure from? However, sarcasm never really succeeds much. So I stay silent and sad.

James Michener’s Space was a novel about more than just the exploration of the universe. It was also an exploration of the concept of space itself. Whether it be the creation of a space for ideas to thrive, being in a political space to make a difference, being in the right place at the right time, working in a pragmatic space where lies and truth do not matter, making clear a place of race within space, and manipulating space to own and control it.
Discussing Autechre’s new album, SIGN, Andy Beta makes comparisons with outer space:

the Manchester duo’s sound remains singular in the canon—not just of cutting-edge electronic music, but in a section of outer space that few other artists ever venture towards, much less wholly inhabit.

While Philip Sherburne talks about how the album catches the ‘light’:

Even the softest material on SIGN isn’t all that different from the most austere or amelodic material on NTS Sessions; it’s just been smoothed into a form that catches the light differently,

It is interesting to compare this with the idea of music and space. When I listen to Autechre’s abstract music there is nothing that says ‘Manchester’ to me, let alone out of space. It is a reminder of the idea of space as metaphor.

According to Wikipedia,

A simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. According to Baudrillard, what the simulacrum copies either had no original or no longer has an original, since a simulacrum signifies something it is not, and therefore leaves the original unable to be located.

When it comes to fiction, space is a simulacrum. For example, Ian McEwan’s novel is set during the Second World War. This conception of space is an imagined one that comes to stand in the place of any sense of reality.

In an episode of the Strong Songs podcast unpacking Björk’s track Hyperballad, Kirk Hamilton discusses the association between space and song. He argues that the song is intrinsically linked to Iceland. He suggests viewing images of Iceland alongside the music to make more sense of it.

This reminds me discussions such as Jack Antonoff’s association with New Jersey.

Left unadorned, Mr. Antonoff’s songs would join the hearty broad-stroke school of songwriting of his New Jersey predecessors Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, with their four-chord choruses and whoa-oh invitations to join in.

The question I wonder though is whether all music is associated with space. For example, is Trent Reznor’s work the product of being bored Pennsylvania:

You grew up in Mercer, Pa. Was that a part of the state with the “weirdo culture” the Midwest is famous for? One could make an argument. There weren’t a lot of things to distract you, so you’d end up turning inward. I can’t help but think about that lack of access. The side effect was that when you could get something, whether it be an album or a magazine that looked like a portal into a new world, you pored over it, because it wasn’t one Google search away all the time. I think I turned out the way I did because I was so bored.

Sometimes such spaces are nostalgic and slightly concocted, as with Antonoff’s re-creation of his childhood bedroom.

For “Gone Now,” that meant executing his most quixotic idea to date: removing his teenage bedroom — where he lived until he was 27 — from his parents’ home, replicating it exactly in a trailer and taking it on tour.

Kevin Parker pushes back on the idea of place and music.

At the end of the day, geography shouldn’t have anything to do with it. I have never consciously been aware of it. You know like so much of the music I started making I made in like my bedroom in a really dirty share house.

What is interesting though is that although Parker’s music may not necessarily be influenced by space, it is still a product of place.

In Perth there was a bunch of us, but there weren’t that many people. We made tons of bands out of it, so like 10 people when there’d be like six bands with different combinations.

As a side note, I still think that nothing captures Iceland like Sigor Ros:

Discussing John Baville’s Quirke series, Charles McGrath touches on the way in which space can act like a character in itself.

Banville, who is 74, grew up in County Wexford, which he thought boring and provincial. As a boy, he loved visiting an aunt in Dublin, which seemed much more vivid and exciting, and some of that romance lingers on in the Quirke books, in which the city itself — its sights and smells, its atmosphere of secrecy and repression, especially where matters of sex are concerned — is practically a character.

This is something that Leigh Sales’ also touches upon on the Chat 10, Looks 3 podcast in regards to the representation of the Northern Territory in Trent Dalton’s novel All Our Shimmering Skies. It is interesting to contrast this with the ‘best books set in each country‘.

Talking about St. Matthew Island in Alaska, Sarah Gilman reflects on what it means for a space to be designated as a ‘wilderness’.

Many people think of wilderness as a place mostly untouched by humans; the United States defines it this way in law. This idea is a construct of the recent colonial past. Before European invasion, Indigenous peoples lived in, hunted in, and managed most of the continent’s wild lands. St. Matthew’s archipelago, designated as official wilderness in 1970, and as part of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in 1980, would have had much to offer them, too: freshwater lakes teeming with fish, many of the same plants that mainland cultures ate, ample seabirds and marine mammals to hunt. And yet, because St. Matthew is so far-flung, the solitary pit house suggests that even Alaska’s expert seafaring Indigenous peoples may never have been more than accidental visitors here. Others who’ve followed have arrived with the help of significant infrastructure or institutions. None remained long.

It is interesting to think of this alongside the discussion of the city and rather than being ‘untouched’, maybe it is ‘uncontrolled’?

Comedy and humour often serves as a safe space for addressing.

I thought using the Mr Men characters provided a lovely safe space to discuss their characteristics, traits and wellbeing. The characters were a proxy for some of the feelings they might have. You can imagine developing this further with other characters from other stories or films.

The problem is when this cuts too close to the bone, when the medium serves up a mirror too close to the truth. Such a safe space then becomes uncanny.

It recently occurred to me that I had somehow become unsubscribed to Laura Hilliger’s newsletter. Maybe I did it, not sure. Whatever the reason, I subscribed again. It has been great to have her voice coming back into my inbox again. Thinking about the many dots that extend my serendipity surface, I was left wondering what it is about Laura’s ‘moldy trash of a newsletter’ (her words, not mine) that means it is often the first one I open. Maybe it is the humour in her voice? Or the honesty and insight of her reflections? Maybe it is her ability to spark my thinking. This week, it was her discussion of ‘meditation rage’. Whatever it is, I am grateful. Maybe it takes a village to create learning space and such a space includes many voices.
I remember being on after-school homework/detention duty a few years ago. It was on the second story of a building to separate it from the rest of the school. The time had started and the students had spread themselves around and were getting on with their work, when out of the lift came three students, one of whom was riding a scooter. Can I just say, the seriousness and control that was in that space quickly dissipated, turning into chaos. It was interesting to see other students initially laugh, until it stopped being funny.
Ed Droste suggests that it takes five listens to form a judgement about an album. I have been diving into DIANA’s Familiar Touch. As the song structures become more known, new sounds are revealed, subtly hidden within. The album creates a certain fragile space held together by the rhythm and bass.