Sunday, February 3, 2008


Response to Chapter 1 and 2 of David Blakesley's The Elements of Dramatism

Elements of Dramatism That I Can Appreciate
  1. the freedom to play with language in the interests of creating moments of both identification and division
  2. the realization that ambiguity provides opportunity for identification and doesn't have to be a "bad thing" (as the nuns taught me)
  3. the versatility of the Pentad to open readings up beyond my regular scope/perspectives
  4. the idea that Dramatism allows for thoughts, beliefs, and ideologies to continuously change and evolve
  5. the opportunity it provides for self reflection
  6. Dramatism's belief that we should analyze unity and difference in order to forge new identifications
  7. its mission to develop ideas and continue to find reasons for identification, even as our differences grow (multicultural classroom?)
  8. progress should be seen as a result of competitive cooperation*
  9. it exists as an anti-polemical device
  10. its ability to clearly distinguish rhetoric from deception
* While I can appreciate the call for progress to be determined by "competitive cooperation," as opposed to progress being defined by capitalistic or nationalistic interests, I am uneasy with the idea of "competition" being involved with "cooperation." It seems too tied up in Western notions of success and drive. It sounds like one of those terms that corporations have assigned to their workforce. There are no bosses, only "team leaders." We, the low wage employees, are "team members." We do not exist in a cutthroat marketplace; we unite to participate in "competitive cooperation."

Favorite Quotes
  • "Consensus may define and maintain ideology or common sense, but too often consensus is sought for the sake of efficiency, for simply 'getting along' "(17).
  • "...agreement itself can be dangerous because it encourages complacency and even complicity" (17).
I really thought that these quotes were put in the book to speak specifically to me. They both reflect moments I've had in the classroom. The second quote is a good reminder that I do not have to have Utopian standards for my classroom and that a little disagreement and contention, negotiated properly, will be a great benefit to me and the class.

Thoughts, Insights, and Revelations

As I read through the first chapter, and again as I read the second chapter's deconstruction of Hitler's Mein Kampf, I was thinking about the potential of dramatism in the multicultural classroom or even local community. Just as it has the power to dissect large and messy events like the Columbine shootings and Hitler's motives behind his reign of terror, it clearly possess a great deal of constructing power. It seems an ideal strategy to introduce in a racially sensitive inner city classroom in the interests of promoting cooperation. It also affords and opportunity to bring the redwood logger and environmentalist together at the same table in order to have a productive conversation.

The opening pages of the second chapter had me reflecting on my own writing situation (when I write music reviews) and the motives that impact my perspective. Because of the amount of reading, listening, and conversing I do about music, I have constructed a large base for interpretation, meaning my subjectivity is coming out in every sentence that I compose. I have been formed by the symbol systems of my years of exposure to music. I really never thought of it like that before. When Burke says "critical and imaginative works are answers to questions posed by the situation in which they arose," I think of my writing process when tackling a review. I usually imagine the album's place in the music world and then develop a perspective and an agenda. I sometimes even seek other reviews of the same album in hopes of finding division that will direct my ideas. Which, when manifested in my review, is done in the spirit of seeking identification with my potential audience. I was motivated by the symbols. I turn around and try to motivate through my writing, and the process goes on to create meaning. I feel a bit shaky, but I believe that I "get it"...sort of. Is this a connection to Jarrett? Is this where his idea that jazzography is made up of many different texts (symbol systems?) comes from?

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