My first experience with Rhizo15

Someone near and dear to me thought I might be interested in Dave Cormier’s Rhizo15 MOOC.  Not being a professional educator, I have some trepidation about plunging in. The first assignment, to discuss course “subjectives”, will await a second post. (The WordPress image of Walter Benjamin hints where I am headed.)

By way of procrastination, I will introduce myself. Back in the glory days of deconstruction, I had been a perpetual graduate student, studying Shakespeare, but also reading Gregory Bateson,  Anthony Wilden, Stanley Cavell and Karl Marx. Life happened. Way too late, I had a kid and found myself re-experiencing a wide-ranging desire to understand, accompanied by a new willingness to recognize how much I did not know. There was this whole realm of science, which did not care about meaning, but measured significance, and had its own passion for elegance and beauty.

I took my son to the zoo and watched the bear clubs rough-house with each other. I thought: this is how they learn what they need to know when they are grown.  What would this be like for humans?  Who now have the whole planet hugged between our claws, foolishly thinking this gives us some kind of control. How will we learn what we need to know?  Not just to make our way as individuals, but to effect deep, radical change as thoughtful members of a larger, struggling whole?  (I have read some Deleuze and Spinoza, but have spent more time with Hegel, and it shows.)

I live in Berkeley. Just across the Oakland border, an old house calls itself a Marxist library.  Deeper into Oakland, younger folks transform a dilapidated heavy metal ballroom into a collective social space that plays host to many groups and groupuscules, including the mischievously named Bay Area Public School.

The red/black study group I am in has just started Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation.  For my “professional” life, I  am sampling an online data science course.  And I  try to coax my thirteen year old son to write the occasional bit of expository prose.  How is Magic the Gathering like and unlike life? Pilot episode of Lucky Louie


5 thoughts on “My first experience with Rhizo15

  1. I am in love. With the name of your blog. With how you somehow managed to incorporate parenting and deep philosophy and theory and practice and fun and depth in one little blogpost. I look forward to learning more with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • No. Although the red and black reading room is a spin off of one of Ken Knabb’s Society of the Spectacle reading groups, and many of us had initially discovered Debord via Fredy Perlman’s Detroit-based red and black press. The initial impulse for the r/b group was to pursue a course of inquiry associated with the early 20th c Marxist, Karl Korsch, who maintained that the left needed to look at the material conditions that shaped its own history and distorted its own practice. We have a variety of viewpoints. We’ve read E.P. Thompson, Ellen Meiskin Woods, Selma James, Sylvia Federici, Adolph Reed Jr., the Endnotes crowd.


  2. Whyzome, wisezome. I like your tone of reserved anticipation. I’m also unfamiliar with several of the writers and texts here and look forward to learning from a learner rather than a professional educator. Share away.


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