Of boundaries

October 9, 2013

The day started with a short walk down the Rhine with David Griffiths and David Gurteen to the conference centre where we were presenting.  Billed as the three Davids and they are all Welsh it was the first time we had spoken at an event together.  Now walking down the Rhine is always special.  The premier river in Europe, it's story is interwoven into the fabric of European history and myth.  For a Wagnerian of course carries evocative power above and beyond.  Rivers are interesting as they form a boundary but also permit passage between places.  

In yesterday's post I pondered what I thought an artificial split between story telling and narrative, the former being an aspect of the latter.  Today David Gurteen toned down his normal introduction to his knowledge cafe given my presence.   He normally starts with a slide showing a medieval lecture, shows a picture of people falling asleep and then asks whey we haven't questioned this for centuries and then advocates discussion as an alternative, possibly stimulated by no more than 15 minutes of presentation.

Now I think that approach has value, but I don;t think its value is in rejecting other forms.  Nether (to return to yesterday) should we have to privilege story telling making it a necessary not merely a sufficient condition for narrative.   Context is as ever King.   People do fall asleep in some lectures, but in others they stay wide awake and are inspired.  Lectures are still around after a few centuries not because we haven't thought about alternatives but because they work for a whole range of purposes.  The same applies to conferences and un-conferences.  Trying to rubbish something in order to promote something else, or promoting something as universal when it has contextual value are foolish.  By the way David doesn't, we have had that one out and I think it is resolved but I want to hear reports of what he says when I am not in the audience!

Boundaries are important.  THe proverbial line in the sand marks a decision point, it does not imply that what is on the other side of the boundary is wrong or lacks value.  Instead it as frequently provides an opportunity for new discoveries, new spaces.    But getting rid of boundaries means we do not get the triggers we need to be aware of the transition and to be alert to the potential of transgression or transfer.


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