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Where Have I Been This Week? - MG: LITERATURE&LIFE

About Where Have I Been This Week?

Previous Entry Where Have I Been This Week? Apr. 18th, 2009 @ 09:38 pm Next Entry
I have been at an international conference in Surfer's Paradise!- Great location- Great Conference. The conference was called "Creative Communities: Sustainable Solutions to Social Inclusion".
I had to present a paper with the title: "Using web-based technologies to empower creativity in literature classes for the homeless and disadvantaged". Here is the title slide for my paper.

The paper was one of many exploring the ways in which the creative arts (literature, dance, art...) could be instrumental in assisting people with disadvantage to have access to more fulfilled lives. The emphasis was not on trying to turn the disadvantaged into middle-class high achievers but rather to create for them a space where they could share their experience, their creative gifts with those around them. It has always been my belief that people who live on the so-called "margins" of "successful" society, are often gifted with more down-to-earth humility than many high-achievers. All the great writers tell us this. Read Tolstoy (in "The Death of Ivan Illych" for example) and he shows us that it is the peasants, the underclass who are the salt of the earth, who have a deep understanding of what human beings really need. Read Dickens, he tells the same story in "Hard Times" with his character Sissy Jupe who was born and bred as a circus "ruffian". Read Sartre's "Saint Genet". Read Shakespeare's "King Lear" with his celebration of the wisdom of the Fool. Read Francis Webb's "Ward Two" poems with their vision of how the psychiatric outcasts of our society have an essential purity and integrity missing from all of us hell-bent on winning in the "rat-race".....http://adbonline.anu.edu.au/biogs/A160609b.htm http://www.thylazine.org/archives/thyla9/thyla9c.html
So this conference that I attended was focussing on the question of how could marginalized people be "included" within their own terms as active, creative participants. There was a wonderful keynote address by a man who has worked for years in this area. His name is Francois Matarasso and it is well worth looking up his web site and hearing some of his amazing experiences with the marginalized: http://web.me.com/matarasso/one/Home.html.
I look forward to catching up with you all again for this second, shorter half of semester. I have my head down at the moment trying to complete some of this avalanche of marking that all 250 of you have produced in the last two weeks or so. See you next week.
MG
For more about the conference go to:
http://www.griffith.edu.au/arts-languages-criminology/centre-public-culture-ideas/news-events/creative-communities-conference
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From:giovanna68
Date:April 19th, 2009 11:00 am (UTC)
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Hi Michael,
It must have been a great conference and I do believe that the peasant are the salt of the earth as did many of the russian/english/italian poets and writers. Really who are these "critics" who evaluate or make or break an upcoming artist, poet, author etc. Everyone has a voice no matter how big or small and a right to be heard and noticed. When they are heard and noticed I feel that it gives them some inner peace to know that someone is listening and not judging(MG).
Ciao
Giovanna

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From:michaelgriffith
Date:April 19th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
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I think you are absolutely right Giovanna. It is listening, giving others the space to be heard that is one of the most profound sources of healing that we as human beings have access to - if we use it!
Thanks for your comment.
MG
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From:mandiebulsara
Date:April 19th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
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Hi MG :)

There is something Very Thomas Moorean about this post. I think that sometimes in the world really, there is a level of snobbery and we build our own rules for how everything should function. I mean, even from the dawn of time itself, we see the evolution of man the 'noble savage' if you will. There is always a struggle for power and control. I sometimes wonder where they even got the idea of Kings and Queens to begin with? What makes them more suprior to any body else? I think by human nature people are driven by different things and sometimes they use Religion and various other institutions to validate what they are doing. Its completely beyond me how the world these days functions, the idea of 'government' and how globalised we have become.

In the case of what you are doing to help the 'marginalised' people in the creative arts, I think thats absolutely amazing. It's a testament to the fact that there is still humility in what can be a very snobbish academic enviornment.

Best wishes
Amanda
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From:michaelgriffith
Date:April 19th, 2009 05:21 pm (UTC)
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Thanks Amanda- a very thought-provoking response! It has always never ceased to amaze me how all the arts are in essence very democratizing (made by real people/ often poverty stricken themselves) and yet paradoxically these arts are "taken" by the "power-possessing beings" and turned into snobbish icons of cultural superiority, often leaving their creators in the dust -so to speak. Yet -essentially- these art forms, when inspected closely, contain the ingredients for subverting these edifices of cultural superiority. I think Shakespeare is one of the best examples I can think of here. Look at the fool in King Lear, or Falstaff in Henry 4, or Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream.... it is all Shakespeare's "Bottoms" who challenge the stuffy, self-important "Tops" and who often succeed in bringing the World to its knees in riotous, defamatory, often bawdy laughter!!!!!
Thanks for the prompt to get that one out!
MG
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From:mandiebulsara
Date:April 20th, 2009 08:19 am (UTC)
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Exactly! the Fool in King Lear is probably one of the best examples. He speaks the truth. When I read your earlier post It reminded me of something he said:
"Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when the lady brach may stand by the fire and stink".
We almost get a sense of repulsion from his disgust of the actions of the people around him who are so deceitful etc.
Such a simple yet strong lesson to learn in life, it applies to today, except the context has changed, but really the world hasn't.

Your Welcome! thanks for stirring up my thoughts :)
Amanda
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From:necros99
Date:April 22nd, 2009 07:10 am (UTC)
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Interesting topic Michael. Why did they pick you huh? Hmmm...I recognised the photos, what interesting times they were. So different to what I'm going through now. The sense of the group was stronger at Catalyst. I meant to go and visit them if they still had classes on this week but alas I forgot. Catching a breather in mid-semester break (two assignments due next week, so not much of a break really).

Surfer's Paradise, what a location for a conference. Must've been good. The topic speaks for itself. I think I'm living proof, to a degree anyway.

UWS online is offline 'til midnight, "outage" they call it. So much for my research assignment. I'll start my creative writing assignment instead. Sort of looking forward to that one anyway.

Cheers Michael,
Paolo
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