Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hybrid is not just a name for an overpriced car

Bob’s second post brings to mind, for me, the basis of this course. The genesis of the conversation we had was as a question posed to me by a student about hybridity. He was working with the Kaos pad (we have one – please check it out it is very very cool and makes some really interesting sounds) his question was where did he end and the machine begin? I love those questions for the same reason I like Derrida’s words like différance, supplement, hymen, pharmakon, parergon. They are multiple ideas crushed together to form new terms. I am also partial to the hyphen – as in post-digital, post-structural, post-racial, post-semiotic (in fact I had to argue with an editor recently to restore stricken hyphens – if for no other reason than aesthetic - I like the way they look).

The Derrida reference should be a tipoff that I am, by nature and by design, a theory junky. I love new ideas – especially ones that allow me to look at familiar ideas in a new way. It is quite likely that we will reference, name check, quote, allude to, etc many many folks this term. If you know who they are – great. If you don’t and you are interested – ask. My brother once had a teacher that said he felt most of his job was to be a conduit between the student and the library. I quite agree. But it also works the other way – library (define as you will) –> student –> teacher.

Despite the attraction to mixing ideas, we do work in an environment where the hyphen is not always encouraged. That’s fine – without disciplines we would never get hybrids. I agree with Bob that we are operating as “infrastructors,” and my hope is that as students this is an idea you can both embrace and also play with. If we are attempting to re-define our role in relation to this material then would that not also re-define your role as a student? The direction the course goes has as much to do with you as it does to do with us (another linguistic gulf than needs to be bridged). One of the best lessons I ever learned as an educator was not to necessarily teach what you know, but to teach what you want know.

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