August 1

Not really. It is Postcard Poetry Month. But you can’t share those poems until the month has passed. So for the first few days of August, before vacation time comes around, I am going to share some poems I have happened across. Alright? And it can serve as a sort of warm-up before ModPo starts in September

This first one, for August 1st, is from the Welsh poet, R.S. Thomas. Never knew him before. Came across his name for the first time last week in an article about poetry. And it’s a sonnet, so that’s bonus cool for me!

Acting – R.S. Thomas

Being unwise enough to have married her
I never knew when she was not acting.
‘I love you’ she would say; I heard the audiences
Sigh. ‘I hate you’; I could never be sure
They were still there. She was lovely. I
Was only the looking-glass she made up in.
I husbanded the rippling meadow
Of her body. Their eyes grazed nightly upon it.

Alone now on the brittle platform
Of herself she is playing her last rôle.
It is perfect. Never in all her career
Was she so good. And yet the curtain
Has fallen. My charmer, come out from behind
It to take the applause. Look, I am clapping too.


Post-truth and information literacy

Reblogged from Sense and Reference.

Sense & Reference

Newspaper folded to highlight the word 'truth' CC0, Public Domain

So there’s this phrase being bandied about: “post-truth.” As in, we live in a “post-truth era.” Popular use of the phrase is over a decade old, but its recent ascendancy lead The Oxford English Dictionary to name it Word of the Year for 2016; here’s the OED definition: relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. I mean, we’re at the point where Trump supporters racists are literally saying that “there’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” Armchair political scientists and ersatz media commentators are having a field day using post-truth politics to explain everything from contemporary political discourse to Brexit to identity politics to the rise of neo-Nazism to the presidential election and everything in between. “We’ve let sentimentality take precedence over facts and look where that got…

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re-blogged from 98% of African Americans Are In Fact Native Indians And Are Owed Millions 

Im Just Here To Make You Think

The tens of millions of Black Americans, or rather Indians, who ‘disappeared’ after 1492 did not all die in the ‘holocaust’ inflicted within America. Hundreds of thousands were shipped to Europe and Africa as Indian slaves. The whole slave trade story was given to all of us in reverse. A mass colony of Africans were not shipped from Africa to America. The truth is that Black Indians were shipped from America to Europe! They were then shipped from Spain to Africa as commodity for African resources. These Black Indians, now mistaken as African Americans, were shipped back to America and classified as “African Slaves.” This part of our history is what the school systems fail to mention in history programs.

Every European nation that colonized North America utilized Indian slaves for construction, plantations and mining on the North American continent but more frequently in their outposts in the Caribbean and…

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Paulo Freire, critical pedagogy, and libraries

An excellent introduction to Paulo Freire. A Keeper.

Sense & Reference

You’ve probably heard of #critlib: that loose affiliation of librarians interested in “critical perspectives on library practice” [link]. Now, I don’t identify with #critlib because. . .reasons. But I do think that the work being done under the mantle of critical librarianship is vital and important work, so it’s something I pay attention to. And one of the things I see an awful lot in #critlib discussions is an uncertainty about the role of critical theory. Reflecting on this, last week I wondered aloud whether anyone would be interested in short overviews of important figures in critical theory. And quite a few people expressed interest. So, I thought a little and I realized something: #critlib is absolutely saturated in the themes and ideas of Paulo Freire–chief architect of critical pedagogy. While his name is rarely explicitly mentioned,1 you still see his influence in talk of praxis…

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From the archives – Clausewitz’ Remarkable Trinity

Clausewitz’s remarkable trinity consists of three elements necessary for war.  The relationship between these three elements, in Clausewitz’s words the “balance between these three tendencies,” gives rise to a theory, not only of war but of the strategic culture itself that allows for, informs, and contributes to war’s prosecution and success.

At the primary, or initial level of analysis, these three elements are the following:  1) primordial violence, hatred and enmity; 2) the intersection of play and probability; and 3) the subordination of war as an instrument of policy.   At a secondary level of analysis, Clausewitz attaches the following categories of force to these three elements:  1) blind natural force (irrational); 2) creative free spirit (non-rational); and 3) energy subordinate to reason (rational).   

At a third level of analysis, he assigns actors to the three elements.  Those actors include the people, the military organization (troops and commanders), and the government or political leadership.  The actors bring three characteristics or properties, i.e., passions that are to be kindled in war, the scope or the range in which probability and chance are played out, and the government’s or civilian leadership’s political aims for prosecuting the war.

At this level of analysis, one can envision a rough parallel to the Lykke three-legged stool demonstrating the elements of national strategy, placing the Clausewitzian trinity in its broadest context.

See attached chart

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 13.00.27

Chart 1. Levels of analysis of Clausewitz’s remarkable trinity

Clausewitz refers to the “paradoxical trinity,” suggesting that the elements of which war is composed are somehow contradictory elements that should not really fit together. And yet they do, resulting in an overriding need to maintain balance between dominant tendencies, forces, actors, inherent elements, and strategies, all mutually opposing, yet all distinctly complementary, at all levels. 

Friction, according to Clausewitz, explains the factors that “distinguish real war from war on paper.” Such factors may include soldier fatigue, poorly executed logistics, unforeseen weather conditions, unanticipated danger posed by the enemy, and problems resulting from insufficient intelligence.  All these factors result in decreased performance on the battlefield, and all constitute Clausewitzian friction.  Villacres and Bassford suggest that friction, i.e., the fog of war, is most applicable to the second element of the Clausewitzian trinity, non-rational forces, or the interplay between chance and probability and played out by the military on the battlefield.

Clausewitz’s assertion that “war is nothing but the continuation of policy with other means,” is at the same time a definition, a demonstration, and a part of a dialectical construct.  As a definition, it establishes the relationship between military action and policy, i.e., policy drives strategy, and hence war fits within the overall continuum of policy formulation and implementation.  The statement demonstrates the third “leg” of the Clausewitzian trinity, i.e., subordination to and an instrument of policy, subject exclusively to reason and calculation.  Finally, the statement is an element of a dialectical construct, serving as the antithesis of the thesis statement that “war is nothing but a duel on a larger scale….an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”  The use of the clause “nothing but” in both cases further demonstrates Bassford’s claim that Clausewitz doesn’t really mean it, but is setting up the dialectical construct.  The synthesis, i.e., the working out of the contradictions between the two opposites, reconciles the duality within the Clausewitzian trinity, though it is a dynamic, not a static reconciliation.

Concluding, the remarkable trinity is a concept which evolves, and idea that grows through three stages to its completion, its perfection. It is a process, not a static design.  It flows like a liquid, or like musical notes from an instrument.  It is the interplay between chaos and probability and is unpredictable, inherently unstable, and in a permanent state of disequilibrium.