Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Towards the end....a discus. Sorry, discourse.

Well, today did'nt go great. I would estimate that about fifteen thousand words were written today, and about 98% of them were rubbish. This is an attrition rate greater than the Somme. Te major problem is I wrote myself into a logical corner, and, while this was happening, developed a shrinking vocabulary.

I know a lot of people misunderstand how a shrinking vocabulary works, so I think I need to explain. It is not simply having cognitive access to less words, although this is a feature of the condition. What may people dont realise is that accompanying this reducing word pool is necessarily a broadening of meaning of all the words that you do have left. You do not necessarily become less articulate, conceptually. You just become more inaccurate about explaining everything. for example, for horrible reasons I will not enter into further,when describing an environment where learning occurs, a lot of the literature use the words 'setting' or 'context' or 'situation'. Ask me why they dont just use the already familiar words like 'school', 'university' or 'college', and I would have to reply like the great Harry Worth said "I dont know why and there you are". It just is.

Naturally, when trying to write an essay addressing this subject, one is more or less forced into using the language of previous treatise, otherwise one is thought of as un-academic, and frankly, that just wont do. So I start today writing and its going a storm. Words are flying onto the page, and the little men who live in my computer and hang all the letters up on the screen in response to my key-strokes are working double time. "This" I think to myself "is a piece of cake. At this rate, I'll be brilliant by teatime" and blythely I plough on. But who was it who said beware the sleeping fox, he has one eye on the chickens? No-one I know of actually, but it could have been said, and if it had been, it may well have been apropo because when I next glance at the wisdom poured onto the page - my argument a fragile and beautiful yet incredibly strong construction like the ice on the Shubenacadie in February - what is actually present are sentences like:

"In context, the contextual situation of the setting situates, and contextualises, the contexts of learning in situations. The context of learning for the situation is dictated by the contexts of the setting."

I gasp and re-read, convinced that Toshack (incidentally the world's naughtiest cat at the moment) has knowingly sneaked hallucinogens into my morning Earl Gray. I simpy cannot have written that, because what I actually said was a devastating critique of neo-liberal attitudes towards education that posit it as an entirely economic process. But instead of "economic", I've written "situation". Instead of "Gramsci", I've written "context". Instead of "interstitial" I've written "setting". The concept is quite clearly there, on the page, its just that its written in the wrong words! Vocabulary shrinkage has occurred so that I've had to use words - in this case the ones I've mostly been reading - to mean more than one thing. And just as when a song you hate sticks in your head, the words that I notice most when I'm reading are the ones that irritate me the most.

I try to recover the situation(see its happening again) re-reading what I've written, grasping for the concept, argument, point, logic I was trying to advance, but as I glance the meaning starts draining out of the page, leaving only the words. A sly thought enters my head. I take a quick peek round the house to make sure no-one's looking, then go to the 'Review' tab in Word, highlight the words I've written and press 'Word count'. The results come in - one hundred and eleven. I re-read what I've written. Actually, it doesnt look that dissimilar to the type of words used in the paper I've just been reading - "Autonomy and Agency in Discourse: A Freireian Action Research Investigation of Setting, Context and Situation", and arguably, my words make a bit more sense. I copy and paste the whole paragraph of one hundred and eleven words to the next free space. Then, I copy and paste a few parts of it, re-arranging it a bit. Now, I've got two hundred and twenty two pages.

On a serious note, today's entry is dedicated to the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillborough Football Stadium. You will never walk alone. Justice for the 96. See here for more details, and of course, DONT BUY THE SUN

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