Re: Butterflies and life

From: Ana Marjanovic-Shane (
Date: Sat Apr 02 2005 - 22:27:33 PST

In the Psychology of Art, Vygotsky said:
"The law of aesthetic response ...: /it comprises an affect that
develops in two opposite directions but reaches annihilation at its
point of termination/.
This is the process we should like to call catharsis."(Psychology of
Art, MIT Press, 1971, p. 214)
Learning is often, probably always, driven by the law of catharsis --
learning which is meaningful and transformative.
But the emotion that develops in two opposite directions is not always a
benign and sweet thing. It is dramatic, it is breaking away, it is or
can become fully developed drama or tragedy. Think of the great thought
revolutions: Copernicus and Galileo.
The best learning, a true metamorphosis is never merely academic and
just cognitive.
But, there are more levels here. There is a difference between a
catharsis, as transformation into something new; and destruction, a
transformation after which nothing is left. However, a line between the
two is very thin.
What does it mean to be pro-life? A catch phrase, almost a battle cry,
that touches some people and blinds them to everything else:
complexities of human situation, effects on other people, scientific
findings... In the same breath, they can be against "abortion" and for
the "capital punishment". And it makes sense to them. And then you have
people who know how to use this catch phrase, this battle cry to achieve
some other goals. Goals which have nothing to do and may be contrary to
the meaning of "pro-life". You almost feel like a spectator in a theater
seeing how the affects develop in the opposite directions and you wait
for them to reach annihilation and the point of termination. And you
pray that the termination will be in the form of the social catharsis --
not social destruction.

Mike Cole wrote:

> Breaking away
> Breaking away
> stealing thoughts
> cutting edges and
> turning around.
> Hippity-hop!
> I cannot stop.
> Butterflies, jellyfish,
> marzipan sweet,
> snap dragon flies
> sprinkled with sand.
> Breaking away
> over the wires
> under the radar
> covering tracks.
> Hippity-hop!
> I cannot stop.
> Butterflies are blown northward
> to the San Joaquin valley in profusion.
> Orange, black, white fleeting lives,
> Flying, blowing north.
> Breaking away
> gently destroying
> remembrance of life before.
> Today the butterflies in our back yard crowded our beautiful purple
> flowers. Not yet blown away on their
> trip north. Heather appreciated the thoughts. Their lives are so short!
> Today Pope John Paul the 2nd died. They say he promoted pro life and
> pro social justice policies. It is an
> occasion,along with the furor over Terry Shaivo, for all of us to
> re-think what it means to be pro-life and pro-poor. David tried to get
> us to think about this issue earlier this week. Apparently his
> comments did not resonate. Might
> they evoke more externalized reflection the second time around?
> mike

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