Rebecca PratherJan 27, 2019 19:54

Don Quixote in Diaspora


On a recent trip to Guanajuato with my son, I discovered the compelling story of refugee, Eulalio Ferrer, who, after escaping from Franco’s Spain, exchanged a pack of cigarettes for a copy of Don Quixote while in a refugee camp in France.  The story of how Don Quixote’s imagination served to create light in the midst of darkness became Eulalio’s survival grail. Eulalio no only amassed the largest collection of Don Quixote iconography in the world, he commissioned artists around the world to honor the myth of Don Quixote, whose heroism to create honor and integrity through the uses of his imagination is what Eulalio credits with saving his own life.


Part I

I’ve had many homes

They are the places I mend myself towards beauty

Whether bruised or bold

In its most authentic expression, my home is in the longing


That space of desire is both an exquisite tug

and a delicious release from center

Indicating I am never home and always home


Always - almost home


It is a grieving and festive diaspora within my own flesh landscape

One that straddles leaving and returning

Its intensity most profoundly felt in the in-between-ness


Home is a horizon that extends by virtue of nearing its edge

Its oasis extending faith precisely because it is out of reach

Home is a fiction whose tropes don’t dull it’s power


Part II

This is a love letter

This is a memoir

This is a eulogy

This is a musing on home and estrangement


He exchanged a pack of cigarettes for a story

A young Spanish refugee on the beaches of France whose gates flung open to bodies soon to be buried,

bodies that were accepted without being welcomed,

bodies that entered, but never belonged


In this barter of pungent tobacco for a copy of Don Quixote, small enough to fit into his pocket, Eulalio, metaporphosed into his own Christ-like icon, Don Quixote, in every word he ingested.  

We sometimes find it necessary to initiate imagination’s power to shapeshift ourselves and our surroundings.

To bravely face windmills disguised as monsters like our valiant protagonist, the Lord of La Mancha.

Or, sometimes, we align with the willingness in each of us to be carried away voluntarily on the creative rivers of belief like Sancho Panza, reminding us that a story only has life where the bard and the board meet

Or, sometimes, like Aldonza and Dulcinea, we straddle the complexities of duality -

Tending to the poignancy of the paradoxes we hold, the paradoxes that we are

Whether forced or fictionalized - we stumble through misadventures to find home

To belong


Rebecca PratherDec 13, 2018 16:56

The Cyborg Manifesto meets Creativity, Communication, and Technology

As learners deepen their experiences in the digital age, technology becomes less an external apparatus, and, more of a systematic network of communication. In education, and beyond, it is constantly present in learners lives on a spectrum from seamless integration to effortful (and often inaccessible) steps that require instructional scaffolding.  Like a system of language, one’s depth of immersion increases one’s fluency. Technology is a form of mobility. Technology is a passport of cultural and political power. With this in mind it becomes necessary, as educators, to not only develop technical skill, but to become flexible and fluent code-switchers in the multiple voices and registers of technology in order to relate to the social-code in which our students communicate as well as to support our students with sophisticated forms of determining the nuance of their technology-based communication as they navigate digital media with critical literacy.  

In “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late 20th Century,” feminist scholar Donna Haraway extends the notion of cyborgs outside of the realm of science fiction imagination into a modernist ontology that gives rise to the possibility of political transgressiveness through the ideological image of the cyborg.  She writes, “A cyborg is a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction. Social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, a world-changing fiction (1994, p. 117).” Haraway’s argument is sophisticated and complex in its contention that human creativity, through technology creates a liminal space of cultural production and political transgression.  She writes that technology in this vein is an “argument for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries” as she simultaneously asserts that such pleasures require a “responsibility in [their] construction” (119).

My work as a Speech-Language Pathologist with a certificate in Alternative and Augmentative Communication and Autism Spectrum Disorders provides me with a unique opportunity to work with students whose primary mode of communication requires various forms of technology ranging from “soft tech” to “high tech.”  Supporting students who utilize such technology to engage in meaningful relationships both inside and outside of the classroom requires ongoing analysis of culture and technology in order to support naturalizing different forms of communication into the world of “typical communicators” - that is, “verbal” communicators.  What Haraway offers to this opportunity of praxis is a theoretical frame through which to consider human-machine hybridity as constantly occurring and inevitable. It provides a political opportunity for analogical thinking to destigmatize students who have atypical forms of communication by honoring the creative possibility of where creativity, technology, and communication meet in the axis of alternative and augmentative forms of language.

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Musings on the intersections of communication, creativity and courageous communities.

REBECCA PRATHER

Hi Folks,

Through writing, I generate insights and clarity on complex social, cultural, and personal intersections. For me, writing creates an opportunity to be in conversation around these topics and with the community.

Sincerely,

Rebecca


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