PMTH NEWS                                    02/24/99
[I]t is the meaning in the emerging activity, not the preconceived imagining followed by its realization, which is transformative, revolutionary and essentially human. 

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Conversational Threads on PMTH

1. Should the Text Stand alone? 

This week continued to have numerous posts on the question of whether the text should stand alone. 

If you don't know what this means, you can click here to go to a page that conatins the three  PMTH articles that introduced this topic.
The question in this thread was whether it   influenced our reading of the text to have some image of the author's "face", perhaps, even a photograph.  Various contributors to this thread have mentioned their experiences of feeling influenced by the face.  On the other hand, Judy Weintraub has taken the position that she (we?) can (does? do?) rise above such influence, at least sufficiently to include the face in our understanding of the text.   The idea is, I believe, that we can come to read the text apart from our image of the author, even if it influences us for a moment and that seeing the face enhances the meaningfulness, and perhaps the intimacy, of that experience. 

2.  Resisting the Text 

Towards the end of the week, the topic shifted more towards whether it is good to let ourselves "resist the text."  What "resisting the text" means is to approach the text with a prejudice against its message which reduces the likelihood of our being taken in by it. 

I (Lois Shawver) took the position (the most common postmodern position, I think), that the text is not to be resisted, that it is mostly within us and that resisting the text means merely suppressing the text.  Paralogy, that wonderful moving forward in stimulating conversation that Lyotard teaches us about, only works if we learn not to resist the text. 

But others here confronted me with a paradox.  They talked of the advantages of resisting the text, or at least the need to occasionally do so, or at least the need to allow others to do so.  Tom Strong, Katherine Levine, graeme kane, Anita Berber, and also Diana Cook had things to teach me on this topic. 

Finally, I had to write a note admitting that they had a point.  I have decided to publish my admission.  But, at the same time, let me publish the overly expansive statement I wrote this morning to George Spears talking about the importance of yielding to the text.  (I put it on the same page.  Just page down and you will see this note, too.)  I think Spears is on the same wavelength I am, for the time being at least.  I asked him.  I am yet to hear. 

3.  Tool-and-Result  

And there is a budding converation with Lois Holzman on the meaning she and Fred Newman provide for the Vygotsky concept of tool-and-result.  Maybe this conversation  will flower, but, regardless, thank you Lois for providing images to help us with this notion of tool-and-result. 

The imagery she extends is that of the poet who creates poetry both as tool and as effect (result).  They are done in the same brushstroke.  Presumably this avoids our being restricted to the limited effects that can be created from the same old tools.  Was it not Maslow who  said that when every tools is a hammer, everything looks like a nail -- or something like that?  (Please refer to the quotation at the beginning of PMTH NEWS for a related comment.) 

Mick Cooper's New Book

I haven't read it yet, but I want to draw your attention to a new book that was announced last week on PMTH.   It is called The Plural Self: Multiplicities in Everyday Life,   and it is published by Sage.  It is authored by John Rowan and PMTH subscriber, Mick Cooper. 

The book just came out, however, and it's a bit tricky to purchase it if you're not in England.  Here's how: 

Take the information that you need off of the Sage information site, printing that information, perhaps, or putting it in a separate window.  Then, go to the Sage fax form .  Print out the fax form and fill it in with the information you just collected from the Sage information site, together with with credit card information, your name and address, and so forth. 
Then fax this order form to sage using this number: 

011 44 171 374 8741

Although this promises to be an interesting book, it has obviously not been fully marketed at this point.  It is not even available on Amazon.  But isn't it fun to be the first one to get a hot new book?  On a highly relevant topic?  And, if we bend his arm, I suspect Mick will talk a little about it with us with it once we've read it. 

At any rate, I have ordered the book and when I receive it, I will tell you at least a little about it. 

II. Gregen and AI

Last week I announced a conference being put on on Appreciative Inquiry by the Taos Institute that Kenneth Gergen and Shiela McNamee are associated with. (Click here for that article.).  The question is, of course: What is appreciative inquiry?   

We have help in answering that question from our own Tom Strong who contributes, this week, another article to PMTH NEWS.  It is a helpful article and if you are wondering what appreciative inquiry is, I recommend you read it. 

The concerns of appreciative inquiry remind me of Solution Focused Therapy (SFT).  Both frameworks seem to be noticing that psychotherapy enhances problems if it stays within the language-game of problems.  But what do we focus on if we do not focus on problems?  Perhaps appreciative inquiry and SFT have different answers.  Let's try to find out. 

Regarding the appreciative inquiry folk, I have learned that by contacting Dawn Dole you can be put on the appreciative inquiry snail mail newletter mailing list so that you can learn about additional events that will acquaint you  with what these people have to sayI have received my first newsletter, and I assure you, they have quite a lot to say.  There are many publications, and although the term "appreciative inquiry" is not always in the title, the folks who are invested in "appreciative inquiry," who present at the conferences, publish a lot.  Moreover, you will recognize many of their names:   Aside from Kenneth Gergen and Shiela McNamee, there is, for example,  Harlene Anderson of Collaborative Language Systems. 

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? 

An Invitation from Kenneth Gergen
Last week, when I was at the conference put on by Newman and Holzman, I had the opportunity to talk with Kenneth Gergen and he expressed an interest in keeping PMTH subscribers informed about relevant happenings, relevant conferences and such.  Great! 

So, today I bring you his first posted message.  It's an announcement of a conference planned for the Taos Institute, in Taos New Mexico, April 8-10. 

I first heard of the Taos Institute on PMTH and I believe it was from PMTH subscriber, Tom Strong.  If I recall, he was explaining the notion of "appreciative inquiry," a concept associated with this institute.  Maybe Strong would be kind enough to tell us a little more about appreciative inquiry and help us evaluate the happening that we might attend.  Wouldn't it be fun if some of us could meet there? 

At any rate, click here to learn more about the conference. 


Wittgenstein Readings

Unhappy because you have not been included in the Wittgenstein readings?  Maybe this will be useful to you, then.  I have culled all of my original "readings" and put them into a webbook that you can access.  If you read them all, you will be up on the readings.  And, of course, you can expect this webbok to grow as our readings continue. 

Although I have indicated that I will personally commit myself to respond only to the "readers": 

Judy Weintraub, Nick Drury, Diana Cook, David Pocock, Harry Korman and Ulf Korman
Many (or some of them) of them will respond to you (I imagine) if you present a reading of one of the aphorisms. 
Tools: The PMTH Greek Dictionary

In the last NEWS I announced a tool for a Greek dictionary.  This dictionary was constructed on the basis of my reading notes when going through texts of Foucault, Derrida, Hediegger, etc.  These terms are almost always English transliterations.  That is, these texts use the English alphabet for Greek words.  This makes them almost impossible for non-Greek speaking readers to look them up in most Greek-English dictionaries. 

So, I have made the practice of collecting definitions whenever I could.  Often I took my definition from the text itself, hoping that the next time I ran across a Greek term it would be in my personal dictionary. 

I put this dictionary online because I know others who have similar troubles with Greek words, not because I felt my definitions were authoritative.  It was a kind of "it's better than nothing" sort of position about them. 

Now, we are fortunate enough to have someone who actually knows a little Greek to go through the dictionary and offer suggestions.  This is online collaboration at its best.  Perhaps others with knowledge in this area will add to our list of Greek terms we may run across.  Vincent W. Hevern (who provides us with our narrative website in the Postmodern Sites toolbox) is the one who provided this valuable assistance. Thank you Vinny. 

But, remember, the purpose of this dictionary is not to help us learn Greek but to help us read English texts that contain Greek words. 

The Greek dictionary is the last tool today in the Search Toolbox . 

II. Newman/Holzman Experience

Bit by bit I would like to tell you more about my recent experience at the New York East Side Institute for Short Term Psychotherapy with Fred Newman and Lois Holzman

I had met Lois Holzman before when I attended the Newman play with PMTH subscriber Helen Shoemaker, but I did not talk with Holzman very long at that time.  This time, in person, I found her warm and friendly very reasonable, very likeable, and also very industrious.  She now feels like a friend. 

I must say, however, that the conference and training program put Fred Newman at center stage, so much so that I can now see why critics such as Ian Parker would see him as a guru -- because everyone, myself included, seemed to be eager to hear his next word. 

But please understand,  this man is not guru-like in his presentation.  He is softwpoken, and at times almost shy.  He presents himself both humbly and very credibly.  He invites people to talk and listens to what they say.  And when he does speak, he seems to say very reasonable things. 

Other people who listen often thought so, too.  For example, Newman has a weekly radio show and one day during the training we listened to broadcast.  People called in and asked questions.  The most notable thing about Newman's responses was that they were never pat.  That is, they were always distinctively responsive to the caller's framework.  I am sure every caller felt heard and appreciated.  All the callers were positive in their response to him. 

For example, one caller remarked something like, "Why is it that you sound so reasonable when all around seems to be going off the deep end?" 

Nevertheless, and this is what was most remarkable about Fred Newman, he does Wittgensteinian deconstructions as part of his therapy. Can you imagine?  And he seems to do this regularly.  Moreover, I think he did it with great artistry and he taught me a thing or two as to how to go about it. 

I'm Back! My Newman/Holzman Experience

Well, I'm back folks, after spending a week in New York learning more about the stuff that Fred Newman and Lois Holzman do. 

I have a much better picture of it all now, and over the next few weeks I will try to give you a picture of it through my eyes. 

First, let me take you inside their New York offices.  If you would have gone with me, you would have walked into a large foyer that has a homey feel.  Right in front of you would have been a large reception desk with several friendly "receptionists" behind it, talking, doing things among themselves and with patrons and staff who were going this way and that.  One of them would have turned your way and welcomed you with a smile.  Likely the smiling face would have been an actor in one of the Newman plays or perhaps a psychiatrist that volunteers time one day a week to the organization. 

Off to your left would have been a box office where you could buy tickets to the latest Newman play.  To your right you would find a stand that sells a large and  varied stack of Newman/Holzman books.  Behind you, would be the theatre (of quite respectable small theatre size), and behind that a large volunteer office where perhaps 25 people could work. 

Still standing in the foyer, however, and looking straight ahead, as you might having just stepped out of the elevator, you would look into the East Side Institute for Short Term Therapy.  Following your nose into this center, you would find work stations scattered between large comfortable therapy offices. People would nod and smile as you walked through.  Most of these people, I understand, are enthusiastic volunteers. 

What happens in these offices?  Too much to tell all at once, and besides, there is so much happening that even with all the time I spent, I'm not sure I yet have a full picture of it all.  But through the next few weeks I will give you bits and snatches until you, too, can begin to glimpse the goings-on.  Let me remind you in the meantime , that PMTH subscribers Joyce Dattner and Murray Dabbey (whom I met in New York) are busy setting up parallel centers in their respective cities. 

I am awed, folks, by the sheer size and energy of this postmodern group but more delighted by their philosophy and the creative way they weave it through their work. You should certainly know more about this group. If you're in New York, and you want to call them (they offer training), here's a phone number: 212-941-8906. 

At the conference they hosted on Thursday, there must have been 500 people in the audience.  It was held in a huge ballroom of a fancy hotel.  On the stage, in addition to Fred Newman, were a series of panels of impressive people talking about, largely,  their own contributions, and their own ideas, especially as they related to the Newman/Holzman organization.  At one point, Kenneth Gergen, whom you have heard a lot about on this list, stood on the stage with a microphone, mesmerizing the audience with a talk about the growth of his own postmodern thinking. 

There's lots to tell folks, and I will tell more.  I will sprinkle articles in this newsletter from time to time.  As enthusiastic as I am, I do not want to drown out other voices.  As large as this faction of the postmodern spirit is, there are other important voices in our midst, and you, of course, are one of those. 

It was a great trip, but, as always, it feels good to be back home and back online with all of you. 


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