Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jackals and giraffes

Yesterday I started watching a video of Marshall Rosenberg, the developer of Nonviolent Communication, a method for "compassionate" interaction that totally eschews moralistic judgements and seeks to get everyone's needs met without coersion. I had heard it mentioned in various Attachment Parenting circles . . . evidently it's AP-squared, an even more counter-cultural viewpoint on managing conflicts, especially with children. Janet had gone in on a set of training videos with a group of AP leaders, and when I was completely burned out on programming yesterday I decided to watch something totally squishy and psychological.

Rosenberg started talking in his seminar, and I was settling into the usual talking-head seminar mode, and then he said, "Here's a song that says what I mean," and he picked up a guitar and started singing. That totally blew me away. Of course I'm thinking, "Hey, why not sing a song to say what you mean? Perfectly valid media." Still, in our culture only Mister Rogers moves from didactic lecturing to singing a song without missing a beat. The effect was only intensified when Rosenberg put on a wolf handpuppet on one hand and a sheep puppet on the other hand. There he was sitting in a chair, talking about dehumanizing Nazi speech like any other academic, but he's got some freakin' puppets on his hands. He hadn't introduced the puppets yet, but that didn't stop him from making a few casual gestures with a sheep on one hand. It was mildly surreal.

And yet effective. Rosenberg talked about "jackal language," judgemental right/wrong, win/lose modes of talking frame situations as conflicts where none need exist. Then he moved on to "giraffe" language (he has a giraffe puppet, too) that comes from the heart (giraffes have really big hearts, evidently.) It's corny, but it works. Rosenberg offers these labels with a wry grin, and manages to simplify a complex idea without being condescending.

I'm interested in his approach. I'm sure I'll have lots of intellectual nits to pick, but it's clear that he's trying to accomplish something that is emphatically not about analytical judgement.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home