The aesthetics of education, theatre, curiosity and politics… Tyson Lewis

Lewis, T.E., (2012) The aesthetics of education, theatre, curiousity, and politics in the work of Jacques Ranciere and Paulo FreireBloomsbury Academic

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“educational philosophy in turn becomes the weird fiction produced from and in dialogue with this perceptual redistribution. As such, noting could be more criminal than the heretical aesthetics of educational philosophy as it opens a space for curiosity within an atop of profane gesture and asks “did you see that?”

“It is raining” (Althusser 2006, 167). A materialistic observation to be sure, but importantly, an observation that suggest a very different opening to discourse  than the dotted line suggested by Ranciere above. Rain falling unpredictably from the heavens suggests dots on a page, but these dots are in constant motion, moving at different speeds, subject to different forces, and whose trajectories are largely unexpected. There is not a linear trajectory of dots uniformly wedded to the page by a particular subject supposed to know, who remains in control of the dots, their order and their sequence.”

“Like the dots of rain, the event of democracy cannot be contained by the dots of the elementary school test.Aleatory dots puncture and interrupt the field of the page blurring letters, words, and sentences beyond control of the master. They are dots that do not mind their place, that are always found where they are not wanted.”

Educatie is an “encounter” between subjects and raw materials in such a way as to introduce a radical destabilization of the self and its perceptual feels – a new mode of seeing, listening, speaking, and reading as Althusser would say. […] The faculties of perception are here freed from the limits of a subject bound to the law and the immediacy of common sense – open to a new sensorial distribution of time and space, a new philia.” 

“the time of the theoretical-theatrical-pedagogical machine is out-of-joint, a dynamic interruption of the flow of time with the abrupt punctuation of equality.[…] Theatrical temporality is impatient, insistent, and ruptural.” 
“What is at stake here is the distinction between a theory of temporal unfolding (the latent becoming manifest through time) versus a theory of temporal rupture/interruption (in the now of kairotic staging).”

The gaze is a visual practice of mastery and control. Pedagogical aesthetics of vision have to be reworked so as to resist the reproduction of the stultifying gaze that imposes ignorance onto some subjects and not others.
“…from the moment we come into the classroom, at the moment you say, Hello! How are you?,  to the students, you necessarily start an aesthetic relationship” (Shor and Freire 1987, 118) Thus we cannot forget that “from the moment we come into the classroom” our perception of the room and the students in the room already constitutes a pre-linguistic field of perceptions and affects in which dialogue is always already immersed.”
“The glance is a form of visualization that opens up a space outside of normalization, criminalization, and pathologization inherent in the gaze. Rather than a position of mastery, as with the gaze, the glance is always an ignorant form of seeing and perceiving and thus curious as to what it will find when it opens itself up to the other.”

“The witness-teacher is a deactivation of the gaze of the explicator/banking education through the pedagogical technology of the glance.”

‘curiosity does not unveil a deeper, idea meaning to the order of things but rather interrupts the distribution of things themselves.Seconde, whereas Freire posits science and narrative as necessary yet separate dimensions, Ranciere problematizes any a priori division between science and narrative. And, third overcoming this division reorients education  from a utopian horizon to the active aesthetic performance to the theatrical will in th where and now.’
‘The scene [Jacotot’s geeft boek in frans en vlaams aan leerlingen in ignorant schoolmaster] that is enacted is an artisitc staging of a scene of emancipation. As such, the book becomes an art object, eliciting the curiosity of the student who is both actor and learner. When viewed from this perspective, the work of the will (the effort needed to attend to one’s studies) is dependent upon yet distinct from the work of curiosity (as an aesthetic opening to new perceptions).’
curiosity is peculiar capacity that indicates a faltering in our understanding, a location where the eye “does not know in advance what it sees and thought does not know what it should make of it”

 ‘Curiosity is a moment when we fall into [..] The void here […] is a call that “makes no sense” and “interrupts” the smooth, seamless integration of the self into a recognizable social position.’ 

‘When the ignorant schoolmaster points to (“isn’t that strange…”) or places before (“Did you look at this?”), he or she causes an aesthetic redistribution of the sensible. This fundamental interruption in the partitioning of what can be seen or heard is an opening tooth void that exists when hierarchies between aesthetic and scientific intelligence are suspended. Curiosity circles the void from the side, constantly stumbling around its edge. Here in this atopic zone, the student must go and see for him or herself – thus the time of expert explanation is supplanted by experimental exploration in sensing differently. The process of verifying the will is thus dependent upon an aesthetic interruption in the field of perception, which pits sense from sense, exposing the subject to an excess that has not been accounted for. In this way, the ignorant schoolmaster as artist does not simply place an object on the table but rather places a void in an object by pointing to a (dis)location that needs further investigation and perhaps even disput. In this initial gesture, the reaction between student and teacher is therefore neither one of command nor a form of beautiful and harmonious solidarity. The teacher remains ahead of the student in the moment of pointing to the void, offering an invitation to look, hear, or sense differently. The teacher is ahead in terms of his or her ignorance, opening and sustaining a gap between sense and sense! If the subsequent verification of willful pursuit takes the form of a command, it is a command that is nevertheless parodic, circling around the void from which it is born.’ 

‘Art has a specific function in the educational community: the sensorial destabilization of any correspondence theory between intention and representation that opens the space of curiosity.[…] The educational community is always a curious community whose ignorance is also an openness to the silence of the image which never has narrative closure and always interrupts the imaginative plots, we, as students and teachers, write.’

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