May 2015 – metaphor, meaning and motion

I have committed to writing a monthly blog post this year, rather like those who commit to posting a photo a day. I have resisted the photo a day – I hate routine. Even making a monthly blog post feels too prescriptive, but given that I seem to be lacking any motivation to blog recently, this commitment to a monthly post will hopefully keep me going until my motivation comes back.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been writing. I have been writing a lot – just not in public!

The end of this month has seen a focus for me on the meaning of ‘metaphor’, in particular in relation to the rhizome metaphor. Frances Bell, Mariana Funes and I have been finalizing a paper about the rhizome, how it is understood and how it applies to teaching and learning. This is a Wordle composed from the content of our submitted paper.

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 19.16.11


We have been working on this paper for more than a year. There was a lot to learn. What has been extremely enjoyable about this has been the number of authors I have become familiar with who write about the rhizome. I have so enjoyed the poetic imagery that some of their writing conjures up.

For those completely unfamiliar with the concept of the rhizome, then a good start is Chapter 1 of Deleuze and Guattari’s book. A Thousand Plateaus (1987, Bloombury) – and we have already published one paper about this. Our research is ongoing, but for our initial thoughts and findings see our paper in Open Praxis – Rhizo14 – A Rhizomatic Learning cMOOC in Sunlight and in Shade.

‘Meaning’ has also featured prominently in May for me, i.e. meaning in relation to what I have been doing and the meaning of my life as it relates to those around me. I think it’s something to do with age. My husband reached the age of 70 this month and for some reason that feels like a significant milestone and has brought with it lots of associated thoughts related to meaning. I bought him an Anthology of Emily Dickinson’s poems to mark this event (he is a fan!) and each day, he selects another poem to read, share and discuss. This week, this is the poem that has resonated most strongly with me:


A Thought went up my mind today –

That I have had before –

But did not finish – some way back –

I could not fix the Year –


Nor where it went – not why it came

The second time to me –

Nor definitely, what it was –

Have I to say –


But somewhere – in my Soul – I know –

I’ve met the Thing before –

It just reminded me – ‘twas all –

And came my way no more –

(Emily Dickinson, 701. Emily didn’t give her poems titles – she simply numbered them)

Finally, motion – what is that about? Well it’s about the motion of the wheels of my bike. At the start of the month we were cycling in Holland, through the tulip fields. This far exceeded my expectations of an enjoyable holiday. Of course I know we were so lucky – no rain, only one day of high winds, a fantastic hotel, amazingly safe cycle routes and lanes with good surfaces, and the stunning tulip fields.


Needless to say I took far too many photos of tulips which I have posted on my Flickr site.

5 thoughts on “May 2015 – metaphor, meaning and motion

  1. francesbell May 30, 2015 / 8:58 pm

    “But somewhere – in my Soul – I know –

    I’ve met the Thing before –

    It just reminded me – ‘twas all –

    And came my way no more –”
    I’ll be thinking about that quite a lot – onwards and upwards and sideways 🙂

  2. jennymackness May 31, 2015 / 7:55 am

    Thank you Frances 🙂

  3. Jeffrey Keefer May 31, 2015 / 1:19 pm

    What an exciting life you lead, Jenny! While I am still not clear why you are forcing yourself to blog, given all your other writing, perhaps it is only for our benefit 😉 (not to mention to whet our appetites for your upcoming works — can’t wait to read more about them!).

  4. jennymackness May 31, 2015 / 5:16 pm

    Thank you your ‘visit’ Jeffrey and taking the time to comment. It’s a good point you make. Why am I forcing myself to blog? I have asked myself the same question.

    I think it would be quite hard for me after all this time (from 2008) to give up blogging completely – this blog feels like a very personal space, much more than a writing document, more like a room where I feel at home. I definitely feel that it is ‘my’ space. It is very closely linked to my identity.

    What this blog does for me is that it helps me to clarify my thinking and keeps a record of that. I like being able to look back over posts I have made in the past and I am intrigued by which posts attract the most interest. They are not the ones that are most important to me.

    Finally, I know that my point of connection with many people is through this blog. I might never have met them, and we might rarely if ever interact, but they are connections that I value and I know that, however tenuous they might be, they have helped me to learn and grow over the years.

    I think these are the reasons why I think it’s important to keep going 🙂

    Thanks for the prompt.


  5. Jeffrey Keefer June 1, 2015 / 4:16 am

    Nicely stated, Jenny. Blogging helps you process your identity and share that by engaging with others. Quite a useful exemplar.

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