The following are words and phrases that I have loved and have chosen to put on a series of Wonder Dice. These words, alone or in combination (which you can do by rolling the dice) are terrific for contemplation, inspiration, writing, and for whatever you can imagine.
Wonder Dice 1
- Parrhesia- Fearless speech: the act of speaking a truth that is dangerous both for the speaker and the listener. I learned of this term thanks to the scholarship of French philosopher Michel Foucault who gave a series of lectures about the history of this term. It is similar to, but much more complex, than the well-known Quaker phrase of "speaking truth to power." I wrote about this term here: https://comeuppance.blogspot.com/2013/05/parrhesia-my-new-favourite-word.html
- 7 Generations: the Haudenosaunee ethic/principle/practice of considering the welfare of the next seven generations in all matters
- Heshook ish Tsawalk: The Nuu-chah-nulth philosophy of "all things are one and interconnected". Tsawalk is the number one. This term is part of my family and a piece of Taliesen's heritage as a member of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. Nuu-chah-nulth scholar Umeek/E. Richard Atleo wrote a wonderful book, filled with stories, about this philosophy, Tsawalk: A Nuu-chah-nulth Worldview, which i have used in my popular education teaching for over ten years.
- Wildly: with abandon; rewilding. Chief Luther Standing Bear of the Oglala Sioux, said, "We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams with tangled growth, as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness" and only to him was the land "infested" with "wild" animals and "savage" people. To us it was tame. Earth was bountiful and we were surrounded with the blessings of the Great Mystery. Not until the hairy man from the east came and with brutal frenzy heaped injustices upon us and the families we loved was it "wild" for us. When the very animals of the forest began fleeing from his approach, then it was for us the "Wild West" began."
- Wonder: One of my favourite comics ever is a series called Hatter M based on the Looking Glass Wars series of novels by Frank Beddor. The novels are just okay. But the comics are outstanding. In Volume 3 of the series the story ends with our hero, Hatter Madigan, saying his goodbyes to a colleague, Smith Dobson, whom he found in exile and who helps him in his quest. As they embrace, Dobson says, "Such a wonder to have met you." To which Hatter Madigan responds with, "The wonder is all mine." (Hatter M: The Nature of Wonder by Frank Beddor and Liz Cavalier, Art by Sami Makkonen. Automatic Pictures Publishing, 2010, p. 146). This simple exchange moves me deeply.
- Love: How much has been written of love in all the languages of the world. From the Song of Solomon to the private words teenagers have written in journals this very day. These words from Rilke have been on my mind: "But, once the realization is accepted that even between the closest human beings infinite distances continue to exist, a wonderful living side by side can grow up, if they succeed in loving the distance between them which makes it possible for each to see the other whole and against a wide sky!" from Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1892-1910 (1945, W.W. Norton) pp. 57-58.
Wonder Dice 2
- Silience: "The brilliant artistry hidden all around you" from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig: https://youtu.be/i_DZHALK2yE
- Sentipensante: feeling/thinking. I first came across this word in the 80s. And immediately loved the blend of emotion and cognition that it names and for which, in english, we lack a word. Eduardo Galeano is The Book of Embraces (1989) writes: "Why does one write, if not to put one’s pieces together? From the moment we enter school or church, education chops us into pieces: it teaches us to divorce soul from body and mind from heart. The fishermen of the Colombian Coast must be learned doctors of ethics and morality, for they invented the word sentipensante, feeling-thinking, to define language that speaks the truth." (p.121)
- Story: Muriel Rukeyser wrote: " The universe is made of stories / not atoms." Of stories, philosopher David Spangler wrote: "In telling stories, we obey certain principles and laws of drama and melodrama, of crisis and resolution, of impact and silence. We generate an energy through our stories that helps to define who we are and where we are going. We are all creatures of narrative, and these narratives are important to us even if they are tragic narratives. It certainly has been my observation for many years that individuals would much rather have a tragic narrative than no narrative at all, and they will cling to suffering in order to discover the material for such a narrative.” (in Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science and Popular Culture. Santa Fe: Bear & Co, p. 89)
- Kintsugi: is the Japanese are of golden repair. Where a bowl or mug breaks, the pieces can be reattached with gold.
- Mudita: "joy in the joy of others." I first came across this term in the mid 80s in the work of Joanna Macy in her book Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age (New Society Publishers, 1983). Macy writes: "In the Buddhist tradition ... muditha or the "joy in the joy of others" ... is the flip side of compassion. If we can grieve with the griefs of others, so, by the same token, by the same openness, can we find strength in their strengths, bolstering our own individual supplies of courage, commitment, and endurance." (p.32).
- Mitakuye Oyasin: "All Are Related" in the Lakota language. This term is similar to other notions of interconnectedness such as ubuntu and heshook ish tsawalk (found on other wonder dice).
Wonder Dice 3
- Duende: Federico Garcia Lorca made famous this spanish term for a particular relationship with creativity and art. I recommend reading Lorca's essay Theory and Play of the Duende. I have begun my popular education classes with this essay for over 20 years. But it is one that I leave to the discovery of those whom it touches. I think many of my course participants are bewildered by it, some bothered, some inspired. I shared some of my thoughts one year here.
- Sonder: "The realization that everyone has a story" from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows by John Koenig: https://youtu.be/AkoML0_FiV4
- I/Thou: Martin Buber, in his book I and Thou (1923) describes two modes of being: I-It and I-Thou, i.e. we can see ourselves as separate from that which is before us or we can see ourselves as connected to. This concept maps strongly with terms like ubuntu, Mitakuye Oyasin, and Heshook Ish Tsawalk (found on other Wonder Dice). I quite like the descriptions found here: https://infed.org/martin-buber-on-education/
- Umwelt: "the world as experienced uniquely by a particular organism." This term was coined by Baltic-German biologist Jakob von Uexküll. Wikipedia is a good place to start with this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umwelt
- Sepakuma: "the art of expressing ones true self and it is my ultimate goal to teach that to people through dance, skating, yoga and self expression." I believe this a term coined by Milan Somerville AKA the Hairy Longboarder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtsAGqo-V18
- Wabi Sabi: is the Japanese aesthetic of valuing impermanence and imperfection. Twice have I been given a gift of novelist Tanizaki Jun’ichirō's 1933 essay In Praise of Shadows and i have read it yearly since first receiving it. Tanizaki wrote, "An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into it forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway." (p20).
Wonder Dice 4
- Jugar y jugarse: an Argentinian idiom meaning play and playfulness where "playfulness" has the sense of "playing with abandon." Also the title of a lovely book about popular education about which I wrote here: https://comeuppance.blogspot.com/2010/08/my-new-favourite-book-on-popular.html
- Ubuntu: an Nguni Bantu term that means "I am because we are." This term has grown in popularity for some time and is one of many terms found in cultures around the world that names the relationship of interconnection and inter-being amongst all living things. Amongst the Nuu-chah-nulth of Vancouver Island there is a philosophical notion of Heshook Ish Tsawalk (found on a different Wonder Die) that means "all things are one and interconnected." Martin Buber's notion of I and Thou also speaks to this type of inter-relation. The Wikipedia entry has some good information about this term: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_philosophy
- Impossible things: Alice to the Queen of Hearts: "One can't believe impossible things." / "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Lewis Carroll, through the Looking Glass
- Pachamama: the Andean/Inca goddess of nature; Mother Nature; World Mother. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachamama
- Dream Dream Dream: Hardly needing definition, I encourage you to free associate with this term, e.g.: "what dreams may come"; Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination by Robin D.G. Kelley; "Don't dream it, be it" - Dr. Frankenfurter, The Rocky Horror Picture Show; etc.
- Walk: Another term worth free-associating: Earthwalking, flaneur, Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane, A Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros.