Category Archives: humor

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson

Last week someone shared with me a wonderful poem, “Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson.

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

Context: We were discussing a phenomenon that I call the “willful confusion mindset,” which is a kind of cognitive learned helplessness where a person seems to deliberately seek obstacles to comprehension when it comes to a particular matter. This is something that workshop facilitators can face due to external factors beyond their control — politics, personalities, etc. — in and among the participants that they work with. Facilitators are also capable of triggering this state in participants if they push the wrong psychological threat/reward buttons. That’s the part I was trying to figure out.

Hence the poem.

I loved the poem so much I decided to share it with others.

One person asked, “I don’t understand this poem. Why don’t they just cover up the hole?”

Why, indeed.

What purpose does the hole serve, especially for those who seem to be stuck in chapter two?

Postscript

There are other people walking down the street, too.  Some are moving in different directions, some are operating in a later chapter, some in an earlier chapter. Some are repeating a lesson previously learned and some are just taking a break, reflecting in a private space of their own making.

All of these people have the potential to help or hinder each other as individuals… and also have the potential to coalesce or disband as an impromptu collective that will work (or not) through its own series of chapters, at a larger scale.

Not only does the sidewalk provide more than one path from A to B., but it is also a dynamic, fractal landscape.

 

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Learning through Parody

(#18 of 27, revisiting “Generic Brand Video: In less than 3 minutes, every global corporate t.v. ad“)

Still funny, still true:

…and here’s another one spoofing a closely related genre of commercial:

(Oh, and someone ought to do a parody of the last 15 seconds of YouTube videos where the authors beg for clicks and follows. Enough of that already, College Humor.)

Gotta love the high quality, well crafted meta-humor.  Also, it serves a useful purpose: cultural advancement.

Parody Improves Art

Great parody demolishes a clichéd genre, forcing it to evolve or die off.

dr evil air quotes rightFor example, the Austin Powers movie series merciless tore apart a set of classic James Bond tropes and ultimately superseded them in popular imagination. That in turn contributed to a great deal of pivoting and now potential re-invention within the James Bond franchise. A well done lampoon can reinvigorate a classic.

As discussed previously (Keeping it Fresh: Why Variety and Novelty Matter in Education, Instructional Design, Leadership Development, and More) for art to remain relevant, it must periodically shed some of its formulaic tendencies. Biting satire provides an acid to dissolve longstanding decrepitude.

repetitive behavior perceptual spectrum

However, none of this improvement can happen until the makers of the art — or carriers of the culture — decide to self-criticize and improve.

Note too that parody is effective precisely because it is playful — or even better, when it’s done with a nod of admiration.

Criticism is most easily heard when it is delivered from a place of affection. With just a bit of warmth and flair, the satirist can aid their subject, if their subject is willing to listen.

Thought du Jour: Clarification

(#17 of 27, re-blogging)

Note: Just to clarify the statement below, by “kinda” I meant “mostly but not entirely” — that was my point. But perhaps that just muddles things even more.

Dan Spira

Any attempt to write a textbook on the subject of how to deal well with ambiguity kinda misses the point.

Dendrite Reflection

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Quote du Jour: Keep Going

“If you’re going through hell… keep going.”  

 – Winston Churchill

 



A couple of motivational montages to close out the week… month… fiscal year…

Thought du Jour: Clarification

Any attempt to write a textbook on the subject of how to deal well with ambiguity kinda misses the point.

Dendrite Reflection

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