Posts Tagged ‘Obama speech’

I’ve been watching the full version of President Obama’s speech in Tucson on YouTube. Two things struck me.

One was that, in order to understand it properly, it is not enough to dissect the rhetoric or the orator’s performance (both of which are no doubt being studied by students of that kind of thing already) but the fact that those elements only come into their own because of the wider and grander discourse of the occasion. There’s something in the “air” in the auditorium, a sense or emotion that wishes something important to be said and to be said with feeling. It’s more like this particular speech is sucked out of the speaker. There is frequent applause and almost as frequently the ovation is made standing.

The other thing which I noted was how Obama used narrative as a device to make his connections between the act, the players and the audience (and not just those in the hall). Elements of the bigger discourse (is this the American narrative?) with its reaffirmation of certain values or beliefs, which I guess were used to hearing, these were certainly there. But then he did more than mention or just pay tribute to each one of the six fatally wounded victims, he created a story around them. And because the wish for this, or need for this, it’s almost impossible not to connect and not to be moved during the speech, and the quotation (repeated three times, each time with more feeling) from the President in the title of this post kind of summarises the micro and the macro contexts of the speech.

I mention this only really because I thought it significant in light of the narrative intent of this month’s postings here. I’d be interested in hearing people’s opinions.

As for today, I wanted to reflect and review the previous eight entries, which collectively make up a section of this self-research, to see whether anything of a pattern is discernible, either in detail of content or in study of the process of writing them at all. What I find is something which came to be today – that one personal theme which might connect my choosing these particular episodes over the last eight days occurred to me when I found a small black and white photograph of myself to illustrate the kibbutz posting. It was taken in my last week there, can’t remember the exact context, but I think I was planning to apply for a visa for somewhere.  As I looked at it I found myself thinking of that person I was and how poorly qualified he was. Qualified in the sense of formal qualifications, that is. Is this my “thread”? And does this, in part, at least drive me to occupy this space working for a PhD?

Another thought is that generally it was not always possible to be sure of the voracity of the story details, which the mind tends to supply you with when you reflect on your own. The more I thought through a particular episode the more I seemed to want to fill in (or manufacture?) gaps. I found that I was often less certain of the peripheral details than I had thought I would be. Was one of the police officers who came to our door in Deal that day really a policewoman? I’m not sure. Does it matter? Probably not. Not as much as noting in myself that my mind wants to fill in the details.

Finally, I took a look again at the Atkins and Murphy model for reflection. When I referred to it with one of the MBA groups in a workshop this week, someone in the group spotted that what made this model different to, say, Kolb was the requirement to describe emotions and feelings, not just facts. I’m not sure I have been doing this, nor am I sure it’s an easy thing to do, though I think this may be the key to developing this reflective practice as an ongoing aid to learning.

So a short pause on the narrative trail today. Tomorrow I’ll return to the McAdams list of things to do, and select for discussion and description of four “significant people” who have had an impact on my life.


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