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The Posts that Could Have Been

The Posts that Could Have Been

So, I’m trying to get back on track with #rhizo15. I got thrown off a bit as I am currently in this whirlwind tour – I just got back to Columbus from Detroit via Cleveland today and I leave for Chicago tomorrow. I went to Detroit to visit my Mom for Mother’s Day the day after having this salon at my house and entertaining more people than I have in about a year or so. My thoughts are all tangled and there are too many of them so this is my brain dump at the end of week 4. These are some of the posts that could have been.

The Exquisite Corpse: Connections We Can’t See

I pulled out the old exquisite corpse for the salon. If you don’t know what an exquisite corpse is – it is either drawing or writing (yes we did a writing one too but I don’t want this post to get too long) where participants are asked to complete a portion of a piece without seeing the whole thing. In this case we covered each square when finished drawing in it – leaving a few lines sticking out for the next person to continue.

Notice some of the similarities in these panels.


This made me think of rhizomatic learning in so many ways… the connections branching off of one another, the similarities and synchronicity’s…

I have seen several posts in #rhizo15 that refer to “something that I saw on one of the blogs somewhere” or posts talking about similar themes that are not citing one another in any way. What is going on here?

I’m no better – I know I have done this but I have to wonder: Are some people intentionally snubbing one another? Do they not see the connections? Are people just lazy? What is up with the connections that we can’t see – as consumers and producers of content (people).

This also makes me think of Bonnie Stewart’s research on vulnerability in using social media in the academy. I mean who puts their budding ideas out on the web to be hacked by god knows who in a industry of publish or perish?

At the same time – our ideas grow and expand when others get involved.

But if I take on this experimental mindset what if I make a fool of myself?

Bahhhh. Paradoxes. Making. Brain. Hurt.

Maha’s Challenge to Me on Why the Rhizome Must Die

So, last week Maha Bali challenged me to take my idea that the rhizome must die to the next level. I had started talking about this at the beginning of #rhizo15 in relation to unlearning. I had all intentions of exploring it in week 4 but … yeah.

I have to say that I am especially struggling with this one because it seems to drum up some intense reactions from people. People get really defensive about it. No one wants the rhizome to die. Disclaimer – I don’t want the rhizome to die.

One of the most frequent responses that I get is at the heart of this week’s prompt – pointing out how hard it is to kill a rhizome and how rhizome’s have a tendency to “take over”. I understand this problem but I really do think that it is adjacent to my point. I’m not talking about killing a rhizome – not necessarily… though that could be a part of it.

I suppose, at times, portions of the rhizome needs to die so that it does not strangle out the rest of the garden. Does this take us back to the role of the teacher? Not just pulling that weed but getting out the shovel. 

I kind of overuse disclaimers in my posts (getting back to that vulnerability thing I guess) but this one would have to include one stating that I personally fear death myself and that I don’t want the rhizome to die any more than the next gal… but…

My point is simply that everything that lives – dies. Some things live longer than others and some things are more resilient than others but everything that lives – dies. Some day – some how. And if we are going to use a metaphor of a living organism then we should accept that there will be death in that. This could be as simple as the end of the “course”… It could be related to unlearning (which is too strong of a term for some apparently so who the heck do I think I am by calling it a little death).

My intention was to expand on this whole idea by defining death as an archetype for loss or endings, parse out some differences between Death and death, of course tie in that all death is also a kind of beginning…  But it is all tangled up in knots in my mind right now.  I would like to revisit it soon – if I can sort it all out and connect it somehow.


So, week 4 snuck by me with a lot in my head and not a lot of time to articulate it. I know this post is pretty disjointed and not so poetic. No apologizes – it is what it is.

I’m looking forward to week 5 though I’m not sure where I am going to take it.

11 thoughts on “The Posts that Could Have Been

  1. Hey Autumm (is this now your own blog? I think so ! Congrats?)

    Ok so let me take you up on the death thing. Yes, you’re absolutely right that:
    A. Every living thing that lives must die (at least, as far as our own earthly knowledge goes)
    B. There is a difference between dying and getting killed. Dying is a natural inevitable process, it’s just that saying “x must die” sounds like a threat (rhetorically) than a statement of truth “all that lives will die because that’s biology”.

    And now, to the Islamic portion of this comment 🙂 i am having one of those days, but bear with me. The Islamic notion kinda relates to Stephen Covey. The notion is that when an individual dies, their “actions” are stopped except for 3 things that continue beyond their death:
    A. A good child of theirs who continues to pray for them (evidence that they brought a good other person into the world and raised them well)
    B. a continuing form of charity (e.g. Digging a water well that others continue to drink from)
    C. Knowledge created that others can benefit from
    And it is this last one, but all of them really, that count as “leaving a legacy” a la Stephen Covey… covey talks about the things we do in life, as being to live, love, learn and leave a legacy.

    So i think of every kind of knowledge creation as a kind of leaving a legacy, so that even after I die, the knowledge remains and others may benefit from it. So even if the rhizome techincally dies, as in, the course ends, we disperse and never see each other again (maybe in 30 or 40 years even), hopefully we have left a trail behind for others to look at and benefit from. If one day Dave Cormier or Autumm Caines or Maha Bali are cited, 100 years later, we have not died. If people 100 years from now recall the first MOOCs and recall us with fondness or dismay or scorn, we have not died.

    That’s kind of what I meant.

    What do you think?
    P.S. someone recently put me into a panic attack about how hosting for my blog would disappear once i died coz i wouldn’t be keeping up paying it. That’s sad. Will you ask people to crowdfund and save my best blogposts? Haha how egotistical of me!

    1. I think that you are absolutely right Maha!

      And no I did not mean that “the rhziome must die” as a battle cry; as if I could kill it.

      But it just spins me right back off into the paradox.

      If my content is me and it is tied to my immortality … then I can see how that would/could/might drive one to feel that they really need to be careful with it. None of this casual talk and having fun with content creation – one could be misinterpreted, misquoted, misunderstood.

      No no better to carefully craft work that will be protected by laws and fees and other walls that will assure that it is curated in an official way. Dated and recognized so that infractions on one’s ideas will be prosecuted for the identity and immortality theft that they are…

      But, personally, I have a hard time with that – I think it steals the jazz. I think it stops the ideas from growing. In trying to sustain one’s immortality though the protection of attribution one actually just stifles their own creation.

      The only recourse is to be vulnerable to death – to the the susceptibility that your ideas may not be cited or attributed. To watch your idea become someone else’s with no mention of you…

      As for your blog and saving it after you die – I’ll do my best. 🙂 This is another thing I am very interested in… zombie profiles… considering the privacy laws and the “right to be forgotten” and all of that what happens to all that after you die.

  2. Your reference to the Exquisite Corpse game reminded me of a collaborative writing adventure I wanted to launch into Rhizo15. I’ll let you know …

  3. oh i haven’t thought of the exquisite corpse game for a long time – thanks for the reminder. i love that you keep bringing this death idea up… i think it might be that it is part of the botanical nature of rhizomes for the centre to die out. i was surprised, shortly after you mentioned it at first, when i was out digging up irises and think about the old sections… i did a drawing of it and maybe i’ll post it on the #rhizo15 page. the thing i haven’t been able to find is what happens in the wild if the centre of the rhizome dies. in the garden, you dig it up and discard it and plant the younger shoots. maybe it rots (in nature) and becomes fertile ground for a seed (arborescent) and that’s the cycle? i’m not sure about cross-referencing other people’s ideas – it kind of implies reading everything and i’m not even trying to keep up with *everything* at this point. i am still discovering delightful new people and ideas, while enjoying the further thinking of people i’ve come to know a bit.

    1. Thanks for the comment Aaron – I enjoy your posts. It does seem that the rhizome is more prone to parts dyeing at points.

      Yes trying to keep up with everything is not going to happen. Again it steals away that ability to be in the moment if you are trying to be everywhere else at once. Still I do think that attribution is important.

      What is the rhizo attribution system? Perhaps the ARL (Association of Rhizomatic Learning) format to go with APA, MLA and the like.

      It needs to allow for flexibility of improvisations while still attributing in some way…

  4. I think this would be a really valuable rhizomatic practice. Use at the beginning of class at the beginning of the year–do the print version, do the online fold-a-story, do this picture one, maybe groups if you have have large class. The person who ends the story would leave a tail so that you could attach it to other stories.

    I could see a variant of this using post-its that would allow for remixing then telling a story from the remix. The game represents the infinite play James Carse defines( I will be adding this to a Hackpad that I am using to collect rhizomatic practice where I see and how I see it. Drop by, add your own, add to/correct/reassemble on the site. Or fork the article and send a root out further in another direction. (

    1. Terry,

      I like your thoughts on this a lot and I’m glad that you started the hackpad – I added the details of the other corpse we played that night there. I find it really interesting that you relate the exquisite corpse game as a rhizomatic practice – do we have a list of these somewhere… specific activities that encourage a rhizomatic spirit?


  5. Autumm, I think part of the rhizome is always dying—for instance, we have lost some people from #rhizo14 whom I dearly miss—but the rhizome as a whole lives on. Even in gardens, where we clear the rhizome from a bit of space, we are silly to think the rhizome is gone. It’s just waiting for us to turn our backs, and it’s back.

    And don’t fret over incoherence. That’s where all the new ideas are kept.

  6. We have to be grateful to all the atoms, made by starts, that make us us every day again and again until … the moment comes they stop making us us.

    As of that moment, the atoms simply move on to be part of whatever part of the universe they want to be part of.
    A tree, an animal, another human being.

    We, as we think we know us as individuals, disperse as we die … but the rhizomatic atoms never die and never stop forming stuff and beings until the end of the universe.

    Thus we are immortal!

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