I have a guilty love for imagery and metaphor. I say “guilty” because I know, or at least believe, that in this teaching gig I can’t simply give students my own images, metaphors, analogies. They have to create them on their own, rather than the hand-me-down-jacket kind of images that I give out and feel so clever about even before I’ve finished the sentence. Today I was telling students how I mark their papers and suggesting that my marks and comments were like a jazz improv, a Miles Davis muted trumpet that gets to skat on top of the piano comp they lay down; the small check marks are me just nodding my head or standing aside in the shadows, smoking, but still engaged. They looked at me. My English colleague was impressed, though, and that was good enough to be happy with the image.
Images are most impressive when they don’t have to be described, when they are just there. Of course, someone has to frame the image, expose it, capture it. This is my fascination with Karyn’s work. It’s not like there aren’t other people who are in the same situations and with cameras, but she knows what to look for and what to do. Similarly, this morning, Backpacker Magazine sent me notice of their award winning photos for the year. This one was my favorite:
I dont’ even have to tell you what I like about this image. You already know. You see it too. That’s the beauty of the image.
Yesterday, Trouble sent me this image from a few years ago:
Maybe I have to tell you a little more about this one, but not much. It would be helpful to know that the woman up front, whom we’ll just call “Dr. Smith,” is teaching about 200 other academics how to line dance. Why? Because we asked Dr. Smith to do this, because we told them all to stand up. Included in the group is my doctoral advisor, co-authors, academics I’ve cited, and individuals who reform education and scholarship on international levels. I’m in there, somewhere. And we said “clap” or “step to the right” and they did. Receiving the photo, the memory, the image, did me more good than any other 20kB attachment I could imagine. It reminds me of past fun, accomplishments, and friends. Equally important, it reminds me that extraordinary results come from simple directives and a little gumption. Step to the right, watch Dr. Smith, and smile for the camera so that I can remember this image.