It is only after you have come to know the surface of things... that you venture to seek what is underneath. But the surface is inexhaustible. [Italo Calvino, Mr. Palomar]
What lay hidden from/for you beneath/within this image? The mathematics that lies hidden will be different for me and you. And yet shared meanings are also possible.
The Johari window suggests ways in which things about ourselves lay hidden from ourselves and others.
Freud's idea of the unconscious has become part of the human psyche. A belief in hidden parts of ourselves that govern actions.
An alternative idea is that there are parts of ourselves (or other selves) that are not available to awareness right now, that change according to the situations we find ourselves in. The image of a ball or balls floating in the water, rolling, more or less submerged, different parts of the surface visible at different times.
Another alternative is that there are ways of being and acting that are available at times and not others. Pressures of a situation shrink what is possible for me, the present moment shrinks to a point, and limited actions remain available. I revert to type, and become unaware of the infinitude possibilities at that moment. I imagine myself in a similar situation again, perhaps give myself some signal - breathe in - and alternatives become possible once again, those that I had hoped I might enact.
Receive the vocal ministry of others in a tender and creative spirit. Reach for the meaning deep within it, recognising that even if it is not God’s word for you, it may be so for others. [Quaker Faith and Practice, Advices & Queries #12]
What are the meanings of the word meaning? We explored meaning and meaningfulness in mathematics at IMP 18, where I encountered the sums of squares image shown above.
In the Discipline of Noticing, John Mason suggests using metaphor to explore 'primitives', words like meaning that are "the building blocks or our own meaning and thought, and for the most part difficult to define". Primitives abound in education discourse. Here are a few of mine: attention, creativity, initiative, knowledge, memory, ...
Mason suggests the use of metaphor to explore primitives: Meaning is like... I am wondering whether it is metaphor all the way down.
Two friends have recently sent me accounts of their lessons. I am struck by the tiny details in their accounts that seem to me to be hugely significant. The moment a child's pencil hovered over the paper. The teacher's disappointment at the learners' responses, his feeling that the "ambience was all wrong".
And: what happens in-between those moments when the teacher checks in with a learner? We hear snippets, we see what was written.
And: what does the learner make of it all?
What lies hidden? It's easiest to miss the obvious, the purloined letter. I skirt around the issues, intellectualise, as I might not like what will be revealed. I may need the help of others to see.