The vulnerable author

Bringing the active to active listening

Hello Hedge Schoolers,

I hope you are meeting life well. This week, we will be continuing our dialogue around remembering what you read. The aim is not a robotic recount. It is the integration of ideas and serendipitous co-creation. We used a beautiful piece of prose from adrienne maree brown's book Emergent Strategy to set the scene. For new readers beginning with this week's dialogue, be sure to start with last week's introduction to Fleeting notes. This helps to bring you to the conversation when reading, which is an integral part of learning.

Here is the piece that we used as a working example last week


The synchronized movement patterns of a starling flock is also known as a murmuration. Guided by simple rules, starling murmurations can react to their environment as a group without a central leader orchestrating their choices; in any instant, any part of the flock can transform the movement of the whole flock.

Here’s how it works in a murmuration/shoal/swarm: each creature is tuned in to its neighbors, the creatures right around it in the formation. This might be the birds on either side, or the six fish in each direction. There is a right relationship, a right distance between them—too close and they crash, too far away and they can’t feel the micro-adaptations of the other bodies. Each creature is shifting direction, speed, and proximity based on the information of the other creatures’ bodies.

There is a deep trust in this: to lift because the birds around you are lifting, to live based on your collective real-time adaptations

The private conversation

Writing is thinking. An extension of you into the physical world. For the writers reading this, it is their vulnerability on the pages you read. Often we bleed into the words that rise on our page. When reading, we enter into a private dialogue with the author. A two-way conversation built on vulnerability. The writer gifts us prose with the hope that we can make sense of the meaning they wish to convey. The sensemaking component is an active learning process. In Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten methodology, this is called the Literature Note phase.

Literature notes are our understanding of the prose we are reading. In our own words. This is extremely important. Elaboration, aka putting the author's words into our own, is one of the most scientifically valid methods of learning. We connect the author's intention with our own understanding and through the process of rewording, we engage actively with the content. It is the workout our brains need to develop the neural pathways to build new learning.

Honouring the journey

Here are my Literature notes for adrienne maree brown. This is my honouring of her journey.

This active process of writing her vulnerability into my own words creates a deeper connection to the work. Now I have my own meanderings and wanderings (Fleeting notes) and the subtleties of her words in my own phrasing. I am beginning to connect the dots.

Normally this is where most would leave off. This is only half of the work. Next week, we will pull it all together and crystallise our thinking into a permanent note, after which we will then work to do the real work and make connections with prior learnings. Reading is a deep dialogue between humans. Taking the time to connect the dots and see patterns is our gift to the world. I’ll be throwing in some videos of how I do this and showing what my Zettelkasten looks like. It has revolutionised my learning and my interaction with prose.

Below is a little snapshot of our current work in progress.

Till next week,