Magnum Opus Method


This has turned out to be disjointed, repetitive and prolix. This results not from my ineptitude, though uncharitable persons might say that, but from the way I approached the task, excerpting passages from the e-mails and pasting them into another document and then reading through and annotating them. Thus I tended to read along and write as I read, responding to what I was reading. So, a bit wandering but very responsive to what we were discussing.

In order to pull all this exchange together I first went through all the e-mails that had been exchanged and cut and pasted them onto almost 200 sheets of paper. I then read through them, made a bit difficult by my desire to save paper so I reduced many of them to 8 point font. Believe it or not, in reading on the monitor screen, I have had trouble seeing through my trifocals. Just today, after several months of reading these things, I discovered I can adjust the screen height to be able to see better.

After printing the sheets out took Sharpies of various colors and after a bit came up with about 15 topic categories which I marked and annotated in the appropriate color. Since my M.O. will not follow my original topics too closely I won’t discuss them. It is simply a way I have always used to absorb and synthesize a mass of data and information so as to be able to compose a readable version of my findings. I have already identified the major themes: education as it is impacted by poverty and poverty as it is impacted by race. The first segment of the M.O. will be definitions and it will be important to refer back to these often.

The most intriguing and difficult part of this M.O. ( as opposed to the P.O. which will just be a core dump of my outrage over all that has transpired the last couple of decades) consists of Jim’s challenge to the other members of the grouplet to reflect on our world view and how it may determine the way we perceive and interpret incoming data, how we select according to our world view, and how we reach conclusions consonant with our world view, thus distorting our sense of reality.

One thing I will avoid is deep discussions of epistemology. We have seen over the last half century major revisions in how we perceive the world, how we read, how we talk, how we create, and so forth. While I do not reject such in-depth musings, neither do I have the talent or interest at this time to explore those matters. More to the point, this discussion is, to me, a microcosm of the rift in our country and exploring it will perhaps show us what makes for this divide, for Jim’s views and mine are without a doubt extremely divided. Maybe some insights will be produced out of this.

One other format issue: in order to keep this under a thousand pages, I will asterisk items which may be fleshed out should anyone want to by my going to the original document i.e. e-mail or other source and putting it up for all to see. No doubt I will repeat myself here and there, sometimes accidently, sometimes on purpose. I will leave it to you to guess which.

Regarding tone, I am going to keep this at a fairly academic level. I discovered that my frequent bursts of humor, sarcasm, and satire are not always well received. It would be easy for the tone of this to take on a battle between Jim and the rest of us, but I will show here and there that I did not always agree with David either. As a template for this discussion, I think Jim will vote for the GOP presidential candidate, I will vote for Clinton and David will vote for Sanders. Yes, I noticed I did not specify which GOP candidate (down to three with a possible fourth – Ryan – at the time of this writing) I think Jim will vote for and I cannot guess, but I am sure he would not vote for either Democratic candidate. So the exchange has been lively and even though Jim and I have written the most posts, Brian and David have chimed in as well. Only Dick-Richard dropped out early and I will send him this and hope he responds……. after school is out.

I will ship this out in small print; I would advise switching to a larger print for easier reading, even printing it out, if you have that much ink.


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