The Perfumed Sleeve

Just finished this book

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The Hungry Tide

By Amitav Ghosh

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The 3+3+2 Text

The 4 year Industrial Design Program is a progression in 3 stages: The Lower Pool, The Upper Pool and the Premajor/Major.

The Lower Pool: The first stage lasts for three semesters. In this period the student leaves behind the ways of the school- chiefly strategic learning, or learning by guessing what the teacher wants – and begins the process of developing her/his creativity and problem solving skills. And also the crucial skills of communication and realising their thinking in material form. Students in this phase talk of the idea of design they came into uni with – and how it had all changed. In this phase design studies takes you through the realms of: Cultural Amplification, then Networks-Rhizomes-Communities and finally with Sustainability. In this phase Chijoff got to make his now famous car in semester two CAD – and he went on to win the 6K prize for best model from VACC. Students leave this stage competent – and eager to challenge themselves in the hurly burly of the upper pool studios.

The Upper Pool: The second stage lasts three semesters. Uni assumes the student is accomplished and ready to take the plunge into a host of design situations. In this stage the student faces options – many studios, many electives and then the opportunity to study abroad. This is unique to RMIT Industrial Design – and demonstrates that the uni has faith in the student and trusts her/him to construct their own meaning of design. A meaning that is unique- and that may include studios in Architecture, Interior, Landscape Arch or Fashion. William Golding pushed himself to do do an Interior design studio then a SIAL studio and then took himself off on an RMIT-Japan stint. This semester we have added ‘invitational’ studios in this stage: Catalyst is doing the Knog studio – and by all accounts students are getting a taste of ‘product design’ and being pushed for it; also Cobalt Niche is doing the Tram Elective – and that has its own excited students’ cohort. Students in this phase talk of being wise with their choice of three studios; and Rob talked of how Mick’s studio changed everything for him. And how he knows & is clear he does not want to do designs of things. This is a stage of self discovery above all – who am I and what am I excited about in the world of design. At the end of this stage students are ready to leave behind their search and exploration of the different kinds of pathways that exist for the practice of design. They are willing to embark on their own and unique construction of the meaning of design, and what they will continue as their unique contribution to the profession. This sounds hugely arrogant – but then that is the uniqueness of the RMIT program. Its about you in a fundamental way and everything else is second.

The PreMajor/ Major: The last stage is of two semesters. This is the stage of Mastery, this is the stage where the student leaves behind their groping for meanings and reliance on the tutor to tell them what to do. Where they leave behind their role playing as ‘I am at Uni, and its not my responsibility’ to move on to ‘if I am given one chance to show off my capability here is what I will do’. This stage is crucially about Individual Self Reliance and the ability of each individual to get totally excited about a project they have dreamed up. In that sense this is also the stage at which the student has to address issues of core competencies and their ability to perform as independent designers. Where they are not REACTIVE but fundamentally CREATIVE. Where they do not wait to be told what to do but have a contribution to make – because they know how things ought to be, or are irritated by the way things are and wish to make a change. Seen from the outside the students in this stage look driven, excited and hungering for a chance for making radical innovations. They propose, they reflect, and they execute systematically. They have taken in this way a shot at seeing themselves function as leaders. They have realised their true potential and become ready to put their design education behind.

I am pushing you to look back – to see the different stages in your evolution, in your education in the program. I am asking for you to reflect, for you to cut free and be true to yourself. I am asking you to take charge. I am asking you to see the uni as that forrest, that wave, that city and that terrain; upon which you explore; upon which you test yourself, where you find yourself; and ultimately which makes you uniquely robust, clear and motivated. I am asking you to see the topology of the program in this way – three stages – and in that way I am asking you to see your growth thru the program as containing these three stages.

And in this will be a tremendous validation of your self worth. So be true, be honest and give it your all.

(Posted 5th May 2006, in the PreMajor Blog)

Becoming Madame Mao

I have come to the stage of the book where Jiang Qing suspects Mao of having syphillis. I am also keen to know what really happened to her and so have checked up on events till 1991 when she commits suicide. I have also seen pics of her and the single/ lone poster she appears in. Such a tragic life I am tempted to say – but then I retract and say ‘such a costly life’. Is’nt this the way of all who seek unbridled power.

On another point: Mao and the inner circle move into the Forbidden City and occupy the palaces of the Emperors. This is the same as 1947 in India when the politicians move into the colonial mansions. This simple act transforms the possibility of change- and dialogue. The space, the very symbolism of the act of occupying the space vacated, transforms the occupier and pushes for continuity. No radical break is possible. The old reclaims its loss and exerts a subtle pull. And the new emperor is created.

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I have been thumbing Chinese Books

I have seen these books in the book shops and have been tempted to delve into them. But have drawn back after reading just the blurbs. The time was not right. I am now beginning my reading. First contemporary works:
Logan Book
Revisiting the 30s

Learning Chinese

I started yesterday. First I learned to count from 1 to 10. And now a day later I can recite the numbers one to ten, though I keep tripping up with Japanese: ichi, nee, san.
Chinese I wrote: ee, aaa, san, sir, ooo, neui, chee, ba, joe, shur
I then found all these audio books on line: And ahve now 23 lessons from Serge on conversational Chinese.
I also listened to Mandarin Radio. This is my immersion, I also need to watch mandarin movies and get familiar with the sounds.
I am finding the intonation slightly embarassing. Classic probelm that I had with my Japanese.

By September I should be comfortable with functional Chinese.

The project will be to get all this at a basic level:
1. Numbers
2. Basic Kanji characters
3. Food terms
4. Greetings
5. Basic PC
6. Money
7. Time
8. Prepositions
9. Grammar
10. Interrogation.

And then continue my readings of books on China.

Samarkand, Amin Malouf

I have reached the point where Omar Khayyam has died and the chronichler emerges. And this is just halfway through the book. The culture that Amin amplifies have interesting resonances – both in the way popular myths emerge and in the way histrinas can pick up on dominant themes. And so AM goes – The Manuscript concludes, ” When the times of hardship came to pass, none could stop his course, none could run away from him, some were able to take advantage (of this chaos).”

From an online review:
What about the manuscript of Samarkand, Omar’s “secret” Rubaiyat? They will accompany Persia in its long journey to find itself, a journey that will span both space and time. It will accompany Omar along his soul searching in the old East. Vartan, the Armenian Nizami who arranged for Omar’s flight to safety, will record the circumstances of its writing. It will be taken to Alamout to be preserved for the next century or so in Hasan Sabah most private quarter, only to emerge with the coming of the “Mahdi”, the Messiah, a great grand son of Hasan that will grant his followers the “promised paradise” and quit once and for all his grand father’s ways.

The manuscript will disappear with the Tatar invasions and desctruction of Alamout’s fort. It will re-appear in the nineteenth century, first accompagning Afghani and later in the hands of a Persian Princess and her American lover. The book will drown with the Titanic. Is this sound history or mere fiction?

Is Maalouf trying, in metaphoric manner, to show three possible pictures of Islam: “Official”, “Secular”, “Religious-Extreme”? Can the parallels stand knowing the backgrounds of Nizam, Omar, and Hasan?