Joe Kincheloe's Critical Complex Epistemology/Pedagogy & Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage

Critical Science of Complexity

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The Need for A Critical Science of Complexity: Response to Troy A. Richardson’s Article, “Indigenous knowledge and the machinist metaphors of the bricoleur researcher” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 2012, 1-22.

This is an informal and incomplete response to an article by Troy Richardson (2012) (Link to Preview.), but I primarily wanted to bring the article to the attention of new and practicing research bricoleurs for the insight he offers. Incorporating the ideas he has presented in his article “Indigenous knowledge and the machinist metaphors of the bricoleur researcher” can help bricolage research move forward by exploring additional avenues for those of us who have been constrained by western, mechanistic metaphors and tend to not expand our research far and wide enough. We too often discredit the very experiences which can contribute most.

His article is important for many reasons. I think we are all struggling in different ways to recover from the many years of FIDURODian indoctrination. For me, it has seemed literally like having lived in a mind prison all of my life and periodically being forced back into it. In brief, FIDUROD is the manifestation of western epistemology that controls knowledge production and influences the construction of our consciousness. The acronym stands for its attributes: Formal, Intractable, Decontextualized, Universal, Reductionistic, and One-Dimensional as described and contextualized in Kincheloe’s (2008) book, Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction. (See pages 21-24). Most people can relate to how this happens in education but it permeates the entire western worldview.

Back in 2008, when I was reading this book and was also in the early planning stages for a book Joe had asked me to write about online education, I had emailed him for a some guidance for the book, and I had commented to him, “I am still reading/studying Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction... FIDUROD is distressing all the way around. And I feel like it's in me and I can't get it out (and it is, of course)” (Email, September 21, 2008 11:48 PM).

Joe was no different than the rest of us. While it is true that he was far ahead of most of us in his understanding of consciousness and complexity, he was also working overtime to ease toward what “needs to be” or “what should be” yet attempting to formulate the concepts in ways in which most of us would be able to relate. He often wrote of his struggle to convey his complex concepts in ways people could understand and yet not oversimplify them, and of course, he didn’t want to “dumb them down” as he knew we are all perfectly capable of understanding given a little effort to defeat some of the negative ways our consciousnesses have been formed by FIDUROD.  

He wrote back to me in response to my distress over being programmed and indoctrinated by FIDUROD:  

FIDUROD is in everyone in the West. It is part of our habitus, so we just always have to be mindful of it. don't worry it's in me too.” (email, September 22, 2008, 6:36 am)

He always knew how to choose the exact right words to make his point, and at the same time, alleviate anxieties for other people and help us realize he is just like us.  His choice to use the word “habitus” is worth exploring more deeply using critical hermeneutical and epistemological analyses. Wikipedia’s entry on “habitus,” a concept that can be traced back at least to Aristotle, states the following: 

Habitus refers to lifestyle, the values, the dispositions and expectation of particular social groups that are acquired through the activities and experiences of everyday life. Perhaps in more basic terms, the habitus could be understood as a structure of the mind characterized by a set of acquired schemata, sensibilities, dispositions and taste. The particular contents of the habitus are the result of the objectification of social structure at the level of individual subjectivity. The habitus can be seen as counterpoint to the notions of rationality that are prevalent within other disciplines of social science research. It is perhaps best understood in relation to the notion of the 'habitus' and 'field', which describes the relationship between individual agents and the contextual environment. (Wikipedia, “Habitus”)

I’ve discovered from my own phenomenological experiences that our subjectivities seem to be constructed in layers with the surface (but often still unconscious) layers predominating. I’ve also discovered that once I’ve become conscious of and then released a layer, more layers are revealed and there’s always more work to do. It can be disappointing after working so hard to be free and believing I was making my own decisions, only to end up discovering that, in reality, I had been pushed along like a puppet, and usually at the hands of what I refer to as the “money masters” who are so good at pushing masses of people around for their insatiable need for profit and control. I read between the lines of media hype over such things as an upcoming “teacher shortage,” now that I have the education and am not able to find work, or the work I do find (but won’t accept) is not for teachers at all, but for people who are willing to take money to read scripts. As I got deeper into my research, I also found my consciousness had been constructed by a variety of other “indoctrinations,” and as my dissertation describes, these range from religious, popular culture, mythological, media, education, family, etc…and it becomes a question of “what is real?” and realization of the importance of the answer being “how can we know?” Bricolage always leads to more questions and it’s what keeps the research catapulting forward (and as I describe in the literature review of my dissertation, the word catapult is etymologically related to the word, bricolage). 

As Kincheloe made clear in his work, bricolage, which is as much or more a process of the researching of ourselves and a discovering of our own subjectivities as we engage in dynamic, multidimensional, inter-relational research and teaching, is a lifetime process. Even if we were able to undo all past indoctrination and ideologies, our consciousnesses are continuously being molded by everything around us in ways we are not aware of. And what I have come to realize is that these layers are not restricted to this current lifetime. While I have not covered this topic in great detail in my dissertation, bricolage seems to make us keenly aware of “past” and “future” lifetimes and their influences in this lifetime (and if they are not past and future lifetimes, what do these memories with their intact emotions and relational dynamics represent?). This means bricolage can quickly become extremely multidimensional and intricately complex. And yet we must engage in these processes if we expect to be able to support new bricoleurs (our students, for example) as they develop their own unique processes for learning, research, consciousness construction, reality creation, and knowledge production. This is the very project that, if the world and its peoples are going to survive, needs to be done on a wide scale. 

In this article by Richardson, he has addressed the concern of bricolage continuing to be framed with machine and reductionistic metaphors, a sign that it has not transcended Western FIDURODian influences and also an indication that we, as researchers, are failing to move forward. It’s a crucial concern because as long as we base our research on mechanistic concepts, we are not going to be able to explore the depths and complexities of interrelationships which is so critical to not only creating change and knowledge production, but also to being fully human. As Richardson states, “I continue to be struck by the persistent use of the metaphors of ‘tool,’ ‘handyman,’ ‘tinkerer,’ and ‘toolbox’ in the bricoleur discourse” (p. 1). I had observed that trend throughout the entire duration of my research as I conducted a continuous environmental scan of bricolage research in general. This trend spans across disciplines.  

When I noted Richardson’s concern as I was nearing the end of my project (which had extended from 2008-2013), I consciously attempted to further lift bricolage out of the constraints of the machinist metaphor. I have also incorporated Indigenous knowledges in perhaps different ways than is typically being done by white westerners, and yet it was very genuine, natural and improvisational. This process helped me better understand and also convey the phenomenological experiences that were coming my way “fast and furiously” during the time I engaged in this process (and which still continue today). 

By incorporating Kincheloe’s declared, important “eros” dimension, which also brings Hermes into the picture, and adding music to the mix, the concept “handyman” for example, becomes something quite different than the stereotypical picture that is so often presented. All of these elements of my research evolved naturally during the process and nothing was “contrived.” I was communicating with “someone” whom I actually believed for the longest time was Hermes Trismegistus himself because he was so funny. As it turned out, he insists he is Eros; Hermes is his Father and teacher. As strange as this all seems to the Western mind, this is what actually evolved during the unfolding process of my research and could be considered the “fourth dimension” component. How do we interpret these interactions and relationships with “unseens” in hidden dimensions? These experiences happen to us all to various degrees, but most of the time we are unaware of them or we only notice them on rare occasions. 

As I acknowledged these communications during my research, I was constantly amazed how I was so often serendipitously guided to just the right information, and I lost track of the numbers of times I simply opened up a book to the perfect supporting information at the perfect moment. Even Gadamer (1975/2004) came through for me with a perfect quote and all I had done was open up his book at a particular point while writing the paper and the words I needed about “collective consciousness,” a concept I’ve never felt comfortable with, seemed to have almost jumped off the page. As I have written in my dissertation: 

Gadamer (1975/2004) viewed holding to this view of collective consciousness as “dogmatic” (p. 276). Thus, there are multiple interpretations for the interconnectedness that I have experienced, as will be shown. Each interpretation provides a facet of understanding and there are commonalities among them. Scientists are coming together, concurring that interdisciplinary research will be required in ways that have never happened previously if we are to bring together disparate ideas to gain greater understanding of the complexity of human experience (Mitchell, 2009). (Paradis, 2013, pp. 165-166)

  

Again, this points to Kincheloe’s conceptualization “critical complexity of science” that provides a means of bringing all of these ideas together in an empirical-phenomenological manner. Thus, as was Kincheloe’s motive behind his multidimensional critical complex bricolage, I also have attempted to situate bricolage further away from the reductionistic metaphors by providing different readings, interpretations, and some new metaphors. As I point out in the study, however, it will be for future bricoleurs to continue to bring to the table additional metaphors and interpretations that can increase our understanding of the complexity of this form of research and how it can be applied in different contexts.

Richardson also emphasizes the importance of narratives, another critically important component and process for the multidimensional critical complex bricolage. Chapter 4, which is the heart of my dissertation, is presented as different forms of narratives. Prior to launching into various narratives is a discussion introducing and justifying their use, the important contribution they make for interpreting qualitative data. They all work together, much as Kincheloe described for his book, The Sign of the Burger, to perform a dance that tells a story. But to “get” the story, the entire bricolage must be read. As the Hermetic axiom informs us, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” 

Richardson also discusses Kincheloe’s incorporation of the Greek god, Hermes, as a way for “enlivening the imaginative in social interactions” (p. 19). For me, while I realize many people will not relate, those social interactions extend western conceptualizations of place and time. And indeed, as I have discussed and analyzed in my dissertation, Hermes is a critical component of Kincheloe’s very definition of bricoleur that sets his conceptualization apart from the rest. His definition stood out for me the first time I had read it and made me very curious as to what kinds of “tricks” a Master learning from Master Hermes might teach us in his work (I have barely even scratched the surface of Kincheloe’s work). Again, citing my dissertation: 

However, it will be noted here, that with his [Kincheloe’s] version of research bricolage, upon which his own work has undoubtedly been based, he has always included a statement in his definition of bricoleur not seen in other definitions: “Some connotations of the term involve trickery and cunning and remind me of the chicanery of Hermes, in particular his ambiguity concerning the messages of the gods” (2004b, p. 1). Perhaps, there are people who do not heed that clue and are not reading Kincheloe’s work carefully. There may be some surprising messages from the gods before this analysis is over. (Paradis, 2013, p. 19) 

 

 

In my dissertation, of course, I analyzed Kincheloe's definition of bricolage. What was so amazing to me throughout my research was how “Hermes” showed up so early in my research and was so hilarious, instructive, informative and fun (I could write an entire book about his “Eager Beaver” antics and “tricks up his sleeves”). This was all new to me, nothing like I had ever experienced in my life previously. And of course, other “gods,” “Masters,” “elementals,” and more from various cosmologies had made their appearances during my research. “The trickster” seems to be pretty much cross-cultural with different names and appearances. (That would be an interesting bricolage study.) None of the experiences that emerged during my research had been planned on my part (consciously, that is); everything naturally evolved during the unfolding process of the research, which is exactly what Kincheloe’s theory predicts. In other words, my experiences during this research process confirm Kincheloe’s theoretical formulation for it. This is actually quite profound. Of course, I read and was influenced by his work; is this why it turned out the way it did? What does this tell us about the power or lack of power that we have as individuals to choose how we wish to construct ourselves? In his Getting Beyond the Facts social studies books, Kincheloe remarks about how easily our consciousnesses can be formed, as I had noted in my dissertation: 

As Kincheloe (2001b) observed, “Although we appear to one another as single, bounded identities, we humans are socially superabsorbent—like humanoid Husky paper towels. This simply means that our consciousness is shaped by that with which we come into contact” (p. 205). This illuminates the importance of the element of criticality. Knowledge is socially constructed and political and that fact is continuously being used to shape our thinking by various entities. (Paradis, 2013, p. 311-312)

  

Kincheloe put all the information out there, the philosophical, theoretical, as well as a highly developed framework along with some well thought-out guidelines, and while he had applied these in his own work, he had not specified his own personal process for his critical bricolage. He had also put all of these different aspects of his philosophy and theory in multiple works using different epistemologies, so the process I developed for enacting the bricolage, in itself, was formed of bricolage. It seems that Kincheloe was leaving it for scholars (or maybe one particular scholar) to come along and figure it out and apply it—even be a sort of guinea pig--and perhaps his reasoning was that he did not want to provide more direction than what is needed for what is somewhat of an idiosyncratic, evolving process. Perhaps he did not want his experience of still being influenced by FIDUROD to impact what people might create for themselves. I also tried to keep the guidance in my dissertation open and flexible so that bricoleurs have enough information to get started, but not so much that they would be hindered from developing their own unique process. 

What I had discovered during my research about Kincheloe’s work is that it required doing a multidimensional critical complex bricolage to bring it all together. Thus, it seems, after pulling all of the pieces together, that Joe Kincheloe and Gerald Vizenor (a researcher I have not read yet, but plan to soon), have both similarities and differences in their conceptualizations. It would be interesting and informative to compare and analyze these. In the research I’ve done so far, I found it quite amazing how similar various cosmologies can be. At the same time, the differences between them provide for a greater view of reality and the depth and thickness of description that qualitative researchers seek. As Richardson notes, “both [Kincheloe and Vizenor] outline a form of trickster hermeneutics as the employment of a narrative intellectual tradition to imaginatively re-evaluate the conventional constraints of community” (p. 19).  

While Kincheloe’s goal is to refine social sciences as Richardson expresses, in application it goes further by also employing bricolage in a similar vein as Vizenor, by my interpretation—by applying it “antagonistically to the social sciences, through trickster hermeneutic engagement with Indigenous narrative and intellectual traditions to end dead voices” (p. 10). And this is the way my own, idiosyncratic and novice application of Kincheloe’s bricolage process had evolved during my research. It was how I had interpreted Kincheloe’s work for application. For example, his use of complex forms of sophistic argument which force the reader to think, have an element of this as does his peppered-in very funny comments in places not expected. His critical symbiotic hermeneutics, which I analyzed in my dissertation, provides an interesting theoretical framework for bricolage, I discovered, and while I had used it as a point of entry text (POET) and saved it to analyze after researching and formulating an understanding of Kincheloe’s conceptualization of bricolage, I found that, in reality, it had served as a POET all along, somewhat unconsciously (Berry, 2004; Paradis, 2013). Thus, the excerpt [pages 63-67 of Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (2004)] had influenced my research and my interpretation of the excerpt also became influenced by my research and what emerged during the process. Another way of viewing this is that my consciousness had been influenced by that special excerpt about symbiotic hermeneutics Kincheloe had given me just before he passed away, thus, my findings in the study seemed to have been framed by it and then “proved” it to be true after examining many different perspectives in my dissertation. What does this tell us about reality and our construction of it? Whatever it tells us, it does not explain the unexplainable phenomena which were very real, such as the "magic red roses" and the multitude of other experiences that occurred during my research. We need more.  

The more perspectives we can incorporate to view the world, the richer our experiences, and the greater power we have to be fully human. We can be freer to express our multidimensional selves, a concept Kincheloe emphasized in his last book and for which more research is needed vis-á-vis his conceptualization of a critical science of complexity. These are concepts that are not yet socially accepted by western-dominated mindsets, not even in so-called “spiritual” communities. We have a lot of work to do. What can we create? We don’t know until we do it. What do we want to create? For myself, I prefer choosing a path that is built on a strong foundation of love and justice, as Kincheloe has done with his theoretical formulation of bricolage and upon which his notion of a critical science of complexity is also based. His conceptualization of an empirical phenomenological approach to bricolage, in my experience, can help us gain greater understandings of ourselves in relationship to both the seen and unseen dimensions of reality. Using this approach helps us develop our own individualized maps, our own unique processes based on rigorous scholarship, which in the final analysis, can give us the knowledge to create change in the world that addresses social injustices and the imbalance of power. 

Richardson’s article opens up many additional avenues for exploration and highlights the need for westerners to expand their view of research and knowledge. Westerners should not be speaking of simplistically “bringing in” indigenous and subjugated voices into the realm of education and research—because speaking in those terms sounds elitist, racist, exclusionary, and FIDURODian—we need to fully know, experience, and feel that we are all involved in this critical project of remaking the world together. 

References

Berry, K. L. (2004a). Structures of bricolage and complexity. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry (2004) Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. 103–127). New York: Open University Press.

Gadamer, H. G. (1975/2006). Truth and method. Second revised edition by J. Weinsheimer and D. Marshall. New York: Continuum

Kincheloe, J. L. (2001b). Getting beyond the facts: Teaching social studies/social sciences in the twenty-first century. NY: Peter Lang.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2004a). Preface. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. ix–xii). New York: Open University Press.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2004b). Introduction: the power of the bricolage: Expanding research methods. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. 1–22). New York: Open University Press.

Kincheloe, J.L. (2004c). Redefining rigor and complexity in research. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. 23–49). New York: Open University Press.

Kincheloe, J.L. (2004d). Questions of disciplinarity/interdisciplinarity in a changing world. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. 50–81). New York: Open University Press.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2004e). Redefining and interpreting the object of study. In J. Kincheloe & K. Berry, Rigour and Complexity in Educational Research: Conceptualizing the Bricolage (pp. 82–102). New York: Open University Press.

Kincheloe, J. L. (2005a). On to the next level: Continuing the conceptualization of the bricolage. Qualitative Inquiry, 11(3), 323–350..

Kincheloe, J. L. (2005b). Critical constructivism. New York: Peter Lang. 

Kincheloe, J. L. (2008). Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: And Introduction. Amsterdam: Springer.

Mitchell, M. (2009). Complexity: A guided tour. New York: Oxford University Press.

Paradis, V. J. (2013). Did Joe Lyons Kincheloe Discover the Golden Chalice for Knowledge Production? The Application of Critical Complex Epistemology and the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. (Doctoral Dissertation)

Richardson, Troy A. (2012). Indigenous knowledge and the machinist metaphors of the bricoleur researcher. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 1-22. Link to Preview.

 

 Excerpt from my dissertation:
 
 

Conclusion:

The Power of the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage for

Consciousness Research and Constructing a “Critical Science of Complexity”

 

Thus, the bricolage is offered as a practical way to construct a critical science of complexity. (Kincheloe, 2004a, p. x)

 

            What constitutes empirical research is a complex topic and one that should be studied and redefined using the bricolage and multiple epistemologies. The application of empiricism has shifted over the years and as stated previously, many people have misunderstood Kincheloe’s views of empirical science. Of course there is much to learn from using scientific approaches, but what constitutes a scientific approach and for what purposes needs to be reconsidered, particularly by Westerners. What Kincheloe (2008c) was railing against is the FIDURODian version of positivistic approaches, a very complex topic that needs to be contextualized, which he did superbly in his last book, Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction. That said, there are many forms of empiricism, and this brief excerpt from Wikipedia’s (2012) “Empirical Research” entry perhaps clarifies some of the tasks ahead and why empiricism is not thrown out of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage:

 

The term empirical was originally used to refer to certain ancient Greek practitioners of medicine who rejected adherence to the dogmatic doctrines of the day, preferring instead to rely on the observation of phenomena as perceived in experience. Later empiricism referred to a theory of knowledge in philosophy which adheres to the principle that knowledge arises from experience and evidence gathered specifically using the senses. In scientific use the term empirical refers to the gathering of data using only evidence that is observable by the senses or in some cases using calibrated scientific instruments. What early philosophers described as empiricist and empirical research have in common is the dependence on observable data to formulate and test theories and come to conclusions. (“Terminology”)

 

In relation to empiricism, and assessing in hindsight since I just came across this information, this study has gone beyond using the sound empirical phenomenological process proposed by Patrik Aspers (2009). Aspers’ approach is based on a synthesis of the works of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and sociologist, Alfred Schülz, and other leaders in phenomenological research. It is a first-order research process that is grounded in the meanings the participants attach to their experiences, just as Kincheloe calls for with his theory, and then it relates their meanings to second-order constructions of scientists, an objective that was accomplished throughout this study. This study went beyond by also relating the meanings to different perspectives from many different domains and worldviews as Kincheloe has specified throughout his work. The study has incorporated more dimensions of analyses than Amadeo Giorgi’s method Bloomstein (2000) had used for understanding lived experiences of twin souls/flames. And instead of collecting data from other people using interview techniques, I collected my own personal phenomenological data, thus, this research is grounded in my own, often tentative interpretations. They were tentative due to my lack of knowledge about such experiences going into this research. This process is deemed more accurate than collecting data from participants using interviews because the data was captured immediately during and after the experiences, thus, I was also able to capture my personal immediate reflections and meanings of the experiences; whereas, interviews gather the data after the experiences making it more difficult to capture the participants’ original meanings.

Claire Petitmengin (2006), who specializes in consciousness and intuition research, has developed an interview method that can aid researchers in jumping this hurdle of memory loss of the experiences over time. Described as “retrospectively accessing the lived experience,” this process can help interviewees re-experience phenomenological events in a manner that reconnects them to the initial experience, thus giving them access to their original impressions (p. 244). This provides a process for researchers interested in collecting this data in interviews that can strengthen their research. According to Lachman (2011) it is has been shown that people can reconnect to these past experiences and remember progressively more details each time. Asking participants to keep journals of their experiences can provide additional data such as descriptions, personal reflections, and the meanings they assign to their experiences.

Upon analysis, the sound empirical phenomenological approach Aspers (2009) provides, as well as Giorgi’s techniques are all captured within Kincheloe’s critical complex epistemology and multidimensional critical complex bricolage due to his specification of so many layers of interpretation, analysis, and synthesis. Thus, his process provides for even greater strength to the results. Aspers’ empirical phenomenological research process, for comparison purposes, has seven steps, which he emphasizes are presented as steps only for pedagogical purposes. He explains that researchers do not go through these steps in a linear manner, but “zigzags” through them. The seven steps include: (1) Define the research question; (2) Conduct a preliminary study; (3) Choose a theory and use it as a scheme of reference; (4) Study first-order constructs (and bracket the theories); (5) Construct second-order constructs; (6) Check for unintended effects; and (7) Relate the evidence to the scientific literature and the empirical field of study (“The Seven Steps of Empirical Phenomenology,” para.1).

Aspers (2009) advises that steps one and two often involve “‘hanging out’ with members of the field” for a month or longer for larger research projects, along with the extensive reading of texts in order to become deeply familiar with the field. It is interesting that my own research began in that very fashion when my initial research led serendipitously to working with Kincheloe on his research website for approximately seven months. During that time, I did, indeed read everything about critical pedagogy that I could get my hands on and had engaged in many discussions with active researchers in the field. I was at first primarily interested in Peter McLaren’s work and I also had read some of Henry Giroux’s (2007, 2008) most recent work, but after a few weeks, I gravitated in a powerful way toward Kincheloe’s work. His work was consistently being pushed to the side in that community, and being much like Kincheloe, himself, I always gravitate toward that which seems mysterious, hidden, and alienated. I quickly came to understand the power of his work in a very intuitive sense, even though I had a difficult time with the reading of his texts. I am grateful for that experience during the first steps of my research.

The seven steps Aspers (2009) has provided are self-explanatory in relation to this current study in that all steps have been incorporated and are easily identified by reviewing this study. Step six involves checking for unintended consequences, which may be harder to identify. Aspers explains that actions, including the act of connecting the interviewees’ experiences to various constructs, have both intended and unintended consequences. A deep consideration of these issues is interwoven into Kincheloe’s criteria as was evaluated in the previous section, “The Centrality of Critical Hermeneutics,” and these criteria formed the basis for my choices during this study.

It is interesting that Aspers (2009) describes the process for phenomenological empirical research as “zigzagging.” In the literature review it was presented that the French word bricoler is related to the idea of zigzagging (Beth, 2010). This metaphor provides another level of understanding to what is involved when engaging in multidimensional critical complex bricolage. Not only are there processes that bricoleurs use to thread through the POET(s), as presented by Kathleen Berry (2004a), I found that it also requires zigzagging through the document in a very literal sense. Because this involved employing various methods and processes, it correlates with the zigzagging through the steps of research that Aspers has delineated, although, of course, Kincheloe has added many more dimensions to the research process. The word bricolage is a perfect word for describing this research process on many levels as was demonstrated throughout this study which has explored many possible interpretations and metaphors, and I have been wondering how “zigzag” might apply. The additional terms, multidimensional critical complex, specify the depth, nature, and multidimensionality of Kincheloe’s conceptualization of bricolage research and, combined with critical complex epistemology has taken this study to the very rigorous level he had aimed for. Thus, researchers are provided with what I believe to be the most powerful process explicated for phenomenological empirical research.

This has sufficiently been demonstrated by this current study, both in terms of the content of the study, the depth, and the process by which the study was constructed. The multiple interwoven tasks I completed for this study resulted in a longer dissertation than one might expect using this process. I mention this because I don’t want the length of this dissertation to deter people from taking this approach; there are multiple things happening at once in this study specifically for the purpose of getting this form of research off the ground. Thus, the length of this study does not represent the norm for all such studies providing the topic is narrowed down sufficiently but it was necessary for this particular study.

During this study, I was fascinated daily by Kincheloe’s additional dimension for his research, the fourth dimension research process, which I seemed to have intuitively picked up on. Just before Kincheloe had passed away, he presented a little sermon in a small community church in Jamaica where he was vacationing, which was captured on video. He had discussed allowing our body and mind to be the “vessel for great minds” (Steinberg, 2011a, p. xii). Throughout this research process, I consciously chose to allow him to work through me, which I interpret to be a fourth dimension approach to research. There is no Western-based scientific evidence that I am aware of that supports this approach as being effective during research or proof that this is what is happening, although Eastern and Ageless Wisdom Knowledges which derive from a variety of cultures lend credence to this idea and perhaps is also one reason Kincheloe has emphasized indigenous knowledges.

Whatever one believes, throughout my entire research process, the spiritual guidance in the form of intuitive, serendipitous, and synchronous events, combined with many dreams of being in the higher realms receiving instruction from Kincheloe and other teachers, and receiving written communications from Kincheloe became normal daily experiences rather than an occasional “aha” type of moment many people experience. I have also lost track of the number of times I was able to pick up the exact right book or article at the exact right moment and open it to the exact right place for what was needed in the document which was also often serendipitously opened at the exact right place, and how many times I was given a page number out of “thin air” or in a dream that turned out to be a critical piece of the multidimensional puzzle I was assembling. I have experienced a multitude of incidents of even my gaze being directed to something very specific and the sensation of specific words nearly popping off the page that turned out to be critical pieces to this bricolage.

What causes the phenomenological events as described in this study? There seem to be a series of interrelating, complex processes all going on at once that inform and re-inform each other, perhaps Kincheloe and Berry’s (2004) “feedback looping” experientially presented and Maturana and Varela’s (1987) “structural coupling” (Kincheloe, 2005b, p. 94; Semetsky, 2003, p. 6). Semetsky ties it all together in her discussion about Eros as the Magician, Hermes Trismegistus, and autopoieses. She explains theoretically why Eros and his father, Hermes, make their “presence” known to me. She reports that according to Maturana and Varela’s (1987) theory, “structural couplings” result in “communicative interactions” and shared dialogue between an individual and “Eros-the-Magician,” (who wears red, by the way—is that why Joe’s last book, his Great Work, has a passionate red cover?) (p. 6) [emphasis added]. According to Semetsky, the appearance of the Magician in Tarot card readings signifies the presence of a wise teacher. What does the appearance of “magic” from an unseen Eros-the-Magician signify? Does it represent the presence of a wise but invisible teacher? Semetsky contends that one learns to act freely and independently precisely because of being interconnected and mutually interdependent; a wise teacher is typically implicated in that interconnectedness. The process of this symbiotic union, which Jung referred to as “individuation,” again, relates back to Divine Love and the Twin Flame concept that has been interwoven throughout this study and as symbolized by the metaphor examined, the Golden Chalice. Bricolage is implicated in this process in a multidimensional sense as individuals make use of available resources and “magic” to emerge from chaos, becoming “filled with immanence,” Semetsky describes (p. 14). There is much more, however, relating to past lives, multiple dimensions, soul reunification, memory assimilation, gaining wisdom, and piecing it all together. During this process of hermeneutic symbiosis is when the magic appears, or maybe it is when one becomes more conscious of what may have been happening all along.

Semetsky (2003) clarifies that “what is called magic, however, is a science of hidden relations, the latter capable of producing real effects when a cause in question is not at all obvious,” the phenomenon to which Jung had assigned the name “synchronicity” (p. 2).Thus, her article explains theoretically how “mystory” evolved naturally into a story about Eros and Psyche and why I have more questions than answers due to my lack of science-related understandings. Ironically, Kincheloe (2008c) adamantly insists bricolage is not about mythology or myth-making. He reports how advocates of FIDUROD argue that “theoretically-informed research . . . is merely an effort to find evidence for a preconceived position” and that scholars such as himself and other theorists “are unable to distinguish between empirical truths about the world and mythology” (p. 129). However, the fact that my name means “Psyche” and that Kincheloe has been referred to as Eros by scholars among his peer group and that he had referenced Eros Love in his work and had identified himself with Dionysus (the fallen Eros) along with the other related data, are not what might be considered “preconceived positions” for this research. The “magic” such as the cosmic gift of the yin yang talisman buried in my back yard and the diamond ring delivered by a handyman, the treasure hunts and epistemological road trips, and the red roses in the yellow rose bush all emerged during the research as did the enactment of the fallen King and Queen in Kings Valley and the revelation of the correlation of my life history with the 13 Attributes of Mercy; how can this be explained? I did not consciously create these incidents nor did I consciously look for the explanations—they all emerged as part of the research process, just as Kincheloe’s theory predicts. While I have entertained the idea that this Eros and Psyche configuration is another joke, a sort of cosmic game of the gods or possibly something consciously co-created at higher levels of consciousness, I feel there is something more; this story is not over. There is more to learn about the science of symbiotic hermeneutics, the topic of that very special reading assignment Joe had provided me for this study.

I have many questions and have not resolved how the peculiar occurrences could have occurred, but this uncertainty is simply the nature of knowledge production according to Kincheloe. He answers the accusation of researchers confusing truths about the world and mythology by stating:

 

In response to this outrageous claim I would assert that such one-dimensional researchers simply fail to understand the socially constructed nature of their efforts to produce knowledge. They are uncomfortable with the implications one has to deal with when we study the impact of our historical and cultural situatedness and our ideological investments in our ability to find final truths. . . . they are afraid of complexity and the ambiguity that accompanies it.” (Kincheloe, 2008c, p. 129)

 

So once again, the complexity and uncertainty of the knowledge we produce and the role consciousness has in the production of that knowledge comes to the forefront. Consciousness is much more complex and multidimensional than we have ever thought. Relative to this, Kincheloe (2008c) states, “The point is so obvious that it should not have to be made here—but this is unfortunately not the case: consciousness is central to what it means to be human” (p. 223). There is so incredibly much more research and “chasing chaos” to do.

In relation to this current study, staying aware of this complexity and keeping faith in an improvisational approach, allowing flow, along with unique and varying combinations of heart, soul, love, thought, analysis, emotions, and actions—and believing in my connections with the spiritual world—all worked together to aid me in pulling the pieces of Kincheloe’s theory from his numerous works he had written over the past forty years into a cohesive explanation and representation of his multidimensional critical complex bricolage. In other words, it is my interpretation that it was with his spiritual guidance that I was able to find all of the necessary pieces from his various works and bricolage them together in a way that demonstrates a viable process for other researchers to pick up on from here and in relation to wherever they are positioned in the web of reality. With Kincheloe’s guidance as a great Master Teacher (and Eros-the-Magician), I had to do his bricolage in order to put the pieces together so that I could learn how to do it so that I could simultaneously show other people how it can be done. And I am glad that I took his guidance across the planes of existence seriously.

In concluding, I hope Joe did not “see” or feel me crying that day, just a few weeks after I had serendipitously found him, his website and his work. In front of me, on my desk were three or four of his books of very thick, complicated discourse. It was a type of discourse I had not encountered in my education and I was just learning the language of critical pedagogy, which felt like learning a whole new language. Even though he provides definitions in his work, I was struggling to comprehend it. The books were all opened up scattered across my desk and I was attempting to absorb his complex knowledge by zigzagging from one book to the other (this was before I felt our consciousnesses had merged giving me a better understanding of his work). I was surrounded by this dark, ominous sense that he was “leaving” too soon and that time was running out. For reasons I did not understand I felt learning his work and taking it forward was my responsibility, my duty, and yet, it was also my passionate desire. I had felt such a deep sense of grief combined with feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task I saw before me that I had laid my head down on my desk and began to cry. At that very moment the pleasant “chime” of an email on my laptop sitting next to me melodiously interrupted my tears. It was a cheerful, upbeat email from Joe which I was not expecting, letting me know he was doing great, “life is good” he had stated (personal communication, August 28, 2008).

This was nothing new; the serendipitous and synchronistic timing of his messages began with our fist email exchanges and was a pattern throughout our relationship. A very similar thing had happened on the evening of November 8, 2008 with him again writing to me that “life is good,” thus sending me a message of reassurance just when I needed it. My fears always centered on his well being and my sense that my work with him was somehow predestined, but that there was very little time. I usually shoved my fears aside and pressed forward but there would be times when I couldn’t keep them from rising to the surface.

On the evening of October 30, 2008 I again was experiencing overwhelming fear and I think it was very confusing to me in many ways since I had no previous experiences to draw from or the knowledge that could explain it. This time, I had drafted an email to him expressing my feelings and my fears, and how even though I studied other people’s work, my work was with him. I did not send the email. Just as I finished writing it, an email popped in from him filled with absolutely beautiful praise for which I did not begin to know how to respond. A couple of moments later, another email popped in from him that also touched my heart. There was no way I could tell him how I was really feeling and I had primarily written the email for cathartic purposes, as a way of releasing my anxieties. And so I had typed at the top of the draft, “not to mail . . . this is really strange. right after I wrote this I received an email from him,” and I saved the draft in my “saved mail” along with all of the emails I’ve saved from him. Thus, now I realize that we have always been connected, in spite of my not being conscious of it. We are connected now. It is due to our continuing connection that this research has reached a level beyond even my own expectations. I do feel I owe so much to Joe and my hope is that other researchers will see the gift he has left and will take his bricolage research forward.

Thank you, Joe. I love you.

 

 

References

 


 

 

Copyright by Vanessa Paradis June 27, 2013, the "eve" of a very special day, indeed.
 


 
Big Deal-Catch Up 
“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
 
 
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