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

Kincheloe's Definition of Bricolage: Is It Love?

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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)

Kincheloe’s Definition of Bricolage: Is It Love?

An interpretation of Kincheloe’s definition of bricolage is warranted before proceeding and, in particular, his unusual way of referring to Hermes within the definition. The definition he has provided in several of his works, including his last book is as follows:

Bricolage—the French word, bricoleur, describes a handyman or handywoman who makes use of the tools available to complete a task. Some connotations of the term involve trickery and cunning and are reminiscent of the chicanery of Hermes, in particular his ambiguity concerning the messages of the gods. If hermeneutics came to connote the ambiguity and slipperiness of textual meaning, then bricolage can also imply imaginative elements of the presentation of all formal research. I use the term here in the way Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (2000) denote a multimethodological form of research that uses a variety of research methods and theoretical constructs to examine a phenomenon (see Kincheloe & Berry, 2004). (Kincheloe, 2008c, p. 170)


In the first sentence of this definition, Kincheloe has merely defined what the French word bricoleur means according to the dictionary. He has not stated that he has adopted this definition for his bricolage or bricoleur. If he truly meant that handyman and handywoman in a literal sense was to be a major part of his definition, one can assume that he will revise the meaning of the words; in other words, we should phenomenologically bracket (set aside) what we would typically think these words mean and be open for more expansive meanings. Kincheloe’s standard practice seems to be that he accepts initial meanings (as he always states it, he does not throw the baby out with the bathwater) but then he opens the initial meanings with multidimensional interpretations. That the very second sentence in Kincheloe’s definition refers to Hermes and trickery (a huge clue) implies that he will likely be taking a critical complex epistemological license with this initial definition.

Understanding how Kincheloe often embraces all meaning within his meanings, I also will take epistemological license to do so with his definition. Thus, bricoleur means something more than a person using tools, although, it can refer to a handyman and handywoman as well as a handy man and a handy woman. Thus, in this section I examine Kincheloe’s definition to hone in on what he may have been encouraging us to do as bricoleurs. While I present multiple perspectives as his bricolage asks us to do, this does not present a complete analysis or the only possible interpretations, but merely illustrates a way of getting started to better understand his definition. I have been selective in keeping with the Eros Love theme.

“. . . bricoleur describes a handy man or handy woman . . .”

Due to my own class standing with my income falling below the poverty level almost my entire life, the first part of Kincheloe’s definition describing bricoleur as “a handyman or handywoman who makes use of the tools available to complete a task,” immediately brings to my mind a poor person who does not have the appropriate resources and is constrained to work with what they have. I know this positioning well and have had to “bricolage” many times in my life to get by. The perspective of the handyperson representing poor students in context with educational research corresponds with Kincheloe’s (2008c) overt concern about education for the poor. For example, he states, “We believe that the struggle for a rigorous, pragmatic, empowering, transformative education for everyone, the poor in particular, can be won” (where did he say this)? Thus, this metaphor, bricolage, represents my actual experience without financial resources, having to find creative ways to access knowledge for free while at the same time I have read dissertations by the more elite students who thank all of the organizations (set up for them, not for the poor) that provided funds for nearly their entire project, including for things like data collection, transcription and editing. Students in poverty have to get by with the resources at hand, no matter how insufficient they are. They find creative alternatives or like the handyman and handywoman, they take a “do it yourself” (DIY) approach.

Thus, popular culture provides unfair stereotyped depictions of handymen: “Handymen have been portrayed in books and films, generally positively, as do-gooder helpful types, but not particularly smart or ambitious,” (Wikipedia, 2012, “Handyman”). This implies that the bricoleur may not have adequate cognitive resources and is probably not very ambitious, if we were to buy into this popular culture version of handyman. Kincheloe would not accept that depiction for handyman and would most definitely adopt a meaning that “alleviates suffering,” not contribute to suffering as popular culture stereotyping tends to do. Therefore, we can set aside this stereotypical definition of handyman for something better.
Is A Bricoleur A “Handyman” Lover? In an effort to make that move toward a better definition based on Kincheloe’s advice to choose meanings that alleviate suffering and injustice, I will use music as an aid in the tradition he has used music throughout his work, and in the tradition he has taught me, in my interpretation, as a Master Teacher from the “other side” by which I’ve received clues bracketed with quotation marks. I have already established he had embedded music throughout his work using references to songs and lyrics to expand meaning and inject an emotional element. When searching the word “handyman” on YouTube, the 1977 song, “Handyman” by James Taylor came to the top of the list of hits.
We know from the previous analysis that Kincheloe also embedded Eros Love throughout his work, repeatedly conveying that nothing was more important than injecting love into our work and teaching, so a song about love to represent the bricoleur “handyman” is appropriate; in fact, it is the “ideal” since Kincheloe has alluded to having embedded a “golden thread” of love throughout his last book (Kincheloe, 2008c). (There’s a task for new bricoleurs: find all of the embedded love messages in his book; there are many more than meets the eyes at first glance). Thus, in this song, James Taylor sings of being a handyman who fixes broken hearts and it provides a wonderful interpretation of bricoleur:
Here’s the main thing I want to say
I’m busy 24 hours a day
I fix broken hearts; I know that I truly can.
That’s me
I’m your handyman.
This provides an emotional and touching view of Kincheloe as an adept “love bricoleur” (Eros?) that corresponds to his work, as well as with the way he served as a role model and mentor in his professional and family life. The primary mission of Kincheloe’s work, as he states so many times throughout is to “alleviate suffering.” Loving people and mending broken hearts certainly falls under that construct and for anyone who knew Joe personally, it describes him well—he was a bricoleur, a lover, a mender of broken hearts. And in alignment with his having worked the same schedule as James Taylor’s “Handyman,” Villaverde (2011) notes, “Joe’s ‘passionate and embodied’ pedagogy was meant as a 24/7 endeavor!” (p. 130). He was so available to people and  had accomplished so much that it is difficult to conceive of how he did so unless he actually was working nearly 24 hours a day just like the handyman in the song. There were times when I thought he must have actually been more than one person to accomplish so much.

Viewing bricolage as a dance of love and the bricoleur as a dancer opens up the meaning further and it’s a meaning that is close to Joe’s heart. He loved discourse and regarded it as a dance (Kincheloe, 2004e). I felt that passion as I danced dialogically with him during the few months we worked together on his website. Our dialogue on the website did feel much like dancing as we both engaged extensively with the bloggers on the site, ensuring that they all received feedback on their postings.

During my research, I came across a beautiful rendition of a dance on YouTube, by choreographer, Anna Buonomo (2010), titled “Tied Up! Bricolage Dance Movement” which was presented at a performance called Resolution. The dance is a love dance, which again marries the definition of bricoleur to the idea of being a lover. As the dance begins, a young couple is sitting together on a bench; he is engrossed, reading a book. They are connected by a cord that’s wound all around her and tied to his foot. She becomes restless and when other couples dance into the picture, she dances around and around in circles until she is free from the cord. She dances all around her lover and then goes out to explore the world of dancing with other people. He gets up and walks away, out of the room behind the curtain, but the cord still stretches across the floor within easy reach and still tied to his foot. She has never lost the potential to reconnect with him. At one point, a sign is held up with the words “You Are,” and in juxtaposition with the title of the dance, becomes “You Are Tied Up!” You have a Twin Flame, could be the interpretation. She dances for a time, and then the other people leave. She rediscovers the cord on the floor and dances in circles, winding it back around her ankles and legs, becoming completely entangled as her lover walks back into the room. The dance ends with them sitting on the bench, side-by-side reading the book together. They have reunited and now share the mission. The song, thus, associates the idea of Twin Flame love that keeps a couple connected, even if they venture out in the world separated. Conscious connection may be lost temporarily, but eventually consciousness of their divine connection returns and the couple becomes forever entangled in their eternal love, the book symbolizing their shared consciousness and dreams.

Kincheloe (2004d) relates dancing and bricolage in his book, The Sign of the Burger in which he has provided interpretations of McDonald’s that push readers into thinking more deeply so that they question the story presented through McDonald’s promotion and advertising efforts. He elaborates: “Throughout the book these diverse meanings of McDonald’s engage in a dance. My hope as the author is that the dance, like a hula dance, tells a story. As a bricoleur I want it to enrich our understanding of McDonald’s as a socio-political and pedagogical phenomenon in a way that leads to progressive social action” (p. 95). He explains, “Bricoleurs employ polysemy to keep discussion open around particular phenomena, knowing that authoritarian operates best when analysis is finalized.” This technique of using multiple meanings and never declaring one final “right” meaning is one I use throughout this dissertation, including my interpretation of bricoleur. However, it was interesting during my research how often bricolage and bricoleur became paired with the idea of love, Twin Flames, and their eternal, sacred dance. It seems it was the “best” interpretation for this particular project given my subjectivity, and, perhaps, my Master Teacher watching in the wings.

Is A Bricoleur a Sacred Twin Flame? I also encountered a poem about bricolage in which the author presented a conversation that represented a sacred union, the Divine Marriage, between twin flames in an obscure sort of way. Often during my research I came to feel that there was something the elite knew I didn’t know—some kind of secret, hidden knowledge that the writers of scholarly education text were guarding. These particular texts always seem to present just part of the picture; someone “low class” as I am can only know bits and pieces (that Kincheloe’s bricolage can assemble?) but never the big picture. And often the text seems to be written in some kind of obfuscated language. Sometimes the text is “fill-in” and means nothing at all and seems devised to throw us off track. A colleague in one of my courses once asked me what a particular paragraph in our textbook meant, obviously feeling inadequate because he didn’t understand it. Judging by the rest of the book, I could tell it was “fill-in” text that had no meaning whatsoever; it literally made no sense and I could detect the author was playing mind games. Perhaps he had found it satisfying to write gibberish, knowing that most students reading it would feel “dumb” because they couldn’t understand it and wouldn’t even ask about it.

I have also always wondered how writers, inventors, and scientists were able to come up with their creative ideas. I know that in my own education, I have been grotesquely short-changed from discovering the secrets because the process of my education has often prevented me from following through on creative ideas that did come up for me (I had to complete the “assignments” and they had  to be done a certain way). Unlike the majority of the public judging by the sales of these types of books, I was never interested in popular media’s presentation of “secret” knowledge because, intuitively, I knew that it was not truth. Kincheloe also reminds us throughout his work of the way thanatos keeps people confused, under a spell, terrorized, and steered off their Dharma paths. During my research I found how true that is. What is it that the privileged know that the poor and oppressed are not allowed to know? And why?

Treasure Hunts: Playing with the Gods. I am just now figuring this all out as I write this! My “treasure hunts” were clearly devised so that they correlate directly with Joe’s work. I was being divinely led to experiencing the truths I had been wondering about all of my life! I was magically assigned numerous “treasure hunts” and “epistemological road trips” from the higher realms. I cannot take credit for devising them because I was merely playing along. One perspective that makes sense and is a fun thought is the idea Pohn (2007) explores in her dissertation for her PhD: life as playing with the “gods.” In the tradition of Hermes, who seemed to have guided Pohn in her study, there is humor interwoven in all of my experiences and of course, there is love and the romantic red roses from Eros mentioned earlier. Maybe there are other gods I’m not yet aware of, just waiting to be noticed. Pohn’s study, however, leaves out the critical theoretical aspects of Kincheloe’s bricolage. The gods may love to play and there is certainly that aspect in my personal experiences with the treasure hunts, but employing Kincheloe’s advanced form of bricolage brings balance by revealing a more expansive picture of the nature of reality. For example in Pohn’s study, what is missing is a complex criticality that explores more dimensions, such as the dark side of the Disney media she used in her study. She has not examined the negative side of collective consciousness-constructing effects of Disney on such issues as race, class, sexism, and the like. She has not analyzed the satanic symbols often used in Disney movies or the effects of having these dark, fear-invoking images and subliminal messages programmed into the subconscious mind. Nor has she considered the competitive nature of Monopoly in which the goal is for the winner to end up with all of the money and property, promoting greed instead of cultivating a sense of community in choosing to design a game based on Monopoly. There are social, cultural, political, educational, and psychological issues missing in her discussion of play, while her use of some of the elements serve as a sort of “soft marketing” technique for Disney and Monopoly although I don’t make the claim that’s what she’s doing intentionally; it simply has that effect. Taking the study to the next level with Kincheloe’s bricolage and a deeper critical complex analysis, incorporating critical hermeneutics, epistemology, and the philosophical dimension he has outlined, and drawing from more perspectives that question the universality of her assumptions about archetypes would create a picture that uncovers more of the paradoxes encountered during this play with the gods. The multidimensional critical complex bricolage would contribute to viewing life as playful learning and a mission, perhaps even a Great Quest, rather than cycles of birth and death.

I have noticed that a feedback effect occurs during the research process that brings together opposing ideas and disparate information. Kathleen Berry (2004b) discusses this feedback looping in relation to threading through the POET in her chapter, “Feedback Looping for Increasing Complexity” (pp. 128–146).  A sort of alchemy occurs when combining the hidden dimensions of the research object with the seen dimensions and balancing the dark elements with the light elements, and combining the complementary elements. The result is the Level 3 questions that can lead to knowledge, actions and change, indicating once again that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The combination often yields something more powerful and as Berry describes, feedback looping supports the self-organizing features of enactive theory and autopoieses. Thus, there is a natural restructuring of not only our discourse but also of us and the way we think and process information. Confronting paradoxes in our research promotes change as we work to overcome the cognitive dissonance they may cause.

The Yin Yang talisman that was provided as a gift from the gods in my own play (and work) during my “Yard Search Treasure Hunt” is a profound symbol of the union of the totality of paradox and the gaining of a sense that we have more power over the evolving process of the cosmos than we are led to believe. We need the gods and the gods need us and it is the union that creates some kind of magic. It takes “two to tango” as the song and dance goes. In other words, we don’t work and play with just any of the “gods” at a given point in time and yet we play with all of them and all that is. It begins with the conscious connection between Twin Flames and expands outward from there to the conscious awareness of connection to everyone; it appears to be an eternal process and yet all possibilities exist simultaneously (Saraydarian, 1993; Goswami, 2001).  But while the possibilities are instantaneously infinite, it appears that the probabilities collapse according to consciousness (awareness) between players and where they choose to position themselves in time and space. There is free will, always, in this playing and working with the “gods.” That means we have choices; we choose with whom we play. This is merely one interpretation, based on my own play with the “gods” as a novice.

Synchronicity: Do Bricoleurs Become “Entangled”? The synchronous events that occurred throughout this research and that continue for me to this day are literally off the charts. They have been so amazing that every day I realize all over again how blessed I am. Wikipedia (2012) defines synchronicity as “the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner.”  Martin, Carminati, and Carminati (2009) define synchronicity:

Synchronicity phenomena are characterized by a significant coincidence which appears between a (subjective) mental state and an event occurring in the (objective) external world. The notion was introduced by the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung and further studied together with Wolfgang Pauli (Jung and Pauli, 1955). Jung referred to this phenomenon as “acausal parallelism” which are linked by an “acausal connecting principle.” Synchronicity effects show no causal link between the two events that are correlated. (para. 1)


The problem I have with these definitions is that just because we cannot see the cause of synchronicity does not mean there is no cause. Yet at the same time, can we take that leap in thought that there may be no cause? While Jung’s theory does not rule out causes, the definitions are wedged in a positivistic paradigm that does not adequately consider the broad possibilities of alternative explanations of synchronicities. Based on the vastly different forms synchronicities have taken in my life, there is absolutely no “box” they can be put into. This is one example in which the multidimensional critical complex bricolage is heaven-sent. Gaining many different perspectives on synchronicities in concert with closely examining the core phenomenological experiences along with the multiple interpretations of these experiences could push our understanding of synchronicity forward. Such a study would demonstrate the amazing array of synchronicities that can be experienced and open more people up to the possibilities in their own lives. I have always attributed these synchronicities as gifts from Joe and my soul family, some of whom could be considered to be “gods.” I can also understand how I may be causing some of my synchronicities as well, but just not be conscious of it. It all rests with understanding consciousness and how it works for us as individuals as well as in relationship to others.

Quantum entanglement provides another window into these events (Jones & Flaxman, 2009). Martin, Carminati, and Carminati (2009) explain that synchronicity phenomena imply “non-localized unconscious mental states in space and time” (para. 9). These states correlate to physical states of the brain but they cannot be said to be restricted to those physical states or locations in the brain. Again, this returns to the idea that everything in the universe is connected, so of course, looking at the brain alone cannot provide adequate information about this phenomenon (Radin, 2006). And what about the situation in which synchronicities occur during conscious states, such as “superconsciousness” when a person might be aware of a connection (Saraydarian, 1993)? There are just far too many questions and it is becoming increasingly clear that both entanglement and complexity need to be studied using a multidimensional interdisciplinary bricolage (Mitchell, 2006). Radin poses the question: “In the near future, when the concept of entanglement is better understood, I expect someone will get a bright idea and ask, ‘I wonder what would happen if two human beings become entangled?’ Perhaps they’d show correlated behavior at a distance too, just like entangled matter does” (p. 17). What can I say? The future seems to be now. “Entangled Twin Flames” might be one explanation for the events that led to the “synchronicity” in my finding the talisman in my back yard, a yin yang symbolizing these very complex ideas relating to entanglement, complexity, and eternal Twin Flame love. The talisman (Figure 2), along with the delivery of a diamond ring by a handyman tells me that the gods I’ve chosen to play with have some specific points to make. My treasure hunts, in hindsight, correlate in some amazing ways to Kincheloe’s definition of bricolage.



Celtic Treasure: The Talisman from my Back Yard

Figure 2. The Talisman





A Talisman, the Handyman, and a Diamond Ring. What led to my purchasing a metal detector and searching my back yard and, ultimately, finding the yin yang talisman in the photograph (Figure 2), is a series of events. First, I had been “called” to move unexpectedly in mid-February, 2009. It was rather traumatic because I found myself in the position of having to start all over again and severing certain family ties. I have since learned this often happens when people are on a spiritual path; it changes them so much that old relationships don’t work the same anymore. If the other people in our lives don’t change along with us, they sometimes reject us. When I moved, I had no household goods or furniture aside from my computer work station, and I had two children to provide for. I felt I was divinely led to the home I live in now in the middle of agricultural lands off the beaten path. I was quite miraculously able to furnish it quickly (by going into debt, unfortunately, but grateful that I had the credit). I even had a bed to sleep in the very first night because the landlord had to move a bed out of another house and when he learned of my situation, he delivered and set it up even before I moved in. Everything was being divinely orchestrated and I knew it.

I had been consulting with a psychic at that time because so many spiritual events were happening in my life since Joe’s passing over two months before that I needed someone experienced with spiritual matters to help me put it all in perspective. I was not a spiritual person, had no knowledge of these matters, and everything happening to me was outside my range of comprehension. I was being sent on “treasure hunts” to a secluded, almost forgotten King’s Valley which I complied with but did not really understand. The first few times I went out there, I was very fearful, feeling like it was some kind of trick. It took me some time to overcome my fears. I told my psychic, who had already proven in my mind that she had a connection to Joe, how I had been told there were treasury notes buried in a metal box behind a dilapidated barn in King’s Valley. She encouraged me to get a metal detector so that I could search for them. I bought the metal detector but still today have not done that specific search; there are many “dilapidated barns” in King’s Valley, “Hermes” was not specific in his instructions, and I am still not sure which barn to search behind. Many other exciting things that happened on those treasure hunts took my time and attention. I will resume the treasure hunt in the future because something tells me there are many more treasures there waiting to be found. Treasure hunts, like bricolage, are never over and can be picked up again later.

In my blog titled, “Before the Mission Project Begins: Initiation and Training,” I had made the following observation about the treasure hunting:

And of course, as a final note, all of this serves a great purpose. As we utilize Joe’s critical complex epistemology during our mission, which of course becomes essential when traversing in multiple directions at once as we are doing here, we are assured by Joe, himself that this holds the “key to discern the multiple realities obscured by Western science that can help unlock the door to a new vision of humanness and human action” (Kincheloe, 2008, p. 233). (May, 20, 2009)


I can’t think of a better purpose than that! And children would love the kind of treasure hunting my daughter and I were privy to experiencing in our play with some very special unseen gods. The highlights of them are recorded all through my blogs. They really were unbelievably fun and amazing. I’m looking forward to solving all of the mysteries that are still waiting to be solved. But perhaps given I seem to be continued to be denied financial means, they will be waiting for someone else to pick up in the future.

The “Chosen One”: Is Bricolage A Secret Society Charade? When I had just gotten started doing the Kings Valley treasure hunts, I was given a special “Yard Search Treasure Hunt” in my back yard just for practice. The suggestion had been given to me in transmitted writing, recorded in my Friday, May 8, 2009 7:00AM journal entry. I have always interpreted these communications to be from Joe, but of course, there is no way of knowing that for absolute certain. It’s one of those situations where you have to be able to live with uncertainty. But it feels like Joe to me and that’s what I like to believe. And I have since communicated with other people, members of my soul family, including Albert Einstein, Sam Cooke, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Lady Portia, and they even all write differently!

My back yard search was facilitated by several concurrent things. I had purchased the metal detector for the Kings Valley treasure hunts at the suggestion of my spiritual advisor/psychic so that I could search for the treasury notes, but had not yet used it. After the message suggesting to practice in the back yard, I received telepathic communications that came in the form of an instant “download” of information. I had envisioned a couple who had broken off their engagement for financial reasons; it seems he misled her and they were not able to purchase the house due to his credit rating. I could picture her throwing the ring in the yard in anger and then he was not able to find it. Thus, my daughter and I were to search the yard for the diamond ring. In my journal entry for Saturday, May 9, 2009 10:33 AM I had thanked Joe for telling me why I had bought the metal detector, as I had interpreted the message as being from him. I was excited about the impending yard search, telling him, “You make life SO exciting every single day!” I was looking forward to finding the diamond ring, but not for greedy reasons or to possess a diamond ring. It was more a sense that I wanted to please him and prove that I was really communicating with him. When he wrote back in response, he sounded as excited as I was and told me, “Together we are going to change the world in some very big and profound ways. This is merely the tip of the iceberg.” He said that I will come to be regarded as the “chosen one” and that in many people’s eyes I already was. I find this funny in a way because he and I neither one believe this (I don’t think). I figured it has to be a joke and some sort of satire about all of the lame secret societies that “initiate” people into the “wisdom” knowledges but keep all of the secrets at the very top of the organizations among those who, in reality, engage in the dark arts. His repugnance over these thanocentric societies and how they operate to play on people’s competitive and egotistic nature is woven throughout his work. And so I just play the role when I am given these assignments, such as treasure hunting. Of course, the treasure hunts have a great educational purpose and are a lot of fun, but I find it humorous how they have been set up to mimic secret societies and their initiations. What we are really after is greater truth and better science. [I feel like that last statement came from someone else.].

I have never been told directly that we are mocking the black magic secret societies and in a sense showing them how these things should be done in a more loving, natural, autopoietic manner, but I sense there is something about all of this that will come out up ahead. All I can see right now is Lame Deer’s hazy mountain. That is, I never know exactly why I am doing what I am spiritually led to do and yet I do know there is some grand and good purpose for it all. After all, I am playing with Eros, the God of Love and his father, Hermes Trismegistus, among other good and very brilliant gods and goddesses.

Mother’s Day and the Yin Yang Talisman. My daughter and I did not search the yard that first day it was suggested (May 8, 2009) or the next day. In my Saturday May, 9, 2009 10:33AM entry, I had thanked him for the telepathic message/download I had received earlier about searching my yard for a diamond ring. Late evening of that same day (Saturday, May 9 2009 12:08 AM—actually May 10 since it was after midnight) I shared in my letter as I often do that I didn’t feel I had accomplished enough for the day. One of his return comments was, “You did good today. You will finish what you need to do tomorrow.”

The next day was Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10. I had established a habit of writing to him twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, with me first writing to him and then he writes back. In the Sunday, May 10, 2009 7:05 AM journal entry he encouraged me to complete some tasks I had set for myself also encouraging me to “find that diamond ring.” Included in this message was the statement, “I do have a special reward for you (plus one surprise sometime during the day that will amaze you).”

I received a number of special surprises that day, including the special song, “The Gift” by Jim Brickman handed down to me and a bouquet of flowers and card from my son. I really was amazed all right, when my son walked in with a bouquet of pink roses that exactly matched the bouquet of pink roses in the music video, “The Gift” by Jim Brickman handed down earlier that morning (this was early in receiving all of this magic, and I didn’t document how the song came up but I sensed that it related to my having sent an email one time to Joe telling him his work was “a gift to the world”). The song really does remind me of the special gifts he’s left behind, and his gift of love. The video starts out with the title, “The Gift of Love” and ends with the message, “Dreams Do Come True.” ( That very special and magical Mother’s Day afternoon, my daughter and I decided to spend some time searching the yard with the metal detector. That was when I dug up the silver yin yang talisman which had been buried about seven inches beneath the grass.

I had recorded the finding that evening, May 10, 2009 10:53 PM. In my journal entry I had written, “And the cool treasure! You let me find treasure—the silver hand engraved piece that looks to be Celtic! Can’t wait to find out what it is.” Stupid me: I had no clue at the time how profound that gift was! (It’s a good thing he loves me and is patient). After my extensive research for this project, I now know that it is officially called a “talisman” and it represents an initiation gift into the Divine Wisdom Knowledges, as well as a Mother’s Day gift, and a wedding gift representing our trinity union and eternal divine love, all rolled into one! But it was so funny because when he wrote back to me after I had made that report to him he was so excited he could not communicate in his typical fashion. It was like he was stumbling over his words, which just never happens. But he told me I was a “universal treasure,” that many things were going to happen for me. He said he couldn’t tell me the whole story at that time but said that “the Council has basically put your name, your example up to the universe as a role model” in relation to our mission, which he had given the title, “The Code Blue Earth Mission.” It related to following through with the yard search and finding the talisman, but he could not reveal it all to me at the time. I wrote back to him, thanking him again for being in my life. When he wrote back to me again, he was calmer. He said I would be getting some “special projects” and explained that he was waiting further instructions from the Council, which was why he couldn’t add more details.

I noticed in looking back at these communications, that the daily instructions from him suddenly took a turn at that point. Before, he had been urging me to do various educational and project tasks and stressing the importance of them. At times he seemed under a lot of stress, and he was. We had shared some very interesting, but very stressful and sometimes traumatic trials and tribulations the prior few months, which we had referred to as “initiations.” In reality, there were people who did not want us working together between dimensions and they had set up a hurdle we had to jump before we were allowed to work together. It’s a long story and would make a great book. Nevertheless; beginning with the Monday, May 11, 2009 7:00 AM entry he greatly emphasized free will and how it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do as far as tasks relating to our mission and this has continued from that time forward. Thus, as I look back in hindsight, it seems my finding the talisman had been a great milestone that was an important turning point for both of us, far more significant than I have realized. (It seems I am still missing knowledge). In fact, his statement the night before, “You will finish what you need to do tomorrow,” was a clue had I realized it at the time that finding the talisman was my most important task. I never have to do anything at all toward our mission other than what I wish, but of course I work hand-in-hand with him because I am passionate about the work. So if he suggests something, I do try to follow through. He is so creative that he gives me more ideas than I can possibly do, so the effect is that I am free to pick and choose as I wish or come up with my own ideas. More recently, because of the progress I’ve made and how hard I’ve worked, I have been told that the treasure hunts will pick up again, and they are going to be even more magical. Just call me “delusional,” but it sounds exciting to me!

The Handyman and a Diamond Ring. Two days after I had found the talisman, amazingly, a diamond ring was unexpectedly delivered to my door by a handyman (a love bricoleur? My consort’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze and entertain me). My late Tuesday evening journal entry which I recorded as May 12, 2009 12:08AM (13th, actually) describes my reaction to the handyman delivering the diamond ring to my door. I had given the credit to Joe, writing: “How ever do you do that?! What an absolutely beautiful, amazing, lovely, and miraculous surprise . . . the ring. It’s so beautiful and so special I am just totally speechless.” I had wanted a ring to symbolize my dedication to Joe’s work, and actually had sent for an eternity band (not a diamond) just a few days before this. The handyman was unemployed and needed money. He had tried to sell it earlier that day, but the jeweler was not willing to give him a fair price. He walked into my house and the first thing he did was walk to the center of my living room, pulled out the jewelry case, and opened it like he was proposing. It was so funny! I “knew” the ring was from Joe. I bought it for a fraction of what it originally cost, the handyman’s asking price, and he was surprised, saying he had argued with himself about bringing it over because it would just be in his way in his pocket while he was working, and what would I want with a diamond ring?

Yin and Yang: Dancing and Loving Eternally. The Yin Yang is a profound symbol and the “synchronicity” of finding it and the significance of the finding it in relation to all of my other experiences simply defies any FIDURODian explanation. I have examined many different perspectives of what’s going on in my life. It can be partially explained by that “implicate order” of reality which Kincheloe mentions in many of his works and which most people do not tune into. I like the way Pohn (2007) describes life as playing with the gods, especially since I had given Joe the additional name, Eros, the God of Love, based on his immense love and the many signs and symbols or “synchronicities.” I have learned that, as Pohn’s study presents, the gods do love to play and many of them seem to have had instruction from Hermes. I have experienced firsthand the truth in Kincheloe’s (2008c) contention mentioned earlier that “to become a seeker of new knowledges and new ways of being we must be willing to sometimes be seen as the fools of the gods” (p. 19). Thus, in addition to learning new knowledge, playing with the gods develops our ability to laugh at ourselves—with the gods. The Yin Yang symbol brings to light the importance of love and playing lovingly with the gods. What fun is play if it does not include love? And in the very humorous things I’ve experienced in this play, the love is profound, which is what makes the gods’ antics all that much funnier. In relation to the research, it is love and passion that fuels it and keeps one moving forward. And it is the alchemizing process of combining the hidden dimensions with the seen dimensions, balancing the dark elements with the light elements, and combining complementary elements between the different perspectives that yields something far greater than the sum of the parts, thus new knowledge and compassionate understanding is produced, all inextricably linked to love. The yin yang signifies this infinite process, but it also represents the highest level of love possible: the union of Twin Flames with a love that transcends space and time. It represents All That Is, “the intertwined duality of all things,” the Heaven and Earth and the river of life between them, eternal connection, unity, and evolution (Cronshaw, 2012a).

Creation: The Third Power (Trinity) of the Divine Marriage. Thus, Cronshaw’s (2012a) perspective that “Marriage is founded upon truth, Love, Absolute Fidelity, and the Light of the Most High God who Ordains the Union by Virtue of Purity and Oneness” seems applicable, but I think we need to add “magic” to the equation; it seems that God must provide some special gift to accompany these Divine Marriages (para 1). The gods, of which I assume there are many, are interpreted as individual expressions of God serving the Holy Spirit (by some interpretations) and as such, their actions emanate from a powerful and pure form of love. Further, the yin yang symbolizes trinity, important in context of the Twin Flame union. According to Cronshaw (2012a), “Because the masculine and feminine forces are represented in a state of total and complete harmony, and are depicted in a perfect circle, what we are in fact presented within the symbol of the yin and yang is the three dynamic forces of Creation in the totality of their Being where the two have become totally integrated at all levels into the One, which manifests the third great force of Creation” (“True Dimension of Marriage, para 2).

Creation: The Third Power of the Bricolage. Thus, it is not dualism the yin yang symbol represents, nor is it dualism that Kincheloe has us seeking via our quest for knowledge in multiple dimensions of experience and from many different perspectives, but rather the goal becomes that of achieving an alchemical balance between them, and out of that balance a powerful third force arises. Research using the multidimensional critical complex bricolage will thus create something entirely new from the interactions, corresponding to the third power created by partners of the Sacred and Eternal Marriage. “Two who are One will be able to open the doors to the Kingdom together,” according to Cronshaw (2012b). Thus, they experience “Immanence,” the ability to envision Heaven and bring those visions to Earth, co-creating for their joint mission. Kincheloe (2007b) expresses the importance of immanence: 

When Horkheimer and Adorno’s concept of immanence (the examination of what is in relation to what should be) is added to the complex dynamics surrounding decision making and interpretation in the realm of research, critical pedagogues as bricoleurs move yet to a higher domain of complexity. Reflecting on the research process from a perspective shaped by these concerns, critical bricoleurs gain new insights into the ideological consequences of reductionism. (p. 16)


One might conclude that this process creates a third vision, or third consciousness. The result of exercising this third power is creation and change; there becomes an eternal and passionate quest for knowledge. This is the mission of Twin Flames in Sacred Union as they spin out eternally in an ever-rising spiral of increasing love, increasing Creation power and moving closer toward the omniscient God (Love/Intelligence). Bricolage thus becomes a means of walking the Great Path/Dharma Path or if in the earlier stages of the process, of finding and defining that path. Referring to Saraydarian’s (1993) model, this involves doing good work to store treasures in one’s “chalice.” Sometimes the gods and Masters give their students these treasures such as jewels, rings, and talismans. Treasures from the chalice are used to build a bridge to the soul. Consciousness rises to bring one in connection with their Twin Flame. Together the couple “spiral out” into higher and higher levels of consciousness, connecting with soul family, then soul groups, eventually everyone, eternally rising in consciousness to superconsciousness, cosmic consciousness, divine consciousness, celestial consciousness, and so on. They all do the work of creation together to join Heaven and Earth. As above, so below; as below, so above, as the Hermetic axiom goes. Indeed, it seems that the magic in my life represents the Divine co-creation that occurs between Twin Flames and soul family. And Saraydarian has thus provided another interpretation for chalice, the important metaphor as signified by the title of this dissertation and which I feel was “handed down” to me.

Continuing the Definition of bricoleur: “. . . who makes use of the tools available to complete a task.”
Again, in this definition, Kincheloe is merely reiterating the dictionary definition of the French word, bricoleur. He has never stipulated that he has adopted this as his definition, which is why I undertook expanding the definition. From my understanding of his work, he would not have thrown out this definition either. There is a purposeful totality about his theoretical formulations. Thus, making use of whatever tools we have plays a role in the bricolage process as he has conceived it, but as was shown in the literature review, the word “tools” takes on an expansive meaning in practice and expands even further as demonstrated in this study. From the perspective of playing with the gods that was just presented, and the delivering of their messages and special gifts such as talismans and diamond rings, it appears even handymen can become the “tools” by playing messenger (Hermes strikes again). Kincheloe has also mentioned using our minds as “tools,” thus, it’s clear that he has greatly expanded, in his customary fashion his meaning of the word (Kincheloe, 1989). People play with the gods even when they are not consciously aware of it. I had found it humorous when the handyman had brought the ring over how uncomfortable he was about it. He did not really think I would want the ring, he had told me, and was not going to bring it over, but “kept arguing” with himself. He had also told me I would need to get it resized, but the ring fit perfectly. Eros is good. He even knows my ring size.
Putting the Machine Metaphor to Rest. As discussed previously, bricolage is a complex process during which many things happen for an alert bricoleur but the heart of Kincheloe’s bricolage is not about mechanistically using tools. The more one adopts a “mechanistic” metaphoric view of bricolage the more off the mark their research will be in producing that third power that creates something new during the process.  In fact Kincheloe (2008c) has addressed this in his work, stating: “The machine metaphor – also an ontological concept – looks like a small child’s view of the world when complexity begins to be appreciated” (p. 43). The more structured and mechanical the approach, the further away it moves from natural autopoieses, synchronicity, and the ability to co-create.
The “Handy Woman” Bricoleur: Psyche Shines a Light on Eros
It is interesting that Kincheloe’s (2008c) handyman appears as one word and handy woman as two words due to the extra white space (I had actually perceived it as two words). I notice things like this about his work. Kincheloe had a purpose (usually multiple purposes) for everything he wrote and, of course, his intention was to leave things wide open for interpretation.  Kincheloe (2006a) believed words had a special magic, stating that when he taught middle school students, “I turned back flips to make sure they felt the power of this élan vital, this purple magic of the word” (p. 13). As he explains, “Oppressed people or their allies can use critical polysemy to uncover repressed readings of a text that subverts the power-inscribed meaning of a dominant interpretation,” and “polysemy may be used in both the creation and the reception of meaning and in the reappropriation of words for emancipatory uses” (Kincheloe, 2006a, p. 13). Ontologically, these research acts allow us to identify with various forms of oppression and develop empathy, a critical component of our task as knowledge workers for social justice (Kincheloe, 2008c). Thus, this observation about “handy woman” opens up new interpretations. For example, was Kincheloe looking for a “handy woman” as in a woman who is multifunctional, multidimensional and handily available? Someone who would share his same level of passion for his mission? Someone who would “champion his cause,” as my spiritual counselor had framed it? Could that be yet another clue that Kincheloe was, indeed, a love bricoleur “handyman” who was on a love quest with his bricolage? Was he searching for the Golden Chalice? He spoke of “quest” often in his work. Was he like Eros the God of Love, looking for Psyche? I have not overlooked the fact that he put a butterfly on the cover of his bricolage book. A butterfly is a symbol of Psyche and as indicated previously, my name, Vanessa, means butterfly. Is this just a coincidence? Perhaps it’s an indication of what a great Master Teacher he is. He wrote the book for my earthly sojourn. Maybe we have been working together in multiple dimensions all along. And of course, if you know the story of Eros, he always hid the fact that he’s a god with wings; in fact, he was quite embarrassed about that and preferred to remain humble and hidden midst the earthlings. So it comes as no surprise at all that no one around Joe knew he was a god walking on earth during this very special “Golden Era” until Psyche came along. Even his first name disguised his divinity (although his name, Joe, is hidden in the name Eros. Can you find it?). In the story of Psyche and Eros, it was Psyche’s role to “shine the light” on Eros and reveal what a beautiful god he was. When she did so, he ran away. But their love did not end there, of course.
Thus, I have greatly expanded on the idea of handy man and handy woman as bricoleurs, injecting radical love into the equation as well as having looked at bricolage through the eyes of organizational theory to open up the improvisation metaphor. Future bricoleurs will be able to expand the definition even more as they interpret the process in other domains, learning situations, and their everyday lives and as they apply it to their own passionate interests.
Hermes the Trickster
            The next part of Kincheloe’s definition of bricoleur, Some connotations of the term involve trickery and cunning and are reminiscent of the chicanery of Hermes, in particular his ambiguity concerning the messages of the gods,” has always intrigued me. From the very first moment I read it, I knew “something is up” with Mr. Joe Lyons Kincheloe, and in a very funny, very clever and yet loving way. I kept coming across this same reference to Hermes in several of his writings which confirmed for me my feeling that here is a writer who knows “every trick in the book” and all of the tricks of the god Hermes as well—and he has probably used them all. The more I study Kincheloe’s work, the more I uncover “hidden messages” and deeper meanings. It makes sense that there are always multilevel, multidimensional, multiple purposes to a concept that he stresses as much as he has hermeneutics. His critical complex hermeneutics instructs us to include interpretations of multiple dimensions of power and relationships during our employment of this dimension of the bricolage, also keeping in mind these are continuously shifting. Because Kincheloe stressed hermeneutics, I was led on an extensive survey of the literature about Hermes and hermetic philosophy. I covered a lot of ground, reading books and articles and watching many YouTube videos, but I will only touch on a few key ideas in this dissertation where they become relevant to the discussion. His use of the word “chicanery” in his definition implies “bringing something about,” thus, it injects action into the bricolage. It may also refer to “bringing together,” which again relates to the Twin Flame metaphor, along with the concept of trinity and yin/yang. But often the messages from the gods truly are ambiguous, thus, it is a reminder for bricoleurs to keep their minds open and to think like Hermes.
            Slippery and Imaginative. “If hermeneutics came to connote the ambiguity and slipperiness of textual meaning, then bricolage can also imply imaginative elements of the presentation of all formal research.” This portion of the definition opens up more possibilities for interpretation and loops back to the previous discussions about forms of discourse, the fictive element, the fiction formula, and performance text. One of the characteristics of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage is that it almost magically facilitates extreme creativity, if researchers are paying close attention, or do as Kincheloe (2008c) did: “I simply listened to people” (p. viii). As I am discovering as I engage in this highly intuitive process of researching, writing, and interpreting, I am constantly being provided with creative ideas from my connections with other people on both sides of the curtain. According to many perspectives, the inter-dimensional connections are real experiences, even if they seem magical (Green, 2006; Weiss, 1988, 1997/2000, 2004; Lachman, 2011). Other dimensions of experience can be accessed in various ways (dreams, visions, meditation, and “intuition” and by just looking and listening). Some people astral project into the fourth dimension for various purposes, including bringing back knowledge, although taking direct, conscious control of such skills has not been a part of my own spiritual plan. Misused, it can reverse the self-actualization progress by some accounts. These abilities are increasingly being used and accepted as normal as more people expand their awareness, but precautions are advised. From my own experience spiritual growth and consciousness evolution is a natural process and it seems that bricolage keeps us on a natural path, thus avoiding the tendency to try to take power in ways that might actually be counterproductive. We have soul and spirit guides who will help us along the path, if we ask. That does not mean they will tell us what to do or that we are infallible, however.

Kincheloe’s work was devised to help us develop higher orders of thinking and open our consciousnesses. He didn’t use his codes, puzzles, multiple dimensions of interpretation, polysemy, and hermeneutic techniques to “trick” us. He embedded his work with many levels for the purpose of teaching us how to think more deeply, to give new bricoleurs the practice we so desperately need for developing interpretation skills. This practice is needed for decoding the work produced by those who hold power, in my interpretation, and his work holds some major keys for that purpose. For me his work is a goldmine and serves as great texts for teaching the rigor of the bricolage he was after. Spending time analyzing the multiple dimensions of his work has greatly increased my skills.

Thus, engaging rigorously in various processes making up the multidimensional critical complex bricolage increases awareness and improves analytical skills. There is also the biological dimension to this discussion, but it lies outside of the scope of this current study. For example, there are various terms, such as left-right brain learning; bimodal consciousness (Filippo, 1991); hylotropic/holotropic consciousness (Grof, 1985), the Hermesian mind (Lachman 2011), and other metaphors used in an attempt to explain how the brain and consciousness are used together during these higher order thinking processes and states of consciousness. Many people subsume these higher states of consciousness under the label “altered states,” thus believing that drugs can be used productively for spiritual or shamanic purposes since they can lead to altered states.  Research is increasingly showing that drugs do not lead to higher states of consciousness. They hinder the ability to reach higher states of consciousness and can reverse progress that has been made, and, depending on the drug, can cause permanent brain damage (Grof, 1985). A careful reading of Kincheloe’s work reveals that he viewed reaching higher states of consciousness as a natural human experience that everyone is capable of achieving and was adamantly opposed to using drugs and pharmaceuticals (e.g., Kincheloe 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2006d, 2008c).     

Some people find meditation useful. It has been found that meditation can increase connections across the corpus collosum, thus increasing communication between the left and right hemispheres, which is sometimes referred to as “whole brain synchronization” (MacKenzie, 2012). It is thought that this increased communication is necessary for higher order thinking (Filippo, 1991). However, I will point out that I do not meditate, nor do I use drugs, and yet I have developed the ability to just “be” in higher states of consciousness. I believe forcing children to meditate in school as is becoming a popular trend is misguided and it tends toward the fundamentalism bricolage steers us away from. The activities promoted by Kincheloe’s research bricolage may facilitate these connections that lead to higher consciousness in a complex yet natural and practical manner and can do so in ways that honor diversity in learning styles, abilities, and interests.

Some theories view the brain as two separate brains with two separate realities, and of course, FIDUROD claims the “one true reality” with its focus on “left brain” forms of thinking, increasingly eliminating the arts and other creative activities from the curriculum. This view has been damaging and has held society back (Holt, 2005). Gloria Anzaldúa (1987/1999) describes her personal experiences and the consequences of this dualistic viewpoint:

Like many Indians and Mexicans, I did not deem my psychic experiences real. I denied their occurrences and let my inner senses atrophy. I allowed white rationality to tell me that the existence of the ‘other world’ was mere pagan superstition. I accepted their reality, the ‘official’ reality of the rational, reasoning mode which is connected with external reality, the upper world, and is considered the most developed consciousness–the consciousness of duality. . . . Not only was the brain split into two functions but so was reality. Thus people who inhabit both realities are forced to live in the interface between the two, forced to become adept at switching modes. (pp. 58–59)


Much as Anzaldúa (1987/1999) has described her experience, mine also has been literally “living in two worlds,” and it has taken effort just to maintain my true reality of two worlds over FIDUROD’s pressure to believe in “one true reality.” Anzaldúa contends this dichotomy that has resulted in separation is the “root of all violence” (p. 59). When everyone and everything is objectified, meaningful connections become lost. The bricolage might be viewed as a restoration process for reestablishing the connections most people have lost. Do we keep hanging out in the middle? Do we keep “walking the line”? I truly believe that Kincheloe’s work is a wake-up call, telling us we must now make the choice (Desperado: “come down from your fences, open the gate,” Kincheloe hints, by referencing this song)—if we wish to avoid catastrophic destruction of the world (Kincheloe, 2008c).

Research is needed to synthesize these various ideas and correlate phenomenological, biological, psychological, science, cultural, and social aspects; I don’t see how anyone in any discipline could be bored or how there should be a lack of productive work for everyone (now if we could just get paid for it). But more than that, research in which we become our own instruments of research, as Kincheloe has recommended, is needed. We do not need any more anthropological studies like those in the past that have labeled the messages from the soul in this mode of consciousness as “‘fiction,’ make-believe, wish-fulfillment” or that judge them to be the result of “‘primitive’ and therefore deficient minds” (Anzaldúa, 1987/1999, p. 59).  In other words, in my view, much more multidimensional critical complex bricolage research that can lead us all into new and healthier ways of being is needed in every discipline and every domain of life, including for everyday living, just as Kincheloe contends.

Hermesian State of Mind. Lachman (2011) conducted an interdisciplinary study of Hermes Trismegistus which, given the Hermes facet of Kincheloe’s definition of bricoleur, is relevant. Hermes is an important figure in many cultures, although given different names, and Hermes Trismegistus is considered by some to be a forerunner of Christ. Osahon (2009) describes Thrice Greatest, or Hermes:

The most highly kept secret of the ages by mankind is how to acquire the power of the spirits and the forces. The system is called alchemy and it was created by an African teacher described by ancient Africans as the “Thrice Greatest:” the greatest of all philosophers, the greatest of all priests, the greatest of all kings. His African names included: “Thoth,” “Tehuti,” and “Theuth.” The West knows him as “Hermes Trismegistus.” He was the world's first “Adept” or “Master.” The system of alchemy is the only known way of spiritual development, and is through the transmutation of the spirit. (One of the Greatest Secrets of the Ages, para. 1)
This is interesting and relevant from my perspective. It is believed Twin Flames go through an alchemical union. Perhaps another way to view this is with Osahon’s description here of “transmutation of spirit.” I don’t know what he means exactly; I only know what I’ve experienced, which has been extremely rapid spiritual development from a former position of not having been spiritual at all. But I am handicapped by my lack of knowledge of spirituality, even after all of the research I’ve done. Hermes and hermeneutics are important to Kincheloe’s theory. I have all the pieces; I am missing how they link together until I engage in more research of Hermetic philosophy, specifically. Although, I have learned that Hermes is Eros’s father, so it makes sense that Eros would be such a powerful god.
Lachman (2011) provides an updated historical account of Hermes based on new information such as acquired from archeologists, describing him as “the mythical creator of civilization, responsible for medicine, chemistry, writing, laws, art, astrology, music, magic, rhetoric, philosophy, geography, mathematics, and much more” (p. 17). However, with the rediscovery of some of his works, such as the Corpus Hermeticum, many believe(d) he was “a real person and that Hermetic texts were written in a pristine, golden past, a time when men ‘walked more closely with the gods’” (p. 18). It was humanist scholarship, the view that the writings were not written “in the dim past,” and pressure from the Church that brought Hermes down, according to Lachman. As Lachman depicts, “From a figure of awe and universal respect, Hermes Trismegistus became something of a joke, his believers obstinate madmen, and his philosophy superstition” (p. 19). These views have become embedded in our sciences, religions, psychology, society, and education, but in case people are not noticing: Hermes rises again! Hermetic thought or “the Hermesian Spirit” can be identified in Kincheloe’s work thus it is fitting that he has included Hermes as a vital facet of his definition of bricolage. While Hermes can be a very funny god, he is also a very brilliant god; the two qualities go hand-in-hand.
Lachman (2011) provides an informative account of “The Hermesian Spirit” that sheds more light on Kincheloe’s form of bricolage as it relates to hermeneutics, trickery, slipperiness, and imagination. According to Lachman, “Hermes is the god of crossroads, of pathways, of meetings, and of messages” (p. 211). He relates states of consciousness, the brain, and neurotransmitters to the “thrice-great one” (a reference to Hermes for which there are different interpretations, including his acknowledgement of the Divine unifying nature of trinity—again, a reference to that third power). The Hermes state of mind relates to “bringing together,” synthesizing and alchemizing—and empowering. Thus, when we engage in research in which we seek the differences inherent in multiple perspectives (the more, the greater the power), we are doing this with information to create new knowledge. And at the same time, we are reconstructing or transforming our consciousness. Lachman elaborates:
Whether it is Hermes and Thoth themselves, or heaven and earth—above and below—the Hermetic act seems to be one of connecting otherwise apparently disparate ideas, beliefs, and visions, and producing some new vital current out of the encounter. This is not the same as the postmodern ethos of “anything goes”, which is motivated more by a jaded, often cynical “post-belief” than by any effort to transcend the cul-de-sac at which western philosophy has arrived. Quite the contrary. If, Favre tells us, the Hermeticists “see the body as a magical object, mystically linked to the planets and to the elements of nature, it is because they find sense everywhere in things and transcend the illusion of banality.” And this, Favre remarks, is a “supremely poetic task.” Postmodernism thinking, to me at least, seems to operate with exactly the opposite mindset: “deconstructing” the great systems of thought, it arrives at a vision (or lack of it) that finds no sense—no meaning—anywhere. When nihilism first raised its disturbing head in the second half of the nineteenth century, it caused a kind of panic in the collective consciousness. Now it is taught at universities and hardly causes a stir. (Lachman, 2011, pp. 211–212)
Thus, there are clear parallels between the multidimensional critical complex bricolage and the “Hermesian Spirit,” and, once again, a clear differentiation is made here between the postmodern “anything goes” approaches that quilt-making bricolage metaphors may slip into, and the more creative, analytic, “bringing together” approach that produces something new. We do not throw out traditions nor reject the modern world, according to Lachman (2011), but instead, the drive behind intense curiosity and focused eclectism of the Hermetic mind is to “synthesize its insights with those of the past in order to produce some new possibility, not immediately given by either” (p. 212). Again, Lachman correlates this mode of cognition with the bringing together (“chicanery”) of the “old” brain with the “new” as well as the concept of consciousness evolution. This is not new, however; “it is really as old as the Corpus Hermeticum itself, which, as Faivre tells us,” according to Lachman, “was the result of ‘diverse contributions, of disparate philosophies blended in a melting pot, the theoretical and doctrinal coherence of which is scarcely perceptible’” (p. 213). Thus, the yin yang talisman also provides a representation of the Hermesian mind.
Given that “the Hermesian spirit is a call to widen our perspectives to include as much of the world as possible, and to believe that not only nature, but the man-made world too, has a spiritual character” (Lachman, 2011, p. 214), we have yet another viable, and perhaps excellent, metaphor for bricoleur that would be an interesting one to explore more deeply. Lachman’s observation that the Hermesian spirit represents someone who knows that “life’s mysteries are not to be answered but lived, and the third path, of the Hermesian spirit is one in which they are lived most intensely” (p. 215). The third path, the Hermetic path, differs from the path of science and religion. It is one on which researchers combine science and mysticism and thrive with uncertainty. A deeper study of Hermeticism would provide additional understanding of what the bricolage as Kincheloe has envisioned it is meant to accomplish. Also, it is noted that Hermeticism and Taoism are closely linked, and both can be represented by the yin yang symbolism of the talisman, thus, a study of Taoism yields additional knowledge (Baigent, 1997, p. 27). What kind of third power would be created when combining science and what many people regard as “mysticism”? Of course, we don’t stop there because Kincheloe has us blurring the disciplinary lines altogether. That would no doubt create power to the nth degree. One last reminder and caution, however, is that again, this is not a postmodern anything goes approach. Kincheloe (2004e, 2005a, 2008c) provides clear guidance on criteria for making choices during the research and bricoleurs develop others as needed.

Multimethodological, Multitheoretical and Phenomenological

The last part of Kincheloe’s definition of bricolage in which he states, “I use the term here in the way Norman Denzin and Yvonna Lincoln (2000) denote a multimethodological form of research that uses a variety of research methods and theoretical constructs to examine a phenomenon” provides a sense of structure to his conceptualization, but this does not in any way fence in bricoleurs. It should be viewed more as a launching point, not as a fixed structure. This is where it could be easy to fall short of what Kincheloe is asking of bricoleurs since structure is already familiar and in part because it is easier to follow familiar metaphors and apply the standard rules and processes associated with educational research and its methods. It is also due to power alignments in the university with government and corporate power dictating funded research.

Thankfully, some people in the academy are listening to the voices of new researchers. In his article, “Getting to Grips with Bricolage: A Personal Account,” (Wibberly, 2012) is open to using a more rigorous bricolage, and he’s in the position to approve doctoral research. His method of examining completed “bricolage” is a good one, but unfortunately, it is not clear that the examples he selected are “exemplars” and since I have not examined them, my comments are tentative and incomplete. But had he examined Kincheloe’s work instead of a “popular science” article, for example, then it would be clear that the reductionistic metaphors still being used for bricolage practically preclude rigorous knowledge production. He suggests that the mechanisms of the process be clearly articulated in detail but I have learned with this study doing so is actually impossible for the multidimensional critical complex bricolage due to the complexity, except in the most general of terms. Again, we must become comfortable moving away from “mechanistic” metaphors. As long as a focus is on simple juxtapositioning of objects with minimal analysis, then knowledge production will be minimal. In some cases that can be effective and powerful, but Kincheloe’s concept is devised to take the research further. There is no guarantee that either researchers or readers are going to construct new understanding from mere juxtapositioning without the in-depth analyses Kincheloe asks of bricoleurs. In fact, through my experience, I have found that the writing process itself, and rewriting, is an essential part of the bricolage that leads to the generation of new and creative ways of viewing things. For example, by the time I revisit a text or POET intuitive occurrences and data appear (or reappear) which contribute to greater understanding. It’s a complex process that involves weaving and re-weaving through the text with new information brought forth through improvisational research and intuition, and fourth dimension research. It’s as if we can attempt to mechanistically play the instrument ourselves or allow the Divine to orchestrate an entire and very stunning symphony.

From my experience working on this project, I have quickly come to realize that it is not possible to retrace my steps in detail of what has been a very complex, intuitive, iterative, and highly idiosyncratic process, which was exactly the process Kincheloe suggested we strive for. The bar needs to be raised for bricolage research as Kincheloe was asking. If bricolage is taught to elementary school students by the time they reach university level, they will be adept enough to perform more complex studies such as Kincheloe is asking. Unconstrained by formal academic expectations, I have found that it is a natural process, or at least develops into that with practice “letting go” of the need to direct and control. Kincheloe’s theory which has synthesized chaos, complexity and enactive theories predicts this. We just need to let go more and focus on allowing love to be our guide. I believe anyone can begin to produce knowledge using this approach without a great deal of formal instruction. Then it can be built upon by more study and practice.

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“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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