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Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction Was It Joe's Goodbye?

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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)

Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction: Was It Joe’s Goodbye?

            Did Joe somehow know that Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction was to be his last book? I sensed that it was a goodbye; in fact so much so that I developed an intense fear of losing him, much as the terror Bloomstein (2001)  had described in her dissertation over the thought of something happening to her twin soul. Perhaps I had knowledge at a higher level of consciousness that was not being released to my conscious mind but intuitively I had picked up on signs such as seem to be contained in this passage on the last page of the book:

Honestly, I’m not particularly happy with the “Way ‘we’ are” in Western societies at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century: the hierarchies, the ways men treat women, the heterosexism, racism, class bias, the competition, the fear of ‘taking a hit,’ the neo-bourgeois low affect ‘cool,’ the humorlessness about particular topics, etc. Yes, I admit it—I want to see not only a social and pedagogical revolution but an epistemological and ontological revolution as well. (Kincheloe, 2008c, p. 252)


The entire phrase, the “way we are” is bracketed. This is a reference to the song, “The Way We Were” by Barbara Streisand, thus, he is conveying that he’s not happy with the way so many relationships are during this century and has added an emotional component through music. Again, as he had done in the previous analyzed excerpt, he states the era in the form of “the first decade of the twenty-first century” which I have shown previously to indicate 11-2-11, symbolizing the Twin Flame reunion. He wanted to see change. He wanted us to raise the bar for “Radical Love.” I felt that the Barbara Streisand song could allude to his relationship to his website research project, as well as to his personal and professional relationships. Was he leaving? Was he leaving everyone behind? I had sensed quite ominously before he went on vacation to Jamaica that he was finished somehow and there was that email message from him analyzed earlier which he had titled “hello” and I questioned whether it was an encoded message that he was experiencing some kind of hellish situation. I honestly believe he was suffering from immense stress. I had responded to the email in a way that at the time I felt was very strange and yet very sincere: “I trust your judgment completely.” Was it another encoded message? It has since been confirmed in the academic literature, that he was, indeed, leaving McGill University where he was researching and teaching, upon returning from his holiday vacation in Jamaica, so it has been confirmed that things were not working out the way he had anticipated. According to Steinberg (2011a), he was leaving to search for another job due to “the lack of collegial support” and “a passive aggressive environment” (p. xii). I am not surprised. I had sensed it, along with darkness about that entire situation, but I had no specific details, only my intuition. I suspect there was much more to it than “lack of collegial support.” I was aware from some deep research I had done that McGill University was increasingly working to align its research department to meet transnational capitalists’ profit endeavors with the goal of increasing corporate funds for research. If the plans changed for the critical pedagogy online project in an unethical way, Joe would never have tolerated it. Yes, he would have walked out; I relate to that completely at a very personal level. Bizarrely, from my perspective given my phenomenological experiences and that Joe and I had personally communicated in an email about taking his work to the “next level,” Steinberg stated that he had mentioned that was looking forward to “the next level and elevated cognitive and spiritual states” and just five days before he passed away he had given a short sermon at a small church in Jamaica about “faith, humility, and the human body as the vessel for great minds” (p. xii). It was his last public speech. I hope and feel that he is, indeed, experiencing those higher states. I know I’m experiencing them even in FIDUROD Land.

In addition to bracketing the words “the way we are” in the above excerpt, he also bracketed ‘we’ within the brackets and in my interpretation this means he was not including himself in that “we.” This was a true and fair assessment of himself on several accounts. For one, I don’t think he felt he had ever been fully accepted among some of the elite academics and, as just mentioned, he was leaving a project that he had truly put his heart and soul into because of the lack collegiality. There are numerous accounts in his work that support this interpretation, including his very scant index in this book that includes a listing for “hillbilly,” of course, referring to his having been raised in the Appalachian Mountains of Tennessee. He had made his heart-wrenching point. Beyond that, based on what I had observed and what I have read his close colleagues have written about him in the academic literature, he gave all of his relationships his best and was well known and admired for his commitment, even when people did not hold up their end. He gave and he loved enormously without expectations. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have hope. I can completely empathize with the frustrations he must have felt at times; I experience some of those same frustrations. He had stayed in regular contact with me and I often wondered how he was able to keep up with it all considering the number of people he worked with, from teaching to editing and publishing so many books, to accomplishing his own rigorous research, and to actively engaging in friendly discussions on his website where he generously shared his knowledge. I consciously tried not to bother him for anything trivial, but the weird thing about that was, as I discussed in the early part of this study, he could read my mind and sense my emotions and would reach out to me when he sensed I needed it. As I have learned during my research, Twin Flames are so connected that if one is upset the other feels the emotions. I believe this was happening due to the times and circumstances for which he had contacted me. He did write the book about this form of radical love and consciousness evolution.

That he had made the ultimate forms of unconditional sacrifice and service to others along his path to high spiritual achievement is also documented in the dedication of his bricolage book that includes lyrics from the song, “Accidently Like A Martyr” by Warren Zevon. Joe had suffered. I had looked at that dedication several times and knew there was something about it but could not figure it out. Finally, one day I had opened up the book to that page and it was as if someone leaned over my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “Those are lyrics; google them.” That was when I finally decoded the song. I literally felt his pain and cried for several days over the discovery. Being a Twin Flame can be so extremely painful sometimes. Martyrdom is nothing new for people who attain high levels of consciousness; it seems to go with the territory, but to leave a permanent record of his pain which he had kept hidden behind his perpetual smiles and love tore at my heart. The song may have been a representation of the pain he had suffered throughout his life for being “different,” for being brilliant, and which also had motivated him to write the book about Albert Einstein and The Stigma of Genius. Perhaps the reference to this song was also a signification of his belief that if people would simply have more love in their hearts, if they would seek and live that “radical love,” then no suffering would be necessary. That makes his placing it in the front of his book which provides a guide to his “love bricolage,” the cure for our thanatos-driven world, the map for our quest for our own Golden Chalice, even more significant. Nevertheless, even though he clearly did suffer at times, he had stayed strong and maintained his commitment to providing publishing opportunities for scholars who otherwise might not have the opportunity and he left behind a monumental legacy that will take us all far into the future. Even near the end of his life, he had secured yet another book series agreement, this time with Springer Publishing, which he had spent many years negotiating so that affordable (“less than $30 paperback”) versions of the books would be published for students after selling the library editions for a few months. He was an impeccable role model. An email he had sent me about not having to choose to play roles anymore and signing off at various times with “Evolvingly Yours, Joe” and “Strawberry Fields Forever, Joe” compounded my fears of not having much time left with him. He was preparing me for the inevitable but I shoved the fear out of my conscious awareness.

Thus, upon analysis of the last page of Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, it seems to be a goodbye on many different levels, and at the same time, it was a new beginning. He had even titled the last chapter, “The Conclusion is Just the Beginning,” the significance of which I had picked up on and have come to learn has special meaning for us on a multidimensional level in previous lifetimes we have shared together. In my interpretation, his final work was a goodbye and his turning point for taking not only critical theory, but education in an entirely in new direction, escaping FIDUROD with his evolving criticality, complex critical psychology, critical complex epistemology, critical complex hermeneutics, critical complex ontology, and his multidimensional critical complex bricolage. His ultimate goal, in my interpretation, is for those of us who have been “left behind” to take these conceptualizations forward in multiple applications and multiple disciplines and ultimately “come together.” We are to use his bricolage for teaching, learning, researching, and for developing a science of complexity that can take us all forward, working together passionately and compassionately to create a better future.

Love That Can Never Grow Cold

In spite of my seemingly irrational fears of only having a short time to work with Joe, I continued to try to stay upbeat and pushed the fears away from my conscious mind. However, as time passed, I was feeling an increasing sense of impending doom on an intuitive level that was hard to ignore. A few days after I had read his book, Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, I had posted a comment to the discussion on his website praising him for the book and asking him, “when is your next book—or books—coming out. . . . what is the title (or titles)? I've been wanting to ask you this. I hope you don’t mind.” I really wanted reassurance that he was, indeed, working on some exciting new projects for far into the future. I was also conscious of the fact that perhaps writers might not want to be asked what they’re working on, which is why I had added the statement, “I hope you don’t mind.”

Using his creative magic with words and music, he answered me with a song title in the subject line of his reply: “As James Brown put it, I don’t mind” and then he proceeded to summarize the books he was working on. Of course, his deeper message did not register at all at the time, because I was still fast asleep and had not figured out how he had embedded music in his work. That was November 12, 2008; he passed away December 19, 2008. It was many months later before I returned to the conversation and discovered that there was a special message for me in this melancholy but very romantic song, “I Don’t Mind” performed by James Brown (1961/1963) and THE FAMOUS FLAMES. Was this an accident by the Master of Hermeneutics and confessed word magician?

            James Brown sings:

I don't mind . . .your love,

I don't mind what you're thinkin' of

But I know, I know: You gonna miss me

I don't mind your lonesome soul

I don't mind, it can't go cold

I know, I know: You gonna miss me

yeah, yeah, yeah . . . somewhere down the line

I don't mind, this is all of my song

I don't mind, goodbye, so long

But I know, I know: You gonna miss me
Goodbye so long, no, no, no I don’t mind

Goodbye so long.


He could absolutely see right through me, to the depths of my soul—my fears, my anxieties, and even my confusion over why he meant so much to me beyond the admiration of him for his work and service. He knew without question that we were spiritually connected; I simply cannot doubt this after engaging in this research. And for whatever reasons, whether it was our agreement, his decision which I had completely honored (“I trust your judgment completely,” I had told him), or some other reason and all of those reasons, it seems that we both knew he was leaving this earth plane soon for another one of those dimensions he discusses in his work.

            Just as I was finishing up the last touches on this dissertation I was led to an interesting perspective about research from a renowned guru, Mooji. His observation is much the same message as this quote from Joe, which began this chapter: “Process-sensitive scholars watch the world flow by like a river, where the exact contents of the water are never the same” (Kincheloe 2005a, p. 333). The paradox, however, is the results are always the same, so do the contents matter so much, apart from being the treasured dimension of an expression of Self? Kincheloe (2008c) maintains, “The ability to cultivate and make meaning from our emotional ‘gut’ feelings, our intuition, and our imagination is central to the next stages of human evolution” (p. 225). It’s about liberation, the freedom to express and be who we really are and to follow our dreams. And as Mooji (2011) states, “Let all the rivers flow like they do; all of them will come to this ocean . . . you cannot escape this recognition.” He elucidates:

In any sincere or authentic inquiry the result is the same: “I am that.” Not verbally, not mentally, not academically, not intellectually—but experientially. It’s clear. I cannot be anything but that. Not even the words—I am ‘that’ beyond the concept. I am that. Such is the revelation which is the outcome of inquiry.


Thus, I am One with Joe. I am One with the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. I am still in the process of determining what this means but I do understand the implications in relation to what we choose to research deeply.

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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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