Along with perennial colleagues and friends from the University of Edinburgh James Lamb and Jeremy Knox, I collaborate on a project exploring the role of music in elearning: Elektronisches Lernen Muzik. This project is how I always envisioned informal academic research projects unfolding: common interests amongst colleagues, intersections between the academic and the informal, music, playlists, liner notes. Maybe not the last few, but music certainly plays a critical part in my learning process. Although nominally a Repeat One kind of person (and I am not alone), I have select playlists for particular practices: Walking, Reading, Writing, Thinking, Subway, Bus, etc. And multiple variations within those activities as well. My general process as such is Think>Read>Write>Walk. The walk is a restorative measure; it acclimatizes me to the lived environment of Seoul, which I currently call home. So these playlists are transition pieces. Soaring enough to reflect my creative elation (the subject of another playlist) at the beginning, and then transitioning into music with enough forward motion to propel my exploration into the urban maze of Seoul.
This playlist started as an exploration into the restorative powers of walking post-elearning, but morphed into an exploration of expat-ness and the difficult balance between academic introspection and environmental hyper-awareness. Seoul doesn’t let you remain abstractedly contemplative for too long. My original text for the post is below, along with the playlist, but I encourage you to give it a listen on the site itself.
The playlist starts, as most of mine do, in the ethereal space: lots of dreamy, repetitive sounds without vocals (Eluvium, Matthew Cooper, Hammock, Inventions). This is partly in response to the state my head is in after finishing a bit of elearning activity (writing, teaching, or collaborating). I am out there, in the clouds, and my legs need to catch up to my head so I go for a walk through the ever-busy streets of Seoul. Once out there, though, I transform from the ethereal and the contemplative sort, to one battling his expat-ness, to one firmly situated in East Asia. There is a process here that I suspect is necessary post e-learning, one that situates me, again, amidst this context, this place and now.
So amidst the hustle of East Asia, the throngs, the outright stares, the fleeting smiles, the darting glances, the shops, the treacherous pavement, I move beyond the ethereal and into the contrast (the Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, and Father John Misty bits) of the expat American with the East Asian context. This contrast is, I suppose, necessary. I move from contemplative to a hyper-awareness of my immediate surroundings and my contrast with these surroundings. I am still oscillating back and forth between the elearning (mlearning at this point, I suppose) with my phone, but less so. I am acclimating to the context of Seoul. So the contrasting music pushes me along and I shift from thinker to explorer. On foot, alternating routes, walking down alleys and so forth.
Then the balance sets in clumsily, hence the last track (it is a Chinese track that I have spliced out of an episode from the American TV show Louie). The character in this music (which you can hear asking for directions in Beijing) mirrors my own interactions in Seoul, but it is not frantic. It is accepting and wide-eyed and eager to learn more. I am alright being lost. While the contemplative ends (I am no longer reflecting on anything aside from what I am experiencing), the learning begins anew. On foot. In the now. Engaging and wading through my material, my artifacts, and learning activity. Along with 20 million other people. Hence this playlist.
- Eluvium: Adolescent Space Adventures Outside the Supermarket
- Matthew Cooper: Some Days are Better than Others
- Hammock: Dark Beyond the Blue
- Arcade Fire: Her Soundtrack: Dimensions
- Inventions: Peregrine
- Bob Dylan: Main Theme (Billy): Pat Garrett & Billy the Kidd
- Father John Misty: Only Son of the Ladiesman
- 沙暴 (shābào) (taken from the American TV show Louie)