Whole Life Seminars at Westmont Present:

"Flying Information"

How we learn to read codes, patterns, signs, and symbols and navigate webs of meaning

Dr. Marilyn McEntyre and Dr. Wayne Iba

Whole Life Seminar
June 2-6, 2008


Seminar Overview Faculty Bios Daily Topics Registration Scholarship Information

The purpose of this course will be to consider how we gather, store, processray, share, interpret (and misinterpret), apply, and impart information.  The course will begin with a consideration of what we talk about when we talk about “information,” and what it means, at the deepest, most literal level to be informed (or in-formed).  Our hope is that at the end of five days we might approach anything we notice or experience with a new set of lenses, that we might have developed a deeper sense of what it means to read signs and signals and words and images, and that we might see how heightening our awareness of our own processes may serve to make us both more curious, more lively, and more compassionate inhabitants of a world that is still “so vast, so beautiful, and so new.”


Tuition: $300 per person

Costs include:

  • • 5 Half day lectures
    • Books and Readings
    • Mid-morning coffee breaks

Suggested Readings

  • • Stephen Nachmanovitch, Free Play:  The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts
    • Essays from Douglas Hofstadter, Goedel, Escher and Bach
    • Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety
    • Selected essays from Paul Graham (http://www.paulgraham.com/articles.html)
    • Selected poems, paintings, and other handouts


Daily Topics

June 2-6, 2008



What is information?  What are some of the various ways in which we gather information?  What does it mean to be in-formed?  How can we learn to be more attentive to the subtler kinds of information available in the physical world, in texts, in created images, and in the structures we inhabit?



What do we do with information?  Once we have a fact, an impression, an experience, an encounter, an epiphany, how do we decide where to put it?  How might we work with, play with, internalize, extrapolate from, use, and impart new information?  What happens when new information threatens our categories or assumptions? 



How do different disciplines equip us to recognize, organize, use, and live into new information?  What does it mean to learn from experience or observation?  How is the practice of that learning articulated in a computer lab, a biology lab, a room with a view where a poet fiddles with a pen?  Here, we’ll consider how different disciplines offer different “lenses” or tools for gathering and understanding new information.



Ways of putting it:  codes, equations, musical notation and brush strokes.  Here we’ll consider some of the ways we’ve devised to record information and what may be the possibilities and limitations of those methods.



A poem, a painting, and a flock of pigeons.  This final day will provide occasion for a little applied play as we consider how we “read” the behaviors of life forms and art forms, and what that reading entails.  Where do the content of those readings come from and how do we participate in their creation?