Michael Sean Gallagher writes: I used to wonder when young and impressionable why artists that I had so admired basically drove themselves into oblivion through destructive behavior or unchecked enthusiasm. I thought that it was the peculiar lot of the artist to create (art) and then destroy (themselves) in some sort of perverse pattern of checks and balances. It seemed so common as to be normal. I only began to understand the process when I started writing myself, starting with (bad) poetry and (worse) plays and then clumsily lungeing towards longer works. Regardless of how bad it was, there was that elation of creation (yes, that rhymes) that accompanied the finishing of any work. A runner’s high of the mind. This high would invariably be followed by a low. A bottoming out. Perhaps a realization that this work was concluded and I wouldn’t be able to revisit what I had taken such comfort in for so long. As my delusions of becoming a professional writer waned, so did this process of elation/disillusion. I stuck with writing a blog and that was more than sufficient to fulfill my surplus writing energy.
And then I started working online. I dove headlong into social media and saw bizarre worlds interact. I saw these collaborative impulses take hold and I saw production on a monumental scale. Raw creation. I then started the MSc in Elearning at Edinburgh University and that enthusiasm was channeled towards scholarship. Yet it felt like art. Artistic creation with a scholastic foundation. I felt like an artist and that notion of learner, as a sort of artist/creator has taken hold. Online I am Michaelangelo. Notice the story swinging full circle with the return of these delusions of grandeur. When I would finish an assignment, and perhaps so pronounced as when the Elearning and Digital Cultures course ended in December 2010, I felt elation at what I had created and then sadness that I couldn’t revisit it. At least not formally. I revisited this elation/disillusion cycle of activity.
As I created this playlist, which was meant to represent strictly the elation part of completing an elearning work of creativity (assessed or otherwise), I noticed it beginning to bottom out. The songs became more melancholy, more a search for home (ie, my wife), of motion. I was looking for something with each and every track. It felt like it was time to get back out on the road (online) and begin again, but I still wanted to savor that which had just passed, to mourn it a bit. Luckily, there are always more projects, more papers, and more creation to be had. We just need to take time to mourn those ideas, communities, and constructions that elated us before moving on to the next context. This playlist is my attempt to do just that.
Michaelangelo Sean Gallagher is a graduate of the MSc in E-Learning and is a Phd student at the Institute of Education in London.