Joseph & Morocco,
Photo taken by Deborah McCormick,
Hacienda Tres Aquilas , January 2005
Academic Qualifications & Experience
Letters from Students
Storytelling & Poetry Events
DOC HORSE TALES:
A bit about Joseph McCaleb
I wear the title "Doctor" at work based on my academic work having earned the Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin with an emphasis in English education and rhetorical studies (which in today's language might be called literacy education).
I like having "Doc" in my website because of the ambiguity that overlaps the medical profession's concern for healing with the mission of education. My business card tells that I'm committed to liberatory education, a phrase from the work of Paulo Freire, which connects the freeing of the human spirit with the overall health of us individually and as a culture. This is what education should be about. And in a culture in which depression and loss of meaning have become frighteningly prevalent, educators are needed who can care for the well-being of our children and youth. To do this, at least some of us must go beyond the bounds of teaching and thinking within the bounds of literacy-based consciousness. I explore in this website how this might be accomplished through a dynamic integrity which is related to the discipline of dressage (and is explored in the horse section of the website) and is crucially attended in narrative discourse and experience (which relates to the tales) part of the website.
As a native Texan of Celtic ancestry, maybe horses run in my blood, but it took over 40 years to overcome cultural prejudice that favored dress shoes over cowboy boots, white-collar desk jockeys over working in manure, intellectual over instinctual knowing, and the individual human dominance of nature instead of a respectful participation with all peoples including the "four-leggeds." So it's been a long road to being able to experience the unity with a horse that epitomizes the best of my dressage experience. I am not an expert rider, but I claim to know enough about the ecstatic experience of classical dressage to be able to articulate how such a union between horse and human, between raw physical strength and spirited nature is vital to life and culture. This quality does not require everyone to ride a horse, but dressage offers an experience and a metaphor of rare opportunity for individuals and for cultures in need of re-vitalizing. Riding in this way requires extensive disciplined work and often considerable expense. It would hardly begin to be worth it, for the human much less than for the horse, were it not for the incomparable opportunity for advance in consciousness, for healing broken places in spirit-body, and for learning about learning.
One of my favorite storytellers, who can be quite flamboyant, once described himself as a non-practicing shy person. Similarly, given to introversion, I was not really drawn to storytelling until midlife, only a few years before I fell in love with riding. My commitment to storytelling came when I fell under the spell of Gioia Timpanelli who does it not so much as a performance as she does storytelling as an extraordinary way of knowing. I believe she weaves the play of traditional narrative (fairy tale, myth, cultural story) around transcendent images (sometimes called archetypes) in ways that pull the individual and the culture toward life that is better, toward life that is more beautiful, more just, more passionate and even more fun. So for about twenty years I've been building a capacity to tell stories that do this and (as is suggested in the sample tales in the website) I rely on work of Jung and von Franz, as well as many classes I have taught around narrative theory and practice.
January 25, 2006