The Two Hands Approach to the English Language:
A Symphonic Assemblage

more than 10 years in the making

When was the last time anyone proposed a daring and radical, imaginative and innovative approach to the study of English — and bagged it together with scores of student compositions and the best that the times have to offer?

The two Volumes of (totaling 1600+ pages) provide an integral, fresh, and comprehensive survey of 5 key components of the English Language, with 55 innovations: (1) in a revolutionary method of Vocabulary Acquisition; (2) in a dramatically revamped Grammar; (3) in a clear and vividly memorable presentation of Punctuation; (4) in an innovative Pedagogy for teaching Writing; and (5) in a new, more effective method of Reading. Even more notably, the book introduces a model of creative and critical thinking for all disciplines of learning. An additional, remarkably unique feature of the two volumes is that they contain 271 student compositions — totaling 480 pages — which notate and footnote what the volumes identify as the 11 essential Sentence Forms used in all English writing. For the first time the Volumes demonstrate a radically simple and effective method by which all students everywhere in the world
can learn to write competent prose within a year as well as powerful techniques for dramatically improving the Thinking and Reading skills of students. Finally, the two Volumes introduce an innovative genre of academic scholarship called the Symphonic Assemblage which affords widened scope and opportunity for integrating insights, connections and discoveries across academic disciplines, varied cultures, and national boundaries. Good writing, thinking, and reading are within the reach of everyone!

Volume I: The Opening, The Mother Tongue (824 pages)

55 Innovations in the Two Hands Approach to the English Language: a Symphonic Assemblage

Scribd doc should display in i-frame Table of Contents -- The Two Hands Approach to the English Language: a Symphonic Assemblage (Vol. I)

Volume II: The Father Tongue,
The Imaginative Tongue, The Closing
(828 pages)


Scribd doc should display in i-frame Table of Contents - The Two Hands Approach to the English Language: a Symphonic Assemblage (Vol. II)

We have received some encouraging feedback on our these 2 volumes. One encouraging email was from Steve McIntosh, (home page author of

Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution: How the integral worldview is transforming politics, culture, and spirituality. McIntosh summarizes the thought mindsets (memes) (ways of thinking that give way to certain cultural characteristics of previous and current phases of history. These phases are summarized in a spiral

The spiral implies that there is a lateral and circular (cyclic) aspect to these phases, but also that there is something progressive and cumulative.
Here is his email:

May 19, 2010 . . . Thank you for sending me your 2 volume manual, The Two Hands Approach. This is really a major piece of work, and I congratulate you both on the completion of such an ambitious effort. I am glad to see the integral perspective inspiring work like this. Please keep in touch. Cordially, Steve McIntosh

[2012 August 23]

[synonymous term] Philosopher Christopher Sunami ponders the unponderable and has grabbed on to and elaborated the concept of a reconstructivist theory of art. This word fully acknowledges the fact that we must not discard what is precious and retrievable from the foggy ruins of time (Dylan, Mr Tambourine Man). Assemble, re-assemble, deconstruct and re-assemble, re-construct, intalligrate (tally + integrate), — our list of words describing the process gets bigger as the idea takes root.

[2012 July 8]

[quote] At the beginning of their careers many writers have a need to overwrite. They choose carefully turned-out phrases; they want to impress their readers with their large vocabularies. By the excesses of their language, these young men and women try to hide their sense of inexperience. With maturity the writer becomes more secure in his ideas. He finds his real tone and develops a simple and effective style. ~ Jorge Luis Borges (via Amanda Patterson on Google+)
[quote] A "symbol" grows in its own way, out of the facts." --Saul Bellow

The guiding metaphor that best applies to an assemblage in-the-making will reveal itself in due course.
[article] This is the first part of an article by D.G.Kehl entitled Higher Educanto: Doublespeak in Academe which appeared in A Review of General Semantics, Vol. 51, 1994.

Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Paul Greenberg, also questions the use of educanto and obscure jargon in a proposed report card design.

[2012 July 7]

[look book] by Cripsin Sartwell Six Names of Beauty. I am currently wending my way through this book and am quite liking (1) Mr. Sartwell's welcoming of terms and concepts from other languages; (2) his deft weaving of personal elements into his contemplation of the profound. For example, in the chapter on Sundara (the Sanskrit word for beauty), he contemplates the history of reggae music and its distinctions on the mantle of musical meritocracy (see excerpt here). He hints that the repetitive percussive beat in reggae hints at the repetition of chanting. He does not get into bhajans or Hindu devotional chants, although that would seem to be an important connected area to dovetail in to the picture.
[to-look book] by Cripsin Sartwell End of Story: Toward an Annihilation of Language and History. I include this title as a direct contrast to the lines of integral thought that we are introducing. I don't have access yet to a copy of this work. According to the book description at, Sartwell "recommends a lapse into ecstatic or mundane incoherence." As much as I lean towards support for moments of speechlessness, epiphanic moments, I do feel, in contrast to Sartwell, that language is the grab and garb with which we relate our experiences of the world and will always remain so. I am not sure if he is recommending that we seek temporary refugee from the Father Tongue and decamp to the Mother Tongue side or decamp to the Imaginative Tongue side.
I suppose, however, that his book is a book that contrasts with and could be read in tandem with my friend and colleague Richard Dowling's book, The Youth and Maturity of Humanity: Interpreting Modern, American, and Impending Global History as One Story.
Certainly, we should all be brought up to speed as to the tenor of the times. Dylan was absolutely right when he said, The times they are a'changin'.

[2012 June 22]

[paper] Sieve, Incubator, Temple, Hub We identify some of the central metaphors sociologists have invoked or implied when describing higher education, explaining that sociologists have conceived of higher education systems as sieves for regulating the mobility processes underlying the allocation of privileged positions in the society, incubators for the development of competent social actors, and temples for the legitimation of of?cial knowledge. We add that sociologists have not yet fully appreciated the plurality of institutional domains in which higher education is implicated: the labor market and the larger economy, the professions and the sciences, the philanthropic sector, the family, and the nationstate. The peculiar location of higher education at the intersection of multiple institutions encourages us to argue that higher education should also be seen as a hub, connecting multiple social processes that often are regarded as distinct.
[pioneer source] James Champlin Fenald
[book] Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education
[book] Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses from a comment about this book The authors' research and observations confirm what I see as very disturbing trends as I teach courses that involve complex, critical reasoning, and as I follow the experiences of current and recent undergraduates. Each year there has been a very noticeable decline in preparation for higher-level thinking. The students I encounter increasingly expect that they can succeed academically with shallow thinking and little effort by employing the social and strategic credential management skills that the authors describe. Those who seek a more meaningful intellectual experience feel surrounded.

The authors' observations about the importance of studious solitude and its increasing scarcity have obvious implications about the evolution of academic life. But I wonder if it is even worse than they describe. For example, the study hours they include in their data may be overly generous. Today, even those who want to learn and sit down to "study" are likely to be immersed in social media and other consumptive diversions. Students have many ways to avoid sinking into the depths of a subject or struggling with well-developed analytical writing, as the authors note. They rarely get honest and helpful criticism aimed at their individual intellectual and ethical development. I fear that the authors' important observations are only the tip of the iceberg. I hope that earnest students will read this book and set their own course.

[2012 June 5]

[quote] Leif Wenar in Contractualism and Global Economic Justice Thomas W. Pogge (ed)'s Global Justice: "Institutions often have greater skills in predicting consequences, more accurate and systematic memories, greater ability to carry through plans, and more power to influence others' decisions (O'Neill 1986, 37-8). One would think, therefore, that more could be expected from them."
Wenar is comparing the influence that an institution (such as a University) has compared to the influence that an individual has. He says that Individuals face a daunting causal nexus, but institutions have a causal efficacy that individuals lack. In other words, institutions can instigate (or not instigate) actions import intelligent, substantial beneficence They can continue to operate in isolation from the peoples and problems that pertain to their local population and in isolation from the complex global problems facing humanity at this point in time.
[quote] Andrew Hurrell in Global Inequality and International Institutions in Thomas W. Pogge (ed)'s Global Justice: "It is difficult to write on global inequality without at least trying to confront the yawning gap that exists between theory and practice, and without thinking, even briefly, about some of the factors that may explain it. Saffran puts the challenge to moral cosmopolitans well: 'Since our moral theories lead to implications so contrary to any likely behaviour, they clearly omit important considerations and we should be skeptical about their cogency' (Saffran 1989, 319)."Watson's notes: In other words, as related to Ph.D. programs that lead to added in-depth knowledge on a specific topic with a particular discipline, but do not lead to knowledge links between disciplines and cultures which would lead to greater dialogue, reciprocity, problem-solving.
[article] Mary Ann Mason contemplates The Future of the Ph.D. in The Chronicle of Higher Education
[bloggit] Is this the end of the Ph.D. as we know it? by americanbiotechnologist
[article]Leonard Cassuto ponders Changing the Way We Socialize Doctoral Students
[book] Christine Pearson Casanave (ed.) addresses "he textual features and conventions that characterize and underlie the advanced literacy practices at graduate school and examining the unwritten rules and expectations of participation and interpersonal relationships between advisors and advisees and among peers." in Learning the Literacy Practices of Graduate School: Insiders' Reflections on Academic Enculturation
[book] Christine Pearson Casanave says that "academic writing is a game-like social and political as well as discoursal practice that takes place within communities of practice, and that writers' practices and identities in academic settings change over time." in her book Writing Games: Multicultural Case Studies of Academic Literacy Practices in Higher Education
[quote] James A. Berlin in Rhetorics, Poetics, and Cultures: refiguring college English studies: The old language of the intuitive visionary — the 'true self,' the 'quiet moment,' the universal discovery — is gone, and it is the work of young writers to arrive at its replacement. This will mean that those studying writing in the academy will have to be liberally educated, 'learning about philosophy, religion, sociology, history — aesthetic and literary as well as political — art, and most of all, science, that realm of activity that most controls our modern world.'
[state writing assessment report]In Florida, officials are having to lower the passing grade on the results for the writing portion of the FCAT (Florida College Admissions Test). View a few comments here.

Quote from the poem Synamism by Lorine Niedecker

"        Add and add and you'll see it,
and there's nothing less."

Another micro-assemblage

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother.
A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown?
What's that suppose to mean? In my heart it don't mean a thing."
~Toni Morrison from the novel Beloved, 1987
"I'll always remember you like a child, . . ."
- Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam) from the song Wild World from the album Tea for the Tillerman
"May you stay forever young"
~Bob Dylan from the song Forever Young from the album Planet Waves

These 3 clips hinge on an emerging theme that is about recognizing the child (and youth) in someone (especially one's offspring or a close friend), even if they are fully grown adults. This perspective is possibly only after maturity. A mature person recognizes the stages of life.
So, too, a mature person who knows history well will realize that humanity's history parallels that of an individual person. Collectively, humanity is just now entering the Integral Age or Age of Maturity.

[2012 March 21]

Quote from Gustav Mahler on the Symphonic form

"The symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything."

Wikipedia explains: "True to this belief, Mahler drew material from many sources into his songs and symphonic works: bird calls and cow-bells to evoke nature and the countryside, bugle fanfares, street melodies and country dances to summon the lost world of his childhood. Life's struggles are represented in contrasting moods: the yearning for fulfilment by soaring melodies and chromatic harmony, suffering and despair by discord, distortion and grotesquerie. Amid all this is Mahler's particular hallmark—the constant intrusion of banality and absurdity into moments of deep seriousness, typified in the second movement of the Fifth Symphony when a trivial popular tune suddenly cuts into a solemn funeral march."

In a like fashion, the Symphonic Assemblage draws from the vast ocean of knowledge and the languishing halls of history, and it, too, plays with counterplacement of hitherto thought otherwise unrelated items.

Unity in diversity

We are at an important juncture in our history. In this new Era, our reach should exceed our grasp, and our future should include our past. Whether we like it or not, we are building upon all our pasts — your grandparents and ancestors and forefathers and foremothers. What John Lukacs did not mention in his description of the new form, novelized history (rather than historical novel), is that this form of literature is an imaginative way to paste together the pages of the past. Hard times call for hard decisions and hard evaluations; they also call for imagination and new perspectives and creative contemplation.

The writers of these 2 books on the Symphonic Assemblage see it as a prototype or sample of a new form of scholarship, perhaps as something that can go alongside the mammoth paper of dissertation. Scholarship needs to have depth as well as range. Perhaps our very survival as a species will require and welcome the new, expansive, and integral nature of Assemblage.

Stephen R. Covey wrote that Difference is the beginning of synergy. A wider view requires an allowance and tolerance for variation and differences. Yet, like alloyed steel, the outcome is something unpredictably amazing. A desire for greater inclusivity among researchers, across disciplines (and the need to communicate with the public at large in a language that is comprehensible) must spearhead this movement in research, giving us synergetic scholarship, fused forms, new crystal structures, new speckled landscapes. This process is called assembling.

The recasting, the renaming, and the rendering of the important aspects of the English language in clear, concise, and easy-to-read charts is an obvious challenge that many previous approaches to the study of English have missed or covered only partially. But this can only be done at this culminating time in history when sound waves and laser light are continuously cabled and transmitted round the globe and history's harvest is now within keyboard reach. New technologies and new software are tools that the English instructor can use in now sorting and synthesizing the repast of the past, and in doing so in a visually appealing way.

The visual side is certainly not missing in our Approach. I remember my high school years in a science lab or geography classroom with charts and diagrams galore. But — unfortunately — English classrooms would be lucky to have a movie poster or poster of the Tower of London or William Shakespeare. When I taught at Gumoh University in Gumi, I was always impressed with the framed (powerpoint?) graphic charts that showed processes or materials in a colorful and visually appealing way.

In this slim book, more than 150 poster charts fill the void and could well adorn the walls of any English classroom, thus providing an initial attempt at delineating the mechanics and intricacies of language (and English in particular) in much the same way that the science lab is not averse to showing its complexity by exhibiting analytical diagrams, scaled miniatures, and key timelines on its walls. Why are English classroom walls so lacking in charts and posters? Our Poster Chart book is an attempt, therefore, to render unto Language — that cat's cradle and catch basin of reality — the focussed attention, the simplification, the elucidation, and the scrutiny that it so certainly merits.


A leading quote

"On the day when death will knock at thy door, what will thou offer him? I will set before my guest the full vessel of my life. I will never let him go with empty hands."
Sir Rabindranath Tagore

Another leading quote

"This is the space in which accumulation becomes the very stuff of life, through persuading the population to become its own prime asset — a kind of people mine (in a mineral sense) of reflexive knowledgeability."
Kris Olds and Nigel Thrift in Cultures on the Brink: Reengineering the Soul of Capitalism — on a Global Scale in Aiwa Ong and Stephen J.Collier's Global Assemblages

A micro-assemblage

"God helps those who help themselves." (American proverb)

"Trust in God but tie your camel." (Hadith attributed to Muhammad)

"God gave us the nuts but He will not crack them for us." Goethe

These 3 sentences touch on the theme of Divine assistance and self-help, grace and good works. It could be the start or seed for an essay or book.

Assemblages start small but gather substance and steam for those perceptive enough to see connections between people, stories, events, lyrics, research reports and facts, and all literary genres.

Two relevant quotes

". . . never before has the proliferation of writings outside the academy so counterpointed the composition inside."

"never before have the technologies of writing contributed so quickly to the creation of new genres."
Kathleen Blake Yancey in Made not only in words: Composition in a new key (2004) in Alanna Frost, Julie A.Myatt, and Stephen Smith's Multiple Modes of Production in a College Writing Class (2009) which in turn is part of Anne Herrington, Kevin Hodgson, and Charles Moran (eds) Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st Century Classroom (2009)

Some stunning observations from the one and only Ursula LeGuinn

About Reading (and its sometimes ponderous nature) contrasted with Viewing
"Reading is an active transaction between the text and the reader. The text is under the control of the reader — she can skip, linger, interpret, misinterpret, return, ponder, go along with the story or refuse to go along with it, make judgements, revise her judgments; she has time and room to genuinely interact."

"Fiction is experience translated by, transformed by, transfigured by imagination. Truth includes but is not coextensive with fact. Truth in art is not limitation, but incarnation."

"In a factual history or memoir, the raw material of experience, to be valuable, has to be selected, arranged, and shaped. In a novel, the process is even more radical: the raw materials are not only selected and shaped but fused, composted, recombined, reworked, reconfigured, reborn, and at the same time allowed to find their own forms and shapes, which may be only indirectly related to rational thinking. The whole thing may end up looking like pure invention. A girl chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a monster. A mad captain and a white whale. A ring that confers absolute power. A dragon.
But there's no such thing as pure invention. It all starts with experience. Invention is recombination. We can work only with what we have."

Urusala LeGuin in __ [title at another location and to be added later]

See our companion derivation work, New Angle on Writing, a kind of condensed 2 volume series designed for teaching a 1-year foundational course in writing. These books were written after the 2-volume Symphonic Assemblage.
The books are slimmer: there are no passages by famous writers and there are much fewer student compositions.

There are 3 parts to the book: Introduction, Teacher, Student. The system is of such simplicity that anyone who goes through the Student section can subsequently turn around and teach the system. The entire books are online. Also, check out Friar Richard's video. The website is

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