Fragments

Someone suggested we write an essay, an ideological intervention, against the reconfiguration of the university as workforce preparation.

It appears that already in the 1950s it was noted that Americans had been trained to work, but not to live. Entertainment is the opium of these masses, so that they are not energized to seek more spontaneous forms of living, and they need second jobs because their houses and household objects were engineered for obsolescence and require replacement from time to time.

My most successful student is that because she learned a great deal about how to live, how to spend leisure time, in college.

This is the kind of essay I like to write, and these take some research.

In travel plans I still need, at this time: a RENFE/SNCF tickets both to the Autun area and on to Paris, and a place to stay in Paris. For December, I need a place to stay on the way down to Los Angeles; perhaps Cambria, and perhaps some Air Bed and Breakfast near LAX … Marina del Rey, for instance. I need a place to stay in S.F./Marin as well. All of these things should be acquired sooner rather than later, from what I can tell.

Something I should aspire to, and should have been aspiring to for some time, are artists’ retreats like this. I was born to organize, born to write, and born to take long walks; these are my main characteristics, I think.

That was me before Reeducation and I am becoming that person again, only moreso. I am eating lunch at home, vegetables and complicated salads. Tofu. Carrots. Chicken fricassée with local hens.

There was a day when I was not depressed at all. Not depressed does not mean happy, it means you are feeling well physically, your mind is clear, and you are comfortable within yourself. You do not have to think about yourself or about how to handle pain, but think straight out about the world.

That had to do with having swum a long way the day before and worked on poetry that night, and with wearing clothes I liked and shoes that align my spine, but it was new since merely doing these things was not enough to make me un-depressed before. I am changing, learning to do what I want, perhaps.

There is much I could recount. Last summer I learned that one should fight on one’s own side but this summer I will learn that one must love oneself if one is to do this perfectly. I had a dream I cannot remember, that had to do with my mother and made me want to write a piece of fiction on her, about the complexity of people and on how one cannot come to “resolution” or a conclusion about who somebody was or, necessarily, what they meant.

There were so many things I renounced, but among them were self-love and meditation. There are two things I am lacking, and they are feeling comfortable where I live and having greater access to research culture. One thing I do not give myself enough credit for is how discouraging our job is, the atmosphere at our job, the people at our job; this must be recognized so it can be actively combatted. One thing I notice is that I have friends in Maringouin now.

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Nervous Colonialism

There is a new study on colonial nervousness. This is, of course, not a new topic. Our condition in Maringouin is also colonial, and this is likely the source of our nerves (Maringouin being one of the more nervous places I have lived).

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¿No hay tal yo de conjunto?

Consider this.

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El castigo sin venganza

Lope de Vega composed it in 1631, when he was 68. This performance was realized in the Globe Theatre, in 2014. The play is now 384 years old.

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Goddesses of Suicide

A. I just wrapped a 6th form course at Campion College on critical thinking, and one of the biggest challenges the kids are facing is being funnelled into careers they have no interest in because their parents insist that they need to undertake those professions to make money. The implicit message is that you should live a life you loathe in order to buy things that will make up for hating what you do every day. How did we get here? When I point out that success comes in many forms — like the power couple of science teaching Kippy and Jeannie Chin who are responsible for educating something like 90 per cent of the doctors in Jamaica today, or Principal Grace Baston who integrated Campion and made it available to a broader spectrum of Jamaican society — many give me confused looks. Let’s not kid ourselves, money — which has always been important — has now become the only standard of value. Capitalism, which started out as an economic system, one which told us how to organise labour and capital, has now surreptitiously morphed into a value system telling us now what constitutes the good life.

B. When I told my parents that I wanted to study philosophy and religion in college, they were simply thrilled that I wanted to be erudite and educated. No one ever asked what I would do with that. I shudder to think of how today’s parents would have ushered me off to law school to become another bored and alienated lawyer. Suicide may have loomed larger for me if I had to live a life which was not my choosing. How do you see the suicides where mothers leave young children behind, or the pilot who takes 150 passengers with him? Is that darkness somehow different than the “ordinary” suicide?

A. [O]ne of the most undiagnosed forms of child abuse in our societies is unleashed by parents who place these burdens on their children. If we really want to have a real conversation about alienation, depression and suicide then let’s talk about parents who bring children into the world and then charge them for it. To be birthed and then expected to justify your existence, first to your parents, by being a financially commoditised object is pure evil! So, parents need to start by allowing their children the freedom to fail, pick themselves up, and then even fail again, and to honour the unique talents their children have and not put them through the psychological equivalent of Chinese foot-binding.

Read the whole thing.

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“El secreto está en dejarse la vida en ello”

That is the writing advice given by a journalist in this schlocky film. It is very different from the advice about forcing yourself with alarm clocks while holding it all back in a combination of anti-perfectionism (anything is good enough) and decorum (say something that will be confirm the convictions of the editors) that the professors give.

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On close reading

Close reading shapes how I teach in decisive ways. In order to help students find topics about which to write, I let them read texts closely. Not only do I teach the critical thinking skills discussed above, all of which rely on close reading, but students practise these skills regularly. Before most class meetings, students read at least one new text. I guide their reading in the form of worksheets uploaded to the IVLE workbin two to three days before class. Each sheet provides a clear outline of the aims and objectives for the class concerned, and situates the class in terms of the module while providing context to the readings for the day. The sheet further poses questions concerning the reading and requires students to pose their own questions on it. Thus students are constantly required to engage closely with the texts they read and justify their reading of the texts. This forms the basis of all class meetings, which in turn are linked to their paper assignments. Close reading of sources (whether texts or real-world phenomena being studied) is thus fundamental to my teaching. It serves not only to equip students with the ability to observe closely and ask critical questions, but to produce well-crafted and persuasively argued essays. Far from fetishising close reading, this is merely an acknowledgement of its centrality in the process of independent inquiry.

Here is the entire article. I am not always up on everything and it has come to my attention that close reading went out of fashion as “elitist” and is now coming back in. This is how I should teach the introduction to literature, but I might also want to have creative projects. Perhaps ONE creative project. I used to not believe in these, for various reasons I am sure you can guess at (ask if you are not sure), but I am starting to wonder whether they might not be a good idea.

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