Category Archives: Theories

Des signes

About this post, from over two weeks ago: it is difficult for me to recognize mistreatment. But my reaction to is a kind of hallucination: I jump to thinking that if I can only calm my mother down and placate her, the pain will stop and I will be released from my cage.

This indicates that if I have that reaction, someone has acted in a very low fashion and wants to me to think it is my fault — and I should try to see what has happened rather than think I am just flashing back randomly.

Axé.

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Filed under Banes, Theories

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.

Axé.

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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.

Axé.

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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.

Axé.

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Filed under Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

The disintegration of the university

“There is no community, but there are still gangs,” someone said.

Axé.

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Final nadería

Note: “El escritor argentino y la tradición” is next, so no, you are not free. And it appears that being only seems to exist because time seems to pass.

No hay tal yo de conjunto. Grimm, en una excelente declaración del budismo (Die Lehre des Buddha, München, 1917), narra el procedimiento eliminador mediante el cual los indios alcanzaron esa certeza. He aquí su canon milenariamente eficaz: Aquellas cosas de las cuales puedo advertir los principios y la postrimería, no son mi yo. Esa norma es verídica y basta ejemplificarla para persuadimos de su virtud. Yo, por ejemplo, no soy la realidad visual que mis ojos abarcan, pues de serlo me mataría toda oscuridad y no quedaría nada en mí para desear el espectáculo del mundo ni siquiera para olvidado. Tampoco soy las audiciones que escucho pues en tal caso debería borrarme el silencio y pasaría de sonido en sonido, sin memoria del anterior. Idéntica argumentación se endereza después a lo olfativo, lo gustable y lo táctil y se prueba con ello, no solamente que no soy el mundo aparencial -cosa notoria y sin disputa- sino que las apercepciones que lo señalan tampoco son mi yo. Esto es, no soy mi actividad de ver, de oír, de oler, de gustar, de palpar. Tampoco soy mi cuerpo, que es fenómeno entre los otros. Hasta ese punto el argumento es baladí, siendo lo insigne su aplicación a lo espiritual. ¿Son el deseo, el pensamiento, la dicha y la congoja mi verdadero yo? La respuesta, de acuerdo con el canon, es claramente negativa, ya que estas afecciones caducan sin anonadar me con ellas. La conciencia -último escondrijo posible para el emplazamiento del yo- se manifiesta inhábil. Ya descartados los afectos, las percepciones forasteras y hasta el cambiadizo pensar, la conciencia es cosa baldía, sin apariencia alguna que la exista reflejándose en ella.

Observa Grimm que este prolijo averiguamiento dialéctico nos deja un resultado que se acuerda con la opinión de Schopenhauer, según la cual el yo es un punto cuya inmovilidad es eficaz para determinar por contraste la cargada fuga del tiempo. Esta opinión traduce el yo en una mera urgencia lógica, sin cualidades propias ni distinciones de individuo a individuo.

Axé.

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Postscript on “positive psychology”

The discussion started on Facebook and continued here. My postscript is that this is the currently official psychology for the masses. (I am told it is elitist to say one does not have a lumpen-mind, and I know there are many professors and intellectuals who do have lumpen-minds, but I do not.)

In the 1990s one was exhorted to be depressed, recognize one’s depression, and so on, and I think this was because people could more easily afford that then and because drugs were being marketed. Now people cannot afford that and the drugs have been exposed as less than perfect.

We adults are to be “positive” and the students are to be “resilient.” I am not surprised, for instance, that the resiliency campaign was announced by Counseling and Testing at the same time as a sexual assault policy had to be created.

Connecting these two things, I infer that if it will now be possible for students to file and win on sexual assault, we need to be ready to insist they be “resilient.” And if they claim greater harm than we can repair, we can say they were not “resilient” enough or have not worked hard enough on their “resilience.”

That is just a hypothetical example. More broadly: now that decisions have been made which do make the future look grim — rising seas, drought — there is nothing left but to “be positive.”

Axé.

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