Archive for May, 2007

Another Vacation

Today marks the end of Maymester. Two weeks of classes, four hours at a time, every day. And did I say anything about the HUGE amount of reading and MANY papers that had to be written? Of course, anyone who takes a Maymester class ought to understand that the workload is going to be heavy. Here’s the bottom line: it was a great course, and I was, once again, caught up in the energy of learning that seems to permeate every class I take. Thank you, Professor H…….

Now, to attend to the grass, the dirty windows, the files scattered everywhere in my study center (2nd bedroom, begrudgingly allowed by the wife), and some rest and relaxation. School starts again on Tuesday, and I’ll be raring to go!

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Web 2.0

Fascinating

Sea Turtles


My wife works for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in an administrative capacity. One of the programs had a spot of bother and she was able to help them through some small logistical crisis. In return, the program folks, who are involved in the Sea Turtle program (link here), named one of their tagged turtles in her honor. The program captures, tags, and releases sea turtles and then tracks their movements for as long as the tracking device transmits location data. “Our” turtle, or to be more precise, “her” turtle, loitered in the coastal waters of Florida near Cape Canaveral for a while, but recently has fled North (like all good seasonal residents of Florida do). The tracking data is here. It is amazing to see the range of these magnificent creatures, and to see the commitment of the people that are trying to preserve the species. They need our support.

Remainder – Tom McCarthy

Cross posted…….

Remainder

Tom McCarthy has received much acclaim for his first novel, and rightly so. The writer-turned-artist has crafted a story that is unique, provocative, and intelligent. While pushing the envelope, he has used the medium of the novel to explore the questions of reality, memory, authority, and obsession in a unique way. Like the epic theater movement, founded by Bertolt Brecht in the early twentieth century, Remainder presents an idea and asks the reader to make his or her own judgment about the story; here, put another way, is a further definition of the Brechtian approach: “Epic theatre assumes that the purpose of a play, more than entertainment or the imitation of reality, is to present ideas and invites the audience to make judgments on them.”

And, thus empowered by the author, we are free to arrive at our own evaluation of Remainder. Able to observe, dispassionately, the struggle of a disturbed man battered by both misfortune and great fortune, for whom the re-creation of his past becomes the driving force in his life, we can, with clarity of vision and lack of emotion observe the search for self by a man who has neither. We can watch as he relentlessly marches towards madness, taking others with him, in the pursuit of the unobtainable. Or, we can regard the novel as an absurd work of art whose purpose is the minute examination of the inner processes of a disturbed man, providing no meaning for us other than as an abstraction of a bizarre idea. Like Brecht, McCarthy presents an idea; the rest is up to us.

James Wood, Harold Bloom, and the Aesthetic Approach

Cross posted at close Reading:

A morning without class! What a relief… immediately tempered by the awareness that a morning which includes a leisurely patrol through both the newspaper and the blogosphere must be followed by an afternoon of intense study of an opera of the epic theater school, requiring notes for a review, and, alas, an evening of writing a review of Remainder. The machinery of education never stops, grinding inexorably to its conclusion regardless of the wishes of the student.

In the morning’s peregrination was an e-mail of a book review, courtesy of Powell’s, that was enjoyable, but which also had,in the sidebar, a review of The Road that I had not seen before. In our classroom study, we have come across the name James Wood and, seeing that he was the author of said review, I dove in. Believing in the total immersion method of learning, I also resolved to read the review using the technique (at least as I understand it) advocated by Francine Prose in her wonderful book Reading Like A Writer.

I liked Wood’s review for his analysis, his appreciation for the words and the style, and for an absence of the politicization that one sees in some reviews/criticism in other writing. Perhaps, in a moment of clarity, I liked it because I agreed with it (thus injecting my bias, but so what?). Having the luxury of a few moments to invest in an investigation, I searched the blogosphere for information about Woods. Quickly found was his interest in the aesthetic approach to criticism, also an approach favored by Harold Bloom. Given that we have so far seen many different approaches to reviews and criticism, it occurs to me that the first, and maybe most important, lesson of this course is that we should be free to say whatever we think, or feel, about the subject of our reviews. Now erased from the memory banks is the notion that the formulaic approach to writing papers, that forms the syllabus of introductory English classes, is the preferred approach to writing. It is as if we have been provided a foundation upon which to write correctly, and now we are freed to write from our hearts instead of with our minds.

Interesting.

The Reader

Virginia Woolf:

I have sometimes dreamt, at least, that when the Day of Judgement dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards – their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble – the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them here. They have loved reading.’

“The Second Common Reader”

The Firehose

Maymester=10 days=1 semester.

Drink deeply from the firehose. Don’t choke.

Liberal Arts Education=too many good courses/not enough time=drink deeply from the firehose.

Why did I wait so long? Why did I waste all those years?

Drink deeply from the firehose.


“Life’s hard, son. It’s harder when you’re stupid.” — The Duke.

Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate,no despotism can enslave. At home, a friend, abroad, an introduction, in solitude a solace and in society an ornament.It chastens vice, it guides virtue, it gives at once grace and government to genius. Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, a reasoning savage. - Joseph Addison
The term informavore (also spelled informivore) characterizes an organism that consumes information. It is meant to be a description of human behavior in modern information society, in comparison to omnivore, as a description of humans consuming food. George A. Miller [1] coined the term in 1983 as an analogy to how organisms survive by consuming negative entropy (as suggested by Erwin Schrödinger [2]). Miller states, "Just as the body survives by ingesting negative entropy, so the mind survives by ingesting information. In a very general sense, all higher organisms are informavores." - Wikipedia

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