Day 362: Teaching Strategies

You are an English teacher. You have to teach a class that introduces students to literary postmodernism in 75 minutes, using two short stories. The short stories have been selected, the lecture has been written out, and the general point that needs to come across is neatly packaged into small thought-experiments that tie together parts of the short stories and larger philosophical discussions regarding such things as language, narrativizing knowledge, reality, futurity, etc. The format of the class, as it stands, is a lecture with added interaction based on making students’ minds play with confusing and at times funny logical problems. If, however, you really wanted to impress someone with this lesson you are teaching, what else is there to do? This is a problem I am trying to work through this weekend.

Mind you, you only have this one class to impress someone. You do NOT know the students yet (i.e. you’re teaching someone else’s class and the students have been working on a different period all semester), it’s a large, rising/stadium-seated course (let’s say 40 to 50 students) with you behind a lectern at the bottom of the room. You therefore do not have the luxury of experimenting with things such as groupwork, taking the course beyond the classroom, using technology as an experimental teaching/learning tool, etc. Hence, what can you do to make the students say: “this was fun, very informative, and made me think–I want to know more; where can I sign up for the next class?” Yes, the lecture itself is the main concern here, but what else is there that distinguishes one from other teachers in such a situation. Not having access to my regular techniques, I am feeling somewhat limited in this regard. Any ideas?

Oh, and on a very different note: this week’s episode of Lost was finally a good one again. You can find a great little (comical) synopsis of its highlights on ELECTRA’s blog.

Day 310: Cloverfield

I need to see a different post than Day 306 when I get to this page. Hence, just quickly, here some info on a new movie that’s coming out in a little less than a month, which I am quite excited about (mainly because of the flurry of cultural, affective and marketing activity surrounding the release and the production of the film). It’s a new J.J. Abrams production that seems to be very much in the spirit of Lost. Here some basic background info. I also love the film’s aesthetics (of destruction) and the fact that it is entirely filmed with handheld cameras.


Day 216: Know Your Enemy…

… is a fantastic song. However, it has nothing to do with what follows. Or does it? No, no. Not really. I am a very friendly person. That is, if you are not…

ok, this may take too long 🙂

I have been tagged by anaj to answer 19 questions. Apparently, this is some new thing going around the blogosphere. I wonder: why 19? And who cares? (Do we actually care to find out something of substance about the people whose blog we read? Is this really an attempt to build a social community that has depth? Or is this purely an exercise in narcissism? I suspect it may be the latter. Seriously, Hardt and Negri aside, isn’t the social component of the internet less about finding and connecting with someone you find interesting than doing things so that lots of people will find you interesting–the desire to connect seems less democratic than purely flowing into one single direction [i.e. the enjoyment arising from building a community of virtual stalkers who stalk an ideally, digitally projected version of yourself?–i.e. is the the consentual, collective creation of social simulacra?]) In this spirit, here are my answers:

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
I have LOTS of scars. I used to be both a very stupid child and a rather self-destructive teenager. There are also lots of weird medical or embarassing stories to tell here. Ask me if you really want to hear more. (Ok–one quick, harmless one: I have a big scar on my upper lip that is the result of a toilet door splitting my lip completely in the middle (vertically)–was hard to get back together but now it is not too noticeable) 

2. What does your phone look like? List your reasons to buy it?
It is black and silver. It is scratched and banged up. It allows me to communicate with people who are otherwise not visually or audibly accessible to me.

3. What is on the walls of your bedroom?
A Che flag and a painting/collection of quotes of Sacco and Vanzetti. Oh, and a Metropolis poster and prints of van Gogh’s Guernica and Man with Guitar.

4. What is your current desktop picture?
Yves Tanguy, Indefinite Divisibility

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?
I don’t believe in marriage, period. However, I also believe that craziness is not specific to gender or sexual orientation, so if a gay person is really crazy enough to want to get married, he/she should be allowed to express his/her craziness in the same way heterosexual people are allowed to do.

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
I want to be done with my dissertation and have a job lined up so I can concentrate on drinking and hiking through the desert/mountains by myself for a few months.

7 . What time were you born?
no idea

8. Are your parents still together?

9. Last person who made you cry?
Don’t want to say.

10. What is your favorite perfume / cologne?
Cool Water (that is what I use most frequently, at least)

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?
Every combination, really (well, red and white is a little freaky but who am I to judge–I had a bunny once who could make that shit work!). I have to admit, however, that I do have a serious fetish for black hair and bright blue eyes.

12. What are you listening to? Why?
Wind in trees. My window is open.

13. Do you get scared of the dark?
If I do, I pretend to be Chuck Norris and then the dark gets scared of me. 

14. Do you like painkillers?

15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
Yes. In fact, I have never done so.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
Anything that would require outdoor fire/barbecue to be prepared, which in turn would require me drinking beer while preparing it, which would mean that I am done with writing for the next few days, because otherwise I would not have time to do this.

17. Who was the last person who made you mad?

18. List one habit you have that has the potential to annoy people?
I tend to isolate myself for long periods of time and unintentionally alienate people when I write (it is apparently quite annoying, bordering on the cruel).

19. Who was the last person who made you smile?
Someone in the street who gave me what seemed to be a really big, uninhibited and honest smile and said: “hi!” this morning when I got back from buying coffee. Isn’t that just the best beginning for a day?

I guess I also have to tag other people. Let’s see. I hereby tag: Joanna, Shannon, Red Crochet, Dejan, caveblogem and ELECTRA.

Day 215: Sam Shepard

A very late post today, I know. I did not have time to write earlier and I don’t really have the time now (trying to finish a chapter revision that needs to be sent out tomorrow). So, here briefly an excerpt of a Sam Shepard play that kept me smiling today:

ELLA: Why can’t you just cooperate?

EMMA: Because it’s deadly. It leads to dying.

ELLA: You’re not old enough to talk like that.

Day 210: Rambo 4 Trailer

Cerebraljetsam is experiencing cerebral overload.

too many insults

too many cynical jokes

too much disappointment

too many (frankly way too obvious, one would think) points of critique

here the trailer:

The trailer above might not work any more (copyright). If so, try this one instead:

Day 209: The Bank of Common Knowledge

Read about this in a Bruce Sterling piece. This is interesting and theoretically screwy in so many ways. Interesting concept, which, however, will once again illustrate the many similarities, yet the final political/practical differences between Hardt and Negri and viral marketing strategies. Let’s just call it “deliberative democratic capitalism.” What really happens to knowledge and its political “use-value” on the individual level if it is increasingly applied, disseminated and stored in a way that, as Lyotard suggests “externalizes knowledge with respect to the knower?” The very concept of “urban survival” becomes re-defined along the lines of this increasingly totalitarian form of alienation (of the knower from knowledge), transforming the networks of knowledge often thought to contain the possibility for creating democratic networks (directed at action) into alienated, exteriorized networks of knowledge, purely functional as a means of viral distribution, not connected to concepts of use as much as primarily and maybe singularly to the logic of exchange and reproduction. Take a look:

P.S.: “exchange and gift economy”–hee, hee! Yeah, as noble a transaction as the interaction between the knowledge-gift receiving person and the Astroturfer!

Day 208: Global Warming, DeVito and Beer

After Hollywood has successfully turned an important discussion (global warming) that required actual radical political changes, which needed to be founded upon ideological changes, into a mere fad that will most likely not lead to permanent transformations but will be forgotten by most in about a year or two (“anti-global warming was sooo 2006/07”–maybe it will come back like the 1960s concern with peace and the social bond that was turned into the Love Parade and its connected fashion industry), I am still hopeful when I see that serious (grassroots) organizations/campaigns still fight the good fight and try to popularize the discussion in good, i.e. effective (i.e. smarter than DiCaprio’s latest sorry attempt), ways. Here a Sierra Club program that really spoke to me: picking “green beer:”

Oh, and the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelpha (which, I must admit, has been amusing me to no end–really a form of comedy I appreciate–sorry!) worked with the Sierra Club as well. Here the ad:

The link to the Sierra Club homepage can be found in my blogroll–they do a lot of really great stuff. Also: subscribe to the “Daily Ray of Hope” service. Good thing to wake up to.