Until our departments hire mystics, we may never know why some classes fall flat. We sit afterwards in quietude, trying to understand, but often it’s as futile as trying to piece together a shattered flowerpot. Better just to use one of the bigger shards to promote drainage in a new pot, and move on.
Last Thursday students swarmed me after lecture to say how great it had been for them, and their e-mails came into the night. In the fog of hubris, I can only remember that I prepped well, ate a light lunch, and sat alone under a maple tree along a sports field for the half hour before class.
Yesterday’s lecture was another matter, and analysis only suggests the limits of reason. Let's see: Before it started, I ate a sub sandwich dripping with oil and vinegar as I read Wendell Berry’s “Thoughts in the Presence of Fear.” Then I met Mrs. Churm for coffee to discuss how to break the news to Starbuck, shortly after the death of his grandfather and a family pet, of the death of the retired physician who baked cookies every week with his Montessori class. When I finally began my lecture, my PowerPoint presentation, created on my Mac, wouldn’t launch on the PC in my million-dollar wired classroom.
In the end, I did a perfectly adequate close reading of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but all those students who loved last Thursday’s lecture on Tolstoy’s religious sense glared at me for pointing out the diction of religion (“Pilgrims…prayed” to ivory) in colonialist greed.
So let's forget about all that, and go to this website sent by alert reader A. Frame, where we can buy librarians we love cool tattoos.
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