Sunday, November 28, 2010

The kids are wondering how knowledge quest works.  Part of the answer is that it's a work in progress.

If you go to this facebook group (ask to join and I'll let you in), I've posted links to what it has been, but at bottom what it is is an open-ended attempt to extend the reach of the life of the mind online.  Rather than re-creating an education, it's trying to rethink how we educate ourselves.


It started as a thought experiment about how I"d make a university from the ground up if someone came to me with a blank check and carte blanche to experiment. My initial thought was that I'd take a handful of professors who were experts in their own discipline (not necessarily interdisciplinarians) but whose intellectual and personal interests were broad and have them meet one on one with students, trying to figure out what it was the students thought they were interested in learning and trying to figure out how to channel that into teaching specific disciplinary objectives (doing something that meets up to the rigors of what a liberal arts education is supposed to be but through a different mechanism. E.g. a kid who is interested in globalization is sent to find the best Korma cook in Mumbai while studying Chemistry, comes back reports who she's learned and then is sent maybe to New Orleans to learn music theory and hanging with the Indian-American community there).

Now, I don't have a blank check (not one anyone would cash), but we do can do any kind of experimenting we want, so I've been messing around with the idea of just having people pose me "fundamental" questions, questions they find themselvesreturning to over and over again (mine is "what's the difference between beings and metaphors" but others have involved superheroes, and it could be something as simple as "why do I date the same person again and again?"
Then I'll send you on a knowledge quest. Report back and we'll go from there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Few Words Whispered Out of Calypso's Earshot

Penelope, bas relief. Penelope, sitting with O...Image via Wikipedia
A Few Words Whispered Out of Calypso's Earshot

Entranceless, entranced
circular time,
on the island that each of us
individually is,
bending shorelines, ageless silences.

Dispel this maudlin grist,
these meaningless reflections!

Over the waters,
annihilated by the commotion
of the wind and wave whither its words are borne,
the night spoke to me in a voice
that could not have been my own
as it painted a smile
whose anonymous eyes far outstripped
what I remembered your face 
to be.

When I heard those shapely lines,
My self-certitude melted like Descartes' wax.
My memory failed me,
ravaged by time's vicissitudes,
(spent, perhaps, too strenuously elsewhere),
a mute and feeble thing
that holds in its emptied form
only this last recurring theme:

How I long for you to return.
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