Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On teaching and life





Magic and Problems when writing as a first-person narrator

First person is the most difficult form because the writer is locked inside the head of the narrator and can't get out. He can't say "meanwhile, back at the ranch" as a transition to another subject because he is imprisoned forever inside the narrator. But so is the reader! And that is the strength of the first-person narrator. The reader does not see that the governess is the villainous because what the governess sees is all the reader ever sees.

The truth knocks on the door and you say "Go away, I'm looking for the truth" and it goes away. Puzzling

The SYSTEM
to speak of certain government ad establishment institution as "the system" is to speak correctly. They are sustained by structural relationships as they have lost all other meanings and purpose. People arrive at a factory and perform a totally meaningless task from eight to five without question because the structure demands that it be that way. There's no villian, no "mean guys" who wants them to live meaningless lives, its just that the structure, the system demands it and no one is willing to take on the formidable task of changing the structure just because it is meaningless. But to tear down a factor or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than the causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible. The true system, the real system, is our present construction of systematic thought itself, rationality itself, and if a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced is left standing, then the rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a systematic government , but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those pattern will repeat themselves in the succeeding government. There's so much talk about the system. And so little understanding.

My Teaching college
At a teaching college you teach and you teach and you teach with no time for research, no time for contemplation, no time for participation in outside affairs. Just teach and teach and teach until your mind grows dull and your creativity vanishes and you become an automation saying the same dull things over and over to endless waves of innocent students who cannot understand why you are so dull, lose respect and fan this disrespect out into the community. The reason you teach and you teach and you teach is that this is a very clever way of running a college on the cheap while giving a false appearance of genuine education.

Why dogmas are in doubt?
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know its going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

Schools teach you to imitate If you don't imitate what the teacher wants you get a bad grade. Here, in college, it was more sophisticated,of course; you were supposed to imitate the teacher in such a way as to convince the teacher you were not imitating, but taking the essence of the instruction and going ahead with it on your own. That got you A's. Originally on the other hand could get you anything - from A to F. The whole grading system cautioned against it.

The student's biggest problem was a slave mentality which had been built into him by years of carrot-and-whip grading, a mule mentality which said, "If you don't whip me, I won't work." He didn't get whipped. He didn't work. And the cart of civilisation, which he supposedly was being trained to pull, was just going to have to creak along a little slower without him.

Self-glorification
Kids at camp get much more enthusiastic and cooperative when they had ego goals to fulfill. I'm sure, but ultimately that kind of motivation is destructive. Any effort that was self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster. Now we're paying the price. when you try to climb a mountain to prove how big you are, you almost never make it. And even if you do its hollow victory. In order to sustain the victory you have to prove yourself again and again in some other way, and again and again, driven forever to fill a false image, hunted by the fear that the image is not true and someone will find out. That's never the way.

[random bites inspired by ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by robert M. pirsig]





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