Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Complexities of "Modern Legacies"

Like all new semesters, Winter Semester 2008 promises all the pleasures of a complex and unpredictable new beginning.

This is especially true for me this year because for the first time I'll be teaching a class for the Honors Program called "Modern Legacies." 25 years ago I taught a slightly different version of the course for Vanderbilt University honors students, and the good memory is still with me.

Like the photo I took through the entryway window of Lyn's and my house in which it's hard to distinguish between reflections from outside and the stairs and windows inside, the idea of "modern legacies" has so many variables that it's hard to know just where to focus.

I've decided to start with four of the lenses we must look through, no matter who we are, as citizens of the 21st Century: the work of Wollstonecraft, Darwin, Marx, and Freud. With those tools in hand, we'll move from Boccaccio through Voltaire to James Joyce and Kafka -- writers of short fiction all -- and try to make some sense of how each of the authors conceives human nature. Just who are we? And how will we change once we have read and discussed these stories?

With about 15 students, each of whom will bring expectations and expertise to the class, it should be a stimulating journey.

7 comments:

michael morrow said...

I think the idea of "modern legacies" may open an area I am becoming interested in. I hear comments from respected people-- respected by someone--I'm sure, about the, I will say, "forgetful" effects education can have on creativity and life's important responsibilities of home, hearth and family. In fact, the legacy I inherited from my fore-fathers was one of little or no formal education. No doubt, let me say with great thanksgiving and gratitude, that the education I received from the past has served me exceedingly well. I am not knocking the education passed on from mother, father, family etc. Neither common, everyday survival sense, nor intellectual and/or emotional makeup would be traded for any other abilities or gifts. In fact, I dare say, the education learned from my parents, has given me courage,industry, and desire to do life in a way that works for me. But nonetheless, the education I gained as a child was designed to help me "keep my nose" to the rock-solid grindstone of accepted societal mores and hard manual labor. I learned how to survive in a world of hard, sweaty, dirty work and hands-on, pithy old-time religion. I had lessons in agriculture--raising hogs, milking a cow, raising a garden, and generally fending for personal survival. I had lessons in mechanical things--fixing cars, tractors, and household projects. Then there was religion--you all know the drill there-- These were the main areas of concern for my education. This education has provided me with survival skills I use daily. My parents assumed upper level education and/or any rhetorical analysis instruction I would ever need would be covered if I were able to perform well in these areas. Fact is, my parents probably never considered whether or not I would need anything beyond bare necessities of hard work.

I dont know where I have gotten the idea that some people feel education can place blinders on individuals as they become "book smart." But I have gotten that idea from someplace, so I'm talking about it here. As for me, I will say up front, there is nothing more false than the possibility that education has, in any way, closed my mind, or caused me to become less creative as I have sweated through several years of upper education. Actually, I have heard people talk about their personal success in spite of having no education. Invariably, those people are usually talking about their financial success in spite of no higher education.

In the past couple of years, as the result of education, I have fully invested myself in dreams only vague and detached before. Astonishingly, the experience has taken me to emotional, spiritual, and physical heights eons beyond my wildest imagination as child or as an adult.

I have created new and modern legacies for my children. Legacies that are being embraced and incorporated into these beautiful young people's lives. As I have taken on the challenge of stretching into my life's shadows, great personal fulfillment, empowerment like never before, and feelings of making a meaningful contribution within my little sphere of influence has been realized.

Personal growth in whatever form works for the individual, is education. To quote Scott,
"Like the photo I took through the entryway window of Lyn's and my house in which it's hard to distinguish between reflections from outside and the stairs and windows inside, the idea of "modern legacies" has so many variables that it's hard to know just where to focus." Somehow, as we reach into the unknown, even past accepted, previously efficacious traditions and information, we find IT.

Scott Abbott said...

Michael,
complex thoughts. I love thinking things through with you.
Scott

michael morrow said...

As I continue to watch Alex, and others, work, I'm noticing power, simplicity, and moment-ous accessibility afforded (me) by collage art. In fact, is there any art other than "collage?" Isnt everything a conglomerate, an aggregate of its surroundings? During the holidays I've been working on coupl'a projects. I've prepared some verse. I'm collage-ing the verse together with posts, originating with Scott's
about "Modern Legacies" and then our comments. I'm interested in all input.

DANGEROUS LANGUAGE….MODERN LEGACIES…..CONVERSATION QUESTIONING… LENDING


Whisperers

Rooster crows thank you—
Warm Farsi breathe vaporizing
frozen, war-torn air—

Distended abdomen’s painful
tear hits the ground—Moistening
Black, discarded kernel of White hope—

Baby’s belly laugh—
Momma’s ebonics—
Understand?

Sensual moan
breathed—si, sI, SI…….
Lover’s speechless smile
speak's volumes…………

Angels sing of beauty—Fingernails dug deep
into plumber’s fleshy soft taco—ecstasy—
pain confirming pleasure—

Children weep
Joyful noise
Betraying slaps

Conflict?: Inherent,
innocent desires and appetites—
Becoming pornographic and scary—

sweet words
mixed messages
establish safe barrier


Manly Passion

He wasn’t off-sides, god damn-it
You kids get up there and go bed
Where’s dinner
I worked all day
Where’s my clean underwear
If I didn’t love you…………..


Draw near to god
Natural man might assassinate
Created image and likeness
Galaxy-5000 light-years wide

If you live outside me
Where’s that kolob place
Why don’t I get invited in
No worthy

Love’s inherent power
To serve highest,
Most meaningful,
Appropriate connection

Taking human-to-kind
Trust self
Looking normal
Being natural

Who defines
Me normal
Natural
undone

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Complexities of "Modern Legacies"
Like all new semesters, Winter Semester 2008 promises all the pleasures of a complex and unpredictable new beginning.

This is especially true for me this year because for the first time I'll be teaching a class for the Honors Program called "Modern Legacies." 25 years ago I taught a slightly different version of the course for Vanderbilt University honors students, and the good memory is still with me.

Like the photo I took through the entryway window of Lyn's and my house in which it's hard to distinguish between reflections from outside and the stairs and windows inside, the idea of "modern legacies" has so many variables that it's hard to know just where to focus.

I've decided to start with four of the lenses we must look through, no matter who we are, as citizens of the 21st Century: the work of Wollstonecraft, Darwin, Marx, and Freud. With those tools in hand, we'll move from Boccaccio through Voltaire to James Joyce and Kafka -- writers of short fiction all -- and try to make some sense of how each of the authors conceives human nature. Just who are we? And how will we change once we have read and discussed these stories?

With about 15 students, each of whom will bring expectations and expertise to the class, it should be a stimulating journey.
Posted by Scott Abbott at 5:46 PM
2 comments:

michael morrow said...

I think the idea of "modern legacies" may open an area I am becoming interested in. I hear comments from respected people-- respected by someone--I'm sure, about the, I will say, "forgetful" effects education can have on creativity and life's important responsibilities of home, hearth and family. In fact, the legacy I inherited from my fore-fathers was one of little or no formal education. No doubt, let me say with great thanksgiving and gratitude, that the education I received from the past has served me exceedingly well. I am not knocking the education passed on from mother, father, family etc. Neither common, everyday survival sense, nor intellectual and/or emotional makeup would be traded for any other abilities or gifts. In fact, I dare say, the education learned from my parents, has given me courage,industry, and desire to do life in a way that works for me. But nonetheless, the education I gained as a child was designed to help me "keep my nose" to the rock-solid grindstone of accepted societal mores and hard manual labor. I learned how to survive in a world of hard, sweaty, dirty work and hands-on, pithy old-time religion. I had lessons in agriculture--raising hogs, milking a cow, raising a garden, and generally fending for personal survival. I had lessons in mechanical things--fixing cars, tractors, and household projects. Then there was religion--you all know the drill there-- These were the main areas of concern for my education. This education has provided me with survival skills I use daily. My parents assumed upper level education and/or any rhetorical analysis instruction I would ever need would be covered if I were able to perform well in these areas. Fact is, my parents probably never considered whether or not I would need anything beyond bare necessities of hard work.

I dont know where I have gotten the idea that some people feel education can place blinders on individuals as they become "book smart." But I have gotten that idea from someplace, so I'm talking about it here. As for me, I will say up front, there is nothing more false than the possibility that education has, in any way, closed my mind, or caused me to become less creative as I have sweated through several years of upper education. Actually, I have heard people talk about their personal success in spite of having no education. Invariably, those people are usually talking about their financial success in spite of no higher education.

In the past couple of years, as the result of education, I have fully invested myself in dreams only vague and detached before. Astonishingly, the experience has taken me to emotional, spiritual, and physical heights eons beyond my wildest imagination as child or as an adult.

I have created new and modern legacies for my children. Legacies that are being embraced and incorporated into these beautiful young people's lives. As I have taken on the challenge of stretching into my life's shadows, great personal fulfillment, empowerment like never before, and feelings of making a meaningful contribution within my little sphere of influence has been realized.

Personal growth in whatever form works for the individual, is education. To quote Scott,
"Like the photo I took through the entryway window of Lyn's and my house in which it's hard to distinguish between reflections from outside and the stairs and windows inside, the idea of "modern legacies" has so many variables that it's hard to know just where to focus." Somehow, as we reach into the unknown, even past accepted, previously efficacious traditions and information, we find IT.

January 6, 2008 12:35 AM

Scott Abbott said...
Michael,
complex thoughts. I love thinking things through with you.
Scott
January 6, 2008 12:22 PM

michael morrow said...

I cant stop.......Collage this, from the news today, including pictures...

Legacy, A Most Dangerous Linguistic Possession

HIROKO TABUCHI,
AP
Posted: 2008-01-06 18:54:03
Filed Under: Science News
Mammoth Found
'In Perfect Condition'

A 37,500-year-old baby mammoth that scientists named Lyuba was unearthed in Russia in May. It's considered the best preserved mammoth ever discovered and expected to help scientists determine what happened during the Ice Age.

Scientists inspect the animal in Salekhard, Russia. "It's a lovely little baby mammoth indeed, found in perfect condition," said Alexei Tikhonov, director of the Russian Academy of Science's Zoological Institute.

The 4-foot gray-and-brown mammoth underwent a computed tomography scan that produced 3-D pictures with an almost surgical view. Researchers are also taking tiny air samples left in Lyuba's lungs for clues to what earth's atmosphere was like during the last Ice Age.

"It could tell us why this species didn't survive ... and shed light on the fate of human beings," said Bernard Buigues, far right, who is the vice president of the Geneva-based International Mammoth Committee.

Other scientists are trying to split the hairs of mammoths to collect DNA and "untangle the secrets of populations that lived long ago," said one researcher. This pair was found in Russia in 1999.

Scientists believe that DNA can help them better understand the relationship between different animal groups and their evolution. Earlier this year, Christie's auctioned off this Siberian mammoth, valued at nearly $200,000.

Despite well-preserved specimens, including this male found in Siberia in 1999, previous attempts to get DNA have been unsuccessful because of contaminates. Researchers now believe the hard covering on hair protects the DNA.

This family is part of a scene from "Prehistoric Kansas" in a Missouri museum. Researcher Stephan Schuster believes the DNA "can send a message from the past about what it might have taken for (mammoths) to survive." Source: AP

michael morrow said...

This finishes this piece

Monkeys 'Pay' for Sex by Grooming
By GILLIAN WONG,
AP
Posted: 2008-01-06 10:23:05
Filed Under: Science News
SINGAPORE (Jan. 6) - Male macaque monkeys pay for sex by grooming females, according to a recent study that suggests the primates may treat sex as a commodity.

"In primate societies, grooming is the underlying fabric of it all," Dr. Michael Gumert, a primatologist at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said in a telephone interview Saturday.

Koji Sasahara, AP
Japanese Macaque monkeys groom each other at Jigokudani Wild Monkey Park in Yamanouchi, Japan.
"It's a sign of friendship and family, and it's also something that can be exchanged for sexual services," Gumert said.

Gumert's findings, reported in New Scientist last week, resulted from a 20-month observation of about 50 long-tailed macaques in a reserve in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

Gumert found after a male grooms a female, the likelihood that she will engage in sexual activity with the male was about three times more than if the grooming had not occurred.

And as with other commodities, the value of sex is affected by supply and demand factors: A male would spend more time grooming a female if there were fewer females in the vicinity.

"And when the female supply is higher, the male spends less time on grooming ... The mating actually becomes cheaper depending on the market," Gumert said.

Other experts not involved in the study welcomed Gumert's research, saying it was a major effort in systematically studying the interaction of organisms in ways in which an exchange of commodities or services can be observed - a theory known as biological markets.

Dr. Peter Hammerstein, a professor at the Institute for Theoretical Biology at Humboldt University in Berlin and Dr. Ronald Noe, a primatologist at the University of Louis-Pasteur in Strasbourg, France, first proposed the concept of biological markets in 1994.

"It is not a rare phenomenon in nature that males have to make some 'mating effort' in order to get a female's 'permission' to mate," Hammerstein said in an interview, likening the effort to a "fee" that the male pays.

"The interesting result of Dr. Gumert's research on macaque mating is that the mating market seems to have an influence on the amount of this fee," Hammerstein said.

Hammserstein said Gumert's findings indicate the monkeys are capable of adjusting their behavior to "different market conditions."

Gumert completed his fieldwork in February 2005 and first published his findings in the November issue of "Animal Behaviour," a scientific monthly journal.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.
2008-01-06 08:33:53



Symbalsa

Long, slippery
Warm & fuzzy
Languages

Slice ears
Eyes hanging
Ravenous

Piranha teeth
Patina mask
Masticate

Pain iced confusion
Beefy promises
Ignorant

Mixed messages
Creepy images
Disconnect diety

Half truth with
Corporate opiate
Numb

Ear drum
Mime pound-out
WAR =/ PEACE

Will said...

Sounds like a great course. I wish I could sit in for the ride.

Torben B said...

i would love to take this course. I'd also love to get my hands on your syllabus. You teach such interesting classes.