Wednesday, July 30, 2003

today my brain entered the supercooled helium donut. i wore blankets to cocoon me from the chill, and headphone earplugs to wall out some of the machine's more resonant themes (the model was a 1.5 Tesla Seiman's "Symphony"). The donut sang to the rhythm of an escalator, with the voice of a moaning jackhammer.
The cacaphonus belly of donut was peaceful. I lay motionless to allow the donut's slow brushstrokes to paint my brain. As often happens when I am laying perfectly still, I and everything around me began to rock gently--like a cradle, a hammock, or a ship in harbor. I became weightless, as did everything around me.
I thought it would be uncomfortable or impossible to keep still, but I managed quite well. I have no idea how to explain this, but I actually felt the spin of every atom within me aligning and shifting with the oscillations of the field. Or maybe that was just the pressure of the earphones and the rocking of my ship leaving the harbor...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

last week, i co-taught a five day intensive course on argumentative writing. in it, beth (recently graduated writing fellow) and I attempted to convince 12 high school students that argumentative writing was process over product, though and revelation, personal discovery and communication, persuasion and action, social movement and political upheaval. That nothing short of revolution lies in prewrites, descrptive outlines, style analysis, and peer revision. The main project of the week was to overcome apathy and detachment--and the pieces we recieved bore overwhelming sincerity, earnestness, passion. We pushed on toward developing argument, pursuing that hazy green light of "so what" that haunted me so nebulously in which school--all the while, trying to demystify it. We tried to find ourselves, our readers, and our point, and to try our soft uncalloused fingers at sowing them together. We listened to coldplay and at ben and jerrys.
Not all parts went smoothly--tolerance of Toulmin's legal deconstruction of argument waned, and as I overkilled on the explanation, some of the students began to look physically ill. The commitment was intense: we spent 3-4hours in class together, followed on several nights by seven hours of responding to their writing and a few hours of planning the next day's lesson. We expected about as much from them.
I learned quite a bit over the week. All of them had learned the 5-paragraph essay. Only one of them was learning formal grammar. They had all done peer conferencing in school, but only a purely superficial implementation (copy editing, chatting, general digression and diversion). Few of their teachers let them wrestle with arguments: some students were given quotes to defend as true, while others were asked to defend one "side" or the "other side" of a given debate.
We plowed through organization, style, and grammar, but definitely the week's focus was argument.
As I was teaching, I realized that I hadn't done much writing myself in a long time. I am out of practice,...acts, Judaism teaches, are the source of revalation. revalation takes practice.

Friday, July 25, 2003

jews in the amazon! a writing course! me! a teacher! newton, scituate, shabbat, now! shabbat is here. creation will sow out of its well-fallowed soils.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

who was that fiery woman? and why was she excited to help me? within 20 minutes of meeting me. at 9am. does she offer everyone the reaches of her fingertips at 9am? was it something I said? maybe, on some level that I could not entirely grasp, she got me. in any case, within minutes she was invoking worlds that neither of us could entirely describe.
look too hard at the heavens from which manna falls, and the divine gift will scorch on the desert floor. time to put my hands to the sand.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

This week, Morgan and I rolled into the Rustic Drive-In on rt146. Morgan tells me it originally only showed "Adult Movies"--now, it shows the biggest features. In an ironic sort of fuck you to surround sound stereo and other hi-tech wizardry of mall multiplexes, the Rustic was featuring all the latest in high-tech movie making on three screens, 12, 9, and 6 o'clock of a large rectangular slab of pavement. The lot was far from even--grass colonies staged uprisings in cracks every few feet or so. Rhode Island arrived at the drive-in in full force. Seasoned drive-in veterans were easy to spot--they brought blankets, stereos, lawn chairs, furniture riggings, roof set-ups.
"Screen-switching" was not allowed, but that mattered little. The screens were spaced just so that if you parked well, you could see all three screens from your car. To watch any of the movies, you could simply switch to the appropriate radio station, and rotate in the proper direction. We watched finding Nemo (so beautiful. SO BEAUTIFUL) in front of us and afterward turned around in the back to watch Terminator 3 (why. why?).

I am studying the nunim hafuchim with Rabbi Kirschen, and have also been thinking about the bronze serpent that moses made, but my mind isn't so lucid now, so I should probably write about those and other things later.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

very sad. no reason. not sure what's wrong with me.

what is happening?