I have succumbed. The gravitational pull of blogging Bauers has sucked me in. So here goes.
I have thought of opening this window into my poor head a few times, but the public nature of blogs has kept me away. You can’t be completely honest, because anyone can read it. I’ve used words as weapons more than once, and when they’re recorded, they will come back and bite you in the ass. Always. So I have to figure out my particular schtick, I think. Bear with me.
Next week is finals week, which means I have a date with a bunch of student essays and the Gradebook app in Blackboard over the weekend. Man, do I hate Gradebook. I have no reason to. It makes my life easier and makes me seem like a legitimate teacher instead of some pushover who wants everyone to get an A. Actually, I hate grading, period. It’s stupid. It makes the focus of the class getting an A when the focus needs to be learning. Sigh. Neither profound nor original. The spouse hates it when I say this, but, well, screw him. Heh.
Now, onto the good part. I read one kid’s paper on Clockwork Orange last night, and it reminded me why I love teaching. Actually, I have to step back a tad: Clockwork Orange reminded me why I love teaching, and reading, for that matter. I hadn’t read it in years, and the sheer inventiveness, the linguistic fireworks are a true kick in the yarbles. Should you not be familiar, the author, Anthony Burgess, invented a language that’s about 2 parts bastardized Russian to one part Cockney rhyming slang to half a part made-up stuff to about 3 parts English. So you can get by, but you feel like you’ve been dumped on your head into some alternate …. something. And even though you can get a glossary, the brilliant thing is that you don’t need one, and Burgess didn’t want you to have one, he wanted you to be forced to learn the language and be a little disoriented. So you’re spending so much time knotting your way through your new language and feeling smart about getting it that you end up distanced from the horrible stuff that Alex, the protagonist is doing, and you very gradually realize you’ve become a passive participant in the violence – or at least a voyeur who’s not doing a damn thing about it. It’s brilliant. Burgess didn’t like that the book is the main thing he’s known for. He thought he had other books that people should be paying more attention to, and of course I haven’t read them, but having read synopses, I’m not really interested. I mean, I will read a couple at some point just because CO is so good, but damn. That’s one hell of a book. Hard to top.
Anyway, for class, I had kids watch the movie. It’s dazzling, but almost completely surface. It’s so shiny you don’t really get emotionally involved, you just sit there and go “wow” at the images. I think that’s what Kubrick was after; this is post-2001, and he’s still all about, what can I do with a camera now? Kubrick’s pretty flinty; it’s not like you watch his movies for the emotional involvement (arguable exception: Barry Lyndon). CO has some truly stunning cinematic moments, esp. the tableau where F. Alexander and his 3 cohorts sit below Alex as he screams over Beethoven’s 9th in the locked room. But the movie’s impact is completely different from the book. So the class would watch about 10 minutes, then I’d pause and we’d talk about how it was different from the book. It was great fun, and one of those rare classes where I could see a lot of light bulbs going on in heads and some who’d dismissed the book as a gross, violent orgy started to make some sense and some connections and realize that there’s a lot below the surface of the book – which they could only see due to the extremely shiny and reflective surface of the movie. And this girl (I don’t think she’s 20 yet, so it seems weird to call her a woman) totally dug it and wrote about it and actually put together a reasonably coherent paper.
Warmed the cockles of me heart, it did.
So that’s it for the first post. As well a shout-out to Becky for getting this started and to Mom for boldly jumping in. What a kick to read the Bauer exploits. We have similar voices, but we’re all our own people. Which is interesting, because we all sound alike on the phone, too, but then after a while you realize we’re all completely different.