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Accelerated Evolution

Mithrandir's Experience at College


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Well, first full day on college campus.

Long walks from my dorm room to main campus (I live in a converted pre-WW2 apartment on the outskirts of the school).

My roommates are pretty nifty guys. I have extremely similar taste in literature to one of them (Keir). He actually ended up bringing most of the books I wanted to bring but left at home.

Everyone is named Alex here, so I've decided to call myself Alan instead of leaving my eventual nick-naming up to fate.

Sooo much orientation crap today.

Oh well, at least I'm going to see some improv show in NYC with Emily and a few others on Thursday.

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Don't have a schedule yet.

At Sarah Lawrence you have to interview your professors before you sign up for classes to make sure you're compatable with their style of teaching.

The only class I've got right now is a poetry thing called "The Visceral I."

Here's the school's description of it.

Passion without craft is a ship bound to sink, but, when zeal, technique, and industry are in cahoots, a writer can journey almost anywhere. In this class, we will strive to write with intensity and artistry. To inform our endeavors, we will read a variety of poets, cutting across nations and centuries, who, through the use of masks, personas, self-mythology, metaphor, and music, are able to employ the first-person and venture into charged terrain and emerge with work both sculpted and pulsating. Poets to be read include Walt Whitman, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sylvia Plath, Marina Tsvetaeva, Rilke, Anne Sexton, Tomaz Salamun, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Cesar Vallejo, John Donne, John Berryman, Ai, Catullus, Joe Wenderoth, Sappho, Nick Flynn, Eula Biss, and many others. There will be weekly reading and writing (both creative and critical) assignments, group exercises, and individual projects. Students will be expected to become members of the vibrant campus poetry scene by attending readings, and we will look for creative ways to bring poetry out of the classroom and into the world at large. Each semester will culminate with students vigorously revising a body of work into a final manuscript or chapbook.

It looks like it'll be pretty cool, the class met for the first time today and no one seemed like a really bad writer (at least that was my impression).

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The problem with that is, most state colleges use TAs as instructors, and only bring in the professors for lecture and paychecks. In the past year I've only had one class where the professor was the instructor, and that was an engineering lab. I have friends who have graduated who can count the number of professor-led classes they've taken on one hand. I'm lucky because the engineering college here has a good number of professor-led classes, but the rest of the colleges are all TAs.

Add to that the varied ethnicities and English proficiency of the TAs, and it's a fucking mess. My chem TA didn't know how many inches were in a foot. My math TA will spontaneously cross over into Spanish during recitation and not realize it. I'm all for diversity and tolerance, but it's my money paying for these classes, and I expect a little more bang for my buck. Sad thing is, it's like this at most state colleges now.

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I go to a ridiculously expensive liberal arts school, so all my classes are taught by the professors and have less than 15 people in them.

but anyway...

I just got back from the faculty original works performance, where the members of the creative writting department read their work in front of an audience. My poetry teacher was good, but a little too comical for my taste. Then there was Cathy Park Hong who's stuff was really interesting and ground breaking. She has a book called "Dance Dance Revolution" (she explained that the title has nothing to do with the book whatsoever) that'll come out in the spring. I'm definately going to buy that. There was also some prose (which was good but prose isn't all that effective in a "read-out-loud" setting) and a black guy who was extremely charismatic, but wrote poems with painfully cliched subject matter (altho with excellent rhythmn). Blahh blahh blahhh my dorm room is too hot.

Some famous guy named "Michael Showalter" is performing something on campus in like half an hour, it's another 15 minute uphill walk from my dorm so I don't know if i'll go.

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I only like 1 poem in 10,000, but I love almost everyone's prose, even when it's read aloud. I didn't use to read aloud at all, but now that I spend so much time with my sister and she doesn't like me to read alone I just read everything out loud and I don't mind it, it's interesting and new and gives you something to talk about with whoever was listening. (We are just finishing The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster.)

Your school seems like HARDCORE INTELLECTUAL IMMERSION!!! And all those people with coffee sitting around solemnly discussing literature. Good for you, being able to do that. =O

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But anyway...

My textbook buying account issues FINALLY got cleared up and I was able to buy all my textbooks. HERE IS A LIST OF THEM:

The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Socratic Dialogues

A New Introduction to Greek

Eight American Poets: An Anthology

Some Ether (poems) by Nick Flynn

The Balloonists by Eula Bliss

The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

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But anyway...

My textbook buying account issues FINALLY got cleared up and I was able to buy all my textbooks. HERE IS A LIST OF THEM:

The Roots of Political Philosophy: Ten Forgotten Socratic Dialogues

A New Introduction to Greek

Eight American Poets: An Anthology

Some Ether (poems) by Nick Flynn

The Balloonists by Eula Bliss

The Three Theban Plays by Sophocles

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon

The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke

Wow. Those are your textbooks? That sounds like a pretty alright place to attend. All of my books have descriptive titles like Advanced Calculus, College Chemistry, and Big ol' Fuckin' Book of Statistics.

The last one is made up. However, if I were to name a Stat textbook, that would be it. Takes the edge off of the numbers and shit, y'know?

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