Thursday, October 23, 2008

safely across

obviously i'm in a phase where i'm writing on here more than i had been for a few months. i guess that's just the way this operates. maybe at some point, this blog will be a big enough priority in my life that i will update it often. but as it stands now, with a few casual readers, some friends (that i hopefully talk to anyway), and a few random people stopping by for song lyrics, i just don't have enough of a reason to write here for other people. it's still just for me. if you want me to take it more seriously, you're going to have to do part of the work of promoting it. tell all of our mutual friends to read what i have to write.

but that really is an aside. i am happy enough with recording my thoughts here and letting you eavesdrop. anything to keep me from thinking about baseball or the election (or job letters and my dissertation) is good. that sounds awful--that i'm trying not to think about the important things in my life (with the exception of the election, but i think that's something very important, even if it isn't directly a part of me).

in addition to thinking about student writing (since i'm giving feedback on papers right now), i've been thinking about how college students encounter, filter, and process information in a time when hypertext has turned into hyper-overload: information, entertainment, and spin. my friend and colleague greg brought up this point with respect to his students, and it has gotten me thinking (though i haven't made it far). i have a hard enough time sorting through information and news, and simplifying my life as much possible by cutting out tv entertainment (i am currently paying for heroes and how i met your mother on amazon since apple dropped heroes). i tried to listen to the twins on the radio (and watch gameday some) rather than watching them on tv, and i'm trying not to think about or care about nfl or college football (even though it still comes up in conversation) because i need my time and energy for other pursuits.

when it comes to news and analysis, i have my igoogle and rss feeds. i check the nyt website daily, and far too often, other baseball blogs (aarongleeman and the other twins people), read grist on the site or in my email, and get a variety of news stories from various listservs and friends. it's a far cry from reading the local or national newspaper, readers' digest, and u.s. news like i did when i was younger, and which my parents still do (though they read the emailed news stories i send them and go out and get others themselves).

but greg's worry, and my fear, is that students are all too often just encountering news and entertainment in random, incoherent bits, the "related" function in youtube, meaning having just watched a funny snl sketch the next thing to come up might be a clip from the colbert report or some other internet celebrity clip. the structure and connections, the deliberate reading of the news, and the chance to filter something out just aren't there. whether it's good or bad, it certainly is frustrating to be 28 years old and feel like an "old-timer" just because i don't let youtube pick what information i encounter next, just because i have particular news sites i read and process regularly, just because i have some kind of structure.

but it also brings up the questions of whether and how to develop students' capacities to think critically and analytically, how to help them structure papers and comments in class so that conversations aren't just a complex mess of tangential bullshit where one thing reminds them of another, and soon enough, no one has any idea why we're talking about animal planet by way of chinese birth control laws and norms when we really wanted to have a conversation about human augmentation and genetic engineering (this is an example from my class last week, and it was frustrating enough that i had to request students relate their comments back to the topic at hand multiple times).

so in the end, i'm still not sure what any of this means, and whether or what i and other instructors can do to help college students think better, read better, write better, and structure the world a little more than through tangential interest: if you liked watching midgets race against a giraffe, then you might also like a john mccain speech parody. if you have thoughts, let me know. but if you're more interested in music at times like these, then here's a draft playlist i'm working on for this month. below that, there's a note about a great singer and good friend, laura jean binkley.

october 2008 playlist (first one in a while without the decemberists)

midnight rider by the allman brothers
tables and chairs by andrew bird
forget about dre by eminem and dr. dre
omaha by counting crows
draggin' the line by tommy james and the shondells
mary jane's last dance by tom petty and the heartbreakers
subterranean homesick alien by radiohead
start a war by the national
adia by sarah mclachlan
the gardner by the tallest man on earth
sunshine by jonathan edwards
little one by beck
drivin' me wild by common
let her cry by hootie and the blowfish
don't be scared by andrew bird
whispering pines by dar williams
live and let die by guns 'n' roses
new by travis welk
shame by the avett brothers

check out laura jean's website for more information (and listen to her music). i was just listening to "walking dream" and "about you" and love them. but this song was played live on my friend james' phoning it in radio show at brown last year. i'm not sure about the title or even some of the lyrics, but you probably won't find them elsewhere unless laura has published them somewhere. if you want to hear the song, you'll have to find james' radio show archive at phoning it in.

ships and bridges by laura jean binkley

don't tell me not to hold my breath
don't tell me not to wait for death to impart
'cause you captured my heart

like the moon in the universe trapped by the earth
it travels round in a circle
every day since the birth of gravity
it's what you're doing to me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across

lay a nickel on the railroad track
wait a little bit
that nickel's flattened by a train
that's my kind of pain

like a black bird sitting on a white fence post
i complement you
i say you're the most of anything
for you like me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across
to hold you safely across

nothing is made
nothing disappears
everything we've saved has been around
for thousands upon thousands upon thousands of years

so if i send you kisses on the waves of the wind
you may not feel them but i'm certain you'll receive
those kisses from me

and i long to be your ship out at sea
and i long to be the bridge to carry your body safely across
to hold you safely across


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! :)
I really enjoy reading your blog. it's interesting, i like the language and the way you write. Take care! Greetings from Poland :)

1:50 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home