Sunday, August 26, 2007

Courses Without Borders

Courses Without Borders, Aug 26
To Liberal Artists, Linguists,
and Fiction-ers

The mind—the culture—has two little tools,
grammar & lexicon: a decorated sand bucket
and a matching shovel; with these we bluster
about the continent and do all the world’s work.

With these we try to save our very lives.

(Annie Dillard: Teaching a Stone to Talk)

Re: School Mode
(from Latin, schola: “leisure time”)

I’m redundant.
I keep repeating the origins of the words School (leisure)
and Student (“stunned,” “stupid”) because of the IRONY
(from Gk: eirein: to speak)

There is often an amazing GAP between the popular common
sense use of a WORD and it’s original descriptive power. I like
to emphasize the GAP, the discrepancy: it reveals something
about how WE take the EDGE off our terms so as to make them
suit our cultural relative sensibilities.

Not that there’s anything wrong with THAT.

But it’s good to see the DIFFERENCE
and wonder why.

The mind wants to live forever…
wants the world to return its love…
and know all eternity, and God.
The mind’s sidekick, however,
will settle for two eggs over easy.
(Dillard again)


I treat SCHOOL & stunned STUDY as-if in the original sense.
I know better, but this is how I like to roll—especially now a
daze when everything has changed but schooling.

You have been born & raised in a State of Electronic Community.
Surround sound ambient electric company, facebook, U-tube
laptop dancing, camera-phonic virtual reality: all at hand
and mobile.

I was old-schooled but IT carries on and on and remains the
dominant pair of dimes. Dick Tracy had a 2-way wrist
walky-talky we thought was amazing. Then came
Citizen’s Band in the 70’s and we were all
connected by truck talk. MTV began
all-day music videos whose
constellative images were
non-linear and elaborated
a mood rather than a
sequential story.

In the Beginnings: always the WORD.
(Logo, Logos. Logic) and the WORD
is with us always: blah blah and blah
we swim in it—our alma matrix. Any
one can start up converse action with
any one in the world. Almost. At any

In the 60’s, Marshall McLuhan—anticipated this electric
community, described it as a global village and insisted
that the MEDIA (not the content, subject-object matter)
was the MESSAGE. Watch the MEDIA, he said—not
what it’s saying. Read my lips. Consider the context.
Don’t let the text seduce you (textual harassment:
we practice it and call it schooling).

What’s the difference between
a cathedral and a physics lab?
Aren’t they both saying
(Again: Annie Dillard)

Yrs in Courses Without Borders,


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