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Week Thirteen (Thurs, Apr. 21): Final Small Group Discussion


I. coursekeeping
--introducing Barbara (giving advice on teaching??)
--two sign up sheets:
for your performances on Tues/Thurs
for final writing conferences week AFTER next
--I've responded to all the papers that came in on time;
if yours was late, I won't get to it now til next weekend;
if it's not up yet, you should speak to me and let me
know what's going on; I don't have trouble w/ late
papers; I do have lots of trouble w/ silence
(hannah, tangerines, themword....?)
--reviewing all requirements for completing the course
--we'll save the last 20 minutes for the course evaluations

using this time to "process" what was said/not said on Tuesday:
where do you want to begin?

I spoke about
* the wide applicability of "evolutionary thinking" (spread of languages) 
* a new more collaborative fiction, beyond the individual 
* a new literary criticism, that doesn't separate the "how" from the "why"
* the de-construction of disciplinary boundaries, and
* student exploration of alternative forms of story-construction.

I shared Freeman Dyson's vision of a succession of 3 phases of development: the
geosphere (inanimate matter), the biosphere (biological life), the Noosphere (human thought).

As well as my thoughts about the central role that bodily disease, decay and death play in evolution:
the need to eliminate possibilities in order to make space for the creation of new ones; and
my questions about the usefulness (or obstructions) of consciousness is in this process.

I followed Organized Khaos in calling "teachers dangerous if your goal is to do something new,"
reminded us all that writing, teaching, learning aren't algorithmic processes (formulaic/predictable),
but also that something is "constructed" doesn't mean that it is "not real."

Paul spoke
about many of the same ideas, more abstractly:
design and purpose,
"vacilando" and "serendipity,"
"evolutionary exuberance," for better and
for worse (many orchids AND plane accidents),
with natural selection as the "how," and
randomness as the "why" (foundational!) of this story;
the problems and solutions of this way of thinking:
make your own meanings,
learn to appreciate not only the hazards but also the "beneficence" of chance,
find immortality in the persistence of thought ("I will not die").