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Towards Day 26: Landing the Plane??

Anne Dalke's picture


Owl's course notes


Victor Bregeda, "The Transformation"

Landing the a Place w/ No Cover Page (?)

veritatemdilexi:  The plane, this class, is going to land very soon, we are now in the final descent.  Do we now try to stand up as we are approaching the ground entirely unaware of the world and environment that surrounds us?  I really hope that "Call to Stories" will give us the feeling of landing that this class needs

Aya: The Call of Stories does a good job of showing ... the 'use-value' of narrative ... maybe what also bears consideration is the narratives that surround us with no benefit of a cover page.... Life is narrative.

why are we reading a book entirely about stories in a non-fictional prose class? [actually? it's even more layered: why are we reading a non-fictional account of the power of fictional stories?]

If we didn't categorize science as non-fiction and stories as fiction than we wouldn't have a problem...this is one question I wouldn't mind pursuing further.

"FINAL" QUESTION: WHAT IS NON-FICTIONAL PROSE? (does it matter? how? why?

I. coursekeeping

end-of-semester evaluations

today's notetaker: Owl

sign up for performance groups

food requests??

questions about portfolios?

reminder to schedule a final writing conference w/ me
(w/ short notes on your webpapers til you arrive...)

II. if we are Changing Education Paradigms
(i.e. encouraging more divergent thinking, less standardized work, as per Sir Ken Robinson) what sorts of college writing projects might we be assigning and doing?

some examples of recent local possibilities:
Melinda, The Internet Connection
Hannah, Bryn Mawr: First Life, Second Life
Alex, Notes Towards Day 28: Know Thyself, Know Thy Technologies
The Doctor, The Endless Dance: A Hyper(non)fiction
Britt, My Great-granddaddy was a Monkey

ckosarek: Let's make the conversation larger & more tangible

"Denial by definition": Definitions -- establishing limits -- are powerful verbal tools. They can help us understand words better. However, words sing. Words are poetic and polyvalent. When we cram them into definitions, we are always performing a Procrustean maneuver. If the result doesn't seem to fit our definition, it may be that we need to come up with a better definition.

III. Your further/final thoughts re: The Call of Stories-->

what has been the role of stories in your life?
(how) have they "called" you? what is their "use-value"?
what's the relationship of stories to theories
(in your life/work...and in Coles' book??)
is he/WCWms "anti-intellectual"? are you???

narrative therapy ...allows a patient to deconstruct his present identity in favor of a new, more functional identity. He cannot rewrite his past story, but can being writing himself as a different character as he moves through life.

Reading Notes
Coles taught "A Literature of Social Reflection:" fiction of moral and social inquiry
these pages: documentary study or psychiatric anthropology
14: hold off the rush to interpretation
19: active listeners give shape to what we hear
27: "more stories, less theory"
28-29: I went to visit William Carlos Williams regularly when I was in medical school...heard him describe ... "minds gone all awry"...Dr. Willaims urged me to tell "doctor stories"...short fiction meant to evoke the various events, moods, impasses a doctor experiences.
29: Theory was a means of getting to the core of things...
"Who's against shorthand? No one I know.
Who wants to be shortchanged? No one I know."

47: "the beauty of a good story is in its openness--
the way you or I or anyone reading it can take it in, and use it for ourselves"
79: Dorothea Brooke's "theoretic" mind had not always helped her understand people.
90: Again and again, instructed by novelists, students remind themselves of life's contingencies.
97: high moments of consciousness that philosophers say make us what we are, creatures of language who find phrases that display the I clinging to itself
100: Medical students keep learning to concentrate, to get to the very heart of this or that matter. They keep struggling to tame life itself, in its excesses, its madness. And they keep being stopped in their tracks by moments of tragedy or great bad luck.
105: an important part of our lives [as doctors] would be spent "listening to people tell you their stores"; and in return, "they will want to hear your story of what their story means"
106: "When the pain knocked on your door, interrupting your life, what were you doing?"
107: young men and women who.struggled with ambitious intelligence as a force that can demolish the heart's reasons"
108: "the great unmentionables of everyone's everyday life"
"stubborn human nature is out there, threatening to take charge of the intellect"
Who can take for granted his good days?
110: we know how tinny we can be
111: Books shouldn't be given that job, to save people....
115: "Try not to gt too carried away w/ yourself..."the psychology of the professional man"
116: "moral drift": indifference to others that can become a habit
118: preoccupied with their performing selves
120: We were searching for a reliable thoroughfare, maybe--a direct passage from the world of thinking to that of day-to-day living..."the more palpable the connection between the story and the readers' story, the better the chance that something will happen."
121-2: teachers elicit dependence rather than independence in their students...whether every profession didn't pose such a danger to those in it...becoming all too sure of themselves...the temptation for everyone else is to surrender....many professionals become parochially grandiose we can become under the guise of exerting a visionary talent on behalf of others
125: a professional person's vanity is a critical aspect of his life..."I hear doctors brag about their patients the way I used to hear teachers brag about their students--and the way I have heard...a lawyer brag about certain clients...."Someone becomes a mirror to a professional person"
127: a story is not an idea
128: [a character] "is--oh, now, part of me!...You don't do that with theories. You don't do that with a system of ideas"
129: The whole point of stories is not "solutions" or "resolutions" but a broadening and even a heightening of our one's mental life accomodates itself to a series of arrivals: guests who have a way of staying, but not necessarily staying put.
130: distinction between going to class and living their lives
134: "I don't drink; I just go on book binges."
142: "Need was beside the point...Desire was the point."
144: "He becomes an interesting companion...a stimulus to all sorts of reflection"
151: "people who stitched up the big holes in the world that were made by men like me"
163: Gauguin's "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?"
164: in the end we have only what is inside ourselves to contemplate; each of us has a story that contains our answers to the old existentialist questions.
174: Tolstoy wondered...whether the intellect wasn't more a hindrance than an aid to human relatedness, to our moral life. But he knew better...than to take the risk of celebrating ignorance....he sought...rather a kind of innocence...
177: Ought one remain loyal to a  person, no matter how serious his troubles? Does a day come when the past ceases to be important--when a person has a right to walk away, to call someone a former friend? What, indeed are our responsibilities to one another..and for what reasons ought such obligations be set aside?
181: My emphasis here is simply on the moral force literature can exert, its visionary side.
182: a novel as a help in figuring out how to get through a working day.
189: How shall I comprehend the life that is in me and around me? To do so, stories were constructed.... Some... were called factual. Some were called "imaginative' or "fictional"
192: Williams is quick to scorn the abstract mind @ work...He deplores a contentedly aesthetic poetry
193: "theoretically...doesn't mean a God damned thing"... this strain of anti-intellectualism is not unusual in Williams' work
194: how hard it is for us to break out from... "the regularly ordered plateglass" of our thoughts... its capacity to separate people while promoting...the illusion of connectedness... how aloof and icy our solipsism can be..."the whole din of fracturing thought"
196: [Chekhov's prescription:] Behind the door of every contented, happy man there ought to be someone standing with a little hammer and continually reminding him with a knock that there are unhappy people.
198: one's happiness depends... on a willful or unselfconscious disregard of the misery others constantly experience
"character is how you behave when no one is looking"....Are we ever in a situation when "no one is looking"?...billions of people...carry company inside themselves...For those of us who try to be conscientious, someone is always "looking"... character is how you behave in response to the company you keep, seen and unseen.
201-2: I never liked the way the professors used the books--zeroing in on 'the text,' raking and raking, sifting and sifting it through narrower and narrower filters....You can read those 'texts' in such a way taht they're not stories anymore
203-4: this place is where your intellect changes. I guess it's no behavior-modification place. But... Harvard used to be a place where they worried as much about the students' morality, their character.... Not now: we're way 'beyond' that here. It's each person to himself on a lot of these moral issues
205: not a bad start for someone trying to find a good way to live this life: a person's moral conduct responding to the moral imagination of writers and the moral imperative of fellow human beings in need.

The Red Wheelbarrow

William Carlos Williams

so much depends



a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


This Is Just To Say  
by William Carlos Williams
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold

“A Sort of a Song”

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,

—through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks.