Thursday, February 7, 2008

Goals, Objectives.

A side benefit of teaching east of where you live is that given the right combination of disastrous late-afternoon universityspeak meetings and Eastern Standard Time and cloud cover, driving back west at, say, 5:45 in early February can deliver unto you a sunset that fills up the better part of half the sky. I didn't drive the truck much during the hiatus. What few times I left the house put me in the smaller car, the easier one to drive. Turns out I missed the truck, its mouse-piss heater core, its fussy idle, its questionable alternator, its gigantic enormous windshield. All in all a nice way to drive home through the cooling evening, a better end to the day than what had come before, which was one more time around the hamster wheel, one more person standing in front of the rest of us and pretending like teaching writing was something other than battlefield triage, the mitigation of disaster, a desperate holding of one's finger in the dike. These people who hold that writing can somehow be quantified, who seem to believe that if we just name enough of the parts of it something unintelligible that nobody except those selfsame people, who already seem to despise the written word enough to do it that kind of harm, can understand— oh, I hate the people with the lingo. Can we just call it what it is? Sentences. Paragraphs. There is no such thing as an "invention strategy." We cannot "dialogue" with each other about anything. No matter how much you try to sanitize and compartmentalize it, no matter how many multisyllabic nonsense terms you drop on it, this still remains: we have to use words to write things down. We can do it well, or we can do it the way the vast damn majority of the university community does it, which is to put a dress on a pig already wearing a dress in the first place.

I'm, ah, back in school.

That front came through and dried us well out, cleared off the whole sky late last night and left Orion hanging there up over my trellis, bright against a pitch-blue dark. Today showed up like it was almost winter again. It may be crisp out there. We could name it something else, but I think I'll content myself with that. It's crisp. Cool. Dry. Little breeze.

My colleagues, I think, believe they can defeat something by naming it. Maybe I'm no better, but I like to believe that what I'm up to is trying all hell to learn what the name for it is already, what people have been calling it for years. Get it right. Don't break it worse than it already is.


Kathryn Frances Walker said...

you do this thing where you have your life and how you see things all smushed up against work. like you don't separate them. even in dumb meetings. that's what i mean i like in co-workers, that it's all a whole thing, not this thing and that thing. like the fact that you love that you work east so you see the big sunset on your way home. and the harpsichord. when i was at A&T there was this guy who every morning played "whiter shade of pale" and watched The Price Is Right.

Kathryn Frances Walker said...

in his office, i mean.