Life as an Extreme Sport

To Affect and Be Affected

Have you ever poked a sea anemone? It’s open and fluttering its little tendrils in the brackish water, and then suddenly and without any warning, this stick comes out of nowhere, jabbing into its soft, fleshy bits. The anemone reacts, without thinking – it curls in on itself, pulling tight and protective. After a while, it might send out a few questioning tentacles at a time, searching and seeing if it’s safe again. And when it’s determined that it is safe, it will unfurl again, until the next stick descends. This is affect at its simplest, an emotive, embodied response to stimulus. It is “the modifications of the body by which the power of acting of the body itself is increased, diminished, helped or hindered, together with the ideas of these modifications.”Spinoza, Baruch. Ethics. Hafner Press, New York; 1949 That is to say, according to Baruch Spinoza, affect is the

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Dualing

My star students have written dualing and completely opposing papers this week. I really want to set them in a room together and say “argue it out”, just to see what would come of it; however, I suspect one would be irritated with me for doing that, and the other…oh wait, already is irritated with me. Nevermind. Still, it’s interesting to see two bright minds taking one story in completely different directions. Can we experience and interpret events of the past in the context of the past, or are we always stuck with our judgments of the present when looking past?

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A Failure to Thrive

I ran into two former Hum 102 students today, one at lunch at the other on my way home from work. They both wanted to know if I’d be teaching with Phillip in the spring; I told them that, as far as I knew, I would be assisting with Phillip and Giorgia’s class. Both students lit up with huge smiles and told me that was just what they wanted to hear, and they were going to figure out how to get in my section for the class, because they really wanted to spend another quarter working with me. I’ve been thinking about teaching again, these last two or three days. Tomorrow is my last small group of the quarter. I have one more focus group, one more presentation, one more movie, and then that’s it. It’ll just be papers and a grade and goodbye. It’s a weird time of the

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I’m reading Beloved. For the third time in a little over a year. Have pity on my soul. Actually, pity yours, because I’m sure I’ll come back here in a bit with a mouthful of things to say. And I promise they won’t all be pithy, “who gives a goddamned whether or not Beloved was a ghost?” comments.

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