getting comfortable in my own skin

On Monday night, I received the following in a fortune cookie, at the end of my “omg I need protein now SUSHI!” dinner – yes, Japanese restaurant, fortune cookie with the bill. I don’t question these things anymore, I just go with it.

Anyhow, the fortune read:

Use your abilities at this time to stay focused on your goal. You will succeed.

Now, knocking the typical and childish “in bed” stuff that you’re supposed to tack on to the end of these, it was a rather…resonating fortune. You see, I had one of those moments in class earlier Monday night.

Monday’s show had us watching Meridian, the Stargate SG-1 episode where Daniel is, as usual, incredibly noble and heroic -and he “dies” for his efforts. Or to be more precise, he is dying, and instead of doing that, as he flatlines he ascends to a different plane of existence. If you’re not a Stargate SG-1 fan, don’t worry about this – it’s a vaguely Buddhist tone the show took for a while.

I paired this show with some readings on medical ethics as a whole. The two major schools of decision making, deductive and inductive, and readings on death and dying and what it means to have a good death. There was a lot of material to read, and of course we didn’t have time to go over it all. And because of other news, I wasn’t as prepared as I like to be for class, so I ended up asking the kids what they wanted to talk about, and the answer was medical ethics.

I had printed out information on Tirhas Habtegiris for the students to read, and we ended up using this case to discuss ethics, and particularly deductive ethics. I swiped Charles to help write on the board, and we ran down the four principles of medical ethics (autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence and justice) and using deductive logic and Kantian ethics, ran through the case as if we were an ethics committee.

At one point, I was joking with one of the students about…something, I don’t even remember what, and I made a crack about being an ethicist…and then I stopped, and realized and said “well, I guess this is what I’m trained for, isn’t it? I suppose I am an ethicist.”

It doesn’t sound like much to type out, but it simultaneously brought about a significant pause in time, one of those things where time warps and extends itself while my reality shifted and I almost physically snapped into my body/self and awareness. I was hyper-aware of everything, and in that hyper-awareness was a sense of self confidence in my ability, both as an ethicist and a teacher. It was a surreal and awesome moment, one that once time resumed its course, I laughed off with a “how weird is that” and moved class forward. But the feeling has stayed with me, a new poise, and it feels good.

Course Description: Stepping through the Stargate: Applied Ethics with a Kwoosh

Science fiction offers a fertile ground for the exploration and study of ethical issues, but is often set in dystopian or utopian cultures very different from our own. This coure intends to utilize the near-present science fiction television series Stargate:SG1 to explore issues of applied ethics as they relate to our contemporary society. Set only a week or two ahead of our own time, this show offers an ideal framework to explore a broad variety of culturally relevent ethical issues.

A variety of applied ethical topics will be discussed, including (but not limited to) human torture, just war theory, bioethics, environmental ethics and population control. We will read from a variety of classical and contemporary sources, including Thomas Hobbes, Jeremy Bentham, Daniel Dennett, and Brian Massumi, and discuss the readings in relation to individual issues of the episode, which will be viewed at the beginning of class each week.

Students will be expected to write a final 3-5 page paper and participate in weekly class discussions in order to receive credit for this course. Knowledge of Stargate:SG1 is not required. Some philosophy or critical theory background is encouraged, but also not required.

Syllabi and High

I’m up early, working on my syllabus for Winter quarter. It was one of those things that seemed so daunting when I first set out, and now I’m actually enjoying myself. There’s something really satisfying about rummaging through saved course packs and printed articles and books – just the sheer knowledge at my fingertips – and piecing it together into a coherant whole. This is also the first time that coherant whole is me; sure, I’m stealing liberally from Phillip and a few other sources, but the end result is a hodgepodge all my own. Am I planting the seeds for “my” class – that one class I’ll teach a variation on for the majority of my teaching career? The idea is exciting!

Of course, someone just sent me a link to Piled Higher and Deeper, so now I’m laughing myself into a coughing fit and not actually focusing on the syllabus, but that’s okay, too.