Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Only a few more weeks before I head back to Indiana. I'll have to arrive a week early to participate in the week-long instructor orientation. Coming home to Texas for the summer has been refreshing, and now I'm all excited to be back in Indiana for the school year.

Lately have been thinking about thoughts, how the written word is like a butterfly pinned to the wall, or a picture of the Aurora Borealis. We only see the thing fixed, yet it is full of motion and depth. In articulating these thoughts, I'm forced to cement words into place, yet language is so rich with dimension. How to tap into the whole?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The last number of weeks have brought many changes. My sister is now Mrs. Caroline Felty, and she now lives in Corpus Christi. Good changes! It saddens me that we won't be able to see each other as often, and sadder is thinking of all the times I perhaps could have spent with her before. But from this transition yet another change has emerged, in my own life. My sister bequeathed to me two small kittens, the smallest, cutest creatures. Most likely won't keep the kittens, but this has given me a new appreciation for pets. Observing them play together is a source of endless amusement. They spend much of their time playing together, capering and gamboling and dashing from wall to wall in chase of each other. Their predatory nature is constantly in stark contrast to their gentle nature, the one that licks my hands and my face, softly rubs against my shoulders, and curls up on my chest and purrs me to sleep.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Back in Texas for the summer break. These few months will allow me to look at my life and the direction I'm getting ready to begin moving in. Next semester I'll begin the Spanish program at IU, and I've already begun reading the Master Reading List, starting now with Don Quixote. The process is laborious here at the outset, as I spend more time in the dictionary than in the novel itself. Have spent hours bent over that book already, and I'm still working through the introductions.

But this is where my heart is, reading, and literature seems a much bigger playground than the other disciplines, because the imagination has no boundary, is ever startling, ever transforming. Anything else seems like making my way through a desiccated and alien terrain.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eighty degrees today! Flowers are suddenly everywhere, as if a they were impatient to see the sky and so sprung fully-formed from the ground in a single night. The beauty of Indiana is a rich, green, lavish beauty, a fairy-tale beauty. And like a fairy-tale it seems too perfect, as if its elegance were contrived. The way the hills undulate, the grass too green to believe, the picturesque trees, and the flowers so perfectly peppered. In contrast, the beauty of Texas is disheveled, wild, flawed, and thus more bewitching, more authentic.

During my evening walk I looked across the way and saw my 29th birthday huddled very near. Only a couple months distant! Inconceivable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some thoughts on the Age of Information.

Often I'm startled at how sophisticated young people are--especially those very early in their twenties. When critics rail against the Internet as the dumbing of America, I think they are both right and wrong in their assessment.

They are wrong in that the social aspect of the Internet actually encourages faster mental development. Because children are communicating earlier and more often than ever before, their minds are developing faster. Chats, forums, facebook--these facilitate mental development because they require children to communicate, to think, to be mentally engaged. Reading alone does not lead to greater mental sophistication; writing and communicating, the actual process of thinking, stretching the mind, that is where mental development happens. Of course, those who read have more to draw from, a richer, more fertile mind, than those who do not read very much.

One thing to note is that early exposure to the Internet helps to explain why most young people have good spelling and grammar: we are becoming more of a text-based culture, where entire friendships exist only online and via texts.

The critics are right in that while the Internet has allowed for a wider class of sophisticated and intelligent young people, it goes no further. The Internet fosters no great profundity. This must be done through intense personal study, through long and consistent hours of reflection, through writing and articulating the thoughts, and most important, through deep and habitual reading. The Internet discourages most of these, where spending more than a few minutes on a webpage is rare.

At its best, the Age of Information has resulted in a greater mass of intelligent young people; at its worst it has discouraged profound learning. Do young people read great sprawling works of literature anymore for personal pleasure and mental enrichment?

Finally, what comes after the Age of the Information? The Age of Even More Information? Cortical shunts? Bradbury wrote a story--I forget the title--in which a group of human explorers encounter a species that had evolved to the point that corporeal concerns were irrelevant. Through the passing of untold millennia they had become spherical blobs that communicated telepathically. What they lived off of I can only speculate. Perhaps they subsisted on photons. However the case, that is true self actualization.

Friday, March 26, 2010

At noon my Friday class ended and I took the bus home and squandered seven hours sleeping and piddling online. I rotated periodically between the two, dozing an hour on my bed, then pulling myself awake to sit down bleary-eyed in front of my computer. The large fan I keep at my bedside is the best soporific I've ever encountered. It serves a dual purpose: the soft whirring soothes me while at the same time soaks up most outside noise. I can't imagine ever being able to sleep without it.

My day is a failure. Only a few words eked out. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer. If the sun doesn't deceive again with feigned blandishments, then I look forward to a long walk on campus, where I can organize and shuffle around my thoughts. And spend several content hours in my chair reading.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

After studying a couple hours at the Union I took my backpack and began an evening walk. To circle the main central part of the campus twice takes about fifty minutes. It lets me think. It's the only time that I have full license to explore my own thoughts. It's the only time when my mind is my own, when my thoughts aren't demanded of me. I let them wander, reign them in, inspect any new image caught in the mesh.