So far I am really enjoying the direction of the course, and I think the variety of material that we will be covering over the course of the upcoming quarter will bring in a lot of different angles and perspectives on nonfiction. Looking back on the past quarter, however, I feel like we have had a lot of arguments and point-proving sessions that have drifted away from our main points. I live that in the class we can stray from the main point and explore new ideas surrounding it, but this is only constructive when the class is having a discussion, not always an argument.
I've really enjoyed using Serendip for this class...I think its a great way to communicate ideas informally and it makes me feel a lot less stressed about submitting written work. I've also liked the types of books that we have read. I feel like they are the kinds of books that I would never have had the opportunity to read and discuss in a more conventional English class...I look forward to reading the books we have chosen for the rest of the semester. The main thing I would change about the course is the way that we discuss the pieces we read. I feel as though we spend a lot of time discussing the authors' opinions and our own opinions about them rather than the form of the work itself and how the piece relates to the genre of non-fiction.
For the remainder of the semester I would like to look at different mediums besides that of just the printed book. I propose that we either watch or read Out of Africa for week one, watch the movie Out of Africa for week two, and read West With the Night for week three. I then want to transition into more modern non fiction; for week four I want to read a children's book- I'm not sure which right now but maybe Is A Blue Whale The Biggest Thing There Is? For week five I want to watch 13, and for our final week I suggest A Million Little Pieces.
Our coursework so far has given us a smattering of samples across the nonfiction genre. We've dissected graphic memoirs, criticized criticisms of copyright law, tried to define the nature of reality in a genre that is (let's face it) not exactly real. In light of this, I think it would be interesting to look at reality from a scientific and psychological perspective. If something is a work of creative nonfiction but focuses on scientific "facts," what does that work become (faction? fiction?)? Or if a work focuses on a specific case or example - an isolated incidence - , can it be a "factual" representation of an illness or phenomena as a whole?
Though I could easily nitpick the entirety of Naess' The Ecology of Wisdom, I am only going to do as much with his essay, "Population Reduction: An Ecosophical View." Naess starts with a true enough observation: that we, the human race, have overpopulated this planet to the detriment of our ecosphere. Logically he says, we must then work on reducing our population over the next few centuries, despite that current politics advocate doing otherwise. He states that "[o]n average, no very great population is required of each culture . . . [and that] huge numbers tend to reduce the manifold" (304). So by increasing our population, we not only destroy the environment, but our cultures as well (more people lead to more fractures).
"Some places speak distinctly. Certain dank gardens cry aloud for a murder; certain old houses demand to be haunted; certain coasts are set apart for shipwrecks." ~Robert Louis Stevenson
While reading the beginning of The Ecology of Wisdom I was struck by the passages on pages 46 and 64 where Naess speaks about a distinct sense of "place" and that was can be defined by or identify with a particular place. He says, "… the development of a place in which a person feels at home and feels a sense of belonging shows exceptionally clearly some of the forces at work in the establishment of a place," and then later speaks about a physical place being lost or destroyed, saying "… choose a place that you will likely to be able to master when you are older.
Anne: talks about web papers, highlights ones she has read since last class. And JMac coming?? Upcoming class schedule, etc etc. Watch Johnny Cash’s Long Black Veil. Is Solnit’s description of this true?
I'm writing these notes as a condensed conversation. I'm sorry that it doesn't flow very well...
Discussion on Solnit's A Field Guide to Getting Lost
- Students learn best with what they're interested in, but the problem is that students don't get to ask about what they're interested in with our current education system
- Have you been in environments that don't allow you to ask your own questions?
- Yes, but I prefer that, because that's how life is outside of school as well.
- I'm a better worker when I take control of the situation and ask questions myself
- Kids only pay attention to grades, not feedback. Grades are distracting
The title of Rebecca Sonlit's book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, indicates that in some way, Sonlit is going to try to map the unknown. In a sense, this is what she does - she presents unorganized, conversational prose intended to inform the reader of what, exactly, is the most effective and fulfilling way to get lost, and what one can expect to find if he does take her advice. But I'm wondering if her literary undertaking is effective - can one really map the unknown? or is she simply suggesting ways in which venturing into the unknown might be useful? It seems like the latter of these two is more likely, and that in respect to suggesting why getting lost is useful, Sonlit comes up short.