I revised my take on the guy with the vulgar shirt for today’s True Community. Downtown Abbey fans will dig what I came up with. Check it out here.
Didn’t you think that your dream of the woman’s hands depended on a memory of a woman’s hands?
Didn’t you think that the memory came first, followed then by the imagined vision, the game, the mental play?
Or have you been thinking that those hands you keep seeing were never before your eyes? Do you think, sitting here now, seeing those hands, that you’re able to generate them entirely, their skin and lacquered nails, from the memory of completely different hands?
Did you think, before we had this conversation, that blind men imagine hands as vividly as you do?
Can you ever be sure that any image in your mind, in that field that rushes forth and pulls back instantly and endlessly, is either imagined or remembered?
Does it matter what it is if it’s not before you right now, if the image is only dredged up from the past or anticipating a future, one unlikely to come?
Photo by Kheel Center.
This just happened.
I was sitting in my office and typing an email message . A trio of students walked past my wide open door, and I noticed that one student’s shirt said “suck dick” on it. So I stepped out into the hall and asked him, rather jovially, “Hey, can I see what your shirt says?”
Here’s what it said:
You can’t suck my dick while talking, so shut the fuck up.
I’m not for censorship. I think people should wear what they please, and I occasionally teach wearing a dashiki. But I’m glad I’m not the one who’s got this guy in his classroom today. I’m going to guess most instructors are just going to ignore it. Why attract further attention? However, right now I’m wondering how I would handle it if he came to my class wearing that thing.
I’ve responded to students’ t-shirts before by assigning research projects. A guy who came into my class wearing a hammer and sickle got to do a project about the Gulag. Another guy sporting a Che t-shirt got to read Ay, Cuba, A Socio-Erotic Journey. But how do you turn this kind of frat-boy belligerence into a learning experience? “Here, watch all 44 episodes of Keeping Up Appearances, then write a paper on how etiquette and protocol can be contrived to equal passive aggression.”
For the record, when I was 16, I had a t-shirt that said Shut Up, Bitch. I bought it in California following a nasty bit of heart-wringing over a girl, and I wore it to a few beach parties and a summer camp. One of my dearest friends in the world, a woman who knows me through-and-through, two years my elder, took me to the side and said, “I don’t think that shirt’s like you. It’s just taking the hurt you feel and hurting others with it.” After that I never wore it again.
So, perhaps it’s best to leave these kinds of things to the peers to sort through. Again, I’m glad I don’t have to make a decision.
Here’s a photo of me in my dashiki, as photographed by my 5 year-old daughter in Vilnius this past July. I often teach class this way:
Well, I’m riveted. Tori Amos sings Radiohead’s “Creep”. Two of my favorite artists coming together this way. If you want to read the Rolling Stone write up, go here. Although I listen to Pablo Honey quite a bit, I’m among those Radiohead fans who agree that the record was something “other than” or a “warmup job” or “not quite it” or whatever. Creep is still a good song. It speaks to me. I feel I understand its sentiments. Apparently, so does Tori.
Back in March, I wrote this article regarding my love of Dead Poets Society, and I admit what an influence the film and Williams’ interpretation of Keating were on my teen years. They led to me becoming a teacher, and of taking the writing life seriously.
I’ll be publishing an article about Robin Williams in today’s True Community. I’m shocked, reading back, that I wrote the previous article as I did, contemplating the film’s lessons about mortality, in the same year that Williams would end his life. Fans of his work, and those moved as I am by his loss, will appreciate it. Please share.
Beckenbauer is obviously a surprise here:
…with her amazing colleagues. This is Oblivion by Astor Piazzolla, played live at York PAC, Anderson University. Petar Jankovich, guitar. Maria Storm (my wife), violin. Azusa Tashiro, violin. Amanda Grimm, viola. Kyra Saltman, cello.