Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award

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What I learned at faculty seminar days

Yesterday, on Presidents Day, (In America, we celebrate “presidents”, all of them.) I attended our bi-annual seminar day. On this day, faculty and staff are treated to presentations and other events like raffles and the distribution of service awards, seniority gifts, a dessert social, etc. We also had Union and English faculty meetings.

Here is what I took away from the event. I’m presenting these epiphanies in no particular order, just as they return to my memory:

1.) The best way to treat someone addicted to cocaine is to give them even more cocaine than they currently have. Use it in the classroom.

2.) If you are entertaining, people will pay you tuition. You are entertaining when you are loud and know the secrets of the internet. Entertaining teachers teach an important lesson: volume and internet secrets are important.

3.) If you find yourself in an emergency, read the guidebook. It’ll explain what to do about the emergency. There are eight varieties, all of them with endless variations. (So I guess that makes them similar to musical notes.)

4.) Enrollments rise and fall. When you accept more students into your classes, enrollments will rise. If you reject students from your classrooms, enrollments will fall. This is true right around 100% of the time.

5.) A good way to pass the time is to point out the obvious to a group of people whose degrees place them steadfastly in the 98th percentile of educated Americans. An example of this: take ten people with masters degrees in math, put up a graph before them and say, “Here are the numbers.”

6.) If someone brings a toy to class, turn the toy into a lesson. For example: today’s lesson is on the Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics. Please pull out your cell phones. Look up the following “Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics.” I’ll take your questions. Anybody? No? Class dismissed. (Collect paycheck anyway. Call yourself “innovative”. Brag endlessly. Charge money for your knowledge.)

7.) If  you are pissed off at a colleague, you need a good reason. Example: this colleague makes me angry. Why? Because I’m pissed off.

8.) What you actually do in classrooms is not really all that important. What’s really important is what you will never be able to do in an important classroom. The important room does not yet exist but is in the process of being built for students who do not yet exist but are in the process of being recruited (from nowhere).

9.)    Somebody’s soon going to write a book called 50 Shades of Greyhound that depicts a sado-masochistic orgy on a bus traveling from Toledo to Tuscaloosa.

10.) Everybody’s doing a great job!


Image from Wikipedia.


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Mobile phones and memory

I’ll be giving a lecture on the difference between memory and imagination in only a day, and so I’ve been thinking about the accusation: “We used to remember so many phone numbers. Now our phones do it for us. We’re lost without them.”

This is true. From childhood to my teen years, I usually had about ten or fifteen phone numbers memorized. I still remember a handful of them.

Here’s the real insult from this phenomenon. Our phones remember our grandparents’ number so that we wouldn’t have to. However, we still need to remember numbers, or at least streams of characters known as “passwords,” a funny name because they lead to no passage at all but only to metaphors for our contemporary entrapment.

I know about seven different passwords which I have invented myself at different times when different machines and services told me it was time for a new one. I cannot automatically reset every password I use in every website to the exact same one without driving myself insane. So I just remember al the different ones. And I’m ridiculously good at it, far better, perhaps, than I had been at remembering phone numbers.

What a pile of nonsense. We have exchanged remembering actual passwords—numbers which brought us to the space of conversation with someone—for these wild multi-character symbols which lead us to our empty bank accounts. Some of us use the same stream of symbols, a exclamation point taking the place of the “l”, fucking absurd !over5!ane to access our pornography.

Our memories work fine. We’re just remembering absurdities.