December 8th, 2005

I See You!

Personal/Random: LiveJournal, Bob Foster, Die Hard/movies/Kevin Costner

Curiously, I've no time of late to really journal or to read journals and see what folks are up to, but I've nevertheless had a number of conversations about journaling or blogging. We had a grad student in the Dental School get suspended for something written in his blog; I believe it had to do with things said regarding faculty members and classmates, but I've not followed the story closely. Then there's the suspicion about the faculty member at Chicago being denied tenure due to his blogging, which story my Mom first brought to my attention, since she's still got my back after all these years. Go Mom.

Oh, has anyone else had their LiveJournal account just now forwarding them comments to them that were posted weeks ago? I'm getting stuff from over a month ago emailed to me. I don't know if it's LiveJournal or AOL, or some mutant combination of the two. It was a real opportunity for some déja vu experiences before I figured out what was going on.

Mostly there's lots of end-of-year stuff going on, and if I'm not grading the latest batch of papers (I'll have graded 210 papers from one class this semester, with a low-end estimate of 780 pages of graded material) then I'm now doing some enthusiastic and celebratory free reading to the exclusion of almost all else. Dan Lloyd emailed me the other day, as he's slaving away toward the end of his semester's seminars, expressing his daydream fantasy of what it would be like being done with doctoral exams, and saying that he hoped that all I was doing all day was watching movies and eating ice cream. I thought it a charming image.

Bob Foster is staying with me for the week. His wife Carmen started a residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Hospital, and so--being done with coursework himself--his new living situation in Ann Arbor doesn't allow Bob to make it back to Marquette's campus very often. But when he is here, he makes it for a week-long stretch and so we're getting in some social time when the day's work at the library is done. This was the second night in a row that Mike Harris came upstairs from his apartment and ended the day around the dining room table with us, eating Christmas cookies, drinking Sam Adams and talking theology, movies, history, politics and just nonsense. Tonight there was:
carry-over from last night about the worth of Clement of Alexandria's (d. c. 220?) work, particularly the Stromateis.

Dismissive undergraduates of the sort that read a classic text--say, Plato--and then after half an hour are able to tell their class that "This guy is so stupid" and that they've totally seen through him: this kind of undergraduate did not fare well in our conversation. Not at all.

Much more sympathetic was conversation about dealing with the occasional sheer panic of students who are dealing with Theology and Philosophy for the first time, given that they're being immersed into an undergraduate topic for which they have not had the 12 years of reinforcing, refining preparation that they have had for their other subjects. (Our American cultural self-censorship in the name of free thought seems to be less persuasive to undergrads than it used to.)

Various problems of learning history from Hollywood were also lamented, particularly with the low status of women in the early-to-late modern period being projected back upon the surprisingly high social status of women in the medieval period being a noted example.

There was particularly fierce debate about the thesis that Die Hard became the (virtually exclusive) formula that was followed for action movies after its premiere. Harris continued to hold with rabid intensity to the opinion that Kevin Costner has never made and could not ever make a good movie. Bob and I both offered Silverado as immediate rebuttal, and held forth on the entertainment value of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Bull Durham, and Field of Dreams. I didn't really attempt to defend my belief in a sort of glorious or profound awfulness of Waterworld, which always draws me in with that sort of horrified fascination of an accident scene.

The summer's travesty of the Marquette "Gold,"--and how we spent a rumoured $300,000 to stop being the Marquette "Golden Eagles" so that we could become the Marquette "Golden Eagles"--was reviewed for Bob's benefit.

More than anything, though, I'm still glorying in having an apartment where I can really host people. It's been great just to have Bob around to and to be able to talk with him at length, even though I know it will all feel like we barely got a chance to see him when the week is done. But to be able to have people--plural people, which was impossible in my old studio apartment--at my place is still just a raw, satisfying pleasure in itself.