Friday, April 20, 2007

Sick and Musing

I'm sick again. Really icky, first dry coughing-up-my-lungs losing-my-voice sick and now gross snotty sick. Between that and hanging out with Wacky Poet Friend, I have not gotten Chapter 3 done. In spite of the fact that I have written so much on this subject, it's been coming very slowly. Sadly, I wanted to turn it in today -- and that's just not going to happen.

Money troubles. Internet troubles. Two bomb threats to area buildings (one on campus) this week.

What does it mean when a senior English major kills over thirty people? Are unstable people drawn to English? Does postmodern groundlessness finally not provide the footing that people need? I had two seniors in one of my courses last semester who said that basically there was no meaning to anything, that "nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so." I asked if we in English did that. What about morals? Ethics? Anything to help people make meaning in their lives? Does it all have to be, finally, play? What about all of us drawn to English because we found that books that we weren't so alone, that literature could be "equipment for living," as Burke maintained?

In the school newspaper, there was an article interviewing the head of counseling services as well as the chair of English. They focused on how instructors were responsible for reporting students who seemed to be dangerous to counseling services. And through what do we police our students? Through their writing. How many people write about wanting to blow up the school or that they are so mortified or stressed they could just want to kill themselves and end the agony or how they would like to hit some idiot over the head with a shovel? But most of us don't do it. In fact, writing about it, expressing it in this way, is what keeps a lot of us sane and responsible. Is writing always a warning sign? Or can it actually be a way of blowing off steam, like the pillow-hitting that my mother always advocated? (Pillow-hitting never made me feel better, by the way.)

I don't have any answers. Certainly, I have had students whose writing has caused me great concern. I have advocated that some students get help before and will again. But it troubles me for teachers to be responsible for recognizing dangerous students through their writing and thought-policing in this way. I don't know what to think. Is that student just late to class or is s/he going to open fire? It's foolish to think that anywhere is safe. But I must've thought it. Must be why we all have to constantly remind ourselves that our classrooms are not private spaces.

Anyway, just musing. I plan to post my own reviews of Blood Diamond and Notes on a Scandal. But first, dissertating.

1 comment:

Tiruncula said...

Sorry you're sick. It sounds like just what I have. Here's hoping that the Winter of Respiratory Distress will be comprehensively over at the end of the current round or by May, whichever comes first.