Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hello, everybody...

I'm posting this message to the blog and also sending it out as a mass mailing to many of your e-mail addresses. I suspect I'm going to miss some of you this way, so please forward or mention this message to folks you know who are in class but aren't listed among the recipients to this e-pistle.

I have noticed that no précis has been posted to the blog and that there are no new links posted to organizations or artists or events on the blog either, even though I do believe that there are co-facilitators and people giving reports for tomorrow's class.

This makes me very nervous.

It makes me especially nervous because last week's class was really terrible and I don't want a repeat of that tomorrow.

Let me make something very clear that I shouldn't have to make clear at all.

Attending this class is not optional if you are enrolled in it. Arriving to class on time is not optional if you are enrolled in it. Reading the texts assigned for our class meetings and being prepared to discuss them is not optional if you are enrolled in it.

An unbelievable number of you asked special permission to enroll in this class. I had assumed that this meant you had an enthusiasm for the topic or for the style of teaching or for the community of the classroom you were expecting. I let everybody into the class who wanted to be here. Now I fully expect you to repay that generosity by contributing to the class you have joined.

You all know that I am pretty anarchic when it comes to class structure. I tend to think your engagement with this difficult material is more productive for everybody when we grapple with it as peers.

But you all need to meet me halfway. And that is not yet happening in our class together this term in too many cases.

If you need to miss a class, let me know before hand or immediately afterward. I tend to be very affable about such things. If you miss the class more than three times, however, there may be a real question whether you are really even participating in the class in any meaningful sense, and if you miss without ever doing me the service of explaining why I have little reason or inclination to be generous with you.

I'm taking attendance from here on out and if you arrive too late I'm treating you as absent. It is a ridiculous and infantilizing sort of thing to do, in my opinion, and I truly hate that sort of thing, but that's how it's going to be until you demonstrate to me that I can dispense with this sort of idiocy by coming to class on time and ready to talk.

Again, I get it that many of these texts are alienating and dense. Critical theory is already unfamiliar and complex and many of these texts add the complexity of obscure technological details to the already weirdly complex attentions of a theoretical vantage.

But nobody expects you to spin crystal clear lectures on these topics after a couple of readings! If you don't understand a text, try to figure out what is making it especially difficult for you. Come up with actual questions to ask your peers and me about the text, rather than just giving up. or dismissing it, or whatever it is that you want to do instead of reading the text carefully.

We are reaching a place in the syllabus in which the texts deal with more general issues that apply to all sorts of issues, not just to the specific historical moment of the 90s digirati we've been focusing on up to this point. This is a perfect moment to reconnect with the course and try to dig in a bit.

There are a few of you who are excused tomorrow but there are so many more of you that I still expect a full house tomorrow. I'm not interested in excuses or explanations, just come tomorrow, find something you are prepared to talk about in these texts, and let's all move on.

That is all. Dale

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