Friday, February 10, 2006

It all started when...

It all started when I tried to play my new Dead Can Dance CD in the van's player. Let us recall that said van was purchased new off the lot in July. The disc player announced ERROR and the disk could not be ejected. I pressed Eject. Nothing. I turned off the van. Then I started it up, and pressed eject. Nothing. Then I pressed eject about 10 times in a row, and then every other button. Nothing. I did everything short of beating the damn thing with my boot, which would have been my next move had I decided that its warranty might be called into question. I called the dealership and the customer service representative suggested I bring it in one day so they could replace it. I have yet to get around to that.

The reason I was going to play the Dead Can Dance CD was an attempt to help extricate myself from this funk that I have alluded to. I figured if I contextualized myself in a barrage of elements I deemed powerful and positive that I could use that as that bit of rope that would help me climb out of my pitiful chasm. I don't suppose I need to reformulate the metaphor between the stuck CD and the rope? Soon after, I decided to shift gears slightly in my class - as a way to jumpstart my own motivation and engagement with the course. (Remember that grand idea that I hinted at a few posts ago? Well I am talking about that now.)

I decided to show the "documentary" What the Bleep do We Know? to my classes. I did this for a couple of reasons. One, to help alleviate said funk. Two, I wanted to break up the term slightly to help avoid the midwinter blahs. I know that students go through periods of low energy as well. Three, the film is a modern representation of what is going on in the New Age Movement. Four, I wanted to walk students through a process that I've been harping about all term - putting a religious tradition into is historic and socio-cultural context. There is a fair amount of good academic analysis which looks at this expression of religiosity, without entering into debates concerning truth and authenticity. (I teach that the academic study of religion is not concerned with proving a religion to be true or right. It works on the premise that people hold these ideas dear and then seeks to understand these ideas from a spectrum of interpretations and methodologies)

After I played the film, I then had to then work through their reactions to the film (mostly negative), and then try and show them how to look AT it. One student reacted so strongly and negatively, that he could not see through his own position to even consider this field a legitimate field of research in the academic study of religion. Remember the guy who had the audacity to show up to class drunk? Well it was him. He was so angry (and rude) at my suggestion that this was really something that scholars investigate - that he was not even open to the suggestion. The whole discussion could have been really powerful and transformative if it were not for the anger. This would have to involve a conversion of sorts on his behalf - and not something that either he or I were open to. He would not have had to convert to a believer, but as a non-believer investigating an idea that someone else holds to be true. We do this all the time in religious studies. It's much easier when the ideas are presented as completely "other" (and mostly in text - which offers even more objectivity). It's not so easy to distance yourself when the information is coming from a film-quasi-documentary that claims to express a truth through a woman who claims to be channelling the spirit of an Atlantean Warrior. I messed with this guy's boundaries far too much and boy was he pissed. (He seems to be an angry young man anyway).

I am in such a negative place, that I deemed the whole experiment to be one giant flop. And then I had a series of other cosmic punches in the face. The new daycare thinks I should take Aidan to the doctor because his is not behaving like his peers (oh, boy this deserves a whole post for itself). I think the whole idea is balderdash, but I am taking him anyway, and I know there is nothing "wrong" or "disordered" about him, other than that he is taking his own meandering developmental path. Then of course there is the continuing spirit destroying drama happening all around me at work. The New World Order continues to chip away, and continues to try and damage the life's work of several of my very good friends. And then there is that matter that I have been single parenting for two weeks, and then all the stress culminated on Thursday. I succumbed to an excruciating migraine. At the end of yesterday, I felt altogether defeated.

Of course, I got up this morning performed my routine. On my way to school, the CD popped out of the CD player. All by itself.

I think things are starting to look up.

5 comments:

Stephen (aka Q) said...

Let's hope so! I'm with you, the CD business is a hopeful sign.

Do you really think the class was a failure? One kid was a real poop — doesn't mean the others got nothing out of it.

Heather said...

I am sure there are some students who got something out of it...even that point which I was attempting to make! At the time, I let the negativity paint my already pessimistic picture! Its very hard to stand on secure ground when the department who ought to be supporting me is attempting to discredit everything I do (and later not renew my contract).

hotboy said...

You're not allowed to have a migraine. You're so busy. Only young people can be that busy. Ones with ten arms! Hotboy

hotboy said...

Yeah! Things have to look up. You're in the trenches, but Eric will return and .... things will get better! Hope so. Hotboy

Beth said...

heather: it sounds like you have it really hard from all fronts. i'm just writing to let you know that i hear you! sending my support...