Sending out the signal

I am a product of ‘modern’ education and the university-economic complex.  I’ve spent over five years learning in a variety of fields, including literature, history, architecture, language, archeology, science, sociology, education, and math.  What does this qualify me for in the working world?  Possibly teaching.  So I’m going back to school, hopefully to gain experience in the field of law while in class.

But as I’ve spent over six years in the working world before re-entering academia, I have a slightly different perspective from some of my peers,  Debt is not the same superfluous concept that it was to me in undergrad.  Spending on my professors salaries, their textbooks, and indirectly, their research, no longer seems as necessary to me.  In fact, as a teacher of some experience myself, I find I’m less likely to full-heartedly embrace the requirements of others.  DO law school professors have something to teach me?  Absolutely.  could the knowledge be imparted at a lesser price?  More than likely.

That’s why I wanted to jump up and cheer after my Intellectual Property meeting today.  The teachers who are in charge of the intro to that class have taken the available technology and run with it – digital books under their own company for a fraction of the price of most law books.  True, these same professors still endorse buying (and keeping) the books for other classes, but they’ve made a concerted effort to make such books more affordable.  Ultimately, it’s efforts like this that lead me to the school I’m at – genuine efforts to teach, to share, and to listen to students.  As one professor remarked to me recently, “you are our customers, but not only customers”.  What would higher education look like if everyone had this outlook?  I’m not sure, but I hope to spread the trend.

And can I spread this trend myself?  Should I be sending out my WriMo work to the general public for free?  It’s an idea worth considering, especially if I can do it in a way that does not detrimentally affect my own work.

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A Long Memory on Butcher Paper.

There was an article in the news recently about one Frank Calloway: artist, 112 year-old man, and schizophrenic.  While it’s interesting to hear about this man and his history, and to hear the praise of his art, there are other sides of the story that are more important to me.  These do not relate to the nature of his character, which by all accounts is lovely, or to the accuracy and length of his memory, which is substantial and easily seen in his art which exemplifies turn-of-the-century rural life in the south.  More, I wondered what these pictures (obviously serious to this man) on huge sheets of butcher paper might look like.  Here are a few examples that I could find quickly of both the man and his work.

The art itself I’m not sure I would actually qualify as art.  Sure, this guy was entirely self-taught.  Sure, his subject matter is the simple objects and scenes of a bygone age.  There is true worth in that.  Still, I hesitate to cal it ‘art’.  It doesn’t do anything for me.  If it is art, I feel like it’s art that’s not trying – it doesn’t accurately portray a scene, it doesn’t relate to mankind in some way, or convey emotion or an idea.  it doesn’t have a message and doesn’t try to break conventions or perceptions.  To my eyes, it isn’t even attractive.

What does this mean?  Does this mean what this guy is doing is not art?  Is it just a type of art I don’t personally relate to?  Is it just something this guy does that has merit for other reasons?  And who am I, really to judge?  If these works have aesthetic value for any person on earth, does that make them art?

Selling your Soul

A man in New Zealand named Walter Scott (seriously) has sold the deed to his soul for $3800 to Hell Pizza.  The company was willing to fork over the fee for the deed as part of their so-bad-it’s-good reputation.  And it is amusing.  You make a little splash of ridiculous publicity and get paid for it.  But still, there are tons of people upset by the purchase.  If you’re religious, it’s blasphemous.  Does that make it wrong?

A part of the issue depends on how you perceive religion.  Is it an oppressive force that has inhibited man throughout the ages?  Is it a moral compass?  Is it yet another code for simple human interaction?  Is it a barricade opposing lucrative moneymaking like soul-selling?  is it Is it an unbending set of rules not to be questioned?

Some people believe that the devil is out to win your soul from you – to corrupt you, to convert you for the final battle, to doom you to the end of all time.  If there is such thing as a devil, I would prefer to believe in a different sort.  I want the devil who thinks he’s the greatest thing since peanut butter cups yet continues to lose when matching wits against a canny, crusty old woman or a boy with a fiddle.  Like Walter Scott, I want to gain some profit of the things I’m not using.  Perhaps it’s pride or fear, but I’d like to bargain with the devil and come out ahead.