Friday, March 27, 2009

Out Like a Lamb

March is almost over, and it's come to a head. I think it's going to pop today.

This month has been the most harrowing, all out, balls-to-the-wall scholastic (and extra-scholastic) experience of my undergraduate career. And I think I'm ready for the focus of grad school now!

With help from too few of my philosophy club members, I'm completing the lobby display for the school's theater production of Horton Foote's "Habitation of Dragons" today. We titled the display "What is Tragedy?" and used Greeks and Elizabethans to explain why people like to watch such horrid business unfold. Aristotle says it's cathartic. Nietzsche says it gets us in touch with the chaos of nature, our Dionysian side.

Whatever it does, I'll find out tonight because I'm an actor in the play too, and it's opening night. I've a fairly big part. I'm on stage most of the time until I take my anti-climactic leave (most characters have memorable, bleary-eyed goodbyes) to make way for the play's climax.

Finally, the club is hosting the pre-show discussion next Wednesday, an Aurora University tradition for the show's first night back. It looks like I will be doing most of the talking (with copious help from our faculty advisor). And I'll be in costume, because there's no other way. I hope nothing falls on anyone's head because of my violation of theatrical superstitions.

All this while planning next month's club functions. None of them require any manual labor on the part of my unwilling tribe, so hopefully there will be a resurgence of involvement. I have rallied these kids left and right, provided them with food, given them things to do and things to talk about within a fairly organized framework. And nothing much has happened. This mounting stress over my thankless presidency has made a month that could have been busy-fun into busy-madness.

This whirlwind of activities has gotten me behind in my schooling, but luckily for me most professors in the humanities have existential conflicts about giving bad grades to smart kids. Not to mention, they all enjoy the theater, and most appreciate my tireless efforts to get other students involved in non-scientific modes of being. So I am pretty safe.

In my philosophy courses (Modern Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Aesthetics -- German Romanticism) we have moved now into the 20th century thinkers. For the first time since declaring that philosophy minor I have had trouble articulating my thoughts on the readings. Heidegger's "In Poetry Man Dwells..." and Schmitt's seemingly outmoded political theologies have me grasping for word-straws. I haven't decided if this is because the "moderns" (like the poets) are difficult across the board, or because I am living in a tunnel visioned sort of dream world these past weeks.

It's probably a bit of both. Heidegger is well known for his difficulty, yet I feel we are kindred spirits (in philosophical thought, not in political leanings). He loves him some language. So I think my poor articulation in discussing this last essay was from sheer exhaustion. I actually had that feeling I've heard about where one wants to scream "I don't get it!" Luckily I didn't jump the gun and utter those terrible words aloud. I'm sure I do get it now. But it was quite a world-blasting few moments I had there when I didn't!

Schmitt, on the other hand, is very easy to read. I think I actually have some clear thoughts on him -- that he is outmoded and not all that relevant -- and these are the very thoughts that keep me from wanting to talk about him very much. But after next week, I'll be done with the madness and I'll find out what's really going on in all these books I'm reading.

So March has come to its fruition I suppose, after weeks of tilling the rocky soils of this career-oriented, non-humanist campus. The fruits may not be of the highest quality, owing to the adverse environmental conditions here, but they will taste sweet to me beause my own grunts, groans and sighs of labor and thought are bound up in them.

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