Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ezra Reflects on Time, Distance and Space from DSC

Hello Mum and Pops and family,

To be fair, whilst you were writing your email to me, it wasn't completely two months ago that we last crossed paths -- but we are certainly heading towards two months at this point.

Although to be even fairer, it isn't like we haven't done this before -- its funny that we should spend two years apart and yet after just three weeks together in Kathmandu it seems that that is the norm.

Although to be completely fair, we did live some 16 years before that together.

However -- point well taken -- it is funny how life goes on...

Even funnier in light of my recent escapades into 'War and Peace', where I have the opportunity to live vicariously through the turning cogs of time that Tolstoy relates to a clock, and see exactly how "life goes on." W&P also has absentee family members for stretches of a time, and I guess that ability to make several years pass by in the print of a word is part of the beauty and allure. Whereas in 'real' life we actually have to live through those days, weeks, months and years.

I guess you guys really took my 'not being back for two years' to heart, seeing as my bed is no longer my bed. Unbelievably, really unbelievable. I'm gone not even two months, I get a couple of emails saying how much my presence is missed, and then slipped casually into the fourth paragraph of a seemingly normal email is the subtle hint that all my possessions have been pawned off and my bed conquered.

Call me old fashioned, but I thought the rule of thumb was six months, not a mere two months. In any case, I don't even think my bed is proportioned correctly for Leah's room (although that would be even more the case for my room seeing as it takes up half my room).

I take it that the keyboard has still not been fixed, and instead you've just become extremely adept at using the on-screen keyboard (a skill I know only too well from when my laptop's v and s stopped working). I feel like I should just suggest purchasing a new keyboard, but I also recognize that that is an extremely obvious answer, so instead, I'll modify it to: purchase a new keyboard NOW. don't wait, you may not pass GO, you may not collect $200. (that is until you get that keyboard).

Having said that, I'm always happy to get emails from you guys and even more so when it isn't just a reminder about this or that. I'm sure you guys know only too well that warm feeling when you get an email from a long lost family member sitting quietly in your inbox, often it makes my day :)

Wow, quite a crew you had over to the house the other w/end. If I'm not mistaken there is a lot of history between that motley crew, but I suppose somewhere in these intervening years they have been resolved (like in W&P I guess years and incidents can just slip by in 'real' life as well).

It sounds like you guys had a lovely time and I'm sure having James, Caroline, and Alexa over was wonderful. Its nice that Josh and Alexa got to spend time together though, its always interesting and fun to pick up the threads of old 'childhood' friendships.

I actually just got off the phone with Grammy, it was nice to talk to somebody from my 'old' world. Its strange how passive we can be in accepting new worlds and how apathetic we are to remembering our old ones, simply accepting them and attempting to not look out of place in the new current we've found ourselves in.

It really was nice though, to hear Grammy's voice and be able to hear through the grapevine how everyone is doing and what everyone is up to. It also made me smile to hear her talk about being in HAMSTERdam for the World Cup finals and listen to her nonchalantly slip in how by 10 in the morning everyone "was out in the streets smoking marijuana".

Anyway, the summer term officially ended five days ago, so it is indeed 'inter-term' although there is still, as ever, much to do on campus. I've slowly been being weened into my new job as one of the four members of a 'Ground and Orderly' staff. Although, I think at the moment I'm running it pretty much solo -- not to imply that I'm doing more than my fair share of work, but just that most of the guys who are away for break and that possibly the grounds aren't so orderly...

I've been in charge of the lawns, and I'm proud to be able to say that for the first time in my life i know what it means to be 'proud of a lawn'. Our DSC lawn is looking very green as I cut it with the lawn mower vehicle. (These are just as fun to ride around on as they appear to be).

Other than that I've been trying to tear away at 'War and Peace', reading 100+ pages a day. Then, usually ending the day with a movie or -- for instance last night -- a group of ten of us congregated on the front porch of the dorm to discuss co-education. I'll spare you the details, but it certainly is contentious and I think rightly so, its not a issue to be taken lightly, but I'm strongly on the pro-side of the debate. As I said, I'll spare you the details and what would inevitably a biased report. Since it is break time, we also have two girlfriends on campus, new teachers, and some of the second years have returned giving a refreshing air to life on campus.

The Summer Seminar was great! I really appreciated it. I thought it was a great way to inculcate us into Deep Springs academia. We had one teacher who taught for all seven weeks, and she had different teachers join her for different segments. I enjoyed her presence, but there was some tension with some of the class who felt that she was narrowly interpreting the texts. Perhaps a fair criticism, but if she was -- then, certainly, the majority of teachers must struggle to strike a balance (which I get the sense many teachers do struggle with the right balance).

Th class began with all of us from 9 to 10:30 for a discussion on the previous night's reading, then we split up for the 11 to 12 class to discuss our other reading.

I don't think many would argue against us having had a great collection of material to read. The course was roughly organized chronologically -- but probably a more accurate description was that it built itself. We created of an intellectual foundation, then read more specific areas of social and political interest.

We started with Hobbes and Locke to build an understanding of man and his movement from the state of nature into a social contract, followed by reading Nietszche, then we moved to Raymond Williams and his understanding the development of the industrial City and the pastoral vision of the Country. We read Karl Polanyi, too, and his analysis of man's progression into a fully fledged capitalist market economy, which was only an indicator of our progression into a fully fledged market society. We then read Carl Schmitt and set a sort of basic understanding of international law and the complications that arose with the introduction of 'the new world' completely free from a jus publicum Europaem.

Then, finally, we read of the fall of that European law with WWI. Meanwhile, we read 'The Book of Job'. Then we ended with a lot of Hannah Arendt and her attempts to convey what politics actually is, plus a look at Gayle Rubin's analysis of sex and gender roles in modern society. Followed by the even more interesting 'The Cyborg Manifesto' written by Donna Harraway, possibly pointing to the future of mankind.

Then with David Neidorf, the DSC president, we looked at 'The Grey Book' -- a collection of letters and significant articles written between or from L. L. Nunn (founder of DSC) to the Student Body between the school's birth and his death not ten years later. I think I heard Keely, our main teacher, describe the class at one point as "setting a framework for self-governance" here at DSC. Certainly Nunn's writings didn't answer all they questions, or perhaps even many, but they did certainly bring some interesting conversations to the fore.

I'll write more soon, but revisiting the whole term has me tired, and 'W&P' is calling to me (I have several hundred pages to read in the next five days), so the next installment will come soon. Lets see if we can get a skype going, I'll ask the Frodo and the Gandalf (the resident 'techies' -- students).

Lots of love, Ezi

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