So, the man behind the man who blessed the world with an alternative to Harry Potter, namely Michael Baigent (who, for those of you who don’t follow such esoterica, claimed – unsuccessfully – that Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was plagiarised from Baigent’s Holy Blood, Holy Grail), has revealed that Jesus and Pontius Pilate colluded in faking the crucifixion.
My students are due to hand an essay in next week. Besides the typical whingeing relating to things like essay length (1500 words is apparently unreasonable these days), I’ve also had some students saying things like “if I had wanted to study museum subjects then I would be a Humanities student”. This, after I had the temerity to ask Economics students to read 2 pages of John Stuart Mill. By and large, this anti-intellectual culture seems to be thriving in the media also – this Sunday was typical, in that the weekend papers provided their usual 30-minute-maximum of diversion.
A friend remarked over dinner that, if we were in London (his home town), power outages such as those experienced in Cape Town of late would result in marches and the like. This may be true, and I can’t help wondering if my feeling that there would simply be no point in marching is a) true or b) an indication that he’s highlighting a deep-seated apathy that Capetonians (maybe South Africans) are prone to.
For those who want some context with regard to this post:
“I WAS UNABLE TO ACCESS ANY OF MY E-MAILS. BUT MY MARK RECORDS ARE INCORRECT BECAUSE I HAV HANDED IN MY BIG ESSAY 2.THE TUTOR(xxxxx xxxxx) SAID THAT SHE HAS HANDED ALL RESULTS IN BUT THEY DO NOT REFLECT ON THE BOARD. PLEASE WOULD YOU CORRECT THE ERROR.”
The New York Times carried this article discussing student emails to their professors, which has been generating subtantial debate on academia-themed blogs (for example, here, and here). All the posts so far are from campuses in the US and Canada, where I’d imagine it rare to teach around 2000 students per year, as I do.
Say what you will about wine, beer or any cocktail; there are times when whisky – and only whisky – is right. For starters, whisky has always been good for conversation. Mignon McLaughlin (in The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960) said “we come late, if at all, to wine and philosophy: whiskey and action are easier”, but he was wrong.
Whether students like it or not, one of the things I aim for in my classrooms is to break down the (usually artificial) divide between academia and everyday life. It’s made somewhat easier by the fact that the sort of things I teach are easily applicable to non-academic activities.
If you’re a South African who is eligible to vote (and have an ID book, unlike one Resistentialist I know), then you may be interested in this analysis of how much your vote could matter. The Cape Town race is one that’s too close to call, as is often the case.
Having spent the past few hours re-reading all the correspondence generated by Watson’s article, and the article itself, I still found myself mostly underwhelmed and unconvinced by Watson’s bile (except for the Hughes connections, which Krog hasn’t explained satisfactorily). Cogent argumentation, rather than rhetoric, should win arguments. So let’s look at the argument…