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Beware the image and the text.  Beware the text, for it can “make the weaker argument appear the stronger” (Plato’s Apology) through the enthymeme and the wily rhetoritician.  Beware also the image, because through repetition and the strength of the sense of vision, it can have a curious side effect to those who are not aware: it has the property of becoming the stronger idea in the mind while choking the weaker ideas until they become latent, just as a large tree will overwhelm the surrounding growth, covering it with its shade, until at last nothing else of strength grows under the canopy of its branches that will threaten it.

 

The most visceral examples of this phenomenon that I witness day to day is with my students, who watch movies and TV a lot and read a little, if at all.  Consequently, they do not know that the real battle of Stirling was fought on and around a bridge and was not led by someone resembling Mel Gibson in stature.  They do not know that Beowulf was an epic poem over a millennium before it was the film they watched.  They do not stop to realize that battles are fought without soundtracks, and are seldom glorious.  The little history or literature they read in their high school history class or English class (if they read it) is overwhelmed by the images they see and constantly fill their eyes with all the time.  This is not in itself a bad thing; rather it points to both the prominence of the image in our own society, or at least in the culture of the community in which I teach, and the fact that images can be accepted as valid ones simply through repetition.  They are children of fiction, and stories have become their world, but their understanding of stories does not have the transparency that might let in the contextualizing light of the rest of reality.  Their paradigm is opaque, and therefore for them is the only thing they know.  It is difficult, in this state, to make the distinction between fiction, history, narrative, politics, and anything else.  Everything blends into one thing and that thing loses its exhilaration because it is all they know.

 

This is why I want to teach freshman and sophomores in college.  I want to make a difference.  This is why I want a mead-hall. (nods to Marshall and Rich!)

 

The Form of mead-hall

The Form of mead-hall

 

 

 

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