Thursday, February 26, 2009

Turned On

I drove home from school late last night in silence. No radio, not even the news. I was in a state of intellectual arousal, and all I wanted to do was to hear my professor's words, his enthusiasm, his confidence, his questions, over and over in my head. It was such a rush.

I'm taking a Humanities class on Wednesday nights. The class runs from 6:30-10pm, but I never once even checked my watch. The professor took attendance from his roster and then allowed many other students to "add" his class, though there was floor seating only. He did this, he said, because he felt sure that within a few weeks most of us would not still be there. Once we heard what he would expect of us, we would run for the hills.

A challenge, I thought. Oh, good.

I was already aware of the reading list. I'd about had a heart attack when I purchased the books the week before. Even the cashier said, "All for one class? Really?"

Yes, in the course of this semester, we get to read:

The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus
The Republic by Plato
Manual of Zen Buddhism by D. T. Suzuki
Inferno by Dante
Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare (oh, good! Something 'easy'!)
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
The Rape of Shavi by Buchi Emecheta

And we get to read them fast. Hold on to your horses!

The professor spent the hours lecturing in this beautifully powerful way. I was mesmerized. I love to be in the presence of brilliance. I felt my mind come alive and my heart beat faster, and I knew I was in the right place. Maybe over my head, but destined to drown in the elegance of all this knowledge. He discussed just what exactly the Humanities are, and how they relate to each of us, and why we'd better engage in a serious reading of these texts, and why the media doesn't want us to. Why the words in classic texts are a threat to them, and what the Ancient Greeks have to do with understanding corruption in the government today. Just what is truth? And what is justice? And who should execute judgment?

I was in the front row, right in the middle. That's where I like to sit. I want to be known.

It's been a rare occurrence for me to have a teacher who can really stir me the way that I felt last night. When he said, "Okay, that's enough. See you next Wednesday," we all looked around at each other like, "That's it?" We wanted more.

I felt high.

That's why I couldn't even turn on talk radio on the way home. I just wanted to marinate in the experience I'd just had. When I got home and told Lyns and Dylan about it, I said, "You know, I almost don't even care what grade I get in the class. I just want to be there."

So, I have a week to read 172 pages of Aeschylus. Oh, boy. That's some slow kind of reading, but it's all coming back to me 25 pages in. I remember old Agamemnon and the Trojan War. Time to dust it off and dive in like never before.

Dad, stay tuned. . .you can count on me coming to you for help. Better freshen up. You too, Luisa.


Sarah said...

That all sounds so exciting! One day I'd love to take some college courses just for learn about stuff that I want to learn about.

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

Oh how I miss all that! I can't wait till the kids are in school because that's when I'm going back!

Annette Lyon said...

Man, this is why I want to go back to school! I miss this kind of intellectual stimulation.

Silas Marner's another easy one. And it's short, too.

Saint Holiday said...

What?! He has you reading Aeschylus in English? What kind of a dime store teacher is this? And Plato in translation? I'm losing all respect for the man. However, one must make do. I love you.


Wonder Woman said...

I'm enthralled just hearing you talk about it. (So to speak.) Looks like a great and comprehensive list of books.

Rachel Sue said...

I love classes like that. The ones that are full of things that are seemingly archaic and then the professor relates them to your life, and to today and everything all of a sudden makes sense. Man. I miss school.

Jenna said...

Dad, I left out the part about how he never feels satisfied with any translation and how he 'strongly encourages' us to read these in their original languages. But I just can't fit that in this week. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

What a delight! Oh, how peerless is the classroom experience with a gifted professor at the helm.

I'm here for you, whatever you need; though I think you won't be needing me quite as much as you think. You're brilliant.

Maybe someday we can take a Greek class together....