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Thursday, February 20

February 20, 2014

WWTWWT:  Today I handed back quizzes. If you didn’t do so well, review — you’re gonna need this stuff.

We talked about Plato today. Alfred North Whitehead once said, in a very quoted quote, “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” If Plato isn’t the greatest of all Western philosophers, he’s certainly Top Three material. That means we need to spend a couple of days, at least, on Plato and his ideas.

On the docket today: his biggest idea, the Theory of Forms (or Ideas; the terms are mostly interchangeable). According to Plato, the material world — the world we can experience through our senses — is just made up of inferior copies of objects and ideas that exist in another realm, the realm of Ideal Forms. By this he meant that, for example, no circle that exists here in the material world can ever be perfect, no matter how perfectly it is drawn or made. But there is a perfect circle that exists in the realm of Ideal Forms, which we can experience with our minds. That is to say, we can imagine such a thing, even if we can’t experience it with our senses. And according to Plato, the imperfect circles (or imperfect horses, or imperfect Sno-Cones, or imperfect justice, or imperfect whatevers) that we experience here on Earth have enough characteristics in common with their Ideal Forms — their “circle-ness,” or “horse-ness” — that we’re able to recognize them.

This concept of the world of the senses and the world of Ideal Forms:

1. was best expressed in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, which we discussed in class.

2. has lately been best expressed in the film The Matrix, which we also discussed briefly. (It’s in lots of sci-fi.)

3. has something in common with religious beliefs that include some branches of Hinduism (we are all drops in a great ocean, and mistakenly think of ourselves as separate), Judaism and Christianity (the latter of which, remember, hadn’t happened yet), to cite just a couple of examples.

4. meant that Plato was, among other things, hostile to art. This was in part because he saw art as representational (which is pretty much is), and therefore was just made up of imperfect copies of imperfect copies. The further away you get from the Ideal Form, the worse it is, in other words. We came up with a chart similar to one that Plato (writing as Socrates)  used, which goes from worst to best. Imagine Alumni Hall:

4. The worst version of AH would be an artist’s rendering — painting, poem, whatever. It’s representational, emotional and (therefore) inaccurate.

3. A better version would be the object itself. AH isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s closer to the ideal.

2. An even better version would be a blueprint of AH. It’s a physical object, of course, but it’s a design — and therefore, more “perfect” than AH could ever be once it’s built. (Remember, we’re talking not so much about the blueprint itself as we are the “perfect” version of AH contained therein.)

1. Of course, best of all would be the ideal version of AH that exists in the Realm of Ideal Forms. I hope you get to eat there someday!

For next Tuesday: your assignment is simply to re-read the chapter on Plato, having now discussed it, to be sure you understand everything. Ask questions if you don’t.

Adaptation: Attendance was not-so-good again today. The response to Leitch’s “Twelve Fallacies…” was handed out and is due on Tuesday. Keep up the good work on the responses – a few of you could stand to do a little more (remember, it’s a conversation – don’t just regurgitate, think & put forth your own opinions and ideas), but Response 2 was generally better than Response 1. Adaptation 2.20.14 – Repsonse 3, Leitch

Copies of To Kill a Mockingbird were also handed out. Here’s what the next week looks like: Tuesday, we’ll have class as normal. Hopefully more of you will be here, and we’ll talk about your thoughts on Leitch. The responses will be collected. On Thursday, I will not be here, but I expect that you’ll be screening the film (To Kill a Mockingbird) that day. There will be a response associated with the viewing.

Since you all have both read the novel and seen the film before, I expect that asking you to reacquaint yourself with the novel by next Thursday is not too much to ask. In a perfect world, you’d read the whole thing thoroughly, but in a practical world, I would hope for this: that you closely read at least a significant portion of the book so as to refamiliarize yourself with the tone, style, characters, theme, etc, and to scan the rest of the book so that you are familiar with the complete narrative and the plot order. The response to the film will obviously involve talking about the adaptation, and will ask you to consider the things we’ve discussed in class (including the ideas from Benjamin and Leitch), so being familiar with the novel is important. This response will also be worth a bit more, and it will be due the following week (first week of March).

If you were absent, all of the materials you missed are in the box on my desk. Make sure to pick them up before the end of the week.

Siren: Ripped (gently) the head off a bear. Remember: all March copy is due next Tuesday!!

Film Studies: Today we finished watching ET. Your responses to Close Encounters were due today also (as well as the notes, if applicable). If you did not hand in for whatever reason, you can hand it in tomorrow morning without penalty.

You should write a response to ET for Tuesday, using the same guidelines as for the first film (but reinstating the “compare with other films we’ve watched” section, of course). Same rules, same expectations. Also plan to hand in your notes with the response.

If you were absent, you do need to make up the viewing. You can do this on your own, or see me to borrow the DVD. Make sure that you take care of this in a timely manner, as I will not be hunting you down.

Bookbinding: Almost everyone finished their first project! Hooray! We’ll continue on Tuesday.

8th Grade: Cultural Lit final quiz. You guys got an average score of 76 percent. You are officially culturally literate — congratulations!

As a reward, we watched “A Penny For Your Thoughts.” Next week — writin’!

Survey: CNF: CNF Quiz #1. You’ll make it up tomorrow if you were absent. Yes, we’re having CNF Friday.

Due tomorrow: on a notecard, I want you to write down your greatest fear (that you feel comfortable sharing); whether you have ever confronted this fear; and a moment that seems to exemplify this fear — an attempt to conquer it; an experience where it’s affected you; etc. Montages are OK!

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