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Thursday, March 6

March 6, 2014
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WWTWWT: Today, more about Aristotle’s Four Causes — specifically, how they affected his views about the soul and the existence of God.

First, Aristotle saw everything as made up of both matter and form. You can’t have matter without form — even if it’s a blob of matter, that is still a form. The form that each thing takes is what he called its “first actuality” —  its soul. That sounds weird because we’re used to thinking of souls as, essentially, ghosts that live inside our bodies. (If we think about them at all.)

But Aristotle certainly wasn’t implying that a chair has a “soul” in that sense. Substitute “essence” for “soul” and it’ll probably make more sense. (Put another way: what makes a chair a chair? Its form. Therefore, its form is its essence.)

This blend of matter and form became a theory called hylomorphism — which just combines the Greek words for matter and form.

Second, Aristotle saw every object in the world as a blend of actuality and potentiality. Actuality is what a thing is at the moment: a rubber ball, or a tree. Potentiality is all the things that this object could become: a melted-down puddle of rubber, or a pile of firewood. This potential that every object contains is unlocked by another agent. For example, a rubber ball has the potential to become a gooey mass of rubber. But it can’t unlock that potential unless heat is applied. Change, then, is always caused by some other agent. (Even when you walk across the room, your potential to do so is unlocked by a series of events: the brain causing neurons to fire, which initiate muscles acting, etc.)

Aristotle thus wondered, if these causes could be traced back to the beginning, what would initiate them. Using logic, he came to the conclusion that only a being that was pure actuality — that had no unrealized potential — could initiate the original change. This being is sometimes referred to as the “Unmoved Mover” — but we would probably call it God.

For Tuesday: please re-read the section on Aristotle. We’re going to finish discussing him on Tuesday, and will probably have a quiz on Plato and Aristotle on Thursday.

Adaptation: Today we finished up talking about To Kill a Mockingbird and Kat drew an extensive depiction of the film on the board.

The next subject we’re addressing is fairy tales, as you all know by now. The reading assignment, which was handed out on Tuesday, is due to be read for next Tuesday – pay special attention to the parts that concern fairy tales, obviously. There is also another homework assignment for Tuesday: you each staked a claim to a fairy tale. Research the fairy tale, looking for it’s origins and subsequent versions/adaptations throughout the years. Go back as far as you can and try to be comprehensive as far as versions and forms of the story is concerned. Come to class with a significant understanding of the fairy tale and be able to share the information with us, including any interesting things that you noticed or found out along the way. Remember, these fairy tales should all be from the oral tradition – meaning things like “Alice in Wonderland” are off of the table.

Here’s the list. You can change your mind, but make sure not to change it to something someone else is doing:
Alyx – Little Red Ridinghood
Sarah – Snow White
Kat – Briar Rose
Nicole – Beauty and the Beast
Rosemary – All-fur
Rae – Snow Queen
Christy – Swan Princess (?)
Sydney – The Moon (?)
Dashia – Cinderella

Siren: Continued working on March/April stuff simultaneously.

Film Studies: Today we finished watching War of the Worlds and vented a little bit about Bad Dad and other issues. We talked a bit about the heightened expectations for your responses – remember, ask “why” and try to interpret the film – what does it mean? What was the intention? Does it work? Etc.

Here’s a list of stuff, in addition to the things already mentioned on the response guideline sheet, that you could analyze:
Visuals (special effects, shots, camera movement, colors, light, production design, scene/frame set up, etc)
Plot & Story Structure
Focus – what is the story about?
Pacing & Editing
Sound Effects
Music
Characters & Character relationships
Acting
Casting
Gaps
Adaptation
Writing
…and much, much more.

Bookbinding: Continued working on current project. If you feel like you’re behind or need extra help, feel free to make your way to the lit arts dept. during 3rd block sometime. Ask me for a pass!

8th Grade: Story writin’.

Survey: CNF: Today we listened to a big chunk of an NPR/TAL segment from two years ago about Mike Daisey, an actor who went to China and wrote a theatrical piece about his investigation of working conditions at Apple plants there. Much of his “reporting” turned out to be false, leading to the story being retracted, and we got to hear him explain and defend his work.

I had you listen to this not because I’m trying to send a message about lying or imply that any of you will ever be dishonest. I didn’t even do it because I always get a kick out of hearing the phrase “it was accurate in the context of the theater.” I did it because 1) stories like this affect people who write nonfiction, and it pays to know, in some sense, what you’re up against, and 2) the whole thing is worth it to hear Ira Glass, near the end of the segment, call Mike Daisey on the biggest piece of BS in a truckload of it: that you have to lie to make people care about what you’re writing about. Clearly, that isn’t true; we’ve talked a lot already about  you don’t embellish moments, you write better riffs.

We spent the rest of the time going over guidelines for the writing awards. No assignment for Tuesday.

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