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Thursday, January 28

January 28, 2016

WWTWWT: Today we talked about the beginnings of Western philosophy in Greece. Why Greece?

We said it was because their society was stable; that people had a natural curiosity about the world around them; and because that curiosity was largely uninhibited by a religious system that infringed on such inquiries. (That’s another way of saying that Greek mythology was as much for entertainment as it was for worship. Zeus & Hera = Bill & You Know Who.)

The first two Greek philosophers we talked about were Thales and Pythagoras. We located their home bases on this map of Ancient Greece: Thales was from Miletus, while Pythagoras came from the island of Samos. (Both of these places would, I think, be considered part of present-day Turkey, so look to the right of Greece.)

Both of these guys were metaphysicians: they each tried to determine the nature of reality. Both were also monists: they tried to reduce reality down to a single common factor. For Thales it was water: he believed everything was made of water. For Pythagoras it was numbers: he believed everything could be explained by a mathematical formula.

The difference in these two ideas is that Thales believed that the explanation for the world was something we could experience with our senses (water). Pythagoras believed it was something that only existed as an abstract concept, something we needed reason to comprehend. (Remember me asking you to bring me a three?) This is the beginning of a long schism in Western thought between the body and the mind, or between the senses and reason.

For Thursday: please read the sections in your book on Thales and Pythagoras, as well as the next three Pre-Socratic Greeks. These include Heraclitus and Parmenides, who were metaphysicians as well (though their ideas of the nature of reality were a little different), and Protagoras, who introduces a new (and very familiar to us) way of looking at the world.

History: Today we started off by thinking about “old things” – the oldest thing you’ve interacted with/seen/own. We also talked about what the value “old” things might have (monetary, emotional, informational, historical, etc.). After that, we looked at some books – all between 50 and 150 years old.

After this, we started a timeline on the board. This should be in your notes – if you were absent, borrow someone’s notebook to copy it down.

The homework for Tuesday remains the same. Be creative!

Siren: We wrestled with the CMS for the USA Today site and concluded that magic and ritual sacrifice work as well as anything in predicting why it worked sometimes and not at others.

Daily Prompt: Today our in-class activity was black-out poetry with an artistic edge. If you were absent, there is a page of text in the box for you with your name on it. You can tape/staple/glue this into your notebook. Label it with the date and “activity.”

Four entries are due on Tuesday: today’s activity, your poems from Tuesday, one prompt from the blog ( and one free entry. Remember that you will have to read something, so you might want to think about it ahead of time.

Survey: CNF: We talked about the two “building blocks” of CNF, the moment (what actually happened) and the riff (your commentary on what happened). You “mapped” out your afternoon using both terms.

Then we brainstormed a list of firsts — first heartbreak, first act of rebellion, first concert, first pet, etc. You chose one “first” and wrote a moment from it. Your homework for Monday is to write a riff on that moment, on the index card I gave you. Have the card ready to turn in then.

Survey: Screenwriting: Today we read the first 13 pages and watched the first 10 minutes of Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock, 1951). Here’s the rest of the screenplay, if you’d like to check it out: Screenwriting – Strangers on a Train.

You took notes on a basic screenplay style – specifically, the person and tense that we’ll be working in (3rd person objective present) and the sensory details that we will focus on (visual and audio). You also took basic notes on spectacle.

You made a paper frame and we went around the halls, trying to think in images and focus on specific “shots.” Your homework is to do more of this: Screenwriting 1.27.16 – Assignment 1 Spectacle. This is due on Tuesday, Feb. 2. If you have any questions, let me know!

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