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Thursday,Feb. 18

February 18, 2016

WWTWWT: Last week’s quizzes are in PowerSchool. If you didn’t take it, you’ll do so at the start of the block Tuesday.

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 contrast between 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, via the handout I gave you.
  2. has lately been best expressed in the film The Matrix, which we also discussed briefly, and from which we watched this clip. (It’s an idea that’s in lots of sci-fi.)

3. It 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. It also meant that Plato was, among other things, hostile to art. This was in part because he saw art as representational (which it 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:

  1. The worst version of AH would be an artist’s rendering — painting, poem, whatever. It’s representational, emotional and (therefore) inaccurate.
  2. A better version would be the object itself. AH isn’t perfect, of course, but it’s closer to the ideal.
  3. 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 physical blueprint itself as we are the “perfect” version of AH contained therein.)
  4. 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.

History: Today we talked about parchment. The videos we watched in class are here, if you want a second look:

In class we defined parchment, vellum, and book of hours. The rest of class was spent discussing, in little groups, the reading assignment. We will pick this discussion up next week.

The scroll reading assignment (on book structure) has not yet been officially assigned, so you may want to hold off on it for now.

Our field trip is going to happen on Tuesday, March 1. It would be great if you could warn your other teachers ahead of time (Mr. LeRoy already knows – I’m talking about your academics). Permission slips will be handed out early next week.

Siren: Talked about contests and enterprise pieces — especially Project X. Feb. 23 deadline for March copy!

Daily Prompt: Today notebooks were checked, we did an in-class reading, and then we played Apples to Apples. Your (required activity) prompt is this: use any of the cards you “won” in Apples to Apples in a poem.

Four new entries due on Tuesday, as always.

Survey: CNF: Today you turned in your first essays. Then we listened to this broadcast from 2000 of David Sedaris reading his essay “The Youth in Asia” on NPR’s This American Life, as we followed along with the version that appeared in his book Me Talk Pretty One Day. We talked about focus and theme, and how the humor works in this essay.

You then wrote a moment/moment tree for a moment in which you were afraid to tell someone something. You will choose either this subject (which could change somewhat, depending on the moment tree moments you choose) or one of the first five topics we discussed, for your next essay, which is due a week from today (Thursday, Feb. 25).

Survey: Screenwriting: Today you wrote loglines for your proposed short film script, and then handed them in. If you were one of the MANY people that did not have this ready – tomorrow morning. Get it to me. The longer you wait, the more your grade will be affected.

We also read the Squirrel script in class together and you did a three act structure breakdown for it.

We will have class tomorrow as well, to make up for the snow day. Bring your screenwriting materials, including the script excerpts we’ve read in class and the Assignment 3 sheet (we will discuss and set a date for Part 2).

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