Class Day 6

So, the novelty of being a student is starting to wear off.

Last night was the best class ever.

It started by going to the library and pulling some Pollock books from the stacks. For a book addict like me, this is the ultimate pleasure. This made it all feel real. As I left the stacks, the sun was starting to set and the lights were coming on in the buildings. It was a transition.

I still feel a bit odd in class, but not because of my age. I am the odd duck because I see things totally differently to the other students. I see all knowledge in a spatial arrangement. I see an overriding structure in writings and this is becoming obvious in every comment that I make in class.

Last night, we discussed “Spinning in Space: A Cross Spider Adapts to Microgravity” by Elena Passarrello. This is the story of the spider named Arabella who goes to space with the astronauts on Skylab 3.

The main class discussion was about the difficulties of this poor spider as she tried to spin a web in space, tinged with pity for Arabella.

But in “Spinning in Space”, I saw a major parallel between the astronauts and the spider. The astronauts normally walk on solid space but in orbit, they float. The spider on earth floats through the air as it creates its web, but in orbit the only way it can make a web is to cling to the walls of its container. Both live happily ever after as they learn to survive in their new environments. The parallel is made obvious in the description of the astronaut on his spacewalk: “A sixty-foot cord spooled from his abdomen, connecting him to the space station”.

So, the novelty of being a student is starting to wear off and although I see things very differently to the rest of the class, we all share a common interest. That interest is writing.


In the class last night, we discussed the set readings (including “Spinning in Space”) and had a one on one with another team member to discuss our term topic (a sort of peer review). We also had a short assignment to find an image on the web representing a powerful instance in time and write about it.


I selected two images and wrote about each. The first topic was September 11, 2001, or more specifically, the collapse of the World Trade Center. The second topic was the Dorothea Lang photograph of what the Library Congress describes as a “Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California.”

Image One: World Trade Center

   At 8:45 am on September 11, 2001, the first aircraft hits the North tower of the World Trade Center in New York. At first, America thought this was an accident.

   At 9:03, a second aircraft hits the South tower. Now, there was no doubt.

   Employees scurried home to the safety of their homes accepting the fact that no-one knew how many suicide aircraft were still in the air and if one would land near or on them.

   At 10:05, the South tower of the World Trade Center collapses.

   At 10:28, the North tower of the World Trade Center collapses.


Image two: Dorothea Lang photograph:

   Mother Frances Owen Thompson with her children, Hoboken, New Jersey by Dorothea Lang is one of the iconic photographic images of the depression.

   The images shows a despondent mother with two children, possibly girls. Both girls are turned from the camera.

   It is a powerful image but raises an important image in art.

   Frances Thompson had three [seven] children, but it was felt that showing here with all of her children would have implied irresponsibility.

   So for the sake of the narrative and a great photograph, the facts were changed.

   The issue is at what point is art justified for art’s sake.


Tim Denevi’s point for the exercise was that “Trauma is the replay of an event”.


Another of my writing classes complete, and next week is Spring break.

On Saturday, I start computer classes at George Mason University on a different campus (Arlington as opposed to Fairfax). It will be both Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm on alternating weekends for about 26 weeks.

The difference between computing classes and writing classes will be interesting.



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