Take the National Humanities Center, for instance: an environment I know well, having spent a year here two and a half years ago, and having returned a couple of times since. That means that I reacquaint myself with the glass and the white frame of the building, and look at how the light shifts as it shines through it, and also note the changes: the water damage, the intricate tapestry-sculptures hanging on the walls, and, here the banner-like art work suspended from the central light shaft. I'm convinced that it's possible to take in academic content and cogitation at the same time that I'm assimilating visual information, and this might even aid memory, in a synaesthetic way. But even though we talked about the practicalities of the classroom, to some extent - especially the graduate seminar - we didn't really touch on the self-referential question of the value of association, as opposed to hard mental work, within academic learning. It's definitely there.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
concentrating at conferences
Concentrating at conferences is rarely as easy as one thinks it is - even when one's much enjoying presentations (of course, the sort in which one's mind wanders, and one makes shopping lists, or maps out one's to-do program for the next six weeks, or drafts one's own comments for the summing up session is another thing entirely). But even when my mind is pretty much in gear, my eyes keep wandering, associations keep sparking off...