Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Log #1

To successfully stimulate thought, authors often begin by presenting a problem (or opportunity) that their audience shares in. This immediately develops affinity between the two parties. Now on friendly terms, the author will proceed to show a tantalizing glimpse of their personal grapple with the challenge. It’s an offer: the author promises to entertain and pursue the thesis, if the reader continues reading. This literary device is called a “hook”, and a laudably effective example is contained in Allyn & Bacon guide to writing. The authors suggest that engaging their textbook as instructed “will bring you the personal pleasure of a richer mental life”. This is exciting me and so I will describe why it is one of my hot spots.

The brain’s agency can be strengthened with regular use, yet my educational experience is characterized by a derth of original thinking. I used to blame the depersonalizing commoditization of learning (and other abstract forces that I could not deal with directly) for the poverty of my thoughts. After abdicating personal responsibility for the quality of my mental life, I didn’t bother much with keeping my awareness regularly collected enough to ask questions or develop lively ideas. Many times I’ve felt them knock on my door, and slip back away for a lazy want of admittance. Because I am committed to taking 100% responsibility for creating my reality now, this story is changing up.

Through conscientious, rigorous practice, writing as a strategy becomes a reliable tool for powerful, penetrating thought. Committing ideas to paper or screen creates an independent impression of them, which you can then engage in to spur on more, new thinking. In this way, using the writing process one may explore a predictably vast range of previously unknown thought. It’s occurring now in this assignment, my thinking organs are galvanized.

On pages 16 and 17 of Allyn and Bacon, there is a table of writing strategies, which when considered together constitute another hotspot. Asking a question is an invitation to think, and writing to explore a question is a popular means of navigating a topic. The authors have usefully paired strategies for developing a guiding question with tactics for sexing up whatever question you develop, which reminds me of Jeff’s salad bar. The proximate vegetables, olives, fruits and dressings ensure that lunch is always vibrant and balanced. The convenient access to useful ingredients is their main similarity. An example: reporting sudden dissatisfaction with your former opinion begs a guiding question, and describing how divided you are makes it interesting. I will be referring to these pages when writing my strong response essay.

The main point August is making is that there exists a violent cliché in contemporary thinking which excludes, restricts and villanizes all men. In describing the undesirability of this, a call for change is implied. In contemplating August’s observations, I am monitoring and including men, women and transfolk in statements about heterogeneous populations of humans instead of a limited subset. August would doubtless council examination and thorough disintegration of whatever gendered behavioral expectations we carry, towards males in particular because of the misandry embedded in English. Finally, he would kindly demand that we challenge everyone’s assumption that men are evil because of their testosterone or what it says in the Quran.

The first hotspot to discuss from “Real Men Don’t: Anti-Male Bias in English” is how using the term “patriarchy” turns off critical analysis. I wonder who consciously manipulates people through the use of these words, and why they are personally doing so. “The give-away of this ploy,” he says, “can be detected when patriarchy and its related terms are never used in a positive or neutral context, but are always used to assign blame to males alone.” The other hotspot comes for me with the description of what it means to “take it like a man”. Basically it means, degrade your intelligence by deliberately not avoiding pain that someone else unnecessarily upon oneself. We should be way over that because it’s obviously damaging us as individuals, yet we are not over it.

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