An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (César Aira) – Highlight Loc. 527-29 | Wednesday, May 09, 2012, 06:59 AM
Averting his gaze, Krause made no comment and hastened to change the subject. Which was not so easy: changing the subject is one of the most difficult arts to master, the key to almost all the others. And in this case, change was a key part of the subject.
How long has it been? I don’t know how long it has been. Long enough to feel an urge in the direction of the unlikable. A sort of ego-analysis. Only I can save myself from myself by abolishing that very I or evading it with id or we or one. Which one will it be, two or one?
There has been enough time to begin to become a teacher. What is the difficult part thus far? Planning a whole semester or year in advance. This is where the grapes of team-work come to immediate fruition, to be one of many means to be able to sometimes rely on these others. For me to map out the whole year in advance would not be madness, but a considerable waste of time&energy. Which as we know are both in short supply. The former so much so that many-a-person will [have to] plan their week down to the hour. This where smart-phones are good. The latter so precious that we will ruin natural preserves for it just so we can sift its sands for trace amounts of sticky ancient sunshine. Who needs Alaska? [Apart from the people and animals who live there]. Who needs the heartland? Frack it all.
So I don’t map out the whole year; a rough road map already exists. The art is in synchronizing our respective curriculums so that students from different classes attain the same level of competence. We designate the thematic sub-units but not too slavishly; we share work sheets but not every single one of them; we meet bi-weekly but not religiously… all in all it’s careful harmonizing work and the requisite diplomacy. As everywhere it’s good not to let one’s ego get in the way.
The students should in theory be able to transfer from one class to another [given a level of proficiency] without coming into too cold or too hot water. Then again, not too many students should transfer upwards or we’ll end up with an impossible glut of A-level students. There are institutional limits that cannot be circumnavigated, not even by a class of extraordinary genius. Or laziness. Three or four may pass and it makes good sense. Not everybody should go to university, nor should everybody make his apprenticeship master clutch his head in woodshop desperation. Balance, harmony needs to be established; and it begins with nothing more basic than numbers.
Yeah, figures, those too. Typed into teacher’s office, the official administrative IT tool so we can keep track not just of grades but also not conspicuous behavioral patterns. The idea is good, efficient and even the execution goes a long way towards making things more transparent for all parties involved. At our place, however, only one teacher [educational person] may log in at a time, depressing the level of efficiency to a lowly level where one finds oneself reluctant to log the grades for the bone-simple reason that one is likely not able to. Anyway, enough of the professional development; it seems liable to lethal boredom.
Has there been important reading? For a while Mutis’ Maqroll seemed to be going places: the high-seas adventures told in the plangent melancholy reminiscent of Pessoa’s Portuguese disquiet, the rolling, mellifluous adventures of the nostalgic dipsomaniac, the quixotic narratives carrying him to the 1000 corners of the globe, peppered with intermittent par-amours and long-stretches of impossible lassitude…it all takes one away on an overly romantic Ocean adventure. But halfway through the tome, the pointless irritation of machismo, mixed with odious stereotypes begins to sap away at the intrepid, sea-faring fun of it.
Very similar red flags apply to Morgan’s “Woken Furies”; one comes to it most likely having read two previous Takeshi Kovac’s novels and the rapid-clipped, tech-savvy, kinetics-frenzied plot [akin to a German engine driven at capacity] keep it afloat and plowing but again the chauvinist bravado, after a couple of hundred pages, gravely diminishes the reading enjoyment. Plus not to mention the shitely veiled islamophobia [the worst bigots, card-board cutout characters are named “beards”] and very rare political index-fingered outbursts. One imagines the editor reasoning with Morgan why, for all its excitement and kinetic fireworks, these passages seriously should be cut out. And him at last shaking his head, unable to tell the good from the bad, as Takeshi Kovac’s himself often is. Not so ironically at all.
p.s.: …as anybody can tell these mediocrity-studded posts are now marked by the deathly face of deflation, the calm monotonous indifference that presages the imminent demise of one literary, …, undertaking in favor of another, possibly even more doomed one… in the end there will always be nothing, a beautiful, black nothing for all of us to rest in together….