Catch a falling star

11 07 2013

I’m pretty good at riffing, which serves me well in front of the class.

Yeah, I sometimes go off my rails, but if I have to choose in lecture between adherence to a tightly-written script and occasional glances at outlinish notes, I’ma going with the glancing, occasional off-railing be damned.

Sometimes, though—more often than off-railing—my lecture or the conversation with students will take us into questions we’d have never planned to ask and allow us glimpses into a cranny within a subject we hadn’t known was there.

I love it when that happens.

The only downside, however, is that because those questions and glimpses are unscripted, I don’t remember them. Last semester, for example, one of the students in my bioethics class responded so unexpectedly to one of my questions that all I could say at the end of that session was “Wow, I didn’t think that was how the discussion was going to go, but that was really amazing.”

So damned amazing that when I tried to reconstruct it afterwards I forgot the comment that sent us all scrambling after him.

I do try to write down those bits which arise that I think should be handed off to the next semester’s class, but often students will come up to me after class with questions or I’ve got to clear out for the next class or run to catch the train so that by the time I have the time to recall the moment I. . . don’t recall the moment.

I’ve learned to let these fallen recalls go, because a) whatcha gonna do? and b) I know there will be other moments in other classes—some of which I may just catch.

That’s my version of faith, I guess: these moments will come, as long as I let them, these moments will come.





Listen to the music: Can’t stop the music

21 10 2012

C. told me to rip all of my cds before I got rid of them. If I got rid of them.

I don’t know that I would.

I understand the reason—it’s the same reason that I’m filing away the bibliographic info on all of the printed out scholarly articles I’m going to toss: don’t lose what you have—but there’s something. . . satisfying about an irrevocable purge.

I had tapes of my favorite albums, but I didn’t rush to tape everything else before I got rid of my vinyl. (And I got rid of almost all of my tapes when I left for Montreal.) No, my attitude was what’s done is done, and no use hangin’ on just to hang on. No point in fetishizing the past.

I do that, fetishize objects—most obviously, my books. It’s damned near impossible not to imbue objects which deliver meaning with meaning themselves, and as long as the deliveries retain that meaning, I”m not too worried about my affection for the objects. But when the possession itself becomes the point, well, that’s when I need to rethink matters.

There were a few people who tried to talk me out of getting rid of the albums, certain that I was throwing away irreplaceable treasure (i.e., vinyl), but as I told them: I have a shitty stereo system and I hate it when the needle skips, and I see no particular worth in having to turn the album over after 20 or 25 minutes. Besides, I didn’t really listen to this stuff anymore.

That was the real reason to get rid of the albums: These were singers and groups I’d listened to since I started collecting albums, and my tastes had changed. There were a few albums that I replaced with cds—by Rickie Lee Jones, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, B52’s, Violent Femmes— but most of them? Nope. Done. Goodbye.

I don’t regret it.

Of course, if I really wanted to, I could find clips of those bygone songs online, but I’m fine with leaving them all behind. When something ends, it’s good to let it end.

I had a moment, in some cases, a long moment, with those albums, and those moments don’t matter any less just because they’re over. This is something to which I am slowly reconciling myself, that something can happen for the time being, and that being in time may be enough, may have to be enough.

I don’t know whether this particular musical moment is over—that’s the purpose of this listen-through, to find out—but if I’m no longer moved, there’s no point in pretending otherwise.

But I’d like it not to be. I’d like still to be moved.

~~~

Listened to thus far:

  1. *Joe Acker, The Times and Places of Love
  2. Afro Celt Sound System, Volume 2: Release
  3. Air, Moon Safari
  4. Air, 10,000 Hz Legend
  5. Akufen, My Way
  6. Luther Allison, Blue Streak
  7. Altan, The Blue Idol
  8. Tori Amos, Under the Pink
  9. Tori Amos, Strange Little Girls

*Joe was one of the aforementioned downstairs neighbors who decided to shed the jewel cases. He and his wife Tara were great neighbors, early on kindly letting me use their shower when mine went on the fritz. We got to know one another hanging out in the yard with their amazing dog Gracie, and then hanging out in their apartment. They gave me a key to their place so I could take Gracie out during the day or let her out at night if they were getting home late. We lost track of one another some time after they moved out—last I heard, Tara was pregnant with their first kid—but they remain one of my few good memories of Somerville.

And yes, the cd is nice, too. Joe and Tara (who was learning mandolin) were deeply interested in Americana music, and invited me to listen in when they invited friends-with-strings over to play old-timey tunes, but the cd hews closer to the singer/songwriter folk/rock style, which well-display Joe’s meticulous guitar skills and honey-warm voice.