Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Review in the form of 25 Quotations

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by Joseph Aguilar
(Caketrain, 2014)
1  “The stepfather drools in the rain. The rain is magic.”
2  “By the sea we all hug.”
3  “A question cleans my face.”
4  “I hold a small fire in my hand.”
5  “My piano plays so soft you can sleep on its teeth.”
6  “The stepfather cracks a gasket.”
7  “My beard upsets the baby.”
8  “The rabbit plays a hand shadow on the wall.”
9  “We were brambles.”
10 “My brother fouls my necktie.”
11 “We thrust wildly toward logic.”
12 “My liver hurts.”
13 “Everyone deserves chemicals.”
14 “I saw it waiting in the hospital.”
15 “Kneel with a bird in the throat.”
16 “I forgot the old ideas.”
17 “I rappel through a current of honey.”
18 “In our new country we make tiny burials for our vehicles.”
19 “I fell asleep forgetting recipes I never knew.”
20 “We had to take the dog to a country hospital here.”
21 “What happened?”
22 “I have pressure in my bladder.”
23 “I start the car.”
24 “A fat one straddled its egg in the web’s center.”
25 “I was watching only a body yielding to what would carry it it to its end.”
Joseph Aguilar teaches at the College of Wooster and has published widely in numerous small press publications.

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Friday, October 17, 2014




riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

                                                                        James Joyce


1 Social media reduces distance between content and viewer 2 The social component of media is confirmed by one’s participation in its production. 3 The anonymous has been introduced once again into the production of content. 4 Ultimately there is no anonymity in social media. 5 The human need to be outside the home for a social experience has been eliminated by social media. 6 The social aspect of media rests on a delusion that the viewing of experience is experience itself. 7 The 21st century has invented a new form of loneliness that goes by the name of ‘social media.’ 8 Social media is a nearly immediate and instantaneous transmission. 9 Content becomes collaboration. 10 Social  media can be a record of the revolution’s progress. (Think of the Arab spring, the Occupy Movement and how effectively news was communicated by means of Twitter.) 11 The hashtag is a means of organizing information on a global scale. 12 The rules of conduct regarding behavior are in a state of tempestuous flux in the age of social media. 13 Social media might be the greatest invention of the 21st century. 14 Consider this: there will be children for whom the idea of a world without social media will seem as impossible to conceive as an earlier generation found the idea of a world without electric light. 15 The blog is already antique in the epoch of an evolving social media. 16 No matter one’s lonely preoccupations, somewhere on the Internet there is a community willing to accept you as a member. 17 Social media might be the first time that a teenager will have access to the global conversation. 18 What will happen to certain remnants of the previous century? What will happen to books? To the idea of literacy? To the person who can only speak one language? 19 Social media is sharing on a massive scale. 20 Where is the line between the private life and the public life? Does social media eliminate once and for all the dream of a space where no one else can go? 21 Have we all become, once again, scribes transmitting the anonymous work, via the means of social media? 22 What use do we have of the professional critic in the world of social media? 23 Twitter, with its endless chatter, an  infinitely flowing electronic version of Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake. 24 Comment streams,  an essential component of social media, are often filled, like actual streams, with  poison and vile toxicities.     25 Where there is social media, there is community. 26 Social media can be a place where one learns what is happening in our world. 27 The news of the day can be found on social media. 28 In social media, everyone becomes writer, artist, producer, director, and critic. All roles become one in social media. 29 Social media at work: the 21st century in the context of the 20th century. Also: the great time waster! 30 Social media, with the invention of smart phone technology, now goes everywhere you do, and often tells everyone where you go. You have become a spy following yourself. 31 Social media has yet to produce a great work of art.  Will it one day achieve the meandering genius of  Ulysses, or the vast pathos of Remembrance of Things Past? 32 What will happen when commerce combines more directly with social media? Will people pay to be on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, Tumblr, and Ello? 33 In relation to  the hive mind of the Internet, what role does social media play? Is it the conversation in the living room, at the dinner table? Is it the dark blueprint hidden in the wall safe? 34 The emphasis initially was textual, now it appears as if the visual and aural has surpassed the textual. Is this an accurate assessment of social media’s tendencies? 35 Can one imagine a time when exhaustion sets in? When we all become tired of social media, go there less often? What would replace social media? Life itself?


Monday, October 13, 2014




1 Consider the student essay to be your own essay. What would you want an instructor to say about it? How would you like it be praised, analyzed, interpreted? 2 Be always on the look-out for what is essential. Eliminate the non-essential, in other words, and find that single point around which the essay revolves. 3 If several points compete for prominence, then bring this struggle to the attention of the student. 4 Let your praise be immoderate, as long as it is truthful. 5 No matter the subject, the essay contains a narrative. It is useful to bring this narrative to the attention of the student. 6 Reveal your understanding of the student’s essay. If the essay confuses, let your comments describe this confusion; if the essay enlightens, let your comments demonstrate this enlightenment. 7 The best way to encourage engagement is to demonstrate engagement: treat the student essay as worthy of your engagement. 8 Build your comments around the emphasis of details. 9 Be specific. 10 Quote from the student paper. (This might be, in fact, the first time that a student has ever had her words quoted.) 11 If a student paper, forum post or assignment essay suggests a greater interest, make recommendations that address this interest: a book, a web site, a film, etc. 12 The inconsequential error is just that: inconsequential. Do not allow yourself to become distracted from larger aspects of excellence. 13 The respected critic or scholar is less interesting to you than the student whose work stands before you. 14 When confronted with that which truly confuses, remember you were at one point in your intellectual life capable of such confusion. 15 Just as it is possible to write comments that are too brief, it is possible to write comments that are too long. The former suggests inattention, the latter arrogance. No one, having just written an essay, wants an essay in return. 16 Video can be included in your comments. Let appropriateness be your guide. 17 The exceptional essay invites the exceptional response. 18 Certain features of the land will appear again and again: use your previous experience to help you in composing efficient comments. 19 The comment can be any number of rhetorical forms: a paraphrase, a critique, a correction, a form of praise, and even – where plagiarism occurs – a form of lamentation. 20 The comment that is a corrective only is the least interesting one to write and to receive. 21 Rubrics are efficient ways to organize your response; however, rubrics do not allow you to acknowledge unusual instances of excellence. Your comments present you a place where this can be done. 22 Consider the rubric the flesh, and the comment the soul of your response to student work. 23 Comments can look back to what has been done, as well as anticipate what is to come. 24 All forms of communication can be places where feedback is given, where commentary has a place. 25 Never hesitate to ask if your comments make sense to the student. You think they make sense, obviously; but do they make sense to the student? 26 Always ask yourself: is this feedback useful for this student. 27 Practice an efficiency of understanding. 28 Experience the work first before putting on the robes of judgment. 29 A real delight in the work before you tells you more than you need to know. 30 Undivided attention is a form of caring. 31 Devote yourself entirely to the work before you. 32 Let your comments tell a story. 33 Learn from the feedback you give so generously. 34 Learn from the errors of the feedback you give so generously.





35 The forum is a form of conversation: remote, cool, fragmented. The instructor enters into this remote, cool, fragmented conversation in order to transform it into something vital, something that encourages the creation of an intellectual community. 36 Correction of fact is a courtesy, as well as a demonstration of it. 37 Lacking physical proximity, the discussion forum can be made proximate by discussion posts that alert student to student, idea to idea, question to question, insight to insight. 38 How is silence confronted in the physical classroom? How is silence confronted in the discussion forum? Two silences require different strategies for encouraging student participation. Keep note of what works.  39 There will be times when restraint from participation is the better choice. 40 Fun: it too has a place. 41 The ideal forum would be one whose resonances continue long after the course has ended. We row toward that goal.