Class Notes, November 3, 2020

Max is on notes today, Phillip is on for 11/5.

Professor Belli mandated that no student names are to be used in class notes going forward. This is to respect the privacy of the students involved and to reinforce the idea that the classroom is a safe space for ideas and individual opinions.

Today was a discussion about science fiction and politics, primarily how reading and critical thinking about the political realm can be used to analyze competing political messages, e.g.: who benefits from x policy, what does progress mean, etc.

Three writing prompts:

  • Ask yourself: “How are you feeling? What if anything would block you from writing right now? As a response comes to mind, write it down.
  • Then, ask yourself: what questions or thoughts or issues are on your mind?
  • What are your hopes for the future? This might be for tonight, tomorrow, the next four years, or more long term.

The class discussed this for an extended amount of time. Among the issues raised were anxiety, safety, a difficulty to write in general, and the desire to see actual change rather than hear about it ad nauseam.

  • It is seductive and compelling to claim that someone is either ignorant or voting against their own interests. However, it is important to remember that many political movements, including Trump’s MAGA or even Hitler’s Nazi Germany, were intended to be seen as utopian movements. Supporters of those movements genuinely believed the policies enacted by those political systems would make their lives better — that they were the ideal to be striven for.

Quotes offered and discussed:

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

-Margaret Atwood (Canadian science-fiction author, renowned feminist thinker, creator of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Penelopiad, among others.)

“This is painful, and it will be for a long time.”

-Hillary Rodham Clinton, November 6th, 2016

“Utopia also entails refusal, the refusal to accept that what is given is enough. It embodies the refusal to accept that living beyond the present is delusional, the refusal to take at face value current judgements of the good or claims that there is no alternative.”

-Ruth Levitas, 2013, Utopia as Method: The Imaginary Reconstitution of Society

“We must live in this world as citizens of another. What is required of us is both specific to our distinctive situation, and the same as for every earlier or later generation. Mourn. Love. Hope. Imagine. Organize.”

“The eventual disappointment of hope is not a reason to forsake it as a critical thought process.”

“The present is not enough. It is impoverished and toxic for queers and other people who do not feel the privilege or majoritarian belonging, normative tastes, and “rational” expectations. (I address the question of rationalism shortly.) Let me be clear that the idea is not simply to turn away from the present. One cannot afford such a maneuver, and if one thinks one can, one has resisted the present in favor of folly. The present must be known in relation to the alternative temporal and spatial maps provided by a perception of past and future affective worlds.”

Affective: relating to moods, feelings, or attitudes.

No homework, but two requests:

  1. Please vote.
  2. Practice self care; sleep, meditation, etc. Two meditation apps: Take 90, Headspace. Meditative breathing technique to lower one’s heart rate: 2 second inhalation, 8 second exhalation, repeat. (Alternatively, 4 second inhalation, 8 second exhalation, repeat.)

Set up an appointment with Professor Belli if you have a midterm grade below a P.

Stay safe.

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