Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Isaac Kramnick: Bat Slayer

lawn mower after breakfast
Today I awoke and got ready for my day as usual, adjusting my preparations only to stuff my raincoat into my backpack after looking at the sky. I headed up to the RPCC and ate breakfast with the Freedom and Justice cohort, and discovered that although the chocolate Danishes look delicious, they're actually rather soggy. What a pity. We slogged to class at 8:20 and were quite early. 

Behind this smile lurks the mind of a killer. 
Despite the rain, Professor Kramnick was not afraid to show his toes in Birkenstocks once again. He started his talk with a bit of friendly conversation, through which we learned that he plays poker once a month and there was a bat in his home last night. What a charming anecdote, you may think, but wait - there's more. Plot twist: our gray-haired, gentle-voiced, slacks-and-button-down-wearing, slightly doddering professor is actually a cold-hearted killer. He goes after bats with tennis rackets when they enter his house. Furthermore, he told us, he's lived in Ithaca for so long that he's gotten quite accomplished at it. 

Just to reiterate, my Freedom and Justice teacher sometimes smashes the skulls of flying mammals, the skulls of majestic creatures who control pests for the undeserving residents of Ithaca, because he has decided to act as judge, jury, and executioner in one fell swoop, like the villain in an Agatha Christie novel. This makes me feel rather uncomfortable. 

After he'd terrified us into extra respect for him, Professor Kramnick taught us until almost ten-thirty about the works of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, comparing their fundamental views on human nature and the effects they had on Christian thinking. He ran a bit overtime and had condense his last points significantly, but nevertheless it was a thorough and interesting lecture. 

By ten-thirty we were seated in discussion. The tables were rather cramped since we got a new girl today, bringing the total to seventeen students. We picked through specific pieces of the text, analyzing them until we could take a certain passage and say for certain that "perfect hatred" of an evil man means not a total hatred, but rather hatred of the sin combined with love of the man as your brother in Christ and an attempt to guide him. In other words, the hatred is perfect because it is based on love. This expands on what we looked at yesterday regarding the relationship of justice and love. 

It was raining lightly when we walked to lunch, and still warm. I found that as raindrops fell onto my raincoat/jacket, beads of sweat gathered underneath (fun fact: the other day Kevin and I found the exact same jacket from the exact same brand, with only the Cornell logo added, for sale at the Cornell Store for at least forty dollars more than what I paid for mine). I ate some spring rolls and rice with coffee and then a cinnamon-roll twist, none of which was enjoyable because of poor quality. 

It started raining hard on the walk back to writing workshop, but I was excited rather than upset. The drops were coming down almost in sheets and making even nearby buildings look blurry. 

Today's workshop was devoted to some fundamentals of good writing. Vijay first explained why one should never start an opinion essay with "for me" or "in my opinion," going so far as to connect it to society's continued rejection of female intellectual competence. He then passed out packets of worksheets concerning unpretentious language, passive versus active voice, and other basic flaws commonly found in the work of high schoolers trying to score well on the SAT and AP essays. I found this work a reminder to be conscious of all my bad writing habits, as well as a tantalizing glimpse of what AP Language will look like next year. Finally, Vijay handed out the impromptu essays from Monday with typewritten comments, and gave us the rest of our time to start revisions. I can only hope that the rest of our writing workshops will be as constructive in the future, because today's was great. Tomorrow, we'll have a guest speaker again, who I believe is a partner of Mr. Stumbar's. 

At dinner tonight I at whole wheat pasta with alfredo sauce, then had a little chocolate ice cream cone. Kevin told us he'd conversed with a couple of girls from our discussion section, who apparently told him they find our cohort intimidating. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but evidently our collective brainpower is revered and venerated by out peers! 

view from my hallway window
rectangular puddle outside RPCC
Having already retouched on the Plato readings I spent hours on before we left last week, I can go to bed early tonight. I look forward to a productive day tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. I am a member of this class, "slightly doddering professor" and I am feeling sorry for him. valerie