Sunday, October 21, 2007

running in circles, talking to myself

Things are a little hectic around here at the moment, so I haven't had much energy for bloggin'. I won't go into too much detail, but the quick and dirty is that I'm getting ready for my annual show - which is In my studio, so I have to get that all ready, we're broke, George is injured (not bad but enough to keep him from sawing, which is where the money's coming from) and winter is coming. Oh, and there's still a drought, although we've had some rain, we've also had to haul water from town a few times. Enough ranting. Its dull. I have some old posts in the "draft" folder awaiting pix, if anyone has been looking for my description of the unschooling conference. I think the computer has a virtual std, again, its slooooowwww.

I'm still on a bunch of message boards which are helping me stay sane. Here's a bit of a post I nearly deleted as off topic, but I like the ideas and want to hang on to them. It starts off referring to a question posted on "Unschooling Basics" - the usual sort of mom worries about kids getting too much "screen time" and sort of takes off from there.

***screen time***

Just wanted to pull this phrase out and ask you to analyze it a bit more. If your kids previously read a lot of novels (for instance) are they watching shows and movies and playing games that have novel-like qualities? That was something I found *myself* doing when we first got Netflix, and then again when I discovered fantasy role-playing computer games (there aren't nearly enough of these!) I had been used to thinking that movies and shows and games were somehow "less" than reading, but when I was able to step away from that I could see how I was choosing to watch and play the same sorts of things I would choose to read.

Something I was thinking about recently (oh, boy am I off on a tangent, now, too much coffee...) is that the collections of "seasons" of shows available on DVD and the incessant re-running of popular shows create a sort of "Charles Dickens" effect. You know how he originally wrote in installments for newspapers but nowadays we read them as complete works? Series shows are like that now. We can view an entire season as a complete "work" - something that wasn't an option when I was a kid. That's changed the way series' are being written. Sure, there are still shows that are being written such that the episodes don’t run together as a series, but there are authors who write collections of short stories around the same characters or places, too.

Anyway, back to Dickens and literature in general. One of the greatest disservices I think school does to the act of reading books is ask students to read a chapter at a time but also analyze the work while they are doing that. College courses don't do that - read the whole book by Friday so we can discuss it. Its more realistic. Just like watching a movie, you have to get through the whole thing once before you can start to talk about it. Can you imagine stopping “The Pianist” partway through to discuss whether or not something was being foreshadowed? Its nuts.

The thing is, more "educated" people who poo-poo television (I used to be one) use that same sort of back-assed process to discuss the lack of meaningful content (etc) on tv shows. Its a bizarre kind of willful ignorance - the same kind you would get from openning...oh, gosh, what's a really good example... *Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man* at random. Ever tried that? Joyce is trash if read out of context.

There's a sort of transition period for people used to reading alot but *not* used to watching tv whenever they want. I went through several years of not even having a tv, and then a few more of "just movies", so I've been through this transition myself. It didn't occur to me to think about shows, in particular, in the sorts of ways I think about books I enjoy reading. In part that was out of the rather snobbish cultural meme I'd internalized about the "superiority" of print over video, but I also think some of that was pure lack of exposure. There's a difference between watching a first run series episode by episode vs watching the whole schebang on dvd that I had never really appreciated until I was able to do both - and its the same sort of difference as reading a book for the first time in chapters vs reading the whole thing through for plot (or overview) and then going back for the juicy bits. Its no wonder I though tv was trash when I was trying to analyze single episodes. I had long since learned to ignore teachers who said to only read up to a certain point but was still applying that principle to tv. Nuts.

Whew, that's all I have in me for now, although I feel like that needs some kind of wrap-up (shrug). Back to the running-in-circles part of my life. Actually, today I'll be sewing in circles - I'm making phases of the moon wall hangings, hopefully to sell at the studio tour!