Tuesday, September 06, 2011

School started last Thursday. Two full classes plus three support classes and ten lab hours. Plus I'm taking the GRE this coming Saturday (in the two-digit number jk, the value of the digit j is twice the value of the digit k), writing sestinas on the typewriter that K the cat sitter is letting me borrow, and trying to figure out exactly where I'm going to be applying this fall. For awhile I was sure that Rhetoric and Composition programs were the place for me, but now I'm thinking Linguistics. Capitalized. It's been difficult to narrow my interests down to one specific field. I guess that's what you get for never specializing, that is, a thousand tentacles of interest that take awhile to corral into a single direction. Like a death ray of intention shooting from the glowing disk on my chest.

But really, the big question right now is which of the following statements are supported by the above passage? Is it A) The majority of insect orders are capable of both advancing and inhibiting human interests; B) The male blue-tailed iguana will chew down some of its spines to appear more masculine; or C) The relationship cannot be determined from the information given. Most of the time I want to answer C, and append the answer with, And not only can we not determine the relationship but we don't even really care to do so. I mean, why can we just let y= (x+3)^2? You know, let bygones be bygones? What harm is there in the value of y when x =1? Why can't we just let the mysteries of the universe be? Let them answer their own questions. Who are we to interfere with the length of segment PQ? 8a + 8b=24? So what?

But sometimes the test can be kind of fun, and this resentment doesn't come up as much in the verbal section, where I feel like I have a fighting chance to get every question correct (of course I never do), and where it seems directly applicable to reading and writing and teaching, say. Whereas in the math section, there are some processes that even though I could learn, I refuse. Strange ideas about violence to the soul, that by learning, really learning/burning certain techniques and ideas into my brain, I will somehow do damage to myself. "Dismiss that which insults your soul" wrote Whitman. Though I have a hard time judging which parts of me are my soul and which parts are my ego.

My sister, an expert on standardized tests sympathized with my tendency to question the premise of the test, but suggested I get over myself, just a little, and deal with the fact of test scores. I can't help but think about my own students, art students, some of which probably feel about writing the same way I feel about the math: it's interesting and deep but these are not the problems I want to spend my time solving. Nothing but respect for those who can honestly come to that conclusion but still, we have to deal with the fact of test scores, so to speak. Though hopefully writing and argument is a little more relevant than if the number of female general surgeon physicians in the under-35 category represented 3.5 percent of all the general surgeon physicians, approximately how many male general surgeon physicians were under 35 years? After all, writing is the act of becoming, of speaking and making ourselves real. Unless we're mute, or a cat. Wish me luck.