Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen is a recent Broadway musical, focused on themes of connectivity (digital, interpersonal) and isolation (same). See previously.

It continues to be a triumph of theater, an incredible and carefully-constructed mirror of reality which is so achingly accurate that it shakes its audience with their own feelings of isolation and desperate loneliness.

Plus I like music, and words.

D. and I saw it from excellent seats --- front center of the balcony --- and the perspective, the separation of audience from stage, completely vanished in the immediacy of the drama. It feels real, it feels like watching reality, and actual interactions between characters with the depth and conflicts of real people.

It still made me cry; there were pauses in the action where, in the silence between lines, the sound of the entire audience softly weeping could be heard. So I was not alone. (Major theme and repeated leitmotif: "you are not alone".) I liked having D. there to bounce theories and analyses around; he went a bit further than I did, finding a Greek-style framing device in the first and last scene, but who can blame him? I think a little analysis helps scab over the raw, shredded feelings that the musical elicits.

This post's theme word is bavardage (n), "chattering; gossip." The cacophony of bavardage that is surround-sound twitter/instagram/youtube/blogs is effectively overwhelming, whether staged or naturally experienced.

Monday, February 19, 2018

What is your favorite function?

An open question to my students.

"I'm a big fan of fourth degree polynomials 'cause they can look like us or ws." I don't get it; it seems like not a typo. What's "ws"?

"PBJ function" I am never letting the peanut butter jelly sandwich metaphor go. We talked about them on the first day of class and we'll talk about them on the last day.

In reply to "What was one interesting thing you learned today?", one student wrote, "Lila really, really likes functions" which: yes. If using the professor as part of the narrative helps you learn, then let's absolutely add that technique to our pedagogy. [There's a short story I'm thinking of, that I wanted to link here. I thought it was by Cory Doctorow, but I can't locate it now. The story is in the form of a history lesson, telling how humanity figured out that facts in a narrative are easier to learn and stick in your mind better than a loose collection of facts. The twist at the end is that the entire lecture/story of how the lecturer "discovered" this is, itself, fabricated to take advantage of the technique. Can you source this? I'll credit you with thanks and replace this message with a link.]

This post's theme word is dabster (n), "an expert; a bungler." It can be used both ways! What a mess this is, you're such a dabster; we'll have to call in a dabster to repair it.