“Weohryant University” (XVI) – When 101

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Today’s question, said Pablo, is: “When is it too late?”
Too late for what? said Morton.
I didn’t do it, said Emma Lou.
Too late for planting? said Frank.
“Lateness,” said Glouster, is “arriving or remaining after the due, usual, or proper time.”
The proper time? said Chelsea. Who decides what is the proper time?
Your boss does, said Frank.
Or your teacher, said Glouster.
Or whoever makes the rules, said Morton.
Whoever has the power, said Emma Lou.
Michel Foucault, said Glouster, said: “The strategic adversary is fascism… the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behavior, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates us.
Am I a fascist? said Chelsea.
I don’t think you’re a fascist, said Morton.
What’s a fascist? said Frank.
“Fascism,” said Glouster, is “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and stands for a central autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”
That doesn’t sound like me, said Chelsea.
It can also mean, said Glouster, “a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control.”
Dictatorial control? said Morton.
A dictator, said Glouster, is “someone granted absolute power, often ruling oppressively.”
Do I have absolute power? said Chelsea.
Foucault goes on to say, said Glouster, “It is my hypothesis that the individual is not a pre-given entity which is seized upon by the exercise of power. The individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a relation of power exercised over bodies, multiplicities, movements, desires, forces.”
Seized on by the exercise of power? said Frank.
Does that mean, said Chelsea, that I’m a victim.
Both a victim, said Emma Lou, and a dictator.
Foucault adds, said Glouster, that “there is no power relation without the correlative constitution of a field of knowledge, nor any knowledge that does not presuppose and constitute at the same time power relations.”
Isn’t that a vicious circle? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Glouster.
How did we get caught, said Frank, in this vicious circle?
We were talking, said Emma Lou, about who decides what is too late and what is not too late.
Sometimes, said Frank, nature decides what is too late.
Yes, said Morton, like when it’s too late to plant pumpkins in order to have a good harvest in the fall.
Does that mean, said Chelsea, that nature is a fascist?
A fascist, said Emma Lou, that desires to be exploited by itself.
But I am a part of nature, said Morton. Does that mean I’m constantly exploiting myself?
Yes, said Emma Lou.
So if I grow a pumpkin, said Morton, then make a pumpkin pie, then eat it, I’m exploiting myself?
Yes, said Emma Lou.
In that case, said Morton, I should try to exploit myself more often.
When is it too late, said Chelsea, to plant pumpkins for a good harvest?
I don’t know, said Morton, I’ve never planted a pumpkin.
You haven’t? said Chelsea.
No, said Morton, I’ve always exploited the pumpkin someone else planted.
That’s shameful, said Chelsea.
Is it? said Morton.
What if, said Emma Lou, the person who planted the pumpkin derived pleasure from Morton’s exploitation of the pumpkin?
You mean, said Frank, the pleasure one gets from sharing with someone else?
Exactly, said Emma Lou.
That’s a good question, said Chelsea.
What would Foucault say? said Frank.
I’m not sure, said Glouster, I suppose he would say that the act of sharing is an act of exploitation, a disguised power-play designed to manipulate the recipient into a position of gratitude and subservience.
I think, said Chelsea, the world would be a better place if more of us went around exploiting each other by sharing.

“Blurtso can’t eat the same pumpkin pie twice”

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Heraclitus, said the professor, was a Greek who wrote, “You can’t step into the same river twice…” Why would anyone step into a river? said Blurtso, that’s what bridges are for. You can’t step into the same river, continued the professor, because the river is always changing, and when you step in a second time, it’s a different river, and you are changing too, and are not the same as when you first stepped in. In fact, repetition is a myth, it’s impossible… I’m sorry, said Blurtso, I’m afraid I wasn’t listening, could you repeat that?

“Blurtso lets go”

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Let me see, said Blurtso, I can let go of this and that, and I can let go of that and this. Yes, that’s better said Blurtso, feeling better already. And I’ll let go of that and that and that, and I’ll let go of this and this and this. And of course, I’ll let go of letting go, he said, feeling as good as he had ever felt.

“Blurtso finds a marble”

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What’s this? said Blurtso, pawing up a marble. Wow… an aggie! and here’s another… an opal, and a cat’s eye, and an oxblood, a turtle, a ruby, and a steely! Let’s play keepsies! he said, scattering the ducks in a circle he drew on the ground. If I could just knuckle down, he thought, pressing his hoof into the sand. O.k., here goes… bull’s eye! he said when his taw knocked a duck off the pond. Now I’ll go for that granddaddy… bingo! Now I’ll get that peawee… bang! Blurtso continued to shoot, striking one duck after another until the circle was clear. Hmmm, he said, feeling as empty as the empty circle, maybe I shouldn’t have won all the marbles.

“Weohryant University” (XV) – What 101

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Today’s question, said Blurtso, is: “What is that blur of movement?”
I don’t see anything, said Morton.
Neither do I, said Chelsea.
Maybe it’s moving too fast to be seen, said Frank.
I suppose it could be anything, said Morton.
Anything, said Chelsea, that’s moving too fast to be seen.
If it’s moving too fast to be seen, said Emma Lou, how do we know it’s really here?
I suppose we don’t, said Frank.
Maybe we should make a list, said Glouster, of the things that move fast.
I can move fast, said Frank, when I’m hunting or being hunted.
So fast, said Chelsea, that you can’t be seen?
I don’t know, said Frank, I don’t have a mirror.
The next time you’re being hunted, said Chelsea, tell me so I can see if you can be seen.
Humming birds move fast, said Morton.
So fast, said Chelsea, that they can’t be seen?
Yes, said Morton, if you’re not paying attention.
Is it really possible, said Chelsea, for something to move too fast to be seen?
At the subatomic level, said Emma Lou.
That’s because it’s small, said Glouster, not because it’s fast.
It’s both, said Emma Lou.
First we can’t trust our sense of smell, said Morton, and now we can’t trust our sense of sight?
If things can move too fast to be seen, said Chelsea, how do we know we’re not surrounded by things moving too fast to be seen?
I think everything moves too fast, said Morton. Why can’t we all slow down?
That’s a good question, said Emma Lou.
Humans move fast, said Frank.
Yes, said Emma Lou, they’re always in a hurry to get somewhere.
Where do you think they’re going? said Chelsea.
They hurry to work, said Glouster, then hurry to finish, then hurry home, then hurry to go out, then hurry to return.
If something, said Morton, is moving too fast to be seen, is it moving too fast to see?
That’s another good question, said Emma Lou.
People in a hurry can’t see me, said Chelsea.
And the joggers along the Charles, said Glouster, don’t see me.
My cousin, said Frank, was hit by a person who didn’t see him.
I’m sorry, said Chelsea.
What’s the fastest thing in the world? said Morton.
Light is the fastest, said Glouster.
How fast? said Morton.
186,000 miles per second, said Glouster.
That’s fast! said Morton.
So fast, said Glouster, that time stands still.
What? said Morton.
When an object, said Glouster, moves at the speed of light, time stands still for that object.
Who says? said Morton.
Einstein says, said Glouster
The bagel maker? said Morton.
No, said Glouster, the physicist.
So if I moved at the speed of light, said Morton, I’d have all the time in the world?
You’d be immortal, said Emma Lou.
That would be great! said Morton.
Jorge Luis Borges, said Glouster, wrote a story called, “The Immortals.”
What’s it about? said Chelsea.
It’s about a man, said Glouster, who finds the fountain of immortality, takes a drink, and becomes immortal.
Does he move at the speed of light? said Morton.
No, said Glouster, he just lives forever.
Ravens are immortal, said Frank.
They are? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Frank, we can travel from the world of the living to the world of the dead, and back again.
Are you immortal? asked Chelsea.
I will be, said Frank, in the future.
If you could travel at the speed of light, said Morton, you wouldn’t have any future.
What happens to the man in “The Immortals”? said Emma Lou.
He lives for thousands and thousands of years, said Glouster, and learns every language, and reads every book, and does everything again and again and again, until he finally decides to look for the fountain of death.
Of death? said Morton.
Yes, said Glouster, because immortality is unbearable.
That’s very interesting, said Emma Lou.
It makes you feel sorry for the gods, said Chelsea.
It makes heaven sound less attractive, said Emma Lou.
Maybe moving at the speed of light, said Morton, isn’t so good—you wouldn’t have a future and you wouldn’t have a past, you couldn’t be seen and you couldn’t see.
So death is a good thing? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Emma Lou, it is.
But I don’t want to die, said Chelsea.
Even after you’ve done everything again and again? said Emma Lou.
I haven’t done everything again and again, said Chelsea.
It would be like a “deep and dreamless sleep,” said Morton.
A what? said Chelsea
That’s what the Upanishads say, said Morton.
Are you reading the Upanishads now? said Chelsea. I’m still in the Mahabharata. There’s a war and everyone is fighting for life and death.
I suppose the possibility of death, said Emma Lou, makes life more exciting.
I’m never more alive, said Frank, than when I’m hunting or being hunted.
I still don’t know how, said Morton, moving fast makes time stand still.
I think people move fast, said Chelsea, so that they will have more time.
Time to do what? said Emma Lou.
Time to move faster, said Chelsea, until time stops and they become immortal.
Which is the same as being dead? said Morton.
We’re back to where we started, said Glouster.
I suppose we’ve been moving so fast, said Morton, that we haven’t gone anywhere at all.

“Blurtso reads Proust”

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Mmmm, said Blurtso, taking the first bite of the pumpkin pie he was eating and thinking of all the pumpkin pies he had ever eaten. Mmmm, said Blurtso, taking the second bite of the pumpkin pie he was eating and thinking of all the pumpkin pies he had wanted to eat. Mmmm, said Blurtso, taking the third bite of the pumpkin pie he was eating and thinking of the all the pumpkin pies he was going to eat. Mmmm, said Blurtso, taking the last bite of the pumpkin pie he was eating and wondering where his pumpkin pie had gone while he was eating.