Tagged classes

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (II)


The people were standing until they sat down. The sunlight through the window was bright on the floor. It fell on the side of Jim’s shoe and cast a shadow on his other shoe.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

The dust on the floor remained on the floor and didn’t hang in the air. The people that were sitting began to lie down. The shadow from Jim’s shoe stretched to the cuff of his other leg.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

“Blurtso considers Shakespeare”


My Shakespeare paper is due tomorrow, I’d better get started. I wonder what I should write? I guess it would be too obvious to say that Shakespeare knew a lot, even though he did. He knew more than I know, that’s for sure. I wonder how he learned all the things he knew? I wonder if he went to school? I wonder if he wrote papers? I wonder who students wrote papers about before Shakespeare became Shakespeare? If Shakespeare would have known how famous he was going to become, he could have written a paper about himself. That would be easy. Even I could write a paper about myself. But I don’t think I’m ever going to be famous. I don’t think Harvard is ever going to offer a class called “Introduction to Blurtso 101,” or “Advanced Blurtso 320,” or “Blurtsearean literature and the end of Enlightenment.” At least I hope not, because I don’t want to be famous. If I were famous, I wouldn’t have a moment to myself. People would be bothering me everywhere I went, even in the library, and I’d never be able to get started on my Shakespeare paper, or my Blurtso paper, and I’d really better get started, because it’s due tomorrow.

“Blurtso considers nature and nurture”


What are you taking this semester? said Alex. I’m taking a class called, “Nature or Nurture,” said Blurtso. Of course, said Alex, the debate over the effect of heredity versus environment on personal development. Really? said Blurtso, I thought it was a spelling class.

“Weohryant University” (XIX) – Where 101


Today’s question, said Harlan, is: “Where did it go?”
Where did what go? said Chelsea.
It was here just a minute ago, said Morton.
I didn’t take it, said Emma Lou.
Neither did I, said Frank.
Do you mean “ubi sunt”? said Glouster.
Ubi sunt? said Morton.
“Ubi sunt,” said Glouster, is Latin for “Where are they?” It comes from a Latin poem that begins, “Ubi sunt qui ante nos in mundo fuere?” which translates: “Where are they who, before us, existed in the world?” It was a common theme in medieval poetry, and was most famously expressed by the French poet, François Villon who asked, “Où sont les neiges d’antan?” or “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”
The snows of yesteryear? said Morton.
I don’t like snow, said Chelsea.
Neither do I, said Frank.
I don’t mind it, said Emma Lou, so long as I’m not far from my den.
Why would anyone worry about last year’s snow? said Morton.
It’s a metaphor, said Glouster, for all the things you’ve lost in your life.
Lost? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Glouster, the things you had in the past that you no longer have.
The things I’ve eaten? said Morton.
Yes, said Glouster, and the friends you’ve lost, and your lost youth.
My lost youth? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Glouster.
I’m not going to lose my youth, said Chelsea.
Of course you are, said Glouster.
Really? said Chelsea.
Yes, said Glouster.
In that case, said Chelsea, I don’t like “ubi sunt.”
Crows live forever, said Frank.
They do? said Morton.
Sure, said Frank, crows, or “ravens”, and nightingales, and even some other birds.
Are you sure? said Morton.
Yes, said Frank, just ask Edgar Allen Poe and John Keats.
Who are they? said Chelsea.
They are poets, said Frank, who wrote about birds who live forever, birds who travel from heaven to earth to hell and then back again.
Have you been to heaven and hell? said Chelsea.
No, said Frank, not yet.
I don’t want to go to hell, said Morton.
Heaven and hell, said Glouster, are metaphors for, “the realm of the dead.”
I don’t want to go there either, said Morton.
Maybe, said Chelsea, that’s where the “ubi sunts” are.
I know a song, said Frank, about “ubi sunt.”
What’s it called? said Chelsea.
It’s called “The Ashgrove,” said Frank, and it has a blackbird in it.
How does it go? said Chelsea.
I don’t remember all the words, said Frank, but it’s about a woman who loses her lover and looks for him in an ashgrove.
Does she find him? said Chelsea.
No, said Frank, he’s buried beneath the green turf.
Is that a metaphor for “the realm of the dead”? said Morton.
Yes, said Frank.
Why doesn’t the blackbird, said Chelsea, fly to the realm of the dead, talk to the dead lover, then return and talk to the woman so she can have a sense of closure?
That’s a good question, said Frank.
What’s closure? said Morton.
Closure, said Chelsea, is talking with your ex-lover until you have nothing more to say.
Why would you want to do that? said Morton.
Because, said Chelsea, if you say everything you have to say, you can stop thinking about him when he’s gone.
So he doesn’t become an “ubi sunt”? said Morton.
Yes, said Chelsea.
I would like to be an “ubi sunt”, said Emma Lou.
So would I, said Glouster.
Why? said Chelsea.
Because, said Glouster, I don’t want to be forgotten.
Being forgotten, said Emma Lou, would be like a second death.
Maybe it’s a good thing, said Morton, for people to go around asking “ubi sunt?”
Why? said Chelsea.
Because, said Morton, it keeps the dead from dying.

“Blurtso misses the revolution”


What did you think of today’s lecture, said Alex, about the seeds of revolution being inherent in the Capitalistic system? I’m not sure, said Blurtso, I must have missed that part. I was looking at a whippoorwill outside the window.

“Weohryant University” (XV) – What 101


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.