Class Photo Time

From 1984, when first starting university teaching, until 1994 and the commencement of House of Commons employment, used to take photos of the classes. Towards the end of the class, would have the camera and advise the students that I wanted to photograph the time together. Who knew what the future might bring?

In the days before some sense of privacy, no students objected. Semi-public forum; who should need to object…

Back in the days when the maximum class size was sixty or so, and where the instructor was marking most of everything. Back in the days when office hours were more needed, in the absence of electronic communication. Back in the days when an instructor would know the names of virtually all of his or her students.

Stopped in 1994. Some sense, even then, that there were major changes in connection.

Remember making a duplicate set of one class for Howard Ripstein, who had taught them previously. He went over them, could name all the students, and knew most personal circumstances. How dare he know…

So have ended up with photos of Gabriel Lowenberg, Michael Knapp, Linda Seguin and David Ma, among so many others.

Reminders of time and place.

Beyond memory.

No easy delete; film and prints.

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Michael Hogben

So in the midst of the suspension proceedings. Farhad Simyar saying I have arranged a meeting. Please be there.

Meeting with the union person, Michael Hogben. President of the Faculty Association. Late in the day, on the Loyola campus.

Gentle, with a smile. What has happened to you is unjust; the union will act.

Declined. Too shell-shocked to want to escalate anything. Wanting to hide.

He never pushed. If you want our help, I am here.

Seven months later, he was one of the four murdered by Valery Fabrikant.

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The Olde Country

Saskatoon house 1

Legal colleague was visiting Saskatoon. Mentioned the childhood home, and that of Neil Remington Abramson beside it. She visited, and took pictures.

The trees. Don’t remember any trees.

Do remember, then and now, the architectural marvel of the Abramson house. Fifty-five years old, and still ahead of its time.

Saskatoon Abramson house

Then she took pictures of the view from the house. The experimental farm of the University of Saskatchewan.

Saskatoon fields

Remember the expanse. How in the winter, one could walk over the fences, with snowdrifts so high and packed.

What reference, and what illusions. Somebody stayed the same.

Saskatoon Abramson house 2

Postscript, July 5, 2015: Thank you, Gabriela Fuentealba:

Saskatoon house Gabriela

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The Last Poets: Wake Up, Niggers

Night descends as the sun’s light ends
And black comes back, to blend again
And with the death of the sun
Night and blackness become one
Blackness being you
Peeping through the red, the white, and the blue
Dreaming of lost black civilizations that once flourished and grew
HEY! – WAKE UP, NIGGERS or y’all through!

The Last Poets, 1970. Precursors to rap, hip hop and all else in the genre.

Into the soundtrack for Performance:

Trying to remember where you recall this veneer nightmare
That always leave you feelin’ blue


Postscript, July 5, 2015: Remembering The Last Poets when first hearing slam poetry.

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Command, Recommend, Persuade

Don’t like standing in the snow

Thinking about Father Fitz perspective: All you have to do is ask. When you are inclined to ask, feel the need to ask. Not because somebody says you are nobody if you don’t ask. Or that you will surely burn if you don’t ask. And, if you do ask, you had better appreciate that there is no matter of interpretation.

Literalists will say “X says…”, treated as a command, necessary to follow if you are a “good” adherent to the particular religion. No sense of benefits of persuasion, or need to persuade. Literalist as stone cold slaver. Challenge of any sort as apostasy.

All these cult-like behaviours, without reference to time and place of centuries-old words…

To the extent that it is faith, need it be/can it be reasoned or subject to criticism…

Maybe just get the power and dance:

Dig it like a shovel
Rhyme Devil on a Heavenly level

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Absolute Weakness

Seems that when one is absolutely certain of a position, that certainty is often referenced to disparaging those who don’t share one’s point of view. One gains strength of conviction through some sense of referential superiority.

Seems that true confidence is referenced to an appreciation that others, for better or for worse, may not share one’s views. There may be an incentive to persuade, but only if there is an interest in further explanation of the perspective.

Seems to be a particular strength in being able to say “I don’t know”, or “I haven’t read it”, or “I haven’t seen it”.

Have a devout Christian friend. Asked him if all others were going to Hell. He said “Regrettably, yes”. Said without judgement, but with sadness. And with no disrespect for others who did not see his way. True strength of conviction. No cult-like need to identify enemies to destroy.

So when somebody can recite everything, with disparagement…

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Bien Sûr

Was at the Office of the Auditor General, 1983-1984. At the time, language training provided by the office. Available to anyone who wanted to attend, in circumstances where the classes were part of the earlier or later work day. No sending away to some language school. Plus, no pressure. If you wanted, it was there.

Wanted to work in French. Interest going back to law school, when started reading French jurisprudence based on thought of maybe doing civil law degree, as well as common law degree, then exclusively available in English.

So started to speak French. Making the same mistakes as those when French to English. The more one tries, the less the mistakes.

Had a co-worker, side-by-side. He was learning more English: I was learning more French. Spoke to him in French and he spoke to me in English. We both had our lists of words to remember. Compared and discussed the lists. With a view to getting to where, at least with most of the words on our lists, we didn’t have to remember.

Quite Canadian, bien sûr.

So when somebody says
Maybe sometime

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