The only reaction to finishing a two-hour final writing exam over a segment of American literature ranging from Tuscaroran oral narratives to impassioned fire-and-brimstone sermons to the Gettysburg Address is to raise your arms in the air and mime yelling “Woo hoo!”
OR, doing that is the flagrant foul of test taking. Win some/lose some. More specifically, lose 2% of your final grade. Like Pee Wee said: “I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.”
Two years ago, I took a survey class on Latin American society. The main text was titled “Born in Blood and Fire” and every Tuesday and Thursday I would sit and consume over an hour’s worth of media on the past and present atrocities in South and Central America, Spain, Portugal and the Caribbean. It didn’t always make me happy, but it made me more informed. Before this class, I had no idea a banana republic was more than a department store in mid-sized US cities. That’s important information! It also piqued my interest in nonfiction literature and, like Charles Darwin, it made me crave fictional media in a different way.
Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he’d had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He’d earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.
Now, my consumption of media in all its forms is a little out of control—at least, that’s what I learned after filling out a 24-hour time sheet in my media and psychology class. I also learned of the third-person effect—the belief that media can and does affect the way other people think, but doesn’t affect you—and I learned that words and theories are only as good as the counter ideas and actions. That if you think Americans consume too much and give too little, you should consume less and give more. If you think your generation is narcissistic and lazy, then spend more time appreciating the world around you and less time looking at the worlds you create through social media.
Last week, Louis C.K. was on Fresh Air promoting his five dollar comedy show, “Louis C.K.: Live at the Beacon Theater”. Here’s what he had to say about actions and words:
I see soldiers fly all the time, because that’s how they get to the war. You think they get to go in a cool green plane with a red light – go, go, go. No, they just go to Delta, and they just wait in line to go to a war. And they always fly coach…every time that I see a soldier on a plane, I always think: You know what? I should give him my seat. It would be the right thing to do. It would be easy to do, and it would mean a lot to him…Because I’m in first class – why? For being a professional asshole. This guy is giving his life for the country… He’s told by everybody in his life system that that’s a great thing to do, and he’s doing it. And it’s scary, but he’s doing it, and he’s sitting in this shitty seat, and I should trade with him.
I never have, let me make that clear. I’ve never done it once. I’ve had so many opportunities. I never even really seriously came close.
And here’s the worst part: I still just enjoy the fantasy for myself to enjoy. I was actually proud of myself for having thought of it. I was proud. Oh, I am such a sweet man. That is so nice of me to think of doing that and then totally never do it.
It’s hilarious and he’s a hilarious, but it’s also a good reminder to just do it–give up your seat, stay offline more often–whatever, just do it. Because the world is already bad and mean and selfish, we all know that, but sometimes we can make it a little less so.