9 Sep 2013: Coursera che sera, sera

20 minutes first thing: 300 lowrise steps (a lot of pain at first), 100 movements without weights. Physio later today in all probability.

Have started Coursera MOOC (Massively Online Open Courseware): my trial class is Modern American Poetry. I shall need to manage expectations and not even try to overwhelm the class with my so-called brilliance: it is a reality distortion field that sucks the air out of the room, to use two metaphors (more precisely a simile and a metaphor); it creates resentment.

My main Coursera goal is to get a certificate for each class I take and this means quite a lot of boring work. It appears that the business model for Coursera is the crowd-sourcing of the testing of courseware so it can then be sold to universities and used in for-credit classes. Nothing is free, and the simultaneous benefit of a class and a piece of paper (that can be used to get jobs teaching creative writing in this class’ case) means I will get minimal access to poet and teacher Al Filreis at Penn.

I will be graded by my so-called peers and I am such a butt-awful snob that this could be a Coriolanus level disaster, meliorated only by my seeing it from far off this time. But I really hate it when the father-teacher abandons me to the siblings.

We start this week, however, with two poets I know and love: Emily Dickinson the introvert who like Rosalinde (As You Like It) doesn’t see the value of travel and Walt “Walt” Whitman who roars about and never met a man he didn’t like, who has wide sympathies. Emily would not use Facebook, Walt Whitman would love it. So while I love Emily the Ds poetry (many tough extravert guys strangely do) and while I can even pastiche it, Walt Whitman is for me in many ways more fundamental.

Meantime, my self-administered, pre-Coursera class in Kant, the ewige Kant class which like a constructive infinity or ABD PhD stretches out before me fading into the distance, since I haven’t yet, objectively speaking, understood the Transcendental deduction nor grokked the whole better than Heidegger or Strawson. What the heck, it’s fun.

My reading of Johansen by comparison as easy as pie as his magnificent chapters pass in review. I’m on Plato and shall be reading some dialogs as part of the “course”. I always get the sense when re-reading the Republic that it (philosophy) is all here in the sense that all remaining philosophy can be found in the Republic.

It is possible to overemphasize this. I was very glad to read Rawls and not Plato at that one class I was privileged to take at Princeton in political philosophy: yet Rawls is but a refinement of Plato in so many ways: the Rawlsian upper crust, whose income increase benefits the least well off with public libraries, public pools, and the Ginza mall in the poor community of Tin Shui Wai, can be considered a Guardian class. Indeed, I thought that the Yuppies were going to constitute a public-spirited Guardian caste. I was wrong.

The Guardians have left their posts.
Flit in and out of the desert temple,
Ravenous for soulmeat,
And brother feeds on brother,
A pile of books for sale with loose cigarettes, tobacco dust, chicken offal.


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