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My Philosophy Is: Don’t Think.*

June 16, 2010

For Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I’ve mentioned one of my favorite teaching moments before: Several years ago a student told me—in defense of an extremely poorly researched and written paper—that the syllabus didn’t say he had to think. Since then, I’ve added this requirement to selected syllabi when I fear that this reminder may be necessary. I was reminded of this incident when I overheard two girls talking in the train station about their recently-completed finals and one complained to the other that her teacher actually expected her to “think and stuff.”

I like to think. Here are several quotations that inspire me. If you’d like to ponder something, give one of them a whirl:

What you don’t know would make a great book. • Sydney Smith

What don’t you know? This is a really long list for me. What I don’t understand would fill another book. What confuses me is yet another. I could fill a library with unknowns and uncertainties. And, of course, I am a smartypants too, and could fill several volumes with both useful and useless information. How about you? Which volumes in your library would be the largest?

Three fortunes found in one day at an ATM, on the sidewalk, and with Chinese food, NYC, May 29, 2006: 1) Believe in yourself and others will too. 2) Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. 3) Don’t be afraid of fear.

Write three interrelated fortunes for yourself that you’d like to have come true.

First sentences are doors to worlds. • Ursula K. Le Guin

Write a series of first sentences and then choose one to explore further.

In the movie, The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit, Arthur O’Connell says to Gregory Peck: “Write me your autobiography in one hour—everything you can think about in one hour. Explain yourself for us. Examine your life—tell us what kind of person you are and why we should hire you—and at the end, I want you to finish this sentence: The most significant thing about me is. . .”

Write a one hour autobiography and be sure to answer the question: What’s the most significant thing about you?

What inspires your thinking? What do you like to spend time thinking about?

The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths treaded with flowers planted by the mind. • Katherine Mansfield

* Clearly, this philosophy worked well for Charles Manson, the notorious man who said it.

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One comment

  1. I like the idea of writing volumes that would tell about me. I know one of the volumes would be “The awkward moment”. It seems I don’t go through a day without an awkward moment. Awkward moments are a common place in my life. Sometimes I wonder exactly how things can still seem awkward when they are so common. Trust me, my moments never seem to have left that stinging feeling of “ooh, that didn’t go well!” or “That didn’t sound right!”. I imagine that everyone has awkward moments. At least this is what I tell myself to lessen that stinging feeling that haunts me at night when those moments replay themselves in my mind and I again smack my forehead and think, “I can’t believe I said that.”
    Another volume would be called “Replay”. I’ve done so many things that I wish I would have done differently. I would change around many situations. Maybe even rewrite it into chapters called would have, should have, and could have. I know that the experiences I’ve had made me be a little more sympathetic to stupid things that other people have done. The last volume would be b the largest. I would be named “I need to…” this is the book that will have all the calendared events, times to meet, and things to do or to have been done and still need to do again. It would have all the honey do’s, homework, grading, e-mail and phone call returns that need to be responded to and extra things that were forgotten listed. This book would also have chapters. They would be named: “In the future I need to…” The next chapter would be, “Today I need to…” The last chapter would be “Yesterday I should have” This last chapter would have some repetition from the other volume of “Replay”



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