29 October 2010

this morning I went to an extra seminar my Chinese history teacher is holding for the class. in it were two white guys with knowledge of classical Chinese, the Chinese literary tradition, and Chinese scholarship, and a guy who looks permanently stoned. he liked to talk, for example, about the surreal experience of reading an encyclopedia of Chinese history of science in a truck at the dump. on arriving I referred to the first two as the A-team and they looked horrified. I think we were all feeling overwhelmed. the professor said that what we are looking at is very difficult for experts to make head or tail of. the professor was carrying a stack of books almost as tall as herself, almost all of which were really cool and inspiring. the books were passed around and I wrote down the interesting parts of their tables of contents as possible sources for my paper. I found out that I am interested in the same sorts of things as the two smart people, and that isn't all bad. it was an early morning hour that served up the most fun parts of university in distilled form.


Boris Kane said...

that sounds like what i imagine a real university to be like.

my course is filled with tutors who are students and dont bother putting in much effort. very un-interesting

wrenna said...

I know how difficult that is too. It can be completely mind-numbing. Hitting it off with someone like this is like, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. My prof is a Harvard and Princeton grad. A big part of what she does is just to model curiosity. My advice to you would be to be really energetically curious about reading good things - my prof likes The Believer (search for Gordon Lish on sentences) and Art Forum magazines, and aldaily.com for the big list of reviews (see The New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement) to find out about good new things. Now that I am curious I am hardly ever lonely.