Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Week in Review: The Penultimate Countdown

You know how sometimes in the movies, the hero and the villain are fighting in an epic battle, and the hero delivers what he thinks is the knockout blow, and starts to walk away... then he pauses, and turns around, and finds the villain on his feet again? That sort of happened to me this week. I had all the early warning signals of the onset of a cold: extreme thirst, sore throat, light headed. I called in an airstrike of Vitamin C and felt better for the next few days. But then on Friday night, I got a tickle in my throat, which turned into a cough, which turned into a head cold, which promptly moved into my chest. Awesome. It's not too bad, really; I'm able to function, and should be back to fighting fit in a few days with the proper rest and hydration. I only mention it because I thought the analogy was funny.

My tickled throat did not prevent me from seeing Cloud Atlas with a bunch of DSPT folks on Friday, preceded by dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. If you're not familiar with Cloud Atlas, you probably still won't be even after you see it. It's a complex production that interweaves six different storylines from different time periods and different parts of the world, all loosely connected somehow and further complicated by the fact that the same six or seven actors play the important parts in each of the narrative threads, so that Tom Hanks is a 19th century doctor in one and a 1970s nuclear scientist in another; and Hugh Grant plays both a slave owner and a futuristic Korean restaurant manager. (Yeah, in the 22nd century Korean storyline, most of the main characters are white folks in prosthetic make-up made to look like Koreans. It's a little odd.) I liked the movie overall... I think. The more I think about, the more the pieces start to fit together. Still, I'll probably have to read the book to get a grip on it.

This is the last week of classes before finals next week. It's not quite time to play "The Final Countdown," and unfortunately there's no catchy 80s tune called "The Penultimate Countdown." I may not end up having any in-class final exams, but I will have one take-home exam, possibly another, a bibliography project, four short papers, and one long research paper to finish and turn in before the end of next week. So... yeah. I'll be busy the next two weeks. You may not get a mid-week post from me. But then we'll be on Christmas break, and I'll have all kinds of free time with which to compose more half-baked thoughts to inflict upon you.

As we're nearing the end of the semester, I thought it would be fun to provide you with some of my favorite quotes from classes:

Intro to New Testament:
"Time constrains me from multiplying examples, but..." (says the professor before proceeding to multiple examples.)
"We cannot escape the importance of knowing the languages these texts were composed in."
"We are transformed by the holiness of God into the holiness of God."
"Matthew is in some ways a very fussy stylist."
(This professor had many great quips during class, but most were too quick for me to catch with my pen, to my regret.)

Aristotelian Logic: 
"Would you take the next one, Brother...." (he says, trailing off, as he has apparently forgotten the Dominican student brother's name again.)
(after a visiting student correctly uses the Square of Opposition to make inferences): "You see, a child could do this!"
"'A universal is a relation by which a many is known as one.' Say it!"
(Beginning a syllogism with the premises, "All humans are rational" and "All Franciscans are human," he jokes): "Both of these are only probable, not certain."

Philosophy of Nature:
"If you start your philosophy inside the mind, you may never get out; that's the problem with most modern philosophy. If you start outside, with the external world, you might get somewhere."
Passing on a maxim from Scholastic thought: "Never deny, seldom affirm, always distinguish."

Ancient Philosophy: "Until you've read Gregory of Nyssa's Life of Moses, you're illiterate."
"Find any good Greek dictionary, and the entry for logos will be about the length of your arm."
"Everybody on the bus?" (the professor's way of asking if we understand or have any questions)
"If technology makes our lives any easier, we'll never get anything done."
About Socrates' past: "Think ex-Marine turned philosopher."
"There is a mischievous grin behind most of what Plato writes."
(Synecius of Cyrene was elected bishop of Ptolemais in 410AD): "That probably precipitated his baptism."
(About one of Basil of Caesarea's letters:) "There's nothing original here, which makes it so interesting."

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