An Academic Interaction

I was just starting to read Logicomix again tonight when I started reflecting back on interactions I’d had with other academics.

One that really sticks out in my mind occurred in one of my favorite lectures this semester, when me, being exceptionally uncoordinated, let both of my pens (I take graphic notes with two brightly-colored pens) slide off of my lap and clatter to the floor of my lecture hall.

I sit in the front row next to Joe usually, which rises a good two to three feet above the floor, with a kind of theme-park safety bar in front of the desks (clearly designed to reward students who sit in the front with a legroom situation on par with royalty). So now I had a problem.

I wasn’t going to climb over the bars in the middle of class to get the pens and make a scene… so I started looking for my spare pens. But then the professor, a man I really like and want to talk to more, walked around the dias an…

Total aside: I just realized that the fact that societies tend to structure to identify the brightest of their youth and place them on increasingly faster treadmills to keep them from every taking a second to look around.

…d picked up and handed me the pens, in front of the entire class. I was a little stunned. I may be overanalyzing, but it seemed like a pretty kind gesture on his part, interrupting his lecture flow to help my dumb ass. I wasn’t sure how to react… do I say thank you, and make a big deal out of it? Should I do nothing and pretend it never happened? I wasn’t sure. I worry if I responded wrongly.

I should’ve gone to office hours more this semester. I really passed up a chance to have some stimulating conversation. I think it’s a few weeks to late now, to start any real relationship. These classes have been really stimulating, in the way that the humanities classes tend to throw you in a bag and smack you around for a bit before letting you out, so you know who you’re dealing with. I probably retained 10% of the vastness of the ideas that came my way. No gold star for me this semester.

That was a strange aside. Anyway, I wanted to offload that public professor interaction. Was he acknowledging the comments I’d make in class with an act of service? Does he think my comments make any sense? I remember once I said something about how the increasing flow of information online is flattening social hierarchies, and he re-capitulated it as “increasing information flows increase class divides” which was kind of the opposite of what I said. I was probably rambling incoherently.

I had one nice interaction with him when I got kicked out of Karras’ office, where I kind of ambushed him and abruptly subjected him to my entire BSC rant. To his credit, he seemed interested. I rattled of the federal structure, the tripart government, the connections to Weber’s Bureaucracy, the internal cultural tensions, and so on. He engaged with me on it, and I wish I had spent some more time talking to him before I finished my talk with Karras.

He’s an interesting one. He just lets me talk and talk and talk. I’ll go see him and start unloading my bento box of paradoxes and tensions. He’s kind of the like the driver, giving me encouragement to make me speed up, slowing me down when I’m going off on excessive tangents, turning me around corners as necessary, but not often. He generally validates everything I say. I guess I go to him to lay out my thoughts with someone I trust. Ideas spend weeks swirling around before they’re ready to commit to words, and I realize that when I talk to him, I’m constructing my new meaning system. He’s just observing, like a notary.

Very interesting. Back to Logicomix.

I got 90 minutes of sleep last night. I can’t believe I’m still up.


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