Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Nattering Nincompoops of Notational Neurosis

"Hey Prof, I blew off class yesterday due to an unfortunate partying injury (looonnng story). Can you e-mail me your personal lecture notes right away? Thanks."

"Trees felled by a freak tornado blocked my commuting route today, and then demented mimes came out of nowhere and boxed me into my parking spot (I couldn't break through their invisible glass), so I couldn't get to class. Is there a note taker in the class who can send me typed notes? I'll be LOST without them!"

"I had to have emergency brain surgery yesterday but I'm all better now. Will you post notes online for what I missed?"

"My family forced me to go on vacation in the middle of the term, so I had to skip two weeks of class. Any chance of getting those notes? I'll DIE without them."

Notes. Notes. NOTES. Is this frenzy over "notes" happening to you, too? This desperate and at times nearly insane demand for the sacred keys called "notes"? Without which the course material is nothing but one maliciously contrived riddle after another?

Hmmm, let's see. They could try, dunno, reading the assigned material? Maybe even spending two paltry minutes doing a bit of online research beyond the book, in between multiple FB checks and porno breaks? Preparing specific questions on the material to show remorse and then making an appointment to see me in penance? Asking a classmate what we covered? Or doing the best thing and building a time machine and going back in time to the missed class and making sure never to miss class again as attendance is a solemn obligation according to my law? But, no, it has to be the Holy Notes, without which the entire cosmos is just a heap of cold unintelligibility.

Whence this helplessness concerning and distortion of the nature of the scholarly enterprise, and one's role as an accountable agent?

(The line about "the class note taker" is a real line from a real student. What class note taker? As though I have a hunchbacked medieval scribe I drive into the classroom every day with a flog so he can prepare the Divine Communion of Notes or Divina Signa for the convenience of all truants.)

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