Sunday, October 28, 2007

If I am Number 6, who is my professor?

When I read blogs, I tend to get on an intellectual high, probably because the blogs I read are either my professors' or other scholarly sorts. Funny how that doesn't get any homework accomplished.

Okay, here's a question on my midterm due tomorrow: If you (that is, me) are Number 6, who am I (that is, my professor)?

This alludes to the fantastically strange show, The Prisoner. I'm going to brainstorm here. He could be Number 1, but, as the professor kindly points out, we don't even know for sure if Number 1 exists. We can be relatively sure that the professor does exist. That doesn't definitively mean that he is not Number 1, though. Just because we don't know who was Number 1 doesn't mean he was not in front of us the whole time. We trust the professor to be on our side, to be teaching us things to help us learn and be good thinkers, but is he not part of a system structured to maintain the status quo? He claims to try to teach otherwise, which makes us trust him even more, but perhaps he's calling the shots without us even realizing it. What about Number 2? Number 2 is the visible person in charge (as is the professor). Number 2 tries to extract information from Number 6 (as does the professor from his students). As the professor notes, if he were Number 2 that would mean he would be a prisoner too, in a way. As a matter of fact, he is a prisoner to many norms and conventions, but my impression is that he is not a willing prisoner, unlike Number 2. Maybe, as he suggests, he is Number 5. Perhaps his "sickness" which caused him to miss class on Wednesday was not in fact a cold, but that he lost his hair, gained weight, and turned yellow, becoming Homer Simpson. Hmm... I don't think I'd have much to back up that argument. What else could he be? One of the women? He is not a woman, nor does he cry or swoon regularly (in front of us), nor does he seem particularly manipulative. Rover? As far as I know, he does not physically hurt or kill any of his students, and if we leave the classroom, he doesn't stop us. What's left? Maybe he's just another person in The Village. He's too self-aware and critical for that. Could he be the penny-farthing bicycle? That wouldn't make sense, but I'm beyond that point. This is way too much fun.

Okay, my favorite is the professor as Number 2. I'll explain away his apparent criticism of the status quo with capitalism's ability to absorb anything and make us believe that we are hearing something subversive, when in fact it is just perpetuating the system. We are paying thousands of dollars to listen to this professor, whose lectures make us think that now we are smarter than everyone else because we say things like "repressive tolerance" and "signifiers and signifieds," but in the end we'll get our degrees and become economically productive adults, allowing ourselves to be exploited and alienated. We'll just use big words as we do it.

Here's a Language Log posting with some of my favorite things: Semiotics, rethinking homosexuality, and challenging middle-aged conservative white men.

A happy note: I just realized that I don't have to illegally track down episodes of The Office online when we have them in the house on DVD. By the way, I am doing this for purely academic purposes, to do a Marxist critique for a paper. I've been waiting for the day I could count watching The Office as homework.

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