Mind talk

What in the hell do you mean?

What in the hell do you mean?

I’m heading to New Mexico tomorrow to get away from California and do something different, now that the summer session at my little school is over.

California has too many loud people and  hot pavement.

My husband and I, and several of our good friends, are taking a class at St. John’s College on the book The Genealogy of Morality by Nietzsche. The tutors assigned the homework three months ago and sent us our books and materials.

I haven’t started my homework, choosing instead to write, think about other things, and read other books like The Angle of Repose and October Sky with plots and characters and problems I can and want to understand. Every time I have started Nietzsche, I stop. As we said in the 60’s, this is heavy duty man. This is way over the top, dude. And thinking about God and religion and man and life and existence and evil is deep, dude.

When I board the plane tomorrow, and leave California behind, the book will confront me, deep from my carry-on bag. Yes, I will have a coffee, yes, thank you. No snack.

Judge Blah has finished the book. He’s ready to go. Ready to listen. Cheri, do you have the plane tickets?

St. John’s College offers these types of classes for adults who want to listen to what others have to say about serious literature. Two tutors will guide the discussion in a Socratic way. One will open with a question. Good Morning, I’d like everyone to turn to page 34. There Nietzsche writes….

Eighteen people will think. What in the hell did Nietzsche mean by that statement?

Several minutes of silence (unlike the California urban environment) will be. Lovely.

We all will be. Lovelier.

And who are we?

It doesn’t matter. Around the table at St. John’s, what one does for work or how well one is educated doesn’t matter. So there Mr. Pompous Dude. You don’t get to tell us you went to Harvard Business School. What a damn relief that will be.

One of the rules of the seminar is that students may not cite other pieces of literature. We thus avoid  literary namedropping. And when I read Nietzsche’s short piece On the Discussion of Good and Evil Enchiladas…

Stick to the text. And it will stick to you.

Ahem. Now, back to the text, you know, The Genealogy of Morality.

I better get cracking. You procrastinator.

More from New Mexico and the seminar when I get there. More about Nietzsche’s book when I read it. I work best under pressure. What an excuse for dilly-dallying.

Wish you were around the table with us. That would be great fun. Maybe next year.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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5 Responses to Mind talk

  1. Christopher says:

    You spend precious holiday time to study Nietzsche!!??

    Wouldn’t it be more fun to do something else, like at the Esalen Institute?

  2. Andreas says:

    Perhaps something is wrong with Judge Blah and me: I looooved The Geneaology of Morals. A break-through book for the 18-year-old I was. And so … easy (Yes!) to grasp, once it clicked.

    Christopher: As it happens, I have ALSO spent part of a summer at the Esalen Institute. I went there hoping for naked dancing hippies. Instead: Sedate windbags. I got bored and left early. Maybe I picked the wrong week.

    {But I did write a little profile of Esalen nonetheless.)

    Cheri, once you have discussed teh Genealogy, do share what was said. It’s too bad I can’t be there.

    • Cheri says:

      Hey!
      I’m at the airport with my book in hand.
      I plan to write a bit and post daily about what happens and what is discussed in the seminar.
      Our friends are my former student and colleague.
      Kurt, Judge Blah, and I are in Nietzsche; Heather is in the Othello seminar.

  3. Christopher says:

    Andreas: The link you gave doesn’t enable one to read the article unless one pays.

    For interested readers, here’s another link to the Economist’s (Andreas’s) very interesting Esalen piece, where you can read it for free http://www.ithou.org/node/3259

    A phrase contained therein, “….The Brahman is the Atman…”, caught my attention, since “atman”, Sanskrit for “spirit” or “breath”, is almost the same as the German word “atmen” (to breathe) – as good a demonstration as any, that Sanskrit is part of the family of European languages.

    Cheri: Hope you are having as much fun at the Nietzsche seminar as you might have had at the Esalen Institute.

  4. Cheri says:

    Christopher,
    I will certainly let you know about the fun. And thanks for including that phrase in Sanskrit and its similarity to the German word.

    This connection relates to Nietzsche’s early training as a philologist (which I had to look up!).

    I listened to two hours of Sanskrit last month at my friend’s Hindu wedding which began, by the way, at 6:15 on Father’s Day. And to think Judge Blah willingly got up on Father’s Day, without complaint, to join me in the celebration.

    He wasn’t cheerful however. Nietzsche would have approved.

    Andreas, I’ll let you know if any sedate windbags suck the air out of our classroom.
    Statistically, there will be one sedate windbag and two jabberjaws.

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