Friday, April 23, 2010
My old school
The good news is that I did not die last weekend, despite having to play four games in about 36 hours. The bad news is that I returned to computer purgatory: the laptop is back but it had to be “wiped,” and as a result, it has no recollection of killing John G. or having gone to Mars. So now I have one laptop that has email but no word processing program, and another laptop that has word processing but cannot access the Internets. The former can’t print, the latter can. It’s a mess, basically. I think I need one more laptop.
So I’ve managed to put 25 years of work onto a jump drive, work off the Internetless but printer-connected laptop, and come up with the material for my contribution to “The Classroom Revisited.” I’ll be teaching a class on disability studies in the humanities. Oscar Pistorius, Professor Xavier, and Dumbo will all be mentioned, and of course I’ll work in a reference to Memento and Total Recall, the first of which makes one of my points about cognitive disability and narrative, and the latter of which, of course, is about employment-related disability. No, really. Why do you think those mutants are mutants?
The last time I visited Regis High School, your car radios were playing “I Will Survive” and “The Logical Song.” This will be interesting—and, I hope, less physically taxing than last week’s adventure.
While I’m gone, I should make good on that promise to post stuff about things and people I’ve seen lately. So here’s Bill Shannon, inventor of the “Shannon Technique,” a dance technique named after himself, Bill Shannon. He’s been a visiting artist this semester (he’s based in Pittsburgh, so he’s been traveling back and forth to teach a class), and back on March 26, Janet, Jamie and I had the privilege of seeing him perform. (I chipped in a bit from my Personal Research Account to help bring him to campus. I thought my Personal Research Account was for travel and material, like laptops, but I learned a few years ago I can invite people to campus with it, too.) In the course of his performance, he did a few deft disability-studies types moves, drawing attention to the fact that he can walk short distances without crutches and is sometimes suspected of “cheating”: likewise, he noted, he sometimes sees people take off their eyeglasses and demonstrate that they can still see, so he outs them as frauds. Conversely, he will exaggerate his dependence on crutches in certain contexts—say, airports—and then, pretending that he thinks no one is looking (though he knows they are, which is the whole entire point), he will scurry along for a few yards without the assistance of crutches, confusing matters still further. I think of this as a wry commentary on Erving Goffman’s line in Stigma: “in making a profession of their stigma, native leaders are obliged to have dealings with representatives of other categories, and so find themselves breaking out of the closed circle of their own kind. Instead of leaning on their crutch, they get to play golf with it, ceasing, in terms of social participation, to be representative of the people they represent” (27).
In other words, this:
Back next week, I hope.