Today, I have a monumental task before me–getting past writer’s block. This has not typically been a problem for me since I started blogging. I have a feeling that writing is a skill that becomes easier when you make a habit of it.
In this particular case, I am writing about literature and technology and war and humanity. It will be a chapter in a book edited by a colleague, but it has been like extracting teeth from an elephant. Through its ear. The intended audience is high school and undergrad, so I have tried to be direct, avoid “theory-speak” (which I secretly disapprove of anyway), and look at a couple of books that are still read at those levels, including Slaughterhouse-Five and Catch-22. My original intent was to write about them as tales of the Cold War, in which conventional aerial bombing was being used as a metaphor for atomic bombing. And both of those novels are about the Cold War, though they are either largely or entirely set during the Second World War. But that original line of questioning, while there, seems to have petered out a bit. I lost enthusiasm for that particular line of reasoning, and enthusiasm is key to keeping up momentum.
I have changed tact a little, writing about the concept of a “war machine” and its effect on free will, and I am bringing in another novel that more thoroughly examines this concept, though it is not as widely read by high schoolers.
Grumble. It’s over 2/3 of the way there. I’m on the last section, but squeezing it out has felt like having a confession of witchcraft pressed out of me.
But it’s better now. I really need to finish a draft today, so that I can get my syllabus into shape for Monday, when my class on conspiracy theories begins. I am quite excited about that and a little anxious. I’ve yet to hit upon that perfect final project that will synthesize everything that the kids will have learned. It will come to me, I’m sure, but it has not quite become obvious to me.
Any ideas for a final writing project on project on conspiracy theories? Digital or otherwise? Let’s crowd source this sucker!
I don’t know if writing this post will help your writer’s block, but i love reaading stuff like this. I never learn better than when an author lets me in on not only what he’s writing, but the trepidation he has in what to write.
As for the final project, there’s a lot of ways you can go depending on the length of the course/credits. Report on the latest conspiracy from a skeptic’s POV. Or report on the latest real news story from the perspective of a conspiracy goon.
The idea that came to me first was to make a homebrew ocnspiracy. After a semester of learning about how conspiracies happen, you could challenge them to create their own, awarding points for the legwork and thought process shown, and bonus points for how many people get “taken” by it. Automatic A for the semester if it gets on HuffPo. Must sign their dissertation blindfolded if they get Glenn Beck to cry.
PS. This new comment format is so buggy i can hardly type past one parargaph. Anyone else notice this?
Glad I could help. I encourage others to feast on my pain. 🙂
Anyway, I have had students do a similar “build-a-conspiracy” project in the past, and they were good. I’ve always wanted to have a class that ends in a hoax, a huge freaking hoax. 😉
Damn beat me to it! I actually wrote “hoax” in my first post but this buggy ass java interface deleted it.
Which brigns me to the next question i was gonna ask…what exactly is the difference between a hoax and a conspiracy that you start?
Whether or not you eventually confess?
Whether or not anyone who bought into it believes you when you eventually confess?
Well you could talk about Science Technology, boobies and shoes. I’m sure that will get some people interested.
On a more serious note how about how war, technology, esspecially new war making technology affects how humans relate to each other, not just fellow combatants, but civilians and of course how this affects perceptions of enemy combatants and civilians, and of course how this is reflected in literature.
perhaps a bit about the alienating effects of advances in technology. For example the contrast between killing, injuring someone face to face, with a sweord versus dropping a bomb on them from a mile up, or firing an atomic bomb from a couple of thousand miles away.
Or how about how advances in technology have created the 24 hour battlefield. Where before battle was something that occurred for a few hours, at most every couple of weeks and army life was drugery and routine the great majority of time, for nearly a century now we’ve had battlefields in which combat can be continous for months if not years. The strain this puts on the the mind is of course massive. Even bombing missions are high stress prolonged feats that sapped peoples minds, which was why bomber tours were generally limited.
Related to the above how about how technology as expanded the battlefied to include cities, well behind enemy lines, the sky, underwater etc. And how this is reflected in literature.
Regarding conspiracy theories what about the great popish plot conspiracy stuff? As for digital conspiracy stuff there is always that old stand by, “So0meone is aiming microwaves at me and I need my tinfoil hat”. Yes there are lots of websites nursing and nuturing that particular lunacy.
I forgot to mention you’ve been visited by another Oxfordian and if his website is anything to go by it is morer beside the point stuff, question begging, and lots and lots of speculative fantasizing.