Some Teaching Notes

Tue Apr 10, 2007

I have three back-to-back classes this semester. Yesterday, I taught Endgame, “To Room Nineteen,” and an exercise about mapping social space (pp. 195-200 of Fieldworking, to be exact.) There was nothing particularly depressing about the last one, of course, but I think most will agree that the first two aren’t pick-me-ups.

So I was thinking about existential despair and the problems of communication and memory. (Clancy [a rising video star] and I have also been watching the second season of Twin Peaks.) Via Semi-dispensable PTDR I found Margaret Boden’s review of Douglas Hofstadter’s latest book. I had discussed the “voluntary autistics” in Greg Egan’s Distress as a way of outlining bad-faith empathy and solipsism in Beckett (counterintuitive? you should have been there!), and the patterned preservation that Hofstadter discusses is almost exactly the opposite of what you find in Beckett. I think the idea could even help us make sense of Twin Peaks: the show doesn’t take place in Laura’s mind, but Laura’s fragments in imperfect memories attempt to understand their existence (the fragments) via dream-logic and association. From their perspective, it is perfect and whole. From ours, Systeme D.