Sunday, June 29, 2014

When I'm not here

I MOOC too much.

I'm currently enrolled in only one online class, but the coursework is a little heavy. I'm not even convinced that I'm enjoying Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, but I feel pressured to do the readings and to do the assignments. I tell myself I don't have to do anything I don't want to do — I'm a grownup, the course is free, I can read what I damn well please — and that the grades aren't important, and they aren't, yet they are. But having made the initial commitment, how can I not even try?

So I find myself reading for reasons other than pleasure. I'm not sure I like it.

I enrolled because I wanted to read Ursula K LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness. Which is a dumb reason, because I have a copy; look, it's sitting right there, I could read it whenever I want.

Fortunately, I have in fact read a good deal of the material previously. To this point, I can say that Dracula and Frankenstein are justifiably classics and worth (re)reading.

But I'm not sure I've learned anything. The professor has been a little too focused on sexual symbolism (in fairy tales, Alice in Wonderland, and Dracula) — he discovers much in what, I believe, isn't there. Some of the lectures have been positively eye-rolling. Also, in his view, all fiction is fantasy, so I'm failing to discover anything I didn't already know about "science fiction" or the "the human mind" (or "our modern world" for that matter).

I'm thinking maybe I was never meant to study literature. I should simply enjoy it.

What I am establishing in taking these courses is some kind of discipline: setting a goal, sticking to schedule, completing the task. The trick now is to carry this ability over to the rest of my life, remove the MOOCs from the equation (wean myself away), but transfer the energy and focus to something else. (But what?)

Part of me really does enjoy the feeling of being in school again and stressing over assignments. And in this course more than the others I've taken, I'm thrilling from writing edgy essays just to see if can get away with it. I feel like I'm pulling one over on my peer reviewers, which from time to time causes me a twinge of shame, but mostly it gives me a high.

I may post some of my assignments here for a laugh. Or some from a previous course that I in fact found valuable.

So if I'm not blogging much this summer, it's because I'm still MOOCing, or gone fishing, or out at jazz festival, or having a nap.

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