Thursday 25 October 2012

The elective

“There’s nothing quite like it,” she told the class, minds already wandering outside to the school field, basking in the early September sun. “We will spend autumn reading and learning about the great thinkers in history, we will debate and muse over their philosophies and how they changed the world. You will discuss your thoughts and ideas. You chose this course, remember, and as the nights draw in, you will have an excuse to stay in and read these great works. Excited?” Silence. “And winter will bring your final exam. Marked by me.” Twenty eight faces slowly turned her way.

Today I found a great blog with a weekly 100-word writing challenge. Julia's place shares links to people's entries and connects writers using the same prompt, but with very different results. If you've got an imagination and 100 words in you, have a go. In the above challenge we had to include the words And winter will bring .

Thursday 11 October 2012

A bit Lost

Martín and I are not cool when it comes to all things music, movies and television. We can't follow a series as it goes out because our brains don't work remembering to be in the same place at the same time every week. We have no idea what's at number 1 in the charts, if they should be at number 1 and where the hell Downton Abbey is.

What we do is wait until something has finished being popular and amazing and then get it. With television series we download them and watch at our leisure. We finished House this year and loved it. Before House, we watched The West Wing. Our latest nighttime viewing has us back in 2006 with the series Lost.

When we were living in Buenos Aires, students would come to classes red-eyed and yawning. "Why are you so tired?" I would ask. The reply was always: "I was watching Lost until 4am."

At the time I thought What? Who would watch a series all night like that? Then The West Wing finished. And Dr. House biked off into the sunset with Wilson. And then we were Love Film subscribers and Lost was always there to watch so we took a deep breath and went for it.

We finished the first season in just over a week. Television watching at its most ridiculous, if you ask me. And although I couldn't see why anyone would go to work on two hours' sleep each night just to watch it, we were also addicted to the mystery, cliff hangers, weirdness of it all.

But as much as it has captured our imagination, there is something missing watching Lost compared to something like House or The West Wing. We don't learn anything. After watching House, I know what a lumbar puncture is (and almost how to do one, they seemed to do them so often); I know the symptoms of syphilis; I know that parking in a hospital can be political and I know what lupus is. Every episode held nuggets of information, parts to be pieced together from a real world.

In The West Wing I would learn about history, religion and philosophy as the characters walked the corridors of power at the White House debating, arguing, reasoning, explaining and resolving on an intellectual level that I have never seen in any other workplace I've been to. It was fast, slick and comforting in the sense that there was going to be something new explained to me. I had to pay attention.

Now, we're in season five of Lost and simply trying to get through it to make sure the pieces all fit together in this now absurd (in my opinion) time travelling jigsaw. Time travel. That's the extent of our learning.

Of course, watching television is not always about increasing knowledge. But it's good when it's time well spent, something gained.

And you're not just sat there after switching off feeling a bit empty having lost a few hours.