Saturday, August 29, 2015

      TEDxMemphis Recap

      I just got home from a whole day at the first ever TEDxMemphis event-- I say "first" because it looks like plans are already in the works for another one next year (THIS MUST HAPPEN!)-- and I cannot possibly exaggerate what an amazing, informative, inspirational and motivational event it was.  Especially for this city, my city, Memphis, which I love with a passion equal to the love I feel for Philosophy and my own family (not necessarily in that order) and a city which is nothing if not a petri dish chock-full of perfectly-ripe organic culture for growing the completely idiosyncratic and unlikely awesomeness that is, well, #MAF.

      First, let me tip ALL MY HATS to the TEDxMemphis team, who did a masterful job of planning and organizing. (Also, thanks y'all for the dope swag-bag!)  Second, I also should note that the $75 ticket price was an unfortunately steep one, likely prohibitive for many people who might have had a lot to contribute and/or gain from an event like this.  I hope, next year, that some effort is made to  fix that.

      There were a lot of things shared in today's event that will stick with me for a long while, that I will think about for an even longer while and that will doubtlessly change the way I prioritize my civic, moral and pedagogical/professional commitments over the next year. I was really encouraged to see so many current (Christian Brothers University) students and former (Rhodes College) students in attendance, which gives me hope and confidence that all the scary talk about #901braindrain is overinflated.  There were no vacant seats as far as I could tell in any of the TEDxMemphis sessions today, so for those of you who didn't or couldn't make it, what follows are some highlights (not exhaustiive, not in order of importance or significance, nor in order of presentation, just fyi):

      Tuesday, August 04, 2015

      Reading Coates, Part 2: the Dream, the Body and the Blame

      This is the second installment of my Reading Coates posts, offering some reflections on Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me in light of our summer reading group's discussion of the same.  You can read Part 1 here.

      Before I jump right into Chapter 2, I want to take a moment to comment upon what I suspect is a common experience among people who participate in reading groups, namely, that the quality of discussions in a reading group tends to increase exponentially with each session after the first.  (There should be a law that states this.  Is there a law?  If not, I want to claim it as Johnson's Law.)  Often, I think this phenomenon is a consequence of the inevitable dropping-out of members after the first reading group session, such that the second and following sessions are always better since those who do not have the time or interest to commit themselves to it have been culled.  More often, though, I think the discussions get better because (1) you begin reading the text with your group's discussants in mind and (2) by the second session, you have a significantly better understanding of what will make for a productive conversation with those specific people.  Anyway, Johnson's Law held true once again for our group's second meeting yesterday and I was still mulling over our conversation late into the evening last night.