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12 February 2014

Driven by Distraction

I'm not driven to distraction, I'm driven by it. All my best ideas come when I'm busy and doing something else. So I've taken the radical step of encouraging that to happen by signing up for a MOOC. MOOC - it means Massive Open Online Course and I'm doing mine through Coursera. The course is called  Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, and the syllabus is full of great books I've never read: Dracula and Frankenstein and the Island of Dr Moreau, and the intriguing Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and an Ursula K LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness.

This week's reading was the Grimm Brothers' Children's and Household Tales; we had the Lucy Crane translation. I had never read this either: cue eye-opener. Forget Disneyfied versions; read this stuff. Then I had to do something I haven't done in ages, write an academic essay, 320 words maximum. 320 words! For an analytical perfectionist like me, that is rough. So I analyzed the four types of fantasy elements present in the stories (as categorized by me) and what might be said about the society that produced those types of fantasy.  I was pleased I got it down in 318 words, though of course now I'm having all sorts of esprit d'escalier about it.  (Is it academic enough, for one thing. Seriously doubt it.) It is currently being peer reviewed, and I peer-reviewed four others. Never had to do that before, unless you count creative writing workshops. Not my favourite part, giving out points, although I liked reading what other people wrote.

Now I'm off to start on Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass -- these I have read before, although not for a long time. In fact the last time was at BU for a Freudian psychology class. I remember doing a ton of research trying to find a pre-Freudian review of the books, to compare it to a post-Freudian era review. It was largely inconclusive research, but I did well in the class. I was always good at the literal reading of symbols....

And in the meantime, ideas are flowing. If I can keep it up for the full 11 weeks, I'll be a happy bunny.


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