it doesn’t mean you are an artist
I sometimes wonder why when you give a group of teenagers a video camera, the first impulse is to shoot something stupid. It’s as if there is some jackass switch connected to the “on button” when shooting video: Video on. Now let’s film something stupid and forgettable. “O’ look, I am being wicked funny…”
Or even better: “Look what this special effects does to my face and VoOiiice.”
And so teachers like me who have tried it before and know what “once burned twice shy” really means avoid doing it again. So go away video cameras and iPhones and iPads, and go open up your word processor and write, gubdummit, like we (the teachers) had to do!
But there is another way. Because words are never uttered out of the dryness of death. Words are the children—the precious and precocious children—of potentially deep and subtle thoughts formed into sound, shape, and form, and that sound, shape, or form is only important in carrying that word–or spree of words—into the mind and heart and soul in the most direct, effective and practical way.
Only sometimes is that “way” the written word. Usually words are simply the waves of sound carried and shared within human interactions. Sometimes those waves spew out of the screens of tv’s, iPod, iPads, and any other device that captures reformats the original form of the word—and in the history of the world, that’s pretty cool.
Maybe I’m weird, but I’ve always wondered what Jesus might have said on the cross beyond what was remembered by the apostles who were there? What would an interview with Buddha really be like? What would a Socratic seminar look like if it were run by Socrates himself? What would Socrates look like? I could wonder all day….
So to cut this short, this is my plea to you: appreciate the opportunity you have. You live in a gilded age in a gilded palace, and you are being asked to step a bit higher on the podium of life by putting your best words into the best medium ever created by man—images and actions and words and sounds wedded together into something called “art,” for anything done well enough is an art.
I am going against the dictates of my experiences, and I am giving you video cameras and a rough outline of what I hope you will do, which is to create thoughtful and engaging reflections, summaries and analyses of different chapters of the books we are reading using videos as our way to engage the heart and minds of our audience.
It means figuring things out; it means learning new ways of doing things; it means avoiding excuses like cold mixed vegetables and to embrace change like a man running out of a burning building, and it means to start now by planning, preparing, and producing.
This is the idea. The details will follow in class on Monday.