Friday, January 20, 2006

This is a still frame, only moments before the man's straight razor slices the woman's eyeball, from the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou (1929) Directed by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí

My ENG 101 class watched this film today and then we discussed the idea of "meaning." So many of them are still under the impression that there’s such a thing as universal meaning, that there exists a right way and a wrong way to understand something.

Students said stuff like, “It didn’t make any sense.” or “What’s the point?”

As a teacher I’m excited to be the person who introduces them to the idea that there is no such thing as “meaning,” no such thing as “a point.” Just as there is no such thing as right or wrong, no such thing as good or bad - that the only thing which truly exists is our own personal perception of these things, our own personal truth, our own idea of what is good and bad. Not an easy concept to grasp when you’re 18-19 years old and you’ve been programmed by public education, religion, and American capitalism. But I’m impressed with their willingness to grapple with these new ideas. It was an exciting day.