West Wing Weekly Roundtable

So far we’ve talked a lot about the term “generous listening” coined by Krista Tippet in “Becoming Wise.” It seems like generous listening can take many forms. It can mean listening to someone intently, asking insightful and detailed follow up questions, or allowing oneself to listen to and truly experience a view different from our own.

The two assigned West Wing Weekly podcasts are excellent examples of generous listening. The hosts, Joshua Malina and Hrishikesh Hirway give their interviewees their full attention and develop interesting and precise questions to provoke great story-telling. In the first episode, they have on Aaron Sorkin, the writer of The West Wing. They question him about his writing process and about his workaholic habits. It is made evident by his responses that Sorkin himself also practices generous listening in order to write his hit TV show. As he experiences the world around him, he is constantly taking notes and developing them into story lines and he incorporates what is going on in the reality into his stories. He also demonstrates generous listening in his ability to represent two sides of an argument in the show. He states that he enjoys the sound of two smart competing arguments and that he fell in love with asking the question “Have you looked at this way?” This requires the ability to listen and develop further inquiries to opposing points of view, rather than simply coming up with counter-arguments to support his own views. Attention to detail is another key factor of generous listening. We hear Malina, Hirway, and Sorkin discuss the evolution of the opening score. They bring up minor changes, like the addition of instruments and better sound quality, as the show got more popular. This certainly is an example of generous listening! With Sorkin’s extreme attention to detail comes the habit, or curse, of infinitely nit-picking minute flaws to making tiny alterations to his work. He admits that he has not completed a single piece of writing that he would want to re-write. However, Sorkin does not have time to do this while juggling multiple TV show scripts. He must “point the camera at his first draft.”

In the second assigned episode, Malina and Hirway interview the actress, Emily Proctor. She demonstrates a similar attentiveness to detail as Sorkin. She admits that as she watched herself in a scene where she delivers an argumentative monologue aimed at tearing down her opponent, played by Rob Lowe, that she felt disappointed. She regrets the tone of voice she used to delivered her final punch line. Malina and Hirway disagree. They believe she delivered it perfectly. Proctor also reveals that she and her co-star John Spencer would practice scenes outside of rehearsals. This also shows just how careful the actors were about how they delivered their lines.

These artists have an ear for generous listening and are able to pick up on subtleties that often go unnoticed by ordinary people. This translates into their inability to be 100% pleased with much of their work. I can strongly relate to this, as I often wish I could go back and re-do most of what I have written in college.

Do you guys think that generous listening is unpractical in the rush of our busy everyday lives? Or can we channel our inner Sorkin and incorporate generous listening into our own writing and into our future projects in this class?

Three Lists

In class on Tuesday we were asked to make three lists. The first is a list of disciplines and skills that I need for my repurposed paper:

  • Writing
  • Biomedical science  25%
  • History and theory of medicine 20%
  • Women’s studies 25%

The second is a list of disciplines and skills that I need for my remediation paper:

  • Biomedical science  15%
  • History and theory of medicine 15%
  • Women’s studies 20%

The third is a list of disciples and/or methods that I still need to learn and work on in order to successfully complete my remediation.

  • I need to revise my repurposed essay
    • In my paper, my voice switches from a narrative mode to one that uses academic and theory driven registers. I need to figure out how to make the piece “flow” together with one cohesive mood.

Remediation Plan and Resources

(I think we’ve maxed out the number of ways to reword that title.)

I have decided to create a comic strip for my remediation project. Luckily, I already have most of the “equipment” I will need for this, since it requires very little. For the preliminary drawings, I will use the Pigma Mocron 05 pen I stole from art class my senior year of high school. It’s actually preferred by comic book artists because it doesn’t smear. I will also use the SketchPad Pro app on my iPad. It is very useful for creating clean images for the web. I purchased this app a few years ago and used it frequently for a few weeks but then I sort of abandoned it, nevertheless, I am excited to have an excuse to use it again.

I am unfamiliar with North Campus, but by reading other’s posts on the blog, it seems like they may have more resources that I could use. I couldn’t find anything from the Duderstadt website, but I may go there and investigate for myself. In the end, drawing requires very little resources, and with the amount of technology I have in my iPad alone, I don’t think I will need much else. If anyone knows if the Dude has resources for a project like this let me know!


Remediation Project Ideas

So I have been going through past gateway portfolios and  reading everyone’s posts on the blog about their ideas for remediation in order to gain some inspiration for this project. However, I don’t want to do something that many people have done before.

To give you some background on my repurposed paper, the topic is the role of biopower in the lives of women, particularly the medical interventions that regulate bodily functions, such as contraception and FSD treatments. It is based on an assignment from a class I took last semester that was primarily academic and contained a lot of confusing terminology. My repurposed paper orients this topic towards the subjects of the piece itself, women.

While brainstorming ideas for the remediation project, I recalled something that a lot of people, including my close friends, don’t know about me- that I have a quirky appreciation and interest in graphic novels/comic books. I took a class in high school in which I read many different types of graphic novels and learned how to create my own. I have begun to consider remediating my repurposed paper into a sort of short story in graphic form. However, I worry that this will result in a juvenile looking comic book that won’t be taken as seriously as it should. An idea that stems from this one is creating a video similar to those by “ASAP Science.” For those of you who aren’t familiar with these videos, I would narrate my paper while I create illustrations that clearly demonstrate the ideas presented. I think that this would make my paper much more engaging. I haven’t come across either of these ideas in past gateway portfolios. Hopefully these ideas are not redundant. If you have any input as to which of these ideas you think I should do or any other thoughts please share!

You’re going to be attacked by a shark.

I am impressed by the climate change analogies that my classmates have been posting this week. The analogy that I came up with during class was more like a lengthy scenario and not a familiar situation that could be used to represent the more complex issue of global warming.

It went something like this: Imagine… you’re on a row boat with a lot of other people- it’s a very long row boat- and there’s an even number of people on either side of the row boat- it’s a two lane row boat- and no one is paddling because that requires effort. All of a sudden, a great white shark is speeding towards the boat and everyone who sees it starts yelling at everyone to start rowing in the same direction in synchronized motion. If only a few people start rowing, the boat will simply circle in place. After some time being yelled at, everyone notices the shark. Some decide to start rowing, and some refuse to believe it’s a shark and insist, despite the straight trailing edge of the dorsal fin, that it is just a dolphin.

While most of us have probably seen Jaws, this isn’t exactly a personally familiar situation. What I have concluded from this exercise is that climate change is a very complex situation and it is unlike anything humans have had to cope with before. It’s not like your house in on fire.

In an attempt to make another analogy, it’s like the majority of citizens in a country want to mobilize for war with a country that the weapons manufacturers don’t view as an enemy. The enemy is climate change and the weapons manufacturers are big oil companies like Exxon and Bp, you get the idea. Still, nothing can fully portray the dire circumstances of climate change and what it means for everyone on the planet. Maybe the citizens want to go to war with aliens? Now I have surpassed my shark analogy in the level of outrageousness.

This is more difficult than I thought.

To argue or not to argue?

In class today, we got into a complex and somewhat confusing discussion about argument. Ultimately, all I can conclude is that arguing is incredibly difficult. What you are arguing about, who you are arguing with, and what are their expectations and orientation on the issue have to be considered.

We were all asked to respond to the following questions.

Is there ever an instance in which an argument is necessary?

Argumentation is necessary in order to make objective rational decisions. If people never argued, the world would operate by groupthink and we would disregard alternatives to certain decisions and overlook errors in our ways. I can think of numerous instances in history in which arguments should have been made. Take for instance the collective agreement amongst senior officers stationed at Pearl Harbor that the warnings of an invasion were not serious. Opposition is usually a good thing, because it forces you to check yourself. You may resolve the argument by realizing you were wrong, or, you may end up feeling more confident in your beliefs.

Is an argument ever a mistake?

In my opinion, arguing is rarely a mistake, however, it can sometimes strongly offend other people. I am not saying that arguing is a mistake when it hurts other people’s feelings, rather, I mean that it is a mistake when the person you want to argue with is not willing or motivated to engage with you or hear you out. This is often the case when the topic of the argument is based on religious or cultural beliefs in which people tend to be firmly grounded.

Another situation in which arguing is a mistake is when the act of arguing itself undermines your cause. I am particularly thinking about the climate change debate. The act of arguing is time consuming, and reversing climate change is dependent on time. If you believe that the extinction of humans is imminent, you are not going to want to wade around and consider your options (if only we had global groupthink on divestment).

Can you have both at the same time?

The topic of climate change- whether or not it is a problem and what the appropriate response to it should be- is particularly frustrating because, as I just stated, there is no time for arguing about it, and at the same time, arguing about it is inevitable. We cannot avoid arguing about climate change because it simply does not make sense to a rational human being to stop driving to work or to stop using the heating system in their homes (especially in these frigid temperatures) without examining other options.