Sunday, October 7, 2012

School, Piano, etc.

I don't have my usual "oomph" this semester. Kinda dragging through, doing the required work and my mid-term reviews were all 'As' except, of course, Italian, and after performing the calculations required to convert the strange point system they've substituted into the one the rest of the world uses, it looks like I'm running my usual shaky 'B' in there. But the stress of managing classes where most of the work is essentially unchallenging busy-work and balancing my work, along with personal issues, is taking its toll, I think.

By unchallenging, let me give an example. I have a core requirement called "Depth of Inquiry," which is a choice of classes designed to hone and refine the analytical skills of freshmen. I took "Eyes and Vision," which is a fairly interesting class involving the history of vision research, involving the investigations of ancient Greeks, the Renaissance masters, Isaac Newton,  Descartes, etc. Fine so far, except the class scrapes the very thinnest epidermal layer of these mighty intellects. Okay, I understand it's a survey class. But now get this: we get a weekly study guide with the answers to the tests. Basically it's a list of questions with asterisks next to the questions that are going to be on the test. So we look up the answers, fill them in, and remember them for the quizzes and tests.

I've also discovered all the art classes--and I've taken three so far--all teach the same things. They have a party-line and you can pretty much learn everything they have to teach in about three weeks.  My senior-level Drawing Class (Drawing IV) has non-majors in it. To my surprise. And these people, not to hold it against them, can draw about as well as my four-year-old-niece.  As I said, I don't hold it against them, as they're neither artists nor art majors, but they're in the same class as I, who am both.

My ennui seems to be shared by my fellow students. Last spring semester had an air of electric desperation about it, as we all struggled to keep up with the assignments and to outdo ourselves. This fall, everyone has a "whatever" cloud of indifference hovering over them.

Of course, my particular dissatisfaction stems from m growing realization that IU, and possibly all universities, is operating a scam on the level of a time-share operation. I transferred to IU with 120 credits. You need 121 to graduate. But the credits from my former colleges weren't up to the exalted standards of IU, because they prefer transfer students have at least 20 hours on campus. Very well. That's a couple of semesters.

THREE semesters later, they're still adding classes to my requirements. I applied to the Individualized Major Program because apparently in order to get a BFA, I would have to begin all over as a freshman. Never mind my 120 credits--it's a long story. But the IMP program would allow me to use them. I would be out in two more easy semesters. Or so it would seem.

I put together a proposal that meets (actually exceeds) the requirements for graduation for IU, my proposed major: Literary Illustration. Translation: Writing and illustrating my own books. I submitted a draft and it was "suggested" that I and my adviser consider expanding my proposal to include three or more classes outside my major to add diversity. Understand two points: (1) there are already core requirements for diversity which I have already met (2) three or more classes adds at least one more semester. Remember that Time-share scam? I have no doubt in my mind that even if I do this, I'll apply for graduation to be told I need to take one more semester of something or other, and it will be some easy, totally BS class like Kenyan Folk Dance, because due to a new university policy one or more of my transferred classes are no longer an acceptable replacement for cultural diversity. No doubt. In my mind.

Bottom line is this. I don't need this degree, it's unfinished business from my past which would give me personal satisfaction to close. If my proposal is refused or addenda are suggested, I'll thank them for their time and this will be my last semester at IU. After all, it's not like there's a job waiting for me at the end of this. I'm a guy ten years away from retirement, and a degree in Literary Illustration ain't going to make me a hot ticket. I'll mourn over not finishing my business, but I'm not going to be scammed just to get a piece of paper.

But I may be tilting at windmills. It may all work out and my next big life achievement will be the world's only person holding a degree in Literary Illustration. We'll see.