Sometime between November and … now … it became now. I’m not quite sure when this happened, or how it happened1 … but it happened. Now that it’s now and no longer then, that which was must become what was going to be when then became now—which is now.
In that same spirit, the university felt it right and proper to commence a second term of classes following on the heels of the first term. I have six courses this term, three math courses, two philosophy courses, and an English course masquerading under the horribly ambiguous name of “Advanced Rhetoric.”
Two of my math courses, Linear Algebra II and Group Theory, are continuations of two of the courses I took last term. Linear Algebra II is, unsurprisingly, the conclusion to Linear Algebra I. We‘re learning about eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and diagonalization. I’m finding this course easier than the first part, in which I struggled somewhat. Group Theory and Ring Theory are related areas of abstract algebra. “Group theory” always sounds to me like some sort of bizarre sociological phenomenon, but I assure you, it’s a math course—complete with dusty chalkboard, incomprehensible symbols, and theorems named after dead white guys.
The third math course is Vector Calculus, which appears to be the answer to the question, “What happens when you design an art course for mathematicians?”2 Not only do we learn about parametric equations, polar curves, vectors, lines, and planes—we get to draw them too! I signed up to write down incomprehensible symbols, not draw them! :P
I’m taking both Logic and Critical Thinking, which complement each other nicely. Logic also comes in handy with math, and my background in math means the symbolic aspect of the course is easy.
Also complementary to logic is rhetoric, embodied in my “Advanced Rhetoric” course. The name is ambiguous because the particular topic is left to the professor. This year, the prof teaching the course specializes in classical rhetoric, so that’s what we’re learning. We’re starting with the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers and rhetoricians, particularly Aristotle3 In keeping with the course material, all of our assignments come from the progymnasmata, which is a sequence of fourteen assignments that students would begin at a young age and complete throughout their education. We’re doing a fable, a refutation, an encomium, and an argument. Additionally, we have to keep a “commonplace book.” At the beginning of every class, the prof dictates passages from a book of his choice—we‘ve done Virgil’s Aeneid, Tacitus’ Agricola, and even some I Corinthians. One of the not-so-secret consequences of this exercise will be an improvement in our ability to take down dictation, an ability that was integral to students in ancient Greece and has significantly lapsed since the 19th century.
Edit: Forgot to add my favourite quotation so far from my rhetoric prof:
Aristotle loved to classify things. A platypus would have really messed him up.
But that’s enough about me. Let’s talk about you for a moment. Did you know that you may just be a hologram? No? But wait, there’s more! The entire universe may just be a hologram. How unbelievably awesome yet intensely weird is that?
Hoping, as always, to post more regularly—I have some interesting ideas! I just need to find a good, routine spot in my weekly schedule where I can write blog posts.
- [ 1 ] If you know, please do explain it to me.
- [ 2 ] The real answer should be: DON’T.
- [ 3 ] He wrote an entire book called Rhetoric, dontcha know!
Last updated Friday, January 23, 2009 at 7:27 PM