Part I: Grades
So, as I hope many of you have noticed (still don’t have access to your Bing email addresses), the grades were not posted due to some technical difficulties and general miscommunications about the uploading procedures. They should be formally posted in a matter of weeks (after the break, but hopefully before); in any case, it will be as soon as possible. My sincere apologies for the delay.
In the haste of last week, I was unable to accommodate requests about grades; however, if you’d like to know your grade now, please feel free to email me: email@example.com and I will get back to you ASAP.
You can also call me, but my phone is dead — however, I will have a new phone today (which is 12/27, and on Friday at the latest), so to be on the safe side, please call/text on Friday should cellular devices be your preferred mode of communication.
The China tests were excellent — with a mean of 91.09 — and I greatly enjoyed seeing your selections from the Playlist Assignment. Seems like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu confused a lot of you, LOL!
Proud of you all.
Part II: A Zen Parable (i.e. an incarnation of The Giver Should Be Thankful)
I really gotta get some sleep, but I can’t go to bed now. The Brooklyn Italian Association or whatever had their monthly party and they were still drinking the anisette at 10:30… ahhh, screw it, I’m gonna listen to Sun Ra and read about chess theory and runes little longer.
I’ll sleep on the bus…
famous last words.
Ugh, gotta change that alarm, it’s so awful, turn it off turn it off turn it off. Can’t snooze, gotta get up, bite the bullet, do it, get to the train by 5:55 latest 6 LATEST. Don’t wanna have to sprint. Almost missed the bus that one time, cutting everyone at the CoachUSA counter, panting, “I’m really sorry, I really have to catch my bus, it leaves in 4 minutes, *gasp* I have students, I have to be there…”
Grab the thermos with pre-made miso soup that just needs hot water (#selfcare), grab the other thermos with the burdock root that supposedly helps with colds. Can’t afford to get sick again. Grab the duffel and throw in the Music of Asia textbook and… where are we this week? India still, OK, grab Siddhartha. OH WAIT, speakers, gotta make sure cuz the tabla is too cool to have any of its sound compromised by those speakers in FA27, blech. Computer charger, check… alright, that’s everything. Yesssss, out the door, let’s do this.
— 6:44 am —
OK, OK, 16 minutes, might have to sprint a little. that’s ok. oh sh**, this corridor is slippery and the bags are too heavy omg i’m going down this is real, this is really happeningggggg…
“I’m OK, I’m OK, thank you,” I say, too embarrassed to look the man who helped me up as I gathered my books off the ground. Judging by the edge of his sleeve, he was probably early 40’s, maybe six feet tall, probably 220 pounds. He may have had on a high school ring.
“Would you like so more coffee, Jillian?” asks A, server at Val’s Diner in the Bing Bus Terminal
*refills cup as I scribble notes on Carnatic classical music while reviewing Siddhartha’s relationship to Kamala*
“… I guess I don’t have to ask you at this point, do I?”
— 6:19 pm–
“Go ahead, Jillian,” says V, the driver from OurBus, in front of all the other passengers who are waiting in line.
Wow, everyone is glaring at me, haha. On the one hand, she took it upon herself to offer me this generous treatment every week, but it’s still unfair because I’ve only been waiting out here for like, a minute and all these people have been staking out their place in line in the cold. On the other hand…
*giddily strides onto bus*
— 9:46 pm —
Honestly, what even is the W train? Doesn’t it go like, up the East Side or something? I didn’t even know it ran through Times. Who even rides that train?? When the W shows up is even worse than when two R’s go by while the N is like, 16 minutes away. Ugh ugh ugh. Where is the NNNNNN….. meanwhile here, Q’s are zipping by every five seconds. Hmm… what if I took the Q? Is it walkable? Eh, nah. And if I’m gonna walk, I might as well just take the R, but it chugs along to every single stop and I’d still have to walk with all these bags. Plus, it’d prolly take longer than if I just waited for the N, and it would also mean I wouldn’t have to haul this gear for three avenue blocks.
I wonder if there’s anything good at the magazine stand?
— 11:06 pm —
door slams shut, bags drop on floor, contents promptly explode, stuff face with cold white rice with seaweed on top to form some semblance of a meal other than those peanuts and the mini Snickers bar I ate out of desperation at the Bing bus terminal, shower, zzzzzzzzz…
actually jk, how should you use pawns?
— 11:33 am, more or less every Friday–
Get up only after sleeping as much as my body can handle for a night, and linger over coffee and a bun from the Chinese bakery next door. Yes… another week for the books. Time to update the website and make it official.
Reflecting on our discussion of Zen parables and principles wayyyy back in the Japan Unit, it seems that, at its core, Zen is as much a mode of pedagogy (a way of teaching) as it is a way of life. Every parable we read has something to teach us, beginning with the very first (A Cup of Tea): “Like this teacup, your mind is already full of its own ideas. How can I teach you Zen if you don’t first empty your cup?”
Unlike the Tao, which is at once more abstract and specific, Zen parables are stories– examples of principles in action. We can read Zen parables as portraits: demonstrations of how a certain, yet undefined set of intellectual and spiritual principles are enacted by some truly, wonderfully wacky teachers.
If you review the Zen texts, you’ll notice that the teachers never preach Zen outright to attract students; we can easily see this in the parable about the drunk-turned-Zen Master. Indeed, it seems that Zen inevitably find its students through a process beyond comprehension (the Tao, perhaps? #intertextuality), who then have the free choice to seek out a teacher of their choosing: be it a person, a memory, an idea, a situation, or perhaps even a plant (how sweet the raspberry tasted!).
This is where we’ll leave #111. It was an honor and pleasure to have you as students– every moment, from Port Authority to FA27 and back, reading your tests and assignments in the Dim Sum restaurant next to my house (“Hey, are those yin yangs? Are you teaching about China??”) and on the train. Returning back to Zen principles, it must be explicitly noted that the soul of a teacher realizes and respects the undisputable fact that one’s students are, in actuality, the teachers. Reading your responses on the tests as well as your playlist assignments, each one of you taught me something new, offering a perspective that no one before you or after will ever conjure (and sometimes wrote answers so clever and funny that fits of laughter ensued). I was, and am, proud of your hard work, and all that you have accomplished this semester as scholars, listeners, and thinkers.
I will update here of any trips to Binghamton. And I dream of the infinite constellation of how our paths might meet again.
With respect, gratitude, and 愛,