Meme: Passion Quilt

by Carl Dyke

Thanks to Rough Theory for tagging me for my very first meme! It’s nice to be included in the reindeer games despite my garishly glowing red nose. I will try to humbly bumble my way through.

The meme is this:

“Post a picture or make/take/create your own that captures what YOU are most passionate for students to learn about.

Give your picture a short title.

Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt.”

Link back to this blog entry.

Include links to 5 (or more) educators.”

And it’s hard, chums, because as usual what I really want to do is question the question. I’m on record arguing that the primary value of higher education in the humanities is skills training in dispassionate analysis. I’m trying to turn my students, most of them from non-academic backgrounds, into the sorts of people I and Mikhail enjoy talking with. People who, as Bourdieu says, share an interest in disinterest. People with broad senses of perspective who know how to intercept and manage their own emotional responses; who can therefore produce thinking that doesn’t instantly profume the halls with bias, forcing polite others into the mad dog defenses. Like a good little philosophe, and as a teacher with long experience of listening patiently to incoherent passionate rants, I approach passion with some suspicion.

But passion is not automatically inconsistent with quality analysis. One of the great acquisitions of recent cognitive neuropsychology is firm proof that our motivations come from our emotions – or better, are developed in feedback loops between feeling and reasoning. (Better still, emotions and reasoning are not decisively different mental operations but are interrelated moments of our adaptive systems.) All the more reason to become carefully self-reflective about the ways our thinking gets shaped and deployed in affective interaction with our environments. For this reason I now tell my students I agree with them that history is useless: the value of history is precisely that we don’t much care about it and therefore it doesn’t hyperactivate our biases, offering a skills-development lab for quality analysis that can then be transferred to situations where our passions and interests are more engaged. Passion has to be relativized and then yoked up to competence in order to be effective, that’s my point.

I therefore tried to find an image that stimulated a dispassionate desire to figure things out, rather than a passionate desire to judge by embracing or condemning. Here’s the best I could do on short notice:

This is, of course, by Kliban. And if you get all passionate and outraged about the rights of cartoon pigs, there’s not much I can do for you.

Now the links. I’m pretty new to all this, so my claim on other bloggers’ attention and time is dubious. I hope this looks like fun. I admire the diverse wills to educate at each of the following, among which are group blogs that could in principle produce multiple responses if they so chose.


Perverse Egalitarianism

Cultural Parody Center

Politics and Letters

Larval Subjects

7 Responses to “Meme: Passion Quilt”

  1. As I begin to survey the wider world of responses to this meme, thanks to the wonders of the possibly related post, I find that we are passionate about teaching all kinds of wackiness. A perspective no doubt mirrored.

  2. @Carl Thanks for the tag. In this case, I feel honoured, especially in such learned company. However, visual thinking isn’t so much my thing so I think I’ll pass on this one.
    Also, I’ve been tagged a few times last year and I’m not sure the time is right for yet another tagfest. The “memetic marketplace” is crowded enough, at this point.
    On the other hand, following links between blogs included in this round of tags can lead to interesting results. Potential additions to my blogroll.

  3. Fair enough… so if the meme had asked for a song instead of a picture, what might you have chosen?


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