Report # 2: first practice run

Here are some students’ practice runs for Report #2. There are two tries at Passage # 1, and one at Passage # 2 (for the originals, see the previous post). Kudos to these students for putting their work out there!

Here’s the first translation of Passage # 1:

Nicholas Beck, a silver-haired Professor of Fine Art was paired with Helen when they were asked to sit at the table. Helen seems doubtful when Jasper told her that Nicholas is a celibate homosexual. Helen was also told that Nicholas moved to Gloucester fairly recently from Cambridge, and he used to buy wine for his college. She seems to be amused by Nicholas’ high-table trick of speaking urbanely about any topic without alluding to anything memorable or profound. Jasper kept on asking Nicholas anxiously what he thought of the wine. Nicholas politely approved of Jasper’s offerings, such as Australian reds, and said “Australian reds really have improved out of all recognition.” Nevertheless, his polite comments reveal his implicit contempt for Jasper’s wine offerings.

And here’s the second:

A silver-haired man, Nicholas Beck, the Professor of Fine Art , was the only one who entered the room without a date, and was naturally paired up with Helen for table seating. Jasper informed Helen that he was a celibate homosexual who recently moved to Gloucester from Cambridge. Helen seemed to enjoy Nicholas’ high-table trick of speaking urbanely about any topic without alluding to anything memorable or profound. Jasper anxiously asked Nicholas for his thoughts on the wine. Beck was polite, yet critical of Jasper’s offerings of the Australian red and said “ Australian reds really have improved out of all recognition”

Here is the translation of Passage # 2:

I found myself, once again, discussing consciousness with Ralph Messenger. This time we spoke about subjective experiences (or ‘qualia’ in his sterile, scientific vocabulary). I came equipped with the Henry James quotation, to me, a perfect example of making the subjective objective, of relating ‘qualia’. James, precisely and elegantly, offered a direct view into Kate’s consciousness, into every “slippery and sticky” detail, all from the comfort of third person narrative. Of course, this wasn’t enough for him.  He had me repeat it, took a moment to consider it, only to brush it aside as ‘folksy’. I would like to note that he, perhaps deliberately, forgot Kate Croy’s last name while dismissing Henry James. To him, it was simply the product of James’s mind, nothing more than an invention, not a true relation of ‘qualia’. It seems he won’t accept answers from literature to questions from science.

I’ll keep posting these as I get them, and I’ll communicate my impressions and some pointers directly to the contributors. We’ll take some of them up in class. This exercise will work best if you also read these attempts and take notes to share with the class what works, what might be done otherwise, what opportunities are missed, etc. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it) that responses should be respectful and tactful–sometimes it’s easy to forget this when the writing is anonymous.

A quick note on “What’s It Like to Be a Vampire Bat?” This is the funniest part of the novel, in my opinion. If it’s unreadable to you, consider reading it aloud.


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