Had a great day today but nothing really exceptional happened. Taught and talked with colleagues. An alum came by and we caught up. Worked on arguments and thought of myself as very lucky to have a lot of great people involved in our debate program. It's good to watch others teach and speak about something you've been in since you remember thinking. I remember that moment of realization so clearly when I was fourteen - the moment of, "oh, I can move other peoples' minds around by disagreement." I don't remember how I used to think before I started to think about debate. I also remember reading and writing notes about every page of the NTC CX Debate Handbook a classic text that probably doesn't teach anything I do today about debating but at the time I considered it a really special book.
Departing to Morocco tomorrow to teach debate again in that great country. I am reaching a point where I feel like it's time to pass the teaching of this art over to someone else, but the economic realities of the university make this impossible. I have no desire to see the program disappear, and a lot of desire to alter it in big ways. It's just a lot of labor at first before everything becomes normalized. I look forward to some good conversations with friends and some good food while there. I am also very excited to watch my students teach. I always get something good out of the experience.
Speaking of labor, I have to decide what books to bring. I really should only bring 2 although I'm sure I could read three while there. I don't plan to do much sightseeing as I've seen everything a bunch of times. So maybe 3 books. The trouble is the weight - gotta keep it light. I just recieved John McPhee's new book about writing and I want to continue my trajectory on historiography with Shlomo Sand's Twilight of History. I also need to start getting ready for the spring term, so I need to read Mitchell Duneier's new book Ghetto to see if it's a good read for the senior seminar on Rhetorics of Epistemology (definitely assigning Sidewalk again) as well as a book about the limits of consciousness as told by octopus researchers. I also need to re-read Ranciere's book on Disagreement since I plan to talk about disagreement as a major theme at my upcoming talk for Twitch.tv. I want to pull some of the better quotes and my notes on my previous reads don't really have what I want to include. Maybe I should bring post-its. I saw a colleague's note-taking method involved a lot of them. I called it "mobile marginalia" and I really like the idea. I am sure I have a few lurking around here somewhere.
So you can see the trouble I'm in. I think that I should bring McPhee, Ranciere, and maybe Duneier. That should do it. I hope I can stick to the plan and not throw my back out or something with a ridiculous set of books. Throwing in some of the copies of London Review of Books that I haven't read yet should be good. Gotta start on that list of books that I'm going to have the university pick up for me for being a part of the mid-career writing group. Also I often forget I have a really nice Kindle reading device with hundreds of 2 dollar books on it. So I should stuff that in an open sleeve of the bag as well.
Speaking of which, the new backpack rocked it today. Feeling much better about carrying stuff around in Rabat with it (and on campus it worked like a dream). It has a lot of pockets and I'm happy about that. More to come in Saturday's blog about it after I race through CDG with it to catch a connecting flight.
It's smelled like rain all day but it hasn't rained yet. Just got another whiff of it through my open window. Feels great and smells great but I wonder where the rain is. Been thinking about my book project that is now several years old and nowhere close to the midpoint. Smells good, feels good - where's the rain? Surprisingly did some jotting down of stuff that should go in the conclusion today. Was feeling inspired by the arguments, style, and content of a book I just finished, Regimes of History by Francois Hartog. In the first 3/4 of the book it's like watching someone swing an intellectual Claymore around - he's taking on some big weapons and making some big moves, and it looks really hard, and it's graceful, and it's all about the smallest stuff that really makes it work. Near the end he is making some almost pedagogical claims about historiography but never goes there - he stays clear of the prescriptive and sticks to the descriptive and a bit of the normative. It was somewhat inspiring, so I wrote a couple of paragraphs just to see what would come out. I think the book is ready to come out fully now, as I am finally in a position where I feel like I have the confidence to write it. Unlike other projects, I hope this one follows me around for a while and people talk about it. It's going to be about debate, but debaters are not going to like it. I wonder who will like it? I might go for a Howard Stern approach and seek to be most popular and most read by people who despise me and what I stand for. Might work. Works well in academia accidentally, so I have a bit of support there.
Tomorrow, being a travel day, I have a clear calendar: A trip to the pharmacy for some last-minute items and snacks, then packing, listening to music, and then off to the airport around 3:30 in the afternoon. I have some documents to scan for the new LLC I founded and some notes and powerpoints to make. The scans may come, they may not. And planes are made for notes, wine, and the curious sense of being over a mile above the sea and not really thinking about it that much. Looking forward to getting underway.