Class Notes, December 2011

Eurythmic movement contracting and simultaneously expanding the two alternate squares and crosses of the octagon, the two alternate pentagons and pentagrams of the decagon, moving in big space, with each other; after the initial teenage distaste, they move beautifully, accurately, gracefully, these geometric and organic patterns across the floor. Then to bring this physical knowledge, this spatial knowledge to the page, to draw these shapes and movements, was something quite different from an intellectual or abstract lesson. ( But they did not want to perform this for their parents! )

   The haunting, musical early poems of William Butler Yeats, and the lilting, pithy, canny wisdom of Robert Burns, the melancholic, morose, adolescent, echoing psalms of Poe, the whimsy and absurdity of Ogden Nash and Dr. Seuss, and limericks and Shel Silverstein, all recited beautifully in class, standing, in some cases from memory. I asked them to perform for you.Absolutely not! So instead we had our little back-water carnival based loosely on our continuing tracking of the European Debt Crisis. Relaxed, pleasant ( thanks for all the food! ) but without the challenge of real Presentation. Alas.
   We  took on the Diamond Interchanges of the French engineers, a complicated, intertwining braiding pattern, designed to avoid serious left turn accidents ( T-bones ) at busy highway interchanges. They were carefully drawn by the students and finally understood; a very contemporary new traffic pattern just beginning to be employed in the U.S. Thus geometry, form drawing, weaving, engineering, physics, social policy and public safety all woven into one lesson.
   ” It was as if you threw the apple up and instead of falling back down it just kept going up! ” So marveled the recent Nobel Laureate at his astonishment at discovering that all the precepts and constructs of Physics and Astrophysics were undone by his findings; corroborated simultaneously by parallel researchers: that the Universe, for all its’ gravity and contraction, was actually expanding – what energy was it, what unknown forces, contradicted the weighing down of matter – dark energy? What glorious discussions we had in class on that cosmic surprise!
   Then again we hear that the God Particle is near discovery in the atom smashers of Europe. What will that mean? Again a lively conversation breaks out about creation, existence, genetics and religion at the Finnstitute.
   My friend Bones at Cayuga Lumber lets the students pick through some piles of cut-offs in the saw room. They look for imagery in the wood grain that they can bring out with paint. We go to my art show at Temple Beth El and I show them some oils on wood I’ve done using the grain as the main inspiration. Back at school in the Foundation kitchen they let the wood work its’ magic with color and brush. A sense of discovery and delight fills their faces.
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