Saturday, January 16, 2010


Since some of my students are currently engaged in a complicated long-term activity, the kind we often call a  “project”, I’ve been pondering some various meanings of that word. It derives from the Latin “to throw forward”, as in “seeds are projected from the tree”, and lately I’ve been picturing my students doing just that – using this project to hurl themselves out into the academic world, hoping someone (including me) might catch sight of them speeding across the sky of learning like so many blazing arrows.  Indeed, their gazes in class sometimes seem extra intense these days, as if, inside themselves, they are speeding here and there across the literary landscape, searching for exotic landmarks, perhaps some rare ironies or a stretch of striking metaphors.  Who knows where they will eventually land when the project comes to a close, but I’m sure they’re hoping it’s someplace soft, hospitable, and satisfying, where they’ll be welcomed, conceivably, by appreciative supporters. Perhaps the students are also interested in using this project to project an image of themselves. Maybe they imagine a small instrument inside them that is able to shine an image on the front screen of their appearance, and they’re hoping my daunting long-term assignment will enable that image to be luminous with wisdom and self-assurance.  Possibly they see themselves, when they finally receive their good grade for the project, walking down the halls at school with the soft light of their own talents flashing out from some secret projector inside them.

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