Friday, May 28, 2004

Tips on doing a good presentation:

1. Don't prepare
2. Don't use cue cards
3. Make it up as you go along
4. Pick on students to get a class discussion going
5. Shamelessly accept praise afterwards
(I think I just beat Pat's intention to start a top-five list)

Let me explain.

I signed up to do my ISU presentation (worth 30%) last week. I haughtily looked at the requirements and volunteered to do it this week.

"I'll get it done over the weekend," I said to myself.

Yeah, and Don Quixote is a type of beer.

So I kept "forgetting" to prepare for this thing until yesterday. I fell asleep reading the first paragraph of an essay dedicated to explaining the absurbity of his writing - Franz Kafka's writing.

I photocopied and stapled together five story sketches of his (15 packages in total) and prepared to walk the green mile. I organized the presentation in my head within a span of seven minutes (the time it takes for my mom to drive me to school, sans pausing to yell at me to learn how to drive already).

The girl before me finished her presentation about the Life of Pi and fear.

My teacher asked her why we're so attracted to fear. The class almost unanimously agreed that it is because of the fight or flight reactive mentality; pleasure and pain is intertwined in our brain.

I said it could also be our fascination with cheating death, the illusion that we have power over our mortality.

That ended the class discussion real fast *sigh* I don't know why.

"Lily, you're up next."

"Ah, great ..."

The class went silent. I sulked to the door and opened it only to slam it shut again. I purposely dropped a pile of papers at my feet and proceeded to walk over the mess. I shuffled my feet to the front of the room and stood there, silently. I rummaged through my purse and slicked on my lipgloss, calmly putting it away to recite a quote ("The bone of his forehead obstructs his way; he knocks himself bloody against his own forehead.") Then I put on a red hairband with sequined devil horns stitched demurely on its felted padding. The class erupted in laughter.

"Absurdity!" I proclaimed. "THAT ... is the writing of Franz Kafka!"

The rest of the presentation consisted of lively conversations that introduced the students to the systematic torture of office employees living in a bureaucratic haven. I used examples from Office Space and Dilbert to illustrate some points (and referred back to Fil's presentation with the Matrix.) I asked the audience to take turns reading from the short sketches I prepared for them. I questioned some of the students, asking them why they were dissatisfied with Kafka's writing style.

"Why doesn't he give us a solution? He's just whining about his problems, but what is he doing to change his situation?"

Ironically, I had given each of them a copy of another sketch called "The Resolution" which did offer a solution to the pain of normality. But death isn't something they wanted to accept as an answer.

"He's passive, he's pointless," some complained.

"Maybe he's realistic," I replied. "Maybe he's showing us, the readers, that we live in a world where we aren't consequential. That we're replaceable and there's nothing we can do about it. Maybe it's a warning to anyone who believe they will be fulfilled at a desk job!"

After I finished, a huge sigh of relief released from my body, and my legs almost gave out from under me (I used to have chronic stage fright, but I've learned to control/defy it.) Mr. C, the Studies in Literature teacher, caught up to me during the beginning of lunch and told me it was a great presentation. I told him, I learned from my mistakes from last time (lie #1) and consciously changed the format to get people involved (lie #2). He said it was really fabulous and that, oddly enough, he didn't expect so many of the students to feel cheated from Kafka's stories because it didn't follow a format that contained a clear-cut conclusion. I agreed with him there. It's like with Hume. Most of what we do is based on "ought" statements rather than "should' statements. We should accept experimental and highly creative content, but we ought to stay within our comfort zone where there's less risk of the unknown and unusual.

***

I called the Spectator to tell I'm not planning to be here today (I just didn't feel like going). Jenn, the secretary, told me, "Ugh. It's not okay, because this is a job and a real job requires you to be here."

So I told her I'll get there as soon as possible. I called up my mom and she dropped everything to get me here. I see Jenn in the washroom.

"Hi Lily," she said, smiling.

"Hi Jenn. I ran here," I said, panting.

"Um, I think I have something for you to do today. Rick isn't here."

WHAT?! I'm not even supposed to be here if my supervisor isn't! Why didn't she tell me when I called?

Fucker!

***

"Lily, people are really weirded out by your constant Abed-hugging lately. They thought you hated him."

"I do, but I like controversy."

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