Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Robe of Wisdom"

This poem is spillover from the September 8, 2020 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart and rix_scaedu. It also fills the "zaffre (sapphire blue)" square in my 9-1-19 card for the Arts and Crafts Festival Bingo. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"The Robe of Wisdom"

[Friday, December 4, 2015]

After her last class let out, Dana
went to the Crossroads Thrift Shop.

She needed more winter tops,
preferably sweaters or cardigans,
although she wouldn't mind flannels.

Descending the staircase always
felt like entering a treasure cave.

Soon Dana found a navy sweater,
then sorted through the flannel shirts
until she found a red-and-white one
with stripes of midnight blue so dark
that they looked almost black.

When she turned to face
the coat rack, she spotted
an open-front robe that
was so covered in patches
she couldn't even see
the original fabric.

Most of it looked like
some shade of denim, but
some patches were sky blue,
others were almost ivory,
and there were several
of deep sapphire blue --
zaffre, that was the name.

She saw some brown marks
on the front, probably from
tea stains, but they blended in
with patchwork and did not
detract from its appearance.

Curious, Dana tried it on.

It felt warm and heavy. It was
longer than it looked, too, since
the sleeves were so deep.

It came down just past
her hips, which for Dana
was actually pretty good.

She was so tall that most coats
barely made it beyond her waist.

Dana took her selections to
the counter and checked out.

When she got back to her apartment,
she put away the new tops, except
for the denim robe which she wore
over her long-sleeved shirt.

Then she sat down to meditate.

She put the brass pins in
the candle to mark the time,
so they would fall and ring the bell
as the candle slowly burned down.

Dana knew that meditation was
important, but it still felt like a chore.

No matter how much time she
put into it, she could barely lift
a feather on purpose, and yet
whenever she got upset or
excited, a storm of paper
swirled all around her.

Today, though, it felt
different to her somehow.

She could almost imagine
hands on her shoulders,
gently pressing her against
the floor, grounding her.

When Dana heard
the final chime, she
opened her eyes.

The feather floated,
as steady as stone.

She watched, amazed,
as it slowly drifted
down to the table.

What had changed?

Dana hadn't done
anything different, except ...

She looked at the robe,
her fingers following the stitches
that held its many patches in place.

Curious, she went to her computer
and searched for descriptions
that matched her robe.

Dana discovered that
the style was called boro,
or 'tatters' and the stitching
was known as sashiko.

It also reminded her of samue,
the plain indigo robes that
Buddhist monks wore
while doing their chores.

Maybe her robe had
belonged to a monk,
or if not an actual monk,
then some other Buddhist
who had practiced mindfulness
enough for it to sink into the fabric
like the tea stains on the shoulders.

Dana had a pair of favorite jeans
ripped so much that they were
too cold to wear in winter.

So she brought out her jeans
and her mending kit and
the bag of fabric scraps.

She didn't have anything
exactly the same color, but
that was okay -- her robe
was all colors of blue
from sky to zaffre.

Dana began patching
her worn jeans with
careful stitches that
looked like snowflakes
falling on the dark fabric.

It was its own kind of meditation.

* * *

Notes:

Dana Kristeva -- She has tawny-fair skin, brown eyes, and shoulder-length chestnut hair with just a little wave. She is tall and lanky with a long face. She is 19 years old in fall of 2015. Dana lives in Onion City where she just entered her sophomore year at the University of Chicago. She has a major in Philosophy and a minor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.
Origin: Dana began flickering in high school, and still doesn't have much control.
Uniform: Her college capsule wardrobe runs to jeans and T-shirts in black, white, and blue. She also likes flannel shirts and sweatshirts. She keeps a few nicer things for special occasions.
Qualities: Good (+2) Courtesy, Good (+2) Crafts, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Japanese Culture and Language, Good (+2) Philosophy
Poor (-2) Tall Girl Problems
Powers: Poor (-2) Telekinesis
Dana can lift small, lightweight things such as paper or feathers. Doing so on purpose requires a lot of concentration. But when she gets upset or excited, small things fly around her and it's hard to make them stop.
Motivation: To gain control.

Philosophy Major at the University of Chicago

Summary of Requirements: Standard Major
Two of the following: 200
PHIL 25000 History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy (A 2015)
PHIL 26000 History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy (Winter 2015)
PHIL 27000 History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century S16
Required: PHIL 20100 Elementary Logic (or approved alternative course in logic) (Autumn 2014) 100

One of the following: 300
One from field A and two from field B
Two from field A and one from field B
*PHIL 22209. Philosophies of Environmentalism and Sustainability. 100 Units. (Autumn 2014)
* PHIL 21002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. 100 Units. (A Spring 2015)
* PHIL 23503. Issues in Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness and Self-Consciousness. 100 Units. (Spring 2016)

Four additional courses in philosophy *
* PHIL 21214. The Philosophy of Art. 100 Units. (Winter 2014)
* PHIL 21420. Introduction to the Problem of Free Will. 100 Units. (Spring 2015)
* PHIL 29700. Reading and Research. 100 Units. (Autumn 2015)
* PHIL 21499. Philosophy and Philanthropy. 100 Units. (Winter 2015) 400
Total Units 1000

Course Descriptions

PHIL 20100. Elementary Logic. 100 Units. (Autumn 2014)
An introduction to the concepts and principles of symbolic logic. We learn the syntax and semantics of truth-functional and first-order quantificational logic, and apply the resultant conceptual framework to the analysis of valid and invalid arguments, the structure of formal languages, and logical relations among sentences of ordinary discourse. Occasionally we will venture into topics in philosophy of language and philosophical logic, but our primary focus is on acquiring a facility with symbolic logic as such.
Instructor(s): G. Schultheis Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): CHSS 33500, HIPS 20700, PHIL 30000

PHIL 21002. Human Rights: Philosophical Foundations. 100 Units. (Spring 2015)
Human rights are claims of justice that hold merely in virtue of our shared humanity. In this course we will explore philosophical theories of this elementary and crucial form of justice. Among topics to be considered are the role that dignity and humanity play in grounding such rights, their relation to political and economic institutions, and the distinction between duties of justice and claims of charity or humanitarian aid. Finally we will consider the application of such theories to concrete, problematic and pressing problems, such as global poverty, torture and genocide. (A) (I)
Instructor(s): B. Laurence Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 21002, PHIL 31002, INRE 31602, HIST 29319, LLSO 21002, HIST 39319, MAPH 42002, HMRT 31002

PHIL 21214. The Philosophy of Art. 100 Units. (Winter 2014)
This course is an introduction to the philosophy of aesthetics, with a focus on art and art objects. With respect to art, our questions will include: What is art? What is the point of making art? What is it to appreciate art? (Does discursive knowledge (of the technique, the history of the painting or its subjects, the artist's life, etc.) help or hinder this appreciation?) What is the metaphysical character of art objects (symphonies, paintings, novels, etc.)? What is the ethical status of art? (Were Plato's ethical suspicions about art warranted?) With respect to aesthetics more generally, our questions will include: is beauty in the eye of the beholder? (What is it for something to be in the eye of the beholder?) Does beauty track (or even constitute) scientific truth? If so: why? If not, why have so many mathematicians, physicists, and biologists been preoccupied with the beauty of their theories?
Instructor(s): B. Callard Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): PHIL 31214

PHIL 21420. Introduction to the Problem of Free Will. 100 Units. (Spring 2015)
The problem of free will stands at the crossroads of many of the central issues in philosophy, including the theory of reasons, causation, moral responsibility, the mind-body problem, and modality. In this course we will draw on ancient, early modern, and current work to try to understand, and gather the materials of a solution to, the problem.
Instructor(s): B. Callard Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 21499. Philosophy and Philanthropy. 100 Units. (Winter 2015)
Perhaps it is better to give than to receive, but exactly how much giving ought one to engage in and to whom or what? Recent ethical and philosophical developments such as the effective altruism movement suggest that relatively affluent individuals are ethically bound to donate a very large percentage of their wealth to worthy causes-for example, saving as many lives as they possibly can, wherever in the world those lives may be. And charitable giving or philanthropy is not only a matter of individual giving, but also of giving by foundations, corporations, non-profits, non-governmental and various governmental agencies, and other organizational entities that play a very significant role in the modern world. How, for example, does an institution like the University of Chicago engage in and justify its philanthropic activities? Can one generalize about the various rationales for philanthropy, whether individual or institutional? Why do individuals or organizations engage in philanthropy, and do they do so well or badly, for good reasons, bad reasons, or no coherent reasons? This course will afford a broad, critical philosophical and historical overview of philanthropy, examining its various contexts and justifications, and contrasting charitable giving with other ethical demands, particularly the demands of justice. How do charity and justice relate to each other? Would charity even be needed in a fully just world? (A)
Instructor(s): B. Schultz Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): The course will be developed in active conversation with the work of the UChicago Civic Knowledge Project and Office of Civic Engagement, and students will be presented with some practical opportunities to engage reflectively in deciding whether, why and how to donate a certain limited amount of (course provided) funding.
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 21499, MAPH 31499, PLSC 21499

PHIL 22209. Philosophies of Environmentalism and Sustainability. 100 Units. (Autumn 2014)
Many of the toughest ethical and political challenges confronting the world today are related to environmental issues: for example, climate change, loss of biodiversity, the unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, and other threats to the well-being of both present and future generations. Using both classic and contemporary works, this course will highlight some of the fundamental and unavoidable philosophical questions presented by such environmental issues. What do the terms "nature" and "wilderness" even mean, and can "natural" environments as such have ethical and/or legal standing? Does the environmental crisis demand radically new forms of ethical and political philosophizing and practice? Must an environmental ethic reject anthropocentrism? If so, what are the most plausible non-anthropocentric alternatives? What counts as the proper ethical treatment of non-human animals, living organisms, or ecosystems? What fundamental ethical and political perspectives inform such approaches as the "Land Ethic," ecofeminism, and deep ecology? Is there a plausible account of justice for future generations? Are we now in the Anthropocene? Is "adaptation" the best strategy at this historical juncture? How can the wild, the rural, and the urban all contribute to a better future for Planet Earth? (A)
Instructor(s): B. Schultz Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): Field trips, guest speakers, and special projects will help us philosophize about the fate of the earth by connecting the local and the global. Please be patient with the flexible course organization! Some rescheduling may be necessary in order to accommodate guest speakers and the weather!
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 22209, PLSC 22202, HMRT 22201, GNSE 22204

PHIL 23503. Issues in Philosophy of Mind: Consciousness and Self-Consciousness. 100 Units. (Spring 2016)
The imagination of many contemporary intellectuals-including philosophers, physicists, and cognitive scientists of various stripes-is gripped by problems surrounding consciousness. Most notably, philosophers have been entirely stumped by the question of how something like conscious awareness arise in a material world. In this course we shall investigate the assumptions that lie behind this question, in order to penetrate the aura of mystery surrounding it. A central theme of the course shall be that, in order to tackle the puzzles surrounding consciousness, we shall need understand self-consciousness better. (B)
Instructor(s): R. O'Connell Terms Offered: Spring

PHIL 25000. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. 100 Units. (Autumn 2015)
An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good.
Instructor(s): TBD Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.
Equivalent Course(s): CLCV 22700

PHIL 26000. History of Philosophy II: Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy. 100 Units. (Winter 2015)
A survey of the thought of some of the most important figures of this period, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume.
Instructor(s): D. Moerner Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in humanities required; PHIL 25000 recommended.
Equivalent Course(s): MDVL 26000, HIPS 26000

PHIL 27000. History of Philosophy III: Kant and the 19th Century. 100 Units. (Spring 2016)
Immanuel Kant's "critical" turn set off a revolution in 19th-century philosophy. We will trace its effects as well as the reactions against in the post-Kantian German Philosophy, in particular of Fichte, Hegel and Marx. Our focus will be conception of ethics and the philosophy of right. The course will begin with the investigation of Kant's famous Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals that articulates the project to grounding all ethical obligations in the idea of freedom or autonomy. Then we will look at the beginnings Kant's Doctrine of Right in his Metaphysics of Morals: his reflections on our relation to concrete other wills in space and time. Next will be the discussion of Fichte's challenge in his Foundations of Natural Right. A proper philosophy of right, Fichte argues has to include an account of our original knowledge and relation to concrete other wills. The most radical and complete development of this thought we will discuss in Hegel's Philosophy of Right that seeks to derive from the idea of freedom not just formal constraints for action, but knowledge of the actuality of our community in he calls "ethical life". We will conclude with the Marx critique of the very idea of right.
Instructor(s): M. Haase Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

PHIL 29700. Reading and Research. 100 Units. (Autumn 2015)
Reading and Research.
Instructor(s): Staff Terms Offered: Autumn Spring Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of Instructor & Director of Undergraduate Studies. Students are required to submit the college reading and research course form.


Minor Program in East Asian Languages and Civilizations
Students in other fields of study may complete a minor in EALC. The minor in EALC requires a total of seven courses chosen in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies. No more than three of these courses may be in an East Asian language (credit by petition may not be used for this language option). Students who plan to pursue an EALC minor are encouraged to take EALC 10800-10900-11000 Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia I-II-III to meet the general education requirement in civilization studies.

(Dana was already fluent in Japanese, having taken 4 years in high school.)

EALC 10800 Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia I (Autumn 2014)
EALC 10900 Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia II (Winter 2014)
EALC 11000 Introduction to the Civilizations of East Asia III (Spring 2015)

EALC 19201. Japan in the Age of the Samurai, 1500-1868. 100 Units. (Spring 2016)
EALC 26101. Buddhism. 100 Units. (Winter 2015)
JAPN 24900. Pre-Modern Japanese: Kindai Bungo I. 100 Units. (Autumn 2015)
EALC 28800. Children of the Dragon: Superpowers in East Asia (Autumn 2016) (T-American)

Course Descriptions

EALC 19201. Japan in the Age of the Samurai, 1500-1868. 100 Units. (Spring 2016)
The sword-wielding samurai is perhaps the best known image of early modern Japan in popular culture, but while they were the political elite, they were the minority within a complex and rapidly evolving society, one in which commoners were the drivers of economic and social change. Through lectures and discussions, this course explores the society and culture of Japan's early modern period with a focus on the political structure, economic change, gender and the family, and popular and elite culture.
Instructor(s): S. Burns Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): No previous knowledge of Japanese history is required.
Note(s): History Gateways are introductory courses meant to appeal to 1st- through 3rd-yr students who may not have done previous course work on the topic of the course; topics cover the globe and span the ages.
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 19201

EALC 26101. Buddhism. 100 Units. (Winter 2015)
This course will survey central features of the Buddhist traditions in South, Central, and East Asia, over its roughly 2500 year history. Attention will be paid to the variety of disciplinary orientations (historical, philological, anthropological, sociological, economic, archaeological, philosophical) that may be taken to illuminate various aspects of the traditions. Consideration will also be given to the concurrent rise of distinctive Buddhist responses to modernity and the modern/academic study of Buddhism.
Instructor(s): Christian Wedemeyer Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): RLST 26101

EALC 24090. Japanese Woodblock Prints: From 1660 to the Present. 100 Units. (Spring 2017)
Despite the availability of moveable type, woodblock printing-in which each printed sheet was produced by an intricately hand-carved block-was the main reproductive technology in early modern Japan (roughly 1600 to 1850) for both texts and images. In these years, Japan's high literacy rates and booming urban publishing industry gave rise to an array of fascinating illustrated books and prints-from theater ephemera and guidebooks to "art" prints, landscape series, and supernatural tales-that offer interesting points of comparison with early modern printing in the West. Drawing on a recent exhibition at the Smart Museum, this course will consider Japanese woodblock prints as artistic and social objects during the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. While viewing actual prints in area collections, we will discuss style and technique, the representation of class and gender, the world of the pleasure quarters, illustrated plays and fiction, urban growth and travel, censorship, and the supernatural.
Instructor(s): C. Foxwell Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 34090, ARTH 24090, EALC 34090

JAPN 24900. Pre-Modern Japanese: Kindai Bungo I. 100 Units. (Autumn 2015)
This course focuses on the reading of scholarly Japanese materials with the goal of enabling students to do independent research in Japanese after the course's completion. Readings are from historical materials written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): JAPN 20300 or equivalent, or consent of instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): JAPN 34900

See Dana's college capsule wardrobe plus extra tops.

This is the Robe of Wisdom.

Here are Dana's boro jeans. Learn how to make them.

* * *

Samue (作務衣) is the work clothing of Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, worn during samu. It is typically dark blue or brown cotton or linen.

Millennials date from approximately 1981 to 1996. Most of them are more inclined to discard than repair damaged items.

Crossroads Thrift Shop fills the basement of a big brick building. Stairs lead down to the store. It sells housewares, books, clothes, and other things.

Boro and sashiko make up the art of Japanese mending. Learn how to do boro and browse some sashiko patterns.

The BEL is a candle with brass pins stuck in it, resting in a brass bowl. As the candles melt, the pins fall out and ring the bowl like a bell, serving as a meditation timer. Watch a video of it in use.
Tags: crafts, cyberfunded creativity, ethnic studies, fantasy, fishbowl, magic, networking, poem, poetry, reading, spirituality, writing
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