Those days, I sat on our front porch holding my daughter, my arms and chest vibrating with joy like a tuning fork. Atoms of our happiness fell in on one another like gears turning at the heart of the universe. When stars came out at noon, the meadow of my hollow hand was filled up with strange light. How can it be now that we are two separate islands in an ocean of blue water? I think of my own mother long ago, sitting on her porch with me. That distant island. When my daughter sits on her porch this summer, holding her own child I will watch her from my island. I will call to her over the blue water.
She likes to watch her children in the long grass, how they disappear, emerge, like they’re swimming in an ocean without current but the one of growing. See how the long blades part for them, how they close up all around, Watch the gold heads bob, hands reach up for the sun as if it’s the transportation of these years. Hear the silence, the safe silence. And then the muffled noise rolling through the shafts, secured forever by the wrinkled smile of her hearing. Children are nature’s people now, but her nature too, the one that says, play here, will later sigh, but how could I prevent you.
Guilt and remorse over Nazi atrocities and the horrors of World War II have consumed Germany for decades, influencing politics, culture and the arts, including cinema. The rise of the German New Wave of filmmakers in the 1970s (led by Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders and Rainer Fassbinder) was fueled in part by a desire to exorcise Germany’s dark past.
A professor of the theory and practice of social media, Clay Shirky, doesn’t let his students use electronic devices in his classes. It’s not just that he can’t compete with the hardware or the software. Studies show that multitasking is bad for the kind of cognitive work required in a classroom. It has a negative effect on memory and recall. One study showed that students who multitasked in class scored lower than those who didn’t. The presence of electronic devices also distracts those who aren’t using them. “I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process,” Shirky said (Washington Post, September 25).