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The First Section

The Long View

By Adam I. Arenson

"Hello, and welcome to the first section of Literature and Arts D-16: 'The Image of Heraclitus in Democratic America and Nazi Germany, a Story of Journey and Quest.' As you hopefully all know by now, I will be your TF for this course.

"In a moment, we will go around and briefly learn a little about each of our fellow classmates. Not enough to actually remember, but enough so that for the rest of the semester you must cringe when passing them in hallways and nod vigorously when agreeing with them in section, so as not to reveal that you do not remember their names or anything about them except that you share this 53-minute slice of Hell every Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock.

"I do want to apologize for the section time; I have been told that we did not expect nearly the turnout we have received. In fact, we assumed this would be one of those courses listed in the course book that no one would actually take. Tuesday-Thursday 8:30 to 11:00? A midterm, a final, two research papers and an interpretative dance? I mean, come on! But then again, no one expected eminent professors of the Iliad, the Boston Brahmin and of anything Italian-American to decide to take the semester off to align their shakras, then, did we?

"As I say, I gather this from the professor, as I was just added as a TF in this course yesterday. Let me tell you a little about myself. Though I was a biochemistry major at UCLA, I then received a master's degree in astronomy at Cornell before dropping out to study traffic patterns in the Harvard Business School parking lot. I do have experience with Harvard sections, however--I visited one when deciding where to go to college--and so I feel very comfortable teaching this course.

"Given the nature of my work, it is important for me to stay on-site at the business school parking lot as much as possible, so I will expect you to turn in your papers there. I have no e-mail out there and no phone, so the best way to ask about anything is to go over to the parking lot and find me. Approach the maroon VW Beetle--always from the left!--and knock on the window. My office hours have been arranged by the department in Vanserg, and, again, due to the nature of my project, I will only be able to hold them between 10 p.m. and midnight on Fridays and between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Sundays. There will be two mandatory meetings for each of you in office hours to discuss your interpretive dance, so I will be passing around a sign-up sheet later in the section.

"I also have been told that the books are all sold out at the Coop and that the sourcebook--due to a combination of copyright issues, a labor stoppage and the head TF being put on probation for taking a cut of the $119 sticker price--will not be available until about a week before the midterm. Given the unique "approach to knowledge" in this class, it may be hard for us to proceed without the reading material, though the professor has provided the TFs with copies of his lectures, which I may read through again with you, word for word, to fill the section time. I am actually looking forward to seeing the readings, as my background in the area is rather weak, though I did get the job over the other two people the professor approached because I could spell 'Heraclitus.'

"For all these reasons, I am really interested in hearing what you all think are the interrelations between the key themes in this class: Greek historians, American politicians, German excursions and the need for many of you to pass this class in order to graduate. I am also interested in your feedback about how section goes, and if you know where I can find the best coffee, alternative music and a tangerine turtleneck. Finally, I recommend telling me what you think of me as we go along. The worst CUE Guide ratings in the world won't hurt me, because in the fall I am moving on to bigger and better parking lots where, inevitably, someone else will need a teaching fellow at the last moment, once again.

"Ok, so on to introductions. Now, who would like to begin?"

Adam I. Arenson '00-'01 is a History and Literature concentrator in Lowell House. His column appears on alternate Fridays.

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