“Excuse me, ma’am,” the attendant says, averting his eyes. He reaches awkwardly for my mother’s elbow, then points down the hall. “This way.”
Mother looks dimly perplexed, as if trying to remember what she’s forgotten. Perhaps where she misplaced her purse or some other item indispensable to functioning outside the house? She does not notice that everything about her person is, as always, intact: muted paisley suit with matching hat and bag, sensible but stylish heels — no sling-backs for Mrs. Anderson — and short, fixed coiffure. She turns slowly in the attendant’s direction, an index finger lingering on her coral lips as if deep in thought and about to point out the result of her deliberation.
Horatio. Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Hor-a-tio.
You know how some people say everything happens for a reason? I think they’re right. And anyway, if this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. If this is a dream, don’t wake me. I am guilty, guilty, guilty, but I don’t care! I have begun watching reruns of CSI: Miami.
Horatio. Steps into the frame. Perpendicular.
It wasn’t long into my first episode of CSI: Miami that the perpendicularity of Horatio Caine announced itself to me. Subtle, at first. Tucked discretely beneath the cool paradoxically radiating heat. Insouciant pauses nevertheless throbbing between liquid phrases. Hypnotic repetitions of people’s names, people’s names, people’s names, pitched just low enough so you have to lean in to hear. But there’s more.
In Plato’s Apology, Socrates declares himself “a sort of gadfly” to Athens, constantly stinging it, ‘stirring it to life.’ Among other things, he is concerned with the idea that Athens’ survival depends upon the quality of its citizenry. That quality is determined by each individual’s continual self-examination, that is, reflection on what makes a good life and how to live it. This is no easy task. Just what is the method whereby one examines one’s life, and just how one recognizes what the good is, requires an investment of time and effort that many people find insupportable.
Before dawn on any weekday morning, my street awakens. Bedroom windows in the apartment next door open onto my driveway. Showers start, people cough. Someone sings in Spanish, a radio is tuned to classic rock. Minutes later, a guy walks to his car, lunch box in hand. A mother stops briefly to tie her small daughter’s shoelaces before hurrying on to school.
About a month ago, I landed on a site called American Thinker. I noticed “critical thinking” in the title of an essay by investigative journalist, Richard F. Miniter: “The Great Critical Thinking Dodge”. Because I routinely conduct critical thinking courses in my discipline, my curiosity was piqued. I was disappointed, however, that the essay was more a superficial political attack than a genuine engagement with an interesting topic: critical thinking and the politics of education.