I admit, I had a moment when I woke up and it was grey and very blustery and last night I’d had terrible trouble falling asleep after having some more of the annoying cold symptoms (not COVID, tested) that I had last week, when I thought, “I *could* just call in sick and record a video lecture for the students today.
But then I shook myself all over and told myself I was being ridiculous, and I took a hot shower and I felt better, and I put on my happy Joules raincoat from 16 Suitcases a year or two ago and my cheery British-style rainboots (from Target, I think), and I felt just fine and quite happy to go in. Sometimes you just have to push through the little grey barrier to a brighter place, and a happy raincoat helps!
And then I had a GREAT class talking about Ted Chiang‘s “Liking What You See: A Documentary” and Alice Sola Kim‘s “Beautiful White Bodies” — the students got really into both of them. Ted’s story, which explores what happens if you have the option to turn off the ability to see beauty in human appearance, I’ve been teaching for some years.
But it’s newly, sharply relevant with mask-wearing and Zoom-interactions (choosing with and without video) — we now have something of a test case experience of what happens when an entire culture removes some of its standard beauty-assessing elements.
My students, it turns out, are overall highly in favor of mask wearing — I was a little startled by how many of them experience social anxiety around their facial expressions, and find it tremendously relieving to be free of that. Several of them said they love masks, and plan to keep wearing them forever. Maybe this is a start of a cultural trend for the next generation?
Ted’s story is in his collection _Stories of Your Life and Others_, which I’d recommend highly.
Alice’s story is available online here: http://strangehorizons.com/…/beautiful-white-bodies…/
(No matching mask for Monday pandemic fashion today, because I’m wearing a green sweater and I couldn’t figure out a good way to match that on short notice, but I figure the grey mask both coordinates with my raincoat and matches the rain…)