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Entries in Peter Corea (4)


Brainstorming Week Seven

Spent this sunny Saturday morning brainstorming different ways to use this week's writing challenge

My local Starbucks is usually packed to the gills with writerlies and artsy types, but it turns out that there's seating a-plenty around 9am.

(There's also a lot of conversation to tune out. Earbuds are key.)

I think my original intent for the idea, when I wrote it, was to be an absurd take on the sort of documentary profiles we were watching at that time in Dr. Corea's psychology class. I just thought it would be really funny to have the voiceover narration casually declare that today was the day he kills this man. (Let us not speculate on my mental state at the time... it was college and I probably hadn't slept much.)

So I started thinking about whether it had to be a voiceover, or should it be the actual interviewer who declares this? (In which case the interviewee would have to react...) And then I thought about whether it had to be a documentaryit could just be an interview. An interview for a job, perhaps? And then I started thinking of the worst job I ever had, and how the interview for it would have gone if the guy I worked for had presented himself then as he would later act toward me...

It may continue to evolve in the writing of it, but so far, so promising!


Week Six: Write a novella about the journey into the psyche

I remember this one very well.

Peter Corea's psychology class had a lot to do with the philosophy of the mind. Not just what we think, but why we think what we think. To give you a sampling of the things that struck a chord with me, here are a few lecture notes I took throughout the semester, all of them direct quotes from Dr. Corea:

"Just because we are able to describe something doesn't mean we are able to understand it."
"Change is the very essence of energy."
"Words are just symbols of reality."
"There is an unknown energy that is not space and time."

(Check out an older post I wrote for more about the late Dr. Corea.)

You may have gotten the impression by now that this was not your standard psychology class, and you would be correct. It was, however, structured like one, and so there was the matter of an end-of-term research project that we had to propose. I was champing at the bit to do something creative, and I landed on the idea you see above.

I wanted to investigate several areas of parapsychology (ESP, astral projection, etc.), reconcile them with some of the ideas Corea himself espoused, and compose a sci-fi novella about someone who abruptly discovers these abilities and what they mean for him/her.

He hated it. More to the point, he all but accused me of trying to repurpose some crap story I'd already written for some other teacher. (I was occasionally guilty of this later on in my academic career, but in this case I was entirely innocent.)

Anyway, I never did write it. If I had, I imagine it would have been somewhat dark and very melodramatic, for this was my disposition at the time. I still have this image of the nameless, faceless protagonist aflame with psychic energy as he rises above the SWAT team and National Guard members who all have automatic weapons trained on him. The boy is innocent, of course, but how else could this possibly end?

(So, okay, maybe not the best end-of-term paper for an aging professor.)

What to do with it now? Well, with apologies to the over-eager freshman year version of myself, Week Six is not going to be a novella-length work. The subject area still intrigues me, though. Ultimately I would love to write a series of sci-fi/fantasy/literary-minded books, but apart from an audio drama project I co-wrote with fellow Emerson alums once upon a time, I don't think I've ever actually dipped my toes in that water. 

So thentime to give it a shot!


Week Five: What happened to the mother as best parent stereotype?

...I don't know, what did happen to the mother as best-parent stereotype? Did something happen? Where was I when it happened?

I wrote this sometime in early November (early November! the first semester is almost over!) in Peter Corea's psychology class. It was clearly a reaction to something we had to read, but I can't remember what and don't think that I saved it.

My mother single-handedly raised my sister and I, and it is usually the case that the kids remain with the mother when divorce strikes. (Yes: "strikes." Like a tiger. Patiently waiting...) So perhaps I had a strong reaction to something that tickled my wounded-child-of-divorce bone?

Or maybe this was more a reaction to something asserting that men and women were equally suited to be nurturing, parentally attentive blah blah blahs? The context is totally missing here, and without that, the sentence is not something I necessarily feel to be true.

So. What to write about...?


Fall 2000

This semester, my first, was the toughest by far for me. Whether because I first came to Emerson College "undeclared" (I was perhaps one of three people in my class to do so -- Emersonians typically have no trouble declaring themselves) or because all Freshmen must endure this, my course load was all core requirements:

  • WP121 Research Writing
  • TH204 Theatre into Film
  • PS339 Psychology of Personality
  • LI123 Introduction to Literature

I had this sense that I either wanted to be a writer, or an actor, or maybe a playwright, or possibly an English teacher who also taught drama. So my required courses were at least kind of tailored to my interests, but I still found it tough going.

Interestingly, most of the marginalia I'll be mining from this time will be from Psychology of Personality, which was taught by the indomitable Peter Corea, who, after teaching psychology to dippy arts kids for nearly four decades, had been diagnosed with a terminal disease and had chosen to spend his final months doing what he always had: teaching.

Inspired, I think, by Tuesdays with Morrie (he referenced the book often), his class had less to do with Howard Gardner and more about the antics of Richard Feynman, how words can prevent true understanding, and how if we as a species are ever going to evolve, we have to focus not on unity, but harmony.

Ours was the last full semester he taught. Dr. Peter Corea died the following year. But my 19-year-old mind -- burning as it was with ideas, regrets, judgement, self doubt -- found inspiration in his class and also a much-needed outlet.