Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pourquoi pas?

This morning, I did a philosophy dissertation. Well, it was a mini-dissertation. We only had an hour and a half, so all she wanted was an introduction, a conclusion, and an extremely detailed plan. The question (sujet): "En quel sens peut-on dire de l'homme qu'il est un être inachevé?" or "In what sense can one say that man is an unachieved being?" I started writing notes down to come up with a problématique, and jotted down a few paragraphs of an introduction, then started on my plan. Now, this was all just drafts, because I figured I'd have enough time to recopy everything neatly and add a little more as I rewrote. Halfway through my plan, however, I realized I wasn't going to have time to do that. So, I immediately began frantically scribbling a new introduction (because my notes just weren't complete enough) and ended up with a full page just for that. Then, I started rewriting my plan, and I noticed several stupid mistakes while I was copying it (which makes me a little nervous that there were more I didn't catch). While I was rewriting that, I was adding more every second. I just couldn't stop, and didn't even notice that my hand was going numb until I got to the conclusion. A sentence into the conclusion, Mlle Benoliel informed us that we only had fifteen minutes left, and I started writing faster. But, since she's not a sadist, she said we could have an extra five minutes if we needed it. I finished the conclusion, took a deep breath, and handed it in ON TIME! Four full pages of philosophy! Woohoo! I think I was one of the lucky ones since the feeling in my hand came back while I was in the métro.

Ultimately, it was an intense exercise. But, it was really strangely rewarding too, and interesting. I see why they don't have a philosophy regents - you have to think, and New York State certainly doesn't want us to do that! Apparently here, the philosophy sujets of the Baccalauréat are a big deal and are publicized on the news. Considering that the Bac is basically a nation-wide Regents exam (that is neither curved nor absurdly easy), I find it interesting that they have such a big philosophy component, especially since most American students never study philosophy - especially not in high school. But, back to my dissertation, I would have preferred a good-sized four hour one. It would have been better - I'd prefer to write the whole essay and have just a little more time to think through all my thoughts completely. Alix agreed with me, so this isn't just me being nerdy. Now, seven hours like Justine's dissertations is a little too long, but four would be manageable. You know what I should have asked Justine when I saw her last week? I should have said: "Yeah, I saw Le Roi Lion nine times. By the way, what is man?" (Nice segue, huh?) I bet she could have answered that one. Then I could have counted that conversation as studying for philosophy!

During the dissertation, I told myself: "If I think I did well, I'll get myself some Berthillon. If I don't, I'll get some Berthillon anyway." So, when it was all over, I went to Saint-Michel, got a Lebanese sandwich for lunch (my usual server wasn't there, but the guy who was gave me free baklava!), and then headed over to Berthillon. Yup, raspberry rose and melon! And my favorite employee was there, and I told her I needed to get that ice cream every day because I had to leave at the end of May. She asked where I was going, and I told her to the United States, and she said I was really lucky and that she really wanted to visit there. I told her it wasn't a visit and that I'm from there, but I preferred Paris, and she said she hadn't realized I was American!

After that, I went to my writing class. It was basically my last one. You see, next Thursday is some kind of holiday, so I won't have class, and then the week after that is the devoir sur table (in class assignment) where she'll give us two or three small exercises "sous contrainte" and then one larger thing to write without a constraint. She says we'll have three hours, but should only need one or one and a half.

Finally, I went out for dinner with Alexandra, her parents, her younger brother, and her sister-in-law's mother and her husband. It was a cute little restaurant in the 15th arrondissement, traditionally French, and I tried rabbit finally! After the debacle in Lyon, I thought I'd never get to try it. And I'm glad I did - I'll add that to the short list of meat that I will eat. I even liked the mushroom ravioli that came with it - how do the French make mushrooms taste good? The best part of dinner, though, was Alexandra's sister-in-law's mom (her name's Giselle, by the way, so I'm going to write that because it will be quicker). Giselle's husband didn't speak any English, so I was translating a lot, and at first, apparently, Giselle thought I had an accent in English and that I was saying things in a French way. It was kind of loud in the restaurant too, so I guess for a while, while I was speaking French, she couldn't tell I had any accent. She actually thought I was French! Then, she eventually noticed that I had a little accent in French, and called me on it and asked if I was American. I'm so excited that someone really did think I was French! Her husband thought my Berthillon obsession was hilarious!

Anyway, that's it - I'm going to go to bed because I have the CM for philosophy tomorrow morning bright and early and I certainly didn't get enough sleep last night. Oh, I forgot to mention my great nightmare: I dreamed I was doing the dissertation, but that I did the whole thing in English and didn't notice until the very last second. Before the class, I had a banana just to make sure that wouldn't happen.

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