Sunday, August 07, 2005

louisville camp day 3

Lot of serious energy today. The main goal was for students to find an "organic intellectual" to begin to build a case around, and to for each student to establish his or her own personal purpose in debate.

First, organic intellectuals. This comes from the writings of Antonio Gramsci, a long-dead Italian revolutionary who wrote all these radical books while he was in jail. One of his big contributions to the world was the idea that intellectuals are not just part of the Ivory Towers of The Academy, but they can also rise up from among the masses, as organic intellectuals, who are from a community with a beef (like blacks or Palestinians, for example), who speak about the issues of their people, who do so in a way that's subversive and revolutionary, and who can motivate people to come together and fight for change.

Here at Louisville, we've been focusing mostly on hip hop artists as organic intellectuals, but not entirely. One girl is using Rage Against the Machine, another dude is leaning on Bob Marley.

As for the purpose, I'll get to that in a minute.

On the organic intellectual pursuit, we went to some computer labs on campus, and surfed the web looking for lyrics, and scrutinizing them through a set of criteria established by some scholar named Nathan D. Abrams, who wrote an article called "Antonio's B-Boys: Rap, Rappers and Grramsci's Intellectuals."

Seen this way, it's amazing how deep some of these lyrics are.

Anyway, once the students had their organic intellectual figured out, and they'd written out a defense of their choice using Abrams's essay, they started figuring out what their purpose is. This is their mission, their personal political goal, something they want to see changed in the world.

For example, Aaron wants to see educational opportunites improve for inner-city kids.

Then they started putting their organic intellectual together with their mission, to begin writing the first chunk of what will become their debate speech.

Here are some pictures of day three.

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