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Monday, February 28, 2005

One grande mocha latte please and I'll have 3 credits with that...

What happens when you ban all the dead white males from the ungraduate college curriculum? You get a course like “The Café and Public Life" now being taught to college freshmen (although to be PC about it I suppose we should call them first-year students or persyns of freshness) at Centre (sic) College in Kentucky.


From Centre College:


FRS 154 The Café and Public Life - Prof. Weston 9:00-12:00 Cheek Emeritus House

The café has long been a storied place for creating public life, from convivial social groups to intellectual salons to revolutionary cells. We will study how the café is a “third place” – not home, not work – where people from different social groups can meet and mix. Caffeine, especially in coffee, tea, and chocolate, has fueled a modern public sphere that promotes hard work and clear thinking. We will make several field trips to different kinds of cafés to see for ourselves how they can be incubators of public life, and to actively create critical discourse ourselves by talking to café regulars.


While I agree that the central premise of the course, that coffee has changed society, merits some academic inqiury, the syllabus looks a little latte (sorry bad pun.) But I suppose you can learn all sorts of good stuff about exploited globalized workers, corporate hegemony, disgruntled baristas, andof course critical theorist Habermas.

My guess is that they will totally skip over coffee literature essentials like the only eponymous coffee-powered superhero: Too Much Coffee Man. More importantly, in my humble opinion, no coffee course could be complete without an homage to the muse of coffee, Honore de Balzac. Balzac's essay on the Pleasures and Pains of Coffee is required reading for all (especially the bloggerati) excerpts in translation below:

Coffee is a great power in my life; I have observed its effects on an epic scale. Coffee roasts your insides. Many people claim coffee inspires them, but, as everybody knows, coffee only makes boring people even more boring. Think about it: although more grocery stores in Paris are staying open until midnight, few writers are actually becoming more spiritual...

The state coffee puts one in when it is drunk on an empty stomach under these magisterial conditions produces a kind of animation that looks like anger: one's voice rises, one's gestures suggest unhealthy impatience: one wants everything to proceed with the speed of ideas; one becomes brusque, ill-tempered about nothing. One actually becomes that fickle character, The Poet, condemned by grocers and their like. One assumes that everyone is equally lucid. A man of spirit must therefore avoid going out in public. I discovered this singular state through a series of accidents that made me lose, without any effort, the ecstasy I had been feeling. Some friends, with whom I had gone out to the country, witnessed me arguing about everything, haranguing with monumental bad faith. The following day I recognized my wrongdoing and we searched the cause. My friends were wise men of the first rank, and we found the problem soon enough: coffee wanted its victim.


Now you can hold your own with the elite band of Centre College "Cafe and the Public Life" matriculants. Barista! More coffee!

2 Comments:

At Monday, October 3, 2005 at 3:06:00 PM EDT, Blogger Kevin Jackson said...

Well, this is interesting. I did a blog search for does green tea have caffeine and found your site. When I get some time I'll come back and find out where does green tea have caffeine appears and how it relates - if it even does. Take care - nice work.

 
At Friday, October 28, 2005 at 9:53:00 AM EDT, Blogger Simon said...

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