Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Journey - Day 2

What a beautiful morning. As soon as I step outside I’m immediately hit but the crisp fresh smell of newly fallen snow crunching under my feet. I hope my thinking today will be as crisp and fresh.

A few stragglers are finishing up breakfast. I pull out a chair at a table where Todd, one of the moderators, is sitting with his wife, who is studying to be a school principal. We start talking and then one of my fellow students, Diana from the CIA, gets up to say hi to a white haired man in a blue shirt. Todd turns nonchalantly to me to say “that’s James Woolsey, he was director of the CIA, I believe under Clinton.” This is the Aspen equivalent of a Paris Hilton sighting.

Yes! They can do cappuccinos with skim milk. (I can get used to this place.) I grab my unfinished cup – I am going to need all the caffeine I can get today – and take it to the classroom. In the pitch dark last night I couldn’t see that the wall is floor to ceiling glass with a spectacular view of the snow covered Rockies in the midst of which Aspen is nestled.

The conversation begins anew. Are humans essentially good or bad? Are they born with a conscience or is it a byproduct of socialization? We get into a lively discussion about Machiavelli: does the end really justify the means? Absolutely says Kristen, the former COO of the NY public schools; it’s only through hard but unpopular decisions that Bloomberg and Klein have been able to push through the kind of transformative change the city needs. More lively debate after lunch on the nature of liberty, individual rights, the purpose of society, and whether or not everything comes originally from God.

God, I need a beer.

After dinner we have our first work session for our group project. Three days from now the whole group – all eighteen of us – have to put on a two hour performance of Sophocle’s Antigone. That’s right, we’re talking 5th century BC Greek theater here.

We have a very clear and overarching objective for the exercise: to get through this as easily as possible and without conflicting with our ski schedule. After brainstorming different ideas (a metaphor for the Iraq invasion?), we quickly hit on what we think is a novel approach. We’ll use live TV as a commentary on today’s increasing sensationalization of tragedy: “And now a CNN breaking news exclusive from the agora at Thebes”, as it were. We divide up the play into 12 smaller scenes, decide what genre we will use for each (Nancy Grace, Jerry Springer, Headline News) and assign them to sub teams.

Well pleased with ourselves and the one too many glasses of wine we have imbibed, we toddle off to start learning our lines – or more probably, to collapse in bed.

Tomorrow is another day.

No comments: