It may seem perverse to get excited about a concept as inherently fraught with regret and/or punishment as summer school, and admittedly I have no first-hand experience with the actual institution. Public school came easy to me, so I never had to face the prospect of either forfeiting summer vacation or repeating a grade. College is a different proposition, where coursework between May and August represents not so much academic atonement with the end goal of not falling further behind, but rather a chance to get ahead, to take on extra opportunities (or at the very least to spend more time living in quasi-autonomy in a dorm rather than back home at one’s parents’ house). But I never opted for a summer study program in my years of higher learning, either.
However, my laid back approach to college should not be interpreted as any kind of dislike for the scholarly life. I enjoyed college, just as I enjoyed grade school and high school when I was a kid, and whether or not I volunteered to spend the longest days of the year in a classroom is beside the point. What I appreciate now, much more because it’s all over, is the structure and legitimacy that school lent to my pursuits. Sitting around and reading a book just for the fun of it makes me feel a bit guilty for wasting time, even though I never felt that way when the exact same activity was assigned homework or a requirement for a degree.
To a certain extent, my approach to this blog has been heavily influenced by my schooling experiences. Sure, sometimes I just babble about what’s been going on in my life and how I feel about it, but when I dig into a movie or tv show or comic or something I’m applying the same analysis and writing skills that earned me my BA. I’m even more indebted to my undergrad days when I approach two disparate works and treat them like entries on the same syllabus, as if I’m taking a final and have to compose an essay on the thematic connections between Billy Wilder and Akiyuki Nosaka. Putting any advance thought into how things might be organized and grouped, as I’ve done in the earlier theme months, is just more of the same. I judge myself with a healthy amount of “What are you doing?” more often than not, and it’s nice sometimes to have an answer: I’m studying, I’m learning, and those things have been important all my life and always will be.
And that includes summers! I no longer live my life according to semesters or school years, but I can sense their well-worn patterns in my brain all the same. In the past I’ve celebrated the season with Beach Books on a Bus or Summer Movies on a Train, and you should fully expect me to make references to both of those throughout the next twelve weeks or so. But I also expect to read some serious volumes and, of course, keep up in my usual semi-regular way with the 1001 Movies Blog Club, which should balance out the genre trash a bit. (Or, better yet, find ways to combine the the lightweight and the substantial.) Plus, there’s all the things I’ve failed to deliver as promised throughout the year so far, which would be the most summer-school-inspired topics to revisit in June, July and August. A sampling of some things which you can look forward to my thoughts on (with glee or dread, depending):
- Green Lantern Sleepers Volume 3!
- American lit from the Roaring 20’s!
- The book every other geek was reading back in the fall/winter, Marvel Comics: The Untold Story!
- A whole stack of comics I’ve been saving for summer!
- The long-delayed mega-post about Community Season Four!
- Possibly the revival of the Buffy Re-Watch Project, in light of the overdue conclusion of my fantasy re-reads!
- Probably another volume of Akira and maybe some Studio Ghibli anime films!
- And Much Much More, Maybe! (Though obviously I have a problem with over-promising and under-delivering, or we wouldn’t even be here having this conversation, would we?)
At any rate, the important thing to remember is that as I gorge on comic collections and mindless movies over the next couple months, it’s not slackery. It’s SUMMER SCHOOL!