U of T engineering instructor Jason Foster graciously invited me to provide crits to his students at their annual showcase of projects for the Engineering Praxis II course (not its complete name). I went there on two separate but nonconsecutive years, undermining myself and “the kids” the first time and blowing it altogether the second time.

It took ages for me to understand where I went wrong. Though everything was my fault, it was these poor kids, and Jason, who suffered for it. I’d do it differently now, but we say that about a lot of things as we get older.

I had long ago mailed an apology to Jason, and actually followed that up with a signed letter going several steps further. Jason Foster is, I told him, exactly the kind of engineering professor I want to see in the field – concerned about people and engaged in actual design. He was there all along, I belatedly realized. (Jason was in the room at a disastrous TTC design charrette that was disastrous in large part because I totally blew it there, too.) Pace Slavoj Žižek, however, after apologizing I was not told it was unnecessary to apologize, which informs me that I had actually caused mortal offence. As I already believed.

I have previously alluded to my regrets over my mishandling of the Praxis II showcases. Those had everything I could ever claim to need, up to and including a giant ginger teaching assistant who handled me with wise bemusement. Yet I think about these incidents all the time. Every few years it becomes necessary to apologize.

I especially would like to make amends to the young photographer type who followed me around like a puppy all day one year. I’m actually more accustomed to being hated. At one point I knew his name.


(2016.04.10) Just in time, I found out about the 2015 Praxis II presentation and hoofed it on down there. Did the kids ever have pointless topics to deal with, the best and worst of which was “Improving Slop Disposal at Pottery Studios.” (The Praxis II event doesn’t have a unique URL for each year, a serious design flaw.)

Almost upon entry, I spotted the ageless unlined face of Jason Foster and shook his hand. “Long time no see,” I said. Not much in there about the TTC, he told me as I kept on walking uninterruptedly. I’m here for the pottery slop, I told him.

Jason has had long enough to grow the fuck up and accept my apology. I’ll see the kids next year.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2015.02.18 11:39. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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