I hadn’t thought about the word that much lately, until I read an essay, and a blog entry today.

In a Dark Time wrote in “The Last Reincarnation” that the shift in “attitude” from his students was one of the reasons why he gave up on teaching. He felt he could no longer deal with it. Coming on the heels of discovering Joseph Epstein’s article You Got Attitude?, it was one of those weird web synchronicities.

I like attitude. That’s the reason why I chose to assign Mary MacLane in my classes. She has attitude, an attitude I like. Badger was writing about music as a lifestyle choice, and of his preference for passion in music writing. I agree wholeheartedly. Anyone who thinks that they can write dispassionately about something that is created, by design, to move the emotions is practicing the worst form of self deception. The no-attitude attitude? There’s no such thing. Growing up in the desolate aftermath of the 60s, I thought as a teenager that there were hundreds of lifestyle choices to be made. Looking back, I think it’s less a matter of lifestyle, than attitude.

When I was a salesman, one of those hokey motivational signs that hung in the break room queried:

Attitudes are infectious. Is yours worth catching?

I think this is something worth thinking about. Maybe we should all smile more. Maybe we should recognize the fact that we all have attitudes, attitudes that have been selected largely through emulation. We look to others to gain perspective, and we wear the attitude that we think will serve us best in a given situation. Sometimes, shifting our attitudes can make life a lot easier to take. I don’t believe that we are ever too old to do this, though the patience that it takes is often hard to find. That’s why I don’t want to teach below college level. I don’t think I have the patience to deal with the WWF attitude, or the rap attitude. Everyone in college tends to have a “I want to make my life better” attitude. And this is a good thing.

*A late night addendum: In Rhetorical Theory tonight, I stepped up to “play” one of my favorite rhetoricians, Protagoras. This means I get to present his point of view, as if I were him. We joked a bit about wearing togas to get the right “attitude.” As a side benefit, I also get to play his primary opposition, Plato. This will be fun. I’ve been reading Plato with Blake’s “infernal method” for a long time. I’m not sure why, but I also volunteered to be Jurgen Habermas. I’m not quite sure how I’ll play that one…