Thursday, October 29, 2009

Excuse me for a moment while I organize my thoughts on life

I was in Ethnic American Literature today, after reading Philip Roth’s “Defender of the Faith” (and taking exuberant notes). I was vaguely aware of my smolderingly hot professor just over my right shoulder, but much more aware of the pure pieces of heaven coming at me through a teaching video on the projector.  The video discussed Roth, along with Ralph Ellison and N. Scott Momaday, and their views of Americanism and literature.  The initial part I loved was the discussion of the literary tactics each author chose to use in concurrence with this theme.  But then one of the main critics, Pancho Savery, turned literature into politics and my mind and attention became fully erect.  I adore the interconnectivity of arts and culture. Art imitates life.

That situation has occurred several times in that particular class. Props to my hot professor. Lol.
And when it happens, after my artistic appetite is whetted, my intellectual appetite is reminded of its shortcomings. I want to go to the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. But I am not scholarly enough to focus long enough to write well enough to get in. I want to study literature on a deeper level – maybe graduate school – but I am not disciplined enough to finish my readings.
My mind is always hungry for more knowledge and yet I lack follow-through. So am I scholarly?

In 20th Century American Women’s Autobiography we talk about ideologies. Kim Chernin’s mother Rose defines herself as a Communist organizer. Our professor posed the question: Can we define ourselves by our ideologies? The conclusion we came to is that ideals are popularized by people, but a person with no life, with no humanistic traits, only their ideals, is not one after whom people would model. So we cannot define ourselves by our ideals, we must define ourselves by our realities.

My ideal is intellectualism at the point where it intersects art, more specifically Socratic intellectualism: learning through rhetoric (reading, writing, debate).  But my reality is a busy schedule, diversified interests, and middle socioeconomic status. So I cannot, as the Wellesley girls say, “dedicate my life to knowledge.”

I guess, based on the point made in my class today and based on what Marsha (my former academic advisor) has said to me, the point is: I must live my life. I must live through the shifts at Chili’s and the long drives back and forth to Edmond. I must live through multitasking and split-attentiveness. I must live through these realities in order to be who I am.

And to flip that on its ear, regardless of what my ideologies are, I must live my life in order to be who I want to be.
Because deep down I know that who I want to be and who I am are the same person.

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