Sunday, April 12, 2009

My Salad Days, When I Was Green in Judgement, Cold in Blood

I've been going through boxes of papers, dating back all the way to high school, but mostly consisting of my graduate school work. So, I find notes from classes I took and classes for which I was a teaching assistant. I find the papers from some of my students, which I kept because they were excellent. I find my own papers. And here, on the other side, as a doctoral program drop-out, those papers are an emblem of a life that I can no longer live, a career path I can no longer follow.

I should throw them all away, each and every paper. But instead, I am working to consolidate four boxes into one. And what I am keeping are my students' papers, some notes about topics that still particularly interest me, and my own writing.

In my first year of graduate school, I had a mental breakdown. It was the second quarter, January through March, and my mind was just not quite my own. Yet still, as with my other breakdowns, I managed my schoolwork even as my emotional life flailed.

I was in a very engaging class called "Passing," in which we read and analyzed texts such as The Island of Dr. Moreau, M. Butterfly, and Passing. Animals passing as humans, men passing as women, blacks passing as whites.

I got interested especially in Dr. Moreau, and from that became interested in anti-vivisectionist movements in the nineteenth century. I gave a presentation on my research, and opened by saying "Before I begin, I want you all to know that it is a miracle of modern medicine that I can be with you here today." Then I passed around my bottle of anti-depressants.

It seemed like a good thing to do at the time. And the professors (there were two) liked it, probably because it was less boring than the usual introduction of a graduate student presentation.

Anyway, in going through my papers, I found a paper I wrote for that class, which is titled "sex, lies, and vivisection, or Fuck Black Beauty."

As I said, I was having some "issues."

I also found my handout for my presentation. I reproduce it here for your consideration.

This was during the first Gulf War, and so here are close-ups of some bits:

And here is my "Fun Words" list:


arlopop said...

one assumes (and certainly hopes) all is well now. Finish the doctorate - you should be teaching.

Angelina said...

Oh god! That is horrible- just absolutely horrible- the army using animals to practice killing. Is that really true? It makes me sick to my stomach to think about people doing that.

It is possible I can use this bit of information to prevent Max from joining the armed forces some day. Because he has an enormous love for our cats and especially Ozark of the departed.

Anyway- I would have enjoyed your presentation immensely had I been there. do you wish to return to your doctorate work?

Reading old papers really makes me more depressed than I already am. Yet I keep them.

Baywatch said...

awesome post!

CurrentRoaringLoud said...

Keeping our written thoughts is keeping our life.
Memories have an odd way of reshaping themselves to the current fancy.
Keep them all I say. Let those after consider the journey. (or not)

Anonymous said...

Best fun word: RABIES!!!

I have a box of similar relics, and in one of them is a fanzine you made for V.Burgin's object relations seminar. In it, you made your own Lacanian matheme proving structuraism not= fascism. Sandwiched btwn the pages of a certain special college issue of a teen magazine, we are the glossy reps for critical theory c. 1996.

Oh the good old days. Though I agree that you are way too smart not to be teaching, I totally understand how bleak the realities of the academic job market really are. Especially now. I mean, I am not moving to Arkansas or Detroit, and that's the scary reality of a 1st job. No thanks. Gotta finish the dissertation first before I can really complain, so until then, still swimming. xo--seth

Blaize said...

Thanks, Seth. No fair to not have a blogger account, because how then am I supposed to begin my google stalking?

marry said...

oho good dear !!!! very intersting blog and a good posting !!! you must maintain your blog, its intresting !!! Nice Buddy

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