Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Scarf of Gold
Disclaimer. Moving into a new mode called "Speed Writing," akin to Speed Chess, or Speed Knitting, in which one uses size 15 needles and bulky wool, guaranteeing a finished product in about three hours. Sometimes they tend toward the gargantuan, like the mock turtle I made Annie last year that is too big to pack in a reasonably sized suitcase and still allow for other garments, but the satisfaction, the satisfaction. I tend to edit myself too much, which can carry these blog entries into the wee hours, and make me dysfunctional the next morning when I'm at my day job, which pays the mortgage. Can't be doing that. Irresponsible. So, I'm trying this out. My perfectionist nature is screaming in pain, but c'es la vie. And now that brings us to the topic below, which is written with as many nonsequitor paragraphs as the writing it disparages. I guess that could be considered ironic, or just plain bad rhetoric. Tonight: Grateful for a warm home, complete with a roof and a sofa. Doesn't hurt that my daughter has let me use her laptop, as mine refused to connect through the new router. I've had to wheedle. Meanwhile, while she was using it, cuddled into her own sofa corner with a blanket, my occupation was ... knit two, purl two. The scarf grows, the seed stitch remains metaphoric of this blog. I can see both. When I write, the letters pile up in crazy-assed lines, and, if I put them here, you can read them. The miracle of the Interwebs. We can put our insanity and meandering thoughts out here for all to observe, and to grow by. This activity is what I do today, but it's of course informed by experiences I once regretted or considered a waste of time. Since, I've learned that no experience should be regarded as so. Except, perhaps, avoidance and/or addictive over-indulgence in the self-seeking search for happiness that cannot be reached that way. But even missing out can teach you to wake up and live more fully, if you let it. For a long time, I regretted missing my chance to enter academia via the tenure track. But if I had, would I be writing this perspicacious, perceptive prattle on here? Between rows of the scarf du jour? The world would be so much worse off, right? Tell me yes. Comment, for the love of God, comment! But I know this much: If I were still writing the way I wrote in graduate school, you'd have stopped reading long before getting to this paragraph. I was in graduate school during the time of the fairy tale: in fairy tales, nothing is real. In addition to the happily-married-based-on-the-illusion-of-security-born-from-another fictive narrative, here's the fairy tale in which I then lived: Once upon a time, in a land across the sea, there was a King of Theory. Like most of that written in French, his work was -- and is -- incomprehensible, even when carefully translated. I know what you're thinking: It's gotta be one of those lost in translation things, right? Right? Hmmm. Maybe. Here's a brief sample, from Grammatology: The science of writing should therefore look for its object at the roots of scientificity. The history of writing should turn back toward the origin of historicity. A science of the possibility of science? A science of science which would no longer have the form of logic but that of grammatics? A history of the possibility of history which would no longer be an archaeology, a philosophy of history or a history of philosophy? And so, for years, little girls got lost in these words. We were little girls, avoiding ourselves, playing with words as if they were Legos, rearranging them endlessly. We were as imprisoned, charged with weaving straw into gold, even though we knew the weird little man's name. We tipped our heads slightly to the right, adopted a thoughtful expression, stuck our pencils behind our ears, and tried to pretend that words are only differance. That's French for ... you guessed it ... difference ... of course loaded with more meaning, even though Derrida would argue that there isn't any meaning at all ... except of course in his writing? I mean, a bit paradoxical, no? I never fully believed this fairy tale, but perhaps because I'd succumbed to the very depressing fallacy that Derrida was -- in the no meaning exists part -- right. I found lots of solace -- or so I thought -- in a number of other fairy tales, too, including escape. Escape from life into the heady world of literary criticism and theory, where nothing can hurt as much as reality can. But since then, I've fallen into the very gritty reality of a different kind of work, the do-gooder type, the windmill-tilting, change the culture, save-my-corner-of-the-world type. Even if just one bit at a time. And I've learned that the aphorism "no good deed goes unpunished" is one of the truest. This morning, in the midst of being told that my colleagues and I were lazy-assed disorganized time-wasters with little sense of urgency, I was faced with what I would have once seen as two options: fight or flight, two words defined only by their difference from one another. The always already. But there is a third option I have been learning in another type of school lately; a third option that one takes step by step, inch by inch, stitch by stitch. Picture the row growing, the weaving of the love that is a handmade scarf. I practiced it. I smiled, pulling joy from my promise to bring joy to others, to tolerate difference/differance. And the patience came. My moment of imbalance passed. I spun joy, and thus meaning, and suddenly that straw became gold.