In my opinion, based of course on my love of leisure and dislike of classroom, to be a good writer you need to live a little, make mistakes, wander off into the night, almost die, recover, kick a little ass and get your ass a little kicked -- all of which is sadly what's lacking in a lot of academic theory, fiction and poetry. A good writer should be in therapy, or at any rate have an editor. Or both, or neither if they're two-fisted. But as it is, there's a weird unearned sense of entitlement that goes with a doctorate or master's degree. As I work in higher education I see it all the time. A rough estimate, I'd say at least 30% of higher ed teachers suffer from this problem. They earned a degree, so they are qualified to teach, but in reality, what do they know? Let's face it, anyone with a lot of time and money can get a doctorate. But have you learned to think for yourself and relate to life, or did you just learn to parrot someone else's insights and filter them through your thesis advisor? When they kick at your front door, where you gonna run?
The types who teach are the types who learned to enjoy sitting in libraries for hours on end, as opposed to spending time in the drug dens and pool rooms they will then write novels about. The freaks fail, or graduate with their BFA and carve themselves an obscure corner in which to get to work.Well, I guess you can tell which side of that coin I fall into. But while I concede there's a lot of sour grapes at work in this rant, my point is still valid, as I say, not for all professors, but for a good number, especially once they get tenure and get all sucked into academic politics, which are just as immature and irrational--if not more so--than our current situation with tea party extremists.
For example, the issue of spirituality is often ignored in academia, and over-stressed outside it. There are ways to see God and what lies beyond space and time, but many "serious" intellectuals would never dream of looking there, or even acknowledging such a place exists. A tea party extremist would have them burnt at the stake for denying it.
If you got straight As in grad school and a doctorate and then tenure and are the type who lives in the library and your little world where your views are exactly those of your peers and no one ever challenges whether everything you know is wrong, well that's groovy, but I worry that maybe you aren't the best person to teach Jack Kerouac or Ingmar Bergman or Freud or jazz. If you've never been in therapy or on psychedelics or yoga class there's a good chance you've gotten all the way to the tenure track without having a single iota of "self-awareness." If there's no distance between you and your own ego, you can end up a pretentious dogmatic left-wing conservative before you know it, right down to refusing to validate any opinion but your own in class discussions or faculty meetings.
But there is also the too far into themselves problem, the doorway between conscious and unconscious can wind up broken, allowing any old demon to come on in and sit on your chest in the middle of the night. That's my problem. I look too deep and have a nervous breakdown, the endless mirror within mirror reflections that add up to ugly truths no amount of booze can wash away. Yet awareness is the true currency of our age, the most obscure and rare commodity.
The conscious remembering of past life deaths is much more profound than remembering of birth. These memories are not "direct" but they are deciphered. Meditation is not, as those who don't do it think, merely some kind of mental calming system; it's a journey, akin to an unending novel. You pick up almost exactly where you left up every time, it's an excavation, an endless window cleaning, and more than that, the "active meditation" of doing everything from a loving yet detached angle of self-awareness, gradually you are face the harsh scary truths of your own past and future deaths. The awful gasp of terror that comes from knowing this is it, the murky acceptance, the white light, it's a recurring act; and the trauma of what goes on in between the doors, when the greys and demons try to pull you down, rip at your soul to see if it's hardened enough to eat, when your soul gets measured against the feather. That's why they makes us have those wars and diamonds and furs, get our souls shrunk and juicy tender with hatred and ego. If you want to avoid getting eaten, just be light and porous, like the Buddha bubble, the heart that weighs less than a feather does not get eaten by the hounds of Annunakai.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Media Eats its Young
Study for Lord Ganesha #4
We feel like there's space vultures who detect us from way high above when we become too alive, when we start to feel too much, when we taste chocolate without guilt that it's too fattening; when we love someone too much, when we become enlightened and brave off a cigarette.
So we smoke but don't notice the effects, we wolf down chocolate with our nose closed, we love someone then split, betraying trust, hiding instead of fighting, cultivating our regrets like a garden which we can then sit in when we're old and gray as the vultures couldn't sense our euphoria, so flew long past.
I say come on down, space vultures, bring the noize! Let's not be afraid of death, or finding out what's behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz. There's nothing there, nothing but this, which is where you are already, so just let the plowmen dig your earth, none of them will own the mine, or know what any of it is worth (that last part's Dylan)