Sunday, February 29, 2004

My Studies

(originally published February 29, 2004)

A Self-Study of Myself as Nascent Blogger:
That sounds like some strange fusion of 21st-century technology and 17th-century Dutch painting. Anyway: I know it's early in this blogging thing, but it's a bit weird to keep this thing going without (yet) having had a response to anything I've written. Weird for me because, as I tell my students, all writing, even writing for oneself, is a communication from someone to someone else. So far, I have no sense of who my audience is. It is (sort of) myself, true. I have the urge to write stuff that's on my mind, and because I have computers both here and at work, this method seems like the most convenient way to preserve it. The fact that this version of livejournal is free doesn't hurt, either. But I apparently don't mind if others read this stuff: if I've checked/unchecked all the little boxes correctly, anyone who happens to stumble onto Blog Meridian is welcome to read what is here. But isn't the idea of "audience" supposed to be more specific than "anyone who happens to stumble onto Blog Meridian"?
The other strange thing is the open-ended nature of blogs--or this one at least. All writing, I tell my students, has an end, in every sense of that term. So far, neither this thing's ultimate purpose nor its termination have revealed themselves to me. I suppose I could be Emerson-like and say that, just as the sailing ship tacks back and forth as the winds change but over time reveals its course, this blog's course will reveal itself as well, but the context of Emerson's analogy (from "Self-Reliance," by the way (see? I'm assuming an audience who might not know the essay--but how do I know that? I didn't also assume an audience who wouldn't get the little aside about 17th-century Dutch painting. Weird, I tell ya.)) is being true to oneself even if doing so means appearing outwardly inconsistent. Since this blog is only 3 entries old, it's hard to say it has a Self to be true to. Emerson presumes that the Self is known from the get-go, but Blog Meridian ain't telling me nothing in advance. But the words keep coming, so I think it'll come to me, what its Self is.
Hmm--maybe the audience is itself. It'll examine itself, respond to itself, circle back and emend, correct, even as it moves on to new things. Ibsen said that to write is to sit in judgment on oneself. Yup. So is blogging, perhaps.

My Study Space:
Not that anyone will really care about this, but: given the brevity of my profile, I thought that describing my study (from whence, I have decided, Blog Meridian will originate--as opposed to my office at work, I mean) might stand in place of a fuller profile. So, then, the desk: it's one of those assemble-it-yourself things from Target, in a vaguely Mission style. It has a back with some small shelves built into it and lots of surface area for the clutter (I'm not terribly fastidious about my living space generally) it presently holds: books, old syllabi, notebooks, 3 DVDs belonging to my colleague Larry (the guy I mentioned in the inaugural entry who lends me movies. He's a math and physics teacher nearing retirement who has a deep love for film, theatre and art, though, by his own admission, he doesn't read much fiction), a small, framed painting by my Significant Other, and a Compact Oxford English Dictionary. The top shelf is something of a small art collection; from left to right I have: a small beer stein my brother bought for me when he was stationed in Germany when he was in the Army; a stylized wood carving of a Voudoun goddess of creativity a colleague bought for me when he travelled to Cuba some years ago; a fairly large carved wooden fish from Oaxaca on which have been painted more fish, mermaids and a turtle; two carved wooden cats with flowers painted on them, one (the smaller one) blue, the larger one green, also from Oaxaca (inevitably, it will be revealed in/by Blog Meridian that 1) from 1985-1987 I lived and worked in Mexico, teaching English as a Second Language; and 2) I have a deep love of Mexican art, culture and literature . . . "inevitably," indeed); and a framed Father's Day card that my older daughter made for me when she was still in pre-school. On the wall against which the desk backs, there is a framed print, by a New Orleans artist, of a slightly-hallucinogenic nighttime scene in the French Quarter--the perspective is that of a person standing in the street and looking up at the balconies of some typical (though brightly, splotchily-painted) houses there, and the balconies are painted with a bit of a bow in them, as though we're looking at them through a fish-eye lens. To the print's left hangs a crucifix I bought in Mexico. The cross is made of two 1" diameter branches that appear to have been little more than stripped of their bark and varnished. The vertical piece has a slight bend to it. The Christ appears to be carved from a single piece of wood; he's not bloody, the way some Mexican crucifixes can be. It's neither old nor expensive, but it's a more-than-effective object of contemplation, especially during Lent.
Along the walls, I have 4 6'-tall bookcases and one 3'-foot case that sits under the window (northern exposure: nice in the summer; chilly in the winter) of my study; each is filled to overflowing with books. I have needed another bookcase for some time now, but money and space are kinda at a premium in these parts. The desk and the bookshelves pretty much take up most all the available wall space in this room. What wall space IS left are occupied by, on one side, a framed print of Dali's entitled, slightly inaccurately, "The Persistency of Memory" (it IS the one with the melting watches), and, hanging directly below it, a felt pennant from Graceland that reads "Welcome to my world" and shows the King standing in front of Graceland's music-note gates, arm extended toward the viewer in a gesture of either welcome or warding off. The pennant says "Welcome," but Elvis looks as though he's in the middle of extending his arm to deliver a stiff-arm to the chest. The other bit of wall space has my framed diploma from Rice, where I earned my doctorate 10 years ago. A torchiere (sp?) stands in a corner. On the window sill are still a few more things: two more carved, painted fish, one from Oaxaca, one from Guerrero--this latter one differs from the other fish I've mentioned in that it has a boy and girl (perhaps brother and sister, perhaps bride and groom) approaching a church; two wooden carvings of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza that a former student bought in Venezuela and gave me as gifts (I had taught his class Don Quixote, which he said at the time was the most amazing novel he had ever read. It still is for me, as well). The floor is cluttered at the moment: shoes, papers, file folders, books. I look at it and think, Yes, some of this stuff needs picking up . . . I wonder who is playing basketball today??

I suppose that last comment would provide the catalyst of still another study, Why I Love College Basketball So Much. But it will have to wait for a while.

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