n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Sunday, December 16, 2007

art school doners

I have been resolving not to freak out now that I'm out of school, even though I have continued doing what I normally do when freaked out, which is pay attention to such a narrow band of life so I can fool myself that the rest won't get shaken up. I'm going home. I'll see my family. Oh sure, I'll get a job. I won't. I will. It'll all be okay.

So, for a little while, I am going to think about things. Directly. Here goes.

#1 Reason why I am glad to leave school:

The structure of authority irritates me. Sometimes, or maybe always but on different levels, it's not about intellectual discussion between equals (meaning me and the teacher and the other students), but about someone in authority passing down information, however gently, to someone resting below them. There's an automatic assumption that teachers are those who have something to teach, and students learn. Some students believe they have nothing to learn, or that they have plenty to teach, and act all arrogant and annoying in class; others look like ripped-up seaweed afloat and passive.

But I rather think everyone should be on an assumed level of equality; that instead of winning-stretches, or fights for the upper voice, we should just pass around possibles as if in a game of duck-duck-goose. Everyone gets a run around the circle.

And I don't believe anymore that my teachers should have authority over me; influence maybe, but not authority. I consider them peers in a very beautiful way. They may know more, have thought about subjects I haven't, have a more diverse knowledge of art, be published, have finished projects whereas I have not, and honed their craft to a level I aspire to, but still... the main difference when you are in school is that one person is put in a position where they have the power to have their ideas automatically paid attention to. Which makes me nervous, quite frankly - both having taught and been a student.

Now I only have to give credence to the ideas I allow to have power over me. The ones that make sense or help. The ones having to do with my survival or happiness or growth. and I mean growth also in the sense of political and social and economical etc impact. that is, i mean both Selfish and Un, in terms of ideas to look to.

#1 Reason why I am sad to leave school:

I do well having a structure set out for the pursuits that make me happiest: socializing, reading, writing, thinking, doodling, looking at art, being weird, talking about interesting subjects. I like knowing they are there, set into place by my schedule. Not out of the way, but part of the way.

So, this means I am now making a vow to do the following in the next year:

*Find a very very small writing group
*Read at no less than 3 readings
*Attend no less than 10 readings
*Find a rhythm in writing that has nothing to do with staying up until 5am
*Arrange at least 2 gatherings of friends/grads
*Develop at least 2 visual projects that are longer projects with a distinct goal
*Allow myself to read and visit the library on a regular basis
*Join a hiking group
*Send out work every other month, which means having more finished pieces than just 2
*Open myself to the possibilities out there if I decide I don't want to teach or be involved with academia

#2 reason why I am glad to be leaving school:

My life entirely revolves around work when I'm in school. My friendships, dating, family, writing, etc, is all focused in a two block center of downtown. And if, for instance, I vow not to ever date writers or anyone I'm in the program with (as I did) and struggle very very hard to keep myself to that vow, it means I live like a virtual celibate because my actions and thoughts are so centered around that place. And then when I actually get a date (such as this summer) that fits my self-imposed rules, I get too excited and freaked out because I don't know what to do anymore. I'm completely inept. And I'm inept because I've lived so rigidly for so long.

I'll be glad to spread branches.

And I hereby vow to:

Have at least one good, decent, no-expectations date with someone who doesn't swoon over me & lie through their teeth, or use me, or rush too quickly somewhere uncertain with me, or ask me for more than I can give. Just a regular little date. Something sweet, lasting no more than 3 hours, a kiss on the cheek or maybe lips afterwards. A non-intense interaction that needn't lead anywhere.

#2 Reason I'm sad to leave school:

It took me a long time with SAIC, for various reasons having to do with who I am. I mean, to trust SAIC, and to trust my position there, as a member of the community who is valued for what I offer. To stop always thinking that anyone could turn on me at any moment.

But now I trust that I have a place there. I think there are people who believe in me for real - teachers and students both - who act as though I have a part to play, just as I believe the same of them. I feel comfortable walking around the school. I even swagger sometimes.

I'll really miss that. So, now I have to again find myself a part of a world that stretches across continents. And I'll have to take root in shifting soil.

#3 reason I'm glad I'm leaving school:

When you're in school, you tend to get a little myopic in what you think is possible, because you are daily faced with what has already been done. School is the warehouse for history, which is nice and good to remember, but I think I'm ready to figure out what I can do and focus on it.

I have ideas about my writing, where it needs to go, that I haven't had time to explore. And now I do.

I had a great meeting with my adviser Matthew G. before I left and he gave me an overall sense of what he sees me doing. He pointed out that I am incredibly stubborn, and that I should continue being so. He told me that, having read my work, it's obvious I know what I'm shooting for and not just making random decisions (which... well, I'll get to that). He said basically that I'm interested in how one interaction impacts another interaction impacts another, which yes yes yes! And he also pointed out something I didn't recognize, which is how, in my work, the natural world, and objects of the natural world, act as intermediaries in this process of chaotic but particular interaction. Woah, something to think about.

Which is what I need to do. I mentioned at some point how I felt huffy about my crit, which I did. I didn't right away, because I go into them now feeling mostly just curious and open to the experience, but don't expect much. But this time around, it was rather ridiculous. I was told: that I need to explore my limitations, consider reading Virginia Woolf, find 'structure', that sometimes my stuff 'felt too smart' and thus 'a drudge and duty to read', and that the most concrete places in my writing (the places I was feeling a bit bored with) were the best.

Seriously? Virginia Woolf? Like, I haven't read tons of her stuff starting when I was in high school 15 years ago?

Anyhow, I just think what's possible gets swept into huge currents in school and that you have this path, or that path; that you're either traditional or experimental (both are bunk terms). In school, people want to find you heading in particular directions. And it's become too hard to sort out other people's agendas here. I don't know anymore who to listen to, whether I should give up trying new things (and find my limitations?), find ways to write Gothic Hemingway, or what. So, I think Matthew G is right that I need to just be stubborn and trust myself on this one...

And my own instincts are telling me to keep playing but to become more particular, experiment with details, to start fleshing-in as well as rushing forward.

And that I can do better out of school.

#3 Reason I'm sad to leave school:

The openness of all the above, whether for the pros or cons is daunting and frightening. I'm less scared of death these days, for heaven's sake, than I am of taking the risk to follow new paths even if it ends me up poor and without health insurance. It's easier to take risks in school because the consequences are buffered and the criticism easier to discard because the ante is a cross between pride and genuine hopefulness.

Now I have to take care of myself, and what I'm risking has more to do with my mental and physical well being. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise, but I will miss seeing the net below me as I walk the wire. (I know. I'm mixing my metaphors again.)

Yo'. I'm going to shower then frolic in the masses of snow we got last night and then do a little work. Ciao bellas.
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