Friday, December 3, 2010

it's beyond my wildest expectations

I believe that today more than ever a book should be sought after even if it has only one great page in it. We must search for fragments, splinters, toenails, anything that has ore in it, anything that is capable of resuscitating the body and the soul.

Henry Rollins

This was on the way back to school after Thanksgiving break. I couldn't exactly capture it, but at times we couldn't really see the road in front of us because of the sunlight and it looked like we were driving into the sky.

It's gotten very very cold the past few days, and we had our first snow. For the last 2 days it has been snowing almost constantly. It's the ethereal, slowly falling kind that makes you feel like you're in a snowglobe that was just shaken. Or that gravity has suddenly taken a break and all the stars are falling down from the sky to cover the ground. It never really gets dark because even the dim streetlights are reflected in the bright velvet carpet.

I only have 2 weeks left of my undergraduate career, so things have gotten kind of crazy. I am feeling a strong desire to take advantage of everything that I have available to me here before I leave, so I've been reading a lot (for school and for fun!) and going to speakers and talking to my professors all the time. I have been so inspired by some reading I've done lately that I have been marking up all my books with pencil and highlighter to express my appreciation. Staying in, watching the snow, reading and drinking white russians has been more satisfying than most other things I've done lately. Once my teacher called all the reading and books available to us all the time a 'riot of literacy.' I really like that description- when I read I am in the midst of a riot of literacy.

"because to deny one's curiosity about things like this was small and timid, and she was neither and didn't ever want to be either."
Dave Eggers

The other day I saw Michael Herzfeld speak, an anthropologist who speaks 7 languages and has lived in 15 countries. He was so brilliant that the whole time he was speaking I was taking down notes as fast as I could write.

"I want to make more films, write about more ideas and places and people, and know more of the lives that intersect with mine...I want- at whatever cost of frustration, rage, and thwarted compassion, and in the face of the bigotry that destroys the work of love and the spaces of its enactment- to remain engaged, for as long as I can, in the impossibly affecting and perversely alluring world that we make and remake together."

Michael Herzfeld

He also wrote this about Rome:

"Rome was perhaps not the first place in Italy to warm my being; but its massive, contradictory, and ultimately irreducible presence made it the place that can still, in an unguarded moment, wring from me the eye-stinging tears that come, unexpectantly and with embarassing force, only from the desperate beauty of gloriously shattered ruins madly entwined with a raucously undisciplined present."

That makes me want to go back there more than anything I've ever read.

Also, I had lunch with my friend again that I wrote about having lunch with last spring. As we were talking, I remember how I sounded in the conversation last time. Last year, and for a lot of my academic career, I would say that the words that most aptly described my feelings toward school and my own abilities were 'self-doubt' and 'anxiety.' Sometimes I felt so consumed by fear of failing and everything I could do wrong that I didn't even want to try. This time, though, we talked about our goals in writing and traveling and I realized that my viewpoint has totally transformed. I've finally been able to focus on the part of my brain that thinks that I can do things, that I am not lacking any innate ability, and that I can selectively ignore those people who tell me that I can't. I guess, in short, I have learned that there is often one of two things that you need to think in response to the feedback that people give you: "thank you," and "fuck you." So I've been trying to keep that in mind, and the people that I've been around lately have made it so much easier. I think that might be part of the problem- that I feed off the people around me so much that I basically become a mirror of my surroundings. I need to work on that, I know. I also know that a lot of my ideas and hopes for the future are quixotic. I am starting to think more and more that those are the only real plans that can motivate me, and the biggest tragedy wouldn't be to not fulfill them, but to lose my desire to even try.

"From every hesitation, you can draw new intellectual nourishment. You need to have some level of order in your life, but don't succumb to the urge to overdo that order."

Michael Herzfeld

No comments:

Post a Comment