Yesterday I did see the souls of many academics. Sitting upon a shelf, high, some wide, some thin. All covered in green vinyl. Yes, we beheld their souls, the English Chair and I, the concrete form of various exudings of emotional and intellectual strain: PhD offerings.
Meanwhile the academics in question were sitting in other offices, acting as if their souls had not actually been captured and kept high up on the shelf.
Well I just saw the video of my grading.
I will refer to the second half of it — which covers the period of time when I consider myself to be fully woken up.
Some good points–
When I get angry, my punches, especially padwork combinations begin to look quite efficacious, even REAL. (I get angry when I get tired, but somehow this pulls the most snappy and full-body committed movement out of me.)
I’m fast. Most of the time my reflexes are pretty awesome, and quite equal to the task of attack or defence. Kate and I actually look like poised and spitting snakes.
I look mentally strong and healthy — very mentally strong, smiling and undaunted, with a good mind-body interconnection.
Bad points — The first part of my grading was a little sloppy, and I consider myself to have been mentally and physically half asleep during it.
My stamina was not as good as it might have been — I did not prepare sufficiently for this grading (and this shows some time in the second last round, when I slacked off a lot, almost forgot where I was — too blase — and stayed in a defence mode).
I don’t duck and weave a lot — and this is probably because Kate is small and I felt like a big Bulwark. Why move around a lot when you can barely feel the hits or kicks?
Ok– enough of a post mortem.
We were standing near the parking meter as the father was upbraiding me, next to his son. I put my own hand on his face to comfort him. As tears rolled over it, I saw that my hand was purple and bloodless. Just then, I knew I had to use my mind to call her ghost and redirect it back into the hospital via the twelfth floor window, whilst the father’s blubbering hindered this delicate operation.
It is true — I see environment and environmental memory as forming for nature of the self in a way that is generally overlooked. There is a lot of injustice in such overlooking.
Let us start from a simple fact. Whoever, you are, others will not have the same experiences as you. Words on paper do not always invoke similar experiences and memories. In that case, for you (but not necessarily for others), they are dead. One finds in the text only what is already within oneself through direct knowledge. The mundane–wind, smell , taste, an emotional sense of the particularity of a place can be shared through words, but first they must be experienced.
To prove that there is a special dimension to this invocation of the five senses, one would have to prove that industrial modernism and its tropes invoke more objective language when communication is at its most effective. The basis for possessing a self in such a late society then becomes more “metaphysical” , paradoxically enough, since identity comes to be based on an abstract matrix of ideas much more than on the concrete nature of one’s experiences.
I have nothing to prove, but it is the easiest thing in sparring for me to stick out a cross punch at the right moment, and let the other person walk into it.
The first round I did was with Mike so far as I recall. We spar together often and give each other a run for each other’s money. Nothing new there. The most daunting aspect of Mike is that he is built like a tank, so if he really hit you hard, you’d know about it. We used to clobber each other around the head a lot before we both developed some control. Now we are at a level where I am able to practice keeping my eyes open during his punch combinations.
I then sparred some male green belt or other. I right hooked him on the head when his guard was down, and I didn’t think I did this very hard, but he wasn’t so used to it. He said, “no offence, but I find it hard to hit a girl, so it was good you hit me hard..” I said, “Yes, if I do that often enough, it will become easier for you to hit a girl.” He said, “Yes, that’s what I was thinking, too.” He was tall.
Then this dainty aged woman was standing in front of me –more the tai-chi type, she kept walking into my punches. I didn’t do much. I just stood there with my guards up and when she approached me with a punch, I just stuck out my cross punch, putting no hip-force into it at all. First I got her on the nose, and then she took off her spectacles. I apologised, but she walked into another cross punch, and I got her on the mouth. She became bitter and said I hit too hard (which was not true, except relative to her condition). So I did shadow boxing, until she went to the instructor and explained her grievance and he sent her to do bag work by herself, calling Joyce (about 4 foot 8) from the bags to spar with me.
So I sparred with another smaller woman, but mostly just by keeping my guards up. She was fast but very tiny and I would love to give concession to her speed and whippy round-houses, but basically I don’t really feel them, so I just stood there, and when she got too close I stuck my cross arm out, and got her in the face a few times. I also got her with a few hook kicks, following her around as she circled me.
Then I sparred some … purple belt (I think it was). He was a really tall, well built guy, and kept doing crescent kicks over my head, and punched my nose a few times, but we kept a good semi-contact distance, and although he punched with medium to moderate force the pace of sparring was not too full-on.
I read FROM HERE TO DISTRICT SIX about a mixed-blood (technically “coloured” in South African racist lingo), gay South African, today, and was incredibly depressed. I understood what he was saying…also the aridity of his world, his ambivalence to it, the probable need to write because of two levels of alienation: gay and “coloured”.
If I am going to research African literature. But LAST thing I want to be is one of those guilt ridden liberals. I’m a hard headed materialist — and don’t ask me how THAT hurts… (the head butts, help and save me from the head-butts).
read it and weep
|HELL LEVEL 2
Raw score: 71%
|You’re just about as deep in sexual hellfire as a person can get. Virtually no urge, however demented, will go ungratified; practically no boundary will go uncrossed. You’re probably proud of your adventurousness, and, honestly, you should be. Few people are confident enough to pursue pleasure on their own terms.
Your morals could sink a bit further, sure, but it’s likely that you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re into and what you would do…above all you’re honest with yourself with what you want. If more people were honest with themselves, you’d have a lot more company down in the flames.
AVOID: the lost souls in sexual heaven and (above all) the denizens of sexual purgatory. You don’t need any prudes or wishy-washers in your life.
I sparred Mike for five rounds today. The new thing I’ve learned is to turn a jab into a hook.
How I learned this: I was doing the jab arm outstretched thing to be in Mike’s face and annoy him a lot, when he said, “The thing with that, is that I can just parry your arm away… like THIS:”
When I saw that this was true, I realised the advantage of turning that parried away jab hand into a left hook. Somehow this worked quite efficiently.
I also realise that I prefer to spar with somebody who can use a little bit of force — that knowledge keeps me awake and keeps my guards up.
I find that when I’m sparring without this extra edge of genuine fear/concern for actually getting hit, I can become…unconsciously…quite sloppy.
Perhaps that is a lesson from some of those grading photos……..
One Sunday, after church, I sat down on the park bench with a long time ex-patriot, whom I had met only a few times. This was “Austoohlia”, (a strange place), I thought – and my parents wanted to maintain the only connection with “the culture” that we had, which was the church.
The whole movement to “Austoohlia” had been an act of faith, which could not be preserved in its proper pristine condition without us paying our dues, which meant attending church.
I sat with L., who had been here a year, and she said, “Let us have a conversation.”
I wanted to. I really wanted to be careless, and funny, and irreverent. I wanted to mock all my fears and the conventions of my “elders” and “my betters”.
But . . . where conversations had been easy before, now our words came out like leaden, stripped pipes, so it seemed that there was nothing real for them to resonate with.
An exile from their country of origin sees, hears, smells, tastes, everything differently. Nothing is the same as what they had expected it to be. And when they try to explain the strangeness of this, their words sound leaden, because it is also true that nothing that the migrant says, thinks or feels, makes any absolute sense to the hearer, who has long since re-established their roots. At best, these can be two people grasping at each other’s meanings.
So, I thought, “Let’s reach for something intuitively amusing, to make us all laugh!”
But I thought hard – and still I couldn’t come up with a good idea.
L. said, “What did you think about the sermon? It was nice, wasn’t it?”
I said, “Yes.” But really I don’t think that this was true, because right then I didn’t have much feeling either way. I felt on some level, perhaps the deepest one, that maybe it wasn’t all that nice, but then I didn’t have anything to compare it to, which was why I didn’t want to offend these nice people who considered it so wonderful.
She remarked, “So-and-so has such a lovely dress on!”
I said, “Yes.” But what I really thought was it was colourful and billowy, and that the girl we saw did not look too efficient for any kind of sport.
The conversation was not developing well.
“So . . . how do you feel about being here?” she ventured.
I looked intently into myself for the deepest possible reply.
“It’s fine,” I said. My words were becoming thinner, more ineffectual for my realisation that L did not require any emotional depth, and was actually trying to avoid this.
Yet L looked pleased with herself for having touched on the necessary question which the situation had demanded – kind of how you might be pleased to have finally broached the matter with a stranger of a recent death in the family, when you’d rather have turned your attention to something less gloomy. I could understand that totally. I, too, saw no reason or purpose in the gloomy thoughts. And really, they made no sense to me.
“We better go now before everybody leaves,” she said. “We should have another conversation soon!” I felt trapped in large machine which was gently, but impersonally, processing me. Culture shock was in me. Just as the sudden cultural change had robbed me of ‘self’, making it impossible even just to find the words to simply communicate all those things which I really felt.
Later, we had tea to drink on the front lawn, and a boy walked straight past us, right in front of us. He was only a metre away, but he didn’t take a detour, even to give us space. There was less territoriality here, but it made you feel like you are caught up in a giant cement mixer, where nothing has any space. We went to have a picnic in “The Park”, which everyone said that we should see. The same thing happened. We sat down in an open space which we had found, and a family sat a metre from us. But there was space to walk, and to commune, if only people knew there was.
It really seemed as if the locals in this new place didn’t like to commune with Nature freely. Instead, they seemed to prefer social company. That was strange, and kind of bewildering. Didn’t the like the electrifying feeling of the trees, and the grass? Didn’t the feel the earth come up through them, in its frightening power, as they sat down, to think, and to gently commune? It seemed as if even our “relatives” and friends already thought about this in the Australian way!
I begged: “Take us on a drive and show us ‘The Australian bush’, and they did; only the radio was on as if to say that the Australian bush is really very, very boring. It seemed as if no Australian really wanted to know about their own bush lands. They were empty of their magic, for the real sense of action was elsewhere.
Your Personality Is
You are both logical and creative. You are full of ideas.
You are so rational that you analyze everything. This drives people a little crazy!
Intelligence is important to you. You always like to be around smart people.
In fact, you’re often a little short with people who don’t impress you mentally.
You seem distant to some – but it’s usually because you’re deep in thought.
Those who understand you best are fellow Rationals.
In love, you tend to approach things with logic. You seek a compatible mate – who is also very intelligent.
At work, you tend to gravitate toward idea building careers – like programming, medicine, or academia.
With others, you are very honest and direct. People often can’t take your criticism well.
As far as your looks go, you’re coasting on what you were born with. You think fashion is silly.
On weekends, you spend most of your time thinking, experimenting with new ideas, or learning new things.
|You Are Mexican Food|
Spicy yet dependable.
You pull punches, but people still love you.
|Your World View|
You are a happy, well-balanced person who likes people and is liked by others.
You question whether many conventional views on morality are valid under all circumstances.
You are essentially a content person.
Sometimes, you consider yourself a little superior.
More and More am I convinced that the most significant aspects of human interaction can be explained by specifically NON-TRANSCENDENTAL reasons.
Is somebody kind to me? It could be that I remind them of their daughter.
Is somebody cruel to me? It could be because my accent reminds them of the devil.
Most of the time what happens to us, in terms of the way others treat us, has to do very little with our own behaviour — it has much more to do with the quite small emotional triggers which occur in others who treat us to their internal worlds.
What has brought this most home to me has been the Transcendentalists themselves, who resist empirical evidence (which can go against their abstractive notions. They also often fail to seek for empirical explanations which could explain or contradict their often stereotyping notions — the categories of things which make up their worlds.
Every time it becomes obvious to me that somebody is ignoring a phenomenon which is right in front of their face, I chalk one up against the Transcendentalists. Their paradigm does not give them enough scope to explore reality.
I am curious about the way that “autobiographical memory”, according to Damasio, is a specific neurological source of identity, which seems to be a product (in part?) of one’s accumulated somatic markers (conditioned memory). These are memories of one’s own experiences which continue to condition one — as internal neurological networking.
What happens when one seeks to override, by act of will, everything that one is and feels? One destroys the ultimately important quality about one’s being human — one’s self identity. One overrides this self-identity with an act of the will, imposing imperatives about “what one should be”, rather than accepting what one is and working with that. Emotionally, one thus destroys oneself. And this must lead to panic and terrible fear, as well as an overwhelming sense of confusion and self-condemnation.
Socially imposed imperatives do not promote the benefits of such an introspective and affirmative approach as memoir writing.