Cicero When He Was Sexist

“[G]ood oratory is not necessarily good history,” (Leen 141). Indeed I would say that “good” or convincing or entertaining oratory that is also accurate and without exaggeration, “good history” is very, very hard to come by. Since it was posited in my English 515 that story, that Homer’s poetry as propaganda – a rhetoric of storytelling to persuade the masses to a certain agenda – and more recently since this course’s first and second readings on Cicero -last week adding Nietzsche on lying – well, rhetoric is not some noble thing (I didn’t post because I was presenting). Plato and Aristotle and Quintilian were in fact defending it and/or trying to lead it down a moral pathway. Cicero is the example of success and danger is persuasive rhetoric.

Cicero is who I am teaching my students to watch for as they read and communicate and take things in. Just because you are convinced, does not mean it’s accurate. It’s a constant battle of the Skeptics movement and the makers of a podcast I listen to regularly – The Skeptics Guide to the Universe (although thanks to graduate school and ending a five-year relationship I haven’t had time to recently). They are battling for moral, true rhetoric to represent and communicate the science as opposed to the often sensationalized and fallacy embedded persuasions of the news, religious fanatics or teachings trying desperately to grab the attentions of students.

It is disappointing, so say the least that some of the rhetoric to represent class in ancient rhetoric times (my personal master’s project/topic) is alongside a blatantly sexist and successful argument by Cicero. “In fact, if I may be allowed to inject a personal note,” Cicero says in the beginning of his defense of Caelius, “I myself rose to fame from such origins as these, and, whatever glory I have gained in the courts and the government, the esteem of those closest to me has seconded it in no small degree.” This after an introduction of the terrible type of woman Clodia was – and he wins with this argument, by the way.

But perhaps it in a reinforcement of a long, long held tradition of inequality within the inequalities. The moral priorities of working-class today tend to contain very specific ideas of what it is to be an appropriate woman. It was a mark of shame or at the very least a point of contention for my mother to work a part-time minimum wage job at an arts and crafts store, even though I, the youngest, was twelve and hardly in need of nurturing. But as Anne Leen writes, “The home was supposed to reflect a woman’s strict adherence to the rules of social conduct which, no matter how different from the actual practice in the late Republic, customarily demanded chastity, fidelity and wifely obedience,” (145). The parallel for my own life is hard to ignore – a one-income household isn’t a reality anymore (especially not on factory wages) but is how it’s supposed to be or ideally be in the conservative culture I come from. There is movement and change on this of course, but in a court of the church or has an indicator of a person’s credibility or character in court – a Cicero in today’s world could successfully argue and win. I look at the way women politician’s are treated and critiqued by the public eye – or even how they are chosen because they might “sell” well (Sarah Palin comes to mind). I don’t see leaks and shaming of male celebrities and their dick picks but there is shaming (what sluts to have such picture on their phones in the first place, nevermind that they were illegal hacked) of the female celebrity counterparts.

The more you study classical rhetoric the more you see that you are just studying the same issues in a different time and hemisphere than that of present day US.

Cicero When He Was Sexy

“…eloquence without wisdom is often most mischievous…” the young and later self-condemned Cicero writes –appropriately – from de Inventione; for who isn’t inventing themselves at twenty-one- years- old? Cicero goes on to talk about eloquence and make me curious if what he actually means is rhetoric until he answers and defines that for me in part V of Book I:  “A very great and extensive portion of it is artificial eloquence, which men call rhetoric.” And again the note, the battle of the powers of The Word (Volosinov reference, English 515) to persuade – that eloquence is wielded for both evil and for good. It seems Cicero and maybe every rhetorician ever has pondered on this morality in rhetoric. The first few weeks of this classical rhetoric class I was finding it a bit taxing – but then as I assign the rhetorical analysis paper in my English 101 class and am reminded and I teach of the ways news stations, ads, speeches and damn near everything has a rhetoric – that is to say, how often rhetoric is used for unethical purposes. And, as Lacey pointed out in presentation last week, the unethical use of anger and calmness dichotomy (Aristotle) in our everyday rhetorical lives.

And speaking of Aristotle, thank the gods for Cicero. He is, it seems in reading his work and also Wikipedia on Cicero, the reason we have a nice concise version of Aristotle’s Rhetoric to begin with. From Book I part VII, the canons:

“And these are the divisions of it, as numerous writers have laid them down: Invention; Arrangement; Elocution; Memory; Delivery. Invention, is the conceiving of topics either true or probable, which may make one’s cause appear probable; Arrangement, is the distribution of the topics which have been thus conceived with regular order; Elocution, is the adaptation of suitable words and sentences to the topics so conceived; Memory, is the lasting sense in the mind of the matters and words corresponding to the reception of these topics. Delivery, is a regulating of the voice and body in a manner suitable to the dignity of the subjects spoken of and of the language employed.

…But we consider that the man who writes a treatise on the art of rhetoric ought to write about two other subjects also; namely, about the materials of the art, and about its divisions. And it seems, indeed, that we ought to treat of the materials and divisions of this art at the same time.”

He ends with stated invention as the most important canon. Makes sense seems how the title is de Inventione.

Another part that stood out to me in this text is that once again, it would seems the problems or complaints of academia – at least that I have – are super duper old:

“For of those who are worthy of fame or recollection, there is no one who appears either to have said nothing well, or everything admirably. So that it seemed folly either to forsake the sensible maxims brought forward by any one, merely because we are offended at some other blunder of his, or, on the other hand, to embrace his faults because we have been tempted by some sensible precept which he has also delivered” (Book II.ii).

And of our main man, Aristotle (and oh that we could have an Aristotle the next generation!) that, “…he has disentangled them with great diligence and explained their difficulties.” Quintilian called for reading and lot of it but hold on, only the good stuff. Aristotle perhaps did not bother with that but instead, according to young and learning (and restless?) Cicero, provided us with something Quintilian would value reading.

Recant Reviling Love

I am going to have to say the appeal of the metaphor for love and rhetoric is quite effective for drawing in the audience. Perhaps it is unprofessional to say about the reflections on my personal life as pertains to Plato’s writings – but then I think the Greeks had an altogether different view of what professionalism might be. Suffice to say, this is the most I have laughed reading for classical rhetoric so far.

Phaedrus’ recounting of Lysias’ speech says lovers without love are better because Love gets exhausted, keeps score of the wrongs over the years, is irrational, jealous limiting and not a friend – a friend would point out flaws but Love does not. So, speaking of professionalism, the case is that sex for pleasure versus love turns out better. I can get on board with this metaphor for rhetoric and writing. It is subjective – there’s not one right way – it’s limiting, there are many ways to communicate, why writing? And it definitely can be exhausting.

However, sex without love also cannot ultimately satisfy and so – recant! Socrates recants after all agreeing with Phaedrus (except that he didn’t argue it well and that Socrates could do it better). The two discourses, he says, were lacking in delicacy: “Would not anyone who was himself of a noble and gentle nature, and who loved or ever had loved a nature like his own, when we tell of the petty causes of lovers’ jealousies, and of their exceeding animosities, and of the injuries which they do to their beloved, have imagined that our ideas of love were taken from some haunt of sailors to which good manners were unknown – he would certainly never have admitted the justice of our censure?” (243 c-d).  Indeed. Bias wrecks the rhetoric, just as love gone wrong wrecks the ways we love ever after. It’s like the misuse of rhetoric has wounded rhetoricians like Plato and Quintilian deeply – and maybe this is why there is so much talk about a rhetorician/orator needed to be morally good.

It feels a lot like the case I make to my students: I know writing has hurt you before, been painful, made you feel dumb or frustrated – but it has it’s uses! There can be good writing experiences! In the love metaphor, just because there was cheating and insults and they kicked you out of the house before you had a place to stay, does not mean that’s going to happen again. As teachers in college we have to address the wounded and make a safe place for students to make all the blunders of new love without criticism.

Writing Reading Responding for English 509 in the 509

This time around for classical rhetoric I did a more straightforward pre-read, post-read process. I think I would’ve been more organized to do it in a similar fashion for last week – but never mind that  now. I end after Gorgias and Isocrates because including Plato as well was running a bit long. Also I really dislike reading, engaging in the dialogued format.

Pre-reading Gorgias – Wikipedia, our increasingly less controversial friend – states that the Economium of Helen is a rhetorical demonstration to attract students. Professor Villanueva referenced this phenomenon (a bit starry-eyed at the glory days of rhetoric) as well in contemporary rhetoric.

Post-read, I thought that maybe I would spot the advertising rhetoric – but beyond the defense of Helen (and did I actually read this already in Contemporary Rhetoric? I don’t know) as a popular topic of the time, I didn’t really recognize. But I think his arguments as summed up in the end are thorough, if not convincing, “How then is it necessary to regard as just the blame of Helen, who either passionately in love or persuaded by discourse or abducted by force or constrained by divine constraints did the things she did, escaping responsibility every way?” (20). I also found prior statements to be a bit counter to the defense of rhetoric in the first place, “Those who have persuaded and do persuade anyone about anything are shapers of lying discourse” (11) and “for to tell knowing people things they know supplies corroboration but does not convey enjoyment” (5). I particularly like the later and agree with it though I’ve nothing new to add about it for my knowing people reading.

Gorgias’ rhetoric that I found most impressive was early on and contained many ideologies still in effect today, “For it is not natural for the superior to be hindered by the inferior, but for the inferior to be ruled and led by the superior–for the superior to lead and the inferior to follow” (6).

A powerful show a rhetoric keeping the class systems in place – because those in power, by this statement, are indeed superior. For someone hearing this it creates a powerful internalized less than effect – this same rhetoric happens today under the guise of “If you work hard enough in America, you can make it” e.g. if you are poor it’s your fault and you’re lazy. If you work hard and still suffer you are just somehow unintelligent – a very real and literal interpretation made by my own working-class father.

Isocrates touches on the same issue, “But why wonder at those who are by nature envious of all superior excellence, when certain even of those who regard themselves as superior and who seek to emulate me and imitate my work are more hostile to me than is the general public?” (16). This is a far cry from the have and have nots – that some people are better than others is a given – it’s a matter of convincing that you, that Isocrates,  was one of the betters. …another reference to class/caste hierarchy in 28, condemning his contenders to being less cultivated than their servants (because of course they have servants, and of course servants are not educated).

But I jump ahead of my pre-reading for Isocrates, which involved Wikipedia once again and rereading, revisting the timelines I found from last week. Isocrates is very influential rhetorician and teacher, Gorgias as one of his mentors (wiki) and generally is listed as one of the big deals, top 3 to 8 or so listed, on the timelines (honestly, I think before I thought people were just saying Socrates, the really famous and later one, incorrectly or weird – like with a hesitation, “Uh, I, you know, I-socrates). I noticed by years he overlaps sophists and classical rhetoric (http://prezi.com/rii-fdiwla18/composition-rhetorical-theory-a-timeline/) but he pretty clearly states where he stands on that, “For notwithstanding that I strive to live in a manner above reproach and without offence to others, I am continually being misrepresented by obscure and worthless sophists and being judged by the general public, not by what I really am, but by what they hear from others” (5). Not a sophist.

Isocrates rhetoric feels and sounds like present day political mudslinging campaigns and then from 10, I wonder if I am reading  a common man appeal? Saying he’s not born to the same abilities in Athens, and later in 11 a “hard work pays off” rhetoric. We see this idea more as Isocrates defines what he considers to be a good educated man 29-32. Arts, sciences and a specialized skills, demonstrated in writing, if I understand him correclty, versus oratory. But specifically those with judgment and day to day “applicable” knowledge – the ability to act on their feet – also morality (there it is again, moral=good rhetoric as read from Quintilian last week) and the ability to put up with assholes but also don’t get overexcited (31).  Someone who isn’t arrogant, which is funny after the big long, “I am awesome speech” we read – but again the theme of hard work over inheritance or, “men with character” (32). Also I finally looked up oligarchy, a word I hear used a fair amount but never bothered with until now.

I am already over word count so I’ll be mysterious and save the rest for class.

My turn for a little more, English 509

External Sources (More Please!)
I have good news and I have bad news.
Reading the secondary is infinitely more appealing to me – I ultimately have no interest to study classical rhetoric to the extent that these authors have, but I also couldn’t appreciate what they are writing or fully what I’m trying to do in my field without reading the base.
For Tacitus
Highlights from:
Development of Language and Style in the Annals of Tacitus. Author(s): F. R. D. Goodyear Source: The Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 58, Parts 1 and 2 (1968), pp. 22-31Published by: Society for the Promotion of Roman StudiesStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/299692 .
“Whatever has happened in books I3-I6, it is at most a re-adjustment of stylistic technique within a pre-existing genre, not a radical transformation. (4) And this leads on to another difficulty, which is the immense complication of Tacitus’ language and style. There is no one easily detectable pattern of development. For instance, the process is not simply one of accumulation, the adding of more new and colourful features of vocabulary and phraseology. The converse is equally important, the discarding of words and phrases which seem to Tacitus no longer acceptable; we find a continual reshaping and experiment, sometimes bringing in bold and unusual features, sometimes discarding them. No style can develop simply by accumulation. Some linguistic experiments 8 R. H. Martin has raised one or two pertinent objections to the view propounded by will establish themselves permanently, some will not. And the taste of an author may change, producing either a greater refinement of his style or the opposite. In Tacitus there is, I believe, a continual refinement in general: the words and phrases which seem over-rhetorical, over-poetical and over-colourful tend increasingly to be discarded. But in detail there is no simple formula.”

He then goes into evidence of change – this I can nerd out about with him on, but not – in that I have not the passion or patience to achieve what he has on my own – only to benefit from his work.
Where does this leave me for this class? I dunno. But here is his conclusion, another highlight I wanted to provide:
“CONCLUSION The main points I have tried to make are: (i) That Tacitus’ stylistic development is extremely complicated and hardly to be explained by any simple formula. (2) That, while a definite change of vocabulary is found in I3-I6, its importance has been much exaggerated, because it affects only part of Tacitus’ vocabulary, because there is 17 To what extent change of source may have contributed to change of style is hard to assess. Certainly Tacitus’ historical sources could sometimes serve as stylistic models-at least Tacitus seems prepared to borrow from them an epigram or turn of phrase. But I doubt whether change of source could possibly affect the basic material of his language. And, though a partial change of source is likely after book i2, we know nothing of possible stylistic differences between Tacitus’ sources. ”
The highlight/chunk from: Senatorial Speeches and Letters in Tacitus’ Annals Author(s): G. A. Harrer Source: Studies in Philology, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Oct., 1918), pp. 333-343 Published by: University of North Carolina Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4171737

“LANGUAGE AND STYLE IN THE ANNALS OF TACITUS 29 substantial evidence for continuity of style in these same books, because an examination of books I I-I2 shows the change already beginning earlier, and, above all, because the change, which consists essentially in the discarding of various words in favour before, or a diminution in their use, is in no way different from other changes which had occurred previously in Tacitus’ writings. (3) That, this being so, it is mistaken to talk of a reversal of earlier tendencies in books I3-I6: the same process continues, a process of discarding and replacement. (4) That, if there is any one most characteristic tendency, it is a tendency towards greater refinement and subtlety, a movement away from the odd and affected. And this tendency continues right through from beginning to end-the linguistic change in I3-i6 is part of it. In the sense that this tendency does so continue, Wdlfflin’s picture of an un-broken development (however much it may need to be re-interpreted) seems to me nearer the truth than Lofstedt’s picture of a change of direction after book I2.19.”

All ancient historians, Greek and Roman, embellished their works with many and long speeches, put in the mouths of persons of the period concerned, but having often little or nothing in common with the speeches actually delivered. More than this, the historians often composed speeches for occasions on which none were in fact delivered. Many inserted such speeches to break the monotony of the narrative, to present to the reader an interesting piece of rhetoric, in other words, for the sake of the style, not the historical accuracy. Thucydides among the Greek historians took a higher standard. And he alone has stated his method of procedure: ” As to the speeches which were made either before or during the war, it was hard for me, and for others who reported them to me, to recollect the exact words.”

For Quintilian
I found myself more and more uncomfortable teaching rhetoric without knowing it; teaching ethos pathos logos without ever having read Aristotle. And, knowing from contemporary rhetoric the western and imperialists, conquerors over the conquered priorities of this rhetoric, so ancient that we still herald – that is, one of my students asked why we wouldn’t talk about Quintilian. His father told him about it and the tie was the ways in which some people are heralded why others are not. It was a racial conversation and situation which I could not do justice.
Victor will tell you, George Kennedy too, that Quintilian is Roman. They are not wrong. From what I read of Kennedy he is assimilated by force and choice in the ways in we are in this life – you could fight it, but why make your life harder? And if you can play the game of those in power, benefit from it in terms of education and quality of life, well then how radical are you really? I am of course talking to myself now – the conforming I justify, the ways in which I easily blend and conform because I am white, the ways in which I want to be different and stand out because I have that luxury, that safety. The last point I learn and relearn regularly from the beautiful people in my life that open up and share, not because I am deserving, but because they like the way I think or maybe, must maybe I made them feel safe, or, maybe because I was demanding or in a position of power that made them feel as if they had no choice.

Important to me about Quintilian as stated by Kennedy:
“The family was certainly not a member of the senatorial aristocracy, and thus lacked not only the advantage but also the prejudices which that entailed;” (Kindle location 184).

This of course because of my interest in working class studies and the ways in which empire “improves” quality of life say – in my life here versus Guatemala – but also forces assimilation and continues on classes and prejudice – think, she/he is a credit to her race – or for women in the workforce. If you perform in a certain way well – Quintilian for rhetoric and oratory say – you are rewarded but also unable to shake a sort of branding.
This assumes a lot in regards to my present-day values on patchy history (talvez, I see what I want to see).

“Quintilian agreed with predecessors that three things were generally necessary: nature, practice, and art. One had to be born with a certain something, and in the right place, at the right time. Native ability could go a long way, especially if supported by wealth, high birth, moral force, or determination, but in Quintilian’s view study was necessary for real perfection. Practice meant self-consciousness and expert criticism. Art meant education, attending lectures, studying books, and learning the system. Both practice and art took teachers, time, and money, but these could be afforded for the future leaders of the state” (Kindle location 115).

Questions: all kinds
Our professor’s filter and choose what books we read – how do we trust and feel about that?
Is the different translations for our benefit, for a close comparison – to notice differences in translation choices?
“My goal in this seminar is to investigate, with you, classical rhetoric in its material
practice: as something smart people did and lived.”
How does this benefit our scholarship? Or, I see our writing as being the bridge gap – I’m hoping yes to this?
Is it (classical rhetoric) important because it’s the earliest written down, because it has universal truths about rhetoric? because some academic once (medieval to renaissance revival) said so?

English 509 Reading Response

English 509: Classical Rhetoric

September 11, 2014

It’s week three, week two for reading response. We started with Phaedrus then read a Tacitus – Quintilian split. Didn’t know what to make of it really, still don’t just yet, but then, I’ve always been a slower, more pensive learner and reader.

Tacitus, The Annals, Books 1 and 6

In the first verse, if versus are what we are calling them, Tacitus writes, “Dictatorships were held for a temporary crisis.” From the patchy knowledge I have of this time period, this happened a lot. And then, because of the American tradition of “liberty or death” and trading safety for freedom, this from verse two stood out to me, “aggrandised by revolution, they preferred the safety of the present to the dangerous past” (Book 1). And revolution was quieted, “Then by degrees the instinct of obedience returned. They quitted the gates and restored to their places the standards which at the beginning of the mutiny they had grouped into one spot” (Book 1, 28).  Indeed, as my classmate noted last week, Cat I believe it was, this seemed to be a pretty depressing and violent time to live in (though The Annals is almost a 100 years later than The Histories we read last week).

Also a theme: sexism. Book 1: “Then, there were feminine jealousies, Livia feeling a stepmother’s bitterness towards Agrippina, and Agrippina herself too being rather excitable, only her purity and love of her husband gave a right direction to her otherwise imperious disposition” (33) and “Neither wife nor son are dearer to me than my father and the State” (42). Later in Book 6: “But Agrippina, who could not endure equality and loved to domineer, was with her masculine aspirations far removed from the frailties of women” (25). Last week we discussed Tacitus as a way of knowing the cultural norms – I am a bit startled by the unoriginal similarities in cultural norms of present day. I want us to have changed more. The Roman empire may or may not be the original source of social problems and tendencies, questionable values, but they certainly were one of the earliest to write it down.

Quintilian Book 10 Chapter 1 and Book 12 Chapter 1

The value of reading and an Orator must be a good man.

Again, I didn’t really think I would encounter problems, points or issues that would be so exactly the same for us today, as they were 2,000 mas or menos years ago. There was the scope of written texts in Quintilian’s time as now, yet what to be read is the dilemma because: “to go through authors one by one would be an endless task” (Book 10, 37) “[f]or a long time, too, none but the best authors must be read, and such as are least likely to mislead him who trusts them” (Book 10, 20).  Our problem now is how to we decide which are the best, and even then, how can we possibly get to them all – classical rhetoric memoria trumped by the ability to google. Also the problem, the subjectivity of what is best(what writing is best) and what parts are in fact a universal indicator of ‘good’ writing, a thing that possibly isn’t static either.

 

 

Soul Splits

January 27, 2014 10:52 am PST

I receive an email with subject: CONGRATULATIONS. I don’t know it yet. I’m teaching my second section of English 101 in my second semester of my MA program but my first time as a regular teacher.

I’m using a new online learning software that my partner worked on and works on as part of his phd work. It’s going great. Teaching is going great (I think).

I see the email and suspect what it is but don’t dare hope. They said I would hear back by the 25th of January so when I didn’t I just assumed I didn’t get it. I’m in my History of Language class which I’m nerding out on as one of my earlier discovered loves; the discovery a success out of the failure of my first semester of college ten years ago. I resist opening the email.

When I do I know I received funding to go to my first CCCCs conference without acquiring new debt. High on this I write a scholar/author/teaching on the east coast that I’ve been research-stalking for months. He writes me back. It’s wonderful. Everything is so stinking good that I have the thought that I’d better prepare for the fallout. But I don’t dwell on it.

I’ve come to feel I’ve got to enjoy these spots of time because they will not be permanent or lasting except in inaccurate memory. I’ve come to be a little more accepting of the imperfect and sad and fumbles because they heighten the highs.

And indeed, exciting for my first peer review with the online software I got to class even earlier than usual. I didn’t have a defined backup plan, just ideas and interests to pull from when the peer annotation system completely failed and after fifteen minutes on the phone plus some emails, neither my partner nor his chair who author the software knew why it wasn’t working. It wouldn’t be fixed for my second section either.

I assign something different and am being a bit ‘naughty’ in Professional Development Colloquium or PDC as I try to work on some things for the student and my plan B lesson on my laptop. I get another email.

January 29, 12:37 pm PST

Sometime when I was sleeping perhaps, or excitedly getting ready to teach, or maybe while all of my teaching plans were going wrong, Linda died. Professor Linda Kittell died. And there is nothing I can do. And I cannot cry because I’m in a PDC. And then I cannot cry because I’m in History of Language and I split it two in a way that I know intimately but will not share here because it is a public space and while typos and developing writing are okay to have attached to your professional name, there are things, many things, that I can only say under my penname and remain “hireable”.

I used to split in two on a regular basis. I did it for Linda’s class four years ago, spring semester 2010. I regularly explained this to my professors in detached and clinical terms so I wouldn’t feel so vulnerable and so foolish but also so that they would understand what was happening with me as an older-than-usual, struggling college student. Professors were always extremely support and understanding. But Linda did not just support and understand she had lived experience, a term retaught to me by a wonderful woman and colleague of the TRiO community we share as first-generation college students.

Linda knew splitting in two. She wouldn’t let me off the hook for it. But somehow, was so completely empathetic too. I got a ‘C’ in her class. I didn’t agree with her teaching style though I didn’t really think I deserved better than a ‘C’ either. I didn’t see her much after that. I split in two again. I would think about her a lot and always felt conflicted about her.

She remembered me, but I don’t think she fretted like I did. She had bigger fish to fry. She was writing. But then, she got sick. And then I never saw her until she finished her book of poems. She remembered me, but she didn’t fret. I remember how changed she looked from her battle of cancer. But her laugh, the way she read aloud, it was just like in the classroom. I bought her new book and her old one and she signed them for me. I think I will always feel split in two about Linda. Grieving is a selfish, self-absorbed process so much of the time and I think now is no exception.

Could I have tried harder in her course even while split in two? Is she watching me struggle with theory now and laughing, “I told you so.” Is she cheering me on?  The answer is neither. Why the hell would she care? It’s not that she didn’t care about her students, she just has bigger fish to fry. Baseball to watch and play. Peace and release from pain. Who gives a fuck, about a ‘C’ four years ago?

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My eyes burn but I don’t cry. I go about my day. I keep my vaccination appointment for my travel this summer that will fill my MA’s language requirement and in a way that isn’t grade-driven and is soul-filling instead of flattening. I go to my graduate seminar. I split in two. I answer emails about the fiasco technology fail in class this morning alone in my closet-made-office while I eat my leftovers heated up dinner. My eyes burn but I don’t cry.

I go to Dr.Dyson’s speech as planned. I reconnect with very important people to me, that TRiO colleague I mentioned, and another TRiO colleague I haven’t. We talk about my upcoming trip to Guatemala because my arm is sore from all the vaccination shots and the newly mentioned college has some ties in Guatemala. And we talk about community and plans we have and race, class and gender issues and what I am learning about the earmarked ‘working class’ community in the field of English (most of us TRiO folk/alumni are working class and first-generation college students and often categorized ‘low-income’ and ‘high-risk’ for dropping out of college). It’s very fulfilling; it’s very important to me.

Part of the walk home is talking with one of these wonderful women. The other part listening to a podcast so I don’t have to be alone with my thoughts. My eyes burn.

I get home to good news! The technology, the peer annotation software is fixed and working. It’s would be so wonderful. It will be so wonderful.

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But first I shut myself in my home office which is chaotic and roomy and me, not like my graduate school closet (right of passage, I understand). I bring out Linda’s books. I take pictures to avoid reading them. I will reread them; they are good poems, but I just can’t. Not just yet.

And I feel compelled to sit down and write this to you now. Because for a long time writing is where I don’t feel split in two; even when I lie to myself or try to talk myself into believing a certain ideology in my writing, or convince someone else that I believe a certain something, or that I’m totally and completely of the academic mind, even all these things, when I write I am whole. When I write I am not split in two. When I write I can cry.

I pretty sure Linda got that.