Erik (eriktrips) wrote,

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24 hours

once every fifteen years or so I have a night where I cannot sleep.

when that happens I find something else to do so tonight I watched the dvd of Jim's last lecture and tried to remember for the nth time what it was that I once thought I knew about such things as complexity and the sheen it lends to the mundane and how every now and again its little halo would displace itself just enough to make, say, the chalkboard reverberate with unspeakable potential.

that is not very good and I will have to come up with a better way of saying it once I have had sleep and then coffee and then food and then more coffee but let me just say this and that is that hell itself depends upon fixing that vibration in simple and distinct terms that cancel one another out--or resolve into a perfect whole, which amounts to much the same thing--and that heaven depends upon hell and that never in my life have I been so compulsively but unwillingly drawn into making these sorts of distinctions as during that time when I was quite nearly insane. [1]

which tells me something about the urge to generalize and make pat.

it is a Simpsons episode where Lisa expounds Ocaam's Razor, or the principle that the simplest explanation of a phenomenon is probably the correct one, and the last time I saw this episode I got caught on the possibility that the simple explanations I was given for the way of the universe were thus probably the correct ones and this was not something I wanted to be true so I thought for a bit and what I came up with was that the difficulty lies in framing explanations that take everything into account. thus the simplest even must actually explain and not just posit and this means that for complex phenomena the explanations have to be very careful not to gloss over areas that should not be glossed over.

just now I googled Ocaam's Razor to find it characterized as a "convenient rule-of-thumb [which] urges us, when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well, to choose the simpler." see now this is more subtle than Lisa Simpson's version in that the critical question would be whether the data are well explained, and not just whether the explanation is itself simple.

anyway. this disjointed rumination began upon hearing Jim make reference to his favorite metaphor, the rhizome, wherein is reflected a kind of consistency of complex relations that do not reduce to a simple hierarchy, and upon almost remembering when I had the hots for complexity and could actually hold it (or not hold it, or be held by it) without incurring the wrath of some introjected superegoic entity--that thought that wants to be god by vanquishing the devil of perversity when it may well be that the perversity is divine and the entity the antichrist.

but so I was almost just remembering it and wondering if I will eventually be able actually to remember it because it made life so much more interesting. which isn't to say there is not something interesting about being obsessed with things you wouldn't think about if you could help yourself but you can't--it is interesting insofar as the misfirings of neurochemistry are interesting especially when you think it could never happen to you.

the question though given that Jim was talking about pedagogy and that today I went to a meeting about rhetoric pedagogy in which I and three other students discussed how to spend a grant we received to come up with something like a rhetoric pedagogy or if not a discrete instance of such at least a few elements that might be thrown together this way and that to create, when needed, that elusive event known as freshman composition the question is how to mediate complexity or for me the question is how to mediate complexity and the desire to articulate it as much as possible within a context that, if I am to pay my bills when I grow up, will be an academic one and one in which I am called upon, one way or another, to teach.

the other question I have is how did he do it. how do you stand there in front of hundreds of people and be confident that you can talk for an hour or more from just a few notes. how do you translate your own anxiety into a believable passion for the complex and the wonderful. not that the passion itself is fake but rather eclipsed by stress.

today which has long been yesterday I had conversations that I was glad to have had afterwards. one was this pedagogy meeting which made me feel like I was on a committee undertaking a project and set me to wondering if this is what normal adults do and the other was with a student who has been in grad school one year longer than I have and has one chapter of his dissertation written and many yet to go. in this conversation I learned that I am not alone which is one of those things I learn from time to time but it always surprises me to have it reiterated. we talked a little about ambition of which I think I might actually have a little more than he but not in any kind of a constructively extroverted way such that it finds an outlet and we talked about the horror of going on the job market after graduation and the unique difficulties of starting your career in your 40s such as your disinclination to move away from the place that finally feels like home to wherever your first job offer is "for just a few years" as that could mean you live out your old age there.

and we talked about how having a dissertation to write has suddenly made us prolific writers in every arena except the dissertation itself.

somehow this was all connected. well to the extent that Jim's passion was teaching and my passion is writing or thinking or something and that I am not sure how to get the twain to meet especially when so much of my energy is spent trying to move beyond almost remembering things.

so much upkeep for the apparatus.

which should include going to bed before dawn which I generally succeed at just not tonight.

[1] the nurse practitioner I saw at the student health center the other day [1.5] did not know what zyprexa was so I told her it was an antipsychotic and it was for.. and I hesitated because I was not sure what to say and she piped in with a shrug well it's an antipsychotic! like I had said antihistamine or something equally obvious. then she asked why I was on testosterone so I told her. can you blame me for not liking novel medical visits? I mean everyone has their embarrassing health narrative that they have to go through every time they get a new doctor but really when I have to make the first two things you know about me are that I am a transsexual and may be psychotic I get a little uptight. she then asked if I'd ever had high blood pressure before at which point I confided that I was a little uptight just then so my blood pressure might be unusually elevated.

what is the one thing you hate telling new medical personnel?

it occurs to me that you might not want to tell me either.

[1.5] the sore throat by the way eventually abated on its own. at this point it is merely scratchy which is one reason I am up: coughing is still compulsory at night.

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