This was a hard year. An emotionally exhausting year. In the fall, my dad got sick, suddenly, and we didn't know if he would recover. Thankfully, eventually, he did. But in that time of uncertainty I felt almost constantly like I wanted to throw up--to throw up that empty and confused physical space that had somehow appeared somewhere just above my stomach. It was both okay and wrenching.
At the same time, I was struggling desperately to make sense of my dissertation so that I could continue and finish my program. Thankfully I rallied and elevated my thinking and did. But these two things in which my father and my love of words were both imperiled in a particular way was devastating--hard to make sense of and hard to hold up under.
Lately, finally, I've been feeling better. Like I'm finally uncoiling a bit. No longer so tightly wound just holding everything together and in. But today was a hard day. I'm just tired. I need the semester to end. I've literally not done anything that just FELT GOOD or was just pleasure for pleasure's sake since, oh, probably last August. That is exhausting. And so today I was tired and read one of those articles that say something to the effect of "getting a Ph.D. is stupid because you'll never get an academic job," etc. and then continue on to berate the reader with a series of statements that seemed designed exclusively to shame the person going to graduate school and to elevate the reader (who has, more times than not, "seen the error of their ways and now understands how STUPID they were to also go to graduate school") and these articles are horrible. I don't know what good they do except express a particularly insidious sort of superiority that is mostly directed toward people who are doing something out of love. And that, I gotta say, seems cruel. As in, I don't expect to necessarily get a tenure track job, or a job at a university, after this is done. I'd hope to. But I don't expect to. I DO THIS BECAUSE I ACTUALLY LOVE IT AND CONSIDER IT A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO GET TO SPEND PART OF MY LIFE PRIVILEGING WORDS AND BOOKS AND MAKING MEANING OF THE WORLD and fuck those people in those articles for wanting to take a shit on that pleasure and simple joy. It is joy that may very well have an expiration date. I'm going to enjoy this every day and fuck your article, yo.
In some ways, they have to be written by people who can ONLY see that particular and immediate employment as the goal because, seemingly, in their hearts and the cores of their beings, don't value pleasure and creation or, because they didn't get a job, have maneuvered themselves into that headspace to make sense of their sadness. Which is understandable but, I would argue, not a way to live in pleasure.
If you don't value pleasure or possible creation, then why write? Read? Paint? Appreciate Prince? Kiss? Have sex? Share a moment with a beautiful man, the both of you lusting after a jukebox silhouette? Do anything well out of love and desire?
I'll have no more truck with these no-souled fools. I wanna do it for love, for passion, for the sheer hotness of it all. For the way that anything pleasurable feels a little like misbehaving AND like dancing. That sheer thrill of a bead of sweat running down your back as you're half-dressed on a lawn chair on a 90 degree summer, all tan and sweating like like the aftermath...