Some notes toward Easter

PR429.S45 G7 1980 is the call number of Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning, in our very own library — a book it would now please us to read. It has been such a fragmenting semester, but overall it has been good. I still suffer but I think it is needless.

About Reeducation: I have not undergone psychoanalysis but in my experience psychotherapy is like talking in circles around thin pamphlets while ignoring the words of profound thinkers. Two different people have suggested that better psychotherapy could be observed in the television program In Treatment, but this show is even thinner than reality as I have experienced it. My psychologist says the show is not written by experts, but Wikipedia says experts are using it in training.

In life, I learned that one must constantly sacrifice and self-harm, do penance, to prove loyalty to the only princes and princesses who had considered one’s application for protection. That would get you a poor living, but it would be better than no living and was the most to which one could aspire.

A result of this is that I do not always know when the care of the self (and I should read Foucault on this) is not another form of self-harm; I can easily transform self-fashioning into self-harm as well. I discern, however, that it is important to build from within and according to one’s will, as opposed to follow rules. Furthermore: what one does, which direction one takes, is immaterial in the end; the important thing is to build from within and according to one’s will.

This sounds very audacious. A Reeducated person, would say I was indulging in arrogance, as I am talking about doing one’s own will. But it only seems so arrogant if one has been taught that sacrifice and penitence were the key tasks at hand. (Why is it that once you have a dissertation to write, and beyond, when you have yet greater intellectual power and freedom, you are suddenly told you must no longer believe you know how to write or what to say? It is the professionalization, someone suggested, and that was an astute comment.)

In Reeducation, it was said: you had parents who drank. Therefore you must be a dishonest person and and egotistical one. Our job is to make you see these things about yourself and break you down. You must renounce the things you love because you do not deserve them, and you must do penitence. It was disappointing news then that I should learn such things, but I learned them and they are difficult to shed.

I was noticing the difference between my ceramics teachers. The one whose work I like best is the lesser teacher and I glimpsed one day that it is because she wants to make sure to remain above us. That means that teaching and research are not intrinsically opposed to one another. What impedes teaching is the clinging to power.


2 thoughts on “Some notes toward Easter

  1. Good comments. Challenging. I think In Treatment is really about Israel, for starters. The episodes are taken from an Israeli series. I watched one episode, and it was the same plot and so on as the American episode. The question it asks is this: How is one to live the good upper middle class life in a belligerent and beleaguered society where people are practically perishing of anxiety? It’s not like these people can go around with their faces hanging out, enjoying life and so on. They are SERIOUS and IMPORTANT. But I enjoy it anyway and think it does have some things to say about analysis. Just observing actors portraying people listening and making attempts to understand each other is therapy to me.

    As to your teachers: I think often teachers resent the time teaching takes away from doing their own creative work. This is not the same as rivalry. The one ceramacist I would really like to take lessons from refuses to teach. My present teacher is actually good enough, but I remain self taught, mostly, which suits me fine. I’m not much of a student but mostly an autodidact. I don’t care about approval and encouragement at all, never having had much of those things, so when I do get positive feedback I know it’s sincere.

    1. That is fascinating on the program, astute. Now I want to watch more of it.

      Teaching: I like to teach when I can really share my skills and really teach them everything I know. I think there are some who want to keep things in reserve.

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