Last night there was a thunderstorm, the tectonics of the sky shifting apart..
Sitting on a screened-in porch, I recorded the audio on my laptop, which listening to today just sounds like breath across a microphone, mildly startled static. There is a line from Melville, about “the air informed with intelligences,” and how “in ourselves we originate nothing.” We live, in other words, in an ecology of information, nodes in an electric network.
If I write, it is out of gratitude, metabolic instinct, the switching on of the strange microphone of a written voice I’ve cultivated over decades of breathing.
I intend this blog as an exercise in public scholarship, giving away the best ideas I have, breathing out instead of breathing in. A tear between the professional and personal sections of mental sky, whispering static. My academic work as I would present it to those I care about, rather than those who might give me a job. No-budget scholarship, a platform that can survive the worst case scenarios for my employment. It will be read, I imagine, only by those who already know me, and are curious about the words under my skin.
My dissertation grew from the idea of a literary ecology, or an environment in which genres and texts evolved, and on which their survival depended. A metaphor, but a metaphor that kept growing beyond the literary to the literal, like a tree growing towards sunlight. Or better yet, like a plant on a screened-in porch, that had to be watered because it couldn’t feel the rain, constrained by its genre and conventions. Still, though, the ideas held a bonsai-like affinity to larger horizons, to a real love for the emergent complexities of the natural and evolving world.
I graduated over a year ago, and still haven’t found a job. Emerson, one of the writers I studied, wrote that around every circle, a larger circle can be drawn. Since I started college (1996!) professors, and thoughts of professorship, have been near the center of my universe and self-imagined futures. Now, it seems, it is time to look in the opposite direction, towards the unpublishable peripheries, and less planned and lucrative horizons. At the very least I have to bridge the gap of cognitive dissonance between my values and my value, all I have learned that is worthwhile and how little (I have learned) that I am worth. Academia, after all, is more of a potted plant than a desert full of sage. I’m haunted by thoughts of ghost-writing, editing, and open-source everything. It is hard for me to focus on just one path.
Without permission I can re-introduce some of the built up photo-synthetic hum of argumentation and ideas, putting energy back into the system, without converting it to an acceptably boring voltage. The recurring theme will be this: how intellectual and interpretive communities can grow independently of credentials, funding, and disciplinary fences. A market-driven society, I will argue, in which all communication is commodity, can not adequately value the creative potential of its citizens. More specifically, this means I will be blogging about Open Education, auto-didacticism, and intersections of literature, society, and the living biosphere. Posts will combine my personal reflections with my professional aspirations, sharing the preoccupations of my thoughts with family, friends, and any strangers who feel the slightest sympathetic resonance. Everything I know, I want to give away for free.
This is my instinct, the most natural way to express my gratitude to the human and natural ecologies to which I belong.