We are a strange mix of our past, our present, and our future, as the breadth of our diversity contains the whole of the human story. Much of the existence of humanity is still characterized by the sleepy quality of an earlier stage in our evolution, a stage in which we found ourselves still enmeshed with the world around us yet beginning to know ourselves through a nascent process of differentiation; that is, of self-knowing.
It is this unassailable drive toward self that leads us to congregate in classrooms and discuss consciousness, first as something to be chewed on, considered…
Although the world is increasingly secular, myth still makes up the lower strata of the psyche. Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung believed that we carry “primordial images” in our subconscious inner worlds out of which we make meaning of our external experiences.
The opposing viewpoint argued that the mind is at birth tabula rasa, a blank slate that is molded by experience and environment. Whatever the case, it is undeniable that myth and symbol play a role in our day to day lives and our culture, whether we are conscious of it or not.
The myth I’d like to begin with…
My grandmother would not allow her daughters to wade into the ocean past their knees.
My mother would not allow her daughters to take a photo perched atop a fence overlooking a valley below, for fear that they might fall.
My great-great grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. Her mother died while she was young. She raised several siblings. She grew into a strong, steady woman, a rock for her family.
Her daughter, my grandmother, lost her father when she was two. And so my great-great grandmother did it all alone all over again. She already knew she could.
Many of us have a sense that the world-as-we-know-it is not tenable. It is unstable. It is faltering.
As a solution, some focus on the accumulation of wealth as a way to better secure their positions on what is an increasingly fracturing foundation. This gives us a sense of control in an increasingly disordered world.
Some of us may be in the uncomfortable position of realizing that this solution is not actually a solution, but an emotional salve like the deployment of nitrous oxide as the plane goes down.
Still fewer of us, when faced with this reality, choose not…
A lifetime spent navigating my gender and struggling for womanhood
When I was six years old, I decided I was beautiful. I looked in the mirror and saw long, lean legs tanned by sun, a face framed with golden hair. I saw piercing blue eyes and a tapering chin.
Everything I had seen and heard told me that these things made me beautiful. This meant I was safe, that I was going to be loved.
I was always trying to make friends with the boys because I had learned that they were smart and strong. I wanted to be like…
What do we want to lose the most?
It’s cold this morning
and I hear the trees’ limbs cracking
But I can’t be sure if it’s rain
or the rustling of the leaves
brushing against each other
because it rises and ebbs
like the wind
or indecisive clouds
Are the trees ridding themselves of morning dew
or abandoned rain,
or a memory of their solitude?
In the pitch of night they spent before
blind of each other
Though in arms’ reach
The bill collector came over today.
He asked for mother
She wasn’t home.
He said he’d come back another time.
All dressed up in a business suit
Are you trying to hide in there?
Your silver tie shines
but your eyes are dull.
Please put your blade away.
We like it clean in here.
And he flipped a coin, which I caught
said, “Thanks for the tip.”
You have been housed
In this landscape of society
Music and culture
and the well-bred
Elaborate and intricate
At his feet, the women sing
Praise and applaud
Do you have anything at all to do with this?
Maybe you are just a decoration
But then the porcelain cracks;
Part II (Read Part I here)
I spent a few days in Rome before I made it to Berlin. I wandered the city alone, taking photos of the various Piazzas and churches, and being hounded by aggressive Italian men calling, “Ciao, bella.” It was the first time I wished I had a man with me.
I arrived in Berlin feeling relieved to be anywhere else. Maybe this city would help me come back to myself, help me get out of my head, and give me some fresh perspective. …
My first stop was Greece for purely romantic reasons.
I wanted to see the Agora where Socrates had corrupted the youth of Athens. I imagined I would free climb the cliffs at Delphi to see where the Oracle stood. I learned you can’t do that. Turns out there are turnstiles, barriers, and ticket-takers. Thus, I never went to Delphi.
I had just finished my first year of grad school, left a four year relationship, turned 20, and (re)discovered alcohol. I was enjoying a new life of limitless experimentation.
I was eager find the edges of who I was…
Repentant academic. Once and future expat. Well-researched esoterica, travelogues, love letters to the universe. The world is a playground, everything desire.