I’ve been putting off posting a fourth blog entry because I wanted to post some of the writing I’ve been doing, rather than just an update. But here it is the end of week 5 and I don’t have anything that is ready to see the light of day.
I spent much of week 4 thinking about, talking about, stressing about and finally completing the midterm self evaluation assignment. Both the assignment itself, and my three responses to it. At times I wondered why I’d agreed to do it. I have intense anxiety about both sharing my writing and talking in front of groups. In the end it was enjoyable to connect my project with the Coetzee text, and cathartic as well. This project is becoming entwined in some kind of weird, uncomfortable but rewarding feedback loop with the psychological/emotional work I’m doing in my personal life. As discussed in my self evaluations, after being at conventional colleges for years I have a deeply ingrained belief that our academic work should be separate from spiritual/emotional/psychological selves. If I’m trying to articulate anything in this project, it’s that no parts of ourselves are separate from the other, and that the messier parts of our beings should be more integrated into our public selves… so I guess that’s what is happening!
I also spent a lot of time week 4 reading the Handbook of Contemporary Animism. This is a gigantic book, textbook sized and almost 600 pages long. Allan and I chose to read only 17 out of the 40 articles but this still puts us at 150+ pages of (mostly) dense academic writing. We intended to read the HCA the third week of class and are both still chewing away at it. Meanwhile, my thoughts are still dominated by what I read in Dark Ecology week 2. The next three weeks we have three more fairly dense, heady books lined up to read. I’m wondering if we have bitten off more than we can chew, idea-wise. I feel my head about to explode with all the concepts to taste and roll around, and the connections being made between them and my somatic explorations feels like a web of magical understanding is being woven around and within me. Not a negative feeling by any means, but overwhelming. I’m not sure where it is all going or what to do with it. When Allan and I first started talking about this project, we proposed compiling our writings into a book at the end of the quarter. It quickly became clear that 10 weeks is barely enough time to scratch the surface, and I thought I would be happy to simply know at the end of the quarter what I want to write about. That narrowing down is happening, so I suppose I should be pleased with how the quarter is going so far.
As for the somatic explorations, I’ve only gone out for two “official” explorations. This week especially I was in such a state of anxiety that I barely left the house (the continuing rain not helping). I’ve had some realizations on this score since then, to be written about later, but suffice to say that I’ve ceased to see my everyday somatic (which really just means, embodied) existence as any less important or worthy of attention and exploration than some kind of ‘official’ field trip.