Saturday, September 19, 2009

Found Art / Angst

what i'm letting go

Pictured Above: Found fragments of an anonymous psyche

On a recent trip to the East Bay Creative Reuse Depot I picked up some packaging supplies and discovered the following therapeutic missive scribbled inside one particularly fancy roll of paper I brought home:

What I'm letting go:

• A paper focused on an history survey of feminist scholarship / critique / analytics in anthropology

• Laura Nader's opinion of me

Not only did the very obvious grad school angst resonate with me, but so too did the specific sentiment about Professor Nader. Even as a doe-eyed undergraduate in one of her wildly popular lecture courses at Cal, I recall wanting desperately to impress Nader. There was something about the material and her rather intense delivery of it that made me want to 'continue the conversation' (as academics are wont to say). But I never successfully infiltrated the small coterie of sycofans who often walked with her back to her office. The one time that I did work up the gumption to do the risky 'walk and talk,' I found myself discussing neither Feyerabend nor Foucault (as planned), but the California community college system (of which I was product). I spoke of some it its problems, while she reeled off its benefits. Despite my status as the native informant in the discussion, my ideas were thoroughly rebuffed. I quietly broke away from the hungry pack of students before any more damage could be done to my fragile transfer-student ego.

Though it was the last time I ever walked and talked with any of my professors, this moment en route to Kroeber Hall was only the beginning of a protracted and continuing series of socially awkward and intensely regrettable academic interactions courtesy of graduate school. In hu's own way, the author of this secret epistle discovered at the Depot has productively reminded me that such experiences are likely the norm rather than the exception...and that sometimes you just have to let things go, even if only anonymously on a roll of fancy paper bound for the recyclery.