Over the summer—sometime or other—I wrote an article/essay called “Death and the Writing Instructor.” As if that was something of significance. I mean who cares about the death of the Writing Instructor or what has death to do with Writing Instructors anymore than say police persons. But I wrote it because I think death was and is still on my mind.
I liked the title, “Death and the Writing Instructor.” I think it’s pretty dramatic like War and Peace. Lots of people write titles with colons in them. That’s the big thing these days. Something like “The Death of the Writing Instructor: The implications thereof for the realization of the pedagogical imperative.” Or something. But “Death and the Writing Instructor”—I think that gets to the point. I am a dying writing instructor.
I wasn’t sure though I would try to get it published. It’s sort of an academic thing, with quotes in it from academic sources and it’s kind of about psychoanalysis and anxiety. But, I thought, hell, you wrote it. Send it out, but then I saw it didn’t have enough citations. You have to have enough citations or somebody might think you thought it up yourself or that you are claiming to have had some thoughts of your own, and that’s a strict no-no. Also citations say you are part of a “community.” The community of academics, what a joke! But I found some quotes and stuck them in so I could have more citations. I also thought about making up some citations so I wouldn’t have to read anything. But I didn’t do that.
So this is a pretty screwed up article. It’s a bit personal; I mention myself some and it’s academic, so I couldn’t figure out where it would fit. What journal might be interested I mean, in such a hybrid thing. So I sent it off to this guy I know whose work I have read and respect and who is into psychoanalysis to ask where I might send it, and he wrote back that he didn’t know, but that he liked it. And, funny, that was like enough. I forgot about sending it off because he had liked it ok and I figured that was enough.
I noticed that he had dedicated his latest book—he has written a number—to his parents. His mother died recently and his father who died a decade or so ago was born the same year as WB, 1917. We are about the same age and he wondered if other writing instructors too—many of us are baby boomers—might be going through the same sort of thing, and he happened to mention that his parents were religious fundamentalists and he had been raised in Texas. So what is this connection between people raised in the south with religious backgrounds and psychoanalysis?
My argument in the article is a little bizarre. I say teaching is a temporal act (what act isn’t) that involves the passage of something from one generation to another, from one that is fading or dying and one that is coming into being or growing, and that right at the center of this view of education is DEATH. I am teaching students now who will be around long after I am long gone, and even as our futures have little in common, so now do our pasts. My past has almost no connection that I can see to theirs. They were born around 1988, can you believe.
Anyhow, a couple of days ago, I gave the article a final read, and sent it off to a journal that might possibly be interested. Who knows. But I no matter what think that’s a great title, of particular interest to those who are Writing Instructors, and also possibly to people in general who die.
The last couple of days we had some big winds gusting to 30 mph. They wiped out the footprints at the beach and left their own pattern. The ocean too was more vigorous than usual, with a few slight whitecaps.