Approaching a Venn Diagram of Poetry and Theatre

I cooked last night. Salted cod, kale, mashed cauliflower, roasted beets and garlic. I made dukkah, and feta cream-cheese with lemon zest.

After nearly a week of feeling ill, this was good. After literally years of not enjoying cooking, not being creative in the kitchen: this is great.

I am a cook. I am not a cook.

Fever gone, I’m heading back to work today. I’ve had several nights of bad dreams, which I’m choosing to use as a lens to examine my real insecurities.

I think that my interests are changing. It’s not that my passion is waning, but it is shifting direction. I keep fighting the desire to know that this time I will uncover it: my authentic calling. Goo to clearly-identifiable butterfly. Finally.

I remember being crushed when I read about how Robert Frost was very protective of his reputation. Of his image. I remember thinking that if even he is not good enough in his authentic shapelessness, who is?

How can one live in a body and view it simultaneously? Every mechanism for that reveals at least one, inherent distortion. Even the smoothness of a baby’s skin is an illusion of uniformity. The truth will out. Of not under a magnifying glass, then with age.

We have a new curriculum point in the rehashed version of what used to be primarily Theater History. It is about the theatricalized self. And while I am still uncomfortable with the inclusion of this subject in the classwork, I am fascinated by it.

The whole idea seems to lie in a realm between psychology and performance studies. While the education department has basically dumbed-down the academic requirements, it has ramped-up the quasi-philosophic elements. I think it attempts to turn the arts into a soft science.

When I first began teaching, I did impose a lot of my subjective perspectives on the students. I thought I had the life experience and the wisdom to interpret things correctly. If not correctly, certainly as a (implied: the more) “valid” conclusion. I have no doubt that I unintentionally played the guru of theatrical interpretation, as had so many of my instructors before me.

At some point, I began moving away from that. I try to keep my precious insights out of the classroom: “Just the facts, Mam”, and Devil’s advocate. This kind of humility has made me a much better teacher. It’s also left me with the freedom to continually question my own perspective. I think this is when I really began/begin learning.

Poetry might be defined as the clear expression of mixed feelings.’

W.H. Auden

I do agree with the concept behind the new curriculum goals, with their focus on continual learning rather on the absurd goal of “mastering” something that will always be subjectively evaluated.

But I am still at a loss in term of how to evaluate this kind of thing. It still begs the question of there being a linear progression to learning itself, and that someone somewhere sits with an unequivocal conclusion, measuring the distance crossed by each student.

It still puts lines down and says: this peg in this hole.
This perspective.
This association taints it all, so throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Maybe the arts will never find a real home in academics? After all, don’t all good mentor-ships require rebellion? Shouldn’t every living have the freedom of shapelessness?

I am not going to worry about all this for a while. I have exams to compose.


%d bloggers like this: