Nuggets from Old Magazines

 

    A  ROMANTIC

Athens’ public library has a used book sale once a month, and also a corner inside the library proper for free books, contributed by neighbors and discards.  Being a glutton for freebies, I have noticed/remembered how upbeat and hopeful we were not so many years ago (remember The Age of Aquarius?).  And that UTNE and PSYCHOLOGY TODAY were definitely good reads.  Trying to get organized, my usual rallying cry, I came across a copy of Psychology Today I had saved. I was unsure why I had saved it but when I opened it I found out why: It contains an unread article by Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D., The Decline and Fall of Personality (  Nov/Dec 1992, p. 59).

“Many of us believe that somewhere behind our masks lies the real person, that all this role playing is so much sham.  We may also believe that that for the sake of society and ourselves we should drop the roles and be what we truly are.  Yet if by chance you are beginning to doubt that there is a factual self beneath the fake, and feel the mask may just be the genuine article, that “image is everything,” you are entering the new world of postmodern consciousness.  He adds that “Slowly we are losing confidence that there is a coherent, identifiable substance behind the mask. The harder we look, the more difficult it is to find ‘anyone at home.’

For contemporary psychologists, people are much like input-output machines…what they do depends on what goes into them.”  Remember that this was long before the recently attractive idea of many toward the partly (soon wholly?) robotic man.

I never thought of myself as a romantic, but as he differentiates between the Romantic and the Modernist conceptions of the self, I have to register as a  Thinking Romantic.  (Where does curiosity belong?)

“It  is from the romantic tradition that we derive our beliefs in a profound and stable center of identity–a center which harbor[s] the vital spirit of life itself.  In the past, when it was popular,  the romantic self was a compelling account of forces buried beneath the surface of consciousness, in the deep interior of one’s being.”

It is also the home of the “soul.”  Everyone knows now that I am not religious in the usual sense of the word, but I do honor my depths and support from my unconscious.  And now I accept the mantle of being a “Romantic!”

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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