On Saturday, I graduate
I’m not done with academia by a long shot, but I need to start figuring a few things out. I’m going to take a year—or at least a semester off—before going off to grad school.
Some things I need to do in that time:
-travel (Starting with Belgium this summer)
-write a lot more
-try new food
-get a tattoo
-wake up in (a) strange place(s)
Yesterday, I took my last ever final exam as an undergraduate student. I stood up from my desk, handed my blue book to my professor, and walked out of the English Department building. The sky was gray and the rain was coming down and if felt an appropriate gesture by the sky above my college campus. As I walked down the hill to my car I started to notice an absence of feeling; I couldn’t feel anything.
I realized though, it would be all too easy to drive home, go to my favorite bar, call a few buddies, and drink for the next few days. But that’s exactly what I started to do. I woke up this morning and thought to myself, it’s too easy to start feeling sorry for myself. Yeah, I’ve been thrown out of the doors by my University and now I’m sitting on my ass on the hard cobblestones of the real world, but I have to do something about it.
People say this part of your life is all about open doors and opportunities. I’m going to tell you, that that’s a load of trash. There are no doors, there are no windows, there aren’t even any neon signs saying “THIS WAY!” You have to start building it all on your own from the ground up, and only then, once that building stands erect, can you tack on the door and turn the knob.
It’s too easy to get lost looking for a door. It’s also too easy to stagnate while waiting for something to happen. It sounds a cliche, but you really do have to make things happen. That’s why this next year is so important for me. I can’t just waste it thinking that everything will fall into place. My whole life I’ve given up on things when the going got tough. Well, now the going is getting tough on the most important thing—my life—and it would be too easy to give up. Not sure why I’m writing this; I guess I needed to get my thoughts written out.
Existential quandaries of an aspiring novelist/literary critic/educator/human
Imagine, if you will, that all of the art museums of the world—The Louvre, The Met, The MoMA, The Guggenheim—suddenly began installing pieces of contemporary dribble: your son’s 2nd grade finger painting piece; a series of trash cans piled on top of one another; a particularly daring macaroni noodle experiment. Next imagine that all of the people in the world began flocking to these exhibits, and lauding them for their unmatched extravagance and artistic ability. This would be a pretty devastating affair, wouldn’t it? Well this, in essence, is exactly what is happening in the literary world.
Writing truly isn’t what it once was. I mean you look at the individuals—“writers”—who are working today, and you just wonder, what happened to the real writers of the past: the thinkers/philosophers working under the guise of novelists; the storytellers who weaved intricate tales with rich, complex plot and character development; the literary masters who were not only read but imitated and idolized by m(b)illions? By todays standards you don’t have those types of writers. And before all of you jump down my throat with, “Hey, Travis! What about Harry Potter, jerk?” allow me to qualify that: as I said previously, you don’t have people worshiping individual writers; you have people worshiping individual works—and I think that says a lot about the current nature of the literary world. The days of the 20th Century are well and truly over, and they have left behind the ailing shell of an art form.
The problem is inherent in the nature of the story. Writers don’t care to think anymore. The art of writing has become debased over the past 20 years by the carelessness of contemporary “writers”. Literature has truly fallen to the notion of “writing for writing’s sake” and those who are prevalent in the literary world are doing little to breathe new life back into one of the oldest forms of art. By writing for writing’s sake I simply mean that contemporary writers are creating stories just to write; they aren’t trying to say anything profound or make the reader think. Literature has truly dissolved to a source of entertainment; an idle form of enjoyment. This upsets me greatly. Todays reader is no longer asked to think or to engage in what they are reading. They are simply asked to go along for the ride.
It’s a truly saddening thing for an aspiring “writer” to have to witness. It’s also frightening for someone who has designs on working in academia one day. Eventually, these contemporary works will fall into the category of “literature” and will be a required vein of study in Universities. I for one, don’t see how this is going to be a possibility. There isn’t an intelligent thought in the whole of the literary world right now. And forget about trying to “study” writers like J.K. Rowling. I look at my professors: brilliant individuals who have studied the masters, and who have published volumes discussing the meaning of literature. I can’t help but think, well, who the hell am I going to study? What the hell am I going to publish volumes on? After a while, studying and writing about the authors of the 20th Century becomes stagnant. At a certain point, almost everything that can be written about the great writers, will have been written; and then what?
These are the concerns I am faced with most days when I think about my future. How safe is the field I’m going into? And I’m not talking about financial security. I could give a fuck less about financial security. I’m talking about work as actual material. Yes, we will always be able to teach the works of the 19th and 20th Centuries (plus all that came before: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Swift, etc.) but what does that do for the next wave of scholars? Whose texts are we to idolize, and spend hours picking apart with fine-toothed comb?
The literary world is in a bad way, and I’ll tell you the truth, it isn’t just because people aren’t reading. It’s because people aren’t writing well enough. Intellect has long been divorced from literature. The two concepts couldn’t be more foreign to each other.
Forget all I’ve said about the literary world, and academia, and what not. This is a tendency that is affecting mankind. It is a pandemic, and something needs to be done.
A Note For My Followers (and friends)
I’ve hit something of a lull in my blogging life. Perhaps it’s time to give the jig up. I’ve been at it for a lot longer than I ever thought I would be. But I look at my blog from the time that I began, and it just seems as though it has degenerated a substantial amount. While I have no one to blame but myself, the content of my once serious blog has just become arbitrary and meaningless; in all honesty it hurts me to look at.
I started this as a project to write more, and to explore the blogosphere. I’ve done both of those things—and amassed a modest following of people whom I’ve come to know as friends—but I seem to have plateaued somewhere. I hit a certain point and everything just stagnated. It honestly doesn’t even give me joy anymore. I was never doing this for anyone else, I was always doing this for me, but somewhere along the line I realized I wasn’t blogging for myself anymore. That isn’t so much of a problem, i mean, of course a blog is going to be influenced by the public and the viewers.
And don’t think this is some cheap, self-pitying ploy for an enormous outcry from those of you who do follow me; I’m not looking for an influx of “no please don’t stop!” I feel I’ve just overstayed my welcome in the blogosphere.
I feel that, perhaps, I’ve overstayed my welcome on the internet in general. Facebook, Youtube, Google…Man wasn’t meant for such a clusterfuck of inanities. These websites are really just meaningless. I mean, sure, they have cultural value, and what is that but the only meaningful thing in society anymore, but they just don’t have meaning to me. If anything they take away from my essence. This blog, this venue that was once an attempt to enhance my essence, my “me-ness” has essentially deteriorated it.
That’s what modern society is all about, robbing the individual of their individuality. If there is a soul in connection with the human condition, I feel as though the internet is slowly chipping away at it. Yes, the internet is the future: of business, of entertainment, of human communication, and I know that it is foolish to fight against it—it’s almost absurd—but it’s something that is becoming more and more evident to me as something I have to do.
Just asked a girl from one of my classes out on a date. She had a boyfriend. Being a cynic, you kind of forget how awful being rejected feels. This is the first girl from school I’ve even thought about asking out. That’s four years without a single (formal) date—parties and shit don’t count, I’m talkin’ dinner and coffee.
Perhaps I’m turning some things in my life around. It’s become more apparent lately that I’m lonely, and that maybe finding someone to care about wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
I started a fresh detox today: no alcohol for the foreseeable future. (We’ll see how long that lasts). It’s only been one (1) day but everyone has to start somewhere.
I’ve also realized I need to stop spending money like a rap mogul. So I’m going to try and be a bit more financially conscious, while still fueling my need to have fun and live, while I’m alive. It’ll be tough, but cutting out alcohol will be a big step towards saving up money. Saving for what you may ask? Nothing in particular: saving just to save. It’s a wise time to start doing so. I’m almost a real person.
Moldy Peaches (not the shitty band)
I have these ideas, and they swirl around my head constantly. Some of them I write down in a notebook, some of them I save in my phone, but none of them do I pursue any further than that (usually). It’s difficult: sometimes I feel that the moment isn’t right, and sometimes I feel like the idea isn’t right. But whatever the case, my ideas end up curling up like dead pieces of fruit and rotting away in my shitty fruit bowl of ideas (which I never clean out).
I’m not sure what it is. Is it me? Am I too lazy? Am I too apathetic? Am I making up excuses as to why I can’t sit down and turn these ideas into something, anything?
The good news is, I’ve been working on a story that used to be an idea in my fruit bowl. If I’m gonna keep going with this metaphor, it was probably a peach: slightly more rare—because it’s somewhat well thought out—than the other fruits (seasonal) and when done properly, sweeter and juicier, than say, an apple, or a banana. (Although bananas aren’t very juicy. That’s besides the point).
But even with this story I’m hitting my usual wall. I’ll write four or five pages of it, come up with some solid ideas about where I want to take it, and then the next portion of my writing is even more difficult to come by.
And I know full well, sitting here and blogging about it isn’t going to help my cause. It’s like, when I come up with these ideas, I’m so happy just to be having ideas (and I have these ideas constantly) that I neglect to do anything with them. Just merely being content with thinking isn’t enough. I need to do more.
This isn’t a plea for attention, nor is it a cry out for your pity. It’s a reminder: to get myself in gear. And hopefully, if any of you are experiencing anything like this, it can be an alarm to you too. Go check your fruit bowls, maybe you can scrape off the rot and make a nice pie.
I really need to get away from this place. 21 years of stagnation, in relatively the same New Jersey suburb is not healthy. It’s starting to affect my life, and my work. Everything is stagnating because I’m stuck here. It’s like I’m in a perpetual rut. I should have gotten out when I went to college, I should have gotten far away, and not looked over my shoulder once I left. That’s not the type of person I am though, I had/have too much here to pack up and go to college in some far off state. i stuck around, first and foremost, for my mom. She doesn’t really have the money to be sending myself and my sisters to college, and I knew if I stayed close, it would be easier on her; my father wouldn’t give her as muchas he would if I had gone to an expensive school.
Don’t get me wrong, It’s not like I hate my college, or my job, or my life here. I’ve just been in the same place for too long, and that’s not the type of person I am. i need change, I need new things, new places, new faces constantly. I like my school, I love my friends here, there are some things I wouldn’t change. But I look at the type of person I am, and this goes against everything I believe in. Nobody should be in one place for this long. Life itself is constantly changing, and we, as human beings need to change with it. We aren’t meant to stay the same, in the same places, for long periods of time.
I get this way, and sometimes I think I need to tweak the little things; cut my hair; get a new girl in my life; try something different. But, these things just don’t do the trick. I need a change of scenery. I need newer, fresher air. A place to spread my legs.
I’m a peacock, you gotta let me fly.
Some days I feel a lot like my namesake—Travis Bickle—that is to say, out of touch with myself, disillusioned with society.
So often I find myself enraged at all of the inane, mindless, selfish things that people do, thinking about how the world is slowly going to shit. The way people drive, the way people think, the shit that people try to sell you on a daily basis, both literally and figuratively.
It pains me to think about all of the things that are driving our society into such a downward spiral. To be honest, it makes me feel crazy at times, to reflect on the problems I have with my fellow man. When all is said and done, I just find myself losing faith in humanity with each day. And it’s not as though I’m any better than anyone else; I make the same mistakes, say the same things, treat people the same way as those who I’m criticizing now.
I’m bitter, I’m lazy, I’m sick, I’m a cheater, I’m a “sinner”, I’m all of the things that are currently wrong with our beautiful (for now anyway) world. Existence itself isn’t precious, existence itself isn’t beautiful. This Earth, this natural Universe is beautiful. We all think we’re entitled to all of these things because we’re human. But I’ll tell you one thing, that’s a completely man-made assumption. We’re poisoning our world, by becoming horrible beings.
Look, I don’t want to go off on some quasi-digusted-with-humanity rant, because in truth, I think there’s still hope. I don’t think we’re pigs, I don’t think we’re barbarians, I just think we’re lost and confused. We’ve all got God complexes; overinflated senses of self importance. And we need to check ourselves, before we wreck ourselves, myself included.
I need/want to find my faith in humanity again.
Dystopian rant over.
Today was just one of those days where I woke up tired. Exhausted. Bored.
My day only stretched on from there. I was stuck on campus from 11:30-8pm and I only had two classes, leaving a gap of 5 hours to be filled. This gap just had me reflecting on everything happening in my life right now.
It was just a day where I found myself sick and tired of everything, not in a sad, depressed way—just in a bored, stuck in a rut, kind of way. The kind where you look at your life and think that it’s reminiscent of the movie Ground Hog Day. Things just become so repetitive and ritualistic.
Having grown up with OCD if there was one think I learned it was the danger in rituals, and these days still strike a sour chord with me. Maybe I’m in need of a good night’s sleep