Critical theory and the resacralization of contracts (Cont'd)


Once upon a time, there was a prophet who wanted a little bit of happiness and peace . . .

And every day, she'd try to feel a little bit of happiness or peace. 

Until one day, she felt A LOT of happiness and peace.

And because of this, she tried to feel more happiness and peace.

And because of this, she began to feel less happiness and peace! 

Until finally, she felt felt no happiness or peace at all.

. . . and ever since that day, she wanted a little bit of happiness and peace.


Aren't prophecies absurd?

Maybe Moses can drop a solid chunk of God's contract and get labelled the most important, multi-cultural lawyer of all time, while you can keep every word of your promise and still become the worstest, most disamappointing student"person" everrrrrrrr. 

When I was a kid, in my grandfather's basement, my brother and I watched a music video of a man dancing around and slowly removing layers. First his clothing... then his skin... until he was a rhythmic mess of blood and bones. I recall that image when Cheryl and her co-author speak of seeing ourselves as literal corpses—going through the journey of individuation, shedding the things "that defined and confined our being in the world," so we "can rebuild and return" (p. 147). Though I feel quite squeamish, I value this visual as a practical part of the ILC process. It is just like your drafted DB plot document, where you developed characters not only by showing who/what/where/when/why/how they are, but also by who/what/where/when/why/how they've lost. 

So... you kinda sorta REALLY want to take the filmmaker part of your identity off a virtually-signed paper? Sounds like the process of becoming a filmmaker, if you consider the critical perspective. You are deconstructing the things you believe to be 'true' about yourself (for example, "I am a filmmaker. I have made films before, and I can make more now."), and this involves taking apart "the reifications of our social, economic, and political worlds" (p. 147). As I know you know, Death Bunny is your calling. Everything (including future films) will live and die in its spirit. 

Since critical theory "can also be about not speaking when silence is more effective, or when silence offers the means for parting previously installed curtains of segregation, separation, and difference (p. 116)," cutting out half your contract is not necessarily a smashing of stone tablets or demolition of an artist's vision; instead, it's a way to signal a/the beginning. As a critical perspective can show, sometimes not making - especially if you are a self-identified maker - can be a significant crucible experience, with massive catharsis and a newfound capacity to walk "the 'in between' of self and other" (p. 118).

As Cheryl writes (xiii-xiv):

The lives of my family members are very much determined by the ‘lacks’ that often define working class life: lack of resources, lack of efficacy, lack of a sense of empowerment, lack of education and access to information, lack of critical thinking. At this stage in the game, in mid-life, these lacks have a very strong hold on most of my siblings. The lack of opportunity to move against the flow of lacks has created lives and situations that are hard to change. To come to consciousness is risky and potentially dangerous. Yet, to see the lives of my family members and their neighbors only in terms of lack is to rob the people and their communities of their souls and deny all they are not lackingcommunity, place, connections with others, and a deep sense of rootedness.

Relatable, right? She continues (xiii-xiv): 

While those of us living our lives on the other side of the tracks may not lack for resources or power or efficacy, we lack many of the things that make up community in my mother’s neighborhood. Our fences are for people; we don’t know our neighbors very well; we don’t need one another; we often feel isolated and unmoored in our deeply individualistic lives. Lubrano (2003) states that one of the significant differences between the working and middle classes is individualism; in general, individualism is discouraged in the working class while it is at the center in middle and upper class life. What is it that we can learn from each other, from the other side of the metaphorical tracks? What do we find when we spend time in the in-between of these two worldsa place I inhabit, to both my delight and dismay? 

Perhaps you are in this in-between. Professors are paid in money to create 16-credit curricula, and now you are paid in credits (which, for the record, you are already paying for) to make your own. I don't think you are expected to perfectly predict the spring quarter, though I believe you are empowered to use your contract as a topic of conversation for getting and sharing a little bit of happiness and peace. Critical theory encourages tempered radicals (you, if you want) to get a "sense of purpose, decency, aspiration and meaning back into political culture" (p. 141). Ultimately, it's totally okay and - according to critical theory - necessary for people to change policies and practices, including but not limited to the way ILCs are used at Evergreen.


Out—out are the lights—out all!   
And, over each quivering form, 
The curtain, a funeral pall, 
Comes down with the rush of a storm,   
While the angels, all pallid and wan,   
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”   
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

-Edgar Allan Poe


P.s. As requested, I tried to write a perspective. It is one that I think Cheryl relates to because these are, in fact, her precise words. My position is just as process-oriented but in a different way. Cuz I believe you've ALREADY made a handful of videos this quarter. It's all a part of the DB legacy, which you have shared in so many formats and can deliver or prove through your blogs, props, plots, lab attendance, evals from me or the peers that you've shared with, etc.

P.p.s. Cheryl is no stranger to speaking truth to power (p. 116), and that is exactly what you are doing! You got thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis!