An Anti-Fear Yoga. More Notes for That Anti-Procrastination Piece.

I must finish losing the “home identity” I acquired in Reeducation. With this identity I am abusable at home and at my home institution. This makes it really hard to concentrate in the places I spend most of my time because I am always looking over my shoulder for the next blow. I am loath to travel elsewhere because the home situation is so exhausting, and also because I do not want people elsewhere to smell it on me.

*

Every day I am afraid that what happened long ago will happen again — I will be caught in a vise of unattractive options and frightening warnings, and get stuck. When I write first drafts I always have more material than I can possibly control, and very many synapses. This could be overwhelming if I had not learned long ago to manage it. It is still all I can manage, however, at least during writing hours. I have to schedule all other thoughts for outside writing hours.

Reeducation added other rushing waters to my writing hours, including anxiety that I would be abused emotionally for writing, accused of hurting others by writing, or simply be found and stopped. It as though someone were breathing down my neck and whispering, this only proves your guilt, while someone else shouted imperiously, you are unlikely to succeed. It used to be that all I had to deal with was the synapses. Now grafted onto that waterfall are anxiety and panic about what the authorities will do, and guilt about wanting to ignore their feelings.

I have to channel the old way of working. In those days I had long since dispelled the ideas that I was incompetent or that there was no market for me.  I had not yet learned that I should not be doing this. That is the harder concept to drop. I acquired this idea that my work hurt people. Perhaps I can transition out of this by imagining that it kills fascists.

*

There is another problem, which is that I still think of myself and the authorities too much, and the work not enough. I have heard so many times that research and creative work are worthless in themselves, but are only means to ends such as getting to conferences where one might get jobs, or getting promoted where one was, that I think about the authorities almost more than I do the interesting work which is that point.

Some of the authorities only say to go faster, that they do not believe I can do this, and so on. I am used to that, and I do not listen. The other authorities say that if I am interested in what I am doing, that I am not jaded enough to know that nothing is interesting. They make fun of my lack of cynicism and my belief that I can do this. If I say I am not interested in this, but in something else, they say that is not the point, the point is to suffer carefully and pump out the maximum number of empty, yet acceptable words.

I am not sure what I am actually arguing in the present book. What is strange about it, though, is that I am truly interested it and it is truly mine.

Axé.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “An Anti-Fear Yoga. More Notes for That Anti-Procrastination Piece.

  1. Sure there are a lot of ppl who don’t want you to succeed. Maintaining your authenticity is an uphil battle.

  2. Z

    What amazes me is that my first education and Reeducation were sabotage and sabotage is always presented as help. I cannot believe it has taken me this long to figure that out (well, I have realized it in my better periods, it is true).

    • I believe it is an issue very much related to the issue of risk. I have now come to the conclusion that self risk is the key thing that humans need to do in order to feel that they are alive. Other humans are also attracted to — let us say for want of a better word, the “auras” or the “animism” — of those who take risks. This is the key to the power of those who are actually shamans (Nietzsche, Bataille, Marechera) as opposed to those who would exude an animal radiance in this sense. So risk taking is the sign of authenticity in human life. It is also a sign of vigorous health.

      But there are those who do not want to take risks. Maybe they are just not healthy enough to do so. Or maybe they are simply afraid. Yet, they, too, are attracted to the radiance that the risk-takers exude. What better way to try to capture some of the life that comes from these others, that they lack, than to set themselves up as the helpers and advisors of such risk-takers?

      But then you have those with less animal health advising those who have more of it — and the consequence of that, if it becomes a partnership, is ALWAYS the sabotage of the more psychologically healthy one (albeit quite unintentional, in many ways).

      It is, by the way, key to the “philosophies” of those writers that I have listed above, that they have risked themselves entirely and have encouraged others to put themselves on the line.

  3. Z

    In Reeducation risk taking was one of the signs of my poor mental health. I don’t take foolish/self destructive risks, which is what it assumed all risks were … but it said I sought danger (e.g. by traveling alone to Central America, things like that) and this was proof that I came from a destructive background and sought destruction. You really couldn’t win with Reeducation.

    Meanwhile, people want me to take ridiculous risks, like quit academia without a job, or marry someone just to be getting married (two implications of Hattie’s erased comment, and they are suggestions I get all the time), and say I “fear change” if I tell them those are silly ideas. And all of these detractors have always hated my law school plan because, they feel, I should not feel that I have to go back to school. And yet I don’t feel that — it’s just that that is one of the degrees I have always wanted.

    Conclusion: you just cannot win with people. And I, of course, am angry at Reeducation because I am angry at myself, because it was with Reeducation that I started to listen to people, take that kind of really poor advice seriously, and so on.

    Ah well, c’est tout fini in any case. I am at the Cafe Comercial in the Glorieta de Bilbao, in Madrid. 19th century but someone around here has an unsecured wireless connection. It is very lovely.

  4. I think that people are impatient that there are not easy solutions to difficult problems. It’s also, as you’ve probably noticed, a problem pinpointed by feminists. You say, “The vulgar and abuse nature of contemporary sexism is holding me back, making life unnecessarily miserable, and preventing humans from being able to relate to each other as humans.”

    Along come the sexists with a bright idea to shut you up.

    “Why don’t you just stand up for yourself?” they say, if they are pretending to be your friend.

    “Stop whining,” they say, if they are no longer pretending to be anything other than their vulgar and miserable selves.

  5. Do people constantly tell you to take a flying leap at yourself or something? Nobody gets away with that with me.
    And I never said you should get married. What tripe.
    You could have a kid or adopt one, though, if you wanted. Or not. Your call!
    Or go get your law degree, which is what I would do if I were your age and in your position. I always wanted to be a lawyer, but women couldn’t get into law schools easily in my day.
    Everything you write on this blog shouts that you are in the wrong place doing the wrong things. If people seem to give you a lot of advice it’s because they sense that you are out of place and living out a script someone else wrote for you.
    No one ever gives me any advice. I’d laugh at them if they did!
    And your yoga teacher sure sounds like a piece of work, nasty, twatty.
    I’ll come back sometime. Now engaged in an interesting tussle with Ishmael Reed.

    • “Find a man and have a child or adopt one — find life and love before it is too late” is what you said. To quote you in this comment — “what tripe!”

      I’ve got a lot of debt and no savings and that is due to academia. I’d have taken one of my law school offers long since if I could have afforded it — try threading yourself through the current financial aid system and you will see what I am talking about. There has been no way to manage except by building equity as housing prices rise. Seriously.

      And I like my field and the academic idea — the script written by others is that I should like the current situation, or be able to handle it. Yes, I am in the wrong place doing the wrong things.

      But most people don´t think so, or have very unrealistic ideas about what I should be doing, and so on, and so forth. I really think the answer is to be out of town as much as possible, and out of country, and finish this book as a resume builder for better law school financial aid or better something.

      But mostly the issue is to understand and get over Reeducation.

      Yoga teacher, relax: it’s not “my” teacher, it’s just a class I occasionally go to if I miss another one, and she has her virtues. The reason I don’t normally go is because she says these things which I cited here as an example of the way women of a certain class talk, think of themselves, think of each other, are, and so on in the local culture.

  6. Humph. I would have kept my opinions to myself if I’d known you were going to Madrid. Hope you are having a marvelous time.
    I did all that Spanish thinking we were going to Madrid but our plans have changed and we’re spending a week each in Rome and Paris instead (sob).
    But watch that yoga teacher. And these women take her insults. Why? You are nothing much but you have convinced your husband you are. You give your kids money to like you. You’re good at your profession but that isn’t the real you. I hate women like that. What a mind reader. I would have walked right out of that class!
    Yuck. Just yuck.

    • Have fun in Europe! I gave that paper in Germany and it was very interesting (Germans paid for this trip). And I picked up a lot of German, it was quite amazing.

      Madrid is nice. Not sure about Spaniards in workplaces — that sounds fairly awful, from what friends tell me — but this is a great town to hang out in.

      Yoga teacher, yes! ;-)

  7. Z

    Responding to Jennifer, last of her comments above: Very true — those are the key comments.

    Things I’ve thought of re this over the past couple of days — a) procrastination: then I said “Hurry up! You are not allowed to be who you are, yet you must do this project for which the real you must be present so that you can survive, yet the project must not reflect the real you. Why are you so slow?” … whereas the present project is not about survival but about having something to say or to contribute, which is what is generally told to men in the first place, but women are taught the former mindset… and b) about all the daily humiliation of teaching and of generally being the intellectual person one is not supposed to be to work in a university as a woman… which you have brought up before and which I say doesn’t tend to apply if one is only teaching in the major or in graduate school, but which does in fact apply to me in most jobs I have had … so OF COURSE work is hard. (Had I realized about all this gender based discrimination earlier on I would have been much clearer than I have been in the last few years).

    • Well there is a lot of degradation set aside for women in the workplace, and probably especially teaching. But on the other hand, women like you and I have a tremendous — let us say for want of a much better word “spiritual–” — advantage in the way that this dynamic has been set up particularly so as to upset us.

      I mean that we are forced to be at war. Circumstances command us to be warriors.

      And actually this is a very good thing, because unbenknowst to males, we are usurping their traditional place.

      What does the whiny male want, after all, who moans that “feminists” are taking the food right out of his mouth? He wants to be at war, but he has forgotten how. Circumstances (and the way they keep stuffing all sorts of delicacies into his mouth, as a feature of society’s respect for male privilege) have made it unnecessary for him to do what he used to delight in doing — that is, to fight. So he blames women, and he creeps around and he bemoans this and that.

      Meanwhile, women like you and I are COMPELLED to fight.

      So, the circumstances, as you can see, are very fortunate for us.

      • True, and it was more how I used to think of things — again, before Reeducation. I will take it up again, more seriously!!!!

  8. And, admittedly, much of my response above derives from Bataille’s anti-fear yoga, or Heraclitean meditation.

    It’s not for the faint-hearted, and it hints at being male, but that, of course, is something that can be regendered:

    “I MYSELF AM WAR”

    “I imagine human movement and excitation, whose possibilities are limitless: this movement and excitation can only be appeased by war.
    I imagine the gift of infinite suffering, of blood and open bodies, in the image of ejaculation cutting down the one it jolts and abandoning him to an exhaustion charged with nausea.
    I imagine the earth projected into space, like a woman screaming, her head in flames. [...etc.]“

  9. Z

    Well, the trauma of Reeducation was that one was not supposed to move beyond past traumas, but focus on them, believe they defined one … otherwise, one was “in denial” which was like being in a state of sin.

    *

    My notes in response to Hattie who responds to my quandaries:

    - Madrid is great … it was living here that year as a child that got me into academia and all in this way.

    - I am perfectly well suited to the academia I was aware of before becoming a professor, which involved living in an interesting place and doing research in other interesting places, and not teaching the first two years of Spanish.

    - Two of the people I am visiting are former students of mine who became professors and then quit. I could say a lot about their various experiences, which are quite mixed.

    - I should have done the law degree when I originally planned it, I think, and-or I should not have done Reeducation, which really clouded my vision.

    - Not doing the law degree then had to do with no savings, not enough financial aid, feeling too weak and precarious to figure some way around this, and family opposition to the plan.

    - It also had to do with friends and colleagues who kept saying, but eventually you will get the kind of academic job you want, and so on — they thought the law degree was my fallback plan and would not accept that it was my first ever actual career plan –and also saying that if I did not stick it out then it would just be because I was not strong enough.

    - Those were ridiculous and distorted ideas but I can be manipulated by guilt and by suggestions that I am only leaving something because I am not good enough for it.

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