Life as an Extreme Sport

consuming knowledge

I was in lecture from noon to 1:30, group meetings on porject proposals from 1:30 thru a little after three, tea until fourish, then happy hour at Flowers until about 20 minutes ago. It’s a very good thing I adore the majority of the people I’m working with. In particular, I would love to open Brian Reed’s skull and consume his brain, and the knowledge contained within.


“Grissom, do you ever worry about professional suicide?”
“Not while I’m committing it.”

Brian Reed and I had a lovely talk this afternoon, first at Aqua Verde and then on the bus ride home. Our conversation ranged from corpse flowers to constellations and our axis of perceptions, and of course my project. He’s intrigued, which is nice, and willing to work with me, which is excellent. What I most wanted to document, though, was talking about how I feel like such a fraud when I teach. I mean, who’m I to know enough to teach about any subject. Brian told me that this is the mark of a true academic – to be aware of those borders of knowledge, and to know when you’d come upon them. That it is those borders of knowing where our knowledge ends that allows us to teach to begin with. Then he reiterated thinking that I’m an academic – a true one, not one of those fakes wandering around. (I say this in jest. Mostly.)

It was also very nice to be reassured that I don’t talk too much in class; there are some that do, but I am not one of them.

Being at the level of having a relationship with a professor, one of interested equals talking instead of a power hierarchy of command, is very… I don’t want to say refreshing, because that implies I’ve not had that sort of relationship with Phillip. Rather, with Brian (and Ellen and Arianna, the other SI professors), it’s reaffirming. It’s not just Phillip, it is that I’ve reached a level in academia where I can have this cooperative exchange. It’s nice, validating, reassuring. This is the right place for me.

Concepts of Means

The concept of means misses their reality. The taste for things, the appetite for reality, is not an agitation to compensate for inner lacks. The water we drink is not just a means to lubricate our inner organs; the thirty mouth drinks too much or too little, savoring the body and the bouquet of the wine, tasting the luminous mirth of the spring pouring out of the rocks. The foodstuffs obtained to refurbish depleted body protein and evaporated body liquids dissolve, for the taste that savors them, into terrestrial and celestial bounty. In the berries we gather as we walk through the meadow we relish the savor of summer. The substances that nourish us are not means for action that will seek for more means which are each time means for something further. After a good dinner, we turn to squander our energies on flowers planted in the garden in the glowing sunset, in kisses and caresses lost on an affectionate cockatoo, on the somnolent body of a lover. The colors and the shadows that contour the visible and lead the restless gaze in aimless circumnavigations through the environment fo not simply serve to locate what we need or want. Sigh is not an intentionality made of distress or desire. Vitalized, illuminated, and nourished by the substance of colored and translucent things, sight becomes high-spirited life. It caresses the colors, forms, contours and shadows, making them glow for themselves with their own lights.
-Alphonso Lingis, The Imperative, “Intimate and Alien Things”

Beyond this wasteland, I could see the dunes of Giza and the pyramids. The next day I went there. Everyone has seen them so often, in pictures in books, in fillms, in news broadcasts, in cigarette adsl the images and impressions colected on the surface of my eyes, ears, and skin while wandering among them had already all been projected there many times already. Beyond these images and impressions, I tried to sense what the pyramids are. In grade school and in the books I now read they were identified as tombs of kings who had divinized themselves – the colossal monuments of a monstrous excrescence of egoism. Which is to view them as did the barbarian grave robbers (not the last of these barbarian chieftans was Howard Carter, who sold half the plunder from Pharaod Tutankhamen to the New York Metropolitan Museum for fourteen thousand pounds sterling). One could just as well describe a medieval castle as a maesoleum for a lord bishop or king on the argument that their tombs are found in them.
-Alphonso Lingis, Trust, “Breakout” pp 189 – 190

abstract : proposal

Trust. It’s a daily requirement. We trust our milk won’t be contaminated, that our cereal will just contain cereal, that the mailman will actually deliver our checks, that the person we opt to confide in over lunch won’t laugh, that our advisers have our best interests at heart. We know the laws that require milk to be pasteurized, and our food to be inspected for and created in safety, it’s our trust in people that bears particular fascination for me. Laws, although useful for setting up social contracts, cannot dictate things as minute as trust in an individual. Yet everywhere a human turns in the web of human activities, he touches upon solicitations to trust – trust is everywhere. So why do we do it, and how do we do it? How do we decide who we will trust? This project will explore these questions of forming and reforming trust, of deciding to trust, of what happens when that trust is broken, and of trusting again.
The initial phase of this project will be research into trust and trust formation, looking into how and why we form trust, what we do when trust is broken, and then circling back to how and why we form trust after we know it can be impermanent, and can hurt. Accompanying this essay will be a photography exhibit detailing a personal journey through trust, utilizing black and white photography, several models, and a grey sweater once owned by my ex-husband.