Saturday, May 14, 2011

A little late but still on time. As in before the end of the world which according to the advertisement on the BART is a week from today. "Man Spends Life Savings on Promoting End of World" says the headline. Good for him. At least he didn't invest his money in a tech start up or hedge fund. Next week is the last week of the fifteen week semester. Week fifteen as we call it. The cat keeps yowling. Really annoying. He wants something but I don't know what: cat food? Check. Litter box? Clean. Temperature normal. Maybe he's bored? Such is life in a studio apartment. Maybe he misses women. Or another person. I sometimes feel guilty that I'm not exciting enough for them. Weird displaced projections of self onto animals. "If the lion could talk we would not understand him." Says Wittgenstein. Vit Ghin Stein.

I must admit that I've been a little over extended this semester. Part of it due to the move, and part because I was working more support classes this semester, but the most important part has been the two full sections of the writing class. Last summer I adjusted the number of drafts for the two argument papers from two to three, and up until this semester I've been able to keep up. Not so much this semester. Though I've kept up, it's not been without more stress than called for at my fair University. Talking to a few other instructors, I'm going to make a few adjustments to the schedule and the workshop for next semester, giving myself a little bit more time to read and designating more responsibility to the students. Outwardly, I've been a bit ornery with students, and though I don't mind appearing that way, I would rather feel more relaxed and less pressed for time in class. Just like students, I have to make adjustments to my "drafts" of class. The system that worked a year ago no longer works as well as I want it to, thus its time for a change. No blame.

Yesterday I finished reading "With the Old Breed" by the WWII vet E.B. Sledge. Unbelievable. His account of two campaigns with the Marines during the war with the Japanese: Peleliu and Okinawa. Those who have seen me in recent weeks may have heard me read a passage from the book, hundreds of which are so insanely terrible, and true. Not as an argument for or against "war," but as an argument for luck, and our capacity and incapacity to live in hell. Towards the end there are some pictures of Sledge and a few other Marines after the Okinawa campaign ended. To read into these pictures, into their expressions and postures, the three hundred pages of precisely detailed horror that came before, is like contemplating a sky full of stars: the depth of their experiences so vastly unknowable no wonder most of those who made it back never said much about it. A brief passage near the end of the book:
Among my letters was one from a Mobile acquaintance of many years. He had joined the Marine Corps and was a member of some rear-echelon unit of service troops stationed on northern Okinawa. He insisted that I write him immediately about the location of my unit. He wrote that when he found out where I was, he would visit me at once. I read his words to some of my buddies, and they got a good laugh out of it.

"Don't that guy know there's a war on? What the hell does he think First Marine Division is doin' down here anyway?"

Someone else suggested I insist not only that he come to see me at once, but that he stay and be my replacement if he wanted to be a true friend. I never answered the letter.