Friday, June 19, 2015

When Squirrels Attack

Friday link roundup, Kierkegaard Camp edition, means not many links, because I’ve been reading a lot of <gasp!> books. I love books. But enough about that...

The Two Ages, Søren Kierkegaard

Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses, Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, Joakim Garff (this sucker is over 800 pages and I am afraid I may never finish it).

Girl Runner, Carrier Snyder: get this novel and read it, now.

“Stranger in the Village,” in Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin.

The Writer on Her Work, ed. Janet Sternburg: Found on the St. Olaf library free table, includes Joan Didion’s “Why I Write.” ::swoon::

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the history of the confederate flag. White supremacy survives, in part at least, because of the lies white folks tell ourselves about who we are and where we've come from. Times like these I grow frustrated with my inability to know where to even begin to dismantle a structure so basic to American society, an evil so prevalent, but here is one thing: take down the Confederate flag. Tell the truth about that history. Tell the truth, and take it down, and then figure out what's next. As long as we labor under the a-historical illusions that allow that flag to fly, I despair as to whether we can get anywhere at all. Baldwin is right I think: “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”

Jesicca Valenti on sexist bookshelves: “...passive bias is still bias - and it has ripple effects into the broader culture. Is it really so much to ask that we pay attention to what shapes our tastes?”

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2015. If you care about the men’s World Cup but not the women’s, I have NO TIME for your sexism. Red cards for all misogynists. BYE.

Here’s the thing about being at Kierkegaard Camp. I am already a person whose head spins with more thoughts than I can pin down, and here I have these long, wide open days to write and think and read and think and talk and think get the idea. Sometimes I just need my own mind to shut up for a bit. So, I take a lot of long walks with headphones and have a lot of dorm room dance parties. Music of choice? I’m so glad you asked:

Taylor Swift’s Red and 1989, respectively, because the line I knew you were trouble when you walked in sums up...well, most of the boys of my youth, I guess. And because singing “Blank Space” while dancing around in my pajamas reminds me I’m still young and reckless, all evidence to the contrary. (Did I mention I have a birthday next week?)

Tyler Lyle’s latest, The Native Genius of Desert Plants

Mandolin Orange’s new album, Such Jubilee, which is simply stunning and has me all homesick for North Carolina right now. Check out their performance of "Little Worlds" on NPR's Folk Alley.

Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, because it’s good rainy day, staring out the window, moodling music, and I’ve been doing a lot of that.

The Shadowboxers, Red Room: because harmonies. See also any number of solid covers on their YouTube channel, especially this one, if like me you grew up on Simon & Garfunkel:

I got to see the guys play a show in Minneapolis last weekend, and it was a delight. They’re hitting the east coast next, so check ‘em out.

Finally, a link that didn’t fit anywhere else. Here’s the aftermath of the squirrel invasion in my St. Olaf dorm room:

A video posted by @meghanpauline on

It’s time to go home, kids.

Friday, June 12, 2015

lightness has a call that's hard to hear

I'm trying to tell you somethin' about my life
Maybe give me insight between black and white
And the best thing you've ever done for me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all

I always feel a little weird about how much I like the Indigo Girls “Closer to Fine,” given that I majored in Philosophy and have spent some of the most formative summers of my life at grown up philosophy “camp.” Then again, it makes sense that a Kierkegaardian would be skeptical of “the doctor of philosophy/With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee” while simultaneously being, well, a philosopher. This week my suitemate and I discussed an elaborate analogy for how Kierkegaard fits into the wide world of philosophy: he is like the crazy uncle who gets seated at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving because, well, we know he’s one to start food fights, so let’s just be preemptive and put him in the corner now, shall we? Good ol’ Uncle Søren. In certain circles, studying his work isn’t going to make you any friends, but I like sitting at that table.

Yesterday, during the first Summer Fellows seminar, we had a lively conversation, each person reading a passage from Kierkegaard’s work that is meaningful to us and sharing why. After one person started, others slowly piped up, picking up a thread from the person who had spoken before, noting that perhaps her passage resonated a bit with his, and carrying the discussion forward. Our interests are wide-ranging, yet certain ideas echoed throughout our chosen passages and research interests.

Visiting the library these past few years has been for me both an academic testing ground (a place of great seriousness and searching), and a place I have learned to take my life less seriously, as the song goes. Not that I am actually much good at taking life less seriously, but at least I know that about myself, now. My first summer here I arrived a ball of nerves because I wasn’t sure I could hack it at the big kids table (I can), but throughout that summer those knots started to loosen. And now, when I return, I feel myself begin to unwind as soon as I set foot on campus. To be as high strung as I am capable of being, as serious as I have been for much of my life, and study a philosopher-poet as playful as Kierkegaard is a bit silly, isn’t it? Then again, he’s also intense beyond anything I have ever been. What a vibrant (if also heavy) inner world he must have had. I relate to that, the flurry and mess of my own mind so wild I can barely keep up with it. I admire the way Kierkegaard set those imaginary constructs down on paper, painstakingly, day after day. And that, perhaps, is why lately I am so interested in the man himself.

My days here find a neat rhythm, one free from certain practicalities of daily life, and that too helps me to unwind. It helps me to settle those wiley thoughts a bit, to set a few down on paper myself.

Well darkness has a hunger that's insatiable
And lightness has a call that's hard to hear
And I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it
I'm crawling on your shores