The Old Grey Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be; Thank Goodness

All this talk about evolution lately and what I’ve been trying to get at is so simple: I’ve changed the “thesis” of this blog a number of times and I’ve finally settled on what I mean to do.

First – this was intended to be a place where I could warn y’all off of some bad experiences. I was experiencing life with some very bad witches and hoped to keep you apprised of the pitfalls.

Second – it tried to be about teaching the practice of Witchcraft.Those shoes didn’t fit – so I branched out to Open Path (which languishes in the months where I have to teach in the classroom).

The reason the fit was so poor is because the shoe was forced on – like Cinderella’s slipper on a substantial -footed step-sister. It’s like this: The Bad Witch *will* teach if it’s called for. And I’m damned good at it. Really effing good. But I’m a researcher at heart. My passion has always been research and writing (not *teaching* research and writing). [1]

You know that saying, “Those who can’t *do*, teach”? (And those who can’t teach, teach Phys Ed.) I call bullshit. That’s an elitist, tenure-based-hierarchical ball of pus that researchers who are not good at teaching like to tell themselves. And each other. And the teachers who hold up the university superstructure that allows them to be researchers.

Teaching is hard. Dang hard. It involves an ability to both do and teach others to do. It’s two skill-sets in one.

Those who can’t teach well, shouldn’t teach at all, in my opinion. Just like those who are not gentle and sympathetic should stay the feck out of medicine and geriatrics. As a teacher, I know lots of teachers. As a parent, I know lots of teachers. Not all teachers are good teachers. Some are just doing it for a paycheck. But some – ah, some – some are fan-flipping-tastic and will change your life. Those are the people who should be teaching.

Wait, I take that back. I am a fan-flipping-tastic teacher who changes students’ lives. But I’m trying to argue that I should not be a teacher.

So – you have to be fan-flipping-tastic and you have to be passionate about teaching and learning.

I used to be both. I’m not anymore. Maybe again someday – just not now.

But that door swings both ways, right? You can’t just be passionate about teaching. You also have to be passionate about learning. But – here’s the rub. In order to be a good teacher, you must also be a good researcher. I mean, you can’t teach what you don’t know – right?

Shite.

Imagine if The Bad Witch were to teach architecture from her gut? It’d be like Jericho every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30-10:45. I guarantee. The structures might look pretty on the outside – and may even be logically formed on the inside; but I wouldn’t want to be there seeking shelter should a stiff wind blow. No solid foundations would be found.

Or even something more intuitive. Imagine if TBW were to teach something aesthetic like “Art Appreciation.”[2] I mean, I know what I like. I know what makes sense to me artistically. I know how to get students to talk about what evokes what in art – I can pull touchy-feely-BS out of my hat for hours and make it sound like law. But – but- but – if I know nothing about the Dadaist movement or about Minimalism, how in the feck am I supposed to teach students about the truth behind Jackson Pollok or Kazimir Malevich’s “Red Square”? Anyone can tell you if they “like” it – can they tell you they “understand” it? That’s real learning. And I have to understand Marx before I can get to Dada. And before I can teach the Avant-garde I have to understand the “stale tradition” to which it is reacting.

Horribly embarrassing side note:

The first research paper I’d ever given at a conference was superb. To this day (almost 25 years, three kids, and two advanced degrees in literature later), I can go back to it and gather bits of fabulousness. It was about the differences in the bite-marks on the necks of Lucy Westenra and Mina Harker in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The title of the paper was, “The Displaced Vagina.” I was a fresh undergraduate and making my way through a Gothic lit course (Dracula, btw, is a Victorian novel – just saying). I had no idea who Irigaray, Kristeva, Cixous, or even deBouvoir were. After the paper, I got kudos all around. But during the Q&A someone asked me if I was going to include the French feminists in my work. (Horror of horrors,) I answered, “It’s a British novel written in the late 19th-Century; why would I include French authors from the mid-20th-Century?” I didn’t even have the good sense to be embarrassed. 

Today when I think about that exchange, I’m mortified. At the time, I didn’t know Irigaray from a hole in the – wait, bad pun.

But the paper itself, the instinct that caused me to connect the literary dots, the historical background, the biographical background, the textual evidence – it was all magnificent. Graceful. Insightful.

For an undergraduate paper.

However, I was poorly prepared to enter into the realm of conferences with its professional professorate – all of whom seem fairly willing to turn their heads and smile sympathetically when a youngon’ (especially someone else’s youngon’) makes a mess on the hotel conference room carpet. But scholarly conferences also have egotistical PhD candidates, angry permanent adjunct-faculty, and “that dude who always has to try to force you to make your work about his most recent project” – you know him. I was simply not ready to play with the big-dogs. I am now. But I wasn’t then.

(I suppose you could just say, “Well, Imma stay the H-E-double-hockey-sticks away from conferences then.” To which I’d have to say, “Really? And miss out on a learning experience?”)

My point in sharing this painful, awkward, undignified experience is just to say – if you have decided to be a teacher, you have to ask yourself, “Do I only have great instincts which make my thesis interesting at an undergraduate level; am I actually out of my league as a scholar?” It’s a hard question. And when we’ve gotten great kudos from those who didn’t expect eminence from the pen of a freshman, it’s a hard pill to swallow that we might not be “all that.” It’s very hard to admit that we might have to put in a little more shadow-work. It’s even harder to admit that, in order to teach Poe and Dark Romanticism (American Gothic) we might have to learn about things we don’t like learning about – like Transcendentalism (and the Harvard Divinity School which spawned it), blech. Especially when we’ve pulled so much lovely intuitive BS out of our hats in the past and we’ve made it sound like law for so long that even we believe we are erudite.  (I mean, it’s easy to fool a Pagan-metaphorical-freshman into thinking we’re knowledgeable. It takes a Pagan-metaphorical-grad student or a Pagan-metaphorical-PhD to call us on our Pagan-metaphorical-“what about the French-school” shortcomings.)

Today, I’m mortified that this little exchange happened. Sure. Would I ever like to ever in a million years show my ass like that in semi-public? Hells-to-the-no.

But I am also able to look back and say, “Dang, I’ve always been pretty intuitive; indeed this field of study is for me.” That’s a good affirmation.  Also, now? Sheezus, I know so much more than I did in the 80s and 90s. And, and, and I realize that there is so much more to learn. It’s magnificent. Looking back at what a squirrel I was then, knowing where I am now, and looking forward to looking back again in a decade or so – knowing even more? Can’t hate on that. Really can’t.[3]

Thank goodness I had good teachers.

So, yeah. Decent teachers have to be even better researchers.

Again, shite.

Teachers – good teachers – have to do it all. And they have to love doing it. For little or no pay, mind you. And no real cultural cache.[4]

And this goes for Pagan teachers of Pagan subjects too. We don’t get off the hook just because there is no system of accreditation for solitary teachers. Right? Right. We have to be both knowledgeable (about our tradition and about traditions aside from our own) and passionate. We can’t skate by on good looks and silver tongues forever (I’ve known a history professor or two to prove it).

In the end, this is all to say that teachers (good teachers who do their research and remain passionate and able to engage students in scholarly discussion) have my ultimate respect. But I can’t do it anymore. I’m tired. I think I may have been doing it for the wrong reasons. (Being told: “You’re good at this, you should do it full time.” Being told: “We need more teachers like you.” Truth of it is, being “good” at teaching, just like being passionate about teaching, is not enough.)

And, to be honest, I’d love to sit a spell in the classroom and be a student for about a minute-and-a-half.

Thirdly, and finally – this blog has come to be a product of real passion: research and writing about Pagan practices, Pagan ethics, and Pagan hermeneutics (especially those that fall squarely in the crosshairs of Paganism and JudoChristianity).

While there are still some bad experiences with some bad witches, and I will still keep you apprised of the pitfalls, and while there will be plenty of teaching and learning moments along the way, I want to keep solid scholarship as the forefront of my objective.

Hope you’re all still in for the ride.

You may notice a few of my posts migrating over to Open Path from time to time, though I may never get to it. I’ll leave a bread-trail.

And who’s to say that this won’t take a fourth turn? I’m actually thinking about adding a page on “Introspections” for anyone voyeuristic enough to read over my current hermitlike state and the permutations of my shadow-work (those appropriate to publish). Maybe. We’ll call it “The Bad Laundry” or something irreverent.

Sorry if this came across as melancholy. I’m not downhearted, I’m simply shocked at my own relief. Looking back on the Seven of Cups, I had too much on my plate to enjoy.

Less horrible sidenote: My husband recently went to China where, as I understand it, there is a cultural practice that says: “If it’s been offered to you, you are obliged to take it.” He says mealtimes complete with non-stop drinking and smoking were so overly-indulgent that he dreaded them. It’s like that. Too much of a good thing is often just too much.

I’m learning to say no to some of the things I’m offered so that I can concentrate on the things that really get my blood pumping. Like research writing. This time Pagani style! (Wow, there’s a seeming linguistic oxymoron.) I’m paring back. Making choices instead of having choices thrust upon me. I’m stepping back and smelling the flowers – the ones I planted but never got to enjoy. I’m going to have my cheesecake and I’m going to eat it too, goshdarnit.

I have a woodshop full of wood just begging to be carved. I have a sewing-room full of fabric to be sewn into fabulousness – and a commercial

My last oil project (2004); I never really finished.

grade serger in my shopping cart that I might just purchase after all. I even bought new sable brushes and paint. Yes, ladies and gentlemen – oil, not the instant gratification of acrylic. Not this year. This year I’m going to Skype with my brilliantly talented sister (whose work is at LakeMuse.com, just saying) and go toe-to-toe painting and chicken farming. I’m going to say yes to that plastic index card box full of ideas that I intended to get to “someday.” I’m going to say “no” to the (third) job offer I was given. I’m going to say “no” to the (two) TV projects I was asked to join. Sounds like tons of fun, but I can’t carry a ton right now. (I can make a recommendation for a substitute, right?) I’m going to teach my son to cook jambalaya. And I’m taking my daughter shopping for a prom dress.

But I’m keeping my maid.

Thanks for listening to my prattle. I’ll be more on-task next time. Just needed to vent.

BB & 93,

TBW


[1] As a matter of fact, in my secular work, though (due to bureaucratic university nonsense) I would have had to do it in 2013, I have opted to pace myself back to teaching “part time” (a year early) so I can work on all of my non-teaching projects. I’ve never felt such a relief.

[2] Lahws, the reason Mona Lisa Smile is such a good movie about teaching (if nothing else) is because Julia Roberts’ character both loves teaching and is very well informed on her subject. Sure, she asks her students to figure it out on their own, but at least she knows where she’s aiming.

[3] ‘Less’n you’re just lookin’ for somethin’ to hate on.

[4] Don’t get me wrong, some teachers derive a great deal of validation by being king/queen of their classroom realm. And that’s valid.

Cheesecake and Frankenstein

It seems to be one of those days again, ladies and gentlemen. Given the onset of a wild craving for cheesecake, The Pregnant Adoptee is coming over again for baked goods; this gives me about an hour to spare.[1]

Let me start by saying: Thanks for all of your comments about Evolution.

There are, of course, many traditions out there, and, well, by definition, they want to remain traditional. And this makes sense. If we move too far away from the original meaning of a ritual (anything from The Emerald Tablet to throwing toilet paper in a Live Oak tree after football victories [2]) without maintaining the original significance, this becomes the very portrait of Existential Absurdity.

But when we no longer need ticker tape and the electrical wires have been moved underground, we substitute toilet paper in trees (WDE), the celebratory significance remains – even though there is no correspondence between ticker tape and toilet paper, save for streamers of white.

This is the kind of microevolution I hear most folks talking about. But I mean speciation. Or maybe cladogenesis. I mean, isn’t that what Alexandrian Wicca is? A sister species to Gardnerian? And isn’t Correllian Wicca a whole ‘nother animal? But, here’s the rub – can they breed?

In case I wasn’t clear last week, I am a fan of evolution. I am not arguing that we fight against traditions. I am arguing that to do so is, as the Borg say, futile.

Lots of solitaries out there comment that individual practice is the embodiment of evolution. I agree. But while recognizing that solitary practice has its roots in *some* tradition, I wonder if solitary eclecticism is, in itself, a “tradition.” (P.S. I’m not knocking solitary practice; I have been on my own since 2002.) Valid path, yes – abso-fricking-lootly; tradition, I donno s’much. (And again, I’m asking a question, not prescribing a resolution.)

Let’s look at The Bad Witch. WTF am I?

  • I started out[3] poking around with stuff in the 80s as a teenager who “felt” like there was a such thing as magic and no such thing as The Charismatic Church’s Devil.
  • Then I got all Wicaish in college.
  • And then all wild-n-dancing-under-the-moon-naked-while-shit’s-on-fire-knock-down-drag-out-Witchy after college.
  • During my PhD program, I was a solitary and kinda bored.
  • Then had a personal freak-out and rediscovery of my innate aptitude for evocation.
  • In order to wrangle that, I discovered Western Esoteric Traditions and Ceremonial Magick. Wheeee! That been a fun set of years.
  • Then I fell in love with Heathenry while investigating my dad’s family line.

Evolution indeed. But not unusual, I imagine.[4]

Now, when I try to link with those in a specific tradition, I feel like my pieces don’t fit. I feel like I’ve evolved out of compatibility. Now, I don’t think this makes me “evolved” in a hierarchical sense; I think this makes me a non-breeding mutant.  (Or a Chimera.) I also don’t think that this makes me useless. I mean, even mules have their uses and everybody loves a liger.

I can’t help but think of Mary Shelley’s Creature who wanted nothing more than companionship. He found that family in the woods and they appreciated him as the invisible “good spirit of the forest” but he knew they’d reject him if they saw him in his entirety – in his sublime dreadfulness. I too am feeling a little patched together out of spare parts. Fragmented. Needing to hibernate, hermit, secede.

OK, it's a cupcake not a cheesecake. But it's adorable. From Megan Turnidge's bedifferentactnormal.com

Or just eat a whole cheesecake with my girlie.

BB and 93,

TBW


[1] We sat at the first horseshow of the year (from which I’ve emerged with a Champion rider and a sunburn) and she prodded me, “I want cheesecake. The real kind.” Seeing as this is my favorite foodstuff on the planet, I acquiesced: “Tuesday.” BTW, horseshows make me all kloggy in my kishka. All a momma has to do is see her kiddo lay motionless after a solid braining on an upright standard  – just once. And all horseshows become a trip to the ER waiting to happen. So, I’m not superfun company while my kid is jumping a 15.2 green mare over 3’6” courses.  But I feel safer when I have someone close by to hold my hand. This week, unlike last show season, I was lucky enough to have a few hands. One of which now requires homemade cheesecake. Boo-hoo, right?

[2] Back in the day, Toomer’s Drugs had the only telegraph in town. After a football win at an away game, employees would stream the ticker tape on to the power lines. Nowadays, we have ESPN. But we still “roll” Toomer’s Corner when we get all giddy and War Eagley.

[3] Well, OK, that’s a lie. I just met up with my cousin who informed me that she remembers me “doing things” and “saying things” when we were itsy-bitty. Baby, I was born this way.

[4] It’s like the Girl Scout song: “Make new friends / but keep the old. One is silver / and the other gold.” But, any alchemist, metallurgist, or chemistry student will tell you that gold and silver may “mix” as a homogenous solution, but they do not bond.

Evolution, Esoteria, and Extinction

This is gonna be a long one. I thought about splitting this into several posts, but fear that that would lead to several equally long-winded posts. So, just hear me out if you’ve got some time. If not, just skip to the end.

In 2006, while still a grad student, I wrote a paper for a colloquium[1] – and had the nerve to present it to the graduate faculty of my own university. (Take it from The Bad Witch, this is proverbially shitting where one eats.) I had gone to MLA in the months before and heard Michael Berube and Cary Nelson talk about the deteriorating status of contingent labor.[2] My reason for writing this paper was that the work we do in the English Department is poorly understood by the general population.  (I dare say, some of us don’t understand what others in our own department do.)  This poor understanding precedes popular criticism that derides our scholarship as “obtuse” or “meaningless.”  This criticism is often advanced in service of an ideology at odds with the democratic underpinnings of a liberal arts education and usually follows these lines: “English Departments should stick to teaching grammar and punctuation rather than teaching kids to be Marxists, feminists, homosexuals, or worse – grad students.”  Just the year before this colloquium, James Pierson authored The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy which confirmed that the expectation of the English department has become primarily to teach rudimentary writing skills – and business writing at that – the kind of writing that earns income.

Paganism, I know – I’m getting to it, just trust The Bad Witch for a minute.

Those within the Literature track of the English Department believe that they are entitled to relevance as “the keepers of culture.”  They say, “Why of course Literature is relevant!  Students should want to read both The Decameron and Ulysses and everything in between because it will enrich them with character; it will give them a soul.”[3]  Others, like myself, have heard the voices from outside the ivory tower which are caterwauling for us to justify our existence (and public funding).[4] Don’t forget grade inflation conundrum.

I had hoped to have fellow-graduate students in my audience; this paper was written for them as the target audience, after all. I addressed them immediately:

I imagine you have all had this experience.  You tell someone that you are earning a degree in English and . . . they assume a pathetic demeanor and reply, “Oh, then you are planning to teach.”  What’s worse is when they ask about your specialty.  Either you answer something like “Eighteenth Century Poetry” or “Modern Political Drama” OR you answer “Representation Theory,” “Regional American Linguistics,” or (god forbid) “Gender Studies.”  You lose either way, because either you will confirm for them that you are studying what is perceived as The Dead White Guys or you confirm for them that the Department of English is intentionally opaque, obscure, and obsolete.

But, alas, when I saw the program, my paper had been placed on a panel with brilliant but unappreciated “Topics in Rhetoric.” And to my chagrin, there was a concurrent panel with circus clowns and free candy. Guess where the grad students went? I walked into the room where my panel was scheduled and faced the academic firing squad: the surliest portion of the grad faculty.[5] Among these was the Bloom-worshiping, conservative Twentieth-Century American Poetry teacher who told me that I wielded gender theory like a blunt object.[6]

I explained all of the intricacies, but in the end, fewer English majors mean fewer specialist positions – and an increase in faculty stratification.  This stratification (along tenurable and nontenurable lines) creates a lower morale in the department as a whole and increases insularity.  I predicted that it would also “create a job market that will have all of us shaking in our boots for a decade or more.” There was a lot more to the paper, but who cares – this is just the sounding board for my real point. A point about Paganism – I’m getting to it. I promise.

I ended up entirely right and am now surrounded by an anxious and demoralized body of co-workers. Sometimes I hate being right.

The problem, I asserted was that:

So many of us perpetuate what Goeffrey Sirc bemoans as the dulling influence of academic polity, which has led many grad students to (re)produce the sort of prose and responses which correspond to our mentor’s work and therefore buys us kudos at a time when we are vulnerable and in need of affirmation.

So to sum up: grad students perpetuate what tradition (via mentors) deems scholarly. However, the public deems it futile.  Further, because we are misunderstood and disregarded as ineffectual, we no longer draw the undergraduate majors that we used to. Therefore, liberal arts have among the lowest pay in the university, in a culture that equates material compensation with worth.

The question becomes, imho: how do we make English Literature valuable to students who only take World Literatures because they “have to” in order to get their degrees in Science, Engineering, and Business Administration?  I advocated an interdisciplinary approach. Think about Science in the English classroom.  I teach Darwin’s Decent of Man in my World Literature class.  Not because I teach evolution, but because I think Charles Darwin provides a fabulous read and makes a nice connection between Frankenstein and Wordsworth.  Plus, I tend to have a lot of various COSAM students and this is a good bridge text.  All of my students typically love it; though the ones who don’t read continue to think that Darwin claimed man evolved from apes.  Didn’t happen.  One thing Darwin did claim is that those species which evolve adaptations that better suit their surroundings will survive better than those that cannot/do not adapt.  “Survival of the Fittest” does not refer to strength – lion over gazelle (or Science and Math over Liberal Arts) – it refers to appropriateness in adaptation – fins over feet.

True story.  There is a pond and a biologist who studies that pond – actually the fish in that pond.  Some of the fish reproduce asexually – they are haploid clone fish.  Genetically, each offspring is an exact duplicate of its parent.  There are, in that same pond, diploid or polyploid sexually reproducing fish of that same species.  They get one set of alleles from each parent.  This is nature’s preferred method of reproduction – organisms typically receive one set of homologous chromosomes from each parent.  The benefit of cloning is that ALL of the parent’s DNA gets passed on to the next generation and then the next generation and then the next generation – the species remains pure.  The sexual reproducers lose out since only half of their DNA make it to the next generation and less gets passed on to the generation after that – you get the idea.  But. One year a virus invaded the pond.  It was a predator.  The clone fish were able to fight the virus at first, but when the virus mutated and the clone fish stayed the same, the clone fish were eradicated.  The diploid reproducers evolved; they built up a resistance to the virus and they survived.

Such phenomena have many implications in biological sciences and specifically genetics; but what the heck does it have to do with English?  (And what the heck does it have to do with Paganism and Witchcraft?) I’m sure that if you’ve read any of the other Bad Witch Files, you know that I am ever-ready to talk to you in terms of metaphor.

We are like the fish in the pond.  Those of us who integrate new material into our work are more likely to evolve and therefore survive.  Those of us who clone, may not.

I do not advocate the kind of cross-pollination that waters-down the discipline.  Literary Studies remain Literary Studies, Wicca remains Wicca; but I advocate doing it in such a way that involves other disciplines, more like symbiosis. Or microevolution.[7] It’s hard, because it means that as a scholar and a teacher (academics or spirituality), you have to know more than one discipline.  It’s also hard because it involves going out on an evolutionary limb of our own rather than cloning our mentors’ work.[8]  A proposal which is sticky. Some feel that this advocating of hybridism will result in nothing short of bastardization of Studies in English.  But do a quick Google search: any state schools still have a Classics Department?  How many still teach Old English?  Because of its perceived obtuseness, Classics Departments have generally been absorbed into the English Major or cut altogether.  Such topics in English are going the way of the Dodo.  Extinction is the result of a failure to evolve. [9]

Just look at the Catholic Church.

Here’s the real question for those of you scrolling to the end.

What does that mean for Pagan and, more pointedly, Witchcraft traditions? Does that start an argument against traditionalism? Or is Witchcraft, by virtue of being intentionally esoteric,[10] insular, enigmatic and secretive, consequentially immune to outside annihilation?

If I was right – and I maintain that I was/am – when grad students perpetuate canonical tradition at the expense of scholarly innovation (which the broader populace derides), Liberal Arts – already esoteric to some – maintains the misunderstood position as “impractical.” Consequently, the discipline attracts fewer students. The domino effect is that teachers are less valuable and less compensated. This makes a career in teaching liberal arts less attractive which, snowball, snowball, snowball . . . .

But, in many Pagan traditions, we try our damndest to maintain “pure” traditions and to stay in line with ancient practices. This isn’t the first time I’ve asked a question like this, but it’s the first time I’ve asked it outright: Is this even a good idea?

We pretty much agree that wine is OK instead of blood. We concede that (some) sex can be symbolic. We recognize the impracticality of many traditional tools and find that a system of “correspondences” and “substitutions” is the key to magical-proxy.[11] But then we say that other traditions are non-negotiable. Again, like my question about gender, I find myself asking where we draw the line.

Am I comparing apples and oranges here? Polyphanes recent commentary on The Digital Ambler In Terms of Another” makes me ask myself: “Am I trying to discuss a biological impulse in terms of a mathematical algorithm?”[12]

I don’t have an answer.

I’m seriously considering this conundrum.

This one may plague me for a minute.

This post is  part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet.”


[1] “Going Public in The English Department.” In Higher Ed Studies, “Going Public” generally refers to a lifting of the academic veil that shrouds our department in secretive obscurity.  Yes, we are the keepers of culture; yes, we have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the written arts.  But not at the risk of insularity and exclusion.  Think about it, if we hide culture away in an enigmatic and exclusive circle – sure we succeed in maintaining scholarly integrity but we also fail at affecting the greater society around us – which is in dire need of some high art and cultural awareness.  Yeah? I was The Bad Grad Student too.

[2] Not to be confused with contentious labor.

[3] Yup. Somebody said that to me. I reminded him that my illiterate auntie has (and all of my Mvskogee ancestors who never had much use for written literature had) a bigger soul than he ever would.

[4] As a case in point consider this.  I took part in a Graduate School Research Forum and after one of my comrades in English gave what I considered a well-thought-out talk for an anti-hunger project, one of the judges said something like, “I don’t mean to be a grumpy old man, but what’s the point?  Literature isn’t going to change the world.” Not even within the walls of the academy are we safe from such raw criticism.

[5] The affable portion was in the room with the clowns and candy, obvs.

[6] My response was, “Like a phallus?”

[7] I’ll concede to use this term even though I know that there is no relevant difference between microevolution and macroevolution. Both happen comparably. When biologists use different terms, it’s for descriptive reasons. When creationists use it, it’s for ontological reasons. I’m neither a biologist or a creationist, so I have nothing at stake.

Geological Time Spiral. Want an explanation? Click to link.

[8] And while evolution is typically imagined as a linear progression, in our imagination (supported by geological evidence), evolution can have the ebb and flow of the tides, the orbit of the Wheel of Fortune, the Great and Sacred Spiral.

[9] There is a counterargument to hybridism – but for our purposes here, let me limit myself to the positive results of hybridism.  I’m always dragging a COSAM student around the English Department; they leave saying, “I didn’t know you could do that with English.”  The big payoff is – they go out into the broader university and say things like, “I was talking to this woman from the English Department about co-writing an article about artistic renderings of seed pods in early twentieth-century biology textbooks.”  This is like the movement of gene flow which allows new genes and characteristics to spread from their population of origin – the English Department – throughout the species – or university – as a whole.

[10] When TBW was a kiddo in Chicago, there was a club called Esoterica. I have happy memories associated with this word.

[11] Holy hot-hell, my brain just went into a mode of Structuralist and Deconstructionist Theory from which I will run post-haste.

[12] But – – that’s a whole nother ball of, well, balls to be well-explored over a pint or two. Or six. (Tee, hee, I wrote “sex” and had to revise.)