Thursday, October 05, 2006

10.05.06, Fear of the Dark, Career Choices

“A written sign is proffered in the absence of the addressee. How is this to be qualified?” — Derrida (Margins of Philosophy 315)

And, then too, how is it be qualified, the proffering of a written sign in the absence of the addressor? This is our task now. (Elsewhere in the Margins)


[Fear of the Dark]
Walk in the dark, I’d said. True. Still true. Think of the David Byrne song by that title, think of anything else you know that plays with the metaphor. You walk where you can’t see your steps clearly so you’re forced to just take them if you want to move forward. You stumble, necessarily, you give way now and then, you get swatted by unseen branches at face level. Holes, rocks. Small puddles, silent streams. It’s where some of us are, in a dark space where we know the movement is necessary and the movement is somehow good. Fear is just what it is, mental, avoidable or dealable somehow. It is what it is. And it is more pronounced in the dark.

[Career, Would-Be]
There was a career, something I had worked for, for years and I’d gone through, not all, but still a great deal of the blood, sweat, and tears have been spilt for it. Ups, downs, benders and straights, late-night bridges, the anterooms of retired but venerated shrinks — all this had something to do with my career preparation. Then years of translating, learning to do it better, finding those writings I can feel and connect with, meeting them, planning out their English language futures with them over drinks and drinking promises . . . There was also this sexy world of Continental Philosophy and high theory that called to me when I was a pup, college fourth year, after three years of good old-school training in New Criticism, a door opened into something loosely and irresponsibly called — and we too will call it — the postmodern. There was Marxism, an anti-methodology and a political critique that filled in and jived with all my life experience (yes, Communism, card-carrying membership still holds). Is that a terrorist group? . . . As if I had arrived. After all.

There was and is not a job at Duke University job and this is what it means to me. Let’s be bold and say this was my dream job, almost. One of three potential positions that would allow me to turn my job into what I want it to be — something that has been impossible here at UW. (You see the job once offered to me is now on the market for real, with tenure, with what I’d wanted, freedom to think and write!) C’est la vie. But that is precisely the problem. La vie turning into no more career and into c’est la morte. Not the petit one, but the big one, capital M. The one you don’t return from. When I came to UW I had a job offer from Duke also, but they were not yet prepared to offer it tenure-track. So with an eye toward a bird in the hand I chose to be here. The sacrifice was intellectual freedom, time for free and unrestricted work, and a strong intellectual community of peers. Now that door is opening again and I dare say I’m confident enough I’d get the offer once again, a prospect I spoke to the then-hiring committee about with some promise. But now. But now? How does it make me feel to simply ignore a Big Career move because I’m stepping out of my career? You might guess, it’s stifling, a bit stunning, and extremely thought provoking. I fear, though, there is nothing to do but accept this with some degree of dignity. A sad style of dignity.

Serious cause for pause, thought, reconsideration, reevaluation of this disease and what it means to me.

[New Numbers and Cancer Status]
There were number a week ago that I forgot to pass on, more cancer marker CA19-9 numbers. They have gone up, that direction we don’t like them to go, to about 8500. Just about 2000 points higher than it was at the last check. This was to be expected and the restaging next week will give me more accurate information, with the ocular proof, so we shall “see” more then. And I will still pursue the glyconutrients once I can escape some schmuck in Utah who calls and leaves messages telling me how “You need to start taking this right away, you must start today, it will save your life.” Oh, will it? Thank you for your genuine concern . . . and what did you say your commission was, again? Or did we skip over that? To try in spite of such life forms.

Not only that but to try and keep your chin up, to borrow a phrase, maintain a wry smile or shit-eating grin in the face of it all. Perhaps so long as the smile is there, the wasting away will simply waste away.

3 comments:

tossing salads said...

ah fuck. im so not liking the numbers. was this with the change up in the administration of the chemo??? please, please, so not right. thank you for your insight, that it will provoke change. that it will give others strength to be what they could be. i love you scott.

Slarry said...

Mr. Jones:

Is this the song you were referring to?
I had never heard it before, let alone read the lyrics.
Your post from last night was heart breaking, frustrating and sheer angst.
So unfair-- it just makes me hate your cancer more.
Thwarting some of your dreams, what and all that
you have worked for and deserve. DREAMS.
All I can say is how sorry I am.
But please know you how much you have given, even without the perfect job--
you have and continue to make an indelible mark on the world
with your words, thoughts and theories.

There is no one else like you and your beautiful mind.
You inspire, mold, shape and change us all with your knowledge and writings.
And I for one, am all the better for it and forever changed because of you.

And as for fear, you have taught me more, helped me more-- in confronting mine than any therapist
or book. Because you always move forward--
with grace and style. You are my example, the
definition of strength.

A WALK IN THE DARK

Im takin all your little toys away
You don't have any say so in your future
The pretty colors and the shiny lights
Do we just chase whatever we desire?

Oh silent night
Oh holy night
Sometimes you see me
Sometimes you don't

You'll get to know me better
After a walk in the dark
The monster in the mirror
Well take a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark

Im not afraid to close my eyes at night
Im not afraid of what my dreams will show me
I saw a fish that had a human head
I saw some things that I would like to show you:

The broken glass
The cars on fire
Open the cages
And set them free

Mine eyes have seen the glory
I took a walk in the dark
It aint no bedtime story
Well take a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark

Oooh -
Who will help ya now?
Surrender,
My love
Let it all come down
Burn baby burn

Now jesus, mary and the holy ghost
Took one look and they said, hey, were lost!
How the hell do we get outa here?
They shit their pants, they got so scared

So no matter who you are
Ya need a walk in the dark
The sweetest thing I ever saw
I took a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark
Woah - well take a walk in the dark


Love you.

Mr. Jones said...

Yep, that's the song of the allusion, from David Byrne's "Uh-Oh" album. It looks a little anemic there stripped away from the music like that.

Btw, the CA19-9 numbers have to be looked at carefully. The number of 8500, for example, was from something like Sept. 21st, but it's from bloodwork done two weeks before that--so it represents the cancer in my body at the end of the first week of Sept. It's my first number taken during the new type of chemo treatment, and it was "high" as expected since my numbers had already changed directions two weeks before that. We check it again withing two weeks. -Mr. J.