A Divestment

Tuesday, 21 July 2020, 12:52 | Category : Uncategorized
Tags :

I have just cancelled my Facebook account. I realize that in doing so I am giving up much that is good and distancing myself from friends who are very dear to me. But I can’t trust myself with it. I am retiring this year to become an emeritus professor, a bit like Lear when he steps down, prof in name only, and my teacher’s habit, to try to correct error and fix logic and point out new perspectives and unearth evidence and help people enjoy a book as a book, is exactly what social media doesn’t need at present.

Because everything is politicized now on social media. Even not entering the conflict is an aggressive act. In this nightmare year of plague and racism and fear and institutional folly and brutal violence by the lawless and the law alike, what is desired is simple recitation over and over of the creed of “this” side or “that.” Any concession to the valid points of one side or the other is seen as endorsement, triumphant putdown, conversion or betrayal. Any mild criticism of a view one otherwise endorses is heresy. Those who try to mediate–which was my intention in entering the fray–are the ones hated most as traitors by both sides. So I’m out.

This divestment is only part of a general metamorphosis–caterpillar to butterfly or butterfly to caterpillar? I’ve been slowly clearing out my institutional office and my home study, hundreds of books to go to libraries, fifty-three years of dusty knickknacks, five giant bins of papers, keeping perhaps 1/10 of my them for a generously-offered archive.

I feel, as the cliché goes, as if an elephant were lifting its feet from my back one by one, a liberation that also includes a rush of memories of students and colleagues, and love for my flawed but very decent and increasingly brilliant university.

And as I enter my dotage or sanyasihood I am trying to rejuvenate my first vocation, of poet, and shred away what religious folks call the burden of self. I see a kind of liberation that might be possible; not less care for others, but more cogent care. A way of being a night-light for people, or a place to rest on a journey, or a suggester of ways to put things that display their holiness within.

2 Comments for “A Divestment”

  1. 1Jonathan Englert

    Thank you Fred. It is a courageous move since it is a cutting off from those many good things you cite, but the vitriol and imbalance is extraordinary. I recently came across your “On Gibbs’ Law” and wanted to donate to your poetic endeavours but the donation button doesn’t work. Please fix, I would appreciate being able to meet value with currency, if only in a small gesture of appreciation.

  2. 2Bernie Bell

    Hello Fred

    Recently, I hit a low, and I stepped aside from being on-line, completely, for a time. The whole business got to be too much for me.

    I am back on the computer, with a new regimen of not going on the machine first thing in the morning – I ease myself into the day. I spend less time on it, and censor myself about what I look at.
    I haven’t seen your blog for a while, and am now catching up with your posts.
    As you know, I’m not on Facebook – refuse to be – and the more I can’t access things unless I am, the more determined I am – not to be. What my mother would have called “Cutting off my nose to spite my face”. Though, not really – we don’t need it as much as we’re told we do – there’s a lot of brain-washing going on there.
    I’m just pleased to read of someone else stepping away from that abode of nastiness and non-sense.
    GOOD.

Leave a comment