So I have decided to share ideas with anyone willing to take the time to read these short pieces (generally 500-800 words) to be published every couple of weeks. This is an open invitation to you all: Come on, let's talk, let's try to be alone together rather than alone alone.
Why do I call this lifestage postgraduate work? Simple. I have been studying, learning and preparing for decades in or near educational, research and training institutions. Now I have left the regimented offices, classrooms and labs; and I am being paid to conduct self-directed research and development activities. (Thanks, US Social Security Administration, State of Florida and TIAA for making this a tenured postgraduate position.) The expectation is that I should do something original. At least that is my expectation; I refuse to be passive deadwood.
This promises to be the best gig I have ever had: I will research what I want to, I will relate to those who share my interests, there will be no required quarterly or annual reports to donors, and I will be evaluated by whichever audience I chose to address.
I don't have much time left so I intend to open up because I know that I will make more rapid progress if I share my ideas and concerns openly, and then through follow up conversations with others to collectively build an improved understanding.
My entire life has been lived within conventional institutional contexts with very clear rules, limited goals, precise measurements, and with very conventional people (good ones generally). But in this new phase - my postgraduate work - I feel compelled to rebelliously refocus attention on some big existential questions, use tools that are often not logical, and seek feedback from diverse sources. Let's see if I succeed before the synapses senesce.
I expect that the writings I will share will fit into four categories:
1) Musings on sculpture and art and their places in contemporary society. All you formally trained artists out there: please, please, please, read and rebut what I write. Let me come clean: I am a Cartesian, a believer in the Enlightenment, my mental muscles are atrophied by 40 years of being bound to bureaucratic norms, I suffer from a Vitamin P deficiency (P for poetry), and I have no formal art training. So, artist friends, be good Samaritans and pick me up, bind my wounds and heal me. (OK, that was over the top, but now it will be hard for me to further embarrass myself.)
2) Commentary on my new art pieces as I complete them.
3) Reflections concerning non art-related ideas. I will present hypotheses about living, as well as confusions, frustrations and satisfactions.
One promise: I will guard against the temptation of the old who think that we have invaluable words of wisdom that we must pass onto others before we stub our toe on the proverbial pail. I'll be questioning, not preaching.
These musings about life will, I suspect, at times seem unbecomingly adolescent. But that is because like most of us I stopped paying attention to the really big life questions right as I stumbled into adulthood; my professional development and growing family diverted my attention from any big questioning; and then when things calmed down, the inertia of habitual not-thinking kept me inattentive.
I fully expect that many sophisticated readers will snicker at my rudimentary, rebutted ideas and click away. OK, bye, I'm going to accept that and be myself.
"The closing years of life are like the end of a masquerade party, when the masks are dropped." - Arthur Schopenhauer
4) Creative writing samples - including poetry. Because for my own good I need to get away from the essay format.
(Deep breath). Here goes.