Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Everybody Knows There's No Sanity Clause

For the past few weeks, you've been searching for a definition to a concept that seems to have relevance for you in terms of a book project you're working on, a specific lecture some of your students are pressing you to give, and a personal need for understanding.

The concept appears in your awareness on a daily basis, often more than once a day and from such diverse sources as literature, the world of publishing, the world of university and teaching, the world of local politics, the world of science, the world of national and international politics.  Awareness of the concept is, thus, like following the trajectories of a volleyball during a heated, tightly contested game.

In ways of significant meaning and consequence for you, the conquest in question, or at least its definition, relates to ways in which you see and interpret the world and to the ways in which those minute parts of the world that are aware of you see you and interpret you.

From time to time, the volleyball game is in your head, wherein you are alternately quite crazy or relatively stable in your sanity.  Ah, yes; sanity.  Glad you got around to that, because sanity is the concept for which you've been seeking a definition that will allow the concept to explain itself to you, settle in upon you so that you might proceed with the work you hope to engage, within the time your appointment for living on this planet lasts.

Sanity reminds you of how you were appointed to a position at the university for a non-specified time at first, made aware, as universities seem to enjoy doing, that however glad the university is to have you exposing your interests and abilities to a select segment of the student body, the university wishes to make it clear how your status in the relative spectrum of university status is  of a piece with the status of a mosquito in a rum filled with blood donors.

There are three status levels at this university you can forget about, even were you to aspire to them.  By the nature of your appointment, you are noted on all university records as non-senate, which means you might be tolerated at one or two meetings of the academic senate, should you wish to endure those meetings, but only from the stands.  Nor are you to consider yourself ladder faculty, wherein you are working your way up the ladder of permanence.

In most cases, the university is cordial and you might go so far as to say collegial toward you to the point where some communications address you as esteemed colleague and one or two have addressed you, Hey, Shelly.  However, when interests and opinions engage in faculty meetings or curriculum committee meetings, there have been times when you have been assigned the rank of "you people."

A definition for sanity that has held your interest for the past while takes into consideration the capacity to accurately assess the consequences of actions.  You lean to that definition; it has a nice sense of purpose and awareness.  In fact, you like it a good deal more than the notion of knowing right from wrong or being able to assess moral choice and be able to weigh various of these against one another, choosing the best out of a batch.

You have a good deal of respect for the notion of sanity, no matter if the notion deliberately or accidentally omits some of your favorite choices.  Thus, when you say you approach the polar opposite, you do so with a generous measure of curiosity and pragmatism, finding neither fear nor opprobrium in being considered not sane, which is to say crazy.

Sanity often seems to you joined at the hip with serious and protracted altruism, which is not at all bad, except that for your tastes, it precludes the kind of desperation or sense of being cut adrift that often accompanies some act of genuine creativity while doing your work in the research laboratories of bat shit craziness.

For the longest time, you've considered grief as one of the brightest pole stars of creativity.  It is not so much that one cannot be creative until one has experienced grief as it is fact for you that the forces causing grief are inevitable, while the forces causing creativity are optional.  One either accepts them or does not.  Further proof is that there is grief in creativity.

For now, sanity is creative craziness, a plateau from which you can see above and below the horizons of convention.  This is a place where a number of misbegotten forms gather to compare notes.

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