Friday, March 24, 2017


For the thirty-four years you taught courses there, you expected to arrive at the University of Southern California when you set forth from your point of departure somewhere to the north, in Santa Barbara.

You expected--and were overwhelming in your success--to arrive at five other destinations where you taught, as well as the various writers conferences in which you participated as a workshop leader or speaker.

Since all these destinations are associated in some way with writing, they seem for your purpose here a splendid and emphatic example of destination as an anticipated point of arrival. In turn, these examples also set in motion the concepts of departure and anticipation as necessary conditions to arrival.

A process begins when an individual such as yourself departs from a particular location. The individual is purposefully leaving Point A. Thus you at ages nine, ten, eleven, increasingly leaving Point A, which can also be seen as either home, a classroom, or some public park, with the specific destination of a library in mind.

The motivations for your departure with that destination in mind were cocktails of curiosity and boredom. The destination much more often than not provided ample remedy for the boredom, sated the curiosity to some degree, or quite possibly triggered it to even greater intensity.

A significant side effect of your earlier departures and arrivals is the person you became and now are, by profession a writer, editor, and teacher. To this day, in service of boredom and curiosity, you continue to arrive at libraries; you also arrive at bookstores and send forth electronic departures to other bookstores, newspapers, and journals. 

Often when you sit in your present dwelling, you are literally and figuratively up to your ass in books, magazines, and journals. Were you to sit on the floor, as you on occasion do, you'd as well be in over your head with books.

In your capacities as writer, editor, and teacher, your activities often involve a departure from a known or measured condition, thus a start of a journey toward an outcome or arrival. Either you, yourself, a client, or a number of students board a particular conveyance. All aboard.

The destination is the tricky part. You came upon this discovery some years back when you began to notice how, in relative terms, it is easier [for you] to begin a story than it is to end or resolve it. Somewhere along the way, you began to equate endings with punchlines of jokes. No laughter, ineffective story or punchline. But then you began to see. You didn't want that kind of a punchline. And. You were not at all adverse to laughter, but such as there was should come within. You don't want punchlines for endings; you want a sense of arrival at a destination.

All along, the reader is on track to reach a destination, but not the most anticipated one. Were you to drive to Los Angeles these days, you'd be horrified to discover force of habit had taken you to the University of Southern California.  Were you to drive to Los Angeles these days, you'd be happier to discover you'd arrived at 12224 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City, which happens to be Art's Delicatessen and Restaurant.

No comments: