Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Aimless Reading: The J's, Part 4 (William James)

Writings 1902-1910
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
James, William
Writings 1902-1910

Purchased at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store.

You may have noticed that the quality of the images I've been posting has been diminishing of late. I thought the quality of the camera was the problem -- or the poor lighting in the room. This morning the image quality looked particularly dark, pixelated, & blurry. I wiped the lens of the camera with my finger and voila -- a one hundred percent improvement. Sometimes genius is accidental.

1990: At summer's end I returned to school. I had applied to become an R.A. in the dorms. Because I'd stopped drinking and taking drugs, it seemed like an easy choice, especially since it meant free room and board AND a stipend.

My assignment was the eighth floor of an apartment building for upperclassmen near the southern gate of the campus. I had a two bedroom apartment shared with two roommates. One was the aforementioned friend with whom I'd gotten sober and the other was another friend from AA. The three of us formed part of a very small group of students that went to AA on campus once a week, and we'd become fast friends in the process.

The two of them shared a bedroom and I had my own. We also shared a living room and a kitchenette. The apartment had a great view facing southward. You could see all the way to the Twin Towers on a clear day. There was nothing memorable about the apartment itself. Like all the dorm rooms, it had heavy, blocky, wooden furniture, and a low grey carpet. The tension that had developed between myself and the one roommate diminished quickly due to a major increase in tension between himself and his new roommate. Sharing a room had a lot to do with it.

Being an R.A. was a relatively easy job. Once a week I had to sit through a meeting and a couple times a month I had to be "on duty," meaning I had to police all the dorm parties. I once broke up a party and wrote up a very large drunken football player who threatened me. He'd apparently had trouble before and told after this incident that another write-up and he'd be thrown out of school. Every time I saw the guy over the next year, he threatened me. A couple of times I had to be escorted out of local bars while the bartender held him inside so I could get out and go home. I remember he kept screaming that I'd ruined his senior year and that he was going to kill me. It wasn't a lot of fun.

I remember the elevator often broke and that I'd have to walk eight flights up the stairs to get home.

I remember when the Gulf War started a bunch of jocks surrounded the building and started shouting (not singing) the national anthem at the top of their lungs at 2 AM.

This was also the year that I tried to be a folk singer. I met a lot of friends who wrote songs and played guitar and there was a little coffee house on campus where they used to play. I tried my hand a few times at open mic and eventually started to perform pretty regularly. We had a small band of would-be Bob Dylans, some of whom (not myself) could actually write a decent song. No one really sang all that well.

I was also writing feverishly in my notebooks (I still didn't have my own computer). I published a few poems in the school literary magazine. That was sort of a thrill. I spent a lot of time writing short stories. I published one of those, also. I think it was the only short story I ever published -- and one of the few that I ever completed.

from The Varieties of Religious Experience

In my belief that a large acquaintance with particulars often makes us wiser than the possession of abstract formulas, however deep, I have loaded the lectures with concrete examples, and I have chosen these among the extremer expressions of the religious temperament. To some readers I may consequently seem, before they get beyond the middle of the book, to offer a caricature of the subject. Such convulsions of piety, they will say, are not sane. If, however, they will have the patience to read to the end, I believe that this unfavorable impression will disappear; for I there combine the religious impulses with other principles of common sense which serve as correctives of exaggeration, and allow the individual reader to draw as moderate conclusions as he will.

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