The next three weeks I will be in the Testing Mountains where I must slay nine giants before descending into the valley where I may frolic among cypresses and libraries and movie nights with friends.
Ten giants, actually. I have returned.
Once upon a time, there was a young mage-knight named EAL, who journeyed into the mountains. She carried with her a bottle of water, reams of scratch paper, a TI-84 Plus graphing calculator, pens, and No. 2 pencils. Many of her friends ascended the mountain with her, but they all took slightly different paths.
Our Heroine's trail took her through three finals, two SAT subject tests, and five AP tests. None of these giants were as horrible as she thought they would be, though she confesses to having developed a distinct dislike toward the College Board which doesn't have enough honor to admit to being a profitable organization. Capitalism is good. Lying is not.
But it was not all bad in the mountains. There were concerts, featuring lovely songs:
And there were books to read, including the wonderful amazing book The Chosen, by Chaim Potok (raved about here) and The Joy of Mathematics, by Theoni Pappas, featuring fun problems. Miss Marple (Agatha Christie) was paranoia-inducing and splendid.
Our Heroine did lose at least two nights of sleep worrying about band staff elections, which take place next week, but she is feeling a little better now. Until election day, of course. Eep.
What did Our Heroine learn in her travels through the mountains?
/end third person mode
I have not felt like myself, this past year. Remember how a while back I had all those posts about identity? I don't feel that too much came out of that, because creating an identity is - or so I believe - primarily a subtractive process. Incidentally, we had an FRQ (free response question) about this on the English test:
For centuries, prominent thinkers have pondered the relationship between ownership and the development of self (identity), ultimately asking the question, “What does it mean to own something?”
Plato argues that owning objects is detrimental to a person’s character. Aristotle claims that ownership of tangible goods helps to develop moral character. Twentieth-century philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre proposes that ownership extends beyond objects to include intangible things as well. In Sartre’s view, becoming proficient in some skill and knowing something thoroughly means that we “own” it.
Think about the differing views of ownership. Then write an essay in which you explain your position on the relationship between ownership and sense of self. Use appropriate evidence from your reading, experience, or observations to support your argument.
I realized that my year of being sixteen is soon coming to an end and I don't feel as though I've learned anything about myself. I am no happier, no more tranquil, a little more confident, but still in the process of breaking the smiling mirror. I realized that I have become complacent, despite repeatedly telling myself to fear complacency.
So what do you do?
I thought about the prompt. I thought about Thoreau. I thought - I have way too much stuff. Not just physical stuff, but also too much stuff going on, too many input sources that I feel a need to check up on. During my three weeks away, I logged out of feedly and goodreads and all such things, and I realized that I didn't miss any of the sites that I used to read devotedly. Habit is a snare, and I'd got out of it through luck.
So what do you do?
When I got back yesterday from the mountains, I unfollowed all but a handful of my input sources across all platforms, keeping only those that I actually looked forward to reading, that I saved for last when there were multiple posts aggregated. There were a lot of blogs that I'd followed because I was afraid of missing something, or they'd been really good in the past, or they had pretty pictures. They have now been jettisoned.
A lot of the blogs I had been holding on to for no good reason were ones in which the author of the blog had a definite, concrete personal aesthetic. Even if that aesthetic didn't match mine at all I followed because - because why? I'm not the kind of girl who wears cute vintage frocks. I don't like the pre-Raphaelites very much, either, and I don't wear jewelry, and...
I have a lot of respect for the mythic arts community: Terri Windling, Ellen Kushner, Grace Nuth, &c. But as I said above, I don't particularly like the pre-Raphaelites, nor Victoriana. I have no sympathy for medieval nostalgia, I am pro-STEM, and I am an angry iconoclastic teenager, which explains 80% of everything I do. I unfollowed a lot of people of this ilk, modern-day Romanticists, because without conflict there is no progress and I want to discover what I have to say.
The elves, the ethereal fae, the Green Men, the dreamy-eyed women with long long hair who might have stepped out of trees - all these have left. I have bid them, cordially, goodbye. Theodora Goss is my hero (and I'm still following her blog) but her brand of magical women is not mine. The art that community creates is, I feel, green. Not green as in novice (I am the novice here), but literally, green. Green and silver, probably with red hair.
Justine Musk (whom I am no longer following) says
Every journey starts with the realization that here is a place you can no longer stay.
Also: I think it is about time this blog started living up to its title. Assembling Imaginations.
Here is the game plan:
-expose myself to a lot of different art
-select what resonates (integer harmonics!) and share it here
-in doing so, build who/what I am as a creator, as a reaper and rejoicer
Back to the mountains I go. Care to join me?