A Letter to Students at Semester’s End

Fare thee well, fellow travellers!

It has been a pleasure getting to know all of you through your writing and in-class dialogue.  We have traveled far and wide across many intellectual landscapes.  Thank you for your hard work.

Together we have found and constructed textual windows overlooking our own cultural in-scapes.  We have seen how the mind blossoms in langauge’s garden when well-tended, how the inner eye reflects upon itself, how word—logos—lights the void with the spark of conscious investigation.

I hope you have learned more here than just writing conventions.  Higher education is not about grades and rules; those are merely part of the technê—the discipline, the skill, the craft.  But, it is autopoïesisars + technê—that opens up passageways within you you never knew were there, like a hall of mirrors.  What you are really here to do is learn how to dis·cover yourself as a value maker—always already being in the world.  That experience is what I hope you take away from this.

Everything we have studied belongs to a canon of knowledge—that is your inheritance.  With the tools and skills you have collected, you possess the foundations of that which separates us from all other creatures, as far as we know—the power to think about thinking and to bestow meaning upon the world—to language.

Don’t lose what you fought to have, and that which so many take for granted or lazily reject.   No one can take away what you learn, what you write into memory, but time and non-use.  Ergo, I hope you do not bury your talent in a forgettable past, but revisit it, refresh it, recreate it, rediscover it.  As with any skill, practice is an investment that sharpens, hones, and refines.  Remember, the world and all your actions are stories, texts; you write yourself into existence.  Language is largely how we give value to ourselves; think for example how you represent yourself with an online profile and screen name.  These too are textual portrayals of your identity, which you create through visual and verbal language.  The world as a textual heuristic is something we constantly have to write, read, reread, and revise.  Don’t fall prey to the mean—the averaging of the world.

To send you on your way with a short letter from a friend of mine—a Dallas poet, writer, artist, scholar, and philosopher—I leave you at this crossroad with his inspired words:

  I hope that you do not continue on with your college education and forget everything we read and discussed. If the world and its institutions have their way with you, then you’ll live a very uncurious life and spend most of your vital years working or recovering from working. Then you’ll be old and take a look around and do some remembering and realize you spent your life looking at pictures of other lives, both real and imagined—but very few that were genuine. Many ministers will want your souls and your tithes, many politicians your votes and financial contributions, many businesses your business, many entertainments your time—and ever again they’ll want your money. I hope you don’t forget that there are entire worlds of ideas and events and stories and philosophies that might change and enhance the way you think, speak, feel; hell, the way you hate and … love and pass your time. Schools, jobs, police, religions, governments want you to think in an approved and conventional way, they want you to be a good and mindless citizen who does predictable things. They do not care about authenticity, the true nature of your soul, the quality of your thoughts, the dimensionality and richness of your feelings—unless, of course, they can profit from it. I hope you find ways to keep them from doing so.

     Dr. Andy Amato
     http://andyamatophd.wordpress.com/

May only Good fortunes find you in all your future endeavors! May you always find yourself full of child-like awe and wonder.  Most of all, may the torch of Knowledge, of the Good, of creative Beauty and joy always light your way through any darkness.

Your lantern-bearing guide,

Prof. P

About thepoetsglass

Professor, poet, philosophical dilettante, plus some other impressively heady alliterations. Instructional designer and copywriter. Cognitive neuroscientist by night. Self-diagnosed coffee addict, sometime dancer, brooding bibliophile, and an always salty sailor.
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