Archive for January, 2011

Letters to my Tutor…

My dear, sweet Simone,

I haven’t finished reading the review scheduled for this week. Most of the reviews I’ve read have been around 20 pages; the latest one is around 40 pages and I didn’t schedule for that.  I could have finished the reading, but I decided that it might be better to stretch it over two weeks.  And plus, this leaves open the chance to write to you about something that has been playing in the back of my head for several weeks now.

Back in the 1990’s one of my African-American history professors asserted during class that all African-Americans were atheists…except for the odd few here or there.  I don’t have a clear memory of my understanding of his statements at the time, so my more recent thoughts might be a rehash of my thinking then.  I also don’t recall the professors exactly elaborations, but I do remember being more in agreement than not.  You’ve written of socializing with Richard Wright, a fellow Mississippian.  Did you two ever speak about religion?  I know he had strong feelings and beliefs about the matter. You’ve mentioned so far in one of your letters to Nelson that Richard might take unkindly to some of your opinions of him, but that you thought that this would be more due to a misinterpretation of your view. I hope to hear more about your conversations with Richard.

I’ve thought back on the subject due to more recent casual observations of an African-American who identifies as atheist.  His atheism is quite strange to me in that it seems to assume and be in reaction to a type of belief that I didn’t think existed in the African-American community.  It’s possible this gentleman grew up in more integrated community, but still it seems that he’s old enough that this should not have skewed his relationship with Christianity so far into the mainstream. He makes remarks along the lines of  this or that Christian belief isn’t true or that church officials will twists general statements in an effort to bamboozle congregants.  Now, my experience (and I think one that was shared by the professor) was that even in a community that was at least ostensibly filled with believers, statements like the above were considered an essential part of the education of the black child such that if an African-American identified as atheist the remarks would come from some place other than Christianity lacked truth.

Part of my early education was that religion, politics, science, society were all used to lie to me about who I was and what my potential was as a black child.  Out in the popular culture “blackness” was spoken of as a punishment from god; “scientific” studies showed that blackness and black culture were inherently inferior; political spin doctors never lacked plentiful justifications for laws now popularly considered to have been unjust.  In all-Black settings especially, there was strongly resistance to these types of things in popular culture.  Children were heavily encouraged to developed a sense of self that stood apart from religious truths and “scientific” truths and truths found in popular culture.  The tone of the statements of the African-American atheist I mentioned earlier suggests to me that he didn’t receive this early education that I thought was the norm.

One thing I do remember the professor saying is something along the lines that Christian religiosity in the black community was more or less a song and dance, a pageant, a play for the benefit of the powers that be.  During American slavery, religious meetings often served as a cover for other activities such as learning to read or planning escapes to freedom or other communications.  Religious singing during fieldwork and other group work was often used as a signal for secret meetings and plans.  Later, during the Civil Rights Movement, stressing the idea that we black people worshiped the same god as the wider population was often helpful in combating racism.  This last thought co-mingled with some of the general thinking about whether all African-Americans are atheist has lead me to reinterpret part of my elementary school education.

I went to a segregated elementary school.  My mother attended an integrated elementary school, at least for a short while, but that had fallen out of fashion by the time I was in school… and then back in fashion again before I had finished grade school.  Getting back to the point, there was prayer in my public school.  And when it was discovered that I did not know the Lord’s Prayer after I had been chosen to lead the class in prayer and failed, my teacher took me aside and taught it to me.  It’s recently dawned on me or perhaps re-dawned on me that prayer in the black school was part of a survival strategy. My teacher taught me the Lord’s Prayer because it was an essential tool for my health and safety as a black child in Mississippi.. this apart from whatever her personal beliefs may have been.  Calls to prayer could sometimes be effective in diffusing racially heated situations headed toward violence.

I’ve been trying to sort out what I was taught about religion as a child.  The same teacher who made sure that I knew the Lord’s Prayer also did a great job at teaching about the religions in other cultures; there was no condescension.  She did not teach in a tone that suggested that non-Christian religions were lesser or further away from some universal truth.  When my mother learned that I liked a Hindu boy she made remarks to my younger brother about maybe having to learn about a whole different religion in a tone that seemed open and accepting.  From many places, I got the sense that Christianity was local and practical.

Perhaps I will revisit this later?  My community service was canceled for tonight, but still I’m writing to you late in the day.  I’ve actually been more efficient this week, but my efforts have been spread across a wider variety of tasks.  I don’t care much for strict schedules generally speaking, but it seems having regularly scheduled chunks helps me get more done during “free” times.  I hope this is true.

Yours faithfully,

Ethnographic Writing about American Culture
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 21: 205-229 (Volume publication date October 1992)
Michael Moffatt
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

Letters to My Tutor…. (Fiction writing to aid learning)

My dearest Simone,

When I chose to read “Ethnographic Writing about American Culture” I had forgotten that I didn’t have a copy your American travel journal, America Day by Day. It was out at the library when I last went. I’ve only just now remembered that I had forgotten that. I’m sure I’ll revisit this review and others as I read your work.

Reading Michael Moffatt I was reminded of a favored childhood pastime. Moffatt writes briefly about considerations involved when anthropologists study at home, noting that while familiarity may allow for greater access to and openness from informants, it also limits objectivity and creates blind spots. This brought to mind to me how children are often painfully aware of the workings of culture. Childhood concerns with issues of fairness, often spotlight times when cultural requirements diverge from truth and practicality. Leaves me wondering whether children’s perspectives might offset whatever it is that adult ethnographers lack when studying at home. I loved testing some of the requirements and constraints of small talk and casual conversation as a child.

Take for example, “How are you?” as a greeting. Tone and manner and differences in word stress on the part of the asker often gave clear indicators of the type of response expected. The typical response was, “I’m fine. How are you?” Imagine the little kid saying, “But you were just crying a minute ago…” Anyway, the asker might, for example, elongate and stress the word “are” to indicate familiarity with a recent situation, such as the respondent’s new job or recent childbirth experience–How aaarrrrreeeee you–eliciting more specific and personal responses such as “I’m fine, but tired,” or “I’m getting used to all the new things at work.” Sometimes the asker would leave a bit of ambiguity in the tone and manner of the “How are you?” in order to gauge how the respondent viewed the intimacy level of their relationship by using the intimacy/detail level of the response. These variances that generally melt into the background for adults are often confusingly obvious to children.

Sometimes I would answer in a manner different than expected just to note the response. Childhood is the perfect time for such things because you’re granted a wider margin. Like many children I detested small talk and thinking of the whole enterprise as a chance for careful observation was the only thing that made it bearable. My memory is that people often seemed starved for intimacy and generally appreciated a more open, and personal response even times when they reacted negatively.

Hmm, I’ll stop there at the moment. I have some work to finish before bed. Will continue talk of America and Americans after reading your book. I didn’t just recommend some new form of child labor, did I?

Thanks for your patience,

Letters to My Tutor…

My dearest Simone,

I finally came up with a list of the next five reviews that I plan to read.  I despair at being behind, but I think that can’t be helped at the moment or in the very near future.  Back in November I started a new type of freelance work and then yet another related type of work in the past couple of weeks.  It’s taking longer than first expected to settle into an efficient and productive schedule.  Though I have been able to maintain my stated minimum of reading one article a week and writing “something” about it, I feel increasingly disappointed with that.

So often it’s difficult to be reasonable with oneself… this is perhaps the hardest part of self-study.  Should I work harder at sucking out a sense of satisfaction from keeping up with reasonable goals?  I think the real answer is that I need to be that much more fearless about saying silly things and wrong things and embarrassing things.  At any rate, here are my next five articles:

Ethnographic Writing about American Culture
Michael Moffatt
Regional Studies

The Changing Role of Women in Models of Human Evolution
Linda Marie Fedigan
Biological Anthropology

Functional Anyalysis in Anthropology and Sociology:  An Interpretive Essay
S. N. Eisenstadt
Cultural and Social Anthropology

The Emerging Picture of Prehistoric Arabia
Maurizio Tosi

Marxist Approaches in Anthropology
Bridget O’Laughlin
Cultural and Social Anthropology

I will also revisit a couple of my anthropology textbooks over the coming weeks to touch base with a more structured overview.  I’ve known this to be a good idea for some time, but I’ve failed to implement it.

Warmest Regards,

Fifty Years in Anthropology
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 11: 1-24 (Volume publication date October 1982)
DOI: 10.1146/
Ralph L. Beals, Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Emeritus, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90024
Read the abstract here.

Letters to My Tutor…
My dearest lady,

I decided to read one of the Overviews from the Annual Review of Anthropology this week. When I read that Ralph Beals entered university thinking that he would be a fiction writer and leaned toward majoring in philosophy, I thought, “This is I.” From the first that I learned to read, I loved to read, and I’ve felt at home with writers. I had an early attraction to philosophy and I was indeed a philosophy major for a while. I felt many such instances of “sameness” while reading “Fifty Years in Anthropology,” and I believe that I’ve added to my understanding of what draws me to anthropology.  In my recent pondering as to what it means to think like an anthropologist or lawyer or what have you, I’ve come to a clearer realization that I think like a writer, a writer who sees the world in much the same way an anthropologist would, the way an ethnologist would. As a young girl I romanticized this picture of myself as the wallflower on the sidelines observing situations that would provide the roux of later writing.

I like that Beals didn’t seem to have hang-ups regarding the descriptive-vs-theoretical issues prevalent in the field. I like that he pondered whether much of applied anthropology involved manipulating people and whether the motivation for that manipulation had more to do with a desire to help the subjects or a desire to do what was best for whichever administering agency (I’m reminded of recent discussions of Margaret Mead as a war horse).  I liked what Beals had to say regarding anthropology and science:

My friend and ex-fellow student, Cora Du Bois, suggested in Volume 9 that our future lies in what she calls philosophical humanism, rather than futile pursuit of the goals of science. I approve thoroughly of what she says about the humanistic goals of anthropology, and I hope it may always retain its humanistic character. But I do not believe that combining humanism with science is an impossible goal, provided we properly understand the modern trends of science.

More and more I’ve been thinking that I should talk to more anthropologists and anthropology students.  Maybe reading more of the Overviews and noting how anthropologists talk about anthropology and what brought them to anthropology will help me in formulating questions and in developing a sense of what it is I would like to gather from an interview, at least in part.  It would be nice to get at something more than just asking people about their work or research interests, although I like the idea of that, too.

I’ve yet to decide on the next five articles to read.  I’m working more and reading more books and doing more community service.  I’m a little lost.  Still, I’ll try to be a better student this week.

Yours truly, deeply

The Caribbean Region: An Open Frontier in Anthropological Theory
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 21: 19-42 (Volume publication date October 1992)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

Letters to My Tutor…

My dear, sweet Simone,

I don’t know that it makes sense, but I feel a small happiness at the thought that I was on Earth breathing at the same time that you were on Earth breathing. The small pleasures make for a deeper and more secure happiness, n’est-ce pas? I find that I miss my recently deceased friend the most during the small pleasures. Often times characters in movies speak of missing a deceased loved one during big life events like graduations or weddings or promotions, but those are the types of experiences that have the support of shared culture. The thing I miss is that my friend would have recognized the significance of little changes and little moments in my life. It’s strange how the little changes in life, the little ups and downs, are the most pervasive, but at the same time it’s harder to share the little joys and sorrows of them; we all have them, but it takes a familiarity to share in them. I found that at about the six-month mark, my grief was smaller in many ways, but more impactful. By then it was more clear that the whole world wasn’t upside down, only mine. By then others are less likely to treat you as if you’re in grief–no polite silences when you enter the room, no light brushes to the shoulder, no speaking to you in hushed tones. By then, others in your circle of acquaintances may have experienced a similar loss… which in a way makes you feel less alone, but at the same time makes your loss seem more real because others are experiencing that same loss. I think less now about the reality of my friend’s death and more about how I miss him.

I do believe that I was to say a bit more on Trouillot’s review. Staying on the subject of family structure from Monday, Trouillot writes that when R.T. Smith coined the word “matrifocality,” he did not mean female-headed, but rather he meant to underline the role of women as mothers. That word was definitely used as a cattle prod for misogyny in my little corner of Mississippi. Trouillot notes that Smith might despair at this misuse of the “notion of matrifocality.” I remember hearing as a child that the female-headed household was a major problem for black families and for black men. I believe this had a profoundly negative effect on how black men viewed black women and women generally. I saw it with my father and others. My grandmother had been married, but her husband died. And although my father maintained a respectful and admiring attitude towards his mother, I think anger at the notion that he couldn’t be quite right having grown up in a female-headed household was transferred to women generally. The same goes for non-black men who grew up in similar households.

Also, the notion that female-headed households was a problem was explicitly used to encourage submissiveness among women in more “traditional” nuclear family households. Subservience to the man in the household was necessary for the healthy development of the children present. While I think this had some measure of success in black communities, it may have impacted non-black communities even more given that there was a higher expectation of conformity to this ideal in those communities. I had a culturally diverse mix of friends growing up and I know the issue of matrifocality was discussed in various types of households.

Going back to Smith’s notion of matrifocality as a term that underlines the role of women as mothers, I see how this might be a point of focus for black families in the Americas. What must it have been like for a young black woman who had been recently freed from slavery to give birth? Certainly the specter of children born with price tags on their toes didn’t disappear overnight. Something to ponder at a later date. Also, I don’t know what the current thinking on matrifocality in black families in the Americas is among social scientists and the like.

I started on a new, paying project this week, so I didn’t get as much reading in as I had hoped. The days since Monday have been a blur. I need more of your voice in my head. Perhaps I should set a weekly minimum number of pages to read?

Your ever gracious pupil,

The Caribbean Region:An Open Frontier in Anthropological Theory
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 21: 19-42 (Volume publication date October 1992)
Michel-Rolph Trouillot
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

Letters to My Tutor

My dear lady,

I’ve been thinking this week that I haven’t been Americana enough, haven’t maintained the upbeat-enthusiastic-everything-is-possible attitude.  I’m not sure I ever was a good representative of that mindset, though I’ve been chastised for it in the past by friends who were ever more fatalistic.  I’ve been away from reading this week, and with every missing page, my sadness grew and grew; and with thoughts of all the pages in all the books, my sadness grew and grew.  But I worked at making money, so that gives me the right to live a little longer, to be a proper person.  If one does not make money, then one should pay the world a kindness and just die… that’s how it seems.  I will read more tonight and work for money tomorrow and work for pleasure the next day.  I did go for volunteering tonight; that was a pleasure, but once again I find myself in a rush to write to you.

I felt an instant recognition in reading about anthropology in the Caribbean.  I could not stop thinking of home and childhood.  When Michel-Rolph Trouillot wrote of Caribbean culture being born out of genocide and colonialism and slavery, I felt that he was describing my world growing up in the Mississippi Delta.  There’s such a shared history and circumstance.  But as time is limited, I will write of one specific thing for now, and perhaps more later in the week?

Trouillot wrote that some officials “saw Afro-Caribbean families as ‘deviant’ simply because they did not fit the nuclear folk-model of Western consciousness.  Just as in the United States, these bureaucrats’ views were echoed by social scientists who wanted to explain–or explain away–such ‘abnormalities’ as ‘missing fathers.'”  I grew up with this discussion swirling, this label of my family life as being deviant.  I’ve written many times of how I greatly prefer the family structure I knew as a kid to the “nuclear folk-model.”  I had this enormous, enveloping extended family experience.  I knew the intimacy that comes with mundane interaction with respect to  great-grandparents on both sides of my family.  I shared a household with a great-grandparent.  Did I ever share a household with my father?  No.  Were my mother and father ever married?  No.  However, speaking with people who grew up in the nuclear unit, I’ve come to believe that I shared something more with my father than what many experience after spending their entire childhood in a home with mom-dad-sibling.   Since I had intimate access to the same people who shaped my father growing up, I think I “know” him in a deeper and more significant way than those in many non-“deviant” families.  I may not know his favorite cereal or the way his takes his coffee, but I know the types of information that would allow me to decide whether I could be friends with him;  times when I’ve spoken to him about his views on women or “race” or religion, I had a near instant understanding of milieu from which those views were born.  I understood him.  Many had “present” fathers who were a lot more “missing” than mine.

This is not to say that I would not have preferred the physical presence of my father along with the other that I did have.  I just grew up in a culture where the value of knowing and being around your “people,” your extended family, was greater than the value of knowing or being around any one or two particular family members.  This “way” may have been born in part as a result of slavery where knowing and being around particular family members may not have been an option due to sales concerns;  it could also be part of an older tradition.  I think there is a wonderfulness to it that was often overlooked by “bureaucrats” and “social scientists.”

OK, now, I will post this while it is still officially Monday in my land.  I will read more of your letters and your work this week.  I must also finish some of the books that have been stacked on my desk for longer.  I read a couple of your letters just this night.  When you chastised Nelson (Algren) for not being a good French student, I felt the sting as well.

Devoted as ever,

Japanese Sociolinguistics
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 16: 261-278 (Volume publication date October 1987)
J S Shibamoto
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

My dearest lady, my light,

I hope you do not think me mean, wicked and stupid for addressing you with such intimacy.  Generally I’ve found that my non-American friends are less put off by intimacy in letter writing, the same with artists and literature majors of any nationality.  Reading some of your correspondence yesterday, even more so than I had hoped, it was as if I were reading my own heart.  I know that this is plain and common to say, so forgive me, please.  And forgive me again because what follows may read as if it were shot out of a cannon.  Mondays have become a busier day for me and I have yet to adjust my schedule.  I have an opportunity to do community volunteer work on Mondays and I didn’t want to keep putting that off until I had my schedule here adjusted, meaning mainly that I write on Sunday what I want to post on Monday.  For now, it’s still the mad dash.  I hope to integrate more of my thoughts about your work into my thinking on anthropology as I actually read more of your work.  This week I read “Japanese Socioliguistics.”

I haven’t watched much anime recently, but reading “Japanese Sociolinguistics,” I wanted to rewatch some things.  Janet Shibamoto explores some of the findings of various language research projects in Japan and it seemed to me that I recognized some of the patterns discussed from watching the anime in translation — Women use formal language more than men; older people speak differently; women are addressed with more politeness than men of the same status in the workplace.

With one anime series, Ranma 1/2, based on the manga of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi, it seemed that the subtitle company took more pains to translate some of the cultural language through manipulation of English-speaking patterns than did the dubbing company.  For example, it would seem that the upper class characters not only used more formal language, their language was also often more poetic, more reverential.  The subtitles were not only more likely to be in verse, but the language used was more “literary,” for lack of a better word.  If I had watched the series more recently, I might have more plentiful examples.  I used to watch with both subtitles and dubbing to make note of the differences.

The title character Ranma, a teenager, and his father were spending a year in China looking for opportunities to improve their martial arts techniques, when Ranma fell into a magical spring in which a young maiden had drowned.  After having fallen into the spring, Ranma is transformed into a young maiden whenever he is splashed with cold water (a light rain will do it).  He returns to his male body when splashed with hot water.  He and the father return to Japan so that Ranma can meet his arranged bride-to-be, one of the daughters of the father’s former martial arts mate.  The mate’s family is aware of Ranma’s predicament, but all work to hide this from the wider community.

When Ranma is in girl-form, his/her style of speech seems much the same as when in boy-form in that it is less polite than when other females speak.  What I don’t know is whether girl-Ranma uses feminine Japanese language in other ways, which according to Shibamoto includes things such as “special self-reference and address terms, special sentence-ending particles and exclamations, a particular pitch range and set of intonations, frequent use of the honorific style, avoidance of kango (Sino-Japanese lexical items), and avoidance of vulgar language.”  Well, girl-Ranma definitely doesn’t avoid vulgar language.

Shibamoto mentions that there had been only budding interests in biliingualism and minority language in Japanese linguistic studies, but “with the internationalization of Japanese business, increasing numbers of Japanese families are spending some years in foreign countries, and the language problems of the children in these families upon returning to Japan have stimulated some interest…”  This review was published in 1987; Ranma 1/2 was televised from 1989 to 1992.  The characters that had spent significant amounts of time out of the country, Ranma and his father as well as a school teacher who had spent a great deal of time in Hawaii, seemed to have some differences in speech.  I would be curious to know whether their Japanese seemed more “foreign” somehow.  I listened to the show in Japanese (with subtitles) sometimes in order to hear the language, but I don’t have very much Japanese.

Shibamoto cautions on several occasions that although the methods of data analysis used in the Japanese studies were often quite advanced, the data-collection techniques were often questionable.  For example, many early studies relied heavily on self-reported language use from the informants with little or no direct observation of language use.  In some instances, it seems that later studies with better data collection methods confirmed the findings of earlier studies.

I hope to have more French soon.  I enjoyed the cross-cultural aspects of your correspondence with Nelson Algren.  I started reading some of your letters to Sartre as well, hoping to compare the two as far as cultural expression.  What a treat it was to find that you wrote to Nelson in English, and sprinkled with bits of French to encourage him to learn French.  I find it encourages me.

One of your many adorers,

I had been thinking over the past couple weeks that maybe I should scrap everything I’ve done so far and just have a fresh start in the “new year.” If I had a clearer sense of how to blog about my self-study in anthropology, I might be more inclined to do just that. Though I won’t rush to scrap anything, I will change things up a bit. I’ve been revisiting helpful shaping and learning experiences from childhood — rereading certain books, adding some volunteer community service, being directed more by interest than canon (the important works have a way of making themselves known during the course of foraging). I’ve been reminded of how I often interacted with texts as if either the author or one of the characters were my tutor and/or friend; this often fueled the drive to read more works by and about a particular author. Reading  “Philosophy of Science in Anthropology” really pulled me back into that world of author as tutor, and I enjoyed that feeling and the sense of motivation it inspired. And so, I’ve decided to take a tutor.

It’s not that I’m opposed to the oxygen-breathing variety of tutor. I made some efforts several years back to acquire such, but never with much success. I had a few good conversations and read some things I might not otherwise have read. Perhaps after I have studied more and written more it will be easier to acquire a real-time guide. For now I will go with my childhood technique. It would seem that the desire to return to this technique has been prowling in my subconscious, waiting. In the last review I read, “Women’s Voices: Their Critique of the Anthropology of Japan,” Mariko Tamanoi makes mention of someone I’ve long admired. Tamanoi writes that Simone de Beauvoir considered the body to be a negative concept to be conquered by the mind; Tamanoi disagrees. She argues, “A woman’s mind, situated in her body, knows no separate existence.” This mention of Simone de Beauvoir serves more as illustration in midst of a discussion of feminine personal politics (sexuality and reproduction); it’s not the thrust of a discussion, but it’s one I would like to have. I do not find it as easy to disagree with Beauvoir. Some of my most cherished readings from childhood embrace the mind/body dichotomy.

I’ve long brushed against the works of Simone de Beauvoir, but I’ve yet to read the full text of any of her work. I do not know why I have denied myself this pleasure, but now that De Beauvoir is to be my tutor, I will feast. Well, at least, this is my intention. Additionally, I have hopes that reading De Beauvoir will spur a more rigorous engagement of my French language studies. I intend to blog about my readings in anthropology as if I were corresponding with De Beauvoir. Hopefully, there will be a natural growth of “relationship” as I read. I haven’t kept up a written correspondence with anyone in quite some time as the practice was already in severe decline in my youth, but I love letter writing and I believe this will provide a more comfortable context for me. I’m excited that the local library has volumes of De Beauvoir’s correspondence in addition to her more scholarly work. I came across an old journal with a single entry and decided to start my correspondence…


Just now I looked inside a diary given to me by my recently deceased friend. I made one entry dated 9 May 2008. I noted that Daniel probably bought this for me at the charity shop where he volunteered. I made mention of my desire for a mentor who was female and French. I am certain that I had thought of Madame then, but at that time I had hopes of meeting an oxygen-breathing mentor. I had brushed a reddish-brown hair from the page before starting to write, and I wondered, after my hasty gesture, whether there would be another…it’s just that easy to miss someone, isn’t it? There was a phone number written on the page opposite the front cover and another for “CARL” on the third lined paged. Apparently, I was also thinking of self-guided learning at the time because graduate school seemed quite impossible (and it still does).

I wrote on a cool afternoon during the archaeological dig class. I wish that I could take that class again, but that’s quite impossible as well I think. My short, simple sentences prompted me to pen that I was writing for USA Today. We were waiting for someone to identify bone found in one of the dig units; there was thought that it might be human bone. I didn’t make note, but it turned out to be a deer burial; I believe two deer burials have been unearthed in the same general area.

I made note of having gone to a small party: “Let’s see — I was about to list the attendees, then thought the better of it. Sometimes you don’t want to remember everyone.” I then wrote of Eudora Welty as if she were a friend, as is my habit with favorite writers. I once shared the same four walls with her during an event held in her honor. I prefaced the bits about Eudora by writing that I was off to myself like a good wallflower, observing (during class and probably at the party as well).

I am currently reading a collection of essays on a Eudora Welty short story, “A Worn Path.” I am also reading a biography of Jack Kerouac. Looking at my desk bookshelf I noticed that I have a slender volume titled “An Introduction to Existentialism.” Perhaps I should give that a quick read in preparation for reading Madame’s work? It won’t be my first introduction to existentialism, but I could use the refresher.

I hope this satisfactorily fulfills Madame’s request that I write a brief note about a moment in my day… something that sheds light on the me that I wish Madame to know and guide… something that perhaps reveals a secret that I didn’t at first intend to share.

Yours in mind and spirit,