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. ReadingĀ  “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,