This week I finished my dissertation. The two weeks before or two days after that I could not write a post; my streak of years of weekly posts broken. But it was for good occasion as I just climaxed getting my dissertation done in three years - record time. Over the last three years I have been under constant pressure to write. I have written 5 books, including the dissertation, in 7 years. This is the first time I have been without a text pressure in a long time.
I would feel remiss were I not to tell you something of the content of my dissertation. My dissertation covers Frances Kellor's thoughts and actions as she led the national Americanization movement that greeted immigrants from 1898 to 1921. The literature portrays this movement as a coercive attempt by American society to enforce conformity on immigrants. There is truth to that. But Kellor was a deep activist. She coached and wrote about basketball, created networks of domestic workers, founded the National Urban League from a coalition, had everyone in the streets publicly when she made the 4th of July Americanization Day, tried numerous times to make all American residents super progressive activists, ran the Federal Bureau of Immigrant Education, ran two Presidential campaigns, united much of the world in arbitration, reluctantly led the fight for suffrage, and started Industrial, Educational, Political, and Neighborhood Americanization programs in order to increase democracy.
The night of my dissertation I went and got trashed with Sarah. The day after turning in my dissertation I taught a college course on Culturism and World Civilization. We spoke of how every major civilization has a story. Without Socrates and Jesus we'd have no western civilization. Without Muhammad no Islam. Without Confucius Asia would not have its current form. I told them the story of how the Romans wrote themselves, retroactively, into Homer's ballad, the Iliad. It is the same with Muslims writing them into Abraham's story as the son intended for inheritance. Civilizations need stories and these can't be made anew. You must look back. Incisively a student noted that it is hard to tell if these things even happened. And, I pointed out that this is especially dangerous for the West. Universal scientific rationalism peels away our dedication to our particular civilization. Islam defies the rationalism and China has a high context race-based cultural source of unity in a scientific age. But we only have individualism holding us together on the bonds wear thin. Culturism is needed.
That night I spoke late with Mary. She is an American studies student and a very old friend of the family. She is now in the American studies department. We spoke forever. Among the topics, my having dedicated my dissertation to my professor Lynn Gordon. She taught a course called "What are teachers for?" This course taught me about women's history and community and ways of presenting heroines. I enthused to Mary about how school has given me so much perspective generally. I can do Kellor's Americanization as labor history, or consumer history, or sexuality history, or gender history, or progressive history or education history. My mind has been expanded by three year doctoral crash course. Mary and I battled through the night about how much of ideology is foisted or malleable, and how ideology is connected to or grows out real realities. And, my schooling had made me about to recognize most of the theorists Mary knew. FUN !
I spent this morning and afternoon, Oct. 2nd, 2009, a day and a half after turning in the dissertation, taking Real Estate licensing and investment classes. I am headfirst into a new endeavor that will teach me something completely different. It may reform me as a person. What I cannot figure out is my new relationship to text. As I have said, I spent all of the last 7 or 8 years working feverishly, 7 days a week, long hours, writing my books. Now I needn't read my books. I have no full time class for which to research. Being possibly free of text creates nausea for me and makes me confront the world outside of text. But this is okay as my world civilization course is making me think things will run their course, in the long haul of history, regardless of my ideology. Still I write you this not across the divide from the post-dissertation barrier.