Sunday, May 1, 2011

Lost in Transcription

Originally Posted on April 5, 2007

Every week, two students head up the class discussion on the readings. Next Monday will be my turn. I’ve taken the liberty to get a jump on the reading and form questions as I go through the book. That way, I will have a final set of questions ready for the class.

My discourse partner for the week, Gini, will be out of town. She agreed to forward her questions to me so I can pose both of ours to the class. The one thing I learned from our group is that we love discourse. The strategy would be to have more than enough questions available for discussion knowing that we will end asking half of them by 8:55PM.

The book, you ask? It is a memoir of a Polish-born writer, Eva Hoffman, called Lost in Translation. However, this book has nothing to do with Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansson’s cinematic misadventures in Tokyo. Nor will this book be turned into another move by Sofia Coppola. It is a fascinating tale of a woman who was transformed by the first decade of Communism in Poland only to face the quandaries of being Jewish after World War II. Her family immigrates to Canada only to find some difficulty in navigating the North American world and its chosen tongue. Hoffman explores her journey from being Jewish in Communist Krakow to adulthood in New York City.

Simultaneously, I am working on my class project regarding another journey of human discovery: finding “home” within a subculture. For the past few weeks, I interviewed a few folks to see how they see the Bear community as a “home.” Their inputs are being forged into a paper slated for presentation later this month. The good news is that I will be presenting a diverse set of stories for this project. Diverse, not in the classic sense, but in the paths each person took to get to where they are at in their exploration of their sexuality and identity.

This is not new ground that I am unearthing. However, I see this as a continuing field of study. As a culture of desire, we sometimes forget that we have a history that spawned our subculture. We also forget that not everyone fits into a “box” imposed by the GLBT media and the pornography industry. This is why I began the process of graduate school: to ultimately challenge the ideas of today’s society to rethink the way we interact with the world. How can academic discourse challenge the pervasive malaise of ignorance, arrogance and hatred? Simple: to bring the discourse closer to the table where all parties can study, debate and analyze our divisions and create solutions to fill these gaps.

Perhaps this is the purpose for being on graduate school.

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