Jun
2006

unpacking and packing again

Back from Hawaii on Tuesday, jet lagged all yesterday, and supposed to move into a new apt today.

Problem is, the maintenance guys are still there and I don’t feel confortable going in and out with piles of stuff with them there. AC is at yet another promising job interview and I can only hope it’s like that when I go looking. I guess I will go pack some more stuff until he gets back, but wanted to blog about a certain topic: GUILT.

So I am at a beautiful botanical garden in Hawaii and I see a man wearing at Tulane MBA shirt. He is videoing his wife and they’re making up witty facts about the waterfall flowing behind them. Although I am not one to talk to strangers, I decide that their banter is welcoming and I can remark about how me and my Hawaiian host both went to Loyola. I do this and the guy asks when we graduated. I say 1996. He says, “I got out just before Katrina.” So I imagine this business school fella literally evacuating with diploma in hand. His wife then chimes in, “You graduated 2 years ago!” And he says, “Well comparable to them in 1996…” I say no more. Actually I think I mumble that I am actually from New Orleans, but don’t even bother to see if they heard me. I just resume taking pics.

What the f***? Why on earth would he say something like that when he didn’t have to deal with the storm in any way? Was he actually looking for sympathy? And to think that I often hold back from telling people about my loss because I don’t feel like I had to endure what so many of my friends did. Being the person that I am, I didn’t dare start a verbal sparring with this guy in the middle of a botanical garden, but the episode has lingered with me.

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “unpacking and packing again

  1. I think that if he graduated two years ago, he graduated just one year before Katrina. His sense of trauma may be quite real– “Boy, I finished up just a year before the Big One hit!” I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Did you see the new issue of CT Review? Most of it is dedicated to trauma theory…. They sent me a copy gratis. I suppose that means SOMEONE out there thinks I’m a legit trauma theorist. Pretty cool, huh? (For the record, I’m NOT much of a trauma theorist; I just did some work applying trauma theory to some literary works.)

  2. You probably have read it cover to cover already, but there’s an special issue of JAC on trauma. It would be good to use as a touchstone for evaluating how composition studies has used theories of trauma.

  3. His “just before” is different from your “just before,” just as your being “from” NO is different from the being “from” NO of those who lived through the evacuation, as your penultimate paragraph indicates. You’re making an argument here about relative degrees of the emotional authenticity of experience, which is something I’ve been looking at in the context of academics who characterize themselves as “working class,” and I get the sense that the historicity of experience might be a significant component of your analysis.

    And, again, I hope you’re talking to Sharon, since she’s someone who’s obviously got immense amounts of supporting evidence to offer.

  4. re: Mike’s very interesting comment above….

    The very idea that academics might consider themselves “working class” shows how out of touch many academics really are with the working class. I exempt adjuncts from this statement; an argument might be made for them.

  5. Doc, you might find the scholarship of Ira Shor and Julie Lindquist representatively interesting for the claims it makes about working-class status. (Julie’s recent College English article had a wonderful opening couple of sentences that point to the vexed nature of claims about class.)

    But does your “exemption” kind of do the same thing Daisy finds herself troubled by? How temporally distant from or close to the experience of Katrina must one be to claim or theorize it as ‘trauma’?

  6. Thanks for these comments, guys. I have been in touch with Sharon via blog comments at http://compsoutheast.blogspot.com/2006/05/trinatrauma.html and I’m looking into the JAC issue as well as the CT Review Doc recommended.

    Mike, I find your comments about emotional authenticity interesting and I will keep them in mind as I start sorting through my examples. As I mentioned in my C&W post, Heidi McKee suggested making the diss. people-based rather than text-based and even include audio and/or video in addition to blog posts, but I am still on the fence about that, mainly for IRB and copyright purposes. We’ll see…

  7. Since this has kind of become the dissertation feedback thread, I’m going to step in and recommend this article; while it’s not the kind of research you’re doing exactly, I’m sure it will help.

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