deliberately dropped by a pale paternalistic hand
to keep us wanting and to keep us from wondering
what it is on the table we're not supposed to see.
--'Philosophy of a Dog', Cincinnati Daybook
The semester is over at NKU... or, over for me, at any rate. The last class meetings were this past Friday. Endings are always a bit anti-climactic; at least they are for me. In a writing classroom, all the real work is done well before the official clock runs out.
I enjoyed being back in the classroom again, and hope to do more of it. Of course, I also hope to dig back into some good old fashioned honorable muckraking. And I am preparing for another jaunt -- the sometime ago writ of toot off to the northern country, North Dakota and maybe Montana. Specifically, I'm making plans to visit Williston, ND, and maybe Rigby which, according to some map or another, is the geographic center of the North American Continent. I would also like to visit the northern part of Montana I didn't get to see when I was out there last year -- that vast part of the state that's on the northern side of the Rocky Mountains, sweeping up to and past the abstract line that has been determined to be the Canadian border.
Travel enough and you begin to realize that the lines on the map are more of an idealized abstraction than a reality. It is our insistence on making them hard lines that they become and stay hard lines. Ask the Dakota Indians, the Lakota or Sioux where the boundaries are, you have a very different map.
The truth is that maps are constantly being drawn and redrawn. The maps in our heads, private and collective, are always under revision, and are under constant threat of erasure. We map out our individual landscapes and change them based on changes in employment, marital, relational, and any other number of personally significant mile markers, totems, and landmarks. We redraw collective landscapes based on war, and the exchange of property and the delineation of those multi-national corporations whose arbitrary lines are not the same as those inscribed on geopolitical maps.
These revisions and erasures happen all the time.
And yet there is no end to the call to defend these lines. I can't help but notice among Facebook memes the harbingers of doom and death. So much money is made on the backs of our cultural fear and paranoia, and yet rather than look to see who is profiting (Defense Industry, gun manufacturers, makers of better police gear, private security and private army corporations, big oil, lobbyists, and the politicians who are more effective beggars than any panhandler I have ever seen or met.) we perpetuate the cultural death march.
Though I have spent the winter more or less stationary, I have spent the time wisely; and I am looking forward to what life has to offer and to teach me. Being a traveller is not always about being on the move. Sometimes it's about standing still and feeling the rhythm of the world as it reverberates in your bones, calling out those ancient songs and poems that only your voice can give life to.