We adjust into our roles, that which is demanded of us, we grow into the space-time afforded. By these means we deliver unto each other spontaneous collective beatific visions. Turning ourselves into players in a living theater, we pursue walks, meditations, digressions; we deliver field reports and other odd utterances from wonderlands and other elsewheres. Dreamwork integrated into each day. Julian Beck was one of the invited guests — one of the performers, we might say — at the Dialectics of Liberation conference. Beck was a co-founder and director of The Living Theater. He published a book of poems years later called Living in Volkswagen Buses and Other Songs of the Revolution. Forming a story out of it is up to us. Look, perhaps, to Steven Foster and his School of Lost Borders. Foster taught romantic poetry in the Humanities department at San Francisco State University. During the strike that occurred there in 1968, he sided with the students: an act of rebellion that got him fired. After that, he became a kind of “white shaman,” I guess, and started staging modern initiation rites, “vision quests” involving three-day, three-night fasts, alone, in nature. That’s the problem with so many of these characters of the Sixties — most of them disappoint as they fade. The trick, then, is to imagine the alternate future, where they successfully walk away.
Stressors accumulate with the semester’s approach. At a party last night, a colleague spoke with a shudder of “putting on the mask” again after having been free of it for the duration of summer break. We’re a bit like caped crusaders in that regard — particularly in our caps and gowns. Professor a persona, classroom a white-box theater. Some, of course, relish this “performance” aspect of the job. Performing is what makes the job fun, they say — and I, too, try to approach it that way. Teaching is a time-based medium; my job is to stage a fifteen-week Happening.