Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Like many of our incoming class of 2015, I came upon the passage that is part of the title of this post, on page 209 of this year's First Year Reading Initiative selection Ransom by David Malouf: "Look, he wants to shout, I am still here, but the I is different." To prevent a spoiler for those of you who may not yet have finished (or begun) the book, I'll not delve too much more into the context in which this comes up in the book. The quote does evoke an assortment of other ideas, perhaps some of particular significance to the incoming class and to our new and current LGBT and allied students. The author and his other work, too, may be of interest.
College life, especially the first year, can sometimes yield a similar feeling with students thinking - or even exclaiming to others (parents, family members, friends from home) - I am still here, and I am different. Different than one once was, different than others may have known or believed, different yet still the same person. New experiences, ideas, relationships, and challenges can sometimes speed the process of coming to a more complete understanding of oneself. Sometimes that more complete understanding feels more like "home" for a person; other times it is messy and complicated and brings a host of other questions, challenges, and perhaps even risk.
As you read the book, a few things to keep in mind:
- If you've ever pondered your own life's course, think about what the book and the journeys of its characters may offer.
- If you're already thinking about your own future, perhaps you've read my previous post about the the unique and esteemed profession of college president, and the new organization made up of LGBT college presidents. Remember not to count yourself out of any profession. One day you could be an out college president; or one day you could be the out l,g, b, or t author of a book read by thousands of college students as their first year reading. For more on this, see the scholarly journal article that investigates metaphors of the closet and coming out in Malouf's work. The article, among other things, note's "Portraying a preference for fluid identities and multiple meanings, Malouf asserts that we must come out of the closet that is heteronormativity, embarking on an outing in search of a queer utopia."
- Watch Malouf describe the book and its themes, and his thoughts on storytelling, in a video clip.
- And finally, consider the excellent ideas our own college president suggests for you as you read - writing in the margins, and noting key ideas on the inside covers of the book itself as a tool to discover "who you are today... " and to "help you understand who you are trying to become." And perhaps through this process you will gain additional insight into your "I" and which components of yourself may be similar or different to what you had previously thought.