Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Last Day in Helena

So its my final day in Helena. I am planning to leave at 5:30am tomorrow morning (but I'll be lucky to be out before 8:00). You see I'm always a little late. In fact I'm sitting in my office finishing up my final timesheet at Montana Legal Services. I probably should have finished it by Friday . . . which was my last official day of work. Not that it really matters. I'm writing out a timesheet for the last 2 weeks broken down by each half hour. Do I have any idea what I was doing last tuesday at 10:30AM. Not a clue . . . I think I'll write down that I was working on the unsecured debt video. That seems likely enough. I probably shouldn't be admitting this seeing as my supervisor, VISTA leader, MLSA's Deputy Director, and a number of other people are probably going to be reading this. But I will because I think its funny and I don't think it will keep me from getting my last paycheck (watch me be wrong). . .

Emmanual Levinas liked to differentiate between Abraham and Odysseus. He thought of Odysseus as the classic western journeyer. Odysseus was a man on a journey home, he was tired of life away from home and desperately wanted to get back to what he was familiar with. Levinas contrasted this with an archetype more to his liking, Abraham. Abraham left everything that was familiar and in what Kierkegaard called a "leap of fatih" ventured out into the unknown to encounter what was there and to make a new home in a foreign land. I'm part of a third tradition, one so new that it is still looking for its archetype. It seems to have started in mass with beatniks. Its not a journey home and its definitely not a journey into the unknown. Its a journey into the relatively familiar. Its away from home, but not so noble and daring as Abraham's journey. And while its a journey to the familiar it lacks the purpose and determination of Odysseus because there is no plan or end - its more similar to what Derrida what call an "indefinite string of play" in his great lecture at Johns Hopkins. It has a somewhat absurd psycho-spiritual intention that I would like to say is a cross between John Muir and an Ingmar Bergman character. But I'm worried that it is uncomfortably close to a new-age enlightenment.

But what else am I going to do . . . I'm an upper-middle class white male with an anthropology degree, a good car, some money to burn, no job, and no reason to live in any particular place. I've watched enough TV to know what this means. It means that I'm supposed to go on a road trip.

So on that note I'll leave you with a few pictures of Montana (assuming you're still there) because I'm definitely feeling a little nostalgic.

Trask Lake

The top of Mt Helena

The Tetons (technically in Wyoming)

Glacier National Park

VISTA's attempting Yoga posses on our second to last night


  1. Shouldn't you be packing??? Good luck on the journey, I'm glad I'll be able to follow it here. See you in a month!

  2. Aw John, I'm gonna miss you! Have a fantastic trip!

  3. This blog is amazing...definitely for the better.

  4. "I'm an upper-middle class..." "anthropology major" "no job" "some money to burn" "no reason to live in any particualr place"

    You wouldn't think all of that could describe the same person.

    Someone should do a study on economic class definition, specifically how people view themselves, what that view is based on, and how it affects their actions, and probaby some other variables that I haven't thought about yet.

  5. Drew, You can check out Piere Bordieau (I think that's spelled right). He wrote one of the inital majore works on that question. Some people dislike his mixing of methedological methds, so if you're not into that there have been a few anthropologists and sociologists who looked into the question more . . . emperically. There are a few psychologsits looking into the question, but not many, the field has essentially tied itself to behaviorism and that's not a question you can get far with under a behaviorist pardigm (I think).

  6. "He never had a v8? He didn't like it?I bet he forgot to shake it!"(followed by huge laughter)

    Schooner Nowell
    By the good looking John Haley

  7. Love following the adventures! Enjoy the journey . . . The Hodges