- Harry Jensen
May 1, 2020
Happy May Day! Cecilia — my star spangled paramour — handed in her senior thesis today, along with a number of our friends. She does not have Renn Fayre this year because of The Big C, which is a shame. I hope to make it up for her on our first anniversary tomorrow. I’m also hoping she doesn’t know it’s our anniversary, so I can get the drop on her with a half-assed, full-loved gift from the heart. I tried to write a story for her — I really did — but, so far, it’s all been about my shoes…. Oh jeez.
Last night, I started reading my senior thesis, which I have not read since I handed it in 367 days ago. I really wanted to write something my Dad would want to read, especially seeing as he is the only one in my family who attended a liberal arts college as hoity toity as mine. And, in the end, I really owe my senior thesis to him.
I wound up in a very niche and undeveloped field of analytical philosophy, an interesting area but not one that anyone else felt the need to think or write about, apparently. I hypothesized that the self constructs itself through self-narrative, and that oneself is constituted by one’s self-narrative. In short, you are your stories. You buy it? Nevermind. You might wonder if arguing this point is a silly way to cap your college education, but I know that is.
For most of my thesis experience, I had no papers to read because there weren’t any; all I could do was conjecture based off scraps and forced misquotes and drowsy epiphanies which would prove not to be so revelatory after all. It didn't look great.
During winter break, I was looking through a colorful publication from the late 1980s which I had inherited from my father. About 200 pages a piece, each quarterly paperback was painted a solid color, and consisted of essays to do with the intersections of philosophy and literary theory. One of the essays, in a hot pink book, was written by one Anthony Paul Kerby, and it was entitled “Narrative and the Self.” It was talking, concisely, about what I was talking about, and eluding to other fantastic sources. It spelled out a wonderful argument towards my same, and beautifully. I soon rented the book from which the essay was excerpted, and it quickly fell into place as the inspirational and referential backbone to my thesis.
“It was a real Godsend,” I told my brother.
It can be difficult to celebrate an achievement under the shadow of a loved one. Or the urn of one, sometimes. I wanted my Dad more than anyone else in the world to read my thesis, to be around to hash out the arguments while I wrote it, to bicker with me about metaphysics and half-baked linguistics. We didn’t get to do that, and it is a small thing, but it’s the small stuff that I miss. But it’s also small stuff that keeps me stoking a sense of wonder, like finding my Dad’s book last year or someone saying a picture of him looks like me.
My father feels gone some days more than others, but he’s never gone gone. I feel ‘im, truth be told. Moreover, May 1st is Law Day and Global Love Day, so how could he not be here now, loving me and the globe? It’s the law to love me, Dad, the law!