A Bit More on Leaving Academe

I‘ve made it clear, I think, that I’m out of academe at this point almost entirely. (This and this are perhaps the easiest examples. They are not the only ones.) I have given up working at the front of the classroom (note this, this, and this), and I have sharply tapered off the tutoring work I was doing as yet another supplement to my income. I do remain engaged in some low-level scholarship and commentary, as evidenced here and present in the papers I still present at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. There are one or two things I am told are in process, that are going to find publication at some indeterminate point, but all of that is comparatively minor stuff. I do not have a book in press, and I do not have an academic one in draft. Nor yet am I likely to have such anytime soon, if ever again.

Journal and Pen
This is the kind of writing I do most now. I think. Maybe.

I know this, I have stated it openly and repeatedly on multiple platforms. Yet many of those same platforms have begun in recent weeks (as of this writing, which is happening well before its publication) to show me ads about teaching products and practices, to offer me connections to people who are still engaged in the academic world–far more than did while I was doing such things as drafting classroom reports and commenting directly on others’ remarks about classroom concerns and practices. And I am confused by this (as well as mildly annoyed, I must admit).

Part of me wants to think that, because the body of writing I have done online thus far focuses in large part on what happened in and around my classrooms, that the advertising algorithms that continue to infiltrate life are picking up my work and sending materials my way as a result–though why I am getting them more now than when I was in the work confuses me. If the ads are improving their reach, they are demonstrating less understanding; “not” and “no” are hardly hard words to find or interpret.

The same concern applies if it is simply a matter of my writing having broader audiences now than previously (and I would be happy to find it so!); missing the negative is a problem in language as much as in mathematics. And if it is because I continue to associate with academics online…yes, I think the same concern still applies.

I have to wonder, though, if my online presence provoking more materials about education reflects some part of my psyche of which I am aware and against which I struggle. I did spend a damned lot of time and am spending a damned lot of money (thank you, student loans) learning (badly, in the event) how to be a teacher; I spent no few years working at making the classroom my profession. I have realized I was wrong to do so, that I do not belong at the front of the room and that I was damaged or warped or perverted (and not in the ways I think might be fun) by being in the seats in it, but I am not immune to the sunk cost fallacy. Part of me still thinks about returning to the work, even though I know, I know it would be a bad idea.

If the algorithms are responding to that…I think I have to worry. And I think I may not be alone.

Care to support my ongoing efforts?

Another Rumination on Leaving Academe

There is something of a firestorm going on in part of academe really close to that into which I once sought admission–close enough that I would have been expected to teach in it had I been able to secure the kind of tenure-line job I ultimately unsuccessfully tried to secure. I’ll not comment on specifics here; I do not need to, as the discussion is going on publicly and at great length online (and it might well be ended by the time this reaches public view). It will suffice that I acknowledge the “rebel” forces are correct and that the “traditional” parts of the “old guard” are wrong, though those in the right do not need my acknowledgement to know they are right and those in the wrong will likely look down upon me as a lapsed or apostate member of such church as they purport to be priests of.

Graduation Gown With Mortarboard On Retaining Wall : Stock Photo
It’s as good a place for a robe as any.
Graduation Gown with Mortarboard on Retaining Wall by Danial Najmi / EyeEm,
used for commentary

The issues on which the fracas touches and into which it delves are well worth considering, well worth applying to the world outside the ivory tower, and I have been working to consider my own complicity in the problems cited, both in my lingering academic work and in the work I do to lead a small nonprofit agency to help people who struggle against substance abuse issues. But the fracas itself lays bare some of the problems of academe to audiences that might not previously have seen them, which is a good thing in itself, and it serves as a reminder that I am better off for not having to be embroiled in them at this point. Because I am not seeking full-time, continuing employment in academe, I am not facing the kinds of struggles that others are and that are being posed against them unfairly and unjustly. And because I have some distance from the pursuit of that kind of job now, I can acknowledge that I did not “deserve” the jobs I did not get. It may not be the case that they went in all or even most cases to people who do deserve to have them–if “deserving” has anything to do with it, really–but I know I damned well ought not to have gotten them. The folks who have them and are struggling as they are–again, unfairly and unjustly–are far better at the work of academe than I. Those who array against them are lucky and privileged and do poorly in acknowledging neither; they do less well to stand in opposition as they do.

It is not an easy thing to admit to being wrong, certainly, the more so when so much of the work that gets done and the idea of self that gets bound up in doing that work depends upon being right. I well understand the impulse to resist it. But that I understand it does not mean I condone it; the opposite is true. Those invested in being right need to be right, not to assert that they are right. That they refuse to do so (again, as I write this; it might have changed by the time this gets seen) is a disservice to all, and I am glad to have as little part in it as I still have.

But I have to confess to lingering complicity. I still accept teaching assignments, and I still work within predetermined curricula that continue to transmit ideas that are problematic. I do so because I still feel the need to bring in the money, and I do still manage to make some small connections to people who would otherwise not have any access to the ennobling parts of continued study. They are still there, and they may be worth preserving, but there’s a damned lot that isn’t, and I’m glad I’m more or less quit of it.

Any support would be appreciated.

On Continuing to Leave Academe

A fair number of the posts I make in this webspace concern my somewhat conflicted departure from academic life. My various responses to Erin Bartram (here, here, and here), my reflections on my expatriate status, certain of my bits about my office spaces (this and this come to mind), and a couple indulgences of nostalgia (here and here), among others, speak more or less openly about facets of my departure from a line of work and career path for which I had imagined destined. At the same time, posts such as my continuing “Initial Comments” pieces (of which the most recent is here), my class reports (which I’ll not link at the moment), and others bespeak my continuing engagement with and immersion in the structures of formalized higher education. (That I do so much to make references in my writing also marks me as a trained academic, I know; who else but a professor or a wanna-be prof would make so many notes in a single sentence?)

To be fair, I do miss facilities like this one.
Image from the University of Texas at San Antonio website–
and I am an alumnus of the institution.

Clearly, then, I have not made a clean break with my former life, even if I have (largely) reconciled myself to the notion that I’ll never be a full-time scholar. Instead, I maintain a part-time contingent position at DeVry University in San Antonio,Note and I keep in mind the notion that I might pick up the occasional class at another school (though that does not seem likely in the near future or a more remote time). And while I do not give to that position the kind of fervor that I gave to similarly contingent positions in the past, I do still pursue it diligently, spending time and effort in preparing lessons and coaching students along; I still treat it like a job I mean to do well, if less because of a commitment to the profession than because of a commitment to well those things that I set out to do, whatever they may be. The effect is similar; I do more than I probably ought to do for my students.

Most, however, will note that it is not the work done in the classroom that makes a person an academic. Indeed, there is an unfortunately prevailing animus against the work of teaching and those who pursue it as their primary avocation; in addition to Shaw’s adage, there is too much disregard in higher ed for the work of those who teach younger students, and the promotion and retention of scholars is far more reliant on what happens outside the classroom than within it. But even in such areas, I seem to be holding on to an academic identity; I retain affiliation with several scholarly societies, participate in academic conferences, and, in at least some small ways, try to contribute to intellectual discourse. And it is not just in this webspace that I (flatter myself that I) do so; I still send off to journals and presses, hoping that I’ll find my way into print and others will use what I have done.

And there is one other thing: I never do enough. One of the things that academe traditionally inculcates into people, particularly “good” students, is a sense of insufficiency. There is always someone smarter, always someone doing more and doing it better; there is always more to be done. That sense lingers with me yet, despite my working one full-time and several part-time jobs and writing here and elsewhere (here and here, among others) and attending to the domestic and emotional needs of my family. If there is one part of academic life that will linger with me, I think that will be it; it seems to be among the few things that translates well into the “real” world.

Note: I acknowledge that there are critiques to be levied at my employment by a for-profit institution. I may well address them in another post to this webspace; for now, they would be a bit of a distraction. Return to text.

Care to support my work? I’d really appreciate it!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 111: Ship of Magic, Chapter 10

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series soon.


The following chapter, “Confrontations,” opens with Althea waking to the sound of Ronica berating Kyle for punching his adolescent son. Kyle responds harshly before backing off of a position he realizes is perilous for him. Althea enters abruptly and confronts him, but she is soon distracted by tending to Wintrow. She rages against her nephew’s situation for a moment as he continues to try to remove himself from that situation, and, in a rage, Kyle vows that he will cede the Vivacia to Althea if any captain vouches for her seamanship. He also rages against his own son, sending him packing off to the ship under duress before rebuking Althea. Ronica quashes the argument. She accepts the blame for Althea’s disinheritance, explaining her reasons for it and noting the terms of Keffria’s enfranchisement. Althea cannot but continue to inveigh against the situation, and, in the face of the continued insistence upon it, she leaves.

image
This rather speaks for itself.
Meme from FitzChivalryFarseer on tumblr, used for commentary

Kyle resumes inveighing against Althea, and when Ronica rebukes him for his behavior, he turns his anger upon her–not physically, but still coercively, and partly through exploiting Keffria’s indecision. Ronica reassesses her elder daughter, not favorably, and she is shocked yet again when Kyle announces his intent to trade in slaves. When he is met with objections to that plan, he demands charts to the Rain Wild River, only to be told that they had been destroyed. He disbelieves and continues to rage, and Ronica takes herself and Keffira away from him.

Kyle’s patriarchal tendencies are on full display in the present chapter. He demands Wintrow’s obedience physically, notes that things are done well “for a woman,” and rages at the Vestrit women because they “have no sons to protect” them or “men to take over the running of the holdings.” He repeatedly asserts that he is “the man of this family” and therefore its rightful head, owed obedience by all in it. It is an all too common attitude even now, that the presence of a penis is the primary determiner of ability, and it is still an all too common attitude that command means the imposition of will despite the knowledge and expertise of others. I must confess to being guilty of some of the same follies, and I am trying to sit with the discomfort that being reminded of them produces in me. But perhaps I am overly affective a reader in doing so.

I note as I reread the ways in which Kyle approaches Kennit. Both of them appear amid the trappings of bourgeoisie success; Kyle stands in a house built by settlers over generations and staffed by servants, commander of a vessel owned by the family descended from those settlers, concerned more with money than anything else. He is not heir to that family, as such, but married into it and is imposing his own views upon it rather than even attempting to understand the people he seeks to rule. Might he, himself, be taken as a metaphor for colonialist discourse, especially given his physical description in the text? Might he point towards intersectionalities of oppressive structures? Might someone still vested in academe make such arguments?

Help me mark tomorrow’s holiday?

A Letter

Dear Friends,

I know I have not been as good at keeping in contact with you, individually, as I ought. And there are many excuses I could plead, some of which might even be acceptable ones, but they are only that: excuses. Guilty as my conscience is, I might offer such even if I had not done wrongly not to write to you or otherwise get into some kind of contact, but I did do wrongly, as I well know. So I offer my apology for letting it be so long since I have reached out to you; I hope you will accept it and that we can keep in touch, moving forward, but I will understand if you do not, if we cannot.

I have been working on several blogging projects, including this one; I still post poems at my personal blog, and I still post something that seems like scholarship or moves that way for the Tales after Tolkien Society. Here, of course, I have been working on my Hobb Reread–and I have been neglecting too many other things. Having left academe almost completely behind–I no longer teach, I only rarely tutor, and I have not been doing much in the way of research, having limited access to any apparatus–I should have a much more open schedule for things than I seem to do. But I do not do them.

Again, I make no excuses for it. I do note, though, that I am still working through my experiences, trying to make sense of them, trying to construct something like a cohesive narrative of how I fell away from my intent yet again–I was going to be a band director when I grew up, then an English teacher, then an English professor, and none of those seems to have happened and stuck–and arrived in my current situation. I do decently enough that I ought not to complain, as I well know. I have a decent job that lets me help people, I am engaged in my community (to some extent), and I have a good family; each is worth enjoying. But I cannot let go of some bitterness and hurt. I should, but I am not sure how–or I am not sure I will land well when I finally fall completely away.

There are senses in which I have let go of too much. For all the problems academe has–and there are many, many problems, not least of which are the systemic racism, sexism, and classism embedded within it, despite the lip-service paid to equality and parity by many–it did have transformative effects upon me, effects which depend in large part on continued involvement within it. I do not have access to information as I did before, or at least not as ready, and I do not have as much time to sit and take in that information as I once did, as much time to turn it over in my mind and make it fit into structures that only barely suggested themselves before. And I can feel my mind stultify from the lack.

But I have prattled on long enough by now. I hope you and yours are well and will remain so, and I hope that I will hear from you again.

Sincerely,

Geoffrey B. Elliott

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 104: Ship of Magic, Chapter 3

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The following chapter, “Eprhon Vestrit,” starts with Ronica Vestrit tending to her titular husband in his final illness and grousing about the servant, Rache, that had been sent her by Davad Restart and who had tended Ephron poorly. She mentally rehearses their life together and the plans that Ephron’s illness has halted. She also recalls arguments they had had regarding their daughter, Althea, and notes the shift in practice in Bingtown towards “keep[ing] one’s womenfolk free of such tasks” as estate management before musing on the falling fortunes of the Vestrit family and public shits towards slave labor and trading in Bingtown.

This might be the kind of thing on which the chapter ends.
Image from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources by way of the Pittsburgh City Paper, which I think means it’s public domain, and used here for commentary

Ronica is roused from her reverie by Davad calling at her home. Amid likely unintentional rudeness, he carries an offer from another Trader family to buy some of the Vestrit holdings. Ronica’s refusal carries the weight of tradition and history, of which she reminds Davad (and allows Hobb to inform readers, a smooth bit of exposition). Davad rebuts with assertions that the old ways his family and hers had followed are ending, and Ronica’s own refutation grows emotionally charged and fraught for them both. They retreat a bit, laying the blame at the feet of the governing Satrap, as Ephron wakes and asks for pain medication.

Ronica takes the chance to escort Davad out. Despite their earlier argument, they reaffirm their friendship and their common legacy of suffering. And as Ronica looks out over Bingtown afterwards, she muses yet further on the changes already in progress–changes that look as much like depredations as anything else to her old eyes.

While the previous chapter, treating Althea, made some motions toward it, the present chapter, where it focuses on Ronica, presents something of a feminist vision–not of feminine dominance, but of parity. This is something that Hobb’s Farseer works treat, certainly, as noted by both Bokne and Katavić, among others, but it is more prominent a concern in the Liveship Traders books. Given what I know about large, loud sections of the fantasy-literature fanbase, particularly those who focus their devotions on the Tolkienian tradition of which Hobb partakes to a limited degree, it is likely the cause of the lesser attention given the Liveship Traders books; a damned lot of readers (yes, I mean “damned”) mislikes “politics” in their reading, with “politics” being “a position I do not espouse and from which I do not benefit” in such minds, and questioning patriarchy as the Liveship Traders books begin to do in earnest in the present chapter reads as such a position to entirely too many people.

Perhaps related to the burgeoning feminist thread, too, are certain Marxist leanings–Ronica makes much of the shifting economic base, though she remains in the employer’s position rather than the laborer’s, so perhaps some other term than “Marxist” applies–and ecocritical possibilities–Ronica also makes much of the balance between the Bingtown Traders and their environment, noting the changes to that balance occasioned by the shifting labor conditions. Being out of academe, I am out of practice with such theoretical approaches, so that I am not the best person to follow up on their implications, but it is clear even to me that they are there to follow–which is another argument, among many, in favor of Hobb’s writing.

I continue to appreciate your support.

A Reflection on #Kzoo2020 from an #AcademicExpatriate

Were this year a normal year, I would be posting now about my experience at the International Congress on Medieval Studies on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I’ve done so once or twice before, I know, and I’ve commented about papers I’ve delivered there, such as this one. The Congress has its problems, as I think I’ve noted and as I know many others have written about far more eloquently and at greater length than I have it in me do do, but it also remains one of the few places where I can be part of a broader scholarly discourse, having sharply limited access to journals and the other paraphernalia of contemporary scholarly work.

20190511_153608.jpg
And there are these glorious accommodations, too!
Picture mine.

This year, due to COVID-19, the Congress did not meet. I am fortunate in that I was able to get most of the money I’d laid out to attend back; the rest is bound up in other things, and I do not expect to see it again. I am fortunate that the business meeting I was to chair was able to move online and do what needed doing. I suppose that I am fortunate in that I ended up not needing to write the papers I was going to have to write for the event and that I had not started when I needed to get them going; my sloth will not out in quite the same way as would have been the case had I tried to talk once again. (Obviously, I am admitting to it here, but telling doesn’t have nearly the same impact as showing, right?) Too, I was home for my mother’s birthday and for Mothers’ Day for the first time in many years, which is the kind of thing that should be celebrated.

But–and it should have been clear that a “but” was coming–I do miss the opportunity to hear new ideas pushed forward by people who have not yet been so ground down by the drudgery of academe that they cannot see farther than a single step in front of them. I miss getting to see friends I’ve known for ten years and more, now, and to enjoying their company again. I do miss getting to get up and advance my own ideas and see them taken up for consideration by others, to hear them discussed and debated; I miss feeling like I still matter in some small way inside the ivory tower I so long sought to enter and from which I had to make an escape because I knew I would never be let out of its basement. And I miss the power I felt in pulling together ideas, in making new knowledge–even about so small a thing as a series of fantasy novels or a particular kind of bullshit in something Spenser wrote–and, in so doing, pushing back against the boundaries of human ignorance, clearing out just a little bit more room for what we know against what we still have to learn.

I still have the chance, of course. I can use this blog to that end, and it is expected that the Congress will happen in 2021–and that I might well be able to attend it. But that good things are still to come does not mean it is wrong to sorrow for such good as was lost.

Help me save up for next year?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 86: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 27

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The following chapter, “The City,” opens with comments about a reported old road in the Mountain Kingdom. It moves thence to Fitz’s addled stumblings through a strange city that befuddles his senses–mundane and otherwise. It takes him some time to regain his bearings and begin to puzzle out what surrounds him, and even then, what he encounters confuses him.

This would seem to be the kind of thing Fitz faces. Frozen History by MeetV on DeviantArt, here, used for commentary.

The day draws on, and Fitz finds himself growing chill; he builds a fire to warm himself, and its light reveals the decrepitude of his actual surroundings, different from the bustling city that presents itself to him from the past in images excited by his touch. At length, he begins to sleep and to dream in the Skill; he first sees Molly and Nettle, their daughter. He then sees Chade conferring with a lover and ally about Regal’s actions against the Mountain Kingdom; they seem to make little sense.

When morning comes, Fitz begins to explore again, moving through the recollected city in some awe. Among the images are dragons, and Fitz proceeds to find a position to survey his surroundings more thoroughly. The survey reveals the aftereffects of a cataclysm, as well as a map that Fitz realizes Verity will have used and copied. He scrambles to make his own copy before falling into Skill-visions again. Bewildered and frantic, he staggers back to where he had entered the city: a stone pillar. Passing through it, he emerges to find Nighteyes happily greeting his return.

This was another chapter where I found myself having difficult following along. I begin to worry about it; I am supposed to be a damned good reader, and having challenges in rereading something I have read several times before–more than several times, really–does not suggest itself as a good thing. Admittedly, the action in the chapter is described as being confusing in itself, with Fitz shifting frames of perception from his present circumstances to those recorded and re-presented by the construction of the city without much obvious transition; my earlier comments that the reading should follow the action still obtain. I’m just taken a bit aback that I’m not used to it again by this point, is all.

Maybe that is more revelatory of me than of the text. I’ve noted, perhaps too often, that I am out of academe, moving from trying to earn citizenship in that strange country to being an expatriate from it to being now only an occasional vacationer therein. (I do still list as an “academic expatriate” in conference registrations, though perhaps “intellectual vacationer” might be a better label to use henceforth.) As I am farther and farther removed from daily work of reading and thinking and writing, it makes sense that my abilities to do such things fade. I am less than I was in those ways; I wonder what I have earned from the exchange.

Care to shower me with money to alleviate the drought of my wallet?

A Rumination on #WhanThatAprilleDay 2020

https://i1.wp.com/www.luminarium.org/medlit/chaucer1600.jpg
A different portrait of Chaucer, again from Luminarium.org, here, and used for commentary

A year ago, I wrote about the words with which the Canterbury Tales begin, as well as about the celebration of the day that focuses on the enjoyment of older languages and literatures. The comments I made then still largely hold true; there remains much of value in what was written before and what was said, even if such things are too often ignored and too often put to the purposes of too often obstinately wilful evil.

As I reflect on those comments now and on the words that spurred them, I do so from a far different place (mentally and emotionally; the physical location remains the same). I am more removed from academe than I was then; I had given up the search for tenure-line work, but I still taught part-time and did some small work to incorporate the medieval into that teaching. Now, though, even that work is set aside, even if I still present a conference paper now and again, and I still look at how various properties refigure and borrow from the medieval. (Insofar as there is “the” medieval, of course, but this is not an academic treatment and the level of nuance and detail appropriate to such is not necessarily fitting here.) Working outside academe and vacationing there (for want of a better term), I better understand why thoughts about the older world are often set aside; I am not so far removed from scrambling for things that I do not recall the efforts involved therewith and the level of exhaustion that accompanies those efforts–even for someone trained to the strange disciplines of the mind that academia imposes. Nor yet am I unmindful that there is much of value in the newer world, as well; indeed, my focus is increasingly on that world, even if I still attend to what it keeps of its predecessors.

Too, I understand better why there is so much resistance to enhancement and alteration of the views commonly held about the medieval as there is. Some is the already amply identified elitism that inheres in the classification of things as medieval; there are various execrable ideologies that have held sway and still do, if fortunately less now, that benefit from and have therefore propagated such classifications. They are embedded in institutions, and inertia alone would make change challenging even without the active reinforcement that still persists. Too, there is still an association of medieval/ist work with children; it is still regarded as a thing appropriate to assign to developing minds, and the things learned early tend to remain in place long. And, again, doing the work of learning is hard, and many people simply do not have the resources available to them to do it–even if they know where to find them–and even if they can get around the unfortunate discourses that often surround those who push for more authentic, nuanced, and ultimately accurate views of things.

I still celebrate, and I still work to spread better information, even if I am not as well positioned to do the latter as before. But I despair that any knowing rain can ease the drought that has seized the shared plain.

There is grace to be found in the giving of gold
To seekers of solace in summer and cold
And workers for wisdom who once thought themselves bold;
Give once again that you still grace hold.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 85: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 26

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The following chapter, “Signposts,” opens with comments about relative valuation before moving into the party’s continued travels. Kettricken notes to Fitz that the way will become harder and may force him onto the road; he replies that he can but go forward. Fitz continues to ponder the stone-game puzzle Kettle had put before him, and Starling continues to press Fitz for details about the Fool before asserting the belief that the Fool is a woman enamored of him.

A scene like this is near, perhaps Robin Hobb by Billou343 on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

Fitz rejects the idea. He also finds himself forced back to the road by a sudden shift in the terrain; Nighteyes helps anchor him in himself, noting some of the distinctions between wild and domesticated animals. Kettle then starts to accompany Fitz, and she sets him to considering the seeming nursery rhyme she had recited at an earlier camp. He realizes that it discusses Skilled ones, and Kettle offers little more before returning to stone-game puzzles. It makes for a slow march through the rest of the day–until Fitz makes to follow a road he sees but that no longer exists, and the rest of the party must save him from himself again.

Kettle frets in the discussion that follows, but the Fool, acting the part of the White Prophet, offers some words of comfort. Kettle allows Fitz to indulge his habit for elfbark, though not nearly so much as he would prepare for himself. As he takes the drug, Kettricken solicits his opinion regarding Verity’s likely course; Kettricken purposes to split the group to search for him, but Fitz persuades her otherwise, aided by Nighteyes. Verity reaches out to him with the Skill, and Fitz once again comforts Kettricken before he is distracted by the call of the Skill once again.

Once again, I found myself having trouble reading and keeping straight in my mind what all happens in the chapter–my earlier comments about such seem still to apply here. And it occurs to me as I think about what I have just read again that there might be some comment to be found in the chapter about the perils of making too close a return to a past that is not a person’s own. Such a comment suggests itself to me, given my training as a medievalist; the whole of the work such folks do is in approaching a past to which we might be heirs but which is not our own. There is always a threat of becoming too lost in the work, as old tropes of absent-minded professors and the partial home lives of many, many scholars can attest. Even now, even after I have left off academe almost entirely, I feel a pull when I do look back into scholarship, and I know that I may still find myself stepping off into space when it seems to me a road still stretches before me–though I trust that there will be hands to pull me back from it.

Too, there is something to be found in Kettle’s grudging permission for Fitz to take a small bit of elfbark. Allowing someone who is addicted to a substance to partake of that substance is a perilous thing; relapses happen, and there is always peril in making chemical modifications to a body. At the same time, there are effects of withdrawal that sometimes make such needed. I have seen clients come into the treatment center where I work who could not simply stop drinking; doing so would kill them. And there are concerns, too, usually associated with painkillers in the real world, that dosing as (should be) prescribed is fine–but the medicines lend themselves to dangerous overindulgence. How much can be taken from the text about such matters is unclear, but there is clearly something there to consider…

If you’ve liked getting this stuff, please help me keep doing it.