I feel nervous about my younger brothers sometimes, often the same times that I feel proud of them. I love them very much. I don’t feel 100% comfortable relating to them, because I’m not sure I’m good at it. I’m 9 and 11 years older than them, respectively, and I did a real lot of child care until I moved out. I’ve had to work to get over the “you’re a kid and I’m in charge of you” thing. I want to be a good influence which in part I sort of feel like means “don’t be like me” in some ways, as it’s not like my life is a roaring success. Mainly I don’t want them to get into inextricably bad situations, which is really nerve wracking because most of the world is made out of inextricably bad situations.

Both my brothers could be described as not being sufficiently cowed by authority figures. My youngest brother at around 11 or so got into an argument with a teacher. He told me about it then. He said “I got a detention.” Being all grown-up-ly I was like “why?” all tsk-tsk in my voice. He said something like, “well he was saying about how america was the best country and everything and I said that I didn’t think it was so great, it’s not so great if you’re poor in america.” His teacher got angry and he kept arguing and the teacher told him to quit arguing and he didn’t so he got sent to the principal’s office. The principal said “why are you here?” He said “I wouldn’t quit arguing with my teacher.” “Why?” “Because he was telling lies to the class.” So yeah, he stands up to authority figures. Which is great. Except it can have consequences. I get nervous I’m not sure he has a power analysis though or is calculating in his when-to-stand-up and when-to-not decisions. Like I said, I get nervous.

So tonite he calls me and he says “what do you think of this?” and I say “what?” and he says “do you think it’s okay to call a teacher by their first name?” and I say “sure it’s okay, but in school the teacher gets to call those shots” and he says “well I’ve started calling my teachers by their first name and I got a saturday suspension for it” I say something like “blah blah blah they’re in charge they’re not right but you need to blah blah blah something trying to raise the idea of power analysis” and he says something like “yeah I know but are they right?” and I say “no they’re not right” and he says “okay, well they sent me to the dean and I asked the dean why is it that it’s okay to call the janitors by their first names but not the teachers and the dean said well the teachers are on a different level and I said why is that and the dean said the teachers deserve more respect because they went to college and got degrees, isn’t that messed up?” and I agree it was messed up. He says “one of the janitors is a retired college professor” which isn’t the point of course. So yeah. Nervousproud.

Then he told me he has to write a paper for school about the american dream, including a short biography on someone who has achieved it. He said “I could do Rockefeller but he’s a bastard.” My wife and I eventually arrived at the suggestion of a paired approach of Carnegie and Debs, drawing on Dos Passos’ 42nd Parallel. He said, “that’s good. What about John Brown?”

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ps – unrelated, reading idears … Beyond Good And Evil, The Will To Power, Philosophical Investigations, Fear And Trembling. Need something dark and german to play in the background…

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