I remember that Hahn used to speak often about the Eros of Teaching. Strangely I don't remember anything specific. I haven't been able to find anything as yet in my father's lecture notes. So I did an online search and found a brilliant article by Kathleen Hull about the Eros of Teaching and how it can be used effectively in the classroom. I attach it because of its importance.
Here, in brief, is what I gleaned from Hull's article:
Teachers and students are notoriously known for becoming sexually involved. But this isn't the Eros of Teaching. The Eros does have a physical element of desire, but it is more about the passion, excitement and joy of finding someone with whom one can share a common desire for knowledge. If someone becomes passionate about politics or literature, it is most likely because the person had a person or group who inspired this passion---the eros.
The most effective way of inspiring Eros in a student is for the teacher to admit their own lack of knowledge (ie. Socrates and his "I know nothing"). The teacher's acknowledgment of his own lack helps the student recognize their own lack. Love is the pursuit of what one lacks. The Eros is the pursuit of this love. The teacher cannot fill the lack, but can go in pursuit of the love together with the student, filling his own lack in the process.
This article was haunting. It explained most of my academic life, revealing to me all the instances of Eros with professors, and those instances in which I have been the object of Eros to others. It makes Hahn's loss all the more difficult. Even though I hadn't seen him in years, I knew he was out there and available. I am in pursuit, but he was potentially available to be present.
Now I feel alone and dislike the idea that I might be the teacher to others. It's a repugnant responsibility.
ouSaying that you "have to" do something is a refusal to take personal responsibility. EVERYONE has responsibility over their actions and lives---even babies are responsible for themselves.
You don't "have to" do anything. If you do something it's because you want to. Own up to it. Take responsibility for your life and don't try to push it on yourself.
People will say that they drive in two hour traffic every day to a job they hate because they HAVE TO support their family. That's bullshit. You do it because you WANT to work that miserable job and sit in that miserable traffic and support the family. You do it because you want to do that rather than anything else. Because you're a chicken shit and you're too afraid to change your fucking life.
But of course, change is painful.
Statement of Intention
This blog is about all I can remember about John Hahn, who taught creative writing at Rio Hondo. He died in 2006 and this is my way of remembering him. If anyone else remembers him, please comment or contact me.