Gore Vidal died. I don't remember who exactly introduced me to his novels, but chances were it was Hahn. Myra Breckinridge and Duluth became catalysts for me.the novels were examples of forces who helped form me and Gore Vidal a colossus in my life.I never read his historic levels, but I plan to begin again reading his works. I think I'll start with an early gain novel, The City and The Pillar or maybe his biography Palimpsest.
I've been reading through articles about his death online and I found this quote from the article located a at the Huffington Post website:
' ...age and illness did not bring Vidal closer to God. Wheelchair-bound in his 80s and saddened by the death of Austen and many peers and close friends, the author still looked to no existence beyond this one."Because there is no cosmic point to the life that each of us perceives on this distant bit of dust at galaxy's edge," he once wrote, "all the more reason for us to maintain in proper balance what we have here. "Because there is nothing else. No thing. This is it. And quite enough, all in all."'
Gore Vidal died alone.
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.
This is another handout I reconstructed. It was written by Shelly Kopp, author of Guru: Metaphors from a Psychotherapist.
Retyping it made me realize that I should still have it on my wall. There are 43 things on the list. When Hahn discussed the list in class, there were nine things he had us star as particularly important. I'll give those now, and add a pdf of the entire list.
5. Nothing lasts!
17. There are no great men.
18. If you have a hero, look again; you have diminished yourself in some way.
19. Everyone lies, cheats, pretends (yes, you too, and most certainly I myself).
25. Childhood is a nightmare.
27. Each of us is ultimately alone.
36. You can run, but you can't hide.
38. We must learn the power of living with our helplessness.
43. Learn to forgive yourself, again and again and again and again.
Between 1992 and 1996 I took Creative Writing and literature classes from John Hahn at Rio Hondo College in Whittier. My father, who had taken John's classes in the 80s, highly recommended I take the same classes.
John was one of the most effective professor I've ever had. Many things he taught me still remain with me---I quote something he said in our classes at least every day.
I recently discovered that John died in October, 2006 of a heart attack, brought on by lung cancer. I have wanted to communicate with more people who had his class. I've put together this blog which, hopefully, will provide his former students with an opportunity to quote him, provide an anecdote, or offer negative criticism (which is equally important). In many ways, his classes were more like philosophical lectures which, inadvertently, taught me more about creativity than I've ever encountered.
I'll start with a couple of things which come screaming to mind:
"When a woman puts on lipstick, she's telling the world she's ready to fuck."
If a book in a library or bookstore falls from a shelf in front of you, read it.
Pray that you die from a long, painful death.
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.