I was an English major in college. Like many students studying language, I loved words, meaning-making, and using rhetoric to both dazzle and re-orient my listener to whatever I was spitting out of my mouth. Indeed, like most students, and English majors, I loved buzzwords, and the word-of-the day. But unlike most students, my word of the day wasn’t the language thrown around in the classroom it was my own specially crafted rhetoric. Back then, I was both learning and interested in British English, literary theory, and transnationalism. Therefore, it was only natural and expected I would build my future lexicon in the same fashion I learned new words and perspectives on thinking and talking about language. What I didn’t expect however, was that this new way of speaking and talking about language would become my world. In many ways, in the same way I spun the rhetoric, I experienced the world. My world was the very limits of language, and I was at the rostrum.
This all began when I first decided I had to contest the admission decision from the graduate school that had turned down my application for an Masters in English. With this said, when I first sat down to try to capture the events on paper and document them, as emails between departments were firing back-to-back without pause concerning the shift in my behavior on campus, and my decision to force a new admission decision without consent from the university staff. The physical manifestation of this documentation was the essay I wrote Contesting Admission. Contesting Admission is one extended metaphor that seeks to capture the events unfolding in 2008 within the Binghamton University English Department immediately following the Graduate’s School decision not to admit this writer into the English Masters program. The paper was written while at the same time I was beginning to experience first episode psychosis, isolated, and becoming very disconnected from reality. Contesting Admission has been edited from its original version after my recovery from Schizophrenia for the benefit of the reader. The edited version allows the reader to evaluate my clinical picture in 2008 & the gradual degradation of my mental status as the story progresses.
I wrote the paper Contesting Admission in the style of Michel Foucault and cite incidents in my life quoting with primary documents (e.g court orders, lists from the B.U English department, & publications in the community which followed my story at the time). When I first wrote the paper in 2008 I was trying to make sense of the world around me as it became more and more distorted and irrational. But alas, the frequency and intensity of my symptoms over a six month period continued to worsen, initially, after the graduate school’s admission decision, and then steadily throughout my final semester. Contesting Admission ultimately, despite its aim, achieved its intent. I identified a “
concern” in the Humanities. Initially I set out in the paper as well as all my daily endeavors on campus to identify why I was rejected from graduate school in English. In the paper, and due to my ever presence in the department, I was successful in identifying a tremendous concern. I was very much in crisis and under the radar of the entire University, which, ultimately, without the help of the school my behaviors became so extreme I was taken to the hospital by the local police department. This was directly following throwing a rock through my car window, twice, which, according to hospital records, was to make the car more symmetrical looking.
In the paper, I began with a discussion of history of words, their etiology, versus the future of language, or, as titled in article, “Historical Cultural Cosign Scientific Perspective(s)”, which said in the paper: “I obedient investigations at the academy at SUNY Binghamton”. Here, I am writing about my call for an urgent and immediate review of my application for graduate school. There is no question I am trying to make sense of how the decision to not admit this writer into the graduate program at B.U was a departure from the norm or previous scientific method for selecting students for the program. Noteworthy, and clinically significant is the language I used: “obedient”, gesturing to a superiority of myself over other candidates, program, and decision-making progress, as well as all those whom have applied, and generally, assertion of my will over the entire process of admission to the program.
As the paper unfolds, “Transforming Sign Acheology” or as translated into English, and what I was trying to say at the time, is how a decision to “Admit” can be “Declined” by the department. At that time, in early Spring, the department had implemented a policy not to allow me into specific areas of the department, or, as referenced in the paper, “to lay down the threshold it must not cross”, gesturing to the line between safe for me to walk through without getting arrested. It is clinically significant, to note that I referred to myself as “it”, as here, in early Spring, I was already becoming both self-referential, and experiencing depersonalization. Later I will quote a line from my summons for my court appearance, “The People of New York versus Max E. Guttman” and compare it to “Transnational English Terorism”, which can be understood as a very black and white “everyone is against me” bend of viewing the world.
In “Rhetorical Sciences”, I begin talking about Madness and “day to day observations” of my everyday life in Binghamton. Which, again, signals to irony of the state of my mental status, and the very fact I was being observed by the department on the level of behavior and as stated in the email from the Dean, “assessed for safety to continue as a student”. I go on to talk about hygiene, which, clearly, at that time, was an issue, also noted by the Dean of students. However, the issue I discussed in the original paper was how hygiene was used as something to hinder me instead of my own deficit in self-care, which, at that point, was a clinically significant issue and again signals to where my mental status was at that time.
In the passages “Empire” through the “Second American Revolution”, was the point in time my friend was writing a paper on my arrest for loitering. While it is obvious I understood this arrest to apart of my own political revolution, and, and “illness in the humanities”, the illness was definitely my own, and not of the humanities in Binghamton. The passage “Diagnosing Technologies of Crystallization”, in which I was summarizing my work, I was definately, diagnosable myself. This is where I discovered the word, “meta-power”, a new word I thought in language, but that was in fact when the voices truly became disturbing, and spoke to me, a departure far enough from reality to think anything was happening, but what was really happening, was my imminent hospitalization in which my illness would be diagnosed by a team of clinicians at Binghamton General Hospital.
Ultimately, this paper was in fact written from the point of onset to hospitalization. I showed this paper to very few people at the time. But there were a few people I did share this with, who, commented very little on its meaning and intent. The paper was intended to overturn the admission. I made that clear to those I discussed the paper with and again, heard very little feedback. Later posts will discuss what to do when someone you care about is writing in this manner and brings it your attention. It may be critical in your friend getting the help he or she needs. While writing can be therapeutic, it very much depends as always, on the authors intent and belief on what the writing will set out to achieve or its purpose.
Meta-power is a word that I use often during the paper. It signifies the power of language and those who wield it (i.e Dr. Heywood the English department chair) to make decisions that change the world, from globalization down to day to operations in English departments. Throughout my last days in the community, I wrote day and night for months trying to identify the root of power that discontinued my path to graduate school in English and ultimately, the mysteries embedded within language.