Edited By sj Miller and Nelson M. Rodriguez
Chapter Twenty-One: The Constant in My Life
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The Constant in My Life
WILLIAM F. PINAR
In a 1934 essay, Eiland and Jennings (2014) remind, Walter Benjamin characterized Kafka’s gift for “study” as an “oblique attentiveness to aspects of a forgotten ‘pre-world,’ a sphere of inchoate myth whose laws determine the course of daily existence” (p. 601). Is sexuality such a “pre-world,” hardly “forgotten” but maybe mythic, unacknowledged—except as scandal—in academic life? I am not suggesting any homology between sexuality and scholarship, but a reverberation perhaps? My generational, class, gendered, and racial locations—and my efforts to contradict them—must have been in play in the apparent promiscuity1 of my intellectual and sexual life.
Coming of age in politically conservative Westerville, Ohio—in the 1950s a small town, now a sprawling suburb of Columbus—contributed to my sexual- subject formation. I dated Sue Smith in junior high school, Patsy Bean and Judi Wood during high school. These were appealing girls whom I wanted. Alas, they were respectable girls—I could bring home to my parents no other kind—and I graduated from high school a virgin. I dated Sue Wakefield and Betsy Bowers2 my college freshmen year, both of whom were also appealing and, yes, respectable.3 Not until a year later—in summer 1966 I transferred from the Conservatory of Music at Capital University in Columbus to study history at Ohio State—did I bed a girl.4 As I...
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