stupid steve



I have now listened to two of the three lectures on Song of Solomon presented by the Stanford Humanities Department. They were apparently given in 2010. I have gone entirely through Kenneth Taylor’s “The Narrative Construction of the Self” and copied down the slides he uses. I have listened to R. Lanier Anderson’s “The Flight of Self” and it is quite good. Both men have insights both into Morrison’s book and some concepts of “self.” It’s a tribute to the book that there are so many deep insights embedded and worked out in it.


I’m planning on re-listening to Anderson’s lecture and type up notes. At the beginning of his lecture: this note appears:

In “The Art of Living,” a first-year introduction to the Humanities course, three members of Stanford’s faculty examine great works of philosophy and literature to explore what it might take to lead a well-lived life. 

This is evolving into a meditation on my own development. I do think about the examined life and the ideas in these lectures are focusing some stuff for me.  For example, regarding names, Anderson he comes up with the two categories of “restrictive” and “enabling.” This got me thinking once again about my nicknames in high school, both self applied: Stupid Steve and Jupiter Jenkins. Anderson goes in many directions with this, but the idea that I was seeking my self via names hit home with me.

I came up with Stupid Steve because I liked the alliteration and I liked the self ridicule. I didn’t think I was stupid particularly. But I did and do feel as though others can easily see past me. I don’t really remember how I came up with this name. I wonder how my parents used the word, “stupid.”  I have learned that self-pity is one of my demons that I have to confront. I do think that my mocking name was a bit of teasing myself about feeling sorry for myself.

It felt like putting on a clown mask to refer to myself that way. I’m a bit embarrassed at the stringent nature of it, but I did do it. I suspect that this name is a “restrictive” name in Anderson’s taxonomy or maybe just in my own interpretation of this. I’m seeing a “restrictive” as one that reflects and tension between the self and society. I think Anderson gets there later in his lecture.

At the other end of the spectrum, I came up with the name Jupiter Jenkins as part of a title of a song I wrote: “Inside the head of Jupiter Jenkins.” I think it reflected an idealized self for me, even a bit of a “cosmic” one. Anderson might classify it as a “enabling” name. Maybe this name helped me idealize myself a bit.

I don’t think that I found and owned my self until much later in my life. This self and this name ends up in the middle and is the one I own: Steve. If I understood what Anderson was getting at, we don’t name our self, but at some point we have to own our selves and our names.

Anyway, I’m stilling working on this and have one more lecture to go through.

Some new music:

Apparently Robertson did a soundtrack for Scorsese’s new movie, “The Irishman.”

“I hear you paint houses” is Mob talk for hiring a hit man. This might not be a bad movie. This is only one cut from Roberson’s upcoming new album.

And I’m not sure what this next piece is. I fear that it might be a remix of old Miles and new stuff. It’s not too bad, but I don’t necessarily approve of remixing like this although I own a nice album of remixed Django Rheinhardt that I like.

Here’s a cut from it I found on YouTube.

I find that I sometimes like things that many other listeners and musicians think are a little bogus. That’s okay. Here’s another cut that I remember.

Rheinhardt’s left hand was burned badly as a child. The story goes that his mother stopped them from amputating the entire hand. He used his limitation to come up with some wonderful solo guitar playing that was pioneering. What’s not to like?


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