This art by Raven is the single most beautiful drawing I have ever seen in my life because it came directly from a poem, the Descent of Man, that I had written over the past five years as an antidote to the spiritual struggle of Man. Yesterday, I made the decision to put all my chips into one goal, becoming a professional writer. Sitting in Cabbagetown in the Carroll Street Cafe, I made this commitment. Many years of walking through life have led me to this decision. I do not care if I make little or no money doing it. Writing gives me freedom and health.
The past few weeks I have been holding out with the idea that I will teach school in a private school next fall. I meditated on this, and with the help of some feedback from close friends, decided against it. Spirit has given me a gift in the ability to take a wilderness pilgrimage up the Appalachian Trail, my mother enabling me to take this time off with her spiritual and financial support. I aim to make the best of the experience and focus 110% on sharing the journey with others. I talked with Ellie Herman this past Friday about the idea of becoming a writer and she took the following notes.
Let me say this, that if blogging openly about the ups and downs of my varied life helps one person, then I have accomplished my goal. I have met one person like this, so I am content. I woke up this morning meditating on what I am thankful for in the healing of my sister’s and mother’s (see last post) and decided to go back to a place in my email collection from 2010 to process in writing the positive outcomes of my decision to stop caring about money, power, and status in favor of trying to walk a life dedicated to Spirit. In the depths of a very dark time, the first hospitalization that I had, my former adviser at MIT contacted my mother with the following email. Stating that she had had a friend who had a schizophrenic break, she intervened trying to pull me out of the downward spiral that I was in. I was angry with her for a couple of years, feeling that my career as a scientist was destroyed by this intervention. A couple of years has given me an entirely new perspective. Susan saved me from a path of self-destruction in the Ivory Tower.
From: Susan Lindquist
Sent: Sunday, March 07, 2010 3:28 PM
To: Erbil, Amy C.
Subject: Re: Kaya
Thank you for letting me know all this Amy. I wonder if you have any sense for how well he is progressing? Realizing that these things really can’t be predicted very well, I wonder if you had any sense at all of prognosis? any sense of when Kaya might be returning to the lab? Please don’t hesitate to say that the situation is completely unclear if that is the case. Or that you must maintain confidentiality if that is the case. The project that Kaya was working on has not progressed at all, of course, and I would like to think about alternatives if need be. It is not urgent, by any means. His health and well being are the important things here. I also wonder if you have established some specific plans for communicating on a regular basis with Kaya. And or if he has granted you permission to get periodic updates from his therapist? Or notification if he stops therapy? Please forgive the intrusion! I ask because my best and dearest friend had a schizophrenic break when
we were in our mid 20s. She recovered beautifully, until she decided that she didn’t need to take medication any more. She was motivated to go off of it, of course, because it had some side effects. And thus began many years of great difficulty. Hence, although I know Kaya intends to do all of the right things — and I have no idea what the diagnosis is ! — the vulnerability of long term follow through is the thing that worries me the most. Meanwhile, again, my deepest sympathies. I know how difficult this must be for both of you. And let me say once again that I think he is a wonderful young man and I have high hopes for him.
With this termination letter written 6/17/2010, she closed the door to a life in neurobiology, but opened the door to achieving my prayer, healing my sister.
I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you. It was occassioned by the need for careful consideration of your request.
I have now spent quite a bit of time going over our correspondence over the past year, reviewing your lab notebooks, and reflecting on the meetings we have had and the support systems I put in place for you during the last six months.
It must be very difficult for you to try to make headway in a field that is so different from that in which you have true expertise. Despite many months, you have not had much to show for your efforts. Although other members of the lab provided you with extra support, you were not able to successfully execute the work you were assigned. Unfortunately, I don’t think it will be better the next time around. Indeed, as you said in your email of June 27, the work in my lab simply does not match your area of expertise. Therefore, I’m afraid that I can’t recommend coming back to my lab.
This conclusion is based upon the fact that the lack of progress is not due to a lack of trying on your part or mine. I have never put so much support into place for anyone in the lab as I have for you. Recognizing that you were coming from a different field, last summer I paid for you to take the Cold Spring Harbor Yeast Course to facilitate your transition into this type of work. When you arrived, I asked Dan, Brooke and Karen to help in various aspects of your work. They have spent many, many hours with you, counseling you on experiments and a grant application, as well as personally encouraging you. When I met with you myself, I encouraged you many times to actually do some experiments instead of just continuing to read and think about them. But despite all of this, and the many hours of time you spent in the lab, you haven’t made significant progress.
I see that by following extremely detailed protocols you did make a few yeast knockout strains. And if we use these in future experiments, we will be sure to give you appropriate credit. You can count on that. However, these steps were only accomplished by having you follow extremely detailed, indeed painstakingly detailed, protocols from Brooke. These were the types of protocols that one might normally expect to have to give to an undergraduate just starting in the lab, not someone who has completed the CSH course and worked at the bench for many months. However, when Brooke was gone from the lab for one week, despite having left you with specific goals, you didn’t get anything done. Knowing how much you care about doing well, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you — to be in the lab and not be productive. Indeed, I have great sympathy for the situation you find yourself in.
As you know, the funds I have are from grants that have been given to me to pursue specific research projects. I can’t justify designating those funds for your support when you have not made progress on those goals. You have now proposed to come back to the lab to work on publishing a paper that you believe would help you transition to a different program. However, such an endeavor would require a very significant investment of time and continued support before a publication would have even a possibility of succeeding. Unfortunately, that is not a viable alternative at this point.
I think that you would be much more productive in an environment where you are surrounded by work you already know, and already know how to make a contribution towards. So I strongly support your moving back into the NMR field. If you need a letter from me, I am happy to attest to the fact that you are sincere, dedicated and extremely intelligent and that science that we do in this lab was not a good fit for your skills and expertise.
I do believe that you should take the time you need in a non stressful environment to regroup and refocus. I remain very supportive of you Kaya. And I wish you the very best. Please note that you will continue to be eligible to receive your pay pursuant to our short-term disability policy regardless of your employment status in my lab.
I realize now that this termination from MIT was the best thing that ever happened to me. Walking through the Ivory Tower for a couple of years more at Emory and Harvard, going to seminary at Princeton, and serving in civil service for two years all gradually showed me the way of Spirit. My old self could not understand the true purpose of life, to serve others asking nothing in return.
Raven’s drawing above is the perfect symbol of what is happening…
Random notes from July 24, 2014 from an ABD french Ph.D. student working at Blue Ribbon Grill in Tucker capture how it is to write about real things. Get it down into words! Flow and clean it up later!
Course on General Linguistics – diectics, signifier does not equal the signified
Read everything, mythologies
Degree zero of writing
Applied anthropology, classroom as a lab
Before simulacrum and simulation
What are we desiring?
What is at stake, and how does language operate like that, how does the real how do we want these things to become real
Postmodern Condition 47 pages
What is Post-Modernism
Game Theory, and paganism
Meaning as a consoluation of negotiation politics
Write how questioning and experiential
The difference between college graduates and Ph.D. graduates that aretraining to become high school is the difference between a parrot and a human(what is the human capacity – curiosity, conscious, linguistic, tool making,socially industrious, connected to universal memory [ writing]). Cross it out, erase delete all language is acrossing out, Merleau- Ponty. Take human capacity and draw a line through that. Betterable to connect experience to language. That is the human capacity.
Banking model versus dialogical education
Extremes on a spectrum
Tools versus Toys
The task of the translator, Heidegger?
Releases for funding…
InnerLight Enlightenment by Dr. William Kaya Erbil is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.