Monday, February 22, 2010

The decision of the department of astronomy at Yale to admit me to their Ph.D. program starting in 1980 was a validation of my decision-making in something of a general way.

As such, it forces critics to look at outside reasons for my mental collapse in 1974. I was disregarded then by Ralph Montgomery and Bob Turner, who both held the position of Associate in the firm The Architects Collaborative where I was working as an apprentice, as a serious candidate for promotion as a seeker of the position of architect. Whether it was because I engaged in banter as a peer in the office, and in so doing left myself open to private judgments which may have been uncomplimentary because of the feeling of architects that as an apprentice I ought to not radiate my humanity so much because to them it was looked upon as superiority because they were not able to do it themselves to such a degree, that speculation is certainly relevant to any assessment of the events then as being either explanatory, or not, of the collapse. When the course of my employment had gone so far as to cement in everyone's eyes just what kind of an architect I looked to becoming, it was then time to watch what was made of it, and it so happens that just about nothing was made of it. In particular, no private gestures were made. Professions work by such gestures. Without them nothing evolves. And receiving none myself, it became tacitly obvious to me I was not going anywhere in that firm on the merits of my personal radiance. However, it was my feeling then, as it is now, that my humanity was uncommonly good and occupied a higher class of considerations than mere craft. Seeing no private gestures, I could come to only one conclusion--the firm that I had attributed good judgment to, as among the best in the profession from my vantage point, was unresponsive to my better nature, something I had come to appreciate as readily getting a positive response from friends at Yale as an undergraduate, people who had no need to see it as acting superior because they had no deficits themselves in terms of human radiance, each in his own way.

Because the firm did not warm to me professionally, and it was apparent that its judgment was equivalent to that of the whole profession, my entire dedication to the profession was dealt a serious blow. I could not sustain the exploration of all avenues of personal development as an architect. But it was a logical negative factor, being an across the board effect of equal volume everywhere, devaluing all my accumulated efforts, rather than a sharp effect on any single stand I had taken. No alternative reaction to what I actually did do was possible, and any fishing for such alternatives must begin with a rejection of one or other of my most innate qualities and long-established patterns of behavior.

Now you could say, "well, he didn't get promoted and became depressed." But this leaves out the fact that I was deeply involved in office life, and had a stake in everyone's own lives. I didn't know how important it was to look for private gestures. I thought my public stance would naturally lead me up the ladder of public promotion. It was my youth and lack of appreciation for minute interactions because I had never had a fulfilling romance, one that would slow me down and speed me up where those had natural rewards, respectively. All my romantic efforts to that date had been wild guesses, because my family life trailed behind my personal life, for better or worse, and this left me in a major struggle to find satisfaction in love. So when I felt great, I radiated it. At Yale, it was apparent where I was coming from because they had some idea of the kind of problems faced by people who outdistance their families. In architecture, it's more of a public world, and there are rough seas. People rely on private gestures because the public ones are so dangerous. I lived dangerous that way, living as a public person, because I sensed somehow I had a problem of rarity, one that only a rare confidante could comment to in any way, and in the mean time, life beckoned so I had to put my business out in public and play those risks as the only way to present myself fully. Well, bam, it went awry and I became mentally ill. But eventually I did meet the rare confidante. And pursuing that meeting, I was admitted to Yale's Ph.D. program in astronomy, a proof of good decision-making. But as a way to meet the rare confidante it was still dubious. I chose to go off medication, in order to confront the problems of love over developing the tools of craft. I travel this world not as a functional intelligence, but as a lack of a lover, until I find one. Hopefully Crystal Newell is the one. Yale's acceptance proved I had the makings of craft. In my position, really known only by me, this was a signal to look for love in a certain way, different from how I had looked before then. It was something I had needed ever since grade school, and all the romantic deprivation I had suffered then and afterwards was put into perspective by that acceptance, and assured me in a specific way that what I felt intuitively about my worth for love had actual proofs in the real world. It was time for a general release of conformity with expectations. It was time for walking into the world at large, perhaps no different a time than birth. It was time to risk, and ultimately to embrace, homelessness.

And in that decision to go off medication, there was enough sense and wisdom to lead me ultimately to be tapped by the Chicago elite society as a first. Same person, making the same decisions, to the same end. Part of recovering from mental illness is satisfying everyone that the decisions you made going into it were good ones. I have tried here to do that. Judge for yourself.