Here are collages I made while listening to Lynda Barry and Chris Ware talk to Michael Silverblatt on KCRW’s Bookworm podcast. (The handwriting is a discarded shopping list I found on a walk and my son’s handwriting from years ago — I don’t remember why he wrote those words, “NOW TO WORK” — I used to keep them above my desk.)
The podcast conversation goes to interesting places regarding school: Barry has written of elementary school as a “sanctuary” from her homelife as a child, at The Evergreen State College she studied under Marilyn Frasca, who she says changed her life by introducing her to The Image World, and she now runs the Image Lab and teaches at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The Image Lab was started because she couldn’t figure out why grad students were so miserable and why it was acceptable to the academy for them to be so.
(Ware speaks of his own daughter being admonished by her third grade teacher not to bring her sketchbook to class, and his misery during undergrad and graduate school.)
“I had no idea that I could be as unhappy as I was in graduate school,” Silverblatt says. He then tells a story about taking grad school examination tests. “The thing was, I was so cramped, bent over, so stiff at the end of that test, that I wrote them a letter and I said, ‘I’m really frightened. This was a test on everything I’m supposed to know, and this is a subject — writing, imaginative literature — that I care about more than anything, and for the first time ever your test gave me the feeling that it was boring.”
“That’s kind of school in general,” Ware says.
“I’m trying to keep my heart alive,” Silverblatt continues. “I’m trying to keep my joy alive. And if I stand up and roar, I’m trying to keep my soul alive… That’s what we have all done, when we get to do what we want to do with our lives: We keep our joy, we keep our hearts, we keep our soul.”