Jun 05 2012

Grad School (part 19)

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General Disclaimer: *Not that there’s anything wrong with collages*


I can make pretty collages all I want. They’re fun. They even have the potential to be therapeutic.

One of the things that irked me about the final presentations in a recent class (the assignment was to make a collage) is how quickly it all devolved into holistic buzzwords. It was like a spiritual Taco Bell, with the same 6 ingredients just re-arranged into new and exciting combinations.

It was bordering on self parody.

“transformation transformation transformation honoring sacred transformation spirit sacred sacred transformation transformation”

over and over.

This got me wondering about this whole “transformation” thing.

Is transformation necessary?

What is being transformed? What is it being transformed in to?

Making a collage, I suppose, could be a transformative experience.


I highly doubt that “transformation” was achieved at quite the level some of these people were congratulating themselves upon.

In addition, is transformation, itself, the ultimate goal? Is the(e) Process the(e) Product?

Transformation, to me, implies a Point A, and a Point B. So, while the process is important, it seems to me that there has to be an end result. It doesn’t have to be a final result, as any “new” idea/concept/thing can be used/interpreted/”tranformed” (*sigh*) into a further new thing. Say, moving from Point B to Point C.

In addition, is transformation always a good thing? Sure, we all want to turn shit into gold, but it’s also very possible to turn gold into shit. What if we’re not even playing in that realm? What if we’re transforming hot dogs into ping pong balls? Fire hydrants into watermelons?

It seems to me that “transformation” should have an intention to it. What’s the point of “transformation for transformation’s sake”?

Also, it bugs me that there is an assumption that people/things/consciousness somehow need to be transformed. This seems to assume, to me, that there is something inherently flawed with someone, some kind of spiritual illness that can only be “healed” through this process of “transformation.”

Don’t get me wrong. People have issues. Lord knows I do. And I’d love to get rid of at least a few of them. In addition, there are certainly things that I find wrong with the world, and that I’d like to see changed. And I think changing (or “transforming”, erk) people’s views and ways of looking at reality might be a step towards fixing some of these things.

But to assume this flaw in everyone… to assume that they somehow need saving through “transformation”… is only a modified doctrine of Original Sin. In addition, it then gets into the tricky area of possibly “transforming” consciousness/someone against their will. Certainly it would be done with the best intentions. But thought control is thought control. Plato felt that “Philosopher Kings” should rule.

It’s a nice thought, except for the inherent corruption that seems to come with power, and the tricky problem of identifying someone “properly enlightened.”

Especially considering we can’t agree on what enlightenment is.

So “transformation” becomes a catchphrase. It becomes a noble-intentioned, yet potentially sinister buzzword. It becomes overused, meaningless cliche.

Again, I don’t doubt that it happens. I’ve had a few experiences that some could probably call “transformative”, though I’m extremely hesitant to use the word.

The only thing that I can compare it to is the Dark Night of the Soul. I don’t doubt that it happens either. But I suspect that St. John of the Cross wasn’t referring to those nights when we’re up late trying to determine whether to quit our jobs.

Just as I suspect that any feelings of “transformation” some of my classmates may have think they felt making a collage were perhaps merely having fun, and, perhaps, learning a little something about themselves.

“Transformation”, to me, is change on a radically tremendous scale.

Again, I have no doubt it’s possible, and that it happens. I find it incredibly intriguing that Saddam Hussein (last I heard a few months ago) was writing poetry, and gardening while in prison. I’m projecting, obviously, but to me that shows someone re-assessing their values and how they want to live whatever life they have when suddenly relieved (even if against their will) of the burdens of The Game that they were caught up in. Is he a “transformed” person? Hell if I know.

I have no doubt that “transformation” happens.

I just have yet to witness it.

And I suspect, deep down, others may be in the same boat.

Forgive me for not “honoring their experience.”

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