Top 10 Reasons to Come to Chadron

Photo CC by Jimmy Emerson

Photo CC by Jimmy Emerson

Out on the plains, Chadron State College is an academic oasis bustling with thought and creativity. Our Youthful minds are ready to change the world. In a sense, it’s not far removed from a monastery. Chadron is an environmental change for most, and usually for the better.

As students of Chadron State College, not only do we love my school, but we love this town. This is a great place to be, so all of us have compiled a list of why someone should consider coming to Chadron.

1) The Small Town Atmosphere

The town of Chadron is extremely embracing of the students of CSC. They are welcoming and helpful! Everyone here is very friendly, and it is a close knit community. Especially inviting to the students of CSC are the local churches. They have college lunches, they offer help with move in days, and they host on campus activities. From the beginning, we have always felt right at home.

2) The Big Event

Every year in the Spring, the students and faculty of CSC get together for the Big Event. It’s a college-wide community service project to help local business, both in Chadron, and in nearby towns. Students volunteer their services for projects like painting, cleaning yards, planting trees. There are clean-up groups and heartfelt visits to nursing homes. It is a great way for the students to give back to the community. We give thanks for the wonderful people of Chadron’s support in our education, as well as all of the warm welcomes.

3) Cleo’s Daily Grind

If you are looking for a great cup of coffee, Cleo’s is definitely the way to go. They have handy dandy little punch cards, and if you go on Tuesday, you get two punches. Two punches people! There is homemade whip cream, chocolate covered coffee beans, and beautiful decor.

4) The Bean Broker

The Bean Broker is another coffee shop, also with great coffee. However, they have many different styles of entertainment. Open mic nights, bands, and Jazz Birds performances on a regular basis. It is a fun and relaxing environment, and a great place to hang out!IMG_1746.JPG

5) Wild’s Bar and Grill

We can honestly say that Wild’s is one of the best places that any of us have eaten in town. Visitors from home can expect to be taken here for dinner. Not only is the food fantastic, but it isn’t too expensive. Broke college students don’t have to worry about their piggy banks.

6) Chadron State Park

If you are a person of the outdoors, you should definitely come check out the State Park. It is absolutely beautiful. You can camp, hike, and do all sorts of outdoor activities.

7) Walmart

Walmart is only a few blocks away from the campus and it is so convenient! It is awesome that we do not have to travel far to get the things that we need.

8) Nature

Chadron State Park is a great asset to the area. Hiking, hunting, camping, grilling, and other shenanigans are never out of the question. We love exploring the hiking paths in both the state park and the national forest. The famous “C Hill” sits behind campus and also has hiking paths with beautiful views. Chadron brims with nature and that’s why we love it.

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9) The People

The people are great! Everyone is friendly and happy. Walking by a person who doesn’t give you a passing smile is an impossible task. It is also difficult to walk across campus and not see someone you know.

10) College Expansion

The Chicone Events Center hosts its first event, a basketball game, this weekend. The Armstrong just built an incredible weights facility for their athletes. A new housing unit, Eagle Ridge, welcomed its first students this year with three more apartments to be added soon. There is also a new Rangeland Management Complex being built. Chadron State College is expanding and growing!

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First Blood: Sacrificing Rambo to Save Masculinity

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My copy of First Blood.

In her 2000 “Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man,” Susan Faludi spends a chapter examining masculinity within father/son traditions, complicated by two wars (World War II and the Vietnam War), as it has played out in the 1972 novel, “First Blood.” Her discussion dives into masculinity and father-son relationships in the life of the novel’s author, David Morrell; in the long process in which the movie industry tried to turn the novel into a movie it could market; and in the life of the actor, Sylvester Stallone, who finally helped doctor a script that the movie industry could sell to Reagan-era men, but that also preserved some of the soul of the novel, its concern for a masculinity defined amidst father-son relationships torn apart by war. In my Gender and Literature class, we recently took a look at both the novel and Faludi’s discussion of it, and the results were interesting.

What we found was a concern for identity/identification, introduced by setting Teasle and Rambo against each other, at one point looking at one another in the mirror, coming to understand the ways in which their identities mirror one another (both are decorated war vets, Rambo of Vietnam, Teasle of Korea), and with an exploration of the role of naming in identification, but also “gazing” – how one internalizes the identity given to them by the way people look at them (the movie takes this to a completely different place when Stallone is presented with the body of a body-builder). It’s worth noting that Morrell had wanted it to be unclear in the novel who was the protagonist, and he succeeded until the movie makers determined that Rambo, the prodigal son, would be the hero, and Teasle, representing the corrupt institution that rejected Rambo, would be the villain.

But in the book, Teasle also becomes something of a father figure to Rambo, or wants to be, calling him “the kid” throughout, even after he knows Rambo’s name. Father-son relationships are important in “First Blood” and are explored in terms of fishing and hunting trips. Rambo doesn’t fish, though. His father had beaten him regularly (just as Stallone’s father did) and that symbol had lost its meaning. But Rambo knows that sort of relationship when he sees it, as he does in the forest early in the novel when he runs into a backwoods father and son drinking moonshine, the only men Rambo encounters in the forest and purposefully allows to live. But for Rambo, as with Teasle, father-son relationships have always been complicated, painful. For Teasle because his father died young, and his surrogate father, Orval, had always been something of a hard man on Teasle, their relationship often defined by competition. Rambo’s father-son relationships had been defined by violence, including when he joined the marines.

Rambo’s father-figure in the military was a distant figure, Trautman (read trout-man; fisher-man; for both father-son fishing, but also the religious-institutional idea of Trautman as a fisher-of-men). Trautman ran the base and program where Rambo was trained (“The best we ever trained”). He arrives on the scene as a representative of the military institution, but also as Rambo’s “father,” having come to bring him home, to catch him and reel him in. Trautman has created Rambo, and the institution he represents has a vested interest in keeping a hold on him. But that’s not the only institution interested in managing Rambo. It’s rather curious that, early in the novel, Teasle takes Rambo to the police station, and there’s a bit made about the fact that the police station is painted red – it used to be a schoolhouse – and that they are waiting for the blue (water, washing, purity) and white (purity, sanctity) paint to come in, to paint over the red (blood) – and all together it building represents the red, white, and blue. There will be a lot of red/blood throughout the novel, the result, it seems to argue, of institutions (police, school, but also religion) failing Rambo/male, who, as well, dies in the end (unlike in the novel) as a sort of purifying sacrifice. The institutions have trained Rambo’s body (see Foucault, panopticon), have made it into a killing machine, have done so within the context of father-son patriarchy, and have then failed to tame what they created, resulting in the eventual sacrifice of the son, seemingly to purify the whole mess.

And lest this seem to be reading too much in, follow me on this. In the final pages, Rambo is crawling away from a town he has destroyed. He crawls through a playground (boy, “kid,” son), and is followed by Teasle. Both have been carved up by brambles (thorns) on their backs and heads, both have holes in their sides, they have come to identify with one another, even as Rambo holds up his gun seeing a triple image (Trinity) of Teasle, thinking he should just shoot “Teasle’s center image.” And the final scene plays out between a Trinity – Teasle, Rambo, and Trautman – with Trautman pulling the trigger on a sacrificial Rambo.

Meanwhile, throughout the novel, Rambo had been debating with himself about his own faith. In the middle of the novel, in an effort to escape the violence he has wrought, and its consequences, Rambo finds himself down a mine, a cave, what becomes sort of a womb, that he travels through, uncertain whether he is making his way deep into the womb/cave to die (to be unborn) or to find his way out at the other end to live (to be reborn). In the end he finds his way out, is reborn, on the way to his final showdown with his mirror/center image, Teasle, and his purifying, saving sacrifice. The whole novel becomes an attempt to recover a masculinity created by institutions that then failed it, rejected it, and judged it. But the recovery fails when the institutions sacrifice Rambo in order to save the institutions and the masculinity that serves them.

Unfortunately, as much as the novel takes an interesting look at masculinity in the late 60s and early 70s, it fails to examine its own understanding of womanhood. Through the whole novel, one problem that interrupts a recovery of masculinity is the women in the lives of the men. In particular, Teasle seems to conclude by the end of the novel that his now estranged wife was largely the reason that he had lost himself, the self that had been confident, that had understood who he was, that he only recovered when he engaged in a one-on-one war with his mirror image. Unfortunately, Morrell’s women, it seems, are either caretaker wives, or problems for male identity. That element is completely removed from the film in which masculinity is heroic, anti-institutional, and, ironically, the foundation of an aggressively violent, pro-war, incredibly profitable Rambo movie franchise.

A Virtual Tour of the CSC English Department

The best kept secret at Chadron State College is the English department. Yes, I realize that this statement may seem biased coming from an English major, but it has been the highlight of my higher education experience.

As an English Education major, my college experience has been full of

reading

writing

synthesizing

researching

critical analysis

and more reading…

And I wouldn’t trade my major for anything.

The most valuable part of my educational experience has been the classes I’ve taken to fulfill my English endorsement. Sure, I’ll technically graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Education, but I identify with English.

Because the English department has made my experience memorable and priceless, let me give you the grand tour.

Before we begin, let me introduce myself. I’m Kelsey and I’ll be your tour guide. These are the most important things you should know about me:

I am…

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  • A cat lover
  • A CSC Eagle, through and through
  • A self-proclaimed poet. You brave souls can listen to some of my original poems:

Now that I’ve properly introduced myself, we may proceed with the grand tour.

We begin by walking down the long sidewalks of CSC. Many students who may have had late nights quickly ride to class on long boards, skate boards, and other non-motor vehicles with wheels.

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Students know they are near the food (aka The Student Center) when they see the Tower Clock, a hallmark of Chadron State College. They also know how punctual or late for class they are based on the time provided by the giant clock.

imageOld Admin stands on the west side of campus, a building that houses Criminal Justice, English, and Education courses and professors.

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Students know they are outside of Old Admin as they see The Three Muses:

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The doors of Old Admin invite us in, calling us to learn.

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Once we enter the building, we must head up the stairs to second floor…


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On the second floor, we find navigation posts to guide our trip.

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The second floor is THE place to be in Old Admin. Visitors easily identify the second floor with English because it oozes literacy.

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People support literacy by donating their books.

If we look to our left, we can see the portal that connects students and professors:

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Before we enter the portal, visitors are met by catchy English major propaganda and FREE books!

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Enticing, right?

If we are courageous and step through this portal, we first see Brenda. Although Brenda declined an opportunity for a photo shoot for this blog, she graciously allowed me to take a picture of her work station.

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Students love Brenda because she is facetious and has a stapler for our many essay papers. For those of you who use Brenda’s stapler or stop to chat with her, she wanted me to include a warning: DO NOT PUT CRAP ON HER DESK. It makes it dirty:

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Brenda’s dirty desk and handy stapler.

Around the corner, there is a break room complete with a copier, mailboxes, and coffee.

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It’s true: English professors drink coffee.

The offices of our lovely English professors are down the hall.

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This year there is a new student lounge with audiobooks, comfy chairs, ambience, and FREE BOOKS!

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The student lounge.

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Audiobook collection and comfy chairs.

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Free books.

Some of our professors enjoy interior decorating…

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Interior decorator or English professor? You be the judge.

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You could say English professors have an abundance of flavor.

I think the students enjoy it too.

This concludes our time together and now you have seen all you need to see of the English department at CSC. You have been a lovely group and I hope to see you on campus soon! I accept tips…

3,193 Beautiful Beginnings (NaNoWriMo)

by B. Lee Miller

For those who don’t know, every November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/). Every year, over 300,000 people around the globe certify having written a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. Now, the point is not quality, although the one previous time that I participated, I produced a draft of a novel that now runs around 65,000 words and that I am still revising and from which I’ve sent out excerpts for publication. The point is the process. Getting used to putting words on paper, whatever may come of it.

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This year is my second year to participate. My class, Gender and Literature, is spending much of November writing. They are to write a critical essay and some sort of literature. It is up to them whether to complete a lengthy, messy draft of something, or a more finished, and thus necessarily shorter draft. We will then read one another’s work and look at gender in this newly written literature. It should be fun.

Those who participate in NaNoWriMo know that you must average 1,667 words per day to reach the 50,000-word goal. I don’t know that I’ll make it this year. I have too much on my plate. But I did start today on a project I have tentatively titled “Beautiful Beginnings.” It will be made up entirely of journal entries by the two main characters. I began today by writing 3,193 words, 328 of which I’ve pasted below. For a little context, the writer of this journal entry is exploring a long term fascination with the number 28, and the numbers 4 and 7 that, when multiplied, make 28. Anyway, here you go:

I walked between home and school all through my four years of Elementary School. It was a long walk, so I had a lot of time to think. I would count to four, or sometimes eight, over and over in my head. I counted to four in my head a lot in those four years. And I would make short humming noises with each step. Four at a time. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. It was a tick that I sometimes still have to keep myself from doing. It started up again four months and four days ago. The whole day today I counted to four in my head. Sometimes hummed. Hm. Hm. Hm. Hm. Four steps at a time, just like in marching band during my four years in High School. Left. Right. Left. Right. Four steps and four beats at a time. For the four beats for every bar. Most music is structured four beats per bar, four bars at a time, and in sixteen-bar sets – four times four is sixteen, four times sixteen is sixty-four. I will never see sixty-four. You wouldn’t need me if I did reach sixty-four. There were four Beatles.

Four is a pretty common number. There are four corners of the earth. Four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Four Gospels. There are four sides to a square. Four seasons. For directions. North. South. East. West. In Buddhism, there are Four Noble Truths. I was forty-four, with the dash, when my life changed forever. The day was April 4, 2014: 4/4/14. I began my walk on August 8 – 8/8, two times four is eight. You were sixteen – four times four – when I changed your life forever. If you google “living homeless for dummies” you can find a wauzoo.com page with the picture of homeless man holding a sign that says “Family Kidnaped by Ninjas Need $4 Karate Lessons.” I need to try to get eight hours of sleep tonight. Two times four is eight.

ZooTV: A Paper from One Professor’s Past

by B. Lee Miller

I spent one semester (okay, maybe more) of my six years as an undergraduate uncertain what I wanted to do with my life. I transferred to a different school and took two courses I just wanted to take, courses I couldn’t afford to take at the much more expensive private university I had been attending: Psychology and Sociology. The Psychology course was the type that had over a hundred students in the class, where the professor just read from the book, and where we took tests over what the professor head read from the book. There was generally poor attendance (the professor didn’t take attendance), except on test days. The Sociology course had about twenty students in it and was taught by a graduate teaching assistant. We had a sociology textbook that looked, cost, and weighed about the same as the psychology textbook, but the course was approached more as a discussion course, which is more possible with 20 students than with 100.

 

In the Sociology course, we were asked to write a term paper in which we used basic terminology in the study of sociology to interpret some phenomenon. It just so happens that I had spent the last year and a half working at Hastings Books, Music, and Video, and that one video that had caught my attention was U2’s “Zoo TV: Live from Sydney.” That video was made of clips from the last leg of U2’s tour in support of “Achtung Baby,” and then “Zooropa,” which they wrote and recorded during the tour. Now, you have to understand, I was not a huge U2 fan. Yes, I liked “Joshua Tree” well enough, but I didn’t really get what all the fuss was about. When the film “Rattle & Hum” came out – panned for its seeming self-righteousness – I was in high school. I saw it in the theatres. People danced in the aisles. I liked it well enough, but parts of it have grown on me over the years. In any case, the response to that film and album (also titled “Rattle & Hum”) left U2 openly deciding it was time to go away for a while and “reinvent” themselves as a band. The result was “Achtung Baby” and the “Zoo TV” tour.

 

My brother bought me copy of “Achtung Baby” for my birthday. I listened to it. Like a lot of people, I thought, what is this? There was a mixture of dance, pop, rock, even some overtures to grunge. It was U2 plugged in and untamed (in an era when everyone was going onto MTV Unplugged). After listening to it once, I set it aside as…meh…. My response to “Zooropa” was even more tepid. It wasn’t until, out of boredom, that I rented “Zoo TV: Live from Sydney” that I discovered a real interest in what U2 was perhaps doing at the time. I was fascinated by the film and when given an opportunity to write a school paper on it – in a Sociology class – I took it.

 

During the first set, Bono appears on stage covered in black leather, his hair slicked back, and with large bug-eyed sun glasses. He is “The Fly,” from the song “The Fly,” and he’s standing back watching the stars fall because of one man’s lie, a blending of Bono’s struggle with his own faith, but also his own role as a pop star. But the first set also pushes back against the criticism of U2’s self-righteousness, as well as of their popularity. In both sound and lyric, dress and posturing, but also by taking to excess the very things they are criticized for, U2 pushes everyone back so that they can be alone on the stage, the only real insiders, even as the fans, who don’t realize they have been made outsiders, express their adulation. Messages are flashed across large TV screens as the band plays “The Fly”: Everything You Know is Wrong, This Is Not a Rehearsal, Taste is the Enemy of Art, BELIEVE, Religion is a Club, Silence = Death, Contradiction Is Balance, Watch More TV. The Fly then pauses for a brief monologue in which he comments that this is a rock-and-roll show, that “you haven’t come all the way out here to watch TV, now have ya’?” The songs that follow, mostly from “Achtung Baby” very clearly engage in cultural and religious discourse, attempting to provide a counter-culture stance from an, admittedly excessive mainstream perspective. Everyone’s an outsider.

 

 

However, lest their fans grow weary of being made outsiders, lest they become numb (In a later set, “Numb” becomes an anthem critiquing first-world political-military-economic exploitation of third-world peoples), U2 then walks a long path out into the middle of the crowd and plays an “unplugged” set that includes a cover of Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love”: “I love to watch things on (Zoo) TV.” The Fly has removed his bug-eyes and turned back into Bono, just a regular guy singing about love, faith, hope, and regular people. But when they return to the stage, they blow things up again as they “Bullet the Blue Sky” and a have much larger than life visit on TV from Martin Luther King, Jr., clearly one of Bono’s heroes. Bono and U2 have welcomed their fans back into the fold as insiders celebrating hope. And then the stage goes dark.

 

When sound returns, we hear a Russian folk song and then the beginning of “Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car.” Bono sits in a dressing room, outfitted in a gold suit, platforms, and gold horns, putting on lipstick – he is Mr. MacPhisto – while the rest of the band are on stage, dressed clean cut in uniforms – offspring of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fans are both insiders on the allusions, but also on the role of Mr. MacPhisto, which, ironically enough, is to keep the fans at bay. Mr. MacPhisto interrupts the encore with a monologue. Often he will make a call to the President of the United States, but tonight he calls a taxi to take him home. The operator hangs up on him. Mr. MacPhisto, the flashy gold symbol of the excesses of the stardom about which Bono and the ban are ambivalent, has no place in this world.

 

As Mr. MacPhisto listens to the beep, beep, beep after the operator has hung up, “Lemon” begins: “A man makes a picture/A moving picture/Through the light projected/He can see himself up close”; “A man builds a city/With banks and cathedrals/A man melts the sand so he can/See the world outside.” The Fly/Bono/Mr. MacPhisto/U2 have been the ultimate insiders, have reached the peak of stardom, only to discover that it’s awfully lonely up there on top, that the gold-sequined devil in the mirror has not future, and they are now struggling to be both outsiders and insiders at the same time, to keep their fans but keep them at arm’s length. It can’t be an accident that the final two songs are “With our Without You” and “Love Is Blindness.”

 

There’s a degree to which the whole concert (or clips of several concerts), caught on film, performs a cultural ritual, fulfilling the desires of the crowd while also keeping the crowd at a safe distance. In a sense, they have attempted to perform the carnival function (a sort of endorsed period of joyous reversing of serious ritual that especially targets representatives of institutional power), but find themselves both the subjects and objects of the critique (and preservation) of power distribution implicit in carnival. They are deeply conflicted, but seem to know it. They want to be adored, but they don’t want the criticism that always comes with adoration.

 

I still have that paper that I wrote for Sociology 1510 at the University of North Texas and turned in February 27, 1995. The written comments used words like “insightful” and “excellent writing skills.” The best comment, though, was in person, when my instructor said that the paper made him want to go out and watch the video. I wonder if he ever did.

 

 

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The Real Me

I am currently reading Happiness and the Good Life, by philosopher Mike W. Martin. This week, I was working on Chapter 4, “Authenticity.” As Martin notes, there is surely some connection between authenticity and happiness. It is important to us that the life we live is true to who we really are. The importance of authenticity is perhaps made most clear in its absence. Living a life that seems out of touch with who we really are is frustrating, constraining, and saddening. It’s like walking around in clothes that don’t fit. “Know thyself” was one of the pieces of advice carved into the Temple to Apollo at Delphi. “To thine ownself be true,” Polonius advises his son Laertes in Hamlet. (I’ll let some of the Shakespeare scholars out there discuss what we should make of the fact that this advice is given by Polonius.) So there are at least two challenges we have to face in order to live authentic lives: we need to figure out who we are, and we need to construct a life that aligns with our authentic self.

1. Knowing Oneself

What do we mean when we say talk about “who we really are”? How can I claim that the true me is out of step with how I’m actually living? Why shouldn’t my life as I actually live it have better claim on being the real me than some vision I might have of myself that isn’t being realized? Part of what might be at work here is that each of us comes equipped with a psyche abuzz with activity. We like to think we have a cohesive self, but we’re actually going about a dozen different directions at once. The search for the true self is partly a project of ordering and prioritizing all these different parts of us.

In Quadrophenia, the rock opera by the Who, the main character wrestles with this question. Jimmy is an adolescent trying to figure out who he his. He feels different versions of himself, or perhaps different parts of himself, crashing against each other within his psyche. He decides that he’s not just schizophrenic; he’s quadropenic. The second cut on the album, “The Real Me,” sets out what he’s facing.

Interestingly, a parallel dynamic was also at work in the band. All four members were strong, idiosyncratic performers. At their best, they fused these disparate elements into a cohesive whole. This is certainly at work in “The Real Me.” We get Townsend’s visceral power chords, Entwhistle’s amazing bass runs, Moon’s ferocious drumming, and Daltrey’s powerful vocal. This parallel dynamic is reflected in the cover art for the album, as the faces of the four band members are reflected in the mirrors of Jimmy’s mod scooter.

Thus, one way of thinking of the challenge of knowing ourselves is figuring out how we can pull as many strong parts of ourselves into a cohesive whole. And this might better be described as a project of construction, rather than a project of discovery. We put together the puzzle, trying to get as many pieces to fit as we can.

2. Living Authentically

One of the points that Martin makes in his book is that it’s not simply the case that authenticity is a guide to happiness. The relationship is more complex than that, he claims, since happiness can be a guide to authenticity. As we try on different masks, as we give different parts of ourselves more rein, we gain clues to our authentic self by the way in which our happiness is increased or frustrated.

A more unsettling possibility is that happiness and authenticity might pull apart. What should we do when our authentic self leads us along a path of chaos and unhappiness? Should we follow our true self, happiness be damned? Or should we say that authenticity is overrated and be willing to settle into a happier, less authentic life? Maybe these concepts are fuzzy enough that, without herculean effort we can convince ourselves that the chaotic path was not our true self anyway.