Fall Blues Why do

October 11, 2003

Fall Blues

Why do we call them the fall blues, when the colors for fall are the red and orange of the fading leaves, or the greys and browns of clouds and bare branches?

In the last few days I have had a couple of students come to me to explain that they had fallen into a funk, had stopped going to class, and needed to get their academic lives back on track. I gave them what advice and encouragement I could, steered them to counseling, and worked up recovery plans to get them back up to speed in my classes.

Looking back at late September, I wonder how much of my getting stuck in grading was also related to a fall funk. I certainly went through a couple of not very productive weeks; I have had a little more trouble with my sleep than sometime, and the light is indeed fading.

But, the leaves are just barely turning - it is almost too early for seasonal emotional troubles.

In any case, I am working on job applications, and while the jobs in New Hampshire and Vermont are not as good as I first thought, the jobs in Washington State and industrial Ohio look better than I had first thought. All of them, other than the Ohio job and a not very good job in West Virginia, are far far to the north. I would have to invest heavily in full spectrum light bulbs.

We use artificial light to correct for the fading colors of the fall; electric sunlight keeps us on a more even keel if only we can get it. Mechanical light makes a fine metaphor for, well, something - especially when we remember all the other metaphors that use light. We had the enlightenment, that period when people praised themselves for spreading, well, new light, and helping others see. The Great Awakening was also built around the "new light" - odd that the illuminati, or enlightened ones, were so strongly opposed by the new lights. Light is a powerful metaphor for knowledge and ability, whether in these cases or in Plato's cave. And false light, mechanical sunlight, brings happiness and, in another meaning of the word, lightness to our emotional selves. Franklin always held that we can change ourselves by acting in a new way, rather than seeking for the natural he was perfectly willing to create naturalness - I forget how he referred to the artificial but I suspect that he praised artifice as skill and hated it as pretense.

But, false light can create happiness. One of the many things that makes me happy is hot peppers, and with the turn to the fall they are dying unless I put them in pots, an environment even more "artificial" than my garden and bring them inside. But even inside our windows are not big enough, and the baby is so destructive, that I fear the peppers will not survive if I just leave them out. I shall have to put them in the basement, and then talk to the marijuana growers to get the right combination of lights, heats, and timers to grow a crop of hot peppers in the basement. That will indeed be an artificial environment, driven by false light. But, it will indeed make me happy.

And back to research jobs - that was one heck of a ramble wasn't it.

Posted by Red Ted at October 11, 2003 02:57 AM | TrackBack