As Truthful as Possible: An Interview with Maxine Hong Kingston

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Date: 1998
From: Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Reprint In: Short Story Criticism(Vol. 136. )
Document Type: Critical essay; Interview
Length: 6,236 words

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[(interview date 1998) In the following interview, Kingston discusses the role of myth and truth in her work, major influences on her writing, and the controversy over the genre of The Woman Warrior and China Men.]

[Schroeder]: The Woman Warrior opens with your mother saying "You must not tell anyone what I'm about to tell you," and then you proceed to do just that. Why do you begin with this particular scene?

[Kingston]: There has to be a way into the story. And there are obstacles in the way, including orders from one's own mother not to tell. So I thought if I began the book stating what that order was, I could confront it directly and disobey the order. And in that way I could free myself and my voice to be able to tell the story. Since writing that I've seen that there are other people who use this same technique. Alice Walker begins The Color Purple: "You better not never tell nobody but God." Toni Morrison begins The Bluest Eye: "Quiet as it's kept"--then proceeds to tell the community's secrets.

The opening seems to do two things: it introduces the conflict between you and your mother, which is one of the central tensions in the book, and it also introduces the theme of storytelling. It reminds me of what Michael Herr once said about Dispatches: he thought it wasn't really a book about Vietnam as much as it was a book about writing a book. Do you see something similar going on in The Woman Warrior--on one level it's a chronicle of your family, but on another level it's a book about finding voice?

In all my writing I am aware of writing itself, or consciousness, or how to put whatever is going on into words. And I suppose I could leave those musings out because they're just the ruminations of the author. I've decided to leave them in because I want to show the working of the mind and how the mind finds the story, how the mind finds expression and creates itself. And that decision has to do with form. How do we find form? How do we emerge from no form into form? I want to set that process down, even though it's abstract, and many people are not interested in those sorts of questions. Most present-day readers are not interested in abstractions. They want to get right to the action. But I have decided I will put all that thinking in.

Genre was an issue that obsessed critics when The Woman Warrior was first published. Critics asked "What is it?" And the same thing happened with China Men. How did you arrive at those forms?

I'm aware of what reality is, and I'm also aware there is a whole part of my being that imagines. When I write a character, I want to set down what this person is dreaming about. What is he or she fantasizing about? What are the narratives that people tell as they go about the realities of life? Also I think that having two categories--fiction and nonfiction--is too small. I picture a border between fiction and nonfiction, and I am making that border very wide; fiction is a narrow place on one side and nonfiction is a narrow place on another side, and there's this great big border in the middle, in which real life is taking place and also fantasies and dreams and visions.

What you're describing seems to characterize much of the literature in the last thirty years or so. E. L. Doctorow said there's no such thing as fiction and nonfiction, there's just narrative.

I think fiction is a useful label because it's a positive word that we use to describe imagination, we use to describe storytelling. But nonfiction is not a useful word because it isn't anything. I mean, poetry is nonfiction, isn't it? And so I should think that within the idea of nonfiction there could be all manners of things. Including fiction.

I just write whatever I'm thinking, and I don't categorize as I go along. I'll leave it up to others where they put the book on their shelves. But I notice that these distinctions are not a problem for a lot of people--there's bookstores that can put The Woman Warrior on the nonfiction shelves and the fiction shelves. It's anthropology and sociology and feminism and Asian American history. I break through categories.

Were you inventing the form of The Woman Warrior as you went along, or from the start did you have an idea what it might look like when it was done?

I was inventing it as I went along. And I didn't know where I was going to end up, and I did not have a large shape in mind. I felt that I was making the path as I was going along. I like Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer writing the novel as history, history as novel. I teach Armies of the Night; I use it to show students how we make history in the same way we write a novel. And as we narrate what's going on, we shape history.

I also like that book a lot because he writes about the responsibility of the writer. Does the writer actually go out in the street and perform politics and then write about it? Henry James and Wallace Stegner both said not to commit experience for the sake of the writing. Mailer questions that injunction and the notion of objectivity. The writer makes up the world out in the streets and at home in the ivory tower writing the story. I suppose we try to be as objective and as truthful as possible ("truthful" is the right word); still, we are affecting the truth.

You were writing The Woman Warrior and China Men almost simultaneously. It strikes me, however, that the forms are quite different: The Woman Warrior is composed of large portraits that overlap in places and China Men has portraits juxtaposed against vignettes. Were you working out those two different forms independently?

At one point, all those stories from The Woman Warrior and China Men were coming to me at the same time. But later, when I had written down a lot of the stories, I saw they actually could be organized into two different books because the history actually takes place at different times and different places. The women were in China and had their own society. The men were sailing or traveling and were in Chinatowns, and that was another society. Their stories just fell into two different books.

The way I use myth in the two different books also makes them different: the women had one way with myth and the men had another kind of myth. Myths played different roles in their lives. That discovery affected the form of those two books. The women's myths were more intertwined and inside their lives. In The Woman Warrior, myths and the psyche of the women are integrated. In China Men the myths are separate from the men's lives. I'll tell a myth such as a myth about a peacemarker, which is an ancient story. And then that would be juxtaposed with a story about the Vietnam War. The characters in the Vietnam War story are not thinking about the peacemaker myth. I'm asking the reader to read these stories separately, and then to think, "What does this myth have to do with this story? And are these heroes at all affected by this myth? Do they even know about it?" The reader has to struggle with the question of what the ancient myths have to do with our modern lives. People went into the Vietnam War with no remembrance of history and with no understanding of the mythic dimensions of our lives. So in structuring China Men, I keep the myth and those present-day stories separate, whereas in The Woman Warrior, the myths are inside the women and the women are aware of them and living them out.

Of course, that was the other criticism people had of your work--you were tampering with myth, showing disrespect to Chinese culture. I don't really understand that particular criticism since myth has always been vibrant; if you look at classical Greek mythology, for instance, you can find different versions of many stories. Why do you think you came in for so much criticism on this point?

There's a movement in America today where people are looking for roots that will at last get them to firm ground. Those people want something traditional and static. These are very literal people. They say that there is one version of history, and there is one version of myth. And they can hang on to that one version, so it mustn't change. This is traditionalism, retro-thinking, fundamentalism.

My feeling, of course, is different. I would also use that word you used--vibrant. Myth is vibrant and alive as long as it keeps changing. When people emigrate from China (or from anywhere), they bring myths with them, but they change the myths. And if they don't change those myths, those myths are useless and die. So I'm free with myths. I feel I can give them away. One doesn't have to be Chinese to own the Chinese myths; they belong to all of us who hear them. Just like the Greek myths belong to us.

Earlier you mentioned the need for writers to be as truthful as possible in their work. But sometimes truth seems to lie beyond facts. For instance, if you had stuck to just the facts you had about "no name woman" in The Woman Warrior her story would have been incomplete.

Yes, but in the example of "no name woman," I didn't have any facts! I didn't even know her name. I had to depend on some things that are not facts to give her her life.

Then perhaps a better instance is your father's own story in China Men; for instance, why did he go to the gold mountain? He seems to give at least three explanations: because he needed to get away from those horrible schoolchildren? because he craved adventure? because he was going to be drafted?

Probably all of those things are true. There's also poverty and famine, he's the youngest of brothers, and the other brothers got all of the land. Since he is a strong silent type, how do I ever find the real reasons? He won't say what his motives are! This is where the fiction mind comes in very handy. I also had to misdirect the reader--in case the reader works for the INS and deports my father.

I've heard you mention that Virginia Woolf's Orlando and William Carlos Williams' In the American Grain influenced your writing of The Woman Warrior and China Men. How did they do so?

I wanted to see American history the same way that William Carlos Williams saw it. For instance, he says to listen to the ground because out of the ground of the Americas comes soul and voice. America's voice will speak out of you. I wanted to be able to do that. After I finished In the American Grain, I thought there was going to be a part two because he ends the book with Abraham Lincoln. So I thought I could go and read the rest of it; surely he must have written up to World War II! But it wasn't there. I just couldn't believe there wasn't a part two! My next thought was "Part two is what I'm going to write." I consider China Men as part two.

There's a life force that's in Orlando. There's a light shining from that book. When I feel discouraged, I can pick it up and read a paragraph and feel up again. Woolf covers four hundred years of history, and one person lives for four hundred years. And I thought, "Yeah, I can treat time like that." The way Virginia Woolf uses time makes sense to me. And frees me, too. If I want a character to live to a hundred and twenty so that he can live many connecting experiences, so that he can go from one part of history to another, then I just go ahead and do it. We don't know exactly how old my grandmother is, my mother and my father are, because they have all these fake papers and stories, and so I just went ahead and gave them long lives and didn't worry about their ages. Orlando gave me permission to make them as old as they needed to be.

I'm influenced by everything I read. I just read Billy Budd again today, and I hope I was influenced by Melville.

Was there any particular reason you picked that up?

I was trying to describe a veteran of the Vietnam War, and I kept thinking of him as Billy Budd. I wondered, "Is this a correct comparison?" So I read it again today, and I realized that the book is about war. I didn't think about that before; I just thought it was about somebody good who was on a ship. I didn't remember the war. In those days they weren't drafted, they were impressed. The captain in the book even says, "Use the right word for it, it's impressment." Billy Budd is a draftee. And he goes along with it. The story is about mutiny within the military during wartime.

That's the way I'm influenced by reading; I pick up a book and think, "I want to be influenced."

Does Billy also make you think of your brother, whom you talk about in the story, "The Brother in Vietnam," who is forced into making a series of compromises?

But Billy Budd never compromises because he doesn't know how. He's an angel. I've been thinking about various veterans who didn't compromise. They were often the ones who ended up in the brig. I guess it's because they were idealistic. I don't think I know any real Billy Budds. It amazed me at the end, he was so very simple, he wasn't afraid of death. His face didn't change when he was executed.

I've heard you say you regret that central metaphor, the warrior, of The Woman Warrior. But in some ways the metaphor seems so fitting. Fa Mu Lan fights for a completely just cause. And when you confront your racist boss we are struck by the rightness of your action.

Yes, but "warrior" has in it that word "war." Fighting injustice can be done in various ways, such as speaking up or writing. But the word "war" connotes using a weapon--Fa Mu Lan's sword or a gun. Part of my regret for using that metaphor is that since writing The Woman Warrior, I have become more of a pacifist. I keep wishing I could invent a peace language. Instead of a woman warrior with a sword, I could create one with a pen who would be just as dramatic. I learned recently about a critic who argues that everybody--including me--who writes about the Vietnam War keeps using the Homeric paradigm. I think he's misread me; I do constantly say, "How can I be the Woman Warrior in America? There's no problem that I have today that I can solve by getting myself a horse and armor and a sword." I do say that in the book.

When you published Tripmaster Monkey, some critics seemed to be relieved that it wasn't about your family, that it was clearly fiction. Some were struck by how different Wittman was from you. I was actually struck by the ways in which he was similar to you. You set the book in 1963, and at that point both you and Wittman had been out of UC Berkeley for a year and you and he both marry Caucasians that year. But perhaps most importantly, you both share an overriding vision of community that shapes your actions and your art. Do you feel this strong connection to Wittman?

I do. He's born out of my imagination, so of course he's me, he's who I would have been if I had been a man. Actually, I feel that way about all the people I write about--that I am like them.

Larry Heinemann has an interesting exercise that he gives to students in his writing workshops: write down characteristics of a person who's completely not yourself. Include all kinds of characteristics and personality traits that are not yours. Then create a character using these traits. Of course, what everyone discovers is that the character is yourself!

I really like this exercise because I think that writing has to do with how to get out of one's own narcissism and solipsism in order to imagine another human being and the rest of the universe. It's also very important to be able to create more than one character, the "I" character; it's necessary to be able to enter into the soul and the skin of another human being. This exercise is just great because it's a way of imagining yourself into an other. And not only any other, but somebody who is unsympathetic. I think it's an exercise in compassion.

The Sixties are still such a disputed time in our history that it seems like a lot of novelists avoid this period. Was it difficult to set the novel in the Sixties?

One difficulty in writing about this period is that there are so many stereotypes of the Sixties. And those stereotypes are a way of denying what happened, of simplifying and reducing what happened in the Sixties. It seemed very natural to write about that time because that was an exciting and interesting time of my youth. Even though there's the difficulty of breaking through readers' stereotypes, I've had a lot of experience with that. In the same way, when I wrote about Chinese American men and women, I had to break through terrible stereotypes that are like walls in readers' minds and critics' minds. Wittman is an American just as I am, too, an American. This shouldn't be surprising.

I hope that the surprise for many readers is also in the language. During the Sixties, there were beautiful experiments and breakthroughs in the American language. There were ways of trying to write about new psychic experiences, psychedelic experiences, drug experiences, spiritual and religious breakthroughs. The civil rights movement made new language. Then there was the war, and there was a new language for writing and talking about war and peace. The fun for me in writing Tripmaster Monkey was to be able to use the slang of the Sixties. Using Wittman as the central character allowed me to have the fun of using slang, which is a men's language. I don't think women use slang the way men use slang. The slang of the Sixties was really macho. I liked being able to try that voice.

You published a short piece in Mother Jones magazine a few years ago about what happened to Wittman. He moved from the Bay Area, the vortex of the 1960s, to Hawaii, where he was on the edge of both the Sixties and the United States. What would he be doing today?

This is what I'm working on; my next book is that story of Wittman going to Hawaii and his continuing involvement with the peace movement. He's doing pretty much what I'm doing today. He fights within himself a certain sort of intellectualism and inaction. After his Berkeley education he doesn't quite want to be an intellectual. He also keeps wanting to be more of a man of action, but at the same time he's not going to be a soldier. These are a young man's battles. And I hope that by the time he gets to be fifty (I haven't written about this yet), he will be a happy community organizer--somebody who knows how to pull a community together. By the time he's in his fifties, of course, he would be one of the elders of the community.

In this new book I'm trying to find the peace language that I mentioned earlier. I'm trying to find a way to show acts of peace that are as dramatic as acts of war. How can we find the nonviolent language to tell a story about facing up to somebody who wants to fight us? How can we do so in a way that's not like High Noon or Shane? Can we talk our way out of such a situation? You mentioned that scene about facing up to the employers in The Woman Warrior, but it took no more than a paragraph to write that. Can the same scene be done more dramatically? So that when a reader reads it, it stands out more than the story of getting on the horse and riding into battle?

So this new book will be a sequel to Tripmaster Monkey?

Yes. I'm calling it The Fifth Book of Peace.

Didn't you have a lot of the Fourth Book done? How did you overcome the experience of the fire and begin again?

Ralph Ellison had a similar experience with a fire and lost a book he was writing; it was such a terrible blow to him that he never seemed to be able to come back from it. But I don't think I'm like that.

Do you know what else I lost? I lost my ability to read. The same thing happened to my husband Earll--we just couldn't read. It was one of my symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I wasn't able to concentrate. Even the newspaper--I couldn't get past the first paragraph. I would read slowly, and I wouldn't be able to concentrate. That lasted longer than not being able to write.

I did not immediately start writing the book that was lost. I started to write in the same way that I wrote when I was a child. The way I could write again was to begin the way I did when I was a kid, which was to write about what I was feeling. Just about "I." I couldn't write from an omniscient point of view or about somebody else's feelings. I just wanted to write about my own feelings, and they could be as incoherent and ungrammatical as I wanted. I had no thought that this was going to be published or read by another person. It would be writing in the same way that a diary writer would write.

When you came back to the book, had it changed?

I led into that former book. I spent hundreds of pages writing in this other way. And then, after I don't remember how long--a month or a year--then I could start writing about other people and writing fiction again. So this new book is going to be very complicated. I've decided to leave in all the stuff about how to get into the thinking mind, the mind that can write. How do you get into words again? I am going to leave all that in. That's about a third of the book. Next I get into the book that I was writing, which is the fiction about Wittman. Then finally I come out of the fiction. So this book enters a real nonfiction place, then it flies to a fiction place, and then it grounds us again in a nonfiction place. I haven't seen another book like it, nor, once again do I know how people will categorize it. Are they going to call it fiction or nonfiction? It is a nonfiction fiction nonfiction sandwich.

In calling attention to the process of writing it sounds a bit as if you're doing something that Tim O'Brien does in his work.

Yeah, he does a beautiful job of that. I really like the way he writes about writing. He'll write a story, and then he'll write about how he wrote the story. Next he'll get into a story that he imagines. Then he'll hear from the person that he was writing about, and modify the story. He does a beautiful job.

Wasn't it at the time after the fire when you were trying to get back into writing that Deborah Rogin was working on the adaptation of The Woman Warrior? Were you involved with that project at all?

Soon after The Woman Warrior was published, we began trying to write scripts, but it wasn't until right after the fire that the Berkeley Rep got it together to produce the play. I was involved with it; I talked to various people: the producer, the director, the playwright.

Did you feel that the theater was a more appropriate medium than film might have been?

We still want to make a film. But I think that the theater was a wonderfully appropriate medium because it was a way of getting all of those people on stage, people from all different Asian American backgrounds. It was a breakthrough in nontraditional casting. I think a movie would try to make everybody look the same, like everybody in the family would have to look the same. But in the play, it was really wonderful to have Vietnamese accents, Japanese American accents, Hawaiian accents, a Singaporean accent, and all the different Chinese accents. What they were doing with the music and acting styles was wonderful stuff, the fusion they were doing, using jazz and Chinese opera and masks--I really thought that was a right way to translate what I was doing.

In the story "The Brother in Vietnam," the account of your brother's initial teaching career seems in some ways to mirror your father's early teaching career.

Yeah, that's true.

Both might be described as nightmarish. I wonder if your own early high school teaching career might also be characterized this way.

It was so easy for me to write about my father's teaching and my brother's teaching because I just used their experiences to express my own feelings about teaching. I was trying to teach high school and write The Woman Warrior. Sometimes when I taught this course called "The Novel into Film," I would show the students a film, and I would be up in the projection booth writing my book.

I did my student teaching at Oakland Tech and Oakland High, and I taught at Sunset High School in Hayward, California, and then high school in Hawaii. I've taught school at every level: I've taught grammar school, high school, college, business college. I've taught literature, writing, and math. So I've had lots of experiences--I've stopped fights, I've taken weapons away from kids.

Did you ever reach a point where you thought, "This just isn't worth it"?

No, I always thought it was worth it. But I have many times reached the point where I'd think, "I can't do this anymore. I'm just physically and spiritually incapable of going on." I've had burnout maybe three or four times. But then I always went back. You know, taking weapons away from the kids--that's not the worst part. I think the worst part is when you get a group like the football team sitting in the back row and they've got their arms folded and they won't participate in a discussion. They're not making a lot of noise in class or anything. In fact, they're quiet. But they just aren't listening, aren't engaged. I think, "I'm friendly and I care about them; my lessons are interesting, I know I'm entertaining." No matter what, I just wasn't getting through to them. But then there are times when you do get through.

One reason I keep going back is I have a recurring dream (or nightmare) that my mother--big, middle-aged, at her strongest--says to me, "Have you educated America yet?" Or she says, "Well, what have you done to educate the world lately?" So it's a calling, a challenge, and I have to do it.

That accounts for why, after you have been successful as a writer, you came back to teach at your alma mater, Berkeley, where you teach writing seminars for graduate and undergraduate students alike. But most recently you've been working with a very different population of writers.

I've been on leave of absence from Cal for the last three years teaching war veterans. I've had writing workshops and meditation workshops for war veterans. I think I have a calling to be a teacher in the same way that I have a calling to be a writer. I can't not do it. If I didn't have a job as a teacher, I'd start a class and ask people if they want to come.

I first started thinking about doing the veterans' workshop about six or eight years ago when I attended one of the retreats that Thich Nhat Hanh had for veterans of war. He called these workshops "Healing the Wounds of War." Most of the people who attended were Vietnam veterans from America and from Vietnam. They'd get together for meditation and discussions. At the time I thought, "They need one more component; they need an art. And specifically writing." So I asked to give a writing workshop during one of these Thich Nhat Hanh retreats. I incorporated writing into a Buddhist day of meditation. A few years later, the Lila Wallace Fund gave me a fellowship and asked if I would pick a community project to work on. I decided that what I wanted to do was to give more of those writing workshops--to do them on a regular basis and include veterans of all wars.

One of the things you did with those workshops was to expand the definition of a veteran--for instance, you had spouses of veterans attend the workshops. How did you find the people who would be in the workshops?

Most of them found me. One way they found me was that for years I've been carrying around the letters of veterans who wrote to me, and I didn't know how to answer them. Finally, one way to answer them was to say, "Let's get together and figure out how to express ourselves in art. Let's make an art out of this war that we were all in."

I think the veterans themselves expanded this idea of what a veteran is because they began to see that there are veterans of these wars who were never in uniform. Wars have terrible consequences for all kinds of people: people who were in prison camps, people who watched their families die in front of them. Surely those people are also veterans! And then, most wonderfully, the definition expanded to peace veterans. People who were in the streets, who were in demonstrations, who were in riots. People who went to jail because they refused the draft. We all began to see that they were also veterans of war.

Could you describe what one of those workshops would be like?

Because we thought of ourselves as forming a writing community, we spent lots of time together. When we were together it was the strength and the support of the community that made it possible for us to heal war wounds and also to create art.

We usually tried to meet in a beautiful place, like a farm house, or some other lovely place in nature. We would begin the day with meditation, and then we'd usually have some kind of an exercise or question that we'd all think about; each of us would then talk about ourselves in relation to some question, such as how we felt on Veteran's Day; or how we felt when we just heard that Lewis Puller Jr., who was a Vietnam veteran and award-winning writer, killed himself. I usually give a talk on some aspect of writing, and then everybody goes to some nice corner of the room and we write together. I've also invited other people--Larry Heinemann and George Evans and Grace Paley and Vietnamese writers from Hanoi and Saigon--to give the talk on writing. And, of course, the speakers not only talk about writing but also about what we've all been through. When we're writing together, in community, I like to think that we're not writing alone. We know there's other people who want to hear our stories. Then we eat together (we do a lot of civilized things together). After lunch, I evoke the Bodhisattva of compassionate listening, Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy. Then we read our work aloud and listen to one another. We all try to listen with compassionate understanding and without judgment. We listen for what is said, but also what's not said. Everyone takes a turn reading, and then we do a walking meditation. Next we give responses to one another's readings, and then we have a meditation again. That's the end of the day. I like to think that we're living together for one whole day.

I've encountered veterans who didn't want their writing to be seen as therapy; they wanted it to be seen as art. Was this an issue with your group?

I think that's so good you could recognize that. The whole time that I've been giving these workshops--especially at the beginning--I wanted to make sure that the veterans didn't see this time as merely therapy. I didn't want them to see me as a therapist trying to fix them. We were writers. And what we were producing was art.

What's really wonderful is that two of the veterans are right now coming out with books, and a whole lot of others have published shorter pieces. One of the veterans, John Mulligan, whose book is being published, also has two plays out at the same time. These veterans are producing professional, published work.

Many veterans didn't complete high school, let alone college. How were your students able to publish their work so quickly?

It's not quickly--it's been three years. Six years counting the workshops with Thich Nhat Hanh.

But many people complete high school, college, and creative writing M.A. programs and still aren't able to publish their work.

I think a lot of the veterans were already writers in the way that I was a storyteller when I was two years old and a writer when I was eight years old. When I first met them I was impressed when a couple of people said, "I think I went to Vietnam so that I could find some stories to write." They were like born writers--they had a calling. They were already writers when they went to Vietnam. Even though they hadn't written anything, some of them already had that inspiration. And then there was another type of person; maybe they weren't thinking like that, but they were full of life experiences and adventures and traumas and feelings and pain. These people just began to think, "Well, what if I wrote it down? Maybe I can use this stuff! Just this garbage that happened, this excitement--maybe it can be used." They are gifted with so much more than what most college students have because there's just a whole lot of life in them. They just need to find a way to set it down.

What was it about the workshops that helped them to do this?

The community of people who wanted to hear the stories. And I wanted to hear the stories. One crucial technique of a teacher is to convince students that "Yes, I do want to hear what you have to say. So just tell it to me or write it to me." It was also important to set aside a lot of time to hear stories. (In our case it was just one day a month, but it was all day.) With their jobs and everything else they were doing in their lives, they had to organize their lives so that there was one whole day that they could devote to this consciousness and this writing.

This is very different from teaching undergraduates at the university. Does each group of writers have its unique problems?

The people that I worked with in the veterans' workshops were older and had more experience (although I often find that certain people at the University have a lot of life experience and are full of eagerness and knowledge). But because I haven't been back to teaching college since the experience of teaching veterans, I'm trying to anticipate whether I'm going to feel differently about college-age people. Offhand, I think they would respond to the same kind of teaching.

I've been wondering what would happen if I began a class at a public university with meditation. Would it really be possible for me to go into a university teaching situation and ignore that we have spiritual lives that need to be written into our stories? I don't want to get up in front of a university class and appear New Age and flaky. But I've been working hard to integrate people's psyches and I know that we cannot separate our spiritual lives from our intellectual and artistic lives. This is the work I've been doing with the veterans--pulling all the pieces of our lives together. By spring I'm going to figure out how to do this in my college class.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420099171