Your Attending Metaphysician grew up Washington State, mostly on Puget Sound. She and her older brother were raised by their New Zealand-born mother, a licensed practical nurse steeped in Shakespeare and other great poetry. Attending Scripps College in California, known for its core humanities curriculum, she was the last student to be mentored by the great scholar Philip Merlan, founder of the College’s comparative literature program, before his death. After she’d earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in English and comparative literature, circumstances took her career onto an unforeseen path.
Hoping to complete her doctorate, she spent several years on the support staff of a major foundation’s humanities program, where she was entrusted with evaluating and recommending grant projects proposed by some of the nation’s leading scholars. At night she took graduate courses at New York University in literature, philosophy and the history of ideas. When a professional staff position at the foundation was given to someone less qualified, she left, to assist the president and C.E.O. of a large multimedia company. Gradually she established herself as a development consultant to nonprofit educational institutions, and combined this with teaching writing and literature as an adjunct professor at a community college.
Finally, in her fifties, she completed her Ph.D. in comparative literature at NYU. Soon after, she was invited to create interdisciplinary literature-based courses at Marymount Manhattan College. There she was honored with a teaching award in the humanities. Her course topics ranged from major religious texts of the world, to women writers on the intertwining of love and evil, to devil figures and perceptions of evil in Western culture, to the Ten Commandments as reconfigured in film and recent literature, to memoirs by people who’ve healed creatively from life-threatening trauma. She has adapted some of these for continuing education programs at the City University of New York Graduate Center and New York University.
Her publications (see link in sidebar) include book reviews, an interview with a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and a series of essays on literature and phenomenology (a branch of philosophy that focuses on human experience rather than formal language analysis). She has recently completed a memoir of her mother, Love, Rachel, which will be published either by a traditional publishing house or independently as an e-book. Her next project is to update and expand the book she wrote for her doctorate, on the role of attention in producing what—for want of a better term—is perceived as evil.
See her Intro Post for why the play of attention moves behind so many of life’s problems and suffering, pleasures and joys.