I graduated from AUP in 2007 with a BA in Comparative Literature. AUP was a great school for me as I had grown up in France, so the environment was familiar and it allowed me to rediscover Paris as an adult. Professors there were also very helpful and encouraging, always honest about the quality of a student’s work. I enjoyed working with Dan Gunn on my senior project, a short novella in which I explored my roots in the local fishing communities of Eastern Long Island. The university also got me back into acting, which I hadn’t touched since high school. In 2006 I participated in the university’s production of West Side Story and This is Our Youth, both of which were extremely fun and interesting.
My experience at AUP also reinforced my desire to become professionally involved in the field of literature, as I discovered the possibility of inter-disciplinary approaches to literary issues. When writing my final essay for my senior seminar in post-colonial theory, for example, I was able to branch out into sociology, economics, and politics, using literature as a vector through which to comment on larger issues that concern everyone, no matter what field they are involved in. At the time, though, I did not realize the impact that such inquiries could have on the field of comparative literature itself. I saw my piece as a kind of “black sheep” in the field that could be potentially isolated and ineffective, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. In terms of employment I didn’t know where such writing could lead, so when I graduated, hesitant (for financial as well as professional reasons) about immediately embarking on graduate studies, I jumped on the first opportunity that I could find. The career’s office at AUP had advised me to look into what was termed a “teaching assistant” position with the Académie de Versailles in the Western suburbs of Paris. It seemed perfect, as the institution was located in the very area that I had grown up in, around Saint Germain-en-Laye, so I applied through the French embassy in Washington D.C. and obtained a part-time position as a “teacher’s assistant” in English for three primary schools located in and around Saint Germain for nine months. To my surprise, what was an “assistant’s” position on paper revealed itself to be a full-on teaching position once I arrived in the classroom. Teachers sat at the back of the class while I delivered lessons which I was expected to prepare by myself to the eight classes of thirty students for which I was responsible. Despite this minor hiccup, though, the experience was highly enriching. Teaching 240 students, building relationships with the children and watching them progress as the year went by gave me a professional satisfaction that I had never before experienced. In fairness, though, when the year was over I was, to say the least, relieved. But I came away from the experience confident that I could handle whatever professional challenges the future held for me.
In the summer of 2008 I decided to take a year off to explore the world. From September to February I worked full-time for my step-father’s construction company, saving up money for my big adventure. Even though such work was completely irrelevant to the studies I had undertaken up to that point, it brought a kind of balance to my life. I often feel that our generation is too fully absorbed by the bureaucratic lifestyle that global capitalism provides for Western youth – few of us ever get the opportunity to work with our hands, to actually build something from scratch and watch it come to fruition – we are victims, in other words, of what Marx called capitalistic “alienation.” This also offered the advantage of being able to come and go as I pleased, so when the time came for me to embark on my voyage of exploration, I had but to ask and my wish was granted. So in March 2009 I went to Thailand for two months, exploring the country’s national parks and putting my kayaking skills to use wherever I could, paddling along the pristine shores of nearly untouched tropical landscapes. It was an amazing experience, and I was able to visit places which I had dreamt of visiting since I was a child and see creatures which I had only read about in National Geographic magazines.
I returned to France ready to commence my graduate studies. I wanted to study in Europe because American universities were simply too expensive, so I began looking at England and Ireland as realistic options. But then something unforeseen occurred. My girlfriend, with whom I had now been for three years, was offered a position as a home-school Montessori teacher by a family living near Santander, Spain, with a great salary and paid apartment. When she told the family that we’d been planning to study that following year, they offered to compensate by offering me a job as an English teacher for the children’s mother and their grandmother. We accepted, and moved to the beautiful region of Cantabria, Spain, nestled in between the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the dramatic backdrop of Picos de Europa National Park, a mountain range that runs along Spain’s northern coast. It was an unbelievably beautiful place to live – every day as we drove past our town, San Vicente de la Barquera, we literally couldn’t believe that we lived there. With time I also built up a list of clients living nearby who were looking for weekly or bi-weekly English lessons. I also took advantage of the spare time I had to begin writing a book I’d been planning for some time, putting together a little more than two hundred pages. The book set me back on my literary track, and allowed me to explore the inter-disciplinary approach to literature that I mentioned earlier. To put it briefly, it blends literature, politics, sociology and comparative religion in an attempt to define where the world stands in terms of a socio-political and spiritual context, attempting to come to an understanding of where we might be headed in the coming years in relation to ancient prophecies like the Hindu Vedic scriptures, the Mayan notion of “2012” and the Book of Revelation.
During the spring of 2010, then, I applied to University College Cork in Ireland for a one-year Master’s program in literature within the admittedly broad field of “Modernities,” and was accepted. My girlfriend was accepted to the same school for an undergraduate degree in Drama and Theatre studies. We moved to Cork in September, moving into a wonderful apartment ten minutes outside the city center with a view on a small park. Thus far, the year at Cork has been going very well, and my course has allowed me to rediscover the relevance of my preferred area of study. For my thesis I have decided to explore the relationship between the occult and modernism, moving from Nietzsche and Marx through the occult revival of the late 19th century and the counter-cultural revolution of the sixties to our current global “crisis.” Among the problems I will attempt to address are the nature of the current crisis and its significance in terms of the Masonic/ Alchemical “Great Work,” a socialistic utopian project that has been in the work for centuries and may, I speculate, be on the verge of completion. Where I will go from there, professionally speaking, remains to be seen. To be safe, though, I have decided to go to London at the end of January to a job fair organized by Search Associates, a website which places teachers in international schools around the world, hoping to make connections that will allow me to pursue a career in teaching for some time before potentially returning to school to obtain a P.H.D. Such an option would, after all, allow me the freedom to write within my area of interest and be taken seriously, publishing my work in scholarly journals and pioneering what has only recently become a subject of academic interest.