“Prof” Writes

“Prof” is short for the old professor, Hannah’s New Hampshire-tethered spouse, as well as the title of an experimental ’70s movie in which said professor played the central character. In the event, the current issue, also university-focused, revolves around a 75 year old community swimming pool, constructed by the Works Progress Administration, which the designated stewards at the University of New Hampshire aim to abandon in favor of letting the banksters and coupon clippers finance the erection of a more significant stream of revenue. FUNHOP (Friends of the UNH Outdoor Pool) stands for the community that’s determined to derail that scheme, much as the Onassis Oil Refinery got derailed in the ’70s.

“Prof” writes:

Dear Hannah:

Went to bed last night with “Inalienable Possessions” as my bedtime reading, my middle of the night reading, and my with-coffee reading. It deals mainly with the concept of what the subtitle calls “The Paradox of Keeping-While-Giving” among some traditional island cultures in the Pacific.

The very first sentence in the preface touches on an issue important to you: “This book is an experiment in a new kind of ethnographic interpretation regarding those critical and perennial problems centered on the norm of reciprocity, the incest taboo, and women’s roles in reproduction.” I refer, of course, to reciprocity. As for women’s roles in reproduction, it deals with the significance of matrilineal succession and with ritual items controlled by women.

Annette B. Weiner, the professor who wrote the book after decades of field work in the islands, died of cancer not long after it was published in 1992.

I began reading this book in connection with preserving the outdoor pool as is. Here is, for me, the challenge faced by FUNHOP: “Not always attainable, keeping some things transcendent and out of circulation in the face of all the pressures to give them to others is a burden, a responsibility, and at best, a skillful achievement.” We of FUNHOP have made keeping the historic outdoor pool our burden and responsibility. Now we must find the skill to achieve that result.

Bitterly cold this morning. Will not get above the twenties with a wind chill well below zero. A good day to write and spend time in the UNH library and get ready for several meetings on Wednesday as well as a FUNHOP emergency strategy session at Kenny’s tomorrow night.