Thursday, May 18, 2023

Chicanonautica: Education, La Raza, and Me

by Ernest Hogan

I’m getting ready to teach my Papí Sci-Fi’s Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom online at Palabra del Pueblo Writing Workshop. Guao, it still sounds weird. Me, a teacher. How the hell did that happen? 

My usual joke is to say that me and school never got along so good. Back in the Sixties the education system didn’t know what to do with a dyslexic Chicano with a dangerously over-active imagination. I just wasn’t good at the trained monkey act that gets mistaken for intelligence, and I couldn't seem to do anything right but daydream .  .  .

I’m not complaining. It’s been a wild ride, and where I ended up is pretty damn interesting. My out-of-control mutant monster imagination has been good for me, even if I had some serious struggles in my early years.

Somehow I keep ending up at odds with society and education—and by that I mean organized education. Y’know, like organized religion. I’m all for education, it's just that I tend to clash with the social constructions that evolved around it.

It’s something I keep writing about.

At one time I was so frustrated I almost threw my high school diploma into the trash. The only time I was asked about it was when I applied for some classes at a community college. Now that I  talk—some would say “lecture”—at colleges nobody even mentions any degrees I might have.

And in the last couple of decades, academia charged in and saved my career.

So I’ve become a teacher of sorts, an undocumented one, of course.

I have no explanation for it. It’s like a fable of Ancient Chicano Sci-Fi Wisdom.

I’m a firm believer in self-education. I also believe that it never stops. Diplomas and graduations are social niceties, excuses for photo ops, parties, and glomming gifts. Have fun, get what you can, but the learning never stops—unless you’re a total loser.

I’ve long wanted to write a book called Steal This Education (referencing Abbie Hoffman), but the ways to acquire information—and knowledge—keeps changing. Any manual would be obsolete before it could be published, which is the point. You have to be constantly learning, or else you’ll be left behind.

It’s so pinche sci-fi. Gotta love it.

I can’t really tell anybody how to do it. I can babble about how I’ve done it. Maybe it will help.

So I try to make it fun.

Life is a series of learning experiences. Make it an adventure.

It’s the freaking story of my life. I’m always writing it. Sometimes I sell and publish it. It’s a bad habit I’ve got, and there seems to be no cure. I sure hope not.

Class dismissed. Now go out and get into some interesting trouble.

Meanwhile, I’m putting on my Papí Sci-Fi mask and costume, and going out to cause some interesting trouble.

Freeze frame. Mad scientist chortle. Fade out. 

Ernest Hogan shouldn’t be taken too seriously, after all he’s a cartoonist, sci-fi writer, and a Chicano.

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