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March 27, 2005

A Bio

Someone whose name I forget told me something I'll always remember: You never know what effect your writing is going to have on someone. She told me this face to face after having read what I had been writing on the net for several years. I was shy at the moment and didn't know how to respond. In fact, I don't recall her face either. It is for this reason that I find myself in the uncomfortable position of describing myself.

I have been invited to guest blog at the Agonist, and it is only proper that upon reaching untold hundreds of new readers that I should introduce myself. I know exactly who I am, but I never know how my own self-description will effect others. And so the task is fraught with stochastic possibilities and I have no idea which tack will bear the most weight of your attention as I pick events to scribble about. That should give me some courage, after all it was I who said, in 1996: "Sooner or later, I must deal with the possibility that I am an individual, and as such should say something entirely ideosyncratic." Before I start this version you should know about these:

  • NYU Interview
  • A Casual Career Narrative
  • Interview With The Boohab
  • Cute Baby Pictures

    I am also the founder of the Conservative Brotherhood as well as Vision Circle

  • Here goes:

    Michael David Cobb Bowen, born in 1961 in Oceanside CA is the father of three and husband of Cynthia Dexter of Detroit, MI. His primary profession is a Data Architect and he has been recently hired by nationwide software & business management consulting firm. He specializes in business intelligence, data warehousing and financial reporting. Mr. Bowen studied Computer Science at Cal State and USC and founded a number of small consulting businesses. During his college career, he was twice elected National Finance Officer for the National Society of Black Engineers and was Chapter Secretary & founding line of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He was thrice nominated and thrice declined Outstanding Young Man of America. He served on the Associated Students Senate Finance Committee and as Student Advisor to the Minority Engineering Program.

    The more I go back into my past, the more recognizable the honors become. By the third OYM nomination I tired of them all. I was one of those Young Gifted and Black pseudo prodigies from a Catholic prep school who got dressed up as the role monkey. I both fell off the fast track and jumped, but I was never prepared for the anonymity of the world.

    Having been purposefully well-rounded in the best of English old boy traditions, or whatever the liberal Jesuit ethic could be called in relatively upper crust Los Angeles, I was a decidedly 'B' student as well as a Varsity diver, president of the Computer Club and captain of my winning intramural soccer team. I sang in Gospel Choir and was a camp counselor and LA County Jr. Lifeguard. I took honors chemistry, and was Confirmed into the Episcopal Church.

    I rode my tenspeed bike to school for 7:30 physics class, oldest of five children and son of civil servants. I played street football, slapboxed, play suicide and other ghetto games. I built dirt bikes and did street luge before it had a name. I walked the ghetto streets at night with nunchucks. I cursed out white people on public transportation sometimes in sign language. I tagged the neighborhoods around USC. I was a Teamster and I had a shoulder length jheri curl that flew in the breeze as I rode 100 mph down Jefferson Boulevard towards Marina del Rey on my tricked out Suzuki. I played Bootsy Collins on my cello. I snuck into Marlborough School. I kissed a girl named Marci on the tennis courts at Westlake before it merged with Harvard. I was the first kid in line on the cover of Look Magazine when they profiled Ron Karenga back in the days when shit burned down. I smoked joints with the Dog Town Stoners and barbecued stolen ribs at Jesse Owens Park.

    I am a conservative renegade. I am a progressive Old Schooler. I write into the ether and I lease my house because I never had a mentor. Nobody ever knew what to do with me. So I have been fortunate enough, within the bounds of my ability, to be my own man.

    I started writing in order to preserve my sanity and make sense of the non-digital world. I enjoy T. Boyle and Robert Ludlum, Don DeLillo and Umberto Eco. Robert Bly, Toni Morrison. Somebody once told me that I might become the Ralph Ellison of my generation. I've always been a writer, a spinner of worlds, a spitter of ideas. I exist in thrall of creation. I am philosophical to a fault - those damned Jesuits. I have learned to be excruciatingly honest, and I owe that to Martin Amis and Will Self. There was a point in time in my life when all I wanted to be was perceptive and articulate. It's a scary enough combination, especially for someone who doesn't lie very well.

    The web has enabled me, after the poetry stage, to take my diaries public. I have striven to understand and question my country and my place in it and I have lived long enough to be considered wise, or at least 'father' and I have discovered a great deal. Everything is a project to me. Poorly funded, to be sure, but enthusiastically engaged with a clear head.

    I happened upon a quote and I think it was Voltaire or perhaps Moliere who said that having studied the sciences he was finding truths so universal that they made sense in terms of the arts and letters. Or maybe it was Moliere who studied the arts and letters first. It doesn't matter either way does it? For myself I suppose like Mishima, I am seeking the unity of pen and sword. Fortunately, the computer has been both pen and sword for me, enough at least to make a decent living in America, la vida sin corazon.

    And now you get a taste of how it's difficult for me to write a bio. I have a fondness for gardens with forking paths, for recursion and for parallel universes, for clarity in chaos and for the tao in everything and for finding a comfortable place in it, doubting and then convinced like Thomas at every turn. For what? For an anthropologist to decipher 200 years hence in trying to understand what black pride unleashed at the end of the 20th Century America when skinny black boys became men with the culmination of history to date at their disposal, and some attention in the mainstream for a brief time.

    But I've got to get up at 5:30 in the morning and drive to San Diego and repair some DTS jobs and write some Perl scripts. So I hope you'll understand if I cut you off for the moment until I return and we continue our quest. You seeing the world through my eyes and logic and language for a moment of your spare time.

    If you are crazy enough to try, go check out the sidebar of my blog Cobb and find out more. If you're truly insane, search your favorite topics, chances are I've spouted off about it. Otherwise just check out the comics, Sean-Paul says I've missed my calling. He's probably right.

    And Joe Frank and James Baldwin and John Brown and George Clinton and Sandro Chia and Adrian Piper and Franz Liszt and Eugene O'Neill and Medgar Evers and Charlie Parker and Matthew Henson and Dick Feyman and Stanley Clarke.

    Posted by mbowen at March 27, 2005 09:32 PM

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