Monthly Archives: April 2008

Al grano (On my article which says actual “procrastination” may be far less prevalent than it is rumored to be)

I am revising my paper on “procrastination” which has been accepted by a non-refereed journal after being rejected by one competitive refereed one and one non-competitive refereed one. I think it is a good paper but apparently it is hard to understand and not obedient enough. The non-refereed journal thought the same thing but I must make it less scholarly. Therefore I need two pieces: one which is less scholarly, for the non-refereed journal, and another which is still more scholarly than my current text, for refereed journals – because research went into this piece and I want some research credit for it. What the paper does not (yet) say, but is trying to get at, is this:

When I “procrastinate,” or when I have “procrastinated,” it has been because the space of work has been transformed into a space of pain – not because work is challenging but because my workplace is a place of abuse or, in the case of Reeducation, because my work was being used as a way to abuse me. This is why no amount of advice on time management or on the reduction of perfectionism ever worked.

This supercilious and condescending advice was in itself a further distortion of the situation since I am in fact and have always been very good on the use of time and on not having to be perfect. In fact, on this last point, I would actually like to take the luxury of perfectionism some time – to take the time to research and then explain fully the questions which really interest me.

On these topics Servetus writes, in a post I am addicted to, about another post I am also addicted to:

“I will not speak. I will not write. Because anything you say or write is only evidence of all the ways you are already wrong, were wrong from the very beginning. Once someone has said you are a failure, every time you fail you prove them right. And success is not success, it is contradiction. I do speak, I do write. But lately it is like death. It is like chewing off your paw to get it out of the steel trap. After you’ve been chewing desperately for a few years, you start to want to give up.”

Axé.

6 Comments

Filed under Banes, Resources, What Is A Scholar?

Still More Tenure

My complaint about being tenured is that it puts one in a position to be so exploited by the university. The new people, the instructors and the adjuncts must be protected, mentored, developed and maintained; the full professors and administrators have rights; the plain old tenured faculty has to serve them all.

I think part of the reason I am or believe myself to be so staunchly pro tenure, and can say I was not hurt by the tenure system itself despite having had, from what I can gather, a significantly rockier path in academia than have many of those who discuss the rockiness of their own paths, is that I never cared about tenure the way many people do.

There were people in my graduate program who were already discussing tenure jitters before they had even taken their comprehensive examinations. They were already watching all of their words and actions in case someone at our school, now, might end up voting on their tenure case somewhere else, later. I knew assistant professors who would not wear jeans to campus even on Saturdays, on the theory that it would cause them to be voted down for tenure. I knew other assistant professors who did not feel free to eat lunch with whom they liked. I was told in one of my own assistant professor jobs that to get tenure I must buy a certain kind of house.

I was never able to become that paranoid, compromise that far, or believe that by the magical act of never being seen in jeans I could conjure up a positive tenure vote from a person negatively disposed. I have always spoken my mind and never voted in a bloc. These actions have never caused me greater harm than being quiet would have done. So when people say tenure, or the tenure process per se “hurts people,” I also have to wonder to what extent they have through paranoia hurt themselves.

I also notice that the senior people who say these things tend to be (although they are not always) at really privileged schools and to have feelings of entitlement I do not really relate to or understand. And the junior people often do not know what the job description of a senior faculty member includes, or that they may have good reason to do and not do the things they do and not do.

It is my experience that mistreatment does not end with tenure. I have learned that if a you are an untenured person and you are being bullied by a tenured person, who is being enabled and protected by another tenured person, you can bet that that tenured person is bullying tenured people, too.

Also, before tenure universities have to be marginally professional because they know that shenanigans too obvious are actionable. If they deny tenure they also know that they must do it in a diplomatic way. But if they grant tenure, they can grant it in an abusive way, and they feel they can then start the real abuse against which you need the protection of tenure. In this scenario perhaps the Tenured Radical is right, in her way. I still think the answer is more tenure track jobs and more professional behavior.

I also still believe in early tenure – much earlier tenure – for as many people as possible. I still even favor tenure at hiring: if everyone were tenured then they would all be able to trade places more easily, nicht wahr? And job candidates now are so much more “professionalized” than they were only a few years ago. Now we interview people who, as T.A.’s, are teaching two upper division courses of their own design and publishing regularly. I am not entirely sure how much more practice time they need, or how much more they should be expected to prove.

But the other reason I believe in tenure is that I have swallowed the academic freedom argument, and the idea that the faculty, not the president or the CEO, was the university. I am not sure that I am living in the present, however, not sure I am not imagining we can conserve things which no longer exist, anyway.

Axé.

8 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, What Is A Scholar?

Why I Am For Obama…

…despite the similarities between his centrism and the Clintons’, despite everything, despite his saber rattling over Iran. Belacqua Jones writes:

“[I]t was during hubby BillHill’s administration that the coup de grace was administered to whatever integrity remained in our economic reporting system. As one critic explained it, ‘Unemployment was redefined to eliminate five million discouraged workers and to lower the unemployment rate; methodologies were changed to reduce poverty reporting, to reduce reported CPI inflation, to inflate reported GDP growth, among others.’

“Another technique for determining unemployment was to survey a sampling of 60,000 households. BillHill reduced this number by eliminating 10,000 inner city households from the survey. All of a sudden, there was a significant drop in Black unemployment[.]

“It all gets down to a question of what kind of president America wants. Do we want someone like HillBill who has years of expertise in creating virtual reality, or do we want someone like Obama who will get us all upset by telling us the truth?”

Read the whole post. Then consider this post on Sean Bell. Then call me self-hating for being white and female and not having voted for Hillary. Then remember that IRL I am often told by white people that I am not interested enough in them, because I am not exclusively interested in them. Then consider why despite “intersectionality” and my extreme opposition to patriarchy my first loyalty might not be to whiteness.

Axé.

16 Comments

Filed under Movement, News

Da Whiteman Whitens Whitely

Whitemen, as we know, are being discriminated against and “silenced.” They need to be saved by Martin Luther King and perhaps Gloria Steinem, who have explained to the masses what discrimination and silencing are. They also do not understand leadership. They confuse it with authority, which they understand only in its most vulgar form.

I

WM: Let’s go to Chile.

Z: Great idea. When and how shall we go?

WM: Right now, with the $500 we have.

Z: Well, the flight to Chile costs $1500. We’ll need to apply for external funding and that will take until next year. Alternatively, we can go to Mexico for $350. Or is there other money now that I am not aware of?

WM: There is no other money. I want to go to Chile, now, for $500.

Person A: I want to go to Chile, but I know it costs more than $500. Let’s apply for the external funding and go next year.

Person B: I want to go somewhere now, so let’s just go to Mexico. Or maybe Guatemala, hotels there are cheaper.

Z: Well, we could go to Mexico or Central America now, and also apply for external funding so as to go to Chile next year.

Persons A and B: Yes, yes! We will have fun! Let us start the paperwork now!

II

WM: You are undemocratic, Z! You have again imposed your views on everyone! Because you wanted to go to Mexico you have prevented us from going to Chile immediately!

Z: Chile is actually where I most want to go. Since you are also very interested in it and there is also some interest among the rest of the faculty, I would like to make sure we really get there.

WM: Your efforts are self-serving, then. You are forcing us to go to Chile, only because you want to!

Z: Now, now. I am not forcing us to go to Chile. I am only trying to make it possible, if that is what we really want. I would be happy to go to Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, or anywhere else the faculty decides it wants to go.

WM: [Starts to cry.] You are making me cry, Z! You are so mean! Why do you think you are so special? Why is it that you know the prices of flights, and are able to think ahead to external funding for next year?

Z: Special? What you are referring to are just normal skills, I know you have them as well.

WM: But it isn’t fair! And you could not possibly understand how difficult it is to be in my position!

Z: [Aside] Indeed, I do not know what it would be like to be as rechingado as you.

Axé.

9 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

The Hot Eight

It is the weekend, so we are singing. Today we rather incongruously practiced danzón behind the stage while waiting for the Hot 8. Resignation is not one the Hot 8′s strong points. I, however, have discovered that resignation, that machine to reproduce ideology and the social order, is all the rage. People call it “acceptance” (it was formerly known as “realism”). I have only raw data, of course, and I do not know how to crunch the numbers, but my study has two important implications.

One: there really is a class of people for whom Reeducation is designed. Such people have a problem they do not want to name and / or are afraid to solve. This group of people is larger than one might think and that is why Reeducators assume one only wishes to “manage” situations (while also clamoring incessantly, inanely, and superficially that “change is good”).

Two: when people try to talk me into remaining a professor, as they have been doing for almost twenty years, they assume that I am the type of person described above. At first they thought my dislike of academia was only disinterest in having a career and a desire to be supported by a man. “Would you rather be married and stuck in the house with little children?” they sneered. When after some time I did not do that they changed to the condescending and supercilious “There are problems with all jobs, you know!” (If I wrote a Greek play, the chorus would say these things.)

What I find fascinating is how they managed to speak to me, a person above thirty and then above forty, as though I were below ten. I would furrow my brow, not understanding their logic. Were they mentally impaired or otherwise incompetent? Could they make it through the day on their own? Should I help them? But this is the paradigm. People complain, but only out of weakness and irresponsibility, so they must be taught resignation. I find the belief in this paradigm quite strange, and the existence of people who actually fit it even stranger.

Axé.

7 Comments

Filed under Banes, Songs, Theories

Breaking Glass

When I was under the influence of Reeducation it seemed that research, teaching, and my real self had been placed in a glass case, where they were now static mementos I could not touch. I would look at them through the impregnable glass and try to break it with my head. I would turn my hand over and over and say, “They are no further away than the other side of my hand.” Why could I not get to them? Now that I have shed Reeducation they have broken through the glass themselves and are teeming in my flesh. My mind is remarkably clear, and it feels like the proverbial steel trap. I can jump hurdles and curl my spine like a cat.

*

That is how I feel some days. Other days I am as tired as I ever was. I used to wonder, how is it that, with a somewhat heavy but not utterly outrageous teaching load I can be so exhausted? The reason of course, as I always knew but which it is very helpful to articulate, is that the atmosphere in which I work is so abusive, and the workplace environment, so hostile. It is hostile not only to me, but to many, so that one must receive, witness, accept, or try to intervene in abuse for large parts of every day. Everyone is acting and reacting either like an abuser or an abuse victim and it is like being inside a Bosch painting. This is how I get so exhausted.

*

It is, however, the weekend, and although Friday is Oxalá’s day, I would like to sing now for Iansã Menina.

Ê parrei Oyá Iansã, ê parrei!

Axé.

25 Comments

Filed under News, Songs

Ashley Morris

Please remember Ashley Morris. That is Ashley Morris, of the late, great Ashley Morris blog which did so very much to get us through the storm.

Ashley might be on his way to Jazzfest tomorrow, but nous-autres allons à Lafayette to attend Festival International, a free festival not inside any gates, less touristy and and a great deal more indigenous. It will be the weekend, and we will sing:

Axé.

3 Comments

Filed under Movement, News

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: J. E. Rivera

Really I reread The Vortex for class, but it was a true pleasure. Now we will sing the first line: “Antes que me hubiera apasionado por mujer alguna, jugué mi corazón al azar y me lo ganó la Violencia.”

*

Familiarity begins at the airport where you identify your gate from far off because everyone has a cardboard box tied with rope, and is already dressed as they would dress at the destination. You leave at night and fly for hour upon hour, watching the map as you traverse almost half the globe.

The stamp in your passport is large and once you have it, you walk out to old fashioned smells of diesel fuel and leaded gasoline that give way as you ride out of town to earth and fresh cheese. People wear somber colors in one language and brightly embroidered clothes in another.

Although it is a primitive point of view I still think of flights south as going downwards, curving with the earth, entering a secret dimension as they pass the Equator, going home.

Axé.

6 Comments

Filed under Bibliography

¡Adentro!

Now the drums and charangos begin playing and someone shouts ¡adentro! just before the flutes come in with the melody. I am dreaming of summer on the altiplano and beginning to sing the huayno, “Mujer andina, te vengo a contar / mis penas y mis dolores.” I wrote some time ago:

“In this novel the characters suffer and express pain. Then the music rises and the mountains come into view. They characters feel exalted, and the world seems pure and beautiful. The deep rivers to which the title alludes represent and lead toward the non-Western, non-alienated world underlying the modern, colonized layer of reality. That is one explanation of the characters’ alternating states of dejection and joy. It is also the case that the narrator-hero is in a bad situation and yet keeps a purer self which comes alive and take wing in the moments it can. These moments are fleeting. They correspond to a deeper and truer reality but it is not the reality in which the character’s social being is allowed to live.”

After entering the thicket of Reeducation I became depressed and Reeducation said, of course, it was my true nature that I had only been hiding all these years. Reeducation said, furthermore, that my depression was “cyclical” – I would pull myself out of it and it would then flatten me again. I considered this.

Later my student explained that Arguedas’ novel was not about transculturation nearly as much as it was about emotional reactions to abuse. Just as the Ernesto character looks up to the sacred mountain peaks and inspires himself and feels purified, so did she lie in the sweet meadows of the Oregon Cascades thinking, ¡nadie es mi enemigo! ¡nadie!

And I realized that my “natural, cyclical” depression had disappeared when I escaped Reeducation. And saw it reappear when I began working at my current institution, which has a ‘reeducative’ style. And disappear when I began calling abuse, and abuses, by their name.

Before I learned to do that I was here like the Ernesto character in Deep Rivers – oppressed, dejected, and confused and/or embarrassed about it; making plans to improve matters or having an experience which momentarily elevated one; feeling elated at these moments (¡nadie es mi enemigo! ¡nadie!) and then finding myself pushed again beneath the waves.

It was very easy to believe I was permanently impaired. It was very difficult to see why the days were so difficult. Now without having changed a thing, without having won any victories, things are not this way any more because I no longer excuse people for their “frailties” when these are much more than just that.

Axé.

3 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Resources

On Defeating McCain

There is another primary tomorrow. I want a President who would do something about this:

The New York Times lectured Haiti on April 18 that “Haiti, its agriculture industry in shambles, needs to better feed itself.” Unfortunately, the article did not talk at all about one of the main causes of the shortages – the fact that the US and other international financial bodies destroyed Haitian rice farmers to create a major market for heavily subsidized rice from US farmers. This is not the only cause of hunger in Haiti and other poor countries, but it is a major force.

A friend is reading a book and sends this quotation:

From Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary: Reflections of Women Writers by Susan Morrison

Clinton’s career as a politician, rather than the wife of one, began more or less on July 7, 1999, when she announced she was forming a campaign to run for the US senate. She pronounced herself “very humble and more than a little surprised to be here.” “Why the Senate? Why New York? and “Why me?”. The same day she embarked on her famous “listening tour”.

It was hard to get a good view of Clinton, since most of the reporters from the risers were now crammed in one room, but every time she turned my way, it seemed, nodding emphatically, fairly radiating earnest concern. She was concerned about access to dental care and better markets for dairy products.

Half an hour into the ninety minute session, I counted three reporters fast asleep. I found the listening difficult to take, not just because it was sleep inducing. The truth of the campaign – already obvious at that early date – was that NY was just a vehicle for Clinton’s ambition.

The logic of the exercise was circular, or in its maddening topology, perhaps more like a Mobius strip. She argued that she was justified in running from a state that she had never lived in because what mattered was “where you stand not where you are from.” But when asked where she stood, she kept on insisting that she had come to New York to listen. “All I can say is, I care deeply about the issues that are important in this state that I’ve been learning about,” is how she put it, absurdly.

Now one could come up with similar things to say about Obama, and many more critical things to say about both. One can even come up with the ways in which both candidates are more closely aligned with McCain than a real opposition would be. Still at this point I think it would be advantageous to defeat McCain. I am not one of those who believes it has to get still worse before it gets better. To the contrary, I think that if it gets still worse, it could then get worse yet. We might as well do what we can to turn things around now.

Axé.

16 Comments

Filed under Movement, News