Monthly Archives: June 2009

How Was It for You? Terrible! And for You?

I keep saying I have vanquished Reeducation but it is never quite true. Now, however, I think I have it by the gonads. (I hope to drive up my hit count by saying gonad.) If a degree and practicum were optional, if all that were absolutely required were to pass an exam, I would study for, take, and pass the licensing exam for clinical psychologist (remember I am already a Dr.). Why? Because I am the most competent!

Assiduous readers may have inferred that after Reeducation, I sought advice from other Reeducators as to how I might return to normalcy. Some of them had some interesting things to say, but most said Reeducation was right. This drove me to despair. The useful comment I got during this time was that Reeducation had had a very negative countertransference to me — had seen in me, projected into me, everything it feared and hated and wanted vanquished. Nobody, however, asked what I transferred onto Reeducation. I have at last deduced that this was the key question. It has taken me fifteen years to understand that, but then I am not educated or licensed in the field, and I have consulted several people who were.

So there, Reeducation, it’s sock it to you time. Anyway, what I transferred onto Reeducation was my first education, in addition to a few things about my infamous first academic job. That is not to say that Reeducation did not also do all the things I have already said it did. But it does explain how it is that Reeducation held me so in its thrall.

*

I realized this because I was thinking about how I am still reticent to do the things that make the day pleasant — because Reeducation thought I was doing too well and in insufficient pain for a person with the background it was convinced I had. Only if I could get into worse shape would I improve (because then I would “feel”). And if I were unwilling to do that, it would only mean that I had even more shadows in my soul than Reeducation believed. (Remember, Reeducation already believed I was a victim of infantile sexual abuse and was hoping for bipolarity, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and multiple personality disorder, which it wanted to heal by hypnotizing me and getting me to reveal repressed memories.)

I was willing to do myself some harm if it meant I could be saved from really heavy drugs, hospitalization, permanent disability, and all the other things Reeducation had intimated I might need once we started this cure (to which in the end I never agreed). I drew the line not only at hypnosis but also at some other activities I consider major harm, including self mutilation and weight gain. Minor harm like learning to smoke, renouncing my research program, getting turned down for tenure, giving up excursions to the mountains and seas, not working out regularly, and undergoing regular sleep deprivation, all of that I was willing to do if it would absolve me of the accusations being made and save me from the remedies being threatened.

I was thinking today, as I got ready to go do some pleasant things, who besides Reeducation was jealous of your having a nice day under your own steam? And I realized: my first education.

Suddenly everything became easy. I have resisted my first education before and I know exactly how to do it. Reeducation made that a lot harder but if I just leave it to the side for a moment — I have it by the neck and gonad anyway — and consider that it is only my first education I must resist, at least for now, then life is easy, and I can run and jump.

That is how I know I transferred my first education onto Reeducation; that is why I am surprised nobody I consulted ever suggested I investigate this question; that is why I deserve a license in clinical psychology much more than many who hold these.

Axé.

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On Handling Emotional Bullies: Open Thread

Much popular advice on handling emotional bullies is misguided, among other ways in that it replicates the bullying by placing the burden on victims and making them doubt themselves. That, I suspect, is partly because our culture sanctions bullying, and partly because it is really hard to understand if one is not familiar with it — and sometimes, even if it is.

We will therefore have an open thread on fallacies about how to handle bullying, and the truths that correspond to these.

ADDENDUM AND BASIC. 0. They are in terrible pain. With love and support they will become the wonderful people they really are. WRONG. See my earlier post On Pity.

1. Just draw a better boundary with that person. You do not have to exile them from your life completely. WRONG. Yes, you DO. The cited advice is only applicable if you are a minor, are incarcerated, or have to work with that person. It does not apply to bullies who are optional in your life. Bullies want to disrespect your boundaries, that is what they live for. You have no obligation to negotiate or bargain with them, even when they have some positive characteristics and someone else thinks you should be friends. It is not you who have “weak boundaries,” it is they who are perpetrators!

ADDENDUM ON WORKING WITH THEM: Work to rule, even if normally you would collaborate more freely or converse more informally. This is difficult for me in the case of AAPs (Abusive Assistant Professors) because (a) I understand that it is very hard to be an AP here and I am sorry for them, and (b) if I hired them, I like them and value their work. It would be normal to reach out and help them get oriented. But because they are abusive, I don’t. That is the workplace equivalent of exiling someone from your life.

2. Tell them exactly what behavior it is that offends you, and politely ask them to stop. Use the “I” language for this: do not blame them for your feelings, but ask them to stop. WRONG. This advice only applies in workplace settings, where you must document that you have attempted to address the problem. Otherwise all you are doing is giving them information on what upsets you, which they can use — either to escalate the abuse, or to redefine your request so narrowly that they can continue the behavior while claiming to have stopped. And about the “I” language — hang it up. Everyone knows it is just a flipped around, passive aggressive version of the “you” language. Furthermore, it allows abusers to reiterate that it is you who are sensitive, not they who are out of line.

3. It is your problem. You attract this behavior because people intuit that you have had it visited upon you before. Nay — you even seek it out. Therefore concentrate on that first instance, “take responsibility” for it, and realize you do not have to feel the pain others dish out. HIGHLY INADEQUATE, WHEN NOT OUTRIGHT WRONG. Bullies bully everyone. You do not attract it, you just do not know how to stop it or escape it as quickly as you might. You may have even been trained not to recognize it. This does not mean it is your fault. And the possibility that people can learn to deflect the pain of verbal abuse by, for instance, not taking the source too seriously, does not mean bullies are within their rights to carry on.

What else?

Axé.

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For St. George’s Day: Friedrich Nietzche

From the Geneaology of Morals:

The “well-born” simply felt themselves the “happy”; they did not have to manufacture their happiness artificially through looking at their enemies, or in cases to talk and lie themselves into happiness (as is the custom with all resentful men); and similarly, complete men as they were, exuberant with strength, and consequently necessarily energetic, they were too wise to dissociate happiness from action—activity becomes in their minds necessarily counted as happiness . . . —all in sharp contrast to the “happiness” of the weak and the oppressed, with their festering venom and malignity, among whom happiness appears essentially as a narcotic, a deadening, a quietude, a peace, a “Sabbath,” an enervation of the mind and relaxation of the limbs,—in short, a purely passive phenomenon.


W
hile the aristocratic man lived in confidence and openness with himself . . . , the resentful man, on the other hand, is neither sincere nor naive nor honest and candid with himself. His soul squints ; his mind loves hidden crannies, tortuous paths and back-doors, everything secret appeals to him as his world, his safety, his balm; he is past master in silence, in not forgetting, in waiting, in provisional self-depreciation and self-abasement.


A
race of such resentful men will of necessity eventually prove more prudent than any aristocratic race, it will honour prudence on quite a distinct scale, as, in fact, a paramount condition of existence, while prudence among aristocratic men is apt to be tinged with a delicate flavour of luxury and refinement; so among them it plays nothing like so integral a part as that complete certainty of function of the governing unconscious instincts, or as indeed a certain lack of prudence, such as a vehement and valiant charge, whether against danger or the enemy, or as those ecstatic bursts of rage, love, reverence, gratitude, by which at all times noble souls have recognised each other.


W
hen the resentment of the aristocratic man manifests itself, it fulfils and exhausts itself in an immediate reaction, and consequently instills no venom: on the other hand, it never manifests itself it all in countless instances, when in the case of he feeble and weak it would be inevitable. An inability to take seriously for any length of time their enemies, their disasters, their misdeeds—that is the sign of the full strong natures who possess a superfluity of moulding plastic force, that heals completely and produces forgetfulness: a good example of this in the modern world is Mirabeau, who had no memory for any insults and meannesses which were practised on him, and who was only incapable of forgiving because he forgot.


S
uch a man indeed shakes off with a shrug many a worm which would have buried itself in another; it is only in characters like these that we see the possibility (supposing, of course, that there is such a possibility in the world) of the real “love of one’s enemies.” What respect for his enemies is found, in truth, in an aristocratic man—and such a reverence is already a bridge to love! He insists on having his enemy to himself as his distinction. He tolerates no other enemy but a man in whose character there is nothing to despise and much to honour!


O
n the other hand, imagine the “enemy” as the resentful man conceives him—and it is here exactly that we see his work, his creativeness; he has conceived “the evil enemy,” the “evil one,” and indeed that is the root idea from which he now evolves as a contrasting and corresponding figure a “good one,” himself—his very self!

As you can see, Reeducation called me a “snob” because it found me to be an aristocrat in this Nietzchean sense. The “feeling” it found lacking in me was Nietzche’s festering venom and malignity, and the weak happiness it wanted to instill was a narcotic, a deadening, a quietude, a peace, a “Sabbath,” an enervation of the mind and relaxation of the limbs. We are talking about ressentiment.

My strike is over, but I do not promise to publish regularly until late August.

Axé.

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Work Song

I am paid, so my strike is resolved! All my links are now legitimate! Although I may not post daily the rest of this summer, and although I am working and behind and not feeling entirely jubilant, it is the weekend, so we will sing!

On YouTube, this song links to many other fascinating, historic songs. I am posting this one in particular (a) because it is the most interesting music video I have bookmarked; (b) because I know someone who did time at Huntsville/Ellis much later than this, and the uniforms were the same; (c) because guards at Angola ride horses like this, too; and (d) because I just finished some reading on mid twentieth century Klan activity in the Mississippi county where my relatives had their longest lived branch plantation.

Family papers indicate that this plantation was intact and producing in the 1880s. I do not yet know when it was finally broken up, or what happened to the former workers. At the courthouse I have seen indenture papers dating from the twentieth century. And the past may look past in some ways, but it is not dead. In fact, it’s not even past. It is still important to walk and talk with your mind stayed on freedom.

Axé.

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Grand Village

Negotiations have taken a positive turn and I may go off strike soon. If I do I will still reserve the right not to post daily until after Labor Day, since I have ended up posting a great deal while on strike.

Today I am located at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians because, as you know, I am Mayan. Sometimes I just have to get away from all these white people, so I am visiting my cousins. We have limited connectivity here on the mounds, but there is guest commentary from one Mr. S.

Mr. S. is grateful that I took him from the animal shelter, but frustrated that I am not learning the habits of his species as quickly as I might. I have not yet begun to hunt in his style, for instance, despite his showing me how. I should also spend more time in the garden and do more outdoor work. I should have more parties, so he could socialize more often with more people, and more children, so he could be carried around all day. Finally, he wants me to set up one of my tents on the lawn and sleep outdoors on all but the hottest and coldest nights.

Mr. S. has taken notes on some of my random thoughts. They are as follows.

Should YOU want to be a professor? All blogs discuss this question incessantly. The problem is that it is often a moot question by the time you are close to being one or are one. One’s friends rationalize it in increasingly hair splitting terms. It is alleged one can do nothing else, or that one is “so good at it” one should make just one more sacrifice to stay. It is all well and fine, so long as you do not give up certain very basic expectations, to wit:

1) Abusive work environments are not acceptable.
2) Work environments with nothing to offer in your field but teaching may be acceptable but may resemble community college or high school teaching jobs in your discipline more than they do professor jobs at the universities you went to. Be aware of this and look before you leap.
3) Work environments such as those described in (2) are expensive. You will need to travel more, buy more books, and make more photocopies. Be aware of this and plan.

Mysticisms. We have been talking for months now about possible healing devices for our various ills. Mayan, I believe in all kinds of magic. I had part of Reeducation removed by a proto-shaman and another part with acupuncture. I also beckon myself back to real life with a Marty Balin song. The idea of return is important and valid in my view, and all of the characters in my unfinished novel MADRID se mueren por volver [click on both of those links if you speak Spanish, you will die laughing].

My point, however, is that no amount of returning is enough, none will take root,  unless one learns a few facts, such that it is not actually a good idea to relinquish power, and that certain behaviors really are unacceptable — and that they can be identified, and they have names. These points are fundamental and they are what Reeducation was structured to silence.

Axé.

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Gone Fishing. Honk If You See Da Whiteman.

White vignettes from different eras.

I – In An Office

Phone: Ring! Ring!

[PZ expects the IT man and answers, but it is the Blackguard.]

Blackguard: I want you to do this. I will support you and vote for it but I want you to do it. I want you to do it because you can get it done and I want it done. I support you in everything. I want this new program instituted within two years or I am [drumroll] going on the market! And after accepting the offer I will get, I will write all the newspapers and professional organizations denouncing the university for not having done this! So get it done! Do it because it will benefit you, too! I appreciate and admire you! I support you in everything!

II: Shopping For Reeducators, Back Then

Reeducator: What is B’s opinion on event A?

PZ: You know, I am not quite sure. We have not discussed it directly in at least a decade. I remember hir reaction at the time and hir comments to me a few years later. I know from more recent remarks that event A still matters to hir, and I could speculate about why. But I am not entirely sure of hir current perspective on these things, or whether what ze shared with me years ago was all ze thought then.

Reeducator (triumphant): You see! You do not know hir opinion! That means you have no empathy with hir!

PZ (frowning): Excuse me? I do not follow your reasoning here. Does having empathy imply complete familiarity with someone’s views? Perhaps we are too reserved where I come from. I would not presume to speak for B on this, especially without knowing hir as well as I do some of the other people involved in A.

Reeducator (receding): Oh, well, don’t worry about that then, forget I said it, let me ask a different question.

Axé.

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Strike Resource for St. John’s Day: Adorno and the Authoritarian Personality

I am still on strike, but it is St. John’s Day, one of the best days. This post was written over a month ago and thus predates some recently published revelations. It is anachronistic in that way. The reading, however, has permanent relevance, as it is an academic article on Adorno.

Adorno’s concept of the authoritarian personality can be easily Googled, although I am not doing it because I am on strike. Key in the theory, however, is the idea that there are attitudes surrounding authority common to both liberal democracy and fascism.

Both here and on Facebook I have spoken at some length about Reeducation and the Christian world view, which is a specific construction of the universe and the self whether it is made explicitly religious or not.

It is also worth considering Reeducation in relation to the authoritarian personality. It is as though Reeducands were expected to have this personality structure and to wish to BE the authority, and the purpose of Reeducation were to teach them to SUBMIT to authority.

In this way, Reeducation was intended merely to shift peoples’ positions in a small spectrum. It billed itself as revolutionary and life changing because its expected subjects were in fact very stubborn, very rigid, very authoritarian people. That was why they were constantly being told to relinquish their illusions of power and submit to other powers.

They really were little authoritarians, and they really were frustrating themselves because they did not have dictatorial powers, and they really would be happier relinquishing the desire to dictate. That is all well and fine. The problem is that they/we were also were not actually being shown broader vistas of life, but rather pushed to shift authority — within the same authoritarian world view — from ourselves to someone else.

That was also why exhortations on how any change is always good were so often repeated (yes — like pancreatic cancer, there’s a change for you, I said sarcastically — a comment which was not understood, but which I made because I really did not understand why we were expected to relinquish all discernment).

And that was why I did not understand what was meant by “change” — because I am all about change, and was accused of “taking risks” (moving across the country to a new job, things like this) and of being “bossy” by not agreeing that ALL change was always good.

They, meanwhile, kept saying change was good but they really meant changing their hair and giving away their personal power — the power they held appropriately as well as any delusions of inappropriate power — to someone else.

Axé.

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