This article; the syllabi; the LASA2015 abstract; the grading; the parking permit.
In the fall: the other article.
It is strange no longer to collude in my own oppression but I appear to be achieving this. I will become stronger still.
The very worst aspect of working at our place is the way we are undermined by the administration and used to undermine each other. I will guard against this.
I do not think it is lack of interest, much though I have tried to claim over the past twenty years that it is. And true as it is that I have other interests that could be professional interests, interests I feel I could pursue with greater happiness and success because they are in fields less fraught for me and also more open to me. But once again, I do not think my academic problem is lack of interest.
It is, rather, the sensation of having been imprisoned and having the jailers use me work, which they have appropriated, to beat me with. One can defend against that perverse use of one’s work by saying one has lost interest in it. But this explanation is not satisfactory as it is inaccurate. More accurately, that work needs to be rescued from its glass case (they have used it as an instrument of torture but really it is the Sleeping Beauty).
And yes, one has the power. One forgets but one has it, and that is why this weblog was conceived of as insurgent: Sandinista, Zapatista, Freirista. And I see now more clearly than ever why I dislike academic advice. It not only assumes one does not know what one is doing or that one is not actually interested in what one is doing — it also ignores what is the heart of the matter for very many of us.
The issue is not not knowing what one is doing or not being interested in what one is doing or not being willing to sacrifice for what one has decided to do. It is having work stolen and competence seen as a liability. It is having been told repeatedly that one is not authorized to do this. It is not for you, you are not invited, you will never make it…
There is no amount of discipline or “time management” that will have its desired effect if you have been convinced you either are not competent or should not be, and that your work either is not yours or should not be. There are also no medications or rest cures to cure this problem. It has to be named and recognized to be countered. I oppose academic advice because it is so often deployed and also constructed to interdict such naming. It comes not to clarify but to cloud vision.
I resist and fear not the work itself but the officious advice that surrounds it. I do not need exhortations to rush or other warnings of the various sorts one gets. I need to remember that I am in fact authorized to do what I am doing, and to use my time doing it.
Sondé miroir, O Legba. We are all great sacrificers and penitents.
We — my only real colleague and I — have both decided, independently of one another, that we are no longer unhappy with Maringouin, our town, or even with Vichy State, our university. It is our main department that dogs us, by undermining our senses of self and professional expertise. I, meanwhile, have been talking to this post, which is really about another post.
As we know, I am against (most standard) academic advice for reasons the original poster (whom I have not read directly) articulates: either you are interested, and you know what you are doing, and you develop a method, or you are not and you do not. The manuals designed to convert non researchers into researchers are misguided, in their efforts to mechanically convert non research oriented people into productive machines. One needs to learn the secrets of any profession and tricks of every trade, yes, but that is a different matter.
I don’t agree that just wanting something is enough to give one the strength to surmount all obstacles. And my own worst problem is not lack of desire but the feeling that I do not deserve to do this work. There are historical reasons for that, which I have discussed before. My remedy now comes in the form of short sentences, designed to dissipate the complex knot of misguided thoughts that tells me I do not deserve this and I cannot do it because it is not mine to do.
I used to explain the mental fog that comes over me by saying I was not interested in the work. That is why I have detached from it, I would say. At these times it is really myself with whom I have lost touch. (I should write a crime drama about it, in which either I or my work have been kidnapped, or both, and we must be reconciled.)
Now when the fog comes over me, rather than ask whether I have the right work methods, or whether I am actually interested in what I am doing, I counter demons by saying: I am a person. I am right about curriculum (there is a context for that statement); I have professional expertise; I have good research insights; I would do well to fight on my own side rather than against myself; and most importantly, this work is mine.
…que la meva universitat és una sangonera incompetent.
I want to write another post about rushing, the evils of rushing.
So I am ready, and going en ville, and I am awake.
Maringouin feels tomblike and I feel apologetic about noticing this. So many desire it and cannot wait to get home. I, too, am grateful for it after visiting yet more desolate places but the fact remains that for me, arrival here is like opening a vein. Stay too long and you bleed out.
I must remember that I have given up on adjusting further and have committed to Occupying this space. Breathing life into it. Just outside these nostalgic and artificially preserved parishes life runs on in a lively stream.
It is not just the oppressiveness of the institution, it is that the micro-region looks backward, and is interested in the embalmed corpse of a culture rather than historical research or living life.
And this job reminds me of my first one in many ways and what shocked me about the first one was that it appeared that so many people not quite 30 years old were already trying to lie down in their graves.
I am clearly not suited to be an academic because a true intellectual is immune to their surroundings. They create their great works in a vacuum. They are ethereal beings, seraphs. This is not true.
Am I interested in what I am doing, or not? I needed this as a starter job. Raised with the idea that I would be incompetent for everything, including jobs like receptionist and shop girl, I chose something I definitely knew I could do. My idea was that if I could make tenure at a good place that would be proof I was viable for something else.
What I discovered: working at a good place would be very interesting, entirely satisfying, and at the same time I was either not interested enough, or else too interested, to work in the field at a low level. Further: I was satisfied sooner than I expected. When I saw I could make tenure at a medium place if I kept on going, I was finished. I had gotten what I had come for and was ready to move on, and had furthermore figured out exactly where that would be.
That is all it was et je ne l’ai pas fait but I will wrangle with what I have and see how to make it interesting. Perhaps after this long hiatus, doing this because it was an obligation, doing this because I had been defeated by those who told me it would hurt them too much if I left, I should start doing it for a reason other than:
Stage 1: it was an interesting thing I knew I could do, and also the only thing I knew I could do, so it was an experiment in living
Stage 2: it was something I had done and was obliged to continue doing in the name of the fallen and to care for those who (“it is the best profession in the world, and the only non-materialistic one”) might cry if anyone did anything else
Stage 3: whether I lost interest in this, or in myself, is one question; another is whether I actually lost interest or lost interest in doing this in the negative way I had been taught to do it. I know I lost interest, or withdrew, because I could not tolerate the cruelty of the people around me, but it is the first two questions which interest me now.
Now we are trying to Occupy every day, do things and enjoy them. My friend with a harder life, ostensibly, has an easier time with this as his goal is and always has been to teach foreign languages. That is what he likes.
I, on the other hand, am gripped with nostalgia. I would have liked literary research if I made enough to live on in a place that was not destructive to me, and true access to research materials. Without these things I would need to be doing something I really liked, not just something mildly interesting like literary research, to be able to begin the day without having to talk myself into it.
The Tulane Environmental Law Clinic is doing things here, and my first choice of a college major was Forestry … so as to later work in a venue like that environmental law clinic. Part of why I am attracted to this is that this is a job directly related to things happening here, to the community here, not someplace thousands of miles away that one is allowed to study and talk to, but in which one does not truly participate.
I will Occupy by going downtown. I will go to the Tulane library, formerly the library of United Fruit. Even there, I feel nostalgia.
It has come to my attention that if I were living in a state that paid into Social Security, and I continued to make what I am now, and I retired at age 67, I would draw about $2,000 per month in Social Security for life. Since Social Security taxes are not taken out of our checks here, we are expected to invest this money in retirement, but investing that amount has not increased my projected retirement income by anywhere near $2,000 per month.
That is another important reason not to work long term in Louisiana or other states that do not pay into Social Security. I have always known this in the abstract and have been on the job market as much as I have for this reason, but seeing that it really is a loss of nearly $2,000 per month, for life, is quite chilling.
This is what the academic advisors say, boiled down: (1) rush yourself, (2) sacrifice everything, and (3) conduct large amounts of conventional research that will affirm the status quo. This is the only way to evade execution.
It is that threatening atmosphere, prison and sacrifice, and the gag rule, do not publish research, but only quickly conceived repetitions of variations on conventional beliefs–that I did not like. The idea that to show virtue you must survive and also perpetuate extreme scarcity.
Here is a quotation about this, from a 2004 blog called “Don’t Ask Me” that has gone offline:
Advice is authoritarian. If you ask for it, you’ve asked for it. Top down organizations like corporations and universities like to help their new hirelings along, especially if they’re women or minorities. There are an array of new programs with disciplinary names to keep everyone in his/her place: retention and empowerment programs, mentorship programs, you give me your life and I’ll think about letting you keep your job programs.
Funny thing is, they never needed this kind of thing in the old boy club. I’ve seen how the old boys do it. A weaker man (publishes less, is less distinguished, maybe he is just a little bit incompetent) allies himself with a stronger one by showing him his jugular. Strong one doesn’t kill weak one. Weak one keeps job, weak one owes strong one job. Strong one uses weak one against others, and builds a network of weak ones who owe strong one everything.
Enter female into picture, enter two females into this picture. Weak ones cannot compete with strong one for female attention, weak one disappears (temporarily). One female is GOOD, other female BAD. Very BAD. One female more charming than other female. Other female shunted aside. Charming female good. Strong one like charming one. Charming one asks strong one for ADVICE. Strong one LIKE, strong one VERY VERY like. Strong one becomes charming one’s MENTOR. Not-so charming female too independent, no smile enough. She no NEED ADVICE??? Strong one spreads dislike of not so charming female. Weak one pipes in to agree with strong one.
THEN charming female gets other job offer. Strong one ANGRY, very ANGRY. Why she want to LEAVE US???? Charming one takes the other job. Not so charming one becomes GOOD female. She like us. She want to STAY with US!!! Weak one trashes charming female in person and behind her back. Weak one happy to please strong one. Strong one ANGRY, very ANGRY. Why women betray us? Why so ungrateful?
Strong one and Weak one male-male couple show how underlings should behave in Department or Unit — be submissive to Strong one. Agree with him, never leave and ye shall prosper like the lilies of the field.
Do you see? It is not just I who experience these problems. On the other hand I am Occupying, actively Occupying Maringouin. Vichy State is next.