Monthly Archives: December 2007

Barbara Lee

Observe OneVoicePAC. It is excellent.

Then in that spirit support the people of New Orleans.

Then read Momo on the triumph of the corporate university and feel your blood run cold.

Axé.

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Filed under Movement, What Is A Scholar?

More Outsourcing

From 02138:

Because, in any number of academic offices at Harvard, the relationship between “author” and researcher(s) is a distinctly gray area. A young economics professor hires seven researchers, none yet in graduate school, several of them pulling 70-hour work-weeks; historians farm out their research to teams of graduate students, who prepare meticulously written memos that are closely assimilated into the finished work; law school professors “write” books that acknowledge dozens of research assistants without specifying their contributions. These days, it is practically the norm for tenured professors to have research and writing squads working on their publications, quietly employed at stages of co-authorship ranging from the non-controversial (photocopying) to more authorial labor, such as significant research on topics central to the final work, to what can only be called ghostwriting.

Read the whole article, it is very important. Then consider my story,

I once had to write a full professor at a good institution to say that the piece he had contributed to my collection was in very poor shape, in terms of content development as well as grammar and other more mechanical issues, and that I was rescinding my invitation to participate in the volume unless he could get me something more nearly publishable. He responded, apologizing on behalf of his assistant who had inadvertently sent one of her early drafts of his article. He said this without batting an eye.

At the time I thought it was gender discrimination, combined with an utter lack of integrity. It was one of the events which contributed to my extreme loss of respect for professors. I did not realize at first that this person was only following the custom. When I did discover that, it only made things worse.

Axé.

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Robert Jay Lifton

Here is a small excerpt from one chapter of a book by Robert Jay Lifton.

The language of the totalist environment is characterized by the thought-terminating cliché. The most far-reaching and complex of human problems are compressed into brief, highly reductive, definitive-sounding phrases, easily memorized and easily expressed. These become the start and finish of any ideological analysis. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, for instance, the phrase “bourgeois mentality” is used to encompass and critically dismiss ordinarily troublesome concerns like the quest for individual expression, the exploration of alternative ideas, and the search for perspective and balance in political judgments.

[I]n addition to their function as interpretive shortcuts, these cliches become what Richard Weaver has called “ultimate terms”: either “god terms,” representative of ultimate good; or “devil terms,” representative of ultimate evil. In [Chinese Communist] thought reform, “progress,” “progressive,” “liberation,” “proletarian standpoints” and “the dialectic of history” fall into the former category; “capitalist,” “imperialist,” “exploiting classes,” and “bourgeois” (mentality, liberalism, morality, superstition, greed) of course fall into the latter.

Totalist language then, is repetitiously centered on all-encompassing jargon, prematurely abstract, highly categorical, relentlessly judging, and to anyone but its most devoted advocate, deadly dull: in Lionel Trilling’s phrase, “the language of nonthought.”

If you read the whole chapter you get a very good idea of why I call Reeducation that. People keep trying to explain Reeducation theory to me. They say it is not what I think it is. Slogans, for instance, they say are helpful and freeing. Yes, I suppose so, if one wishes to be freed from thought.

I could of course qualify this, as I well understand why people attend some forms of Reeducation. Nevertheless, for purposes of the wider world I do insist that my point stands.

Axé.

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Amazing

You may not be able to tell because I wrote my posts ahead of time, but I am in California. I have been here for several days and I will be here for several more days. What I have to say on this location is: 1. It is its own country, entirely different from anywhere else. 2. It is prosperous. Very. I say this with full awareness of Californian non-prosperity. No matter how you cut it this place is prosperous.

Axé.

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In Which I Am Ginger

I scored 100% intoxication, 75% hotness, 50% complexity, and 50% craziness!

“You are Ginger! You’re sweet and spicy. You’ve got an exotic flair, sexy even. People sometimes use you for interesting purposes. Once you let your guard down, you’re quite juicy and very good for people. Some claim that you’re medicinal. Break me off a piece of that!”

Which Spice Are You?

Axé.

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Cibeles

My favorite ancient deity is the Anatolian creator goddess Kybele. She is also said to have been the spouse of the Titan Chronos and progenitress of the Olympian gods. Her celebrants are the Korybantes. Her crown has the form of a wall, and she is accompanied by lions. Here is Kybele in her fountain in Madrid, which is also my favorite statue:

Cibeles

Who is your favorite ancient deity?

Axé.

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Leni Reifenstahl

Today’s featured post, on the caste system in India, is by Ridwan. I recommend it and its fascinating videos. I have also seen, out of professional “deformation” as we say, the film of Love in the Time of Cholera. I do not recommend it. It is weak and I feel somewhat polluted by it. I much prefer Volver, which I have seen at last.

Films and other so called cultural events about which I am less sure include I’m Not There, which I recently attended as an activity supporting my permanent Dylanmania. I found it thin, but perhaps I am missing something. I did not like Pan’s Labyrinth when I saw it, but my students explained to me why it was good and they were quite convincing. Have you seen this and if so, what did you think?

II

I was also carried out to the bayous recently, where I saw and disliked a show of the Blue Man Group. The was very self-consciously meta-meta and post-post, so it has to qualify as hip. The Blue Man is not an individual – one can audition to perform as one of many Blue Men, purchasing, as it were, a franchise on stardom.

I realize one is supposed to appreciate this group and its officially wise commentary on modern life. But my first thought when the show began was, is this some kind of Fascist art? Thence the bow to Madame Leni in the title of this post and my question: have you seen the performers and if so, what do you think of their show?

I have one small idea to start the ball rolling: the show of the Blue Man Group is a meta-rock concert with no star, or wherein everyone can potentially aspire to participate in a franchise of stardom. It offers pseudo-subversive commentary on the commercialization of rock. It is a “family oriented” show whereas rock and roll is famously opposed to the establishment.

So this show does not only offer, as it states openly, a meta- or I would say faux rock concert experience. It also offers a faux experience of social commentary and critique. These are my rough ideas so far.

Axé.

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On the Right to Opine

I

Here is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Please read it very closely. Note that it says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. It does not mean that opinions cannot be discussed or contested, nor that I must give grade A to every unsubstantiated opinion and poorly reasoned argument. Neither does it mean that my criticism of your writing strategies and skills is mere “opinion” and only as good as yours.

II

Speaking of matters Constitutional, I have a question. As we know, Benjamin Franklin said before the Assembly of Pennsylvania to the Governor of that colony on 11 November 1755: They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security. My question is, what do you think Americans mean – especially now that the Constitution has been gutted – when they say it is important to defend “our freedom?”

I am thinking that it may mean a) the rights of corporations to act unfettered; b) the right to abuse and encroach upon others; c) the right to a general feeling of entitlement; and/or d) the right to struggle against others for survival at a base and basic level. But what do you think?

Note: this question is inspired in comments thread on this post.

Axé.

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Trilce XIX

I am closing in on final grades for my very last class. The music for this is by Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other stars. For it we thank the Azgoddess. You should really click on the link.

Being nearly finished with grades is so inspiring, I can almost recite a Christmas poem:

A trastear, Hélpide dulce, escampas,
cómo quedamos de tan quedarnos.

Hoy vienes apenas me he levantado.
El establo está divinamente meado
y excrementido por la vaca inocente
y el inocente asno y el gallo inocente.

Penetra en la maría ecuménica.
Oh sangabriel, haz que conciba el alma,
el sin luz amor, el sin cielo,
lo más piedra, lo más nada,
hasta la ilusión monarca.

Quemaremos todas las naves!
Quemaremos la última esencia!

Mas si se ha de sufrir de mito a mito,
y a hablarme llegas masticando hielo,
mastiquemos brasas,
ya no hay dónde bajar,
ya no hay dónde subir.

Se ha puesto el gallo incierto, hombre.

After pressing “submit” on the grades and then perhaps running triumphantly four times around the park, waving pennants, I will read about Trilce XIX in the archives of Clayton Eshleman, Sonia Luz, and Stephen Hart. I will consider an article called Translating Vallejo: Three Poems. The grading gris-gris will dissipate and I will finally feel rested.

Axé.

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Et encore…

As the assiduous reader will know, a great deal of my intellectual, emotional and creative energy is spent on two  activities: irrigating a desert and understanding what follows here.

Notes

1. Abused people are under the illusion that if they learn to obey more perfectly, accept abnegation more completely, the pain will stop.

1.1. If you find yourself reacting that way to the world, you come from an abusive background.

1.2. This emphasis on obedience – obedience to the point of self-annihilation – as a way to stave off violence from someone else is very problematic. “Annihilate yourself so someone else does not do it, or so that you can secretly save a part of yourself.”

2. If you find yourself trying and trying to convince or cajole a person or people into treating you with a modicum of respect, you are in an abusive situation.

2.1. If this is happening you probably also feel sorry or somehow responsible for this person. You may therefore feel you have no right to assert yourself or to leave. If you feel trapped in this way your situation may well be abusive.

2.2. Once again, remember that if you are unilaterally trying to improve a situation, or trying to improve yourself in hopes that it will improve, or if you find yourself begging someone not to mistreat you, your situation is definitely abusive.

3. The first act of an abuser is to disable you emotionally, so you are tied to them and and ultimately, to their view of the world and of you.

3.1. They then work to destabilize you further, and to convince you that you are organically unstable and they are supporting you.

3.2. If they mistreat you and you object, they say you have attacked them.

3.3. Your objection to their behavior is proof of your craziness. It is common for abusers to say, “I just can’t understand her, she is so irrational.”

3.4. Since it cannot be the abuser’s behavior which is destructive, you have to find its cause elsewhere. Your abuser will do his best to shift responsibility to your job, your friends and family, and ultimately to you.

Summary

First the abuser disables you emotionally you so you feel you need them or at least their approval. Or at least their non-disapproval. Or at least for them not to say that you by your very being are hurting them. This is fundamental because it brings you into their orbit.

Next they convince you that it is not their behavior which is making your life difficult. Third, they convince you that the inkling you still harbor that it is them is a sign of your insanity and your need for their help. Fourth, they convince you that your remaining shreds of judgment and independence are abusive to them. These steps are key because they reshape you to mimic the abuser, so that you learn to be your own abuser.

Fieldwork

After that training it is still so very difficult not to engage in self-doubt and self-abuse. In Reeducation belief in self and in one’s power to do things were to be rooted out. Extreme self-criticism was instituted. Many days I scream silently at myself and do not realize that is what I am doing. I forget completely that there are other ways to speak to oneself.

On other days I do what I can so as to be as uncomfortable as possible physically without leaving marks or doing permanent harm – just like a United States torturer! I do realize that is what I am doing. In Reeducation I learned that if I could show I was undergoing minor physical torture I could be spared more severe mental torture. I have not yet shaken the habit.

The correct path is of course not to begin with self-destruction, but with kindness; not to affirm helplessness and hopelessness, but capability. I have always found that if I believe in myself, set and trust my own standards, and reduce pressure and guilt, I do well.

Nevertheless I have often received advice to the effect that I “ought to” have less trust in myself, “ought to” feel greater levels of fear, and so on, for reasons I never understood. I have tried to take such advice into consideration, thinking people might be addressing a blind spot in me. This has always been destructive.

Problem

“Set your own standards and believe in yourself.” Oddly I think my poorer students have been told this. So they set eccentric and idiosyncratic standards and believe in their own aggressiveness, but not their capabilities.

Axé.

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