Dayne Sherman

Myths professors live by. Read, then act.




Filed under Movement

8 responses to “Dayne Sherman

  1. “What was always good for me, still is, is to hang out with functional people doing functional things even if they are more “privileged” than I.”

    Or “less privileged,” even. The key word is “functional.”

    This is what I’m trying to do. I may recognize that at times I oppress myself or am complicit with others’ oppression of me, but the answer for that (if internal) is to stop doing it and cease to give attention to oppressing voices; the more attention they get, the more distracting they become, unless one just goes through it for so long that she gets bored with the whole thing. If external, then the answer is resistance, whether public or private, and I think that private passive resistance (ignore the administration and do your work) can be appropriate in some circumstances, mine for instance. If you spend too much time among people like the ones you were talking about chez moi, you can forget how to be functional, if you ever knew, but I think everyone needs to reach these realizations on their own. Or do I just think that because I have so internalized American ideologies of individualism? Things are mixed at my shop, so I talk to the people who make me feel good (most able, most myself) and try to limit exposure to the others, and to apply antidotes if I take in any poison. Functioning things need to be tended: regular maintenance done, cleaning, oiling, replacing filters, etc., otherwise they start to clank and grind. And so I am going to leave and go swimming.

    • Z

      My attitude is, if you are not willing to get active about it — take political action, get a shrink, or make a passive resistance plan, all of these are ways of getting active — then you don’t deserve to take up my time complaining. Too many people in that writing group doing their best to lose. It reminded me of last days with my ex — I had committed to stick it out, not break up with him until a certain bureaucratic issue in his life was resolved, so I would wade in each week and deal with the floundering person, try to model adult behavior, then wade gingerly out and try to get the gris-gris off.

      “I think everyone needs to reach these realizations on their own.” Yes, I think that is American individualism speaking. I favor spreading all trade secrets and all revolutionary messages far and wide. Especially the trade secrets.

      • Oh, the trade secrets, of course—but do people understand that they need them and how to use them if they don’t reach that understanding for themselves? One can tell people “the power is yours” till you’re blue in the face, but they still have to grasp that and own it themselves.

    • Z

      Side question: Did you use to swim at Hearst? If so: wasn’t it great swimming by those faux Greek statues, with that view of the hills?

      (Do you remember the sun deck and the rumor that it was being watched with binoculars from the upper floors of Barrows? Swim swim — I will write an exam and then maybe I will swim as well.)

  2. Z

    “Scent of eucalyptus mixing with chlorine in the early morning fog.”

    Oh, yes. And this week I am obsessed with the idea of hiking to Drake’s Bay. Starting off in fog and having the sun break through redwoods coming over one of those last rises before you hit the ocean. Looking out through the last mist and imagining Asia on the other side.

    My parents went to MLK but it was called Garfield then. My grandmother, she of the Pratt Institute, apparently taught art there before moving on to better jobs.

    • It was Garfield for my brothers.
      And even then I was so near-sighted I wouldn’t have seen the Greek statues when my glasses were off for swimming. Swimming experiences for me are scented, tactile, and kinesthetic.

  3. Z

    “do people understand that they need them and how to use them”

    Perhaps not. I was always on the lookout for them and appreciated it when people shared them. But perhaps Jonathan’s point from another thread, at his place, on whether or not one can get a dull graduate student to develop real insight by structuring assignments well enough, applies here. It is possible that not everyone deserves the trade secrets, and it is also possible that much of the bad and misguided advice is based on misunderstandings of trade secrets.

    My great achievement for this AY has been to care for someone thrown out unfairly at 4th year review. He made a couple of strategic errors but his main sin was being competent and thus showing people up. Now he has another TT job and two fellowships and even more publications so everything is fine but my real achievement was sleuthing to find out whether grieving or appealing would be worth it, and knocking it into his head that (a) this really was happening, it was unfair but it was real, (b) the strategic errors really should not be repeated in any case, and (c) that despite paying attention to (b), he should not in any way internalize anything else that was said. It was a major mentoring job but this is person with a good record, i.e. a person it could work on. Not everyone is like this so maybe there is a reason the trade secrets are inevitably secret — even if not hidden, they are not comprehensible to all.

    So I guess, both: the secrets should be published, people should not be expected to find them all on their own, but not everyone can be expected to understand them.

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