Fugue states

Time time time: to some extent it is true, one is as harried as one wants to be. My overwhelmed friend teaches community college, 15 hours of class a week, 3 courses 5 days a week, plus meetings, office hours, planning, grading, and the exhaustion of working in a turbulent institution. That is of course plenty to do but many do more and are less harried. Harriedness is an identity.

Psychic realities: my other friend’s husband wants to know, why two of our colleagues seem to be in constant states of panic. It is fear for their own survival, she said; they are running across a broad, deep lake on a narrow bridge that may collapse at any minute. Why? asked her husband; they have tenure. It is their psychic reality, I said; it does not have to do with the job.

Hattie, on Medea BenjaminI admire her; some people don’t, feeling that she should be humbler, kinder and more polite, a demand often made of women who disturb the smooth running of the machine and upset the complacent. She is courageous and strong in her convictions. I suppose Ann Coulter would be the ersatz version of this.

If people were happy as they say, would they be so upset that Rebecca Schuman has spoken of suffering?

The differences between me and the unemployed/the adjuncts are that I never expected to get an academic job, so I would not have felt betrayed not getting one, and that I would never have adjuncted (was always warned one should not do it). That means I got much better advising than they did. I understand their pain, though, because later on I got the same pressure to keep on trying when from a rational point of view the situation was not viable. If I did not keep on trying, their world would fall apart, people said. The effort around Schuman seems similar. People must, must find ways to show she was undeserving, or at least that she is indecorous.

It is convenient to decide she requires tutelage, but the reason she went into that fugue state is precisely that people keep repeating instructions and saying they should work. When they do not, it is assumed it is the fault of the student. It is never that the instructions in fact do not fit, or are incomplete. When the givers of instructions refuse to recognize that there is any blank space in their own discourse, and continue to insist that anything that goes wrong is due to the student not having understood, it creates a kind of cognitive dissonance that really does drive people into fugue states.


Thomas has an interesting post.




Filed under Banes, Bibliography, Da Whiteman, News, Questions, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

7 responses to “Fugue states

  1. Z

    Note: some ideas on this:

    25 May 2013 at 19:50
    So, what do you think the nerve *is*? What they say they are upset with, they can’t be. Is it that they do not want to admit that they, too, were harmed on the tenure track? Are they spooked by the spectre of “failure” and doing their best to make it disappear?

    pan kisses kafka
    25 May 2013 at 20:04
    I think every single academic on earth has Impostor Syndrome, so that has a lot to do with it. And I think people who made it to the TT also want very much to believe luck had nothing to do with it. And I think everyone on the TT lives in constant fear. Even if they don’t realize it.

  2. I’ve been thinking a little more about this, even while trying not to think about it, as I am really trying to move past academia, or at least the version of it into which I socialized myself. I do think they it is so interesting that the natural response to my critiques, which have been systemic, are this vitriolic personal attack, which completely ignores the systemic reality. Now that I’m even a few months outside academia, this tendency seems just hilarious rather than anything else. I think in the end, the anger in response to my critique of academic socialization is an excellent demonstration of academic socialization at work. My favorite of the comments to which you are preferring is the one that demanded I leave a love letter to the profession and nothing else. I worked that gem into an essay I was commissioned to write for How to Leave academia. The funniest thing about all of this, though, is that I’m currently on the short list for a very nice position at a small liberal arts college where I used to adjunct. They *do not have tenure at all*, and the are no research allowances or expectations, and I don’t know whether its coincidental or a result, but they are a nurturing, caring, fun and human group of people who hire from their adjunct pool besides. It’s the kind of position met with open ridicule from people like those asshats on the CHE website, but I will be thrilled if I get it, because I get to do all the things I love: work with students, and write the things I want to write, only when I want to write them. At any rate, you’re my favorite. Your blog is spectacular and your solidarity always brings a tear.

    • Z

      Bennington? Evergreen? How exciting at any rate!

      Thanks, Rebecca!

      I think a lot of people who are successful do not get the chance to see systemic reality. There are experiences you don’t have and things you do not observe if you get a good job, then make tenure, etc. Some of these fulls are like babes in the woods when you get down to it.

      Why it is so important to leave the love letter to the profession, though, I really don’t know, it is so strange.

      • Tiny honors college in the city where I already live! 500 students! I’ve adjuncted there in the past and I loved the students and faculty. I only applied to this position because I was encouraged to by my spouse, who works at the same institution. If I do end up staying in the hallowed halls in this way, it’ll be very funny. If I don’t get this job, then I will really truly detach from academe and just take on more consulting clients and pitch more freelance work. I was really happy with how my second Slate article came out–it had a much smaller audience because it was on a very innocuous topic. Thanks again for your continued insights. They are extraordinarily piercing and elucidatory.

  3. PS excuse typos. iPad!!!

    • Z

      *Cool* re job and also Slate article! Piercing and elucidatory — thanks!!! (That is interesting — I think it is why I am not always well received, piercing light…)

  4. Z

    And — so this http://pankisseskafka.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/why-are-adjuncts-only-fit-for-the-glue-factory/ … really is a core problem in academia. Of course one always knew — at least, I was always told this was the situation and that was why one should never adjunct, leave the profession before adjuncting because it was not a career and would not lead to one. But the problem is that nobody had the time or took the time to address the issue and the logic behind it, or the issues that thinking about this might have led to.

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