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 Benjamin: I 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.