There was something I heard from an unexpected quarter about nation and state as separate things, or things working separately, and that I would like to reencounter. I saw a film of an anti-MOOC symposium in which a literature professor talked about the large, live lecture as a way to model close reading and to do such reading collectively. A theatre professor talked about the large lecture as theatre and the benefits of this. A psychoanalyst talked about presence, the live presence of the professor, as important, and about the pedagogical exchange as an event over which neither teacher nor student has full control.
There was a dream I had, where my mother was sleeping on the floor in my room, as all the dead women before her in our line have long done from time to time. There is the fact I was also married in that dream, to someone I would not have thought of for this and who is also long dead and many states away. I was surprised but not displeased, I remember, thinking “Well, if we did this there must have been a good reason.” I was not surprised or disturbed that my mother was sleeping on the floor.
For psychoanalysis, there is my perception that I lack self-respect much more than most people. And that I live in this state of submerged terror all the time, some people in power will come to harm me, or some further block will be put in the way of career development (which means autonomy, liberation, freedom) and that I will be too crushed to fight back.
For academia, I have realized that we were exceptionally organized and focused as undergraduates and later, graduate students. I think the reason academic advice is as it is is that it is directed to a large group of people who really did go through school without getting all the skills and focus we did, even though they became more “professionalized” than we did in certain ways. It also came to me that the presupposition in the “take a job, any job” dictum is that the candidate is a man and he will be bringing an only partly employed wife to the said job, and that she will humanize the place for him.
Mostly though, I would like to call attention to academia as an unsafe space. Not college or graduate school, in my memory, but professordom. You have to live in dangerous parts of the country, and in dangerous neighborhoods — that first of all. More serious is to work with people who have destruction uppermost in their minds and first in their hearts. Every day the question is what the legislature will do to destroy your institution, what your university will do to impede the development of your career, and how they will work to convince you it is all your fault. The feeling of precarity and instability always.