Category Archives: Banes

Education and Reeducation

In shorthand.

Important to note for this week is how I was taught that normalcy was a façade. In reality we were barely tolerated: we hadn’t been wanted, we were not liked, and it was wished that we would go away. Our successes were events carefully arranged for our amusement by our parents, and if they were not there behind the curtain, creating an illusion or paying others to do so, the truth would be revealed to us. We would see that we were incompetent, and we would also be shunned, as we were not desirable or pleasant.

I remember feeling in graduate school that because my great-aunt had left us college money — such that my parents did not have to pay for college and I did not have to work during the academic year or take out loans — my B. A. was fraudulent, and my presence in a Ph.D. program was fraudulent as well.

Axé.

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Henry Giroux Today

Having a bad day today. Maybe the hangover from being denied tenure by the right-wing stooge John Silber, the then president of Boston University, in 1981 still stings. Since those dark days, I have always had some hope in the university, recognizing that it was an important site of struggle and filled with contradictions. I am losing that hope. I consistently meet administrators who are not only unimaginative but cowardly and incapable of supporting programs whose value cannot be reduced to cost-efficiency metrics. These people do not just lack a vision, they constitute a kind of academic walking dead, albeit with the ever present smile on their faces–a kind of sickening embrace of civility. They are truly incapable of providing support and resources for faculty fighting for economic and political justice, faculty who take risks, join hands with those colleagues who have been reduced to Wal-mart workers, and act in solidarity with students who refuse to be reduced to customers. Where are the administrators from the ranks of the humanities and liberal arts? In too many instances we have dead-beat administrators drawn from the empirically based disciplines who do not have a clue as to what scholarship is about and increasingly reward the most unfit people with university awards, academic positions, and committee assignments–all the while making clear that qualified people should not apply. Rigorous and courageous scholarship has now gone the way of typewriter. Faculty are rewarded for committee work, grants, and a general attitude that can only be viewed as supine. Even worse, these individuals organize themselves in clicks exercising power that represents the worse form of cronyism. They barely publish, have no international reputations, and feed on gossip and innuendo, reproducing themselves in hires who mimic their own idiocy. I am sure there are exceptions in North America, but dark side of neoliberalism has just about killed the university as a democratic public sphere. All that is left is the detritus, filled with losers and dead beat careerists.

Axé.

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On anxiety

I have it and should pay more serious attention to it. I need shiatsu massage and reasonable control of my schedule and space, regardless of the chaos other people may have in their lives. I am not talking about control over others or rigid defensiveness. I am talking about not being imposed upon, and about having as many rights as others.

I think very regular, serious treatment of the situation, and respect for it, are in order. (Back home, of course, I would never have doubted these things, and would never have allowed, or had to allow the situation to get this bad.)

I am incarcerated in a house, under the control of an irrational person who has legal power over me. I must care for them and do as they say. I must take on a very large professional project that is not the one I want. I am unable to do this under coercion, but not allowed to do anything else.

That is the ur-feeling of it. Bodily I have experienced taquicardia without heart problems, digestive issues, muscle tension and most notably, freezing of the brain. I’ve also seen spots, without having a vision problem. The two most subtle, but clearest indicators of anxiety are:

1/ becoming irritated or feeling defeated over something that can actually be managed with assertiveness;
2/ losing focus, as if one had lost interest or were too tired; inefficiency as a result of this.

People don’t realize I have anxiety because I am still a calm person and still so rational. In addition, I don’t have anxiety without a cause–it is always about being imposed upon, and the imposition is always real. Therefore, focusing on symptoms rather than cause, which the anxiety experts want one to do, only increases the feeling of imposition, incarceration, inattention to the obvious, and manipulation.

It is since November, Thanksgiving evening to be exact, that things have been this way and I have not had the time/space to reflect upon the situation. Had this period also started earlier? What about October, with study abroad? What about September, with the roof? What about the issues with the leaking door and floor? When did I last have any calm time to myself?

I would like less Internet of all types. More reading, in books and journals, not on screens and printouts. In-person work in libraries. Writing, on tables of the right height, looking outdoors in sunlight. Walking, in free air with views.

I should always sleep, and exercise, and drink water, and insist that my space be mine and be a calm space. More deeply, I should believe that my thoughts are valid thoughts. I should believe that I have a right to my life, and that my assessment of things is valid.

Axé.

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The sacrifice zone

Nowhere is the abuse as frightening as in Louisiana—with the exception, perhaps, of its neighbor to the east (“Thank God for Mississippi!” is the unofficial state motto). Louisiana is the second-poorest state and second-to-last in human development, which is a measure of individual freedom. The state’s rate of fatal cancers is about 30 percent higher than the national average. For all its antifederalism, Louisiana is fourth in accepting government welfare, with 44 percent of its budget coming from Washington. (Many of Hochschild’s Tea Party friends are beneficiaries of federal welfare programs.) Louisiana has the highest rate of death by gunfire (nearly double the national average), the highest rate of incarceration, and is the fifth-least-educated, reflecting the fact that it spends the fifth-least on education. It is sixth in the nation in generating hazardous waste, and third in importing it, since it makes a side business out of storing other states’ trash.

Louisiana’s governor is among the most powerful chief executives in the nation, a legacy that dates back to Huey Long’s administration, and under Governor Bobby Jindal’s dictatorship, between 2008 and 2016, the state’s prospects declined with unprecedented severity. After he reduced corporate income taxes and expanded the exemptions granted to oil and gas companies, the state’s revenue tumbled roughly $3 billion. He transferred $1.6 billion from public schools and hospitals to oil companies in the form of new tax incentives, under the theory that the presence of oil and a robust petrochemical infrastructure were not incentives enough. (The Louisiana Legislature is not only soaked with oil and gas lobbyists—during a recent session there were seventy for 144 legislators—but many lawmakers themselves hold industry jobs while serving in office.) Jindal fired 30,000 state employees, furloughed many others, cut education funding by nearly half, and sold off as many state-owned parking lots, farms, and hospitals as he could.

Despite these punishing cuts, he managed over the course of his administration to turn a $900 million budget surplus into a $1.6 billion deficit. National agencies downgraded the state’s credit rating. The damage was so great that it helped to bring about one of the most unlikely election results in recent American history. Jindal’s successor is John Bel Edwards, a Democrat—the only one to hold statewide office. Edwards is vehemently pro-life and agnostic about climate change, but he is determined to hold the oil and gas industry responsible for funding their share of coastal restoration. He currently enjoys a 62.5 percent approval rating. Almost a year into his first term, however, despite several emergency measures, the state remains in arrears.

The book has key information, even if I am not convinced the author does not exoticize our people somewhat. And I LOVE the term “sacrifice zone,” it is SO apt.

Axé.

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Things learned from surfing

Stupid motivational tricks published some spiritual exercises from which I learned that the fear and fretting que me aquejan desde la Reeducación simply must be put aside.

Meanwhile, I got hooked on a truly trashy tv series of the kind set in European courts. I like these as palace politics resemble politics at work.

In this one, I learned from Nostradamus that you really can decide not to let the “darkness” live in you; also, the young royals keep on saying they want to decide what kind of kings they want to be (rather do things as they “should” be done or as I would put it, follow academic advice).

I also learned from political discussions that I am a threat as long as I do not have power. (It causes me trouble that I am seen as a threat.) I have to take power, rise. This doesn’t mean take over, but it does mean define oneself, perhaps. But I must take and use power.

Axé.

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Lemmas

A colleague said:

It is not a university, it is A PLANTATION.
It is not a department, it is SOMEONE’S PSYCHIC SCENARIO.
Therefore, DO NOT HOPE FOR RATIONALITY.

Axé.

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In which I am outspoken in ways that I do not even realize

Person: I do not want children. I feel guilty about this as it is my responsibility to have them.
Z: Studies show that every U.S. child born is highly detrimental to the environment no matter how green their lifestyle. There is no reason to feel guilty about not having them.
Person brightens.
Bystander (to Person):
 How can you look happy when you were just told something so mean?

Axé. 

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