Category Archives: Resources

Academic advice

Here is one of my favorite pieces on the Ronell case, and here is the other. Both writers are far better deconstructors and are tackling a far more difficult topic than are Ronell and Butler chatting on a line from Aretha Franklin. On her scholarship, I like this piece by Martin Jay.

The MLA wrote us a letter saying they had accepted Judith Butler’s apology for the letter she wrote, and were committed to justice for all. I responded:

Dear Professor Gere,

It was disappointing that so many colleagues signed that unseemly letter – I would have expected better judgment from them. As people who have been in the profession as long as Butler and her friends have should know, such letters tend to be detrimental and not helpful to people under investigation. I do also note the professional harm its circulation will have done the student. I regret that people this indiscreet have so much power in the MLA now.

Yours,
[P Z Realname]
[Membership Number]

As we know, I don’t like the words procrastination and avoidance, I like the word strike, and I don’t think anyone who has managed to get a degree is a procrastinator or an avoider. Still, after a few traumatic experiences on the tenure track I froze in fear. We are told to be cautious. I still fear that if I allow myself to get lost in the work, and to truly do the best I can in it, I will be forced to a death more painful than any torture I have suffered heretofore. I try to move ahead without really jumping in. In obedient attempts to avoid “perfectionism” I try to rush, skipping steps, and then accuse myself of “procrastination” when I trip and fall because of the step I did not build. We must take advice, but only standard advice, and not our own.

I have, however, finally found a piece of writing on procrastination that I like, because it speaks to fear, because it speaks to the issue of loss of voice.

Procrastination is a form of resistance to the flow of life. When we procrastinate, we are in resistance to our own flow, in other words in resistance to the call of our soul, to the energy of the Universe.

The piece is about living, not about producing, and about love, not self-control. It’s not from a refereed journal, just from someone’s website, and I find it quite interesting.

Axé.

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Mais

I read about all these professors and how happy they are, how independent and financially secure and creative, and I think:

    • I should be happy and productive, and it is only my lack of strength that prevents it
    • They are happy in places even sadder than here; I should be too
    • I am lazy and not working hard enough
    • What is it in my history that caused me to remain so impaired?
    • What would I like to do with my life?
    • What would I have done with my life had I not been so beaten down from the beginning?
    • How can I right this ship?

and so on, and feel practically too weak to get up. Then it occurred to me to say instead “We are working a demanding job in difficult circumstances. We got here through life’s vicissitudes, and we have certain pleasures and certain power,” and I felt much better.

Before Reeducation I did not scrutinize my life for imperfection and I lived a much more perfect life therefore.

Axé.

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Things to read

J. E. Pacheco, Morirás lejos.

On James Mill, progressive versus traditional education, and charter schools.

The other Foucault — what led him to politics?

Crackeros, novelists I should read.

I want to read but first I need to calm down. I don’t feel calm in small towns. I’d also like to live somewhere with bookstores, and other signs of intellectual life. On the weekends, I’d like to go out in nature. It wouldn’t be humid, and there would be mountains.

Axé.

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Resist

It is not what they do to you, it is what they can get you to do to yourself, is an important point for those of us who are dealing with misogyny or any kind of discrimination, really.

Another thing to remember is that although we are constantly told that most people can never admit they are in the wrong and that the sign of moral progress is to do so, even when you are in fact the wronged party, people lose respect for you when you apologize and you should consider not doing it. Do they? When they have in fact committed major crimes? They do not.

What I would like, though, for 2018 is to have more authority over the students, and therefore be in a position to be kinder to them or at least feel less wounded by them. In the old world, this authority existed in the structure of programs but now it does not. You have to be very, very solid in the bubble that is your courses, your world, and leave things at that.

I am on it.

Axé.

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Rien n’est fini

But it seems that my father is going to die. Here is something his accountant suggested as a mantra.

In purest outpoured light, shimmers the godhead of the world… (it begins)

this is a verse Rudolf Steiner wrote, so the godhead is many gods that have dwindled or died

and live in the (ether-spiritual-other world, world of nature)

Your dad has a shimmer in his eye that, somehow there is a reflection of the other world space

it is quite peaceful and accepting

Axé.

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On abusers and enablers in academic culture

This is an important article and should be read. “You would be hard-pressed to find a mental-health professional, a productivity expert, or a writing coach who would suggest that — rather than recognizing people’s talent and rewarding their hard work — the way to get good results out of people is by making them feel inadequate or confused,” is one of its key sentences.

My current weapon against anxiety is to give myself time, not try to rush. I am amazed how easy it is to start work when I know that starting does not have to mean rushing. This, for me, is the true procrastination-buster.

The other general weapon is to keep saying my work is good enough and that I am not crazy. The linked article talks about the impact of gas-lighting, and the importance of not deciding, in that situation, that the problem actually is you.

Holding onto these weapons, keeping them at hand and within view, is a constant struggle.

Axé.

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About that bookkeeper

It is a bookkeeper for my aged father. The lawyer thinks he should have one as it is difficult to act financially for someone or help them with finances from out of state, you need to be present. I know this from experience, and can give details. I have qualms about the idea of my brother or myself trying to take over and was completely convinced by the lawyer that this is a good idea.

Everyone in the legal and financial professions I have asked about this also says this lawyer is right. The reason I understand this is that I have over the past four years helped my parents with some financial operations. I have learned how very important it is to be physically present, for legal reasons, when you are acting for someone else. I also understand how complicated it would be to set us up so as to be able to work legally from a distance.

My brother thinks the bookkeeper is too expensive but she is just over half the cost of the ones in San Francisco and here, and she does not have to put in many hours. My father can in fact afford her. It is arguably one of the most important services he could be paying for in terms of avoiding costly and scary screw-ups, and peace of mind for all of us. I would also be a lot more comfortable having a professional with full professional qualifications doing this, and someone outside the family.

In addition, the $100 per hour can be deducted as the cost of taxes and/or as a cost of Dad’s medical condition. And it will only amount to about $200 per month. To be stingy about this is to be penny wise and pound foolish. It is true that for the amount to be spent on the accountant my brother could fly in every three months or so ($300 flight, $300 lodging) but wouldn’t it be nice to spend that visit doing something other than banking? After all, there will be other things Dad needs–help shopping for clothes and other items, encouragement and support in health events. If we do not have to manage finances, we will have more time and energy to help with these things and also, just to have fun with Dad.

What would in fact be expensive is if Dad were ever declared incompetent and assigned a curator, or if a bank officer were hired to manage his affairs. The point of having the bookkeeper is to avoid both situations. The bookkeeper is not taking over, but merely helping, so Dad retains control of his affairs and my brother and I are both aware of what is happening and able to ask questions.

The bookkeeper would put accounts in QuickBooks so that we could all see them online, and would help us learn to use Quickbooks ourselves. I would like to suggest we at least go ahead for a trial period to see how much it would actually cost once the sustem is up and running with a bookkeeper. She will be able to provide an estimate and cost out both the set-up and maintenance.

Axé.

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