Category Archives: Theories

Postscript on “positive psychology”

The discussion started on Facebook and continued here. My postscript is that this is the currently official psychology for the masses. (I am told it is elitist to say one does not have a lumpen-mind, and I know there are many professors and intellectuals who do have lumpen-minds, but I do not.)

In the 1990s one was exhorted to be depressed, recognize one’s depression, and so on, and I think this was because people could more easily afford that then and because drugs were being marketed. Now people cannot afford that and the drugs have been exposed as less than perfect.

We adults are to be “positive” and the students are to be “resilient.” I am not surprised, for instance, that the resiliency campaign was announced by Counseling and Testing at the same time as a sexual assault policy had to be created.

Connecting these two things, I infer that if it will now be possible for students to file and win on sexual assault, we need to be ready to insist they be “resilient.” And if they claim greater harm than we can repair, we can say they were not “resilient” enough or have not worked hard enough on their “resilience.”

That is just a hypothetical example. More broadly: now that decisions have been made which do make the future look grim — rising seas, drought — there is nothing left but to “be positive.”


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La méditation pour cette semaine

I woke up this morning very clearly aware of the reason I do not like to wake up: waking up means waking up to the university slapping me in the face and then putting me in a barrel of water and covering it, so that I will drown. I will then have to spend the rest of the day trying to get out of the barrel, which I will achieve sometime after dark. While I am in the barrel, the university will tell me how I must learn to sacrifice more. If I learn to sacrifice more, I will not be slapped around so much or put in barrels of water to drown.

Consider the opposite: is the answer that I must learn to sacrifice less?

I am so tired of this behavior and attitude of theirs, though, and I am so tired of hearing professors with good circumstances, well employed spouses, and so on, talk about how all problems are problems of “time management” or of “not knowing how to write” or of “not being serious.” And about how people in my class who left little teaching colleges saying they had not done the Ph.D. for this, were called arrogant, or considered traitors to the “profession.” It is the excoriating professors who are arrogant.

Remember that this week’s themes are conceding to power, rather, not conceding to it.

About practical life, I have said before that I am spread too thin and there is no way I have found so far to cut that down, in the circumstances I have. I do not fit in. I should be an enthusiast of second language teaching with one research interest.

But perhaps there is yet a way to time-manage the situation into submission.



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Ce matin

Kristeva has that famous title Desire in Language but what about joy in language? Arguedas referred to himself as a “demonio feliz” speaking in Quechua and Castilian. Vallejo is a similarly happy demon, surfing seas of metaphor, watching the dance of words. Logopoeia.

This is fun to say but one cannot say it without looking into some things — reviewing Arguedas’ contexts, reviewing the possible value of reading Kristeva with Vallejo. (There are so many things I would like to study.)

Psychanalitique: there were two perceptions yesterday. One, on acquiescing to power, acquiescing to irrational power. Two and related, on the double identity. I have already talked about this and I can expand.

The third, and only apparently paradoxical point has to do with that comment upon myself as free spirit and challenging for that reason.


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Cette semaine

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.



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Des nouvelles

I am in the mood never to break or lose anything out of carelessness due to feeling distraught again. Those things only started happening to me when I started putting Reeducation’s life ahead of my own. I am in the mood never to miss a deadline again, or to miss fewer of them. I am in the mood for calm and stability.

About needs: some of our professors said we were complaining, spoiled, and entitled and we internalized this, but they were speaking for themselves. They were the ones with the hystrionics. Should you really work against your own professional needs and the needs of your field? Should you really expect yourself, unrealistically, to flourish where no plants bloom … do people who say you can do anything, anywhere, really believe their own words? I need stability and a non-undermining atmosphere, if not a nurturing atmosphere then one where development is not systematically impeded, and I need peace of mind. I do not think these things are so much to ask.

A friend who called me said I was amazing because I never complain, and I have a very positive and balanced attitude, and I try again and again. This is a perceptive person who knows me well.

Someone told me one should never review a book with a chip on one’s shoulder and I thought this was a brilliant comment that should be extended to everything — never do ANYTHING with a chip on your shoulder. Certain projects I have failed to complete: how could one, on shifting ground and with scolding and recrimination of different kinds, dissonant with each other, coming in from every side?

These attacks of panic that I have come to experience are in part the breaking after taking the last blow I could tolerate. They are about exhaustion from handling and putting up with more than any one person can. They are about trying to handle, or tolerate, or resist boundary invasions that threaten to finish me off.

I am in the mood not to allow any of these things any more.


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And here is why that professor song and dance so irritates me

It is verbal abuse. “If you were not willing to put up with just any treatment to stay in the relationship, then you never cared about this person in the first place.” That is so amazingly fatuous, but never mind.

I do always notice that if you translate what academics say about the profession to what people say about dating and marriage, you can find out exactly what the paradigm and dynamic are, and where the flaws lie.



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The snake-oil standard, and on giving

Read this, which explains many things including Reeducation — it as snake oil, its anti-intellectualism — and also the current academia. Key in the piece is that snake oil is widely preferred over science, and people who would side with science are a minority. It is clear that I should stop believing I am insane or inferior or hurtful to others, and realize I am merely in the minority that sides with science.

The reason I do not like the current academia, or the fact that there is a separate world called “academia,” is that it is so often not an intellectual or scholarly venue, but pretends to be one. I dislike manipulation generally, and I dislike that manipulation in particular. One of my friends on Facebook is being excoriated by academics and leftists because he is enjoying being home in Brooklyn after a harrowing semester in the rural outpost where he works. If he were a good academic, they are telling him, he would prefer that place, and if he were a real leftist, he would not be as enamored of urban life as he is: the true American people, with whom he should identify, are at suburban Wal*Marts and he should “respect” that. This is ludicrous: “respect” as a substitute for analysis or action.

I am trying to be a good Maringouin person but I had a full blown anxiety attack today about being here and I have been exhausted from it since. The issue, once again, is that I was not cut out to be a nurse, and academia is like nursing: you tend to impaired patients and you are patient with the delusional, and you serve, and serve, and serve. I did not know this. I was warned I would have to do research, but if I had been told I would be a nurse in the service of a corporation and its bottom line then yes, I would have done something else. I do have a great deal of respect for the kind of education that is social work and the people who do it. Had I wanted to do that I would have done so at home and with an organization of my choice, not move around the country in search of an alleged research job.

This has to do with the post I lost a few weeks ago, on giving. If you are going to give, and give, and give again, you must have steady sources of nourishment as well as a great store of resources. I have always been told I had an unfair amount of personal resources, good genes, high energy. I should give and give and give and give because that was my duty and role. But the fact is that I never was Maecenas, and my blood is thin now from having been donated so much and so often. I am afraid of being in Maringouin because here is where they lay me on a table, stick needles into me and take whatever plasma I have almost before it is produced.

In sum, I am so traumatized by this institution and by another purveyor of snake oil I worked for that I am having great difficulty today not just running away or running into traffic; I fear the upcoming term very greatly. I keep trying to remember that I have more power than I believe, and that I should take authority. I should tell the university that things are going to be as I say, and that they must be quiet.



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