Category Archives: What Is A Scholar?

Non-pecuniary

After I finish “Language and the entrepreneurial university” I will write a piece on the non-pecuniary benefits of learning, and some of the beginning ideas are here.

I am working on these ideas in part because somehow I do not feel NOT authorized to do so. I struggle with problems of authority when I author.

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Botones de pensamiento que buscan ser la rosa

* The thing is that the very idea of the public, the commons, is what have come under attack from Reagan forward. Now these foundations are trying to rebuild it under their own sign. It all seems cozy, the way working for Apple does while you are under their bubble in the U.S., but … even if the government withers away … these corporations are still ideological state apparati, and only shareholders can vote.

* Also just the way in which universities have gotten more authoritarian. Meetings are no longer held. All conversation is one-on-one. That creates an unprofessional situation with energy-draining gossip, since one there is no straight answer on what priorities are or any group decision on this. This is very manipulative. It is said to be corporate-style management but my friends in business seem to be allowed to talk to each other in a way the way the university no longer wants us to. I learned to be faculty back when there was shared governance, so I am still in the habit of asking questions one could ask back then, as in “Are we planning to…?” Now, these questions are no longer understood as mere requests for information. Instead, they’re hostile questions: how dare a mere professor think about planning, the future, the program, or expect to speak collegially with an administrator?

* The real question here is not who did what but whether in cases of abusive faculty and/or chairs there are systems in place to protect students, academic programs, and institutions of higher ed in general. Having a strong faculty voice in the evaluation and retention of chairs and deans seems like a key element that’s missing, according to this account. I have no idea how that works at NYU but this article leads me to think that is not the case.

* I was troubled that the author of this piece seems to accept that universities operate without shared governance. (“The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures.”) Thanks but no thanks. This is why I’m committed to AAUP and fighting to protect the role of the faculty in governance and within this issues such as academic due process, a recognition of academic freedom in governance speech, etc.

* Right, although I don’t think we succeeded everywhere in doing away with feudal underpinnings. This appears to be the case particularly at private schools and in the more insular regional places. The corporatization seems to really exacerbate the feudal elements, and in grotesque ways too, since in actual feudalism the lord had obligations to the vassal!

* Agree with you both! I remember when the phrase on my campus was “FACULTY governance.” Then it became “SHARED governance.” Then presidents became CEOs and provosts became CAOs, and the “governance” piece apportioned to faculty were limited to curriculum only, with first deans and then provosts deciding on most other issues (such as positions and position descriptions).

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A comment on my once and future book

For the new year (this is the Jewish new year) I had hoped for a new beginning and I got, by random chance, comments on the blocked book manuscript that wrought such havoc on my life.

I confess to just having looked it up and skimmed a bit — you write well. For your conceptual blockbusting: deconstruction, à la Derrida, relies on a reified Cartesian self that can be sullied and broken (= Freud). Most of Latin america does Lacan, not Freud, which has the notion of a plural and situated self (see Kristeva and Black Sun). It’s also a Catholic thing and a Marxist thing, neither of which fits Derrida. Look at Deleuze — What is philosophy. The subject does not exist, it arises from being a position in (there) a discipline or a symbolic order (Lacan’s version). Thus subject POSITIONS are critical, not SUBJECT. If Vallejo ventriloquizes different subjects, it’s because he’s interested in post-Marxist concepts of plural subjects. I’ll stop now. I don’t know Vallejo but have worked with enough LA-ists to ask pointed questions. It’s not non-Western, it’s collectivist Western, which lost in Europe and Anglo-America (Calvinist countries all – “all about me”) which half of France (Deleuze/Foucault/Bourdieu half) remembers, too.

This is Vallejo.

Graniza tánto, como para que yo recuerde
y acreciente las perlas
que he recogido del hocico mismo
de cada tempestad.

No se vaya a secar esta lluvia.
A menos que me fuese dado
caer ahora para ella, o que me enterrasen
mojado en el agua
que surtiera de todos los fuegos.

¿Hasta dónde me alcanzará esta lluvia?
Temo me quede con algún flanco seco;
temo que ella se vaya, sin haberme probado
en las sequías de increíbles cuerdas vocales,
por las que,
para dar armonía,
hay siempre que subir ¡nunca bajar!
¿No subimos acaso para abajo?

Canta, lluvia, en la costa aún sin mar!

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Pushkin House-Musuem 23.VIII-16.IX

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Here is the poster for my cousin Alexei Aizenman’s centenary exhibit at the Pushkin House-Museum on Arbat, in Moscow. You should really go if you are in town.

In other news Gukira is a good blogger with an interesting post on Freire; I am told he is also the author of the best piece on Avital Ronell. A good writer and courageous.

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More for “Language and the entrepreneurial university”

Last year, the state moved for dismissal, arguing that the 14th Amendment contains no reference to literacy. Then, last week, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III agreed with the state. Literacy is important, the judge noted. But students enjoy no right to access to being taught literacy. All the state has to do is make sure schools run. If they are unable to educate their students, that’s a shame, but court rulings have not established that “access to literacy” is “a fundamental right.”

“The deeper implication that the judge is tacitly admitting that it is all right to gut all of the public functions of government while leaving them nominally intact,” my friend said.

These ideas are key and they are for my next article (not the one I am working on now).

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Remnants of that article draft

***Alternatives to the current university: Edu-factory, more.

***Bosquet: adjunct women wildcatting will be what saves us. Is this an adequate hope? Can we all get together to reeducate the public / rebuild the idea of the public and the public good?

***Asking for accountability from administratons:  the LARB article.

***AAUP needs much closer connections regional/national, and CBC/advocacy.

***Nair: what if we foregrounded movements, not the cult of personality and celebrity? what if we held on to abstract concepts? Also use the Eric and Mike essay, which is in my downloads.

***People younger than me do not remember what it is to have rights any more than the undergraduates care about voting…faculty have less interest in shared governance than undergraduates have in voting. Is AAUP/shared governance antiquated because they presuppose an older kind of university, or not? (Tenure didn’t really exist when the AAUP started.) Is collective bargaining enough of an update on older strategies?

***I am an outsider and outlier because I am old, because I am not entirely from the US, because I am from California, and because I am still idealistic like a graduate student. But it is because mostly because where I am, corporatization has most aggressively taken over. AAUP’s ideas arose from another crisis (in Veblen’s day) and they also presuppose the kind of stability universities had in the 50s and 60s (although the highest membership was during the McCarthy period, for obvious reasons). Still, needed now are new and different connections / solidarity with parents / students / more. [Work these ideas out]

ALSO: Bosquet says it is women contingents wildcatting who will turn the tide. Based on NC teachers strike & the fact that most professors are contingents who are women. I add that it has to be for education, not jobs or money. AND we have to start supporting each other, not being individualist careerists. Note too that wildcatting did not help in Oklahoma (or was that just a battle lost, and not the war?).

ALSO: Snow’s ideas are fine and everything, but there are also Yasmin Nair’s: she talks about movements and abstract concepts, not just strategies. https://thebaffler.com/salvos/exalted-slogans-nair

*NAPOLITANO: she should be supporting the university, asking for public funding of a public institution, not depending upon charity and philanthropy and “public-private partnerships” It’s effectively the public education version of the asinine argument about how, once we destroy the social safety net, private and philanthropic organizations will take up the slack. It is like saying churches will take up the slack on welfare. http://www.dailycal.org/2018/05/18/uc-president-janet-napolitano-csu-chancellor-timothy-white-discuss-future-public-higher-education/ had a similar first reaction: “The point of fact is that public funding at the level it was at is unlikely to be restored”— that’s not a point of fact, it’s a point of politics. We need to get state and national-level candidates elected who understand how to convince boards of trustees of the importance of state universities.

Giroux, Henry, 2016. Public pedagogy and manufactured identities in the age of selfie culture. http://communication.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228613-e-112

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What is a scholar?

I see what the notes for that article are about: working in the neoliberal university. Now, at last, I can write the piece, and I should. Things to be fought in particular include various forms of so-called bean-counting and the excessive bureaucratic busywork, but more broadly we are fighting the neoliberal university. I think it is possible we may have to have real intellectual work take place outside universities, in the para-academic playground, perhaps, but if the university insists upon being as it is, some stance to take while working within it must be devised. If it decides to act fully like a for-profit, a strong union and very independent professional and disciplinary organizations are needed, that everyone considers their home (as opposed to considering the university their home). It definitely deserves no free work, and that includes its ridiculous new time-wasting schemes.

I must remember that I am leaving town with no hot water at home, and with the shower not working. That means the first thing I must do upon my return is have this worked on–as well as work on FMLA for the fall. I have a meeting at the community college Monday, April 9, at 6 in the evening and must remember it.

I must also call the city about the drainage and the tree branches that are caught in the telephone wires. I must contact Judith and Amalia about events September 18 and 19, remembering that the radio show is at 3 PM. I must wash my exterior windows and trim the bushes around the front door.

In the meantime besides packing, I must buy animal food and olive oil, and go by the office. I must check on the held-mail and the Phillips drill heads. I must write Kaitlyn on package delivery and keys, as well as Margaret with related instructions. Is this all? I think so. I will check into my flight online.

While I am gone I will do academic work and try to see at least one friend. I want to get exercise each day. I have to call Andreshia and Fidelity and Doug, and Dad has three appointments. I hope it is not too tiring, and that nothing strange happens. When I drive into town again I must remember to go to the gym, not home, because I will not have a shower at home.

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