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Tone versus substance

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Jul. 29th, 2011 | 10:37 am

I washed the dining room floor yesterday for the first time in months, if not in a year or more. I find that, when I undertake long-neglected cleaning projects, there are often a lot of uncomfortable emotions that come up during and after the cleaning. I have to admit, however, that it did feel as if the "vibes" had improved in the area that I had cleaned, even though my efforts felt partial and insufficient.

In any event, one of the issues that came up yesterday was the number of times that I have been reprimanded for the "tone" or manner in which I have addressed an issue of concern to me in the department, without the substance of what I was trying to communicate ever coming up for serious attention. I realize now that this is the province of hypocrites and cowards who have nothing to offer, but who happen to occupy positions within the social hierarchy of the organization that are generally perceived to be superior to mine. In other words, its about power, not substance, including the power to control the images that may be taken to support that fraudulent and non-existent power. Maybe it's just my parents' working-class origins that lead me to believe this, but it seems to me that the purpose of power is to get concrete and constructive things done effectively. Its purpose is not merely to continue to cover up past and present abuses of power, so that legitimate resentments are allowed to fester and nothing substantive ever gets dealt with.

Maybe it really is a class issue. It seems to me that, for those people whose families have been in the middle or upper-middle class for more generations than mine, it is perfectly normal for them to be polished, "diplomatic" assholes. It makes no difference what kinds of lies you tell, so long as you do it discreetly and politely. "If you want to live like the folks on the hill, first you must learn to smile as you kill."

So, when I am being patronized by these assholes, there seems to be this illusion that, if only I had addressed people in the "proper" manner (without a "negative" "tone," or politely behind closed doors rather than in a public space--mind you, it's okay for people to attack me in a public space, but it's not okay for me to respond in a public space--what the fuck is that?), then the issues could have been dealt with, but because of my "bad" behavior, I have now forfeited any opportunity of having those issues dealt with, now or forevermore. That's just a tyranny of bullshit. The truth is, nothing that is challenging to someone else's sense of position or power will ever be dealt with, because that would require courage, and intelligence, and integrity, all of which is clearly too much to ask of people who are incapable of giving it.

Clearly, I'm not going to find a good match between my values and the values of the majority within my institution. Good thing I didn't go to college there. It was my backup school but I didn't need it, as I received attractive offers from elsewhere. But I just haven't managed my career in such a way that I'm employable by the kinds of schools that offered me admission to their undergraduate or graduate programs. Oh, well. Hence, I meditate. If one is going to be a professional failure, at least one should try to feel good within one's body and mind to the extent that that's possible under the circumstances.

Having written all of the above, it occurs to me that one of the people who has criticized my "tone" in the past mysteriously has no graduate advisees. Students do independent studies with him and then some of them end up at my doorstep. Hmm. There is also a growing list of students who refuse to have him on their doctoral committees, citing "personality conflicts" in the classroom. Hmm. And the department head, who criticized me for telling off a bitch in public, lost her last job because she told her dean to fuck off. She also has at least one lawsuit pending (or at least a potential lawsuit) because she allegedly engaged in age discrimination while forcing the former director of graduate studies to step down. Hmm. Pot calling the kettle black? Hmm.

Haha: it's all so fucking ridiculous.

OK, well, now it's time to get dressed and shit.

Peace,

ak

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