April 13th, 2011

Hu design

Terms of Disengagement

One of my grad students told me the other day that her father, who is an English professor in another state, assigned an Arthur Miller play to his class to read. When he asked the class who had read the play and no one responded, he walked out of the classroom. He is, of course, a full professor.

Early this morning, as I struggled with insomnia, I thought about the students who text and browse the internet during my "upper-division" undergraduate class. I've called them out on it several times. I've tried turning it into a classroom joke. I've stopped speaking while I wait for them to stop texting. Nothing changes the behavior. The only thing I can think of that would be more effective would be to expel them from class or to take the devices away from them and smash them on the floor. Given the fact that I've just been bitched at for telling off an attitudinal assistant librarian (who happens to make over $10K a year more than I do), I think it's safe to say that my efforts to "impose" higher standards of behavior on people in my university is typically interpreted as some kind of personal threat that needs to be neutralized.

Therefore, risk nothing, say nothing, do nothing: just hate, hate, hate.

Let me just say it: this was my backup school when I was applying to colleges, and I didn't need to resort to it. Thank God. It IS inferior to me and always has been. I see now that it's not for want of trying on the part of some faculty members, but some environments just conspire to remain at a certain level of mediocrity and viciously refuse to give it up. Fine: let them be damned in their mediocrity.

Unfortunately, I didn't know how to make all the right moves in order to teach at a better institution. I probably should have stayed in Georgia. At least I had a colleague there that I share some interests with, and I probably would have more creative freedom and less frustration. That school was so hopeless that the temptation to try for something better there was simply ridiculous. There is a kind of healthy realism in that.

OK, I'll get back to grading my fucking papers now.


Hu design

New Day

Well, after having had a rough couple of days Monday and yesterday, today went a bit easier than I anticipated.

One of the things I'm noticing is that, because I am so disciplined most of the time, if I pull back and give myself and others a little slack now and then, it can actually lighten things up really quickly without making everything lose focus completely.

I've also been opening up my ears (as I remain centered in my awareness) and am overhearing a number of faculty expressing discontent about changes that are going on in my university.

There are also a few things that felt particularly good in the last day or so. One was taking a break, even though I may not have completely finished whatever task I had been working on. Yesterday that included taking a walk on the trail. There was practically no one there, which was great.

Another was reading some poetry by Dane Rudhyar. I'm finding that his words bring back awareness to my heart that other types of reading rarely do.
Along those lines, too, is my practice of salat and my memories of reading the Qur'an (which I'm not currently reading). I appreciate the experiences I had while reading Vaishnavite, Shakta, and Shaivite scriptures (Bhagavad Gita, Devi Mahatmya, and Rudri), but there is something about the Qur'an that keeps drawing me back. One of the things that is helping me approach Islam again with greater confidence is the notion of failed ideologies as discussed by Badiou and Žižek. They typically focus on Communism and other political ideologies, but their example somehow makes it easier to approach pre-modern ideologies as well. There is something about the funkiness of the clash between pre-modern and post-modern ideologies, especially within a progressive Muslim context, that I find particlarly stimulating. I would contrast this with the more typically liberal mystical approach that used to be my main focus. As my confidence in the benign and necessary nature of liberalism (as I had previously known it) continues to wear thin, it begins to look more and more as if the groups I was associated with offered a kind of apologetics for the status quo that I now find confining, self-deluding, and uninspiring.

Finally, another factor that helped today was dealing with young people--some of whom I clearly like more than others.

OK, now to bed. Tomorrow I need to have some more meetings and then hit the road for another conference. Best part of that is having some time in a hotel room to myself.