I have some terrible habits of thought which I did not learn in graduate school, but rather as an assistant professor, in conjunction with Reeducation. As we know, Reeducation meant the acceptance of a standard interpretive paradigm which called itself ‘growth’ but was in fact asphyxiation. This weblog was created in part to cast off the principles of Reeducation, which were Banes.
Reeducation taught extreme self-criticism and self-doubt. School did not, and that is one reason I have always liked it better. What I did not like about school was its trade in timidity and conformity, and at times in unfounded fear.
School, when I was in it as a student, was a creative refuge. When I became a professor it revealed itself as a war zone where paralyzing gases wafted, and the earth belched fire. Ever since then, I have wanted to run away, and a certain portion of every workday is devoted to resisting this instinct. I like to live far from campus – preferably in another municipality – so that I can indulge, at the level of fantasy, my desire to really get on the road and go at the end of each day.
What I tell myself to repress these temptations is that in fact everything is really all right. Don’t like your job? Concentrate on what you need to do to move up and out. This and other sensible advice is in my view based on denial of what present experience is, and how long it may in fact go on. For example: if present experience and conditions are antithetical to moving up and out, simply gritting one’s teeth and trying harder will not do the trick in and of itself.
My terrible habits of thought are related to having been hammered for so long with these forms of “wisdom,” and to subjection to abusive power structures for which this “wisdom” is, I am quite sure, a palliative masquerading as a cure. I try and try to fit myself into the wisdom, and to accept the palliative. I am embarrassed that these are insufficient for me, but they are. They may apply to men whose situations are already good. But I notice that those who most insist on the sufficiency of this “wisdom” also drink to the point of blackout most nights.
I suspect we could turn on a black light and rewrite all of these dark perceptions as positive discoveries. I suspect my negative habits of thought exist to censor real rebellion – the not-very-sensible but true thoughts I actually have, the ones I believe to be disrespectful or destructive, but which, if let loose, would reveal themselves to be inspired and creative – or let us say it, revolutionary.
I had a colleague once who having male privilege, did not suffer from the same level of self-doubt as I, despite feeling as irritated as I did. We both liked to work late, and would chat sometimes in the uninhabited halls. I would then say, “It’s late, I’m going.” I would go to art studios and jazz bars. He would say, “It’s late, I am going, to write something responsible. Someone has to make an effort to save this degraded profession, so I shall.” He could say this because had reason to believe his calls to comparative sanity would be heard.
I know this colleague admired my form of jauntiness, but I envied his evinced ability to stand above it all. At that time I rejected it for myself. I know it is not available to me in the way it is to men. Still I am attempting to conjugate within myself the two attitudes, his and mine, so as to rise above the obedience which reigns, and the drudgery.