Monthly Archives: June 2009

On Wage Slavery. On Early Republican Baltimore. Several Things Academics Should Realize. Mario Vargas Llosa.

I am on strike, so we will read this important book review, brought to my attention by my Facebook Friend, Mike. It is a good review of a book which is obviously good for my research, both academic and artistic, and even better for Clio Bluestocking’s research, as it concerns slavery and wage slavery in early 19th century Baltimore.

There are some important things to take away from this review as regards the academic job market and all the advice that is given to one and all on how to best position oneself for non disaster at least, and for success ideally. I often find myself fatigued with these discussions, for reasons including the following:

1) having been in the business for some time and coming from an academic family, I have heard them all before — was in fact already tired of them at a stage in my own career when for others, they were new;

2) the fact that in my own experience, most standard advice does not apply and never has, for reasons already discussed at length in this blog — it is not that I do not know these rules or how to apply them, it is just that I do not find them to cover all, or even most aspects of reality.

3) the fact that self help style advice for clerks on how to get ahead in business came into fashion in the mid to late nineteenth century and has already been parodied, including by our very own honorary author in his 1931 novel Tungsten (yes, I have just complicated this blog by adding to its voices an honorary author).

Here is where some sentences from the review above come in:

a) Capitalism in the early Republic was not “a synonym for market exchange,” he explains, but rather “a political economy that dictated who worked where, on what terms, and to whose benefit” (p. 5) [Hypothesis: the academic job market is not only not a meritocracy. It is not even necessarily a market. It is a political economy that dictates who works where, on what terms, and to whose benefit.]

b) Rockman’s evidence proves that getting rid of slavery was not in the interests of capitalists, who gladly employed white and black people, free and enslaved, on the same job sites for identical wages.” [You want some faculty at each professorial rank, some regular instructors, and some casual labor.]

c) Rockman crunches the numbers to show that, in 1810, between 10 and 20 percent of Baltimore households were headed by women, but employers had a vested interest in fostering “the presumption of female dependence,” because it “justified the secondary wages that in turn guaranteed it” (p. 133).

d) …[C]apitalists were revolutionary historical actors who curtailed the agency of working people by thinking of and using both free and enslaved laborers as interchangeable commodities…. [Rockman] defines “class” “as a material condition resulting from the ability of those purchasing labor to economically and physically coerce those performing it–and to do so under the social fiction of a self-regulating market that purportedly doled out its rewards to the deserving in accordance with the laws of nature” (p. 11).

e) Rockman does not describe class entities emerging around a “shared consciousness, identity, or politics percolating from working people themselves” (p. 11). Rather, class is a vital tool historians can use to expose the dynamics of material and cultural power in American society.

f) [S]laveowners, merchants, and almshouse commissioners rewrote workers’ stories about being poor, disparaging their pretensions to agency and citing laziness, improvidence, and intemperance as the underlying explanations for economic inequality. [Think of how tenured faculty talk about the misadventures of assistant professors and graduate students, male faculty about the misadventures of women, and so on.]

g) [P]oor people’s ventures into the market for reasons other than wages were not evidence of a “nascent entrepreneurism,” a quest for wealth (p. 127). [Exactly, and this is a great opportunity to say once again in the vocative case: FUCK you Mario Vargas Llosa and all of your neoliberal friends, claiming that the desperate Lima peddlers of the 1990s were harbingers of a new capitalist spirit. I ought not to swear but the word fuck drives up hit counts, and Mario Vargas Llosa is intolerably fatuous, and I am on strike.]

h) The culture of capitalism was so pervasive that it provided the script for workers’ struggles to survive even as capitalists took it as an article of faith that poor men and women did not strive. The “social fiction” that workers refused to work hard was powerful because the powerful perpetuated it.

i) While bourgeois employers championed self-fashioning–Frederick Douglass embarked on his quest for “self-made manhood” in Baltimore’s streets–they also believed in a more important “truth”: laborers needed to exhibit industry, perseverance, and other winning character traits to make bosses rich.

j) Rockman brilliantly shows that capitalists not only regulated who could work where and for what, but also defined ambition in ways that ensured workers’ continued struggles with poverty.

Axé.

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More on the Question of Invalidation

I am still on strike, but I am announcing that the weather is still lovely and that it is going to be a good day.

I keep forgetting that it is now safe to get up in the morning and just do things. Normally I only think this is safe in out of town, safer out of state, and safest out of country. The reason it was not safe for a long time was that in Reeducation, getting up in the morning meant recommencing the regimen of destructive self criticism which Reeducation had devised.

I am aware that the 12 Stoners always promise that “Just for today …” they will live right and treat themselves right. But I had already been doing this for eighteen years, albeit outside the auspices of the 12 Stones, when I entered Reeducation. This fact, together with my accomplishments from ages 16 to 34, was precisely what Reeducation alleged to be invalid. Life could not be genuine if it had not been lived under Reeducation’s auspices.

I should not have been able to get this far and would not have, had I been “honest with myself” or “aware of my feelings” (which I could not have been, Reeducation believed). It could not be I, but must be a “false self” who had gotten so far. This “false self” must be strong and frightening indeed, since it had gotten so far given what my actual psychic circumstances had to be.

This was why Reeducation and I had to engage in such a fierce battle against the life I had been leading and my accomplishments. We were supposed to slug away until that “false self” broke open and revealed the Inner Child underneath, and until the “false self” admitted it was nothing more than an alibi for the completely powerless and irreparably damaged preschooler cradled inside like a damaged fetus not yet stillborn.

Although I have a good memory and I was the one present during all relevant events, I never did agree with all the details of Reeducation’s view on the condition of that child. That is why I remained “in denial,” and how I failed Reeducation. Still, Reeducation and I did a pretty good job of slugging away at me. I always liked to wake up and get up mornings before that.

I have since been apprehensive as the sun comes up, afraid the slugging will start again, or that I will not be able to stop it, or that I will feel compelled to help with it, or that I am so used to it that I will not notice it until in horror, I see a visible wound.

Addendum

Things I learned as a child, which seemed impossible and were later revealed, in fact, to be untrue: Life was a terrible thing and one ought to commit suicide. If one lacked the courage to do this, one must find the right combination of drugs and pastimes to get oneself through the day, as actual improvement was an illusion. People who believed in the possibility of improvement were to be scorned for their coarse tastes.

What Reeducation thought: Life was an unhappy burden. But it could be managed, made easier and more pleasant, and thus borne.

What people have always said when I have said I wanted to leave the East and leave academia: I am [insert insulting adjective here] to believe in the possibility of autonomy, liveliness, and joy. I must realize that life is suffering, for one thing, and that all suffering is self created, for another. [Note the contradiction in that last sentence, folks.]

What I did before age 16: Freeze myself for now, knowing I would get older and not have to listen to these speeches.

What I did in Reeducation: Freeze myself and wait for the storm to end, but feel anxious — getting older would not bring automatic liberation, I realized, so staying frozen was not a good option. The frozenness became increasingly worrying for this reason. It was fear that this death-in-life might become permanent that made me quit.

What I did in academia, after being strong-armed into staying in it: Freeze myself and wait for my sentence to end. Not a good strategy, by the way.

Why I got into my infamous abusive romance: I was so unhappy at work, and people at work were so abusive, and I could not afford to spend more time out of town. This appeared to be the best step up available.

How I reacted to my infamous abusive romance: I thought:

Well, it is too bad that this is how my life has ended, and I am embarrassed to have wasted so many talents and so much health, but it is what has happened and what I have done. I really did my best given the information and tools I had, so I will not criticize myself too much. I will simply accept that this is how my life has ended.

If there is reincarnation, I may have better luck next time. I wish I could believe in reincarnation, because I would so like to come back as the exact same person, even, and just not mistreat her so much. But now, having struck what appears to be a near fatal blow, I will just sit and endure to the end. Other talented people have had worse lives and not even gotten the chance to discover their talents. I am grateful to have had so much more of a life than so many people get to have.

I do apologize to the universe for having killed that girl who had so much potential and so much to give. Wasting her life and the opportunities she had was not what I meant to do, and I did not do it on purpose. But I have done it, because I was told so many times that people like her deserved to die. It is still very hard for me to say that. It is in fact terribly painful to accept, and just saying it feels even more destructive than the actual murder did. But perhaps I am just being shown here that it is true after all what they say, life is better understood as a burden than as a gift. I have been delusional, perhaps, in my optimism. Perhaps I am being shown reality at last.

At this time I was 47 and had been struggling with Reeducation for 13 years.

What got me out of that abusive romance: A flood of desire. I saw so many people just jumping in life, as I had done before Reeducation, and I could no longer repress the envy. Reeducation had taught that life was not for people of my lineage. We were not good enough to go to the beach on weekends or the theatre in the evenings, or to develop our careers. We must stay home and make peace with our flawed natures. But one day I could not stand it. I failed to repress my desire to swim in life.

On swimming. I knew Reeducation was destructive the minute I realized I no longer believed I deserved to take Saturdays off to go to the beach. In my abusive romance, I went one step further down: going to the swimming pool stopped working like a renewing salve. I am flashing now on early May, 2005, just over a year into that relationship.

The Person was not speaking to me because I had disobeyed in some manner. It would have been a great opportunity to break up, actually — just accept that he was not speaking and make it a matter of policy not to read e-mail or take calls in the future. This did not occur to me, though, because he had so terrified me a year earlier about what he might do if I left the relationship. I had committed at that point to staying in it until his green card issue was resolved in summer of 2006. With it he could keep his house and job. Having those to hang onto he would not need me.

So instead of leaving the relationship, I just enjoyed my time off from it. It was a beautiful late spring, and I had really interesting classes. We had the last week of school with marvelous contemporary texts, and finals week with interesting creative projects. I had this pale pink skirt with a gauze ruffle that I had bought in Laguna Beach. It was still cool enough to sit outside on the porch, and to go to the pool in the middle of the day.

This is to say that I had a wholeness to me then that I still have not fully recovered, and that that wholeness was still just a shadow of the wholeness I had had before. And the destructiveness of that relationship was as it was because people at work were as destructive as they were at that time. And it is the destructiveness of the people at work that did the most damage. And people have always told me you cannot go back in time, but I consider that time is space, and I am just moving spaces.

Moving into the space of May 2005, before Katrina, is not a bad goal. March, 2004, before that Relationship started, is the next one. After that October, 1998, before the full reality of my present job set in. After that the beautiful summer and fall of 1997. Then the many illusions, plans, and writings of 1995-96. Then the law school revelation period of 1992-93. Then 1990-91, the strong but still fragile moment when I felt so settled and proud and full of hope.

Axé.

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Let’s Talk About Sex … and the Levees

…so as to drive up my hit count while I am on strike. We are going to talk about sex but it is also Juneteenth, in celebration of which I am Twittering about one of my ancestral homes. As one of the anthropologists studying it says, “It wasn’t a romantic, nice place to live. . . . It was a business.” All o’ y’all keep that in mind before booking a “romantic weekend” in one of the old Great Houses, y’heah?

Before proceeding I note that I had posted this important video from Levees.org with damning information on the USA Corps of Engineers, and the entire post disappeared through no action of mine. Comments on this post were magically reassigned to other posts, where they are amusing non sequiturs. So everyone follow that link and watch that video!

The page just linked has supplemental information, so click it even if you have already seen the video! Comment on the video, so as to drive up its YouTube rating! And click through to my blog supporters, so that one of them will realize they should pay my striking self the $600 they have owed me for almost two months now!

And now, speaking of romantic weekends and my upcoming voyage in search of a Mississippi plantation, let’s talk about sex.

Upon discovering that I have had my extra room rented out to a transgendered person for part of this semester, a straight male colleague just spoke to me passionately in favor of gay marriage and state funded transgender surgery. He felt a sudden need to teach and model compassion. Then he said, as he has said before: “I want a new car. I know it is frivolous, but I have never broken in a new car. I have broken in women before, but never a car, and I want to know what it is like.”

I on the other hand imagine a world in which I would not have to be polite to other professors discussing “breaking in women” or comparing us to cars.

I noted another conversation this week, between two other men, a Democrat and a Republican.

Democrat: This rape by a family values exponent is really hypocritical.

Republican: Well, Clinton slept with Lewinsky.

Democrat: Well, he wasn’t hawking family values, and that is my point here.

[Me, thinking]: And you are comparing an extramarital affair and a rape …which omission reveals quite a lot about what you actually think of women…

I have always been told that women would not even need to struggle for further rights if we could just learn to be very, very good. Yet [p]ower concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. It is hard to know how to proceed some days.

Axé.

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Validation and Invalidation

People do not understand why I turned down both of the full scholarships I was offered to law schools in the 1990s. Judith explains:

[A] law full scholarship means tuition only, and an obligation on top of that to do a part time research appointment (you do get a stipend but it’s minimum wage). The only benefit is a health insurance subsidy, which is cut off at any point where you aren’t doing the research work, meaning that if you depend on it like me, you’re forced to stay in town during the summer rather than take a (more rewarding career-wise) internship out of town.

I could discuss the problems that inhere herein, the intricacies of student loans, and the ways in which my study plan fits my specific career goals, in full detail (people, except lawyers, tend to assume I have not worked these things out), but this discussion lies outside the scope of this post. I do not have time to explain here but I am working on a revised plan. I do point out that this would be feasible were I part of a double income unit.

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In the meantime, my current distillation of Reeducation is that its main goal was to rob one of authority. So I am transgressing Reeducation by taking that back. Authority means autonomy, flexibility, responsiveness, and freedom, not power over others as Reeducation thought. It means the authority to believe what you see and to question assumptions, but not every motivation or perception. It means meeting the day, which Reeducation in many senses disabled me from doing. It also means being a person for the people who need one to be such a thing, as opposed to not being one just to satisfy the endless demands of Reeducation and other whitemen.

Also transgressive is putting aggressive effort into my own work, while still claiming it as mine. This I see now that in many instances, long before Reeducation, I have been encouraged not to do. Research, except when I was using it to transgress my first job, but research in school and after that job was someone else’s property. Do not come out with what you actually think, or the axe will fall, I kept being told. Try to publish your actual results and nobody will believe them, because you have no right to speak. Publish, but let it be someone else’s results. Now MY authority is the phrase of the day, and I am putting it on this wall.

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Next week I am going to track down some facts for my research project. Real, concrete facts. I was educated in the era of Theory and this is where I tend to go. I am all for it but from the blogs, of all places (I do find that blogs have replaced bookstores in many ways as places of serendipitous discoveries) I have discovered some historical intricacies which are very grounding. Running down facts is one of my secret tastes and I believe I am on the trail of some juicy ones.

Axé.

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Regarding the Situation in the Peruvian Amazon

I am still on strike, but this petition being circulated through LASA contains very good background information on the matter. It is a pronouncement to the international community, the Peruvian State, and the people of Peru, and it has been composed by a committee of important and thoughtful Peruvians and Peruvianists. Read it, it’s smart. If you haven’t received an invitation to sign, and would like to sign, be in touch.

En la madrugada del 5 de Junio de 2009 empezó un violento enfrentamiento entre las llamadas fuerzas del orden del Estado Peruano y un grupo numeroso de ciudadanos peruanos Awajún. El objetivo de los primeros era desbloquear la carretera Fernando Belaúnde Terry, en el tramo llamado “La Curva del Diablo” cerca del pueblo de Bagua—en la selva Norte del Perú. Los segundos ejercían control de esa carretera como parte de la movilización pacífica y masiva en la que desde el 9 de Abril de este año participaban los pobladores de la Amazonía Peruana, desde la frontera con Colombia hasta la frontera con Bolivia.  Los ciudadanos Peruanos habitantes de la Amazonía protestaban principalmente en contra del Decreto Legislativo 1090, pero también en contra de otros (1020, 1084,1069), con los cuales el Gobierno de Alan García quiere facilitar “el desarrollo de industrias extractivas” (petróleo, otros minerales, y biocombustibles) en los mismos territorios de los cuales viven decenas de grupos indígenas y no indígenas, quienes los usan para la pesca, agricultura, caza y recolección. Los pobladores de la Amazonía protestaban no sólo la transformación y eventual destrucción de sus recursos y de su forma de vida; también—y esto es muy importante—protestaban la inconstitucionalidad del D.L. 1090 pues su promulgación viola el Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo, norma con rango constitucional, que el Gobierno del Perú ha suscrito y que establece la consulta previa a los pueblos que habitan en esos territorios.  La consulta previa no se realizó—por ello, los DL no son constitucionales. La indudable legalidad de la protesta contra la inconstitucionalidad de los DL sostenía el proceso llamado por los indígenas.

Durante más de 50 días la movilización en la Amazonía peruana se caracterizó por ser un evento masivo y pacífico. Era una medida de ejercicio de derechos ciudadanos para denunciar la inconstitucionalidad de varios decretos leyes que violan un acuerdo internacional suscrito por el Perú.  Es decir, era una medida con la que los indígenas pedían a los representantes del Estado que cumplieran su propia legislación.  Además de las protestas pacíficas en la Amazonía, la medida incluía esfuerzos muy visibles de la dirigencia indígena para lograr sus objetivos legalmente, solicitando al Presidente del Congreso de la República del Perú que se debata el mencionado DL, para lograr su derogatoria. Las múltiples solicitudes de diálogo hechas por los indígenas fueron ignoradas. También lo fueron los Obispos de la Amazonía y la Conferencia Episcopal instituciones que apoyaban la solicitud de diálogo de los indígenas. El Gobierno respondió de manera autoritaria; el 9 de Mayo declaró Estado de Emergencia en varias ciudades de la Amazonia. Sucesivamente, utilizando ideas de comienzo del Siglo XX, argumentó con ignorancia arrogante que los indígenas eran manipulados e hizo caso omiso a sus derechos ciudadanos. El jueves 4 de Junio, cuando la defensoría del Pueblo—órgano oficial del Estado peruano—había ya interpuesto una demanda de inconstitucionalidad contra el mencionado decreto, una sesión del Congreso Peruano decidió de manera definitiva cancelar la posibilidad de debate sobre la derogatoria de los DL. Con esta medida, la inconstitucionalidad prevaleció sobre el debate democrático. El Gobierno decidió no sólo ignorar a los indígenas sino desconocer la Constitución Nacional. Al día siguiente, el viernes 5 de Junio, las fuerzas policiales dieron inicio al desalojo de la mencionada carretera y lo que fue un esfuerzo pacífico se convirtió enfrentamiento violento. Al momento de escribir estas líneas, 9 de Junio, no existe información precisa acerca de los eventos. No se conoce el número exacto de muertos—algunas fuentes mencionan cerca de cien muertos. La cifra más conservadora indica 33. El número de heridos llega hasta 150, según algunas fuentes. Los números incluyen indígenas, no indígenas, policías y civiles. No se sabe quién empezó el tiroteo en el proceso de desalojo de la carretera. La versión oficial dice que fueron los indígenas; estos dicen que ellos no tenían armas.

Obviamente el problema no es quien disparó la primera bala el viernes 5 de Junio. El problema es la violencia desencadenada desde entonces y las muertes que causó. Era deber del Estado evitar esa violencia. Los responsables de las muertes y de la violencia son quienes, desde el Estado, decidieron en contra de la Constitución; quienes desde el Estado pudieron evitar la muerte y aceptar el diálogo y no lo hicieron. Los responsables de las muertes ocurridas desde el 5 de Junio son quienes, desde el Legislativo y el Ejecutivo, debieron tomar en serio, como ciudadanos sujetos de derecho, a quienes pedían al Estado Peruano que respete su propia Constitución y no lo hicieron. La obstinada violación de la Constitución desde el propio Estado, ha tenido como consecuencia la transgresión de los derechos humanos de los civiles y policías, víctimas de la violencia que un Gobierno responsable y respetuoso del Estado de Derecho pudo haber evitado.

Por la presente pedimos al Estado Peruano, a todas sus instituciones competentes y a las que les corresponda participación en el conflicto más allá del Presidente de la República:

a) Que el Estado Peruano respete su propia suscripción del Convenio 169 y derogue los Decretos Legislativos inconstitucionales;

b) Que respete la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, firmada por Perú, en particular el derecho al consentimiento libre, previo e informado y el derecho a la tierra y uso de los recursos naturales (Artículos 26, 29 y 32 entre otros);

c) Que cumpla con las sentencias y la jurisprudencia de la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre los derechos a la tierra de los pueblos indígenas y su consentimiento libre, previo e informado;

d) Que cese el estado de sitio, la militarización de la zona y se respeten los derechos humanos de mujeres, hombres y niños/as;

e) Que se otorguen garantías nacionales y se organice presencia internacional para que los pueblos indígenas de la Amazonía Peruana retornen a la negociación pacífica de sus reclamos.

f) Que cese la persecución política de los políticos indígenas que actuaban en defensa de la Constitución de la Nación;

g) Que Alan García rinda cuentas ante el pueblo peruano y la comunidad internacional y conteste verazmente a las preguntas: ¿Por qué no aceptó el diálogo que los indígenas pidieron tantas veces?  ¿Por qué el Congreso decidió no someter a debate la derogatoria de los Decretos Leyes el Jueves 4 de Junio? ¿Por qué militarizó el conflicto en vez de realizar una consulta democrática como proponían los indígenas Amazónicos?¿Por qué no respetó los derechos ciudadanos de los indígenas?

Axé.

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The Legal History Blog

I used to have a recurring dream in which I called my mother from my office at Yale University, holding the phone in my right hand and the hand of my three year old in my left, to say I had been granted tenure and promotion and therefore, now having achieved at last the equivalent of graduating from college (according to what my psyche seems to believe family expectations are), I was leaving the profession and going off to seek my fortune in business, the nonprofit world, or law.

In the dream I chose Yale because it is the rebellious choice in our family, which looks down upon Yale and Oxford and only approves of Harvard and Cambridge. Also, to go off into trade would be more palatable if I were already at a déclassé place like Yale. I imagined my three year old as dark, very much mixed, not the color of great grandchild my grandmothers would have approved of. She was also bilingual, her father’s language being one nobody else in the family knew.  This was a dream about having all the trappings I believed I needed to show the family I was a valid person even their cautious selves would authorize to do as I saw fit. It was also about having enough trappings that I did not need authorization.

Yes, Changeseeker, it is a massively “codependent” dream, si tu veux — although I still do not think that terminology is the best description or that it offers the most direct paths out. Because my more positive reading of the dream is that it asks me to place myself in a stronger position, which is not done only by wishful thinking or by deciding one is fatally flawed. It means taking small steps of rebellion against, most specifically, the mental and financial slavery of academia (which I could describe, but whose description lies outside the scope of this post). That is important because the extreme caution I learned from the cautious-for-a-reason family, and the extreme self repression I learned not only from Reeducation but from the actual professor jobs I have had, are not actually attitudes that ferry me to autonomy (which, I will have you know, is safety).

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I came across this blog via Historiann and was amazed at the coincidence, as it is by someone I went to high school with and who is also one of the few people who have been consistently encouraging about my now 15 or 16 year old dream to go to law school. My frisson of envy upon seeing the blog is, she works like a professional. Is a professional. I can or could do that, but I mainly work like a housewife. That is because in most professor jobs I have had, I’ve gotten in serious trouble because of having gotten used to working like a professional in graduate school. Every year I have learned to hold back more, which of course impedes me from doing my best work.

That is of course why, from the first day, I have never liked being a professor. If professordom were really about research, teaching, and administration/service, and if the main fights really were about jobs, grants, publications and tenure, it would be one thing. But the main issues in my experience, and the only keys to survival involve immature social climbing of a type I had previously seen only in junior high. And as I say, I realized this on the first day of my first professor job. I further realized that since I had taken that job, I was no longer destined for more grown up academic jobs. That is why I have wanted another advanced degree and another profession since that day.

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I used to think I needed approval and moral support of others to actually do this. I have in fact always had it in some quarters, just not those from which I felt I needed it. Now, however, I do not think I need any beyond my own.

I also never fully figured out how to finance the legal education I actually want. I have looked at it every possible way and I do not think it is feasible. Had I just gone for it when I first got the idea, and settled for a Louisiana school, it would have been possible financially — in those days. I would have finished a JD back in the 20th century and had I realized this then, I could have made up for the lack of special programs here by going on to the LLM at the kind of school that had the programs I would need for the career I wanted. So now, for example, I would be living in Los Angeles and working on issues related to immigration, racism(s), agriculture, trade, and the international prison industrial complex. That, at least, is the career fantasy I have tried again and again to repress since it first took shape in AY 1992-93.

I think I am beginning to see how to finance it. It involves oilfield work, commuting, and night school, and then an LLM at Austin or UCLA. I am not saying I am doing it now, as there is much more to be worked out. I am only saying I am beginning to see the shape of an actually realistic plan.

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So this is how I am slowly transgressing everything, in accordance with Jennifer’s shamanistic recommendations. Ditch my internalized version of family expectations and fears. Ditch my friends’ and colleagues’ constant chatter that since I did a Ph.D. in literature, I made my bed and must lie in it … since I kept getting tenure track jobs, I had to be grateful and accept them, because many people didn’t get them … since I had done one thing, it had to be the only thing I could do and the only thing I wanted. Ditch the idea, also absorbed from some really twisted things the family believed when it was much younger than I am now, that I cannot make my own money except by staying in school.

But first of all and most importantly, ditch the idea, absorbed from academia, that you cannot work as a professional and survive.

Axé.

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The Shaman Says

While I remain on strike there will be occasional guest posts from a shaman. He is speaking now.

He reminds us that it is well justifiable to enslave Africans because they are not of the same species as us. They are less intelligent and better suited to physical labor. They are insensitive to poor conditions, and less sensitive to pain than we are. They came gladly to us … [here insert several paragraphs from the papers of most any 19th century slavocrat].

He goes on to point out that people in abusive relationships should be encouraged to remain where they are. These people, usually women, are not like thee and me — they actively seek such relationships. They search high and low, beat the bushes and sift the corn, until they find an abusive man.

So if they are in a relationship with one such, and I do mean a relationship of ANY kind [it could be a coworker, it could be anyone] and it is not life threatening, they should stay. Because if they leave they will replace the relationship very quickly, perhaps this time with one which is life threatening. We must therefore thank their abusers for protecting these women. Give them your hands.

And if any woman asks you, “Do you see anything odd in my relationship? Do you think this is too small a bruise to matter? If I leave will you say ‘good for you’ and not ‘you cannot make it on your own, you know’?” — be silent.

How do you like this shaman?  I think he is brilliant. He also doubts the sincerity and intellectual capacity of anyone who would shrink at the logic in his first example, but embrace it in the second.

Axé.

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