Revised Mission Statement

1. This weblog was started to reimagine and reconstruct me, from the ground up, as a professor. But the issue is not really academia, or Bayou Maringouin where I live and, regrettably, feel incarcerated. The issue is guilt about existing, about being who I am, and about having failed to turn into someone else. Someone less deserving of torture, I want to say.

2. I often try to frame my struggles in practical terms, with practical solutions like these. I am always disappointed when the plan turns out to be off the mark. “Just work and play on a flexible, yet ordered and well prioritized schedule, as you used to do and well know how to do,” is what I say.

3. This does not address the actual issues which are (a) guilt about having the personality and priorities I do, (b) anger about the pain I have gone through because of these and because of the guilt I feel about being who I am, or (c) guilt about my willingness to do anything, make any change required, just to get away from academia my PTSD trigger — even if I regret the good books I could still write.

4. That is to say that my quandaries have nothing to do with not knowing how to do an academic job or not being interested in my research field.  I want the guilt to end and the emotional pain to stop. And I do not control the life I lead well enough, but even if I did so in the way some milder colleagues do, it would not resemble the kind of life in which I am interested.

4.’ The disquiet I want to shed is destructive, and is not required, and has no positive side. But it is the disquiet I want to shed, not my self. What things are academia and what things are those I transfer onto it, is my constant question, and if I told you all I have seen, you would see why it is a difficult one.

5. Separate from the disquiet is my dissatisfaction, about which I feel guilty as well, since I feel I have no right to it. But it is helpful as a sign of how I would like to live, and because I until I find a third way to be, I would rather remain a pained rebel than acquire the usual professorial (or perhaps American) traits of docility and passive aggression.

5′. The answer is not to think in terms of defending your boundaries but in terms of radiating happiness and confidence — another sin, of course, for academics, since if you are not suffering, you are not working, which is dangerous.  I am going to commit this sin anyway.

6. I like to meditate but am not a mild person and a hard driving career would fit me. I am afraid to say this because it lays me open to another common insult, namely, that if I am not willing to sacrifice things like love and my own nature, then I cannot be serious, or I am not really a scholar. I am a heretic from the point of view of those who mistake flexibility for lack of seriousness. I would say that error is the actual heresy.

6′. The exhortation “if you are not willing to sacrifice…” has to do with gender expectations and market conditions that are encoded in such a way make the individual responsible for everything that happens. Because, you see, this advice may be good, but following it may not protect you from things like this.

7. I was intrigued by this post from the Female Science Professor, on an awkward situation, and by the comments, where opinions differ on what she should have done. I am not sure what she should have done but she did one good thing I do not always do: recognize that it was undermining. My immediate response would be to feel guilty.

7′. And whenever I am mistreated in academia I feel I deserve it for being intellectually oriented being practical working like a professional not performing gender correctly. This is terribly irrational. Or not at all — because its roots are in sexism, as I clearly saw when I finally unpacked it.

8. I want to apologize for being so intellectually oriented, and also for having a practical, organized mind. These things are not appropriate for girls. I dream of being forgiven and having the pain stop. I dream of being forgiven for having had a small inheritance that permitted me to attend the college I wished. I want to apologize for being grateful for this, and not resenting it. I want not to feel apologetic.

9. Many years ago I had almost freed myself of all of this guilt. Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel inspired me to seek the help of Reeducation to pull me to the end and into that brightness. Of course, I made a near fatal error then, as Reeducation supported older ideas on who and what intellectuals were and girls should be. But my project remains the same.

10. I have the strange feeling I have said these things before, framed the mission statement of the blog this way before. Every time I try, every time hard work on a post gives this result, I realize this must be the project, and that coming to it again and again I may be inching closer.

10′. I had enthusiasm and strength before. I did not feel nearly as guilty as I do now before Reeducation, and that is because, as I have discerned much more recently, guilt is a response to abuse. I had lucidity and autonomy before Reeducation. I am taking them back.

Axé.


3 thoughts on “Revised Mission Statement

  1. Some things need to be said repeatedly to get them to sink in. You can know a thing and yet not know it, not to the point of being able to act on it, or (better yet) to the point of acting on it without thinking about how to act. I often find in my personal journal useful insights on a situation that I wrote two years, three years, five years ago, and yet the days go by and the things I would need to do to change the situation don’t happen, and the insight recedes again. But eventually I notice again, and make another effort. In some cases, time or other events not under my control fix the problem. In others, I just keep trying, over and over, to act as I know I need to.

    It would be marvelous if you could go back in time and be the person you were when things were getting better, and not go to Reeducation. Unfortunately, time is a one-way street. But can you try to talk to your past self, in writing or in meditation, and see if she can give you advice on what to do now?

  2. Thanks, DE — yes, that’s what the blog is for, more or less, although I don’t think young me would have advice for now; the only thing to do is recapture some spirit. I do understand that sounds like going back in time, people keep saying this, but I don’t think my nature has changed that much and remember, I was fragile enough that I was destroyed by this chance encounter, really, of Reeducation.

    I had meant to mark this post private since my family reads this blog, but now that you’ve commented I will work on it some more and keep it up — apologies to family if you are reading, I love you and all, I just really struggle with the issue having to do with the money V saved. I have thought about it every day since the will was read, and I am sorry. I am grateful to her. I want to honor her memory and all of her work more, and not less. I want to take full advantage of the opportunities she opened for me before it is too late.

  3. Now I see — a very, very great deal of what I struggle with is actually left over from my father’s tenure path, which lasted in my life from ages 0 to 7. And other things my parents transferred onto school, and my identity, and my career, and so on. All of this is unreal, phantasmagoria, but I think of it as real conditions.

    Meanwhile, I think I’ve undergone huge amounts of gender policing abuse that I did not recognize entirely clearly as such, and that I internalized. And all of this shouldn’t be true, it is a set of experiences I should not have had, and I think if it as phantamagoria, but it is a real set of conditions.

    This is all quite illuminating.

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