Friday, October 30, 2009

Write or Die

InaDWriMo 2009 is upon us! Repent! Flee! Or Write!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blogging's Barbarisms

In his "Theses on the Philosophy of History," Walter Benjamin writes:

There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. And just as such a document is not free of barbarism, barbarism taints also the manner in which it was transmitted from one owner to another. (Illuminations, 256)
I'm interested in the ways blogging also exhibits this barbarism. Discuss.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Virtual Sedition

Here's a link to an icky story about an online wingnut game called 2011: Obama Coup Fails. In the game players battle out a new American civil war after the overthrow of the Obama administration. The game comes complete with its own fake history leading up to the war:

Back in 2007, one brave newscaster was the first in what used to be called the 'mainstream media' to ring the alarm bell. That man was Lou Dobbs of CNN. Lou Dobbs was reported missing during the media purges of January and February 2011, when Mark Lloyd and the FCC, on Obama's orders, cracked down on all dissent in broadcasting. Glen Beck, another broadcast media personality who rang the alarm bell before the coup, was found dead of an 'aspirin overdose' in late 2010, after the devastating elections in November.
And its own "future news stories" from the war itself:


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Marx Reading Group: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

I've been wanting to join in the Marx Reading Group on Chapter 25 of Capital, Volume I organized by Nate, but haven't been able to focus enough time and energy in that direction yet. In the meantime, I thought I could contribute Hugo Gellert's wonderful 1934 lithographs of Chapter 25.

Thanks to the working of this law, poverty grows as the accumulation of capital grows. The accumulation of wealth at one pole of society involves a simultaneous accumulation of poverty, labor torment, slavery, ignorance, brutalization, and moral degradation, at the opposite pole -- where dwells the class that produces its own product in the form of capital.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Alienation and Happiness

Via. From On Being Postacademic by Kenneth Mostern:

The scariest thing a young faculty member experiences is not, as is conventionally supposed, the “need to produce” and therefore her/his experience is not aided by the “mentorship” of an experienced scholar.  Rather, the young scholar’s fear stems from the fact that no one in the department is talking to each other about scholarship.  Faculty are socializing, going out, schmoozing all the time, and the ideas that supposedly drive the work they do are not being discussed.  The mentor, if assigned, will try to teach the young faculty member how to navigate the minefield of the department, but that is exactly what is alienating.  The mentor, especially when well-intentioned, may be the model for what is wrong, not an aid in coping.  Indeed, if the mentor is really similar to the young faculty member in terms of ideology or social identity, the mentor may be a model for what the young faculty member does not wish to become.
The one conversation everyone is having incessantly is the one about the micropolitical maneuvers within the department.  This conversation is, of course always done with armor on, with an eye toward alliances and enemies already made, with everyone watching to find out which camp the new faculty member will join.  And while there is a relationship between micropolitics and geopolitics, it is far more tenuous, far more mediated by local institutional conditions, than the new faculty first imagines.
Because no one is talking about substance, only alliances, and because alienation is general, a vacuum exists at the center of institutional power which is not filled by talent or argument, but by those who feel most comfortable or justified taking advantage of it.  For those in power, and for those who hope to attain power, the arrival of a new junior faculty member is to be watched closely for his/her schmoozing choices. As a result, it is not simply the case that junior faculty fear senior faculty, but that the senior faculty fear the junior faculty, walking around wondering whether this new person will contribute to their already hatched plan to take over the curriculum.  The fact that the new person was hired with accomplishments and expectations much higher than so many senior faculty members does not help this form of fear, of course.
While it remains true that the power differential between tenured and untenured faculty makes the ubiquity of fear particularly threatening to the careers of junior faculty members, the longer one stays the more one discovers that one’s unhappiness is simply an example of the larger misery of faculty members.  Senior faculty don’t exactly help or support one another either.  Tenure might lead to a sense of security; it surely does not breed happiness.
Happines remains a very odd thing to to try to find through work. But this description of academic life is far too accurate. My own days are filled by interminable discussions of internal politics of interest to no one but those directly involved. Discussions about ideas are something that happen more often in my classes than with my colleagues.