Professing * Reflecting

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Doing the Awake Things

Still on the high from yesterday. Got word from the journal editor that I can submit the article next month. Woo hoo! Managed to get one set of exams graded and plan to do another today. Should be doing Christmas shopping, as I leave in one week for my sister's--in the Deep Red of the U.S.--where there are four children waiting for presents from their favorite aunt. Should also be paying bills and attending to the thousand little details that I must attend to before spending an entire week in the Deep Red without hypervenilating any more than I already do when spending an entire week with my family in the Deep Red. Yes, that sentence is supposed to leave one as breathless as I feel when thinking about all I have to do.

What am I doing instead of grading or getting ready for my trip? Nursing a hangover? Wondering why I said all of those things to all of the wrong people in the bar last night? Turning Demetrius or Feste or Cassio or Romeo out of my bed? No, no, and no. Amazingly, I did not go out last night. Made myself stay in my office at school into the evening, until I had finished grading exams. Came home. Went to bed early. Did not even have a glass of wine. WHAT HAVE I BECOME?

I will turn to my online astrologer for answers. This seems to be a whore-o-scope of the Dr. Crazy and Profgrrrrl variety:

Here is your horoscope for Wednesday, December 15:

Passion of one kind or another is definitely on the agenda. It's up to you to decide whether it's going to be the angry kind or the ardent kind. Yes, you can actually channel that heat you're feeling. Get busy.

I am feeling passion of a very certain kind. Dare I say it? Passion for my work. I am positively on fire with ideas for this article, the conference presentation, and even for the (non-existent) book from my (moldy) dissertation. I just found out that I can very possibly get funding to hire a research assistant next semester. Already making a list of what I want him or her to do. Yes--ardent passion for my research.

I am also feeling extreme anger towards my particular institution--anger that is fueling the research passion. I am slowly realizing that the oppressive, anti-intellectual fog that seems to hang over my institution--ok, a pseudonym: Foggy College--is very real. Before this year, I had thought that I was being a bit paranoid about this. My students have always commented on the "progressive" nature of my teaching and my subject matter. Because I consider it to be tame, I have chalked this up to their inexperience. More and more, I am realizing that they are comparing me to other professors at Foggy C and that my teaching and the material is indeed relatively progressive. I have been talking to new hires who are feeling the same fog and wondering if it is real. I having been paying careful attention in faculty/administration meetings (about new policies and new programs) and in casual conversations with more senior faculty. I have found one underlying refrain in these meetings and conversations: "We are all for intellectual freedom and all, but . . . .".

This is scary. The most potent expression of this anti-intellectualism comes when I discuss my research with my chair and others who have been around Foggy C for some time. While they encourage me to do research (as do new policies), they make a clear distinction between the research I should be doing at Foggy C. and the research that "sounds like what might be more appropriate at a research university." One of these higher-ups even recently referred to words such as "semiotics" and "epistemology" as "academic jargon." (Excuse me for a moment . . .WHAT THE FUCK CENTURY IS THIS?!?!?!) What I do or want to do clearly represents some kind of threat that I do not fully understand.

So, yeah, my passions are both ardent and angry and I do plan to "get busy." It just will not be the kind of "getting busy" I am used to reporting here. I think Dr. Crazy posted about this once: all passion ultimately dims in relation to the passion I feel for my work. I just hope I can sustain this and not revert to my usual hijinks. I am sure I will continue to dally a bit in those (ab)normal activities (after all, it's only healthy and it's only me) but Feste and Cassio are on tour, Demetrius is busy with rebound (from She-Whom-He-Loves) hijinks that have nothing to do with me, and Romeo has fallen off the cave-dar. My lack of interest in those passions may be more a result of these circumstances than it does with the rediscovery of my academic self.

In any case, I am happy--overwhelmed but happy--with this new state of affairs. OK, carrying on to the awake things before the morning is over.



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