Sunday, June 04, 2006

Me, Myself and I

If you are expecting a post about the good ol' De La Soul song from the 90's, you will be sorely disappointed by what is to follow. Feel free to avert your eyes.

For the rest of you, who are probably scraping your memories for a band called De La Soul, I'll quickly move on. Due to some relatively significant shake-ups at my home institution (which really needs a pseudonym, for future reference; perhaps Ascesis U. will work best), the last month or so has reflected an odd juxtaposition of the end of the semester. The first was expected: rest, recharge, return to research; the second, not so much: resistance to change, doubt, weary expectation of what said change will bring about. Up til now, I've been thinking about the oscillation between these two poles. Reading around the blogosphere this morning, however, I'm caught by the ways in which, in our profession, these two positions may be par for the course, and in fact should be brought into collusion with one another.

What could bring me to such an epiphany? If you glance to your right (except those who read this in the evil, jerkface Internet Explorer, which pushes my damn blogroll to the bottom of the page. grrr.), you'll see quite a few academics who blog as a means of detailing the vagaries of professorial life. And what does the aggregate reflect? The shifts as Ascesis U. are not all that unusual, nor are the tendencies to be emotionally eviscerated by them.

If I were a dyed-in-the-wool Foucauldian (actually, given Michel's own proclivities, dyed-in-the-leather might be a better adjective, but then again so would a ball-gag), I would reflect on the ways that the institutions make all of their constituents, professors and students alike, into subjects. In other words, we'd all be simply locked in systems of power and knowledge that condition our responses to others, the institution, and ourselves.

But it's that last word that I'm most interested in at present; what is the status of the academic self? Does it exist outside of, or as a location of resistance to, the academic subject? If so, what does it look like? In what ways can it respond to the architecture of the institution? More to the point, how can awareness and encouragement of an academic self prevent that nauseating see-saw effect from hierarchical change?

I don't have any answers to these questions, of course, but since it appears to be the season of the self-help book, this looks promising:

Hell, everybody has to have a hobby. And it's a damn sight better than haunting San Francisco leather bars. Not that I would know.


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