November 10, 2011

Update--and thoughts

I met with my therapist yesterday.  I have seen him before and found him to be as I remembered--thoughtful, engaged, and intelligent.  He suggested that my malaise was based in the fact that I felt that my intellectual and professional contributions were not valued, and probably that I was grieving the fact that some of my professional dreams not only hadn't happened, but probably would not.

He gave me some suggestions for ways to both think about my work now, and to also find other ways to "fill my bucket" outside work.  Probably something a lot of people struggle with.


I have been struck, btw, by how my conservative Christian friends on FB are more likely to dismiss the OWS movement as a bunch of whiners.  One had a comment (by someone I didn't know) who suggested that the entire movement was caused by ACORN.  Wow.

How did conservative Christianity become the defensive bulwark for the wealthy?


Watched the coverage of the Penn State story last night.  There is absolutely nothing good about this story of abuse and pedophilia and institutional failure.  But it amazed me to hear the students chanting for Paterno to be able to coach the remainder of the season.  As if football matters in this context?

But to be fair, and Chris Fowler made this very point (which makes me wonder if he won't get in trouble), Penn State did this as a PR move to stop the bleeding and change the narrative.  They did it to protect the brand and to protect the institution's financial situation.

Once we turned universities from institutions of education into commercial ventures, we created this kind of idiocy.  


leighton said...

I have a fever, and the only cure is more, mandolin.

Not that I get the impression that you have any intention to stop teaching, and history is probably different in many ways than math, but if I had finished my doctorate, there are ten, maybe fifteen people in the world who would ever have read it. Not being a professional mathematician has given me the opportunity to talk about math with many more people on the internet than I ever would have if I had stayed in academia.

I suspect that this blog has given you a much wider audience for reminding people that the past isn't even past (h/t Faulkner) than you would have had time for if you had "made it" in academia. I know I've appreciated your work here over the years. And this kind of outreach to the public, whether formal or informal, is what we need more of in every discipline. Sure, it isn't as academically "respectable" (popularizers of science have exactly the same problem - Carl Sagan was denied tenure at Harvard because he spent too much time on works meant for lay audiences). But we need it all the same. I'm not sure how we'll make it as a society if we don't get a lot more academics doing exactly what you're doing here - applying your discipline to the political and social issues that affect everyone, not just a relative handful of professionals at conferences.

Streak said...

Heh, yeah, one of the things I hope to do more to fill that bucket is more mandolin.

Thanks, Leighton. You made my day.

SOF (aka Small Glimpses) said...

Leighton - I agree with you 100%. Years and years ago (pre blogging and Facebook) I told Streak that history needs to be more approachable outside the university. I've come to appreciate the complexity in the American myth and the American story through many conversations with Streak (usually over coffee or on drives to our favorite Starbucks across town). You are right!! Streak is doing exactly this and doing it very well. I totally agree with you and couldn't be more proud of him. His voice is strong, convicting at times, gentle and compassionate at others. The one common theme is that Streak is willing to wrestle with the complexities of life's issues on this earth and during this modern era. Willing to ask the very hard questions and willing to think through the various paths to uncover traps and possible devastating results.

Thank you for sending encouragement to Streak. :)

SOF said...

[SOF still misses Streak (our beloved), too.]