Saturday, October 08, 2005

My anxieties haven't so much been about how to progress within the university sector with my rather idiosyncratic political positioning, wondering how I might continue as a club member, but more in the line of wondering how long I can persist in institutional environments that consistently and increasingly guide me to spend a lot of time and energy on things that are not only not important to me, but extremely dissonant in relation to the hierarchies of values with which I negotiate my life and relationships.

I wonder about the history of universities and the fundamental architectures of university life that may still be structured in key ways by the powerful (not total) impetus in the early development of such (proto-corporate?) institutions to promote and reinforce (expansionary)(religious/legal) doctrine/"Truth" (driven, of course, by particular people rather than by some invisible epistemic hand). I wonder about the ways in which things from the structure of classrooms to textbook pedagogy may continue to be deeply influenced by those underlying architectures of thought, practice, and expectation.

I wonder whether critical or radical pedagogic approaches may always be the least influential (and yet most threatening) voices within such institutional environments. While I truly value the opportunities I have in classrooms now to work with students in the cause of more helpful thinking, I wonder how long I have to earn a regular wage (to cover loans) before having the courage to go primarily independent as an educator and writer/critic (I do think it helpful to keep a foot in the institutional camp, but not to allow such values to take over my life). I am wary not to think 'university = bad nasty system' because I am not a fan of the enemization (and often accompanying reification) of 'systems', more that I am thinking in terms of the relational character/tone/atmosphere of particular environments, particular circumstances, of involvement and encounter.

At present I find myself sometimes moving out of my disciplines, in a frustration with the abstractions of much academic life (of which I frequently participate despite my best intentions), (there's a venomous and somewhat misfiring article by Robert Fisk on the web about academic language, but I still have it on the wall above my desk) to speak to and work with people who are yearning for relationships in and through which to explore helpful approaches towards less enclosing ways of relating. This week I have been talking to people in an autism research centre (in a university), which is wonderfully refreshing, because the place is guided in tone and character by a working relationship with people living with autistic spectrum experience and with parents. Accessibility of language and thought is not so much demanded as it is simply appropriate to such circumstances, and I am very much looking forward to exploring those possibilities of inquiry and engagement.

The administrative, bureaucratic, doctrinal, and corporate orthodoxies of university life can often drown out other possibilities in your head. I think being very clear in clarifying what's important helps in being more aware of how and when the subtle persuasions of not-so-helpful university life are threatening to, or beginning to, displace what we might like to be important to us. I think working within university/corporate contexts is possible, but what I aspire to myself is to make sure that such environments of increasingly alienated relationship (never mind the normalization of bullying, domination, imposition, etc etc etc) do not become the dominant modes of my existence, that is, that I aspire to doing (and do) other things that keep me sane and humanised, like joining my local brass band, finding kindred spirits wherever, and putting most of my energies into working on the possibilities of resonance and emergence rather than the charybdis of oppositional resistance. It's easy to resonate with your enemies' priorities in a fight.

Just in passing, came across this on the internet, apropos nothing, just thought it was interesting, the heresy of Double Truth: