Pop-Jingo! Framing the stakeholders, goals, and problems related to Reinvention so broadly allows Realist to recast Reinvention as a colonization effort, a corporate takeover, and even a Civil War. (The Read. . . #21)

Recall that Realist’s promotion of black-or-white thinking was tracked in “First Sketch” and “Second Sketch.” Sparked by some element that upsets their experience of the status quo, black-or-white thinkers like Realist employ a simplistic “Us/Them” interpretive framework and demonizing rhetoric to give expression to perceived danger, thereby revealing the range – and limit – of their beliefs about themselves and Others.

That’s scapegoating.

In a context other than Reinvention, most Lounge readers would likely recognize Realist’s rhetoric for what it has been – false solutions, dehumanization, the grossly illogical placement of blame on Others. No evidence, no critical-thinking required.

Given the right conditions, many can be bewitched by demonizing rhetoric.

Think back to grad school and learning to avoid race/gender/class bias in your research. Remember, say, that seminar about the effects of “stereotype threat” in the classroom? Or the seminar where H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds was read through xenophobic responses to immigration? That was all about the rhetorical construction of the subject.*

Populism-Jingoism and an “educator-centered” discourse inform Realist’s rhetoric. By using the most general terms, Realist seeks to invoke putative categories of people (professions?) and beliefs already set in place ideologically. Thus (according to Realist) somewhat trans-historical “educators” promote skills and values that enable social mobility, uphold democracy, and stimulate capitalism (which is paradoxical since educators are somewhat trans-historical); in turn, profit-driven corporations/corrupt politicians promote anti-intellectualism at CCC to enslave “Us” (presumably to the totalizing logic of capital).

For Realist, it’s American/Un-American.

Framing the stakeholders, goals, and problems related to Reinvention so broadly allows Realist to recast Reinvention as a colonization effort, a corporate takeover, and even a Civil War. When criticized for these constructions, Realist scapegoats, trivializes, invokes “freedom” (of speech/ democracy). More to the point, framing Reinvention-related issues this way enables Realist to avoid discussing anything specific (e.g., student needs, institutional problems, the relationship between business and education, effective pedagogical practices).

Don’t see that?

https://haroldlounge.com/2013/03/08/why-i-blog-anonymously-part-ii/

https://haroldlounge.com/2013/02/28/the-read-from-this-side-of-suite-711-12/

https://haroldlounge.com/2013/02/12/the-read-from-this-side-of-suite-711-7/

https://haroldlounge.com/2012/10/22/no-longer-debating-what-to-watch-tonight/

https://haroldlounge.com/2011/09/27/the-lounge.special-announcement/ (re: “Trojan Horse”)

https://haroldlounge.com/2011/08/04/of-education-and-politics/

https://haroldlounge.com/2011/07/06/common-thread-or-voices-in-my-head/

SFTB asks, “If there is only one academic school left in a seven school system, who is served?” How this question gets answered need not reinforce Realist’s black-or-white thought process.

*Of course, there is no guarantee that transfer will occur (see The Read #12).

The Read from Suite 711 (19.5) Interlude #6.5

Looking Back, Looking Forward: Serendipity on Friday

“If there’s a thesis, I can’t detect it—and that’s the remarkable, even heroic, thing about it. The author of two previous novels, McConnell is interested not in making broad claims but in telling stories about how and where masculinity expresses itself as murderous violence. Contra Christy Wampole, he writes, ‘Straight men, who really are socially powerful, have been accustomed to a veil of discretion when it comes to the truth about their private selves, their weaknesses, anatomy, fears, silliness.’ But theirs are stories too, and McConnell tells a number of them. Some you’ve heard: about the killing of Billy Jack Gaither, for instance, who was gay; or the famous Jenny Jones case, in which a gay man went on TV to confess an attraction to a male friend, who afterward killed him. This last tale actually constitutes part of the book’s introduction: McConnell hasn’t really told us the why before he starts in with the what.

So this is more of a meditation, shorter on analysis than it is on simple thoughtfulness. . . .”

The above from http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/spring-books-worley-david-mcconnell-desire-rage/Content?oid=9204773.

The evaluation of rhetoric/style directly echo comments that begin https://haroldlounge.com/2013/03/07/the-read-from-this-side-of-suite-711-15/#comment-11194.

(Added bonus: Christy Wampole from http://donsdesk.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/irony/ returns!)

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (19)

Interlude #6:  Looking Back, Looking Forward

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“There is no such thing as free speech”: an interview with Stanley Fish

Q : Professor Fish, what do you mean when you say that there is no such thing as free speech?

A : Many discussions of free speech, especially by those whom I would call free speech ideologues, begin by assuming as normative the situation in which speech is offered for its own sake, just for the sake of expression. The idea is that free expression, the ability to open up your mouth and deliver an opinion in a seminar-like atmosphere, is the typical situation and any constraint on free expression is therefore a deviation from that typical or normative situation. I begin by saying that this is empirically false, that the prototypical academic situation in which you utter sentences only to solicit sentences in return with no thought of actions being taken, is in fact anomalous. It is something that occurs only in the academy and for a very small number of people.

 

. . . Whichever side of this particular debate you might be on I think my point holds — there was a sense of balancing the rights of individuals to freely deliver their opinions against the desires and needs of the society and the community. Since the ’50s and ’60s that second pole has dropped out and more and more you get a First Amendment rhetoric of individual liberty which has the effect of producing a roster of First Amendment heroes, who gain that status by uttering the vilest statements that can be imagined in situations designed to cause harm, embarrassment, and psychological damage to others. These persons are then put forward as representing the best instincts of the American experiment.

Read the rest at http://australianhumanitiesreview.org/archive/Issue-February-1998/fish.html

 

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (#18)

Interlude #5:  How do you respond to disturbing student writing? 

This is a question that all college instructors must answer at some point in their careers, especially composition instructors. 

Composition instructors find themselves with access to students’ thoughts and feelings about many different subjects.  Instructors learn to recognize their students’ “voices”: in addition to favored stylistic/rhetorical maneuvers, students’ ideological and political affiliations also tend to manifest in compositions.  There is consistency.  A pattern develops.  Arguments are strengthened, challenged, changed.  The dialogue that develops between instructor and student can be mutually enriching. 

But sometimes students write material that can cause discomfort.  Perhaps the material is too confessional and personally revealing or perhaps the material expresses negative emotions, bizarre images, and a non-linear thought process.

If one of your students turned in material similar to what Realist has been posting on the Lounge, how would you respond?  Would you comment on a lack of citations/supporting evidence, imagery, or a non-linear presentation of ideas?  Responses will vary.  Some instructors choose not to address such issues in written material.  If you would not address such issues, what criteria/theory do you draw upon to make such a choice?  

 

Below are several links from Binghamton University, Adams State University, and University of Colorado that may help all CCC instructors to answer questions about how to identify and respond to disturbing student writing.

http://www2.binghamton.edu/dean-of-students/docs/responding-to-disturbing-content-aug-2011.pdf

http://www.adams.edu/about/safety/guidelines%20for%20responding%20to%20disturbing%20writing%20and%20classroom%20behavior%20rev%201.4-1.pdf

http://www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/victimassistance/quickassist/disturbingwriting.pdf

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (17)

SECOND SKETCH: THREE Bs to “BELONGING” (conclusion)

https://haroldlounge.com/2012/11/09/badge-lacks-courage-to-educate/

“B Three =

“The apparition of these faces in the Crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.”

If there is a second sustained metaphor in the post other than that of pointing fingers, it is that of a bowel movement.  That metaphor tracks as follows:

“Here are some initial thoughts, on the plastic tags and related crap, that flashed through my head. . . . I give these thoughts to you half-baked. . . . Are we back to thinking of our students as ‘customers’? What does that make me? I feel dirty just thinkin’ ’bout it. . . . [T]hat sounds like a stinkin’ excuse and not a proper rationale. . . . Branding: I’m waiting for the day when I’ll walk into the college and be asked to bend over so I can have HW branded on my assets. . . . All this crap started when the district said we needed new colors. If [I] focused more on the purpose of education, [sic] than reinventing the rainbow I think [I]’d find gold sooner.”

That dense, non-linear final sentence presents several challenges for the reader.  The “reinvented rainbow” image not only refers to a change in CCC colors or a myth regarding found riches, the roundness of the image also refers to the figurative “mooning” that takes place in the lobby of Harold Washington College when “I” bends over so that “I can have HW branded on my assets.”  The “found gold” refers not only to some kind of academic or financial success as Realist conceives it, it is yet another tag/badge intended to signify some worthwhile quality: the found gold marks the end result of the post, arguably the pleasure and value Realist places on having “re-branded” Reinvention.

The metaphor is unpleasant.  There is no other way to say this.  One characteristic of demonizing rhetoric is the use of vile imagery to describe the “Other.”  (See https://haroldlounge.com/2013/03/08/why-i-blog-anonymously-part-ii/)   

The post closes with an italicized address to the reader: “*If I come across as bein’ flippant, it’s only ’cause I’m tryin’ to get my message across any ways I can. I’ve tried polite in the past. Humorous e’ery so often. Formal when I thoughts it apropos. Silly when sensible was not called for. And now? Perhaps if I appeal to the lowest common denominator of intelligence, maybe, maybe, someone might pay attention. When in Rome…”

This direct address to the reader is supposed to create the illusion that the “real,” sincere person behind the “I” has stepped out from behind all textual effects to speak candidly with the reader; instead, in the wake of the “rebranding,” a self-infantilizing persona is left standing in the lobby of HWC.

“I’m tryin’ to get my message across any ways I can,” declares Realist.

On the one hand, Realist denies responsibility for the post in general and the bowel movement in particular, essential claiming that “District Office made ‘I’ do it.”  On the other hand, Realist makes a plaintive demand for attention: “Perhaps if I appeal to the lowest common denominator of intelligence, maybe, maybe, someone might pay attention.”

The demand for attention is profoundly conflicted.  “What would [my] founding fathers say?”

“It’s about that reply Kamran and others left on PhiloDave’s post. I need not expound on it here. . . . [G]o back and read those thoughtful words…about education and academics and students. Ain’t no gimmicks there,” writes Realist.  The reader will note that Realist simply avoids any attempt to summarize or paraphrase “those thoughtful words.”

Therefore, Realist’s post is redundant, unnecessary, and opportunistic after all.

(End of Second Sketch)

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (15)

SECOND SKETCH: THREE Bs to “BELONGING” (cont.) 

https://haroldlounge.com/2012/11/09/badge-lacks-courage-to-educate/

“B Two = Badge lacks courage to educate” (cont.)  

And by asking the question, by (once again!) forcefully elbowing the reader/viewer to give up some affirmation or applause – for just a moment – Realist almost stops in mid-whirl and recognizes the insubstantial nature of a spectacle-dependent sense of self: the pupil-image/tag/badge Realist is creating may not be “true” (or not “professional”) after all.

But the moment passes quickly.  Redoubling efforts at deflecting and delusion, Realist barrels on,  “I” whirling and finger pointing at District Office’s trickster world of false symbols and shifting meanings.  Ever playing to the (in) crowd at some “Other’s” expense. 

“Riddle me this: Do ivy league [sic] faculty wear badges when they help their customers? Didn’t think so,” writes Realist.

Of course faculty at Ivy League schools wear “badges”: they wear the “Ivy League” reputation.  That reputational good is what enrolling students purchase.  Students there – just like CCC students here – dream of wearing graduation gowns, mortar boards and tassels, and receiving diplomas.  The badges worn by Ivy League faculty and students – just like those worn by faculty and students who work at CCC, Best Buy, or video game stores – neither contain any fixed meaning nor have a fixed relation to those (“trained to be slaves”) who wear them.  People give “badges” to themselves and each other, and people give meaning to those badges.

Some “badges” are earned, some not.  Unlike Henry, Realist does not come to understand this.

Narcissistically, Realist identifies with the Ivy League and not with CCC or its students.

Realist writes: “Only educated peeps having [sic] the courage to promote true education with words and actions; which is more than I can say for the people responsible for authoring [sic] the badges.”  Notice the use of the word “authoring,” not “authorizing.”

And Realist is responsible for authoring all of the “badges” in this post, for erecting unmistakable markers of class (if not race) in a post that, ultimately, was never intended as any kind of critique but as mere self-aggrandizement for the purpose of (in-crowd) affirmation.

Realist’s drive to separate “them” from “us” reaches new lows as the post concludes.

(Next: the conclusion to Second Sketch/B Three begins)

The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (14)

SECOND SKETCH: THREE Bs to “BELONGING” (cont.) 

https://haroldlounge.com/2012/11/09/badge-lacks-courage-to-educate/

“B Two = Badge lacks courage to educate” (cont.)  

Since the post consists of Realist’s “half-baked” thoughts, it is misleading for Realist to use the pronoun “we”; therefore, the pronoun “I” has been inserted into the following:

“Graduation gowns: . . . I say graduation clowns. . . asked to stand in the lobby of our building wearing graduation regalia.  [I’m] turning our academic institution into a circus.  [I] appear to be appealing to the lowest common denominator of attention. ‘Hey kids, look over there! It’s Graduate Gary! Let’s go talk to him about graduation!’  ‘Kids, kids! It’s Betty with a badge! Let’s ask her about semester schedules!’  With [my] words [I] say [I] want to have a frickin’ ‘world class institution’; with [my] actions [I] say the complete opposite.”

Realist writes, “I don’t need to be tagged in order to continue assisting [my] students in their academic experience.  My professionalism will let students know they’re at a community college, right?” 

The tag/badge that Realist desires is the one that will signify an essential, worthwhile quality about Realist, one that readers/viewers will see and respond to positively.  More to the point regarding Realist’s enormous need for belonging, it is in the responses and faces of the readers/viewers that Realist looks for and confirms Realist’s own sense of self.

The entire post demonstrates this.

However, the desired tag/badge is chimerical because Realist’s sense of self is externally referenced: it is a tiny, fleeting image reflected on the pupils of the eyes of those who gather before the attention-seeking Realist-as-spectacle.  The nature of this uncertain, spectacle-dependent sense of self shows through in the fact that Realist asks a question instead of making a statement when Realist writes, “My professionalism will let students know they’re at a community college, right?”