I have a confession to make:
My name is Tom, and I’m an addict.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been addicted to starting new things. New books, new projects, new hobbies. I pick up something for a few days. I like it. And then I pick up something else. And something else. And something else. It’s a vicious cycle, and I know that I need help.
But that’s not even the worst of my addictions. No, not by far. You see, I’m also addicted to quickly giving up on the new things that I’ve started. Every time I start something new, something old gets left behind. In the dustbin. Never to be picked up again. Never to be finished. Ever.
So when I began the 3-for-3 series of posts back in late August, I knew what would inevitably happen. I knew that, at some point, the project would fall by the wayside as soon as I started something else. And so, with the knowledge of my addiction in mind, I marked each of my posts with a “#.#” designation so that I could keep track of how many times I started, stopped, and then re-started this endeavor.
(And, you have to admit, that’s either really awesome or really sad. ‘Sup to you which you prefer.)
Today marks the “return from the dead” of the 3-for-3 — a return which I’m (optimistically) calling the premiere of SEASON 2. By my count, I lasted for five whole episodes in SEASON 1; we’ll see how long it takes for my addiction to cancel the sequel.
And now, my own version of the “Blogger’s Serenity Prayer”:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things that I can,
And the perseverance to keep posting links until my fingers fall off.
With that, let Season 2 of the 3-for-3 commence!
I recently found out that my course proposal for a writing seminar based around the idea of failure — I’m calling it “The #epicfail as Argument” — has been approved for Spring 2014 (more on this in a future post). Liza Mundy’s essay in The Atlantic deals with exactly the kind of phenomenon we’ll be discussing and analyzing in this class: How does our perception of “failure” shape our attitudes toward disgraced politicians and business leaders? Mundy’s piece is a fascinating read that strikes at the heart of the American mythos of rebirth and/or regeneration through failure.
The higher-ed reform narrative is, of course, far larger and more complex than any one news article can convey, but a recent vote by the graduate faculty at Rutgers University to restrict the creation of new online grad programs sums up the frustration that a lot of folks are feeling about the technologization of the academy. You really should read the entire article, but here’s the money quote:
“[David M. Hughes, professor of anthropology] said a growth in enrollment and tuition revenue should be accompanied by more tenured faculty members, not corporate profits.”
Obviously it’s in the faculty’s best interest — and, since I’ll be on the job market next year, also in mine — to utilize tuition revenue in the manner Hughes suggests. But no one has yet convinced me that the hiring/retention of tenured faculty members isn’t also in the best interests of the students and families who are seeking a high-quality university education.
I suppose there’s probably a good neo-liberal argument floating around out there somewhere . . . right?
Stephen Collis’s “Towards a Dialectical Poetry” popped up on my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been wrestling with his ideas ever since. I agree entirely about the potential for avant-garde poetic forms to act as a powerful critique of capitalism — if I didn’t, I’m not sure why I’d be so interested in the poets that I study — but I’m just not sure how a poetry like this makes its critique known to any more than about 50-100 people at a time. This is, in a nutshell, what I feel is THE problem of the avant-garde: How does a poet communicate with a broad audience without being co-opted by the very capitalistic mechanisms that make such communication possible? His take is very much worth your time if you’re at all interested in the intersection of radical aesthetic practice and social action/intervention.