All I Haven’t Said
Now that I’m safely curled up in my old room, time to take a whack at the ol’ pile of provocations:
The Garrisonians, because so many of them were fervently religious, talked about a higher law than the Constitution; that’s partly right, but in a sense it’s also a matter of a lower, more human law; any serious theory of justice has to start from our ordinary claims to justice and dignity, the kind of demands that we ordinarily address to our fellow human beings (don’t attack me without reason, don’t trash my stuff, mind your own business if it’s not hurting you) rather than the ritual incantations that you might utter before a Court (Eighth Amendment, Public Use Clause, penumbral right to privacy, blah blah blah).
Constitutions don’t protect liberty; people do. Or don’t, which is the legacy the Constitution of the United States leaves us with today.
I was a bit worried that agreeing so much with an anarchiste would ruin my credentials as a tax’n’spend liberal, but then again, don’t let me starve or freeze or bleed to death on the street is also a demand ordinarily addressed to our fellow human beings. So I think I’m okay on that score. Phew.
Probably my favorite post from Blog Against Racism Day (not that I read more than a small fraction of ’em) is from Nina Turns 40:
I’m a sensitive, liberal, totally PC chick, and I want my props for it. And that’s what it boils down to. I want to be acknowledged for all my wonderful anti-racist attitudes, when in fact I’m just like a fish who isn’t aware of the water–racism is all around me, and I’m stuck in it, breathing it, part of it, whether I like it or not. And sometimes, I do stupid racist things–not in an overt or malicious way, but I do them all the same. This is not easy to admit.
And while we’re on the theme of pieces with which I uncomfortably identify, here’s Antonella Pavese on ambition:
When he asked me if I had passion, I felt all my doubts creeping in; maybe I didn’t have what was needed to succeed or at least to be taken seriously, after all.
What I really wanted from him was a reassurance that all was OK, that I could do it, that I would not fail. He didn’t do it, and I started doubting myself.
I think about my current situation, all the discomfort and pain I am going through now in my job, and I see the same mechanism in operation. I passionately and loudly ask for permission and reassurance rather than demanding recognition for what I have done and opportunities to do what I love. By now, I should know better.
There is, of course, a genderedness thereof, which Pavese gets into in more detail. But I think more importantly there are socioeconomics at play. My relationship to the words “day job” has always been different than that of my peers: I don’t particularly want a mere job, but in some of my friends* I see horror and disgust at the idea which I’ve never been able to feel. Industry was kinda boring, but it paid the bills and was so much less soul-killing than the assembly line that frankly, asking for more seems like looking a gift horse in the mouth.
I had four years of feeling stupid at Tech and I don’t intend to go through that ever again. I am in fact smart enough for science, and I’ve gotten pretty good at adding “hells yeah I’m smart, fuck you” to my internal monologues. I think maybe “of course I’m ambitious, don’t give me that shit” should go in there as well. (Internal monologues are more effective when they have lots of swear words).
Profgrrl wants to know how to make semester’s end less stressful – term projects designed for double-dipping in the students’ own research are a godsend; scheduling finals so that they’re not the week after the major professional conference that happens to be in your institution’s home city would be nice.
*Particularly friends from Tech. It takes a high level of privilege to turn up your nose at a decent white-collar job, and Tech is nothing if not chock fulla class privilege.