The Death of a Museum

On the second floor of our big and beautiful student center, there used to be an art museum. It was such an amazing place to go during a busy day, to wander among works of art, in a silent room, to think and contemplate beautiful objects. It was the place to meditate, recharge one’s batteries, and experience tranquility and beauty.

So I went to the museum to have a quiet moment and discovered, to my absolute horror, that there is no museum any longer. It has been closed down and a junk food convenience store has been put in its place. Because apparently the other 6 places on campus (including in this very building) that sell the same kind of junk are not enough.

I’m sure we will soon see a DVD rental and an arcade where the library used to be.

Seriously, folks, the shock I experienced when I saw the candy bar and soda aisles where artwork used to be was really bad.

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Short Form

Students are unhappy with long readings and want everything that’s short. So I decided to give them so much short stuff that they will hate it for ever and ever. And I invented a course on the short form.

Then I started reading Jonathan Mayhew’s blog and discovered that he also invented such a course. His is better than mine because he thought of more short form genres than I have. For instance, he is including epitaphs, which is brilliant. Also, he’s doing mottos and slogans. I can teach brilliant lectures on mottos and slogans.

No that I know that an undisputed star of my field is teaching this kind of course, too, I feel very justified in offering it.

This will be fun.

Amazon’s Ploy?

After all the hype about Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty First Century, I started wondering whether I might need it for my research and decided to check it out. Then I discovered that in all cooperating libraries it’s either out or hasn’t arrived yet and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble it’s actually out of stock.

And we all know how I feel when I want a book and can’t get it.

Might this all be a ploy on the part of Amazon and Barnes & Noble to sell the ultra-expensive digital version of the book that everybody is desperate to get? Of course, I’m not desperate enough but some people might succumb to the temptation. Will we be seeing more and more of this kind of dishonest behavior on the part of big book sellers?

The Pain of Transformation

I wrote my yesterday’s post about Clivern Bundy in jest but I have to say that the response I’m seeing to it is very disappointing. If we are so much better, so much more sophisticated and so much more integrated into the spirit of our times than this guy, then maybe we can manage to step aside from the good guys vs bad guys mentality for two seconds? Maybe we can draw some conclusions that are a tad more interesting than the tedious, “Republicans are bad”? If we ridicule people who cling to gender and sexual identities because these identities make the world more comprehensible, how come we cling to our political identities just as stubbornly and for the exact same  reason?

It’s easy to feel superior to people like Bundy. His vocabulary of tyranny and homesteading is pathetically outdated. He is clinging to a way of life that is already extinct. The transformations of the times we live in will sweep him away as a remnant of a long-gone era. We, on the other hand, are handling the historic moment so much better. The collapse of traditional identities doesn’t bother us because those identities were horrible and restrictive anyway. We are not afraid of the highly fluid world where nothing can be relied on and every day there is something new to process.

That is, until we reach our limit, the limit that is different for all of us but that everybody has, and encounter a change that we just can’t process. The job market is becoming highly fluid, are you sure you are 100% psychologically ready for that? Working for free, working in conditions of extreme precariousness, competing with others in who’s more mobile and can pick up and leave faster? And this is just a single area of transformation. There will be so many of them and I promise that one day there will be one change that will freak you out.

So maybe instead of the cheap drama of, “This Bundy fella is such an evildoer that he doesn’t even care about the dead babies in Afghanistan!” we could use this story to ask ourselves, “And what about me? Which change will I not be able to handle?” We don’t have any influence on the way the Bundy story develops. So since we have to think about it anyways, why not use it to glean something useful for ourselves?

Instead, many people observe Bundy’s trauma of old certainties being eroded and try to avoid feeling what he does by evoking, obsessively and repetitively, the old certainties of their  own. And that, my friends, is not a productive way to handle the new historic era we are entering because there is no place for old certainties in it. It will be just as cruel with your certainties as it is with Bundy’s.

The Clivern Bundy Fiasco

So what do you think about the whole Clivern Bundy debacle?

I’m Ukrainian, so I find it hard to condemn somebody who protected his cows and refused to let them be taken away. Governments come and go while cows are forever.

In the light of recent developments on the world arena, I also don’t feel too good about the federal authorities that say, “One more step and we’ll shoot / impose scary sanctions” and immediately follow this with, “Nah, never mind. But next time we’ll definitely make you pay!”

I’m also wondering why everybody is suddenly fixating on these cows when much more important stuff is going on in the world. Mind you, I have no conservative sites in my blog roll, so you can’t say it’s just the Republicans who are obsessed with this. I don’t think I’m ready for one more article saying, “If you don’t hate Clivern Bundy, you are a racist”, so I have to turn off my newsfeed for the day.

Trees

I always – OK, not always but for the past 2 years for sure – wanted to have my own trees. Before that, I detested everything that had to do with nature and thought there was nothing better in the world than concrete.

And here are the trees that come with The Hedgehogs:

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And here:

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I wouldn’t mind owning these beautiful trees. There is a problem, though. The house inspector just found damage to the roof, and knowing our seller (who is a professor of Engineering, of all things), we fear he will not be amenable to taking care of the damage.

I’m not hugely optimistic right now about the future of this sale. >

Sodom and Gomorrah

In Lugansk, a city in Ukraine where I was born, a (not very populous) pro-Russian protest holds posters saying, “Ukraine is Russia, Europe is Sodom and Gomorrah.”

If somebody still hasn’t understood the central issue in the conflict, here it is spelled out clearly.
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SELF-CARE AND HAPPINESS: Week XI

Some people are so good at self-care that they end up at the ER just to have an excuse to stay in bed all day long. These same people (and I’m not pointing any fingers because it’s uncomfortable to point a finger at oneself) need really hard-core self-care. So this is this week’s check-list:

2 special meals

3 mid-day naps

4 hour-long walks

5 beauty related activities

6 hours of doing absolutely nothing

7 meditation sessions