Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.


We are watching the show The Killing. The story is blah, the actors except for the leading actress are also blah, the writing is double blah. But we can’t stop watching because the show is set in Seattle, and it rains literally in every scene. There is no sunshine, ever.

I experience an almost physical enjoyment as I watch the show, and N enjoys seeing me so happy. 

The Greatest Movement 

“People say,” Trump announced today in Iowa, “that our movement is the greatest movement in all of the history of the United States.”

I suspect that African Americans whom he really wants to attract were especially appreciative of this comment. And women were also greatly impressed.

Book Notes: Luisa Elena Delgado: The Singular Nation

This is something I read for work and I won’t bore you with details. All I will say is that if Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan did literary criticism, this is what it would look like. 

Enough said.

Professors Don’t Treat Diabetes 

And it’s really cute how everybody keeps repeating that mental illness is “just like” diabetes in terms of being real illness. Yet it would never occurr to anybody to propose that the treatment of diabetes in college students should be entrusted to their professors who must provide this care for free.

I wish people thought a millimeter beyond their slogans. There is nothing progressive in farming out medical care to unpaid and unqualified laypeople. Suggesting that any passing stranger is qualified to deal with mental disorders destroys the mental health profession.  

The Pot and the Kettle

The very same people who absolutely refuse to do any teaching if they are deprived of clickers are angrily denouncing the students’ dependence on their cell phones. 

Suppurating Sores, Broccoli, and Parrots

Imagine a person who has a suppurating sore on her forearm but refuses to get it treated because she “doesn’t believe” in modern medicine. Can people who come into casual contact with her – co-workers, neighbors, passers-by – be expected to remember where her sore is located and make efforts not to brush against it by accident to avoid causing her pain? Or is it her responsibility to manage her own body and its ailments? I think everybody will agree that people who refuse to treat their broken feet, suppurating sores, and pus oozing out of their eyes shouldn’t expect others to arrange their lives around these untreated ailments.

Why should it be any different for the suppurating sores of the psyche, then?

See the following example:

A good friend once wrote about a traumatic experience involving her former partner’s death and how that trauma still impacts her to this day. Thus, when a professor in her grad program said something about how students would probably “rather slit your throat than do this assignment,” it literally triggered a horrifying response in her. She was violently ill, riddled with crippling anxiety and unable to function.

The “good friend” in question seems to believe that it is the responsibility of others to manage her illness and crippledom. She chooses to keep her suppurating sores untreated and farms out the costs of treating them onto complete strangers. She must expect people to walk around with lists of traumas every casual contact of theirs might have experienced.

Jack, the janitor at work. Parents had a messy divorce. Don’t mention parents, divorce, or color orange (don’t rememebr why) around him.

Lisa, the neighbor from across the street, 4 houses down. Don’t bring up broccoli or aunts because her favorite aunt choked on a piece of broccoli and died when Lisa was 5.

Aaron, the co-worker in the cubicle across the room. Don’t mention parrots, the name Lisa, and broccoli because Lisa the neighbor killed his favorite parrot when he accidentally mentioned broccoli and reminded her of the horrible trauma of her aunt’s death.

Clearly, nobody can live this way. Maybe instead of expecting strangers to keep lists of our ailments and treat them even though they have no idea how to do that, we can take responsibility for our own bodies, at least, and seek medical help for our violent illnesses and excruciating martyrdoms.

The Short History of Higher Ed

Historically, university education was limited to the elites. There were exceptions but mostly students came from schools where they studied Latin and Ancient Greek and developed an affinity for Shakespeare by the age of 17. There weren’t that many of them, and consequently, they didn’t need that many professors to teach them. 

A professor who could teach such students was an erudite, a pretty exceptional person. He existed in a leisurely universe of reading, thinking, and teaching an occasional course or two. 

Gradually, higher education stopped being an elite pursuit. Women, African Americans, children of regular people started seeking college degrees. (And anybody who is getting ready to point out that there were always some women and black folks in higher ed should go directly to the Facebook page where people are discussing that the Obama presidency equals a post racial society.)

These students needed a lot of what we call “remediation.” They needed Intro, Beginners, and Basic courses because nobody could any longer expect them to know any Latin or recognize the names of Chaucer and Thackeray. As the time progressed, more and more “non-traditional students” came to campuses. They needed more and more remediation to the degree that one could barely fit anything but remediation into their programs. 

For a while, an aberrant situation surfaced where the faculty catering to these students still could live the leisurely lifestyle of erstwhile erudite professors while teaching very basic courses that required no lengthy sessions at the library to be prepared and delivered. 

It was a pretty cool gig and the lucky participants of the scheme forgot that it was an aberration. They decided it would go on forever. They thought they could live like the pampered erudite profs of the past but with nothing like their erudition. Hey, forget erudition. I met a tenured German lit prof a short while ago who told me she hadn’t read a book in at least 2 years. That answered my question about the reasons why the field of Germanic Studies was dying once and for all. 

The agony of the aberrant model is painful and boring to watch like any agony. The sooner it dies and gives place to a new way of doing higher ed the better. 

1989 in Academia 

It turns out that people still sincerely believe it’s possible to preserve the model of academic life where you teach your Intro, Beginners, and Survey courses with an occasional poorly attended upper-level seminar, publish an article or a book review every 3 years, go to endless unending dead-end conferences, veg out on committees, and collect tenure, promotions, and $60-90,000 salaries for all this inhuman effort. 

It’s like it’s still 1989 in their minds. Scary.


Reader el left a link to a great article in Russian whose author observes that even though the US is clearly to the right of Western Europe politically, neo-fascist parties are a lot likely to win in Europe than in the US. And he’s right, far-right parties are pretty much guaranteed to come to power in the Netherlands and France. Germany runs that risk, too.

My explanation is that the Western European left is so impotent, so incapable of addressing any of what normal people normally care about in their normal lives that it’s easier for the far right to make itself sound kind of relevant. (In spite of being manufactured and run by crazy Putin.)  Here in the US, however, there is an alternative to the craziness, and it’s an actual working alternative. Hopefully, we will not let it wither away and die under the influence of wide-eyed freaks. 

Weird Ad

Why is there an ad with Trump raising his hand in a Nazi salute on my blog?

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