Seinfeld Chain

Jonathan never ceases to come up with inventive ways to inspire his fellow academics. Here is the strategy he has adopted now to motivate himself to write more:

I’ve decided to go back to one of my best and most ruthless techniques, the Seinfeld Chain, in which I write on the calendar every day the number of consecutive days I have been writing. I am just going to write every day, with no more excuses. Already, on the second day, I had an extraordinarily productive session.

Here is more on the Seinfeld Chain.

I have decided to start my own Seinfeld Chain. I want to make it as long as I can and, as Jonathan says, “None of this “I can’t write on days I’m teaching crap”.” This is my favorite crappy excuse ever and I have not been able to defeat it a single time.

Jonathan also says, “I will give myself a break if and when I feel I have earned it.” This is very impressive given that he is the leading authority on the poet Garcia Lorca and has published several great books. In the meanwhile, some academics I know (pointing an accusatory finger at myself) feel mortally tired and in need of long stretches of rest after writing for one day. Shame on Clarissa! Bad, lazy Clarissa! Clarissa in the doghouse! (I respond well to negative motivation, hence the invective.)

Every single piece of academic advice that I have gleaned from Jonathan’s blog so far has been really helpful to me. I have started writing a lot better and have gotten my articles accepted at good journals at a rate that I didn’t even think possible before. This is why I will now start my Seinfeld Chain and promise to update you, folks, on how it goes. Two hours of writing every day, for as long as I can do it.

If you are an academic who just can’t get published (or can’t get published enough), do yourself a favor and read Stupid Motivational Tricks. The tricks really work.

Why Did People Ridicule Bush?

I’m especially appalled at the disingeniousness of people who claim that since college profs used to ridicule Bush’s way of speaking and don’t ridicule Obama’s, this must mean they aim to indoctrinate students in their Liberal ideology.

People who make this silly claim pretend to forget that the reason why the entire world laughed at Bush was that he couldn’t string two sentences along without making some egregiously funny error of grammar or vocabulary. College profs dislike it when people can’t express themselves in their only language. This has nothing to do with anybody’s political agenda. If Obama made the same kind of mistakes in his speeches, everybody would ridicule him, too. He doesn’t, though.

Those who like to find some huge Liberal conspiracy behind every corner would be better served to remember that, sometimes, the simplest explanation is the correct one. It is possible that people made fun of Bush because the way he spoke was funny.

Just think about this logically, folks. It wasn’t Bush’s appearance, family, voice, hair, clothes, etc. that were ridiculed, right? It was very specifically his endless blunders that people made fun of. So maybe if he made no blunders when he spoke, nobody would ridicule him, eh? Does that compute at all? Remember Bush, Sr.? He was also very conservative, wasn’t he? But did he make anybody laugh? Were there calendars and books of his funny verbal gaffes sold on every marketplace in the world?

Maybe people simply laugh when something is funny and not when they need to advance some non-existent Liberal conspiracy.

Reading and Watching

When I read, I always see the characters in my mind as if on a screen. They become so vivid (if the work of literature is any good, of course) that I often decide that I must have seen a film version of the novel. I then keep looking for this film version, only to realize that it doesn’t exist and that all of the images of the characters and their surroundings come from my own imagination.

This is why I don’t like movies. They strive to tell me everything: how the characters looked, what they wore, what their every facial expression was like, etc. They even choose the angle of vision for me. Not only do they render me motionless and speechless, they also rob me of the need to imagine anything. It’s all right there, all spelled out for me in painstaking detail.

Spending just two hours at the movies terrifies me. What if the lights never go on and I will be stuck there, consuming one story after another in my role of a perennially passive observer? What if the surround sound noise never allows me to formulate a single thought of my own?

Lenin really knew what he was talking about when he denounced people who read books and declared that the main form of art for his regime would be cinema. And the circus.

The Greatest Mistake a Writer Can Make . . .

. . . is not writing consistently. Once you lose the habit of writing on a daily basis, it is extremely hard to get back into it. I stopped writing while I was assembling my midpoint dossier and doing research for the new article. As a result, I now have to struggle with every sentence. The good habit of writing for two hours first thing in the morning is gone. I feel like an addict who has jumped off the wagon and now doesn’t even remember what the motivation was behind doing it.

A writer who isn’t writing every day – and I mean every day – is doing herself a huge disservice.

Now There Is Really Nobody to Vote For

Can you guess who said this recently?

We are putting colleges on notice — you can’t keep — you can’t assume that you’ll just jack up tuition every single year. If you can’t stop tuition from going up, then the funding you get from taxpayers each year will go down. We should push colleges to do better. We should hold them accountable if they don’t.

And this (the same person):

We call this — one of the things that we’re doing at the Consumer Finance Protection Board that I just set up with Richard Cordray — (applause) — is to make sure that young people understand the financing of colleges. He calls it, “Know Before You Owe.” (Laughter.) Know before you owe. So we want to push more information out so consumers can make good choices, so you as consumers of higher education understand what it is that you’re getting.

And the following (still the same guy):

 We’re successful because we have an outstanding military — that costs money.

To resume:

– college students are consumers, which makes imposing the business model on academia a must;

– colleges must be forced into even more cuts, which makes the further erosion of the concept of tenure inevitable. One over-extended adjunct can do the teaching of 3 profs. As for research, who the hell needs it anyways? So, adjuncts in, professors out;

– the money that is squeezed out from public universities should be pored into the military because there is always a dinky little war that needs to be waged somewhere to keep Pentagon happy. And private contractors, too. Yippee.

I know that you are all aware that these are excerpts from a recent speech by President Obama. And that’s the most progressive option we get.

OK, so how am I supposed to indoctrinate my students when I’m very disappointed with all of the candidates there are? I have to teach tomorrow, people, so we need to come up with something. I can’t let a whole day of classes go without some nice indoctrination.