Cure for a Crabby Soul

I read 36 pages of a book in a 2-hour in-person meeting of administrators where I was one of the most active participators throughout. I’m usually intensely crabby in meetings but I would be a lot crabbier and probably downright intolerable if I couldn’t read during them. I hope people realize that I’m doing them a huge favor this way. Even I find myself unbearable in how curmudgeonly I get in meetings.

I don’t read during the meetings that I hold myself because those are extremely compressed. I don’t believe in administrative meetings that are longer than 20 minutes (ideally, 15).

Correct Form of Address

One the positive side, when the Russian faculty member arrives, I’ll finally have somebody refer to me with my name and the patronymic. I left Ukraine before I was old enough for anybody to use the patronymic. And in North America everybody calls me with my full first name (or Professor Last Name). The full first name makes no sense culturally. It’s either the diminutive form of the first name (Masha) or the full name with the patronymic (Maria Petrovna). Maria with nothing to follow it sounds weird.

I want to be addressed correctly at least once in my life, damn it. Let’s make Russians useful at least in this limited way.

The patronymic is based on the first name of one’s father, and it would mean a lot to hear it said aloud.

Social Experiment Liveblogged

So we will get our Russian faculty member, after all. In a curious coincidence, this person has the same name and a very similar last name as myself.

This is only happening because of my efforts, which is deeply ironic. I will say honestly that I was sorely tempted to can the whole endeavor, and nobody would have judged me for it here on campus. To the contrary, I’ll be judged for proceeding with it but as we all know, I don’t care about these things.

I decided to proceed because it can be an important social experiment and a learning opportunity. If you place a brainwashed person who is under the age of 30 (so probably still not completely ossified) in a normal, friendly environment, can she recover? Can a whole year of new experiences, new people, new points of view and new information help a person change her mind at least a little bit?

This project will require from me inordinate feats of patience and kindness – the two qualities I have in very short supply – but what if it’s not in vain? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Everybody I know thinks I’m completely insane, and maybe I am. I will be posting regularly about my progress, so we can all observe how it goes.

A Theory That Explains Everything

Kamil Galeev’s best thread so far is here. I call it the best thread among his multitude of amazing, well-informed threads because I never wondered about the causes of the phenomenon that Galeev describes.

This is absolutely true. Post-Soviet people tend to fall massively in love with “THE theory that explains the world.” To a huge degree it’s caused by the complete absence of the Humanities that were eradicated under the Soviets and never recovered. The first taste of a system of ideas makes them fall in love with it so deeply that they become fanatical.

I know how this feels. When I first came to Canada and discovered Hispanic Studies I was so enamored that I’d walk down the street and feel deep compassion for passersby because they weren’t learning about Hispanic Studies. To counteract the dangers of this kind of ideological fanaticism, I became so eclectic that it confuses everybody. Religion, psychoanalysis, theory of neoliberalism, conservatism and neo-Marxism are now my frameworks, and who knows what I’ll find next.

For many post-Soviet people, though, their romance with the single theory of everything never ended.