On 6 March 2017 the Faculty Senate reveled in and revealed its self-absorption.
The Faculty Senate has been crafting language -- at this point savvy readers know that this sentence cannot end well -- to state goals of the university or its faculty or whatever/whomever. My warnings against loosing wordsmiths on copy crafted by a committee were disregarded as senators dove into troughs of symbols and shibboleths and other slop. Generally harmless and feckless self-seekers transmogrified themselves quickly into symbol-seeking, shibboleth-wielding, and slop-speaking identity hustlers.
- One senator instructed all present why this or that argot was familiar to her because she routinely regaled post-literate captives with the Newspeak she now favored for a statement of faculty goals.
- Another senator recalled hermeneutic jargon -- predictably impenetrable and, at least by this fellow, inexplicable -- by which some literary or linguistic savants had endorsed Doublethink utterly unhelpful for a statement of general designs for a school or its instructors.
- Yet another senator proposed infelicitous, non-idiomatic phrasing lest the phrase "his or her" exclude the identities of some of that senator's students.
These senators [self-]righteously quacked duckspeak suited to the 21st century. In his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) Orwell conjured a form of disability, duckspeak, that so impaired English that it stunted thought and stultified speech. All three senators favored highly individualized "feelspeak" to insinuate their own individuated, even idiosyncratic valuations and agendas into what was supposed to be a collective, consensual statement of goals of the faculty or institution.
At this point I blame no reader for asking why I bring up posturing, posing, and other self-aggrandizement in any academic congregation. I raise the misbehavior to note again that the University of Puget Clowns [© Susan Resneck Pierce 1996] has become even more expressive than when I arrived in 1986 but, alas, expressive of individualism without individuality, self-regard without self-awareness, and egoism without the Ego to pull off the hustles of senators slopping at symbolic troughs.
Thus, I concede that the university at which I arrived boasted and toasted self-aggrandizing frauds and fakers but urge colleagues to attend to how collegial and collective the rhetoric of such frauds and fakers tended to be.
- One professor repeatedly recalled the initial demise of a majority of his large "tenure class" to justify his lack of sympathy for women denied tenure in the 1990s. He failed to mention that he received tenure and defended his dissertation in the same year, a feat explicitly discouraged by The Faculty Code after his probationary period and before the tenure decisions of colleagues for whom he had no sympathy or pity. That said, he defended the institution's decisions and decision-making as necessary and proper under the mission of the university and the aims of academia.
- Another professor chronically delighted herself [and no one else -- ever!] with tales of her rigor in the classroom and her designs for generating similar rigor among her colleagues who too often were "holding hands" when they should be challenging their students. She imagined, I imagine, that no one knew that she was a notorious hand-holder of students. Be that as it may have been, her deception of herself and attempted deception of her colleagues served, indeed serviced, putative goals of education and of inculcating responsibility.
- Yet another professor posed as a leading intellectual on campus and gave a Register Lecture despite his having published little. Colleagues in his department defended him by noting that he knew the first sentence of everything ever published in his fields. This fellow preened and pretended but strived to live up to ideals of the Enlightenment.
The faker, the hypocrite, and the fraud, respectively, barely stood out for their self-serving, self-seeking performances. They were probably favorably representative of colleagues who confabulated various collective pretenses of a so-called university shifting from the party school that hired them to the liberal arts college to which they [and administrators and trustees and alums] aspired. I can understand and forgive the individual pretending because the collective pretense may have made the institution better.
Self-absorption pays. Symbolic pork-barreling works. So expect payoffs and graft and special pleading [Indeed, the pleading is so special as to extend barely beyond the pleader lest the pleader give up some spoils to colleagues!] to dominate discourse and to corrupt faculty governance.
"Kanth realized that people are not at all like Adam Smith’s homo economicus, a narrowly self-interested agent trucking and bartering through life. Smith had turned the human race — a species capable of wondrous caring, creativity, and conviviality — into a nasty horde of instinctive materialists: a society of hustlers."
http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/have-we-been-denying-our-human-nature-for-four-hundred-years/ concerning Farewell to Modernism: On Human Devolution in the Twenty-First Century
excerpt from 1984, Appendix, The Principles of Newspeak, page 241-251:
"...What was required, above all for political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker’s mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably these words — goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and countless others — were words of two or three syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgement should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.
So did the fact of having very few words to choose from. Relative to our own, the Newspeak vocabulary was tiny, and new ways of reducing it were constantly being devised. Newspeak, indeed, differed from most all other languages in that its vocabulary grew smaller instead of larger every year. Each reduction was a gain, since the smaller the area of choice, the smaller the temptation to take thought. Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning "to quack like a duck". Like various other words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment."