That Morthos Stare writes:
One of the perils of being an academic is that writing outside of your project can become a bit of a chore. Just as I am sure most bakers don't go home and decide that a really fun thing to do would be to make another set of break rolls the academic in me thinks 'Give it a rest' when a blog post comes to mind.
Typing makes Brother Morthos unhappy.
Every so often the malaise only strikes me after the first draft and, in many cases, I foolishly think that in a few days the apathy will settle and I can return to the post with a fresh mind and even fresher ideas. This has, by and large, not been the case, and now Brain Stab's behind the scenes mechanism is littered with bits of my psyche in written form. Thus, to clear some of this stuff off my chest I'm going to post the edited highlights.
(This the internet; I have a god-given right to pollute the blogosphere with my inane thoughts. The fact you keep coming back is just further justification.)
From the 'The first sentence sets up its own problems...'
The most harrowing event in a lecturer's life is when a colleague sits in on a lecture. If you want to increase the tension, having a colleague sit in when you've only just returned to lecturing is possibly worse (although then I have to retract the statement 'The most harrowing event...').
From the 'One day I'll explain completely why I think Facism is a better idea than democracy' file:
I have a very low tolerance for morons, as many of you will know. This could be seen as somewhat ironic; I don't think I'm the smartest person in the world (although, yes, I do act as if I think that). Indeed, on a bell curve I would put myself just ahead of the median; my skill set is really pompous dogmatism laced with an air (from speech training) of authority. I'm not being unduly modest; I've taught students who will, given time, out pace me on every academic level (indeed, I think I would be failing as my duty as a teacher if that wasn't the case). Being outside 'The System,' however, has made me realise that I'm not fit to engage in the 'Real World.' I don't have the ability to discuss topics of everyday importance. Those topics bore me.
From the 'I just enjoy it, dammit!' section:
I once thought that my want to walk everywhere was somehow related to the suspicion of Scots in my father's side of the family; I walked because walking was cost-effective. Now, however, I think I have come to the realisation that walking, to me, is a most relaxing sport even if it is down Oxford Street in the midst of January Sales.
On 'Becoming Monsters:'
At some point in the past (I'm thinking the beginning of 2005) I went from being me to someone playing the part of me. Anyone who knows me knows that I do melodrama and only melodrama; I play either villians or fools and virtually nothing inbetween. It used to be that I was me with moments of melodrama but now I seem to be melodrama with moments of originality, and those moments are few and far between.
A lot of my peers have become caricatures of themselves; the womaniser, the pedagogue, the politician; the size of the list is really only matched by the wretchedness of what we have become. No longer real people we exist in anecdotes, gripes and filibusters. We don't live ordinary lives anymore; we can't really do small talk.
'Funny because the landscape has changed/Oh the hubris:'
I'm a bit of a celebrated pedagogue in my Department; the course I co-teach has become more popular with the changes my colleague and I have made, to the point that we're going to be the cover of the University News with an accompanying major article. I've been asked to talk on our teaching method to various groups within the University and I've been contracted out to different Faculties to teach.
As an pedagogue I firmly believe that we teachers are tools and this is all we should be. Our job is to be transparent; teach and be utterly replaceable. Our job is to educate and that is all we should be doing; this is what the State subsidises our existence for. This current trend to treat teachers as parents (and for teachers to actively take on the role of being a surrogate parent) is not just ill-advised but counter to the profession. Our job is to pass on information; it is not to mollycoddle or become parental figures to our charges.
'Endorphins have a lot to answer for:'
Add energy to a stable system and you increase the chances of entropy. Imagine the remnants of a vodka and tonic (let’s fill out the picture by placing the glass, the shrivelled lemon slice and the ice-cubes in the friendly surrounds of a hardcore gig). Left to it’s own devices the ice will eventually melt, but slowly. Twirl everything around, however, and suddenly the influx of new energy will result in more water.
Music is like a swizel stick.
This is actually a sequel to a book review I did years ago:
J. K. Rowling’s sequel to ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Penis’ is the first truly lacklustre entry in her increasingly bizarre series of a boy and his magic wang. After the necrophilia of ‘...the Goblet of Fuck’ and NAMBLA machinations of ‘...the Order of the Penis’ ‘...the Half-Baked Prince’ simply fails to entice. Harry once again returns to Hogwarts, this time after an enjoyable threesome with Ron and Hermione in the country, only to find the perfidious Several ‘Dicks’ Snape teaching Harry’s favoured subject. Harry’s new Potions teacher, a dandy and ne’erdowell, gifts the young student with a karma sutra of love potions that Harry ends up using on students and staff alike, leading to fairly predictable merriment.
Much was made of Dumbledore revealing himself fully to Harry over the course of the book; the love scenes are clumsily written and this reader feels that the Dumbledore-Voldemort relationship that appears in flashbacks was unnecessary and hastily done (although it does show that Dumbledore has a things for orphans; make of that what you will).
From the 'Have you worked out that I don't like Objectivists' folder:
I'm not fond of Libertarians in general, although I do respect some (read: few) of their intuitions. The Randians, however, get no sympathy from me whatsoever. I'm not sure that they mean to act as religious zealots (indeed, I would imagine that they would be horrified by the suggestion) but Objectivists, with their character worship of Ayn Rand, one of the last century's dullest writers, would most resemble a Roman Catholic's devotion to the Pope... except that Catholic's, by and large, ignore the Popes for the out-moded fuddy-duddies that they tend to be.
Still, blind devotion to an author doesn't necessarily make you a bad person. I don't dislike goths due to their insistence that Anne Rice is worth reading. I pity them, just as I pity anyone who decides to read a Poppy Z. Brite novel (the short stories are another matter entirely). No, it's the insistence that Rand's philosophy has real world relevance. Well, that and the claim that Rand's aphoristic style is philosophy.
Let me put this into perspective. Philosophy is a dialectical discipline in which we trade and develop ideas. One of our chief virtues is the ability to be wrong and admit to that fact. Objectivism, however, is a dogmatic belief system best analogised with a Jack Chick tract. I don't whether Objectivists think that it is immoral to show dissent from the official view or whether their intellectual poverty is so great that they have to toe the party line, but such strict adherence to a distinctly impoverished ideology isn't philosophy. I suspect that what appeal Objectivism has is psychological; if you think being a prick is a good thing then Objectivism gives you nice variety of shallow reasons to do so.
London; named after the Georgian's third favourite sexual postion, is a city. Not just a city, but a city with people in it, and what a people they are. From the local cobbler (who usually happens to be your landlord) to the halal butcher (whose son probably supplies Class Bs to your landlord), London is exactly just unlike any other part of England. For one thing, it's not actually English. Although a large part of the population is indeed native Anglo-Saxon an almost equal number of people are Johnny Foreigners just like me. We swamp London; we work behind the counters, we serve the coffee and do all the jobs that the English won't touch. We are London's cleaners, its servicers and its prison inmates.
But don't think that London is just malacious Cockney racism; there is a dark and insidious side to this town as well.
From the 'Actually, this more accurately describes Londoners' category:
I don't know if you know the English. They had an Empire at some time and apparently a lot of our cultural identity came from them. They also have a tendency to start conversations with 'I'm not a racist, but...' which, as you know, means that the next statement is likely to be a gross over-generalisation (exactly like this one).
Hmm... Edited highlights; more like concentrated banality.