So long, and thanks for all the Stanley Fish

I’ve got insomnia thanks to some minor food poisoning, but it’s not so severe that it requires I be admitted to a hospital, so I’ll take my dyspepsia out on my readers. All 2.17… of you who are awake at this hour, on the weekend, and having nothing better to do than read an academic blog. Thank you in advance and bon appetit, bon vivants!

The last ten-plus years of blogging about professional life has been a blast, but all things must come to an end, even sentences written by William Faulker. I will admit that in the past year or so it has been hard to keep up a regular schedule of writing, the pretense of being able to devote an hour or so a day to picking apart the subtle nuances of postindustrial education policy discourse that meanders with a malaise that would make Jimmy Carter proud, not the type of pride that a father has but the type of pride someone with intestinal gas discovers upon burping, beyond the sense of palpable relief to the pride of having survived the pathetic discomfort of the past, a slightly shameful pride if one is to be honest, which generally one is if one admits to the shame of being proud that one has burped; write as if one’s career turned upon a 200-word passage; write an education blog though the most a colleague notices is that “you have a blog, don’t you?” in the same way one would mention the quirkier habits of colleagues such as ballroom dancing, playing in a band, reading Robert Dreeben for pleasure, and counting one’s breaths to avoid fidgeting during commencement ceremonies; perseverating on the probably fraudulent visitor statistics the server displays and cranking up the volume of the radio when 20 more people visited today than yesterday; and struggling to beat back the impulse to put one’s individual blog entries on the vitae for the annual report.

And so it comes to this, at long last: this amazing experience upon which too few hours have been foisted in the past decade shall cease at the end of this entry. While I participated for a while in the shared sacrifice of a group blog, for the most part the new normal in my academic life was solo blogging, or as I now call it, slogging blogging.1 But one must question the value of such activities when I have yet to have a blog entry cited in a Science article, and so I bid adieu.

But that is not all. Or that is not all that is all done.

I know that everyone in my department had hoped I would stick around as chair for something closer to the tenure of my college’s current dean, who is leaving her post in June after 9 years. Instead, I am going to use Sarah Palin as my model for how to fulfill one’s commitments. I have been holding in a secret weakness, and in fairness to my colleagues, I must admit that my problems are beyond me and preventing me from serving in a complete capacity as department chair. Early tomorrow morning, I will be in Atlanta checking in at the nearest residential¬†theobromine and methyltheobromine maintenance clinic, for an initial intake and treatment stay of 30 days. If it turns out that my problem is more serious, I am prepared to travel thousands of miles to take advantage of¬†experts in the treatment of these twin addictions. I will learn to manage my condition and get back on the path to a productive life. The administrators at USF are very kind and understanding, blessing this as a Section 8 leave and allowing me to return to my previous status as a cranky full professor.

I admit that I have had enormous difficulties as well with the values that my soon-to-be-erstwhile colleagues and department staff have demonstrated in the past year or more while I have been first associate chair and then chair: hard work, compassion, collaboration with colleagues and students, integrity, and above all else a helpful attitude and a smile in the morning. I had hoped to make some progress towards the type of department that many can only dream about working in,2 but my constant efforts to encourage selfishness, backbiting, exploitation and humiliation of students, and a slack approach to showing up has borne absolutely no fruit. I had hoped to cultivate at least one hallway with million-dollar grant winners who don’t give a hoot about students or each other, because I started the year with the kernel of successful grantwriters and I figured it would only take a little effort to complete the picture. But as many administrators have pointed out over the years, faculty are stubborn and often refuse to head in the direction that higher education must go if it is to survive and move towards the values of Wall Street. Without at least a few first-class assholes, my dreams for a forward-looking department have been dashed.

Now don’t think that you readers have not caused your share of pains to me. You, who park over the lines even though the lanes are 10 feet wide, or worse, park in a Disabled Parking slot when you are not allowed to. You, who bring 11 items to the 10-or-fewer checkout line.3 You, who fail to attend to my subtle style. Be gone! Go read your Drudge Report, or whatever you think counts as deep analysis. I could not care less.

I will now follow the time-honored three-step formula to riches:

  1. Quit and write a vinegary op-ed for a major national newspaper explaining why I was moral while everyone else was raiding the treasury, and why therefore I could not stand it any more though I said nothing for years while cashing the paychecks.
  2. ……
  3. Get a contract to write a bestseller, with guaranteed $1 million advance.

So long, suckers!4

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  1. I know some of my readers called it fogging blogging instead. []
  2. And then waking up in a cold sweat. []
  3. Okay, the signs always read “10 or less,” another reason for me to believe that the literacy of the next generation is in steep decline. []
  4. And Happy April Fool’s! []

3 responses to “So long, and thanks for all the Stanley Fish”

  1. Aaron Pallas

    It’s a shame that you would make a momentous decision like this at the beginning of a month symbolizing rebirth. A professor really is lucky; for out of labor, satisfaction.

  2. CCPhysicist

    You’ll only get 0.17… of a comment from me today.