Karen Gregory

alternativecandidate:

"Their publicity, which ran to phrases like ‘a total bombardment of the senses,’ suggested that the Velvets were yet another psychedelic band—and in a way they were, But their brand of sensory bombardment could not have been more at odds with the era of good feeling. Their terrain was the city at its hardest and sleaziest. Their music was as painful as it was compelling, assaulting the ear with excruciating distortion and chaotic noise barely contained by the repetitive rhythms of rock and roll. Their themes were perversity, desperation, and death. Instead of celebrating psychedelic trips, they showed us the devastating power, horror, and false transcendence of heroin addiction; they dared to intimate that sadomasochism might have more to do with their—and our—reality than universal love. Musically as well as verbally, they insisted that the possibility, far from being limitless, was continually being stifled and foreclosed. At a time when hippie rock musicians were infatuated with the spontaneous jam, the Velvets music was cerebral, stylized. They maintained a poignant ironic tension between the tight, formal structure of the songs and their bursts of raw noise, between their high artfullness and their street-level content, between fatalism and rebellion."
Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps
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alternativecandidate:

"Their publicity, which ran to phrases like ‘a total bombardment of the senses,’ suggested that the Velvets were yet another psychedelic band—and in a way they were, But their brand of sensory bombardment could not have been more at odds with the era of good feeling. Their terrain was the city at its hardest and sleaziest. Their music was as painful as it was compelling, assaulting the ear with excruciating distortion and chaotic noise barely contained by the repetitive rhythms of rock and roll. Their themes were perversity, desperation, and death. Instead of celebrating psychedelic trips, they showed us the devastating power, horror, and false transcendence of heroin addiction; they dared to intimate that sadomasochism might have more to do with their—and our—reality than universal love. Musically as well as verbally, they insisted that the possibility, far from being limitless, was continually being stifled and foreclosed. At a time when hippie rock musicians were infatuated with the spontaneous jam, the Velvets music was cerebral, stylized. They maintained a poignant ironic tension between the tight, formal structure of the songs and their bursts of raw noise, between their high artfullness and their street-level content, between fatalism and rebellion."

Ellen Willis, Out of the Vinyl Deeps


Since profitable knowledge can come from anywhere at any time, management has no incentive to be loyal to its brainworkers as opposed to the brainworkers at a start-up or government lab or competitor who have just done something interesting. Any individual or group of employees, even if their work is excellent, will be evaluated in some version of KM terms: can they be automated, outsourced with cheaper workers, or turned into sources of proprietary knowledge? Only the latter group will be supported and protected; the rest will often be retained, but with the kind of second-tier pay, resources, and working conditions that have become normal in the university world. Open innovation logically tries to keep the vast majority of its knowledge workers as liquid as possible. This means retaining the absolute loyalty only of that minority of employees who produce proprietary knowledge while minimising commitments to the rest.

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2010-02-05-newfield-en.html?utm_content=bufferc439d&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer


Thoughts on Petraeus

It’s not an understatement to say that I was shocked when I learned last semester that my home institution thought it was appropriate to hire David Petraeus as an adjunct professor at the Macaulay Honors College. As a fellow in the Honors College, a place I have come to think of as my home and as a place that has played a considerable role in my own development as a scholar and a teacher, his appointment made me realize the extent to which faculty voices are silenced at moments like this. I’ve come think of his hiring as a “parting gift” from our outgoing chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, who announced the hire and then retired, leaving, I am sure, a wake of confused administrators to deal with the logistics. Within a few weeks of his hire, it became apparent that CUNY wasn’t even sure where the money to pay the man was going to come from, an issue which became its own PR mess: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/16/nyregion/petraeuss-cuny-pay-criticized-at-200000-shrinks-to-1.html?_r=0

I have a mother who gives gifts like this—things you don’t want, can’t use, didn’t ask for—and who uses gifts as a way to exert power, so I am also well trained to know that authorities who give gifts tend to get pissed when you try to return or exchange said object. Better to say “thanks” and make room in the closet for yet another set of embroidered towels.

And, in the wake of this hire, this is what it seems like we’re trying to do—make room for the general. Fair enough. I understand and appreciate the theory that a college is a place that can make room for controversy and debate and that students may gain invaluable experience as a result. I understand, as well, the perhaps less noble notion that such a hire will raise the “currency” of a CUNY degree, as well as provide a certain set of students (those who apply and are selected to take classes with the general) access to a unique historical and well-connected figure. I get that there is room, but I am wondering if we are also going to make room to account for the ways in which the general’s presence is affecting the larger student body—shaping their educational experience indirectly by bringing an air of conflict, securitization, and, to be honest, fear that those who speak out against the general will be punished—as were students who were arrested while protesting Petraeus’s presence at an invite-only event at the Honors College.

Bracketing for a moment the appropriateness of such events and what message they send to the faculty, students, and staff, it is the presence of a security apparatus that is reverberating throughout classrooms—classrooms Petraeus will never set foot in. Whether I want him on my syllabus or not, Petraeus has brought with him into my classroom a much larger conversation about government, power, and surveillance. Yes, these are teachable moments, but I’m just wondering how we’re going to account for its indirect lessons. When the majority of students understand that they literally cannot access a faculty member, because he is surrounded by a retinue of bodyguards and policemen, what lessons are sent? When they realize that protesting is met by a powerful security apparatus, how do we maintain the fiction that this hire is inspiring and encouraging productive debate? Conversely, and maybe this is what I am most sympathetic to, there are students who are barely touched by what happens at the Honors College (a student in my course last night said, “I think I might have heard of it”) and who are only now coming to study recent history and to make sense for themselves of who a figure like General Petraeus is or means. For them, a security apparatus that does truly warn them not to “get too close” is marking their intellectual development. While I know that many are taking up the phrase “militarization” to understand Petraeus’ presence, for me it’s this boundary marking, these unintended lessons, that worry me the most. I’m not sure how to make room in my closet for these unwanted gifts, frankly. Nor, am I sure I want to.


Wall Street or the University?

I’ve been meaning to read Karen Ho’s Liquidated (2009) for far too long. I’ve actually had the book on my nightstand for weeks, but each time I start to read it works me up. It’s not a great bed-time read. But, I know that @greene_DM wants to discuss the book and so it has been promoted to “morning coffee reading.” 

Maybe because the “Death of an Adjunct” piece is making the rounds on Twitter today: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/perspectives/death-of-an-adjunct-703773/ or because the job market is upon me or that many of us are living and (trying to breath) through academic restructuring, that the book’s introductory remarks about the downsizing of an accounting department hit me in the gut. You could easily replace “Wall Street” with “University” here:

To say that Wall Street had little respect for back-office workers is an understatement. Although they were not openly disparaged, they were casually dubbed career nine-to-fivers; their work ethic was questioned, as was their smartness, drive, and innovation. Were they really “adding value”, defined directly as boosting revenues or stock prices? The associate on the team wondered why they were wasting so much time there, in addition to being low prestige, the Account Services project was certainly not representative of the sort of financial deal-making he had hoped to be involved in.

At the time, I was at a loss to explain why Wall Streeters, especially those in my group who were just downsized, were not more sympathetic to the concerns of these about-to-be-canned workers. It was as if these privileged bankers and consultants hadn’t really lost their jobs, as if restructuring did not apply to them in the same way, as if the anxiety of constant insecurity did not cause the them to doubt their financial prowess or desirability to their employers. Exploring this quandary would take center stage during fieldwork.

Yes, exploring this quandary should be the work we’re all doing right now.


humansofnewyork:

This man was driving me across Tehran yesterday, when I learned that he’d lived for 8 years in America— incidentally on the same STREET as me in Georgia. 
He first crossed into the United States from Mexico— paying $1,500 to be transported across the border. He wanted to go to University and be a dentist, but learned that the idea of America was much more bountiful than the reality. He worked at a factory job for 8 years, without ever being able to get a drivers license. He wasn’t able to find a foothold in society. After 9/11, he said things got much tougher for Middle Eastern immigrants. “I had a great passion for the American people,” he said. “When 9/11 happened, I had no money, so instead I gave my blood.”
Five years ago he spent a night in jail for driving without a license. He decided he was tired of being nervous all the time, and he went all out for a green card. When he was turned down, he returned to Iran. 
His fee for a 45 minute taxi ride across Tehran was only $6. I paid him the rate he’d have received in America, and asked for his photograph. He was the kind of man I most admire. The kind that realizes you get one shot at life, and risks everything to make the best of it. I was sorry it didn’t work out for him.
"It was my destiny," he said. He didn’t sound like he believed his own words though.
"Are you married?" I asked.
"Yes. I met my wife when I returned to Iran."
"Well there you go," I said. 
As I prepared to take his photograph, he made one request: “Don’t photograph me with the taxi,” he said, “it’s a low class job.” 
"It’s not a low class job," I said. “It’s the job of people who take huge risks so their children can be lawyers and surgeons."
(Tehran, Iran)
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humansofnewyork:

This man was driving me across Tehran yesterday, when I learned that he’d lived for 8 years in America— incidentally on the same STREET as me in Georgia. 

He first crossed into the United States from Mexico— paying $1,500 to be transported across the border. He wanted to go to University and be a dentist, but learned that the idea of America was much more bountiful than the reality. He worked at a factory job for 8 years, without ever being able to get a drivers license. He wasn’t able to find a foothold in society. After 9/11, he said things got much tougher for Middle Eastern immigrants. “I had a great passion for the American people,” he said. “When 9/11 happened, I had no money, so instead I gave my blood.”

Five years ago he spent a night in jail for driving without a license. He decided he was tired of being nervous all the time, and he went all out for a green card. When he was turned down, he returned to Iran. 

His fee for a 45 minute taxi ride across Tehran was only $6. I paid him the rate he’d have received in America, and asked for his photograph. He was the kind of man I most admire. The kind that realizes you get one shot at life, and risks everything to make the best of it. I was sorry it didn’t work out for him.

"It was my destiny," he said. He didn’t sound like he believed his own words though.

"Are you married?" I asked.

"Yes. I met my wife when I returned to Iran."

"Well there you go," I said. 

As I prepared to take his photograph, he made one request: “Don’t photograph me with the taxi,” he said, “it’s a low class job.” 

"It’s not a low class job," I said. “It’s the job of people who take huge risks so their children can be lawyers and surgeons."

(Tehran, Iran)