Monday, June 10, 2013

The Autocracy of University Administration

Even post-research universities cling to the trappings of democracy.  Post-research universities have a number of institutions that are supposed to give the faculty platforms to contribute to decision-making by higher administrators.  One platform is the faculty senate.  The senate itself is organized as a representative democracy. The members of the senate are elected.  The faculty union is another.  Faculty are free to join or not.  These administrators of the faculty are elected by the senate.  It may come as no surprise that the administrators pay lip service to so-called shared governance.  I have already posted on the contempt administrators have for faculty.  What may be more surprising that even the seemingly democratic faculty organization of a department is actually just as autocratic as the university is.  Department Chairs are autocrats.  To be sure, Chairs are elected by the department members and Deans usually go along with the wishes of the department.  And there are committees dealing with merit pay, graduate admissions, and tenure and promotion, among other concerns.  These committees are entirely powerless, however.  They are, to use the rhetoric of a person in my department, "entirely advisory to the Chair."  So the Chair will of course she herself or himself as always doing the right thing whether the department likes it or not while faculty will see, like any group will, the Chair's rewarding of some faculty members and not others as arbitrary, unethical, unjust.  The admin is just a garden variety species of croneyism.  The longer the same admin is power, the more illegitimate the Chair will become in the eyes of most department members.  The sad result of autocracy is that morale plummets lower and lower and even the most highly distinguished members of the department finds themselves subjected to the sado-masochism of everyday academic life.  The even sadder thing is that things could be otherwise.

Game of Thrones, end of season three

Here are some thoughts on the series I wrote to a friend who said I should post them.  So I have.
Many of these stories involve matching a national political struggleto a romance (think Robin Hood and Maid Marion leading the Saxonrebellion against the Normans).  So far, GOT has refused to do this.Redhaired witch is not in love with king she manipulates.  Bastard whoescapes hangs out with burn victim girl--or is that deformed skin?Guy who lets him escape is childless and a widower. Starks are dead.Theon is castrated. One hand brother is incestuous.  Dwarf is in atriangle.  Bran is a little boy.  His sister is a little girl (didlove the scene where she and he field the guys claiming to have cutthe wolf's head off). Blondie is like Queen Elizabeth, a virginmother.  Funny that the hunky guy she seemed to like dropped out ofthe finale. it's like all out sado-masochistic death drive hasoverpowered any heteronormative plot development.  Maybe the finale isa symptom of that death drive and the stasis, the sense of waste thatcomes with it--you don't get a story; you just get sensationalizedscenes that go nowhere.  Even the escape scene with theboat--presented as funny--has no direction--just follow that star and keep the coast in view, the old guy says.Only Theon's sister lays out a rescue plot.  And there's the vaguecollective threat of the wild walkers in the oath.  But even thatthreat was staged as a scene--the opening of the first scene--thatended as a story when Stark beheaded the deserter.  It's as if bits ofstories were offered up here and there only as a ways of buildingplatforms on which horrific or sexy scenes can then be staged,sometimes the sexy becoming violent or "perverted."  The death drivemay also explain the plot holes since the multiple plots are all ineffect empty, ruses of linearity that actually stall out in staticscenes, quasi-tableaux vivant or tableaux morte.  The stalls are placed
effectively.  you expect development and then it is cutshort--literally when Stark is beheaded.  Have you noticed that therehave been very few battle scenes?  Usually we see a battle about tobegin, the battle is skipped, and we go to the aftermath.  The dwarfbeing knocked out during the battle is a good example.