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Chapter the Seventy-Second: In Which Knowing More is Not Necessarily a Good Thing and a Purge Ensues

April 3, 2007, 11:26 pm

If you have been following the last few entries, you are aware that this blog has received the kind of challenge that tests the souls of Radicals. Student reading of the blog is even *more* widespread than I knew, so I am informed by a colleague (who I will not write about since one of the things I know now is that many people do not like to be written about without their knowledge. And this friend did me a favor by letting me in on the Big Secret.) Furthermore, as the above indicates, students have tattled (and somewhat incorrectly, I’m afraid) to faculty about *who* and *what* is being represented in these virtual pages. So some of those lurkers I have been picking up are faculty colleagues who are — I gather — not amused. And some of them, as I understand, see themselves in certain characters, as it turns out, wrongly.

Well, I can only hope I have added a little thrill to a dull semester enlivened only by the appointment of a new President and the loss of hot water in one of the dormitories. And frankly, no one learned anything that wasn’t being gossipped about widely, I guaran-fucking-tee you, and often gossipped about incorrectly. You should hear what people just tell their students for free, without making them look it up on the web.

Once again I am considering dropping the pseudonymity, in part because I have clearly ended up in this situation that is kind of like going to summer camp and having people read your diary and know what you think, but then they don’t tell you that they know, they just give you a wedgie one day for no apparent reason. On the other hand, I have also received the impression that some of my colleagues think blogging is a low art, so they wouldn’t admit to reading even if my name were on it (“Oh, Patricia Spacks! Where are you when we need you, darling?”)

But I started by plodding through, post by post, to see if there was anything else there that could do harm. I tweaked, I edited, I cut, and some of the writing is even better. And in one case, I cut the whole post, but characterized it in a paragraph because the comments were so good. And there were some things, I would admit, that I probably would not have written so graphically had I known I would be uncovered so quickly. There are others where I think I disagree that they are in bad taste: these are ones that mostly have to do with tenure, and mean stuff that happens in the academy. And I have to think about, not whether I will continue to write these things, but how, since now I am being observed and the room for experimentation and snarkiness has narrowed dramatically.

But I would like to clarify a few things, in classic meme mode.

Things that are absolutely true:

1. Everything nice I said about my friends.
2. Everything I said about the Unfortunate Events.
3. I do believe the tenure system is corrupt and needs drastic reform in all its practices, including confidentiality.
4. Thoughts expressed on racism, homophobia and sexism. In other words, phenomena I describe really happen(ed).
5. That I detest how our personnel committee functions, how the people on it sometimes behave, and what values are being represented in the Zenith tenure system at present. As do a lot of people. And people don’t speak about it because they are afraid of having their tenure candidates retaliated against.
6. My dog.

Things that are composite truths, or narrative based on facts but not strictly factual (that is, several things meshed togather into one incident; rewritten heavily to disguise the innocent):

1. Illustrations of, or casual references to, tenure cases. These “facts” are even sometimes true, but drawn from other institutions to illustrate a point or disguise specifics.
2. People I caracature (sp?): for example, Dr. Grumpo is a figure who embraces the sins of many, as are Drs. Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum.
3. My fantasy conversations with Paul Fussell.
4. Communication with students.

I am once more debating the merits of coming out, since apparently I *am* now out (btw: I’m gay!) But I will close with what all these experiences are teaching me about pseudonymity, which is: when people find out who you are, they go through the blog looking for themselves, and so of course they *find* themselves even when you didn’t actually write about them. They see events they think they recognize and believe that you are talking about them, whether you are or not, and even if there are aspects of the post that would put that identification in dispute. And of course it doesn’t help to have someone run up to them and say, “Professor Radical wrote about *you* in her blog!” which plants the idea in their minds in the first place. But it is actually astonishing how *similar* experiences at all institutions are, making these identifications possible in the first place. So part of this evening’s work was to go through every damn post to reduce the possibility of misidentification, or indicate when something did not occur at Zenith. Fun, eh?

And for those of you who are lurkers, if you want to see someone really out there, click on Bitch, Ph.D. A quick trip to the Combat Philosopher, a pretty respectable fellow, more or less, will also net you a link to Sonia Belle, who writes a blog about living naked on a desert island.

At least I keep my clothes on, Zenith students.

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