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robertogreco : compromise   23

An Honest Living – Steve Salaita
"There are lots of stories from Virginia Tech, the University of Illinois, and the American University of Beirut [AUB], but they all end with the same lesson: for all its self-congratulation, the academy’s loftiest mission is a fierce compulsion to eliminate any impediment to donations."



"Platitudes about faculty governance and student leadership notwithstanding, universities inhibit democracy in ways that would please any thin-skinned despot."



"But forward progress as material comfort is cultivated through the ubiquitous lie that upward mobility equals righteousness. Honest living is a nice story we tell ourselves to rationalize privation, but in the real world money procures all the honesty we need."



"You hear ex-professors say it all the time and I’ll add to the chorus: despite nagging precariousness, there’s something profoundly liberating about leaving academe, whereupon you are no longer obliged to give a shit about fashionable thinkers, network at the planet’s most boring parties, or quantify self-worth for scurrilous committees (and whereupon you are free to ignore the latest same-old controversy), for even when you know at the time that the place is toxic, only after you exit (spiritually, not physically) and write an essay or read a novel or complete some other task without considering its relevance to the fascist gods of assessment, or its irrelevance to a gang of cynical senior colleagues, do you realize exactly how insidious and pervasive is the industry’s culture of social control."
academia  highered  highereducation  2019  stevensalaita  purpose  meaning  corporatization  precariousness  precarity  assessment  socialcontrol  hierarchy  mobility  upwardmobility  society  dishonesty  honesty  democracy  hypocrisy  education  cv  privation  toxicity  committees  elitism  learning  howwelearn  compromise  canon 
march 2019 by robertogreco
A Manifesto – Evergreen Review
"We devise and concoct ways to make each other beg for the most meager of resources. Death, which should simply be something that comes to us, is instead an instrument of dominion and torture. We have perfected instruments of death-making. We extend such deathery even to our social systems, creating ways to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable among us will die because the rest of us don’t believe they deserve the methods and technologies by which we keep ourselves alive."



"And yet, even in our imagination, we cannot conceive of a world where abundance is enough. We can literally create anything we want and live without want, but we still want more.

In this imagined new world, we are still at war with others, crisscrossing space to divide it up into sectors and grids, cutting up even empty air into parcels the way we do patches of land. We make the vast and incomprehensible universe malleable by exerting our history of dispossession onto it. Our thirst for possession is as boundless as the universe we inhabit. Even our imagination is limited by avarice. This is why, dear aliens, I feel no real pain or sadness at the thought of what you might do to us. The sorrows and suffering we have inflicted upon each other, the degradations, the humiliations, the pain, the contrasts in resources and the creation of need—nothing in the universe can match what we have already done."



"Like the utopias they bring forth, manifestos are birthed in the possibility of failure. They succeed not in the audacity of hope but in the audacity of despair. What is the present and the future we need to keep imagining? What is a utopia? What is the nature of our utopias? Do we still dare to have any?"



"No one is outside ideology. Yet, too many Americans believe they are, and prefer to focus on how they feel: a particularly American problem is the preponderance of affect in politics. But when it comes to politics—to anything that calls itself justice—we should only pay attention to two questions: what do people need, and how do we get them what they need without having to beg? Yet our political programs are neither initiated nor sustained by the will to redistribute our ridiculously ample resources. Rather, we obsess over whether the people who receive them are worthy of our care. We ask questions we never ask the well-off: Are you deserving? Do you have the proper moral character? If we give you this money, how do we know you won’t spend it on cigarettes? If you buy food, will it be junk food or apples? But wait, how can we be sure you won’t blow it all on lobster?"



"If you want our help, then make us weep for you.

In that, the left has failed miserably. The left can barely articulate what it stands for without weeping for forgiveness for its own existence. This manifesto is an attempt to instantiate the left. How do we learn to be the left fearlessly, without either shame or arrogance?"



"No doubt, dear aliens, you will have found in your exploration of our debris or our archives (who knows in what state you encounter us) rants from leftists about “identity” or “identitarianism.” It has been difficult to convince this kind of activist that a true left finds a way to think about getting people what they need without erasing the material realities of their lives, but without capitulating to the essentializing of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Yet, even now, in most left organizations, it is women who do the emailing and the cleaning up, while the menfolk spout on about the revolution."



"A true left abjures philanthropy, which only enables the concentration of wealth by providing the super wealthy with fantastic tax breaks. A true left fights for a society where housing is not a matter of investment linked to the survival of an economy but simply a right. It fights for a world where prisons don’t exist to extract life from those whose failings, real or imagined, we cannot confront and whom we would rather shut away forever."



"
Such focus on Trump’s xenophobia ignores the fact that the millions of undocumented in this country became such under Bill Clinton. Two pieces of immigration legislation, in 1994 and 1996, made many simple misdemeanours into felonies only for non-citizens, and created the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry, which pushed undocumented people, now afraid of not being allowed to return if they should leave the country, into the shadows. Arguably, Trump has fine-tuned such mechanisms, but the tools for expulsion and removal were left there by Democratic administrations and are simply being sharpened and honed by this one."



"Resistance, like the heart, is a muscle, and needs to be constantly exercised. Instead, it’s become a buzzword. It’s made people think that somehow they’re soldiers now, fighting on every front. Ongoing work gets rebranded as “resistance” as if magically, due to the presence of Voldemort, everything changed overnight. The press plays up a collective sense of impending doom, making it seem like our lives are now unfolding like a scene from The Deathly Hallows."



"To liberals and lefties, this August 2016 exchange was evidence of Trump’s madness and his dangerously childish naivete. But in fact Trump’s response revealed the idiocy of nuclear weaponry and exposed the irrationality at the heart of American foreign policy: that somehow there is nothing wrong about possessing nuclear weapons."



"Neoliberalism is in fact capitalism made familiar, which is why I describe it as the endless privatisation of everyday life. It survives on vectors of intimacy, transforming capitalism into an emotional matter rather than an economic one, even though its incursions and devastations are deadly and long-lasting precisely because of the way it serves to insinuate itself into the machinations of the daily world."



"This is not to wax nostalgic about “neighborhoods” or to imply that everyone needs to be an “ethical gentrifier,” but to point out that the economic structure in relation to something as basic as housing is entirely set up to benefit the banking and finance industry. Meanwhile, Chicago resolutely and proudly refers to itself as a city of neighborhoods. The question is: who gets to belong, who gets phased out?"



"how neoliberalism operates upon various vectors of intimacy, and how that intimacy cuts across lines of class, race, and gender with varying effects."



"Over and over, Chicago and other cities fetishise their “neighborhood feel,” creating “community” out of displacement, demanding that the displaced then return only to satisfy the cravings the new residents refuse to acknowledge or to perform the jobs beneath the newcomers’ pay grade. Home ownership is what Americans, gay and straight, are expected to do as married people and the intimacy of married life brutally occludes the covert and hidden intimacies of transactions that keep underground economies flourishing.

Neoliberalism seduces us with its intimacy. Intimacy with our workplace, our occupation, the idea of having to “love” what you do: our work becomes our lover. Neoliberalism feeds off our sense of constant economic precariousness by convincing us that we must never demand more from the state or corporations, that what we label “sharing” economies are somehow community-based endeavors. And so people everywhere distribute their labor almost for free, in workplaces that are described as “mobile” and to which they “commute” as free agents. But these are in fact far more onerous than regular workplaces, and are mostly unregulated enterprises, and offer neither benefits nor protections (the field of “left publishing", including this publication, consists almost entirely of such labor).

But what they do is put us in touch with our own labor as something we control, birth, operate. We work with the illusion of control, but we are compelled, all the while, to cede it. We believe that having no control over the circumstances of our lives yields an intimacy that we cannot get elsewhere.

Neoliberalism survives as well as it does because its machinations allow people to express dissent even as they in fact only echo support for its worst effects. During Occupy, it was incredible to watch so many take to the streets, finally critical of how capitalism had wreaked its havoc. But as I wound my way through the massive crowds and their signs, it also became evident that the palpable anger was not so much at the system but that the system had failed them. Signs everywhere said, in effect, “I did the right thing for years, and I was still screwed over.” Everywhere, there was an anger at the ruling classes, certainly, but I couldn’t help but recall yet again those words about America’s “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The subsequent bailouts only confirmed a widespread sense that if we just fix the system, we can make it all better, when the system itself is the problem, and “fixing” it only serves to concentrate resources and power in the hands of fewer and fewer people."



"Capitalism flows unimpeded."



" Western analysts take their own social freedoms for granted—average Americans have, for many decades, left their parental homes in their late teens—but when it comes to other and what they fondly imagine as “more traditional” cultures, would prefer it if everyone just stayed transfixed in quaint old ways, please.

Neoliberalism fills the immediate needs of people in ways that other systems cannot—because, yes, that’s how capitalism functions, by dismantling our existing structures, and creating a need for new ones that provide the illusion of stability but in fact cause more harm. Consider schooling, at least in the US. We first eviscerated public education by defunding it, except in the wealthiest districts, and then created a demand for (exploitative, ruinous, substandard) … [more]
yasminnair  2017  society  manifestos  left  love  compassion  justice  socialjustice  utopia  ideology  charity  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  charitableindustrialcomplex  government  excess  abundance  hunger  healthcare  gender  race  racism  sexism  homophobia  neoliberalism  capitalism  feminism  systems  sytemsthinking  socialism  communism  migration  immigration  donaldtrump  barackobama  hillaryclinton  resistance  future  climatechange  neighborhoods  gentrification  chicago  privatization  class  classism  poverty  sexuality  intersectionality  compromise  change  organization  economics  power  control 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Female Artists Give Advice to Women in Art World
"6. Nyeema Morgan

My first thought is what would I tell myself if I had to start from the beginning of my career. There is so much to be said, so many caveats. I think in this cultural moment one of the greatest detriments to a young artist’s creative practice is conformity. The desire to be desired, to be ‘liked’, for every utterance to be acknowledged and lauded.

It would be too easy and expected to accept the rewards of self-exploitation. Resist. Contrary to popular belief it is not an enriching practice of feminist empowerment. Instead, cultivate a critical mind. Always ask questions of yourself, your work and the world around you. Learn to embrace challenge and avoid settling into a way of working that is too comfortable. This doesn’t mean your should live in a place of agony.

Do not torture yourself, but find the joy in what you are making, dismantling, and discovering."



"10. Adrian Piper

First, you should be clear about what you are aiming for: (1) public approval, (2) commercial success, or (3) art-historical significance. These three are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and there is nothing wrong with any of them. But my remarks address only (3).

The best means to art-historical significance is financial independence. Don’t even think about trying to earn a living from your artwork, or else you’ll start producing the artwork that will earn you a living. A trust fund will divert your energies in a different way. The best means to financial independence is a day job in a different field. Waiting tables, driving a cab, office work, and teaching are traditional alternatives for artists, but the digital revolution opens up many others. All of them will free you to make the work you are most deeply driven to make, regardless of whether or not anyone else likes it or buys it. That’s the work that’s most interesting and important to you. You won’t have time to waste on producing work that doesn’t obsess you.

Your day job will also free you to be selective about what you do in order to promote your artwork, and with whom. It will protect your pursuit of quality. That’s one reliable path to art-historical significance (although of course not the only one)."
art  artists  money  adrianpiper  purpose  glvo  cv  freedom  fundding  compromise  ideals  values  nyeemamorgan 
july 2016 by robertogreco
#TheDress and the Rise of Attention-Policing - The Atlantic
"This is a line of logic that will be familiar from most any Meme Event—the logic that says, basically, "don’t look at that; that is unimportant." It’s attention-policing, and it’s reminiscent of so many other strains of rhetorical legislation that play out in online conversations: You can’t say that. You can’t talk about that. GUYS, the attention-policer usually begins. How can you be talking about a dress/a leg/a pair of llamas/a dancing neoprene shark when climate change/net neutrality/marriage equality/ISIS/China/North Korea is going on?

The world, to be sure, is a complicated and often tragic and often deeply unfair place. It contains famines and genocides and war, births and deaths, Katy Perry and Björk, Big Macs and kale and Bloomin' Onions, privilege and the lack of it, llamas that are caged and llamas that are free. And we humans—animals who are striving to be so much more—have a big say in the balance between the good and the bad. We should not be glib about any of that. Nor should we lose sight of the fact that, if you find yourself with the ability to use the most transformational communications platform the world has ever known to engage in debates about the color of a dress being sold on Amazon dot com, you are, fundamentally, extremely privileged. And thus in a better position than most to make the world better. Attention is a valuable thing; we have an obligation to be selective about where we direct it.

And yet. The problem with attention-policing—besides the fact that it tends to be accompanied by humorlessness and marmery, and besides the other fact that it serves mostly to amplify the ego of the person doing the policing—is that it undermines the value of Internet memes themselves. Those memes, whether they involve #thedress or #llamadrama or #leftshark or #whathaveyou, are culturally lubricating. They create, and reinforce, the imagined community. Last night, we needed each other—not just to share and joke and laugh, but also to prove to ourselves that we weren’t going completely crazy. “TELL ME WHAT COLOR THIS DRESS IS,” I texted a friend. “OKAY, PHEW,” I texted again, when he saw it as white-and-gold. I also, on the other hand, mock-disowned a significant percentage of the people I love in a haze of #whiteandgold partisanship—but even that kind of faux-fighting has its value. Theorists of play, from Huizinga to Piaget, have pointed out how powerful the infrastructures of games can be. They allow us to explore ideas and bond in a mutually-agreed-upon environment. Jane McGonigal, the game designer and theorist, suggests that the alternate universes provided by video games allow us to think in terms of collaboration and problem-solving. Games’ constraints, she argues, are actually empowering.

And what are memes if not games? They are small; they are low-stakes; they are often silly. (Sorry, #llamadrama.) But they are also communal. They invite us to participate, to adapt, to joke, to create something together, under the auspices of the same basic rules. That is not a small thing. That is, in fact, a huge thing—particularly when it comes to the very concerns the attention police like to remind us of. If we have any hope of solving the world’s most systemic and sweeping problems, we will have to come together. Inequality, climate change, injustices both enormous and less so … these will require cooperative action. They will require us to collaborate and compromise and value diversity. The dress makes a pretty good metaphor for all that. Also, it is totally white and gold."
attention  megangarber  2015  attentionpolicing  #thedress  memes  games  play  seriousness  condescension  marmery  humor  humorlessness  playfulness  culture  society  twitter  internet  web  online  compromise  collaboration  problemsolving  interaction  community  cooperation 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How to Get Away with Uber — Matter — Medium
"The dick-swinging, the gluttony, the not-quite-lies and the full-on bullshit… All of these things, and in particular the spectacular combination of all of these things, are enough to dislike a company, and even to hate it. But it’s incredibly popular, too, because, man, if people vote with their feet — or in this case their fingers — then they keep voting, again and again, for Uber.

And that, in the end, is the real reason so many people hate Uber: Because whatever we do, we can’t stop ourselves from making it bigger and more successful and more terrifying and more necessary. Uber makes everything so easy, which means it shows us who, and what, we really are. It shows us how, whatever objections we might say we hold, we don’t actually care very much at all. We have our beliefs, our morals, our instincts. We have our dislike of douchebags, our mistrust of bad behavior. We have all that. But in the end, it turns out that if something’s 10 percent cheaper and 5 percent faster, we’ll give it all up quicker than we can order a sandwich."
uber  labor  ethics  morality  2014  efficiency  price  compromise  hypocrisy  sharingeconomy 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Life and Work of an Institution of Progressive Higher Education: Towards a History of Black Mountain College, 1933-1949 by Jonathan Fisher | BMCS
"This ambitious new democratic structure for the administration of a college was unique to BMC, and to my knowledge has not been repeated on such a scale since. It would mean that teachers, in addition to their classroom and other responsibilities on campus, would also be taking on administrative tasks like bookkeeping, fundraising, hiring of new faculty and student admissions on a rotating basis. This commitment to a radically more democratic organizational structure for the new Black Mountain College would last until the bitter end, despite a list-ditch effort led by Dreier and Albers to alter it in the late 1940s. This attempt ultimately led to the Board of Fellows voting to remove Dreier, who had been on an extended leave of absence, in 1948. Josef and Anni Albers would leave the following year. But it was this radically democratic structure that would attract some of the world’s most visionary artists and teachers to this tiny town in rural Western North Carolina for more than two decades. It was also this structure which would allow the BMC community to move forward on issues of racial integration in the 1930s and ‘40s—decades before such attempts would be made at larger, more established colleges in the southeastern United States. It was ultimately John Dewey’s principles of progressive education that were at the foundation of these radical organizational structures, which were adopted by BMC’s founders.

During the first five years of Black Mountain College’s existence, things went remarkably smoothly. Of course finding enough money was always a problem. It was the height of the Great Depression in the United States and despite Rice, Dreier and Albers’ best efforts, BMC had never managed to secure more than minimal financial support for their new experimental progressive institution. A budget drawn up by Dreier in the first year of BMC totaled $32,000, with staff salaries totaling less than $2000, excluding Albers’ salary of $1000 annually, which was supported separately by an individual benefactor (Duberman, 1972, p.71). In these early years there were none of the scandals or disputes that would plague the community later on in the ‘30s and ‘40s. Furthermore, the college’s system of governance appeared to be working. And efforts at self-sustainability were taken on unflinchingly. A student-run cooperative store was set up on campus as well as a print shop and a cottage school for the community’s youngest members (ibid.). In addition to their academic work, students engaged in projects ranging from the staffing of the various cooperative enterprises set up on campus, to the manufacture of bookshelves, curtains and other furnishings for campus buildings. These activities helped supplement the goods available to them on the campus they were leasing from a Christian group, which used it for a summer camp for just a few months each year.

Among the highlights of these early years of the college were two visits by John Dewey, who in 1936 began serving officially as a member of BMC’s Advisory Council. Both of Dewey’s visits took place during the 1934-35 school year. It is unclear from the correspondence in the North Carolina Archives whether or not Dewey ever visited the campus again. But these two early visits set a precedent, which caused BMC faculty—especially Rice and Dreier— to request future visits, which always seem never to have quite worked out (e.g. Dreier [to Dewey] April 6, 1938; Dewey [to Dreier] April 13, 1938). In one of the oldest Dewey letters in the BMC General Collection of the North Carolina Archives, which is handwritten on Columbia University Department of Philosophy letterhead, Dewey expresses his regrets at not being able to pay Rice and the others at BMC a visit during the fall of 1936. He writes of postponing his planned visit until the spring, “when I hope to see the countryside and the flowers at their best” (Dewey [to John Rice] October 29, 1936)."



"Ultimately Dewey remained committed to his position on the Advisory council until the late 40s. A final lengthy unsent hand-written letter from Dreier addressed to Dewey provides a grim picture of the final days of Dreier’s involvement in college affairs (Dreier [unsent letter to John Dewey] 1947, July). Duberman has described in less sympathetic terms Dreier and Albers’ ploy to wrest control of BMC from the faculty and hand it over to a new Board of Trustees. At the root of Dreier’s decision, as usual, was a concern for the financial stability of the college. Black Mountain had never been officially accredited by the State of North Carolina, and student enrollment was too unreliable (Duberman p.484-5). But this was just one of many problems facing BMC in the late 40s. Dreier despairs in his unsent letter at the difficulty of finding good teachers who are also capable and willing college administrators:
Our program, a pretty real thing to [Albers] and me, was not much more than words to most new [faculty] members with one or two notable exceptions… One way of looking at the present difficulty is to say that we simply haven’t been able to get the staff we need. If we could get an adequate team that could pull together, then I think we could raise the money we need (Dreier [unsent letter to Dewey] 1947, July).

So, Dreier’s concerns are both immediate and practical, but no less frustrating for their immediacy or practicality. He is trying to escape a catch-22 of money and talent. But also, more tellingly, Dreier writes:
Another way of looking at our trouble is that our program has become unclear, conviction has sagged… Hardly anybody sees what’s wrong, but gradually the whole thing is sagging toward breaking (ibid.).

Dreier’s pain and frustration are palpable here. The emotion of this letter is even intensified by the fact that he decided not to send it to his mentor, Dewey. But this unsent letter to Dewey shows the philosophers’ influence as a guiding voice for Dreier, Albers and other faculty at BMC in the 1940s. Dreier, in writing this letter seems to be implicitly asking himself, “what would Dewey do?” not because John Dewey was some all-knowing being, capable of rescuing Black Mountain College from dire financial straits, but because Dewey’s pragmatist method of evaluating experience and taking action had been the basis for everything he had helped create at BMC over the course of the previous 15 years.

The changes in administrative structure that Dreier alludes to in his final unsent letter to Dewey, which he and Albers attempted to implement as a last-ditch effort at financial solvency for BMC, ultimately failed to stick. The ensuing crisis ended in Dreier and Albers being forced to leave. Ironically, strict adherence to the Deweyan progressive educational principle of professional autonomy, which was at the core of Rice’s idea for Black Mountain College, and which Dreier resigned from Rollins in support of, was the same issue that brought Dreier and Albers careers at BMC to an end when they switched sides. In other words, the same philosophical inclination that justified the founding of BMC in 1933 remained and kept BMC on its own radical trajectory in the late 40s, even when figures like Dreier and Albers stepped in to try to change the way the college was organized. So, on the one hand, Albers and Dreier failed at prolonging the life of BMC. But, on the other hand, even in this final failure on Dreier and Albers’s part— in their capitulation to the mainstream bureaucratic structure of higher education, the creation of a non-faculty Board of Trustees which would have had hiring and firing power for BMC— illustrates that the college retained that uniquely Deweyan pragmatist orientation and progressivism. When the community became aware of the changes that Dreier and Albers had gotten underway, they acted democratically to kick Dreier and Albers out!"
bmc  blackmountaincollege  education  progressive  progressiveeducation  johnndewey  johnandrewsrice  josefalbers  theodoredreier  democracy  tcsnmy  progressivism  compromise  annialbers  pragmatism  democratic  democraticschools  unschooling  deschooling  experience  complexity  cv  lcproject  openstudioproject 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Scottish Review: The survivor: in search of my artist grandfather
"What happens to an aspiring artist with family responsibilities in a totalitarian regime? In the case of my grandfather, Martin Ideler, his career was stalled. He became locked into decisions that he probably initially made to tide him over rough spots. The struggle against external circumstances consumed his creative energies. Instead of becoming a good artist, he became a good art teacher. Satisfying, but probably not what he had hoped for when he first pleaded with his father to be allowed to study art."
art  artists  circumstance  teaching  2014juliamira  martinideler  careers  compromise  external  responsibilities  creativity  via:litherland 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Moomins in November: Tove Jansson's Escapist Magic : The New Yorker
"In 1915, a mother makes a sketch of her one-year-old daughter’s hands. “Look what beautiful hands, one flat, with outstretched fingers, one with a clenched fist,” she notes. The hands were to be key, as they belonged to Tove Jansson. Jansson was born in Helsinki, and spent most of her life there and on islands in the Pellinge archipelago, in the Gulf of Finland. On top of producing the nine Moomin books—about the adventures of a family of buoyant, good-hearted creatures that look like upright hippos—she painted, drew a Moomin comic strip, illustrated children’s classics and her own stand-alone picture books, and wrote fiction for adults. (As Damion Searls wittily observed in Harper’s Magazine, “It is rather as though Jonathan Franzen not only admired Charles Schulz but was Charles Schulz, retired from comic strips and deciding to try his hand at a family novel.”) But the anecdote of the sketched hands, one flat and one clenched, also heralds a conflict. In Jansson’s narratives, whether tilted to children or adults, a debate can be felt rustling under the surface: it’s between voices that speak for the open hand of compromise and diplomacy and those that see the truth as naked or nothing, wills that would rather do whatever the hell they like."



"Jansson’s parents were two recognized, Swedish-speaking artists, the sculptor Viktor Jansson and the illustrator Signe Hammarsten. (The latter’s sculpting plans were sacrificed to family—instead, she merely designed more than two hundred postage stamps.) Home was continuous with studio, at night filled with music and the couple’s creative friends. While freedom exists in principle, when you grow up in such a setting, and one of your family pets is a monkey named Poppolino, chances are you will become an artist yourself."



"As for relationship stuff, “Tove Jansson” naturally goes into that. Jansson was taken with men and women, came close to marrying, and found lasting love with the graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. (She is the basis for Too-ticky in the Moomin stories, while the couple’s shared working life underpins “Fair Play.”) The evidence points to nothing simple, yet does suggest that Jansson’s adult view of her father’s role in the family, combined with “the utterly hellish war years,” came to affect her outlook on the male sex as a whole: “Of course I’m sorry for them and of course I like them, but I’ve no intention of devoting my whole life to a performance I’ve seen through … A men’s war!” These words, which I’ve abridged for space, were written as the Continuation War, between Finland and the Soviet Union, dug in. Part of the Second World War and strangely its own affair, the conflict saw Finland accepting help from Germany. Jansson, whose best-known cartoons were aimed at Hitler, couldn’t abide her father’s politics—he had fought against the Bolshevist side in the civil war during his youth, and stood by Germany as a liberator—nor his private anti-Semitism.

Writing the Moomins afforded an escape at war’s end. After a quiet start, the series took off in the fifties, bringing welcome financial stability—but the success also represented a kind of detour. Jansson’s ambitions for painting never left her. Now free time was scarce, thanks to an unceasing flow of fan mail, the minutiae of merchandising, processions of visitors, and, until Lars, one of her brothers, took over, the arduous demands of the comic strip. For a while, there was no pleasure to be found in working. Thankfully, social media didn’t exist yet: “I could vomit over Moomintroll,” she wrote. “I shall never again be able to write about those happy idiots who forgive one another and never realize they’re being fooled.”"
tovejansson  finland  families  art  design  writing  compromise  diplomacy  tuulikkipietilä  moomin 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Broken (with tweets) · ayjay · Storify
"I tried to bring together some of the best responses here, but Storify's search is br — um., somewhat inconsistent in its results."

[The tweets that sparked the conversation:]

"The vague use of "broken" is really problematic in an age of planned obsolescence. People used to fix broken things; now they're discarded. So to say "the economy is broken" or "higher ed. is broken" can be a way of evading the responsibility to make something better."



"Neither higher ed. nor the economy are broken. They're more like cars that run pretty well but are headed in the wrong direction. My point is: the language of "brokenness" breeds fatalism. Let's try a different and more precise set of descriptors."



Erin: "I think education could use a serious regression rather than innovation or 'disruption.' Too many promises broken."
alanjacobs  storify  audreywatters  erinkissane  language  words  meaning  corruption  compromise  jenniferhoward  ashergelzer-govatos  jrschmitt  justice  education  highered  highereducation  society  economics  fatalism  progress  obsolescence  change  innovation  disruption 
february 2014 by robertogreco
ARCHITECTURE and RESISTANCE « LEBBEUS WOODS
" RESISTANCE CHECKLIST:

Resist whatever seems inevitable.

Resist people who seem invincible.

Resist the embrace of those who have lost.

Resist the flattery of those who have won.

Resist any idea that contains the word algorithm.

Resist the idea that architecture is a building.

Resist the idea that architecture can save the world.

Resist the hope that you’ll get that big job.

Resist getting big jobs.

Resist the suggestion that you can only read Derrida in French.

Resist taking the path of least resistance.

Resist the influence of the appealing.

Resist the desire to make a design based on a piece of music.

Resist the growing conviction that They are right.

Resist the nagging feeling that They will win.

Resist the idea that you need a client to make architecture.

Resist the temptation to talk fast.

Resist anyone who asks you to design only the visible part.

Resist the idea that drawing by hand is passé.

Resist any assertion that the work of Frederick Kiesler is passé.

Resist buying an automobile of any kind.

Resist the impulse to open an office.

Resist believing that there is an answer to every question.

Resist believing that the result is the most important thing.

Resist the demand that you prove your ideas by building them.

Resist people who are satisfied.

Resist the idea that architects are master builders.

Resist accepting honors from those you do not respect.

Resist the panicky feeling that you are alone.

Resist hoping that next year will be better.

Resist the assertion that architecture is a service profession.

Resist the foregone conclusion that They have already won.

Resist the impulse to go back to square one.

Resist believing that there can be architecture without architects.

Resist accepting your fate.

Resist people who tell you to resist.

Resist the suggestion that you can do what you really want later.

Resist any idea that contains the word interface.

Resist the idea that architecture is an investment.

Resist the feeling that you should explain.

Resist the claim that history is concerned with the past.

Resist the innuendo that you must be cautious.

Resist the illusion that it is complete.

Resist the opinion that it was an accident.

Resist the judgement that it is only valid if you can do it again.

Resist believing that architecture is about designing things.

Resist the implications of security.

Resist writing what They wish you would write.

Resist assuming that the locus of power is elsewhere.

Resist believing that anyone knows what will actually happen.

Resist the accusation that you have missed the point.

Resist all claims on your autonomy.

Resist the indifference of adversaries.

Resist the ready acceptance of friends.

Resist the thought that life is simple, after all.

Resist the belated feeling that you should seek forgiveness.

Resist the desire to move to a different city.

Resist the notion that you should never compromise.

Resist any thought that contains the word should.

Resist the lessons of architecture that has already succeeded.

Resist the idea that architecture expresses something.

Resist the temptation to do it just one more time.

Resist the belief that architecture influences behavior.

Resist any idea that equates architecture and ownership.

Resist the tendency to repeat yourself.

Resist that feeling of utter exhaustion."
architecture  truisms  lebbeuswoods  2009  resistance  compromise  values  persistence  cv  codeofconduct  canon 
february 2013 by robertogreco
The Aporeticus - by Mills Baker · Design & Compromise [So much more within, read the whole thing and the comments too.]
"…why does compromise have its “undeservedly high reputation”?…b/c we are discomfited by philosophical implications of fact that some ideas are objectively better. We exempt science from our contemporary anxieties because its benefits are too explicit to deny, but in most creative fields we are no longer capable of accepting the superiority of some solutions to others; unable to sustain confidence in soundness of artistic problem-solving process, we will not provoke interpersonal/organizational conflict for sake of mere ideas.

This sad, mistaken epistemological cowardice turns competing hypotheses into groundless, subjective opinions, & reasonable course of action when managing conflicting, groundless opinions…is to compromise, because there is no better answer.

But the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, fcus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees."
creativecontrol  dictatorship  dictators  dictatorialcreativity  violence  stevejobs  wateringdown  choice  debate  persuasion  2011  waste  stagnation  innovation  creativity  madetofail  setupforfailure  problemsolving  hypotheses  brokenbydesignprocess  democracy  control  procedure  process  inferiority  superiority  average  averages  means  politics  policy  howwework  meetings  committees  mediocrity  epistemology  philosophy  authoritarianism  cowardice  ideas  science  art  design  millsbaker  compromise 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Charlie Trotter, a Leader Left Behind - NYTimes.com
“You know the old adage that the customer’s always right?” he said. “Well, I kind of think that the opposite is true. The customer is rarely right. And that is why you must seize the control of the circumstance and dominate every last detail: to guarantee that they’re going to have a far better time than they ever would have had if they tried to control it themselves.”<br />
<br />
[via: http://metacool.typepad.com/metacool/2011/06/metacool-thought-of-the-day-charlie-trotter-1-1.html ]
charlietrotter  toomanychefs  tcsnmy  lcproject  creativecontrol  control  design  glvo  counter-practices  howwework  cv  consensus  compromise  mediocrity 
july 2011 by robertogreco
John Berger: a life in writing | Culture | The Guardian
"At 16 Berger left school and enrolled at the Central School of Art, where he encountered "older painters and teachers". Lucian Freud was there briefly at the same time. "I'm not saying we predicted what would happen with his career, but equally it is not that much of a surprise. He was an outstanding student, and it was clear that he was very gifted and also very confident.""

""The only rule in collaborations is that one should never strike deals and never compromise," he says. "If you disagree on something you shouldn't yield and you shouldn't insist on winning. Instead you should just accept that the solution is not right and carry on until it is right. The temptation to say 'you can have this one and I will have the next one' is fatal.""

[via: http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2011/05/03/easter-reading.php ]
johnberger  collaboration  compromise  marxism  karlmarx  waysofseeing  books  writing  spinoza  ruralcomp  kennethclark  2011  activism  biography  materialism  history  religion  christianity  socialism  managementtheory  lucianfreud  painting  renatogattuso 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Ten Big Ideas of School Leadership | Edutopia
1) Your School Must Be For All Kids 100% of the Time: If you start making decisions based on avoiding conflict, students lose…

2) Create a Vision, Write It Down, & Start Implementing It: Don't put your vision in drawer & hope for best. Every decision must be aligned w/ that vision. The whole organization is watching when you make a decision, so consistency is crucial.

3) It's the People, Stupid: The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from those who are still undecided…Hire people who support your vision, who are bright, & like kids…

8) Have a Bias for Yes: …The only progress you will ever make involves risk: Ideas that teachers have may seem a little unsafe & crazy. Try to think, "How can I make this request into a yes?"

9) Consensus is Overrated: 20% of people will be against anything. When you realize this, you avoid compromising what really should be done because you stop watering things down. If you always try to reach consensus, you're led by 20%."
leadership  education  administration  management  lcproject  schools  tcsnmy  vision  consensus  clarity  people  watereddown  compromise  children  howitshouldbedone  mikemccarthy 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Lawrence Delson: Chinese "Spoiled Brats" Will Lead | Big Think Editors | Big Think
"And what about the consequences of a government run by only children? Could a whole generation of only children influence policy? "China will become more assertive and less compromising because of this one-child policy," Delson believes. "You will see greater assertiveness and potentially less compromise, particularly in trade policy.""
china  future  compromise  self-centeredness  onechildpolicy  onlychildren  business  policy  government  generations  entitlement  gender  lawrencedelson 
december 2010 by robertogreco
Ben Pieratt's Blog In Praise of Quitting Your Job
"for some people, work is personal…in the same way that singing or playing the piano or painting is personal.

As a creative person, you’ve been given ability to build things from nothing by way of hard work over long periods of time. Creation is a deeply personal & rewarding activity, which means your Work should also be deeply personal & rewarding. If it’s not, then something is amiss.

Creation is entirely dependent on ownership.

Ownership not as a %age of equity, but as a measure of your ability to change things for the better. To build & grow & fail & learn. This is no small thing. Creativity is the manifestation of lateral thinking, & w/out tangible results, it becomes stunted. We have to see fruits of our labors, good or bad, or there’s no motivation to proceed, nothing to learn from to inform next decision. States of approval & decisions-by-committee & constant compromises are third-party interruptions of an internal dialog that needs to come to its own conclusions."

[via: http://kottke.org/10/10/for-some-people-work-is-personal ]
employment  entrepreneurship  freelancing  creativity  psychology  cv  quitting  yearoff  depression  advice  business  lifehacks  jobs  life  frustration  ownership  meaning  glvo  creation  work  compromise  meetings  interruptions  decisionmaking 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Downtime | The New Republic
"…half a dozen or so seven-year-old boys crammed into my apartment, and discovered, to my dismay, not that they couldn’t all get along—that was to be expected—but that they had no stomach for their own fighting. Every time an argument would break out about the choice of game or the distribution of lightsabers, a boy would run up to me. At first I thought I was being asked to adjudicate, but before I could figure out how to get out of doing so, I discovered that wasn’t what the boys wanted. They wanted me to turn on the television. If I turned on the television, they wouldn’t have to play anymore, and then they wouldn’t fight. I imagined legions of exhausted babysitters and mothers settling disputes in this way, and my son and his friends drawing the obvious conclusion: that group play is dangerous because conflict is intolerable, and that electronic entertainment is a good way to avoid both."

[via: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/1198551446/half-a-dozen-or-so-seven-year-old-boys-crammed ]
conflict  play  television  tv  children  parenting  groups  groupplay  disputes  avoidance  conflictaversion  compromise  tcsnmy 
september 2010 by robertogreco
How to Create Nonreaders
"The best teachers, I find, spend at least some of their evenings smacking themselves on the forehead – figuratively, at least – as they reflect on something that happened during the day. “Why did I decide that, when I could have asked the kids?” &, thinking about some feature of the course yet to come: “Is this a choice I should be making for the students rather than w/ them?” One Washington, DC creative writing teacher was pleased w/ himself for announcing to students that it was up to them to decide how to create a literary magazine – until he realized later that he had incrementally reasserted control. “I had taken a potentially empowering project & turned it into a showcase of what [I] could do.” It takes insight & guts to catch oneself at what amounts to an exercise in pseudodemocracy. Keeping hold of power – overtly for traditionalists, perhaps more subtly for those of us who think of ourselves as enlightened progressives – is a hell of a lot easier than giving it away."
pseudodemocracy  alfiekohn  democracy  education  learning  motivation  reading  research  teaching  topost  toshare  tcsnmy  progressive  schools  writing  coercion  democratic  student-centered  studentdirected  student-led  unschooling  deschooling  2010  majoritarianism  compromise  consensus  decisionmaking  rewards  punishment  assessment  autonomy 
september 2010 by robertogreco
LRB · Steven Shapin · The Darwin Show
"Darwin insisted on his intellectual ordinariness. He wanted it publicly understood that his native endowments were no more than average, that he had to overcome a youthful tendency to sloth and self-indulgence, that he had wasted his time at university, that becoming a serious naturalist owed much to good luck, that he had achieved what he had mainly through close observation, discipline, hard work and a genuine passion for science. ... Newton is ascetically ‘wholly other’, bent on destroying intellectual competitors; Galileo is a manipulator of patronage...Einstein is a man who loved humanity in general but treated his wives and his daughter as disposable appendages; Pasteur is a Machiavellian politician of science...Feynman is a philistine, a sexual predator, an over-aged adolescent show-off. This is what has now become of towering genius, of those who discover nature’s secrets. First we make them into icons and then we see how iconoclastic we can be. Darwin alone escapes whipping."
darwin  evolution  science  history  biology  discipline  observation  work  workethic  cv  sloth  laziness  intellect  serendipity  luck  chance  life  biography  galileo  richardfeynman  newton  genius  louispasteur  alberteinstein  philosophy  culture  slavery  amateur  amateurism  money  influene  compromise  personality  charlesdarwin 
december 2009 by robertogreco
rc3.org - Close votes are a feature, not a bug
"I’ve seen a somewhat common piece of bad analysis I’ve seen over the past week, and have been surprised to see people correct it. As you may know, the House of Representatives passed a health care reform bill last night, 220 to 215. 39 Democrats voted against it. The fact that the Democrats couldn’t get everyone on board is being treated as a flaw in their strategy when in fact I’m sure their leadership sees it as the key. The bill passed in the House will be merged with whatever bill is passed in the Senate, and that’s the bill both the House and Senate will vote on again to be sent to the President for signature.
politics  government  healthcare  congress  compromise  voting  law 
november 2009 by robertogreco
one small voice - Linus Torvalds on committees.
"I don't think committees ever make any sense at all, and I hate meetings. I have a belief that committees tend to get formed when you want to avoid responsibility, and particularly when you know what you want to get and you want to be able to say it was
meetings  leadership  productivity  software  compromise  administration  organizations 
october 2006 by robertogreco

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