Sunday, August 28, 2016

DoD’s Exclusive Focus on Outliers Criticized

We here at the DoD generally try to steer clear of controversy over canons.  The fact that our own canon is perennially – nay, eternally! – under construction really helps with this.  As does the fact that our modest work is largely ignored in the vast reaches of Normalcy.  As we’ve learned from our dealings with admin, being forgotten by the powers-that-be can be a blessing.  Cats being away, mice playing, and all of that.  Most of the time, it’s practically Mouse-a-palooza around here.  Not lately, alas.

Despite our best efforts, the DoD recently came under fire for its indifference to Normalcy.  We may not have a competing canon, sure, but our efforts are proving a distraction to those who do.  While we carry on in our quest to know more things, some of the things already Normally known may yet not be totally known.  How, our critics implored, can you advocate for Deviance when Normality is not yet, not quite, not totalizingly, absolutely everywhere?  Priorities, people!  

Shocked, we decided to offer an apologia for our work.  And we decided to call it an “apologia” too, since throwing in a little Greek when you can reassures the Normal that however Deviant you may be, you have been put through the Normal paces.  While we achieved unanimous agreement on what to call what we were about to do, departmental opinion swiftly divided over less interesting details, like what to actually say. 

On the one hand were the Deviants who wanted to vigorously resist this bit of apparent Normal greed. After all, in contemporary academia, the Normal are many and the Deviant few, so it seems churlish to begrudge the Deviant their attentions to things Deviant.  Or to begrudge them commending the Deviant to others, even if that entails that not every single scrap of Normalcy will get funding and attention.  Commending things to others is part of the whole academic business after all.  And, to be sure, if some scrap of Normal does get neglected long enough, who knows?  Maybe it can become Deviant too! 

On the other hand were Deviants who simply wanted to reassure the Normal that we mean them no harm and carry no bias against them however much we may ignore them.  Yea, verily, some of our best friends are Normal.  (If you ask us to name them, we’ll have to get back to you on that.  Sorry.)  Our only trouble is that we are mortal and our budget finite.  We’ve heard it said that there is only so much one can be expected to try to know and only so much that can be funded.  We tend not to alibi our neglect of things this way, but hey, the irony here is just too delicious to resist.     

On still another hand, the truly pugnacious among us wanted to engage in a little armchair psychoanalytics and speculate about what dark fears may lurk in the hearts of Normal.  Perhaps, these Deviants wondered, Normality is worried about threats to its dominance?  After all, when we teach Deviance, students do seem to like it.  And some of the ones who like it are Deviant.  If that keeps up, Deviant could become the new Normal.  This faction of the department, in short, wanted to throw out an admittedly smug “don’t hate us because we’re beautiful” response to it all. 

On yet a still additional hand were those who thought it would be rich to offer neglected Normal a little advice, not unlike that often offered ourselves.  The trick here, we would say, is to do good work that Normal People will like and the attention will follow.  While we ourselves typically bypass this patronizing path toward Normality and instead wander off into the thickets of our own fancy, maybe others will find it appealing and plausible. 

Most persuasively, on the final hand, a wise and seasoned professor emerita of Deviance advised that the best apologia is silence.  After all, give the Normal five minutes and they’ll forget we Deviants exist again.

For those of you counting the number of hands we have, it’s true that we have more than the usual two.  We are many handed, not unlike Shiva the Destroyer.

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