Friday, May 20, 2016

DoD Inaugurates New Journal

The DoD is delighted to announce the creation of a new journal, The Journal Quixotic.  With no further ado, here are all the usuals.

JQ Scope
Our scope here at JQ is broad, welcoming work in all things deviant without restriction as to method or traditions.  Seriously – we’re not just yanking your chain about that.  We favor hearing things we’ve not heard before and so invite authors to find a windmill, then tilt at it.   

JQ Style
Authors should be aware that we here at JQ prefer to earn our sleep through hard work rather than through soporific prose.  We also ask that if you are going to use numbered lists or acronyms, you first enter into a prolonged period of mediation on the question:  Do I really need to do this?  If, after a week of considering this, you think these techniques essential, then it’ll be ok with us.

Citations should be in iambic pentameter.  And if all the work you’re citing was written by people you personally know or, worse, friends, we’re pretty sure you might want to read and cite more widely.

JQ Review Policies
Here at JQ, we decline the services of Reader 2.  That guy plainly needs to find something else to do.

We also forbid any referee from asking the question:  How is this paper deviant?  We here at JQ disapprove of corporal punishment, but still shouldn’t be tempted.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Deviant Identity Crisis Averted (for now)

As most of you know, all work abruptly stopped during the faculty meeting last week, when our newest junior colleague interjected to ask: “Who is this ‘we’ we keep referring to?”  This drew all of the tenured old dogs up short as they immediately realized this was an exceptionally diverting question – indeed, it was the bomb and far more interesting than the budget (which, as always, aspires to someday achieve shoestring status).  All department effort was redirected to puzzling this out and the following tentative conclusions were drawn:

a) “We” make ourselves plural partly because we revel most in deviance carried out in company and think Confucius was on to something in noting the joy derived from practicing the things you learn among friends. 

b) “We” aspires to be a linguistic refuge for deviants, those poor huddled masses turned away at the Ellis Island of Normal.  We also hope our “we” could be a nice place to visit for those who live most of the year in Normal.  They could even live here year-round if the spirit moved.  Basically, human solidarity is one of our favorite things.  We like it so much, we think we love it.

c) “We” is also a perilous word easily abused and we resolved to try never to use it in situations of disagreement between individuals – e.g., quarrels over the proper scope of deviance are best handled when people speak for themselves rather than trying to marshal magnifying force for their own views by framing them in the collective “we.”  We should thus be worried about ourselves when we say things like “What you fail to understand is that in deviance, we do ____.”  Say too much stuff like that and we may have to bring out the shame ray.

d) However much we might want our “we” to be total, it surely won’t be and thinking it is would carry us several long strides down the road to perdition. We admire Shakespeare and think Hamlet was astute in saying, “I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.”  Thinking you’re all-the-we has never worked out well in human history and in our endless quest to know more things we think listening to non-we interlocutors is the finest of bad dreams.  They’re what’s saving us from living in a walnut pretending to be king.  We like the ridiculous but are trying real hard not to be it.

e) Talking about “we” while simultaneously using it to refer to oneself is hard.

As with all topics deviant, our metaconclusion was to hold all of our conclusions lightly and resolve to revisit them often.  In lieu of the budget we were meant to plan, we will send the conclusions above to administration and hope they don’t notice the difference.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

DoD Institutes Musical Path to the PhD

Stephen Ellis, a prominent deviant in a Top Department Elsewhere has observed that the DoD is unclear about the guidelines for its graduate students.  As well as woefully, inexplicably without any music.  Seeking to kill two birds with one stone and also keep too many Grad College cooks out of our kitchen, we have devised the following musical plan toward the PhD in Deviance:

Admission to Candidacy will occur upon public performance of “Drop Kick me, Dogen, Through the Goalposts of Grad School” (to be sung to the tune of “Drop Kick me,Jesus”).

As Ellis notes, PhD committee composition may prove tricky.  Owing to the permeable boundaries between self and other, inside and outside, and all of that, we think it best if graduate students break into song.  And be on their own committees.  Specifically, they shall sing “I Am My Own Outside Member” (to be sung to the tune of “I am my own Grandpaw”) both upon formation of the committee and any time their confidence wanes.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

DoD Movie Night: The Hunger Dialectic

Next week the DoD Film and Deviance Group will screen “The Hunger Dialectic.”  Set in the early 21st century land of Normal Philosophy, this dystopian tale focuses on the mad spectacle of the Hunger Dialectic, a contest in which young tributes are conscripted into an artificial environment (called “Blog”) in which basic empathy, order, and human decency must be abandoned.  Young tributes are given perverse incentive to decline all solidarity with their peers and instead struggle to kill and maim each other verbally in an effort to survive or at least look more clever than others.  In a plot element that will come as a surprise to no deviants, the kids in District Unranked have it hardest, having the fewest resources and being the most distant from the fabled capital of Secure Employment and Peer Respect. 

New Class: Survey in Normality*

*We naturally resisted offering this course as long as humanly possible.  But students were curious and admin won’t get off our case about the curricular gap where we ignore a whole swath of human endeavor by pretending Normality doesn’t exist.  Just to be clear, we’re not really interested in this but we decided to throw admin a bone so they’ll leave us alone.

Course Description: 
This course surveys Normality for the entirety of its existence and over the vast cultural and geographic spaces it occupies.  I.e., we won’t nitpick lots of tedious detail about differences between subgroups of Normal and distinct Normal traditions.  We won’t even worry if they are all in fact Normal.  It’s easier just to lump them all together, so that’s what we’ll do.

Topics Covered Include:
Problems in Dating, Origins, and Authorship of Normality
It’s unclear exactly when Normality began, what constitutes a source or set of sources for it, and who started it.  We consider rival accounts including:  Normal origin myths that appear, rather mystifyingly, to count Socrates as the father of Normality; Normality as a later Tokugawa phenomenon (called the “Enlightenment” in the Normal dating system); and Normality as an unintended consequence of professionalization, hyper-specialization, and scarcity of jobs in the post-Mao era.

Normal Belatedness
In which we discuss what cultural limitations and impediments made Normality such a late bloomer on core issues.  We’ll try not to hold it against the Normal tradition that it was a real latecomer to, e.g., the complex phenomena we misleadingly call causation and the instability of personal identity.  Or its weirdly delayed suspicion that rationality just might not be the only show in important human faculties town. 

Exemplars of Normality
In truth, we’re not terribly familiar with even the most important figures of Normal tradition.  Ok, straight up:  Socrates is the only one we’ve heard of and we’re not entirely sure he is Normal.  Whatever.  We’ll just go with Socrates since he seems to be invoked a lot in Normal thought and at least we know how to pronounce his name.  So we’ll read Socrates.  Wait, what?  What do you mean he didn’t actually write anything down?  WTF?

Normal Methodology
In this section, which probably should have been first, we study the tools and techniques of post-Mao Normality.  With exacting precision, we will parse the differences between scorn, derision, and contempt; we will explore strategies for rank ordering complex phenomena in blissfully simple numerical lists; and will conclude by rhapsodizing on the clarity achieved through almost unbearably dry prose and hearty self-congratulation.

Normal Metaphors
Compared to some familiar deviant traditions (looking at you, Upanishads!), Normality suffers from metaphor impoverishment and perhaps even metaphor-incompetency.  E.g., its epistemologies appear to hold that sight is the only metaphor for knowing.  More curious still, contemporary Normality simultaneously derides most metaphorical expression as “unclear” and yet approvingly favors deploying pugilistic metaphor for interactions among Normal People.  Part of this unit will be experiential: we will follow the rule devised by that paragon of Normal, John Wilkins, and be exacting fines for use of metaphor.  Be sure to bring your wallets to class.

The Normal Person
Apparently the Normal Person is conceived as dramatically (shockingly, really) individuated in a way that, frankly, we don’t really understand.  We’ll try to figure this out through exploring questions such as:  Were Normal people raised by wolves?  Students will also be required to try to find themselves in a Normal way.  I.e., no cheating and deciding that there is no self, that your identity is social and relational, or even that atman is Brahman – just because all of these are more plausible, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try briefly to think Normally.

Applied Normality
In which we abandon the more obviously compelling applied topics, such as elder care, and consider abortion instead.  Specifically, why do most beginning Normality textbooks dwell on it especially?  We will discuss how, from Normal Antiquity, the concept of a soul has informed this preoccupation with abortion. (The “soul” is a mysterious entity, to be sure, but if we can’t figure it out quickly, we’ll just decide it’s mysticism, same as all the other fuzzy concepts in Normality).  We will also discuss the preoccupation of Normality with the abnormality of women’s sexuality and reproduction.

Lingering Questions about Normality
Normality privileges clarity, rigor, quality, and precision.  Why, then, we will ask, can’t they build trolleys that won’t mow anybody down?

Field Trip!
For the final class project, we will seek a culminating experience of Normality for ourselves, directly and without the mediating framework of deviance.  Students will be required to “sound smart” while we go tubing on the now legendary Mainstream.  Bonus points for any student who can sink a classmate by skewering her inner-tube with a razor sharp objection, pointedly scornful interruption, or puncturing counterexample.