Tuesday, March 31, 2009

As Usual

So the quarter started and sure enough the fears and frustrations of working with people kicked in right away. Nothing major... certainly no worse than expected... nothing to complain of really... just a backhanded way of remarking that the break was great and I felt essentially none of those pressures while holed up at M1's for a week (with the odd side trip to feed the cat back "home" and pick up groceries)... and I suppose that accounts for my long-ish absence from this venue: if folie a deux is Madness, I propose to make the most of it, and one even feels the pinch of Poverty less by staying away from places where money is spent (which is itself accomplished, as I've hinted already, by the glorious expedient of never leaving the house).

Somehow I'd switched around my Monday-Wednesday class this quarter with the Tuesday-Thursday in my tiny pea-brain all morning and prepared syllabi with the wrong exam dates accordingly and then tried to go to the wrong class in the wrong building and so was late and unprepared even for me. And no goddamn markers in the whiteboard gutters you can be sure... and somewhat weirdly, none in my pack (I've got plenty of chalk...), so after spreading syllabi around and talking about bookkeeping stuff... which, lest we forget, was wrong... it's off to hunt up a room with some markers, or, as it turns out, some office whose front desk staff set me up.

And the actual math goes in the mathblog if I blog it at all and it was actual math from then on of course and it was okay but it was pretty damn embarrassing just the same. Naturally I just brazened it out in a sort of "sorry this is taking up even a little of our time... but of course we'll muddle through somehow and anyway it's even slightly amusing" way to the best of my alas very limited ability; you'd probably do the same. And, luckily, I really do feel that the last time I did this class it went pretty well and that this one could very well be even better. So maybe I pulled it off.

Meanwhile, the meeting with Ira... the guy doing the 148 lectures whose students are Targeted (in the new Targeted Tutoring) to work with me as a Tutor... went swimmingly to the extent that we mostly talked about actual 148 instead of all the paperwork (where we are to recite various verbal formulas whose meanings have been twisted beyond all human usefulness to serve The Machine). It looks like there'll be quite a bit of it and that not all of it can be farmed out to the students (and Ira); that promises to make this the worst form of tutoring I've ever done. Which is still potentially pretty good since tutoring is in many ways even more fun than lecturing.

And I got into quite a few conversations in the Barracks (which, by the way, I did some maintenance on while stopping off between busses on one of the catfeeding trips over the break... mostly shelving and general straightening up...), and even with at least one colleague I'd never done much more than exchange hellos with. And yes, idle office banter can count as work.

Because sometimes I'm studying these fine people and a lot of the time I'm doing politics with them and you'd better believe that's work. Not the kind of work I feel myself cut out for much either, or so I've always liked to say... but then nobody asked me to do it, so presumably the chance to feel that I make a (considerable) contribution to the department is worth more to me than I like to let on (even to myself). All of it has to be under management's paperwork radar to have any value for me, of course: by this time I'm in the loyal opposition out of a lifetime's habit if nothing else; while there's a counter-culture, I'm in it.

But, and you must've known I was headed in this direction, that way madness lies. Because this sounds almost like I'm embracing politics. Which, okay, maybe I was just going on last week about reintegrating myself into the social realm and stuff and not being such a scaredy-cat recluse drunko misanthrope all the time. But politics?

Because, face it, almost everyone is reduced to gibberish when talking about politics. Lots of ugly truths always need covering up; entire weird denial systems emerge. This is even well-known since everyone sees such systems in other people's commitments ("religion" and "politics" aren't proverbially paired for nothing). And I'm presumably just as prone to this as anyone else. If I do politics.

But not if I just keep saying true things as clearly as I know how. Heck, that's what one becomes a math major for. I'd almost rather be clear than interesting sometimes...


  1. mathematics as "the true faith"
    is becoming something of
    a common trope for me.
    here, for example.

  2. part of the idea: we're perfectly open about the fact
    that whenever we say a word in math it already
    means something other than what it means in life.
    so it ain't logocide as practiced in religion and politics.