Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Good morning, Roman Empire! What fresh hell and degradation is in store for us today? I am still reeling from the cat murder and not wanting to go to occupylive.org as I think it will be on the front page and I will have to look at it again.

Dough. Direction. Joy. That's my mantra, the words I try to remember to say to face the day. Dough, preferably in the form of money, but, as chronicled here, I work on other forms. (Cake counts as dough, right?) Direction, because what to do what to do is not clear to me. Joy because dammnit I'd like to be happier.

As I was falling asleep last night, not feeling pepper peppy or optimistic, I wondered who's head hits the pillow and then feels contentment, safety, satiety, accomplishment, even resolve? I had a longer list of words last night, but I didn't want to disturb my relaxation into sleep.

I need to get some work done this morning as there is light and I have many items to photograph for eBay.

A couple of weeks ago, when I quoted John Leonard's remark on embarrassment and moral consciousness, Laurie had a thoughtful response. In the instance that you didn't see her comments, here they are:

I find the out of context use of the quotation hard to react to, except on the gut level i'm not sure it's true. I think that Hegel said that embarrassment is the beginning of moral consciousness, but that there were other stages in the process. Seeing morality as a social or emotional process doesn't entirely work for me, since I have become so introverted that I operate on an internalized "guilt-based" morality. I'm not too affected by shame but I do avoid being judged by others. I think I have been most severely judged negatively for two things: getting old and getting fat. These are an unavoidable and an avoidable "sin" which for me have no moral content. The kind of thing I find appropriate to judge morally is considering what would happen if everyone behaved the same. Killing is wrong in most instances because it would decimate the population, theft would close down commerce, being cruel to others could lead to people being depressed and even suicidal, etc.

Teaching seeks to make students internalize values, knowledge, not seek external validation. Yet so much of it is based on negative reinforcement. I tend to believe the negative can work if it is something the student can control (being late, missing class) but won't work if s/he is stupid or lacking ability. Embarrassing someone comes in the category of negative reinforcement. The master or employer embarrasses the slave or employee as a technique of control. I also read a jewish philosopher who said that embarrassment was the source of religion! but the master, employer or teacher uses negative reinforcement a lot for motives unrelated to morality.

1 comment:

  1. With the proviso that I'm pathetically grateful to have a job, today was a difficult work day. To someone else it would look like a cruise day: One class at one campus from 8:30-9:30 and another at another campus from 3:30-4:55. In practice, it was quite difficult, since everything I tried to do to prepare for the second class seemed to take forever. The course outline which I had revised using some last minute additions from my boss and uploaded to the college website refused to let me print it out. Microsoft questioned my use of the wp program (which I had paid for to use on my mac) and said it was an insecure document. I had sent it to myself by email. So I went to another office and had a student working there print it out for me. Not to mention that I almost didn't get into the room where the computers were because I was an english adjunct, not a nursing professor. I had the kind english secretary help me to print out an article I was going to use in my class. She helped me establish my right to various privileges. I bought lunch and retreated to an office (which I have to ask someone for the key to) which I share with four or five other adjuncts. This office contains a computer that doesn't receive the internet. a request to replace it has been in since last October. I prepared my lesson in this privacy and comfort, only issuing forth to get water and stretch my legs and xerox the article and course syllabus. The important thing was that the lesson went really well. I had one of the students as a Spanish student in 2000.
    Everyone was alert and did everything I requested them to do. Finally, rather than swimming against the tide, I was swimming with it. That's what counts, doesn't it?