Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Return of the Not So Repressed Snarky Ron...

So the New York Times has an essay on the increasing interest in the groves of academe in Mormon Studies these days and how Mormon Studies can help us understand American history(Jennifer Schuessler, "The Mormon Lens on American History", 2 July 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/books/mormon-studies-attract-more-scholars-and-attention.html?_r=2). Well duh.

My academic mentor once hoped that the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney and the increased interest in the LDS that his candidacy he might generate might get me a full-time academic job. No such luck. I have, in fact, given up the academic job search ghost. I can only hope now that an Albany State degree will help me get me a retail or office job despite my age. LOL.

To be honest, I have for several years, not really been sure I actually want to work in academia beyond the part-time adjuncting I do now. I long ago realised that I am not a bureaucratic sort of guy and there is so much more of a bureaucratic nature one has to do if one has a full-time academic job. Moreover, I really dislike the soap opera, aristocratic wanna be, faux meritocratic, hobnob as if we are in an academic version of a New Yorker we’re at a party cartoon, and get ahead mentality one finds in academe just as one finds at IBM or on Wall Street. I have long thought and I continue to think that I just don't have the zen like patience to put up with such silly human social and cultural construct games.

I find myself, however, increasingly, even as an adjunct, unable to escape some of the bureaucracy that is knee deep behind the ivy halls. At RPI this year, for example, I had to do Digital Measure rubrics and measures, those naive and reductive things that, in all their hubris, think that education can be reduced to numbers and from me to you simple minded communication models (or should I say logistics?). It took me four or five hours to do them and needless to say I didn't receive any more compensation than before though Digital Measures added three hours to my adjunct work life.

As for my interest in Mormonism, I have long feared being typecast or stereotyped and caricatured as a Historian of Mormonism despite the fact that I really am not a Mormon historian or even an American historian. If I had to paint myself into a box as is academias wont I would say that I am a Comparative sociologist or historian.

There is, despite what the article says, and has long been a healthy discrimination in some quarters in academe against Mormons because they are Mormons, And then there is that religion thing. Many social scientists and practitioners of the humanities have long seen religion in epiphenomenal terms, as do I given that I an humanist. But I am an atheist who takes ideology and belief and the worlds they create very seriously. I have long feared that I would get caught up in some of this prejudice simply because of my interest in the culture of Mormonism. Put this on top of where I got my degree from, that I find History, as commonly practised--vanity, vanity most history is vanity history--even more dismal than abstract economics, my age, my misanthropy, a misanthropy that developed because I have experienced life as it really is, and well you get the picture.

I happen to be one of those rare birds in History. Most Jewish historians, in a wonderfully tautological fashion, do Jewish history because they are Jewish. Most Mennonite historians do Mennonite and Amish history because they are Mennonites and Anabaptists. Most labour historians do labour history because they are enamoured of labour and the working class in some way, shape, or form. I, on the other hand, am interested in Mormon Studies primarily because I am interested in the sociology of knowledge and I am interested in the sociology of knowledge because I want to understand human beings, how they think, how they act, and what they socially and culturally construct.

Forgive me holy priesthood father guardians of History…I have sinned….

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