The ds106 99: #42 Comfort

A few things keep me up at night. Money woes, most folks have them to some degree or another, and given my chosen profession, current position, and salary these will last for a while. Self-imposed in too many ways, but still—-they suck, but I can live with them. This semester has been particularly rough given I have worked three or four other side gigs besides ds106—I tend to think of ds106 as an extension of my job, even though it is a ton more work—just to keep doing my job. It’s a weird time we labor in—when we work full-time, professional jobs and still need to take on several more just to pretend to any kind of comfort (more on this idea soon)—and all for the love of the higher calling of the university and its undying commitment to excellence I guess? 🙂 But anyway, like I already said, nothing new here and most of the folks I consort with share this very same problem with me so it makes it more manageable somehow—even though that last notion of a toothless comradery as mechanism to cope around a shared economic disenfranchisement may be part of a bigger problem.

Another thing keeps me up at night is the idea that nothing is really changeable. That everything is always already part of a machine that we can scream and shout about, but it continues to push on never hearing a word. Moving towards some horrific finish line we will never see and can only imagine. This is what scared me about Brian Lamb’s mashup talk this semester, and why I continue to wrestle with his words, which are sharp and I’m afraid all to right. But more on this anon, I’ve had a post brewing about that session for weeks now.

And lastly, which I think is related to nothing being changeable, is this little bit by Gardner Campbell during the “Network of Networks” talk he gave to ds106 the second week of this now past semester. It is a short bit, not even 45 seconds, and it comes at the 50 minute mark of the talk, but for some reason I haven’t been able to shake it all semester. He talks about the biggest impediment to change in education comes from this idea of comfort that prevents us from taking any risks. For me it is something that we have all heard in some form or other before, but it just continues to ring so true for me—and Gardner’s ability to articulate it so sharply in regards to the current crisis of imagination in education is perfect. That said, I think it is a malady that crosses into far more sectors of Western culture than just education—in fact there are probably precious few it doesn’t infect.
45 second clip from Gardner Campbell’s “A Network of Networks” talk for ds106

I’m not sure why this simple idea keeps me up at night, but I know that it does. And maybe I’ll be able to sleep a little better after writing this post, but i’m afraid that won’t prove to be the case.

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2 Responses to The ds106 99: #42 Comfort

  1. dkernohan says:

    Great post. And I feel you. All the good bits of my job are the ones I don’t get paid for. And they’re all the bits that people seem to get benefit from. Twitter, blogging, engaging with you lot… that’s my free time.

  2. Prof Hanley says:

    I’m no shrink . . and avoid “close reading” blog posts . . . yet, who can resist the slow pitch hanging on the outside of the plate? . . . GC cites “comfort” as the greatest impediment to educational change (I agree, btw, ‘tho I might tweak his definition of “comfort.” E.g. to what extent are institutions all about conditioning and manufacturing “comfort” – – how comfortable all those plugged-in, post-human bodies look in the Matrix!) but you start the post by invoking the dread (ok, anxieties) of financial insecurity (and with all this anti-public employee movement, retirement “age” is fast looking like an antique concept). Insecurity vs. comfort. At what point does insecurity become a social presence? (Perhaps it already is, via the Tea Party?)

    My taxicab confession: all the work you’ve been doing in re ds106 (and the previous “edupunk” phase) has pushed me into rethinking my teaching/learning – – as importantly, it’s encouraged me to re-engage with fiery classics of my youth (or “ute” as Cousin Vinnie says) – – Bakunin, Rudy Rocker, Mattick, etc. and renew my engagement with their heirs (from Crimethinc to Colectivos Situaciones). I.e. I’m convinced that in the space between insecurity and comfort, there is place for change . . . a real politics (there, I used “that” word) to dis-organize institutions and their powers of comfort. Vamos, companero, a las barricadas! Venceremos! ( por favor, trae el ron, para hacer, no los cocteles Molotovs, pero las Mojitas bonitas!)

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