Saturday, August 04, 2007

Short - William S. Burroughs - Bill and Tony

Here's an old short film with William S. Burroughs. Believe it or not, our university tried pretty hard to get Burroughs on the faculty back in the early 70s. It's difficult to imagine this today, fankly. Would any university hire such a controversial faculty member now? I keep hearing people talk about the "thousands of radicals" on campus; but they all seem to cite Sami Al-Arian who got fired and arrested, and Ward Churchill, who got fired. Somehow, I'm underwhelmed. And the current Mall University probably isn't trying to create the sort of 'educational experience' that Professor Burroughs would offer!

Burroughs tried teaching at one point, but didn't much care for it. He felt that he was expending much more energy than he was getting back from students- a feeling that seems to be at the center of the teaching experience. So our university lost out. But it was probably for the best.

Which reminds me of a something I've been thinking lately- I'm quite open to any other ideas about how to make a living aside from academia. It seems like a pretty risky business actually. I've been thinking about publishing quite a bit lately. Not on the Internet (it's not particularly lucrative), but on paper. If anyone has any ideas in that regard, I'd love to hear them.

I'm not exactly planning on taking the Burroughs route out of higher education. But I get the feeling that it's a good idea to keep one eye on the door at all times.


gregvw said...

Learn Flash. Make a snarky commentary on all that is wrong with the world, but make it slick, subversive and funny. Then sell Cafe-Press style items that pimp your memes. At least you can use this to sell your writing.

Well. That's what I would do, if I didn't have this job.

Rufus said...

It's worth a shot. But I've heard that even the most popular websites tend to turn a profit that's in the realm of 'beer money'. This could be why they bitch so much about the 'mainstream media'.

Of course, most zines never make money either; but there you don't have literally millions of competitors. Unfortunately, everyone I know in that biz seems to be going broke.

Actually, I don't think anybody aside from smut peddlers makes any money in publishing.

Anonymous said...

Academia can be great if you are lucky and have the right attitude. There is no easier or more secure white collar job than being a tenured professor at a fourth rate research university, except maybe being a tenured PhysEd professor at a community college. Once you learn the ropes, you're working maybe ten hours a week, give or take, and with school holidays to boot. The trick in all this is to actually get that first tenure track job, and to get along with your cow-orkers long enough to get tenured.

Bad Professor

Holly said...

Get a relatively non-demanding job at some educational facility, and then spend your brain-time writing books and articles to address the gaps you see in the existing body of knowledge.

Alternately, find out where the places are, that would be engaging for you to work, and figure out how to get a spot there.

There's a professor by the name of James Elkins at the Chicago Art Institute who apparently teaches and writes f'ing fascinating books, and I just want to ask him... which one of those activities is the "enabler" for the other? Or... is it really a good symbiosis?

What are your requirements for a happy career, anyway?

Rufus said...

Actually, Claire said something interesting to me on this subject about a week ago: she believes that what will be most important in my life isn't my career- it's the people who are around me.

I think she's right. I'm not even really sure what the top tier universities are. I do want to leave good work behind after my death, but that's not the same as professionalism. And money isn't an issue because we're both pretty cheap.

I think my general gloominess on academic issues has to do with where we live. Claire and I are madly in love and so our house is a happy one. But the town puts too much pressure on us. It's a nice, cheap, blue-collar, Catholic, steel town; but it's also a cultural dead zone. For this reason, most kids move out after high school, so the population is mostly teens and older people. There is nobody in our community who is even our age, much less interested in any of the same things as us.

The city where I study isn't much better, and you've heard (again and again!) me bitching about the culture at Mall University. We do like Toronto, and we go there when we can. But that's still quite a trip to make.

So Claire and I basically lack a consituency. She has it a bit better, having grown up here. But we're both isolated to "being ourselves" when we're alone, or sometimes on the net. I radiate loneliness these days; when I meet with my professors to discuss my work, I often talk them to death about every other imaginable topic, including all the stuff I post about here. Claire, similarly, is probably pretty tired of listening to me.

I think she's right- I think I'd be quite happy working at a lousy university for minimum wage provided that I was surrounded by people who I could share my thoughts with. The internet is nothing compared to a good, rolicking conversation.