Tuesday, March 26, 2013

scattered thoughts

        Since I am between large formal writing projects, I thought I should make a greater effort to write for the blog.  I'm currently taking a few days to access the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, which resides in the special collections of the University of California-Riverside library, in order to read through the lengthy debates between Samuel Delany, Ursula Leguin, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree, Jr. and others that occurred in the third and fourth issues of the Khatru fanzine.  I've only just started this process today, and have only read a later issue that catalogs a series of fan responses to the debate, responses that have ranged from the thoughtful to the esoteric.  It's a nice reminder that one can find genuinely interesting intellectual debate outside the academy, in a language that a lot of the inhabitants of that institution would probably not deal with very well.  Don't worry, I'll put up some of my initial thoughts as I start to read the actual conversations between the authors, which sound like they're fairly contentious, if the rather large secondary literature on the debates is true. 

       Asides from that, I'm trying to use my week of spring break to get myself prepared for the rather large amount of work that I am going to have to take on for the spring quarter.  I have to finally complete my chapter on the implicit debate between Ursula Leguin and Samuel Delany that can be found in their respective novels, The Dispossessed and Trouble on Triton.  Additionally, I need to edit my chapter on Judith Merril, along with my chapters on Joanna Russ and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.  This is going to be a lot of work, but I know that those earlier chapters are not in as bad shape as the initial draft of the Gilman chapter that I took care of this quarter.  Finally, I need to put together a definitive prospectus/introduction to the project, based of the many earlier versions of that conversation.  I feel that I'm in a much better position to do this sort of writing, but I've never been good at that kind of abstract summary.  I suppose I need to figure out how to do this, if I want to apply for any jobs, or apply for grants of any sort.  Not my favorite activity in the world, but as Bertolt Brecht notes, "Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral."

     In addition to that, we are going to have a lot of work ahead of us, politically, because of the contract negotiations that will be beginning in the summer, at latest.  I feel that we actually have a lot of positives on our side, from the passage of Prop. 30 to the long history of protests that have created a deep crisis amongst the upper administration of the UC system, but it's going to take a lot of work to move away from the older forms of bargaining that have defined the last couple contract negotiations.  We have introduced a series of demands that I feel are quite strong, but without concerted action on the part of the rank and file, it's going to be an uphill battle, at best.  Within this context, I think our reform slate has done a very good job of creating democratic structures amongst the representatives and has gotten rank and file activists deeply involved in the process of organizing, but we haven't as of yet created the democratic representative structures that we need to bring 12,000 members into the conversation, rather than a small portion of that.  In many ways, the folks at Berkeley seem to be about as close to that ideal as anyone, with their Contract Action Team structure, but we need to come up with a structure that makes sense to activists and members on the Irvine campus, a campus that sees a substantial amount of police repression, even of simple actions such as canvassing and handing out fliers.  One thing I am hoping we will do is create a lot more media about what we do, another thing we can learn from other activist groups around the state.

      In any case, I might find myself continuing the low output on the blog that you have seen over the past couple months, but just be assured that this doesn't indicate a lack of commitment to the blog, or my implicit plans to close it down.  It just indicates that I have a lot of work to do.   Incidentally, I will be giving a paper at the Eaton Conference in Riverside this year on The Stepford Wives.  More details on that in the very near future.

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