Generous Listening

The title comes from a Vox podcast interview with Jenny Odell, which also talks about Danah Boyd's notion of "context collapse".
To listen generously being the antidote to context collapse, which is happening on the internet and which can be tricky for those of us in micro-climates where complexity is already denigrated for being "philosophical" (for some people even working in higher ed, this word is at once categorically negative and deemed an appropriate [!] way to discard ideas that require work: some professionals apparently do not know the difference between technical schools and universities, which I do not write to belittle technical schools but to make a distinction).
Let me play the hypocrite and hyperbolize by saying: also disappointing are the number of people working in higher ed who would immediately discard those who do not agree with them as being stupid or crazy. Should it not be expected that an environment filled with people who have worked - at least - to form (and hopefully support) their opinion be by default an opinionated environment? (Because I agree it is unrealistic to expect for the motivations of everyone in the "academy" to be pure - and here I am being philosophical: ideally one departs from opinion to reach some form of more objective truth.)
I have been writing a Dada/surrealist-inspired manifesto to try to vent my frustrations creatively (entitled "Return to the Waking State of University") but every time I return to it and reread the first point (basically the one I made here), I think, that's probably all the manifesto needs and stop writing, though once I wrote number two about egos. I'd love to release it to crowd source and have it become a template for others to try to bring humour their situations...

Humour is good but not a panacea. Working on endurance helps. And also making the dedicated decision to stop worrying over the workplace. There can be so much negativity (I think what I actually mean is toxicity) which can even trickle down to the students who may become habituated at least temporarily to what David Epstein has called "wicked worlds" and 'act out' in ways that can hinder the progression of a class (sometimes; I usually find ways to bypass this a few weeks in).
A kind world, according to Epstein, is one where one knows the world and gets appropriate and timely feedback to assist with continued growth; a wicked world is one where the rules are not clear; feedback may be wrong; etc.
Given these prognoses (frustrations, wicked worlds, and related worries), one must be very clear in one's intentions to not fall prey to circumstance and to only answer provocative "calls" with goodness. Or, like in the akathist to Saint Nektarios of Aegina, to "Endur[e] hardships as a good soldier", "not entangle thyself in the affairs of this life", and "Refus[e] to speak one word in [one's] own defense" while "joyfully" committing to doing good.
Of course, perfection is distant from the realistic abilities of most of us - but the idea of renewed commitment to keeping the mind untangled from so much junk is helpful and even curative.
Like the anti-drug ads of the 90's, I am trying to remember to tell myself to "just say no!" to responding to small-mindedness in kind, or more accurately, to carrying the negativity of what I have heard home with me.
And to give an example of this in the art world, I will cite a rather (what was for me) unexpected example concerning the manufacture of the blackest black.
And a second, final example from the natural world: an account from a long-distance hike with some very astute reflections on humanity from Ryan "dirtmonger" Sylva, an example of which is quoted below, and which reminded me of a tactic used by French female explorer Sarah Marquis.
‘Hey man. I am sorry I upset you. Like I said, I didn’t know. Have a good evening.’ I turned and walked away, unphased in my stride, but agitated by this microcosm of fear I hear and see in America these days. I play the middle; the extremes in either direction just scream and shout and look for fights. Good luck with that, people. I’ll keep on walking along in this world. I am certain there’s more good than bad, more sane than psycho. The land is free but the people on it are not. Whether stricken emotionally, internally, or philosophically most of the time we set our own confines. ... I see their pretentious belief system solely based off fear and arrogance, anger. How can we connect, communicate, with so much anger infused into one person, let alone the impressionable folks around him? We severed our humanity with anger, with ideology. I find the irony in me identifying, or relating to a coyote. A varmint, a pest, unknown, killed off by folks who refuse to try to understand.

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