I’m not especially fair-minded by nature. I have to struggle against temper, a quick tongue, an instinct to mock. Some of the long-windedness here is my way of guarding against those inclinations, getting myself to inhabit the obligations I’ve set for my public self, my scholarly self.
More than anything else, this is what disappoints me about some of the turn in criticism of academic institutions of late, particularly from people whom I previously read sympathetically. It’s one thing to criticize. It is another thing to describe and then live the alternatives. In much recent criticism, I don’t see an alternative to herd mentality, to close-mindedness, to groupthink, to callow invocations of political positions, to slanted or one-sided selections of material and evidence, to an aversion to exploration and complexity.
I see the mirror image of what the critics abhor. I don’t see folks trying to reach for something better, something different, trying to imagine and practice how we will debate and teach and write in some better kind of academic culture. That’s really what I’m trying to do in this blog, more than anything else: to try, even when it is against my nature, to constrain myself to what that better practice might be.