Of Cognitive Blah Blah Theory, Snail Reproduction, and Marx's theory of Alienation

I like to think of myself as an intelligent creature. I've got m'self a Ph.D., and although (like most academics I know who will actually 'fess up on this) I suffer from a healhy dose of imposter syndrome, there is something about learnin' and thinkin' that still engages me, and (at times) keeps my brain from feeling dead. Actually, the two--the syndrome and the non-braindead thing--go hand in hand for me.

One reason I have been rather quiet on the blogging front lately is that I have felt completely paralyzed with interia. Or what feels like inertia (mental inertia peppered with frantic working as if you know what you are doing). This paralysis stems from having way too fucking much to do and not quite knowing where to start (oh, that's only me, right?) and specifically the fact that somehow I have become one of the lead lackeys people in organizing the content sessions for a workshop to establish the research agenda for an federally grant-funded Center for Social Science Learning.

(Oh, my degree is in English folks, and though I fancy myself more a Cultural Studies than a Literature type who can spout Foucault and other theorists that deconstruct the epistemological basis of THIS, and the ontological standpoint of THAT, blah blah blah, the stuff I am reading right now, well it's making my head spin. Where are Foucault and Derrida and Butler to help me now? Nowhere, mates. This stuff covers neuroimaging, and brain patterns, and cognitive flexibility theory, and uses real, honest-to-goodness human subjects. Not books! Research is expected to yield tangible and empirically verifiable results!!!


Can someone start bailing out the water, because I think I am sinking. Oh, and if there is a Complete Idiots Guide to Faking it as a Ph.D. in Social Sciences, can someone send me the reference? Subliminal audio material would also be a bonus here. Oop. Hang on, that type of learning would be "passive encoding" and not "active encoding" of knowledge. See, I am learning. Maybe all those bullshit teaching philosophies I had to develop in grad school ("I approach the classroom from a constructivist perpsective, with an pedagogy that privileges student-centered leeeeearning..." Blink.) well maybe they weren't so bullshit after all. Maybe one person's constructivism and student-centered leeeeearning is another's Cognitive Flexibility Theory.

***cue belabored panting sound*** (Yeeees. That's right, Joy. Now back awaaay from the ledge. Easy does it.)

ANYWAY. Let me pull away from this spewing forth of insecurities for a moment, and bring you to the main point of this post. Me= Highly Educated Woman (if convincing faker at times) and so for the following interchanges between myself and three-year old preschooler, I should be ashamed (and remember, I am gestating right now, and this is what has prompted this onslaught of questioning):

Boyo: Where do cars come from?
Me: Uhm, factories. Like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Boyo: OK, so where do bikes come from?
Me: Err. Factories
Boyo: Where do doggies come from?
Me: Ah! From their mummies's tummies [familiar theme, you see]
Boyo: Where do worms come from?
Me: pause... "Hm. From their mummies tummies?.. ????"
Boyo: Where do snails come from?
Me: Uh. From their mummies' tummies? Uh. Eggs?

So there you have it.

A) By telling my son that everything manufactured is magically spewed forth by "factories," and thereby deftly eliding the relationship of local auto-workers and bike-makers to their products,
I have initiated my son's true passage into capitalist society and his own eventual alienation from the mode of production.

B) I really had no fucking clue how worms OR snails reproduced, and actually had to google it at the first opportunity. And no, I am not telling you. Look it up yourself. Oh.... Like you KNOW.

Someone bring in Child Protective Services and get me arrested! And strip me of my educashunal daplomas...


Anonymous said...

I *want* to comment, but I'm feeling a little backward from reading all those durned fifty-cent words you threw in there, Missy GJ. Mostly, I just want to say that I think you're super-super-super-infinity smart and that you shouldn't worry too much about the feelin'-like-a-fake thing. Remember instead to fake it 'til you make it. (I'm a big fan of corny middle-America cliches.) Um, yeah... now I'm gonna go unearth my thesaurus and re-read your post. I leave you with this: Yur reul smartt, GingaJoy. Consider me faked out.

Anonymous said...

don't know much about the actual reproductive practices of snails, yet i do know that 1) a female snail's vagina is on her head, and B) the male LAND snail has an enormous penis (by snail standards)--which is roughly the length of his body, and is also located on... his head.

so, i guess when snails put their heads together... snail "magic" happens! or not. (okay, my sister, the doc, wrote a book about penises & vaginas, and one of the chapters covered "the birds 'n the bees)

as for that whole writing inertia thing? i'm not buying it. 'cuz, i don't know if you know this or not, but you just wrote a great post... containing many many worms... some of them big, learn-ED worms. that, my friend, is not what the product of "writing inertia" looks like. trust me, i have a lot of experience in this area, so i know from which i ... er... um... write!

ps... "mummy's tummy" makes a non-answer sound pretty dang cute and/or classy. that whole "brit" thing really works for you! : D

Anonymous said...

One good thing about ditching a coherent professional career path for a meager existence as a freelance tech writing hack is that you very rarely feel like an imposter. You may feel like a worthless sack of shit a lot, but imposter? no, not so much.

That is funny, because I, too, got into a reductio-ad-absurdum exchange about magical "factories" with my little B today. I'm so out of practice that I didn't even think about the whole initiating him into the cogs of capitalism angle.

Heather said...

No PhD here but the first year of being a lawyer is all about faking it. And, highly scary.

Anonymous said...

I dread the days when I get asked those questions. Right now I'm just trying to figure out what she says.

And there is not enough education to prepare you for motherhood. Lord knows I have had my share and look where it got me. LOL

zinalasvegas said...

Gal--we're all fakers on one level or another, and somehow realer than real most of the time--in the areas that count, of course.

Don't worms have both a mommy and a daddy sort of simultaneously since worms are hermaphrodites? Just askin'! (Aren't worms herms?)

I think there is a general Internet malaise going on out there (oops! or is that just me?) as we all struggle mightily with the temporal versus the mundane.

Er something like that.

Don't get me started on the acamedicians and their "dose/response" uber-speak, 'K?

Bella Sultane said...

Err... Guide to Faking it as a Ph.D. in Social Sciences: Slip in the phrase 'social construction.' As in, "Well, we all know that that is simply a social construction..."

And, yeah - imposter syndrome. I'd guess that 90% of people feel it, and the other 10% are pathological in some way.

Anonymous said...

"By telling my son that everything manufactured is magically spewed forth by "factories," and thereby deftly eliding the relationship of local auto-workers and bike-makers to their products, I have initiated my son's true passage into capitalist society and his own eventual alienation from the mode of production."

HA HA HA HA HA HA (falls down laughing). The only solution I can think of is to immediately form a worker's collective. That's what it says you should do in this month's issue of "Parenting" when you inadvertently obscured the relations of production in front of your children and furthered their alienation from the products of their labor.

As for faking the social science thing, it can help to remember that a lot of it (most of it) is bullshit. This helps in many such situations but especially in connection to the social "sciences." (Always put the scare quotes around "science" and say it real sarcastic-like when you think about it in your head. It's the 'imagine the scary person in his underwear' technique.)

Sandra said...

Okay I love that post. All the time I wonder why I spent so many years in university when I cannot answer a four year olds question. Thank god for google!

sarah doow said...

Hmm, well there were a bunch of words in there that I didn't understand, but I do at least know where snails come from. So, in conclusion, I'm smarter than a 3 year old. That one's going in the family newsletter.

Table4Five said...

And now I'm thinking my MSU Bachelor's Degree in English is absolutely worthless. I had to read this post THREE times to figure out what you were saying.

I focused my English Degree on Literature, but I've never heardof Foucault. Want to discuss Tolstoy's "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" or Camus' "Metamorphosis"? I'm your gal. Right Brain/Left Brain Theory? Which is actually a Neuroscience, but nothing like what you're doing. I researched that for Freshman ATL, got a 4.0.

Thank God for Google, because my 9 year old is always asking me questions I can't answer.I can tell him how to post pictures to a blog, or what the HTML coding is for creating a blogroll, but that's about all my brain can hold right now.

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Anonymous said...

hey joy!

(re: blonde-milf11)

"i have see that your this post..." HA!

mmmm? now if that doesn't reinforce the fact that you're not only brilliant, you attract brilliance to your blog like light bulbs attract moths, i don't know what will! tee hee...

i hadn't seen that particular "spamment" before...(by the way, spamment is a word i just this minute made up, feel free to use it!) Mature Sluts?? that's hysterical!! : D

Anonymous said...

*arse, laughed off*

well, apparently those mature sluts aren't very well-read. One must have at least a passing familiarity with Foucault, et. al to qualify as a MILF in my book, blonde or otherwise.

Too funny.

Anonymous said...

I think you are highly intelligent. I couldn't even understand 3/4 of that post.

I'm going to go visit "Mature Sluts" now. Maybe they speaka my language.

Anonymous said...

I'll let you in on a secret...everybody is faking it.

Her Bad Mother said...

I wish that there were a better way to express being doubled over and clutching one's gut from the laughing oh the laughing than using acronyms like LMFAO, but, hey, if the shoe fits...

A topic after my own heart. If you find that Faking It manual, send me a copy.

And if you find a way to explain the capitalist system to children that does not gloss over alienation from modes of production and the exploitation that derives from the manufacture of surplus values, I hereby command you to post a tutorial on the subject.

I suspect, however, that it's better to be post-structuralist/ post-modernist/post-Marxist about these things and fall lazily back upon personal constructions of meaning and the Death of the Author and all that. Kids like that stuff, right?

Sorry. You caught me on a caffeine high and I couldn't resist an implied invitation to babble...

Anonymous said...

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