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Marxism on the Curriculum

  Wed 28th September 2011

To the University, for a bit of work which Linda very kindly put my way (it's not what you know).

The bustling heart of Lancaster University

The bustling, hectic centre of Lancaster University.
Enormous energy, cleverly concealed.

The University has spent millions on building work this year. The main square now looks bleaker than ever, animated only by the heel-clacking of the almost exclusively female administrative cadre who generously tap out a percussive Early Female Approach Alert for the sexually frustrated male.

The Department of Finger Wagging is co-ordinating an outreach week where doctoral candidates will go into local schools to explain to the older pupils what actually goes on in a University. I made a list which began with extra-marital sex, chronic drinking, unacknowledged theft of others' ideas, and professionally questionable supervisor-student relationships, but I was told that I'd got hold of the wrong end of the stick. Apparently the idea is to present some of Lancaster's current research.

My workplace

The balance of the sexes in the PhD students that we've got interested so far is about right: ten women and two men. All the scientists are female; the only people doing Howsthatgoingtogetyouajob Studies are me and the other man. It would be unprofessional to comment on anyone's appearance, so I won't say that the woman who'll be doing a talk about her mathematical model of the spread of arable crop diseases is bothersomely attractive.

I'm now faced with the interesting task of thinking of a way of outlining Marxist aesthetic theory in a way comprehensible to 16-year-olds, and finding some sort of practical activity they can do. I'm going into my girls' school, and I have been firmly told not even to acknowledge them if I see them.

On the final Saturday we're doing another version of the show for a general lay audience, so if you have a funny turn and find yourself possessed of a desire to hear me talk about ideology and subjectivity in contemporary art music, get yourself along to the Storey Institute on Saturday 26th November. There'll also be a fascinating talk about crop diseases. An emboldened member of the committee has broached the idea of some Ch. de Taxpayer being released from the Special Cupboard, the key to which is taken home every night by the Departmental Secretary and hidden in her knickers.

There is Bad News from the pub. Discussing our plans to watch England v Scotland on Saturday, the assembled throng was disappointed to learn that although the pub is opening at 8am, they're not allowed to serve alcohol until 10am. That's no use. By then the endlessly rumbling sense of bitter resentment towards everything in general and the English in particular, with which every Scot is born, will be magnified by their most recent defeat at our hands.

We've been trying to think of ways round it, such as paying for our drink in advance and calling it a private party, thus remaining beyond the reach of Plod.  But this should be simple. People just want a few pints for breakfast, starting at 8am, before going home to have some quality time with their children.

A young woman in a lovely ochre shift dress has just walked by.


The architecture looks vaguely Soviet c. 1955. Was that their inspiration?

Libido always gets in the way. On my way in to the city this morning, a pretty young thing sat next to me on the bus and it’s all I could think about during my morning meditation. What a distraction!

Try to convince the pub that a pint is nothing more than liquid bread. Who doesn’t have bread for breakfast?!

Thu 29th September 2011 @ 11:52
Comment from: Sarsparilla [Visitor]

Can you get the kids to analyse a fairy tale, or a TV show in a Marxist way?

Thu 29th September 2011 @ 15:17
Comment from: [Member]

UB: I’ve got innumerable happy memories of Lancaster University, but the architecture doesn’t consider humans and how they respond to space. It’s an architects’ building, not one for living in, just like all those thousands of flats from the same time are daily being demolished.

It’s good, healthy and essential to a full heterosexual male life to be distracted by women. I am constantly.

Beer is full of B vitamins. If I die through drink, it’ll be through an overdose of B12.

S: Most young people are very keen to stress that their artistic choices are theirs alone, but there’s research that shows that they buy the most heavily advertised cigarettes for e.g. (when this was allowed).

Trying to make them think about class and music, (subjects about which all young people are concerned) I was thinking of showing them some photographs of people which I’ve acquired from my research and asking them to match the people up to the music, then somehow explore the homologies they come up with. I know it’s a bit vague but it’s a work in progress.

I can’t ask them about TV because I haven’t got a TV and have no idea what is shown on TV nowadays. Fairy tales? Angela Carter? Thanks - would have to give that some thought too.

A raised glass to you both for provoking such longwinded responses.

Thu 29th September 2011 @ 15:57
Comment from: Tony [Visitor]

Fantastic last bit of news about the big match and as for the very last paragraph superb. I can go to bed happy.
Hope you can find a way around the beurcratic nonsense that this great country seems to have found itself enveloped in.

Thu 29th September 2011 @ 23:39
Comment from: [Member]

You see a woman in an ochre shift dress, and you know the day’s going to work out OK :) I don’t think we’ve quite solved the no beer problem yet. The landlord seems to think he’ll get enough people in just by serving them coffee. He’s not from Lancaster so he’s excused, but he is going to learn sharpish that the men and women of Lancaster do not drink coffee whilst watching international sporting events. I’m going to ring round a couple of other pubs today and see if anyone’s going to be serving.

Re your other point, read this comment on the blog called
The Trouble With Young People Today
. Wise and accurate! The rest of the blog’s worth a read too.

Fri 30th September 2011 @ 09:06

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looby, n.; pl. loobies. A lout; an awkward, stupid, clownish person

M / 57 / Bristol, "the most beautiful, interesting and distinguished city in England" -- John Betjeman [1961, source eludes me].

"Looby is a left-wing intellectual who is obsessed with a) women's clothes and b) tits." -- Joy of Bex.

WLTM literate woman, 40-65. Must have nice tits, a PhD, and an mdma factory in the shed, although the first on its own will do in the short term.

There are plenty of bastards who drink moderately. Of course, I don't consider them to be people. They are not our comrades.
Sergei Korovin, quoted in Pavel Krusanov, The Blue Book of the Alcoholic

I am here to change my life. I am here to force myself to change my life.
Chinese man I met during Freshers Week at Lancaster University, 2008

The more democratised art becomes, the more we recognise in it our own mediocrity.
James Meek

Tell me, why is it that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a beautiful evening, or a conversation in agreeable company, it all seems no more than a hint of some infinite felicity existing apart somewhere, rather than actual happiness – such, I mean, as we ourselves can really possess?
Turgenev, Fathers and Sons

I hate the iPod; I hate the idea that music is such a personal thing that you can just stick some earplugs in your ears and have an experience with music. Music is a social phenomenon.
Jeremy Wagner

La vie poetique has its pleasures, and readings--ideally a long way from home--are one of them. I can pretend to be George Szirtes.
George Szirtes

Using words well is a social virtue. Use 'fortuitous' once more to mean 'fortunate' and you move an English word another step towards the dustbin. If your mistake took hold, no-one who valued clarity would be able to use the word again.
John Whale

One good thing about being a Marxist is that you don't have to pretend to like work.
Terry Eagleton, What Is A Novel?, Lancaster University, 1 Feb 2010

The working man is a fucking loser.
Mick, The Golden Lion, Lancaster, 21 Mar 2011

The Comfort of Strangers

23.1.16: Big clearout of the defunct and dormant and dull
16.1.19: Further pruning

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