Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Summer Thirsty Concerning "Gulley Washing."

I am still in Utah, at a cabin where I spend portions of each summer.
Several nights ago a torrential rain came through the valley, as if Hera had broken Zeus's heart, and as if Zeus's tears aimed to drown the world.

The next morning I marveled at the change. The air was cleaner, the roads and paths were smoothed, unpocked. There was a newness to the entire enterprise that thrilled me so much that I took all of my meals that day outside on a wobbly table.

But to the rain, and its effect.

A neighboring rancher said to me the other day, after the rains that cleaned our valleys so spectacularly, "Yaro, there is nothing quite so powerful in this valley - this place where I have made my home all these years - as the occasional, yet surprising 'gulley washer,' such as we experienced the other night."

And that was the genesis of the post I am sending in to the Misery today. "Gulley washer," a term I had never heard in my life, one that, richly, resonated with me. I had marveled at the change in our valley, indeed in my own attitude and comportment, the day after those heavy rains and the cleansing effect they had on all that surrounded me.

It seemed to me that I, Yaro, would benefit from a sort of academic "gulley washer," an event so transformative as to clean the dirt and pollen, sticks, and the contemptible trash of our departments, divisions, and universities.

Q: What event, what cleansing set of actions, is necessary to save us in our academic lives? What sort of torrent is needed to provide a clean start for us, individually, or as a group? If there is such a thing as an academic "gulley washer," what would it be, and is there a way for us to generate it?

NB: It was necessary to repost this, and I apologize for the deletion of earlier comments, and for the minor revision within the preamble to the question above.


  1. I got a good gully washing when I left my job in June. I'm now awaiting my first semester at a terrific college in the PNW, where my life will be totally different. Of course I felt stuck for years, so just the geography shift has cleansed me.

    I'd love to know other ways to get the GULLEY WASH feeling.

  2. Big retailers realize that American does not need college-educated assistant managers to cover the night shift at The Gap--only to use that experience to get a better job at Old Navy. Then fewer students arrive on campus because the world tells them that they need a college degree to get a job.

  3. There is something
    that loves a torrent,

    a cleansing,
    a rebirth.

    I used to dream
    of a world-wide renewal.

    But now know
    that all that's required,

    can start with me.

  4. Yep, Strelly. It's all toothless and snarkless. Doloi skuchnost'. Da sdravstvuet velikaia revoliutsiia!

  5. I understand why the post needed a gulley washer of its own, so I'll try to paraphrase my earlier comments. While there are certainly people whom I'd like to see washed away in a reprise of Noah's deluge (some administrators and many legislators and other kibbitzers who go on about "accountability" while slashing budgets), I suspect that we'll actually get out of the mess we're currently in -- if we do get out of it at all -- in the same way we got into it: bit by bit. I'd like to think that Lucy's decision to leave adjunct work, and AdjunctSlave's similar future plans, and EMH's private tutoring business are all drops that might eventually create a flood, and change the course of the academic river for the better.

  6. socialism. or, a blend of socialism within capitalism. unity, collaboration, and derision for products that only exist to draw in money at the expense of feeding the mind.

  7. "[S]ocialism. or, a blend of socialism within capitalism. unity, collaboration, and derision for products that only exist to draw in money at the expense of feeding the mind."

    Finally somebody gets it!

  8. Personally, I need a regular gulley washing, but unfortunately haven't been able to have one for eight years now. Unfortunately the only way I could find to have one was to leave academia. :-(

  9. I look at this blog at most once per day, so I have no idea why the original post had to be taken down. I hope my comment didn't have anything to do with it. I would be puzzled if it did. The respect issue has been brought up before on this blog, and I think it is a valid issue.

  10. Individually? My gully-washer is whitewater kayaking. It's challenging, invigorating, a little scary in a good way, and it takes place far, far from the department offices.

    What I like most is that it's a neutral proving ground. You're either good at it or not, and you're either a good companion on the river or you're not. Nobody cares where you got your degree, how much you've published, or how much you make, or even what you do for a living.

    I come back from a paddling weekend fully gully-washed and able to laugh at the idiots among my colleagues and their cramped and shallow lives. I laugh at the stupid, stupid, stupid decisions made by the administration. I come back with a zen-like distance and a focus on what's important in life: natural beauty, the companionship of good people, physical and mental challenge, and the exhilaration of a day well spent.


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