Friday, November 13, 2009

How the NMAP Made RTB Reflexively Cry

NMAP: "I'm kind of tired of people claiming that academics and researchers are trying to 'tell practitioners what to do' - when nearly all of us these days who are researchers WERE and still ARE also practitioners. Why is the assumption that we don't listen to practitioners? That we have no real world experience ourselves? That practitioner knowledge should automatically trump theory?"

RTB: IMHO, the problem is that researchers DON'T tell practitioners what to do. Researchers in general do a lousy job of making their research findings praxiologically transparent. We talk at them, not to them. But we can't blame researchers for that...academe does not reward it. Consequently, the job often falls to some intermediary (for CALL@UTK, that would be me). But then the intermediaries get "uppity", want to try their hand at changing the world, only to find out that the only one changed is themselves. You teach, but are no longer a "teacher". You practice, but are no longer a "practitioner". You are a researcher...a new member of a particular flavor of cognoscenti. It is a position I will never be comfortable in...but I could never go back. It is a position in which there is no room for apathy because intense ambivalence fills every available bit of space. I lack the words to reflect on this at a 'meta' level, but images flash in my head...the poor/fortunate man freed from Plato's Cave is one. But for those of you who are closet fans of Cyrano de Bergerac, perhaps you will understand when I tell you that the image that resonates with me like a massive earthquake is the Comte de Guiche as he reflects on his life after becoming a Duc. I can totally see me playing this out in a decade. For those of you qui ne parle pas très bien le français, perhaps taking his reflective lines from the English edition and inserting myself into them somehow will help you understand. All I ask in return is that you send me a little something to give voice to my tension. A little theory-as-therapy, palliative philosophy. Even a citation will do...I know my way around a library:

(walking from Claxton to the Library)

RTB (AS THE FUTURE NMAP) (speaking of a teacher): Ay, there is one who has no prize of Fortune!--Yet is not to be pitied!

THE TA (with a bitter smile): But Dr. Berchot...

RTB : Pity him not! He has lived out his career, free in his thoughts, as in his actions free!

THE TA (in the same tone): Dr. Berchot!

RTB  (haughtily): True! I have all, and he has naught;. . .Yet I am proud to shake his hand!

(Waving to a colleague): Bye!

COLLEAGUE: I'll go over with you.

(RTB waves goodbye to the TA, and goes with the colleague toward the ramp.)

RTB (pausing, while the colleague goes up the ramp):
Ay, true,--I envy him.
Look you, when life is full of scholarly success
--Though the past holds no action foul--one feels
A thousand self-disgusts, of which the sum
Is not remorse, but a dim, vague unrest;
And, as one mounts the ramp of scholarly renown,
The NMAP's leather wheeled briefcase trails within its wheels
A sound of dead illusions, vain regrets,
A rustle--scarce a whisper--like as when,
Mounting the ramp to the sidewalk, your  leather wheeled briefcase
Sweeps in its path the dying autumn leaves.