“All that concerns itself with beauty and truth, with those forces that have the power to transform us, is being steadily extinguished by our corporate state. Art. Education. Literature. Music. Theater. Dance. Poetry. Philosophy. Religion. Journalism. None of these disciplines are worthy in the corporate state of support or compensation. These are pursuits that, even in our universities, are condemned as impractical. But it is only through the impractical, through that which can empower our imagination, that we will be rescued as a species.” —Chris Hedges»
That’s a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing—MFA.
An impressive person was recruited to be the director of the new program, because the privileged from all over America want to “become writers.” You’ve seen them around. They wear a lot of vintage fashion. It’s like their uniform. They refer to their bad grammar as poetic license and snicker. Smug. They do very little writing, but they are guaranteed a job teaching at least two writing courses per semester. That’s part of the “MFA Requirements,” and a modest means of income for the poor starving artists. It’s like a stipend, like being paid to write.
It was considered by most to be very fucking cool. I asked around. Everyone was happy. Let me rephrase that. What I mean to say is this: everyone was ecstatic about the new and impressive MFA program! One of, make that several, of my colleagues privately referred to it as the fattest cash cow the campus had ever seen!—or something like that.
High profile articles were published—New York Times, etc. etc. Soon my department head—a glorified office manager—was cutting the course assignments, and therefore the pay, of the existing part-time writing faculty.
All of that university employment was given to MFA students who were paying more, much more in tuition each semester than these guaranteed jobs were paying them.
Weird, huh? But that’s Math, and they’re all there to become writers, or, fingers crossed, future faculty members to feed the future of the MFA programs of America. Hope. Hope. Hope.
Now, you’d think I would be outraged by all this. I mean, make no mistake, this was one of the factors that led to the death of my academic career.
And you’d think I’d be insulted, teaching writing at an inner-city university for five years only to be replaced by a requirement of the MFA curriculum: two years of classroom instruction checked off that list. Am I a real writer, yet? Please. Please.
But all of that is fairly typical. Nothing I haven’t seen before.
No, it’s the fact that two of my writer friends—old friends—are now students in this MFA program, that’s the real tangy mayonnaise on this shit sandwich.
But are you ready for the dessert?
One of these writer friends actually suggested I apply, suggested I become a student of this MFA program that killed my job. So, I can pay the university more money in tuition than I’ll earn working the same job I had before the MFA program came to town.
Oh, but there’s more. Here’s the academic translation: I should take out more student loans, hand that money over to the university, and earn a little, a very little of that money back by teaching 48 undergrads, or more, each semester. Each of my 48 students will also be paying a fortune in tuition to the university, and most of my 48 students will also be relying on student loans to pay for all this. And I, the adjunct professor, get no benefits at all—cash cow indeed.
But maybe, I mean, it’s a long shot, but you’re so talented! So, maybe…someday…you’ll be made full-time! You never know! Maybe the university will hire you right after you graduate! It could happen!
Now, let’s get these student loan papers signed—here, and here, and initial here, please. Thank you.
You can almost see the pyramid scheme, can’t you? Been there. Done that.
Any fucking way, do you know what I have to say to all of that shit? Do you know what I have to say about all of this vile social feces, the scams I’ve experienced, witnessed in American academia?
I say this:
I once wrote a 750 word prose poem, it was nothing really, a poetic meditation about how our new kitten added nuance to my Buddhist practice, and 45,000 people read it, loved it, and shared it with others.
45,000 readers, hundreds of comments. Praise. Love.
Another piece I wrote, a story about a job interview, snarky and cocky funny—hundreds of thousands of people have read that, loved that, shared that. [and TY for the RT @Mashable, btw!]
To date, over a quarter of a million people have been to my website, read my writing, retweeted, Facebook Liked, Tumblr reblogged, and reposted—over 250,000 unique readers, 4 page views per visitor, on average, and counting.
Pretty cool, huh?
I’m already a writer. Fuck your MFA Program.
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