San Diego – Last week was a week of chaos for students preparing to show their work for final projects at school and for getting the City College Photo Program’s Photo Student Show up and open. The student show, by the way, was stunning and made the instructors quite proud to have such talented students in their midst.
But it was, for me, also a week of two interesting and somewhat disquieting exchanges. The first was during my Biennial Evaluation in which I scored highly on everything EXCEPT I was told that I was not being “collegial” in how I went to war with the IT department and needed to be nicer to them. I must tell you I think that is warm and fuzzy enough but utter nonsense. IT’s incompetence continues precisely because they are shielded by a demographic that will not stand up for anything lest someone point out their own failings or because they have turned tolerance into cowardice. For reasons totally lost upon me, the admin system would prefer to allow an unacceptable situation to continue rather than to confront it forcefully. In fact, they are highly uncomfortable when someone does, in fact, openly confront the incompetence and refuses to accept it.
That went a long way to helping explain to me the underlying environment that has led to my previous posts about the failed educational system. The fact that the confrontational actions of mine resulted in some progress was ignored and the clear preference was to simply continue to “talk” with them about needs which was singularly unsuccessful. Why should they take the least additional step when it is clear to them there is not down side to simply refusing to perform? I was told this might result in their not doing their work but they are not doing their work now. I was told they might retaliate but they have already done that and had it backfire on them though they are oblivious to that.
And then, to add to the weirdness, I had a brief exchange with a person who billed themselves as a writer and someone who was interested in arts and such things but then exclaimed they could never associate with a photographer because photographers just ran about pointing and clicking and hoping for the best but did not understand, really appreciate, or take the time to “smell the roses” of the world upon which they imposed their little snapshots and therefore the individual would not even slow down going by a photo exhibit on their way to a real art exhibit.
Wow. I have, before, mentioned being “stunned” by something or some comment, but this time it was literally true. Moments before the same person asserted they were “endlessly curious” but those two positions are so utterly in contradiction to one another as to make it all one giant non-sequitor. Their curiosity was not so endless that it encouraged them to get a little more data before waxing profoundly about the limits of the category of people who they see as photographers. The logical systems of neither Aristotle nor Boole allow such a conclusion to be drawn yet here, someone obviously educated, lacked the intelligent curiosity to look beyond their biases.
For all I knew they were simply a writer of comic books or rap lyrics, neither of which would impress me very much, yet i would have been willing to explore that, if only out of my own curiosity. I would certainly admit that there are people running around with cameras who precisely and unfortunately fall under their label’s limitations. But then an “Art in the Park” experience will show you that being an oil painter is not necessarily synonymous with being an artist and a very shallow review of the web will show that not everyone typing words in a computer is a writer of the same league as Kipling, Melville, Stevenson, etc. It is not the medium that defines or constrains artistic success or competence, it is the practitioner.
Oh well, that week is over and now today is the start of finals week. Perhaps after the craziness of this week things will settle down into a productive summer. Time will tell…