Category Archives: activism

What’s Not To Like About The Academic Bill of Rights (2005)

51+EmS1n9ML._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_An essay first published on the website of the California chapter of the American Association of University Professors (CA-AAUP). It has since been removed from that site, so is here republished for posterity. The text is unchanged despite a few misgivings, and links are published in full, regardless of whether or not they still work. The first of many statements about this threat to academic freedom, this essay has been reprinted, along with the subsequent exchange with David Horowitz as “The Graham Larkin-David Horowitz Debate” in Stephen H. Aby, ed, The Academic Bill of Rights Debate: A Handbook (Westport, CT: Praeger Press, 2007) pp. 67-90. – GL


 

Locking up my bike on the way to the office on May 3, 2004, I noticed that events were underway in the large pavilion pitched in front of the Hoover Center, the right-wing think tank overshadowing my office in the Nathan Cummings Art Building at Stanford University. The voice on the microphone was introducing prominent ultra-conservative intellectual David Horowitz. As the representative for private universities on the steering committee of the California Conference of the American Association of University Professors (CA-AAUP), I had recently taken a pressing interest in Mr. Horowitz’s activities. He is, after all, the brains behind the mischievously-named-and-crafted Academic Bill of RightsContinue reading

A debate about academic freedom (2005)

Here’s an account of an academic freedom debate I had with Republican Senator Bill Morrow on March 23, 2005, as published in the April 5, 2005 edition of the Cal State San Marcos Pride.* Morrow had recently proposed Senate Bill 5—a worrisome effort to legislate speech constraints and ‘both sides’ ideological diversity requirements in university classrooms—to the California State Legislature.

A version of the Academic Bill of Rights, the bill did not pass. But it was pretty dicey for a while there, so I was fighting vigorously in my capacity as Vice President for Private Universities and Colleges, California Conference of the American Association of University Professors. Continue reading

It’s Complicated

These days when people people ask me what I’ve been up to, the answers can get quite convoluted. So in the absence of a FaceBook account here’s a sampling of some recent projects, and just enough back story to make it seem coherent.

Followers of this site will be familiar with my researches into the Marshall McLuhan fonds, work that some intrepid Berliners have recently revived by marrying a poor quality lecture video to the hundreds of images that were the crux of the original presentation. The result is the Hybrid Lecture Player.

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We’re currently seeking support to go deeper (and go public) with this project. The hope is to make each image into a virtual slide down a documentary rabbit hole, for those who choose to explore. We were met with enthusiastic interest in recent conversations with the McLuhan family, and the Berliners have piqued the interest of universities in Europe and the US. All of this international attention may be enough to win the eventual support of Canadian institutions, including the LAC whose new director says he wants to revive the exhibitions and programming that have been conspicuously absent in recent years. With luck the promised exhibitions will expand beyond war and hockey.

In addition to that archival work I’m getting back into museums, by way of the academy and the internet. I’ve researched, catalogued, taught and curated in museums for much of my career, which took a downturn in summer 2011 when I was one of five curators laid off from the struggling National Gallery of Canada. The abolition of my position as Curator of International (i.e. non-Canadian) Art brought the total to seventy lost positions by the time I was out of the picture. That’s a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t count moribund positions like the curatorship of Modern Art, a role that I subsumed a few years prior to that. I found it rewarding to acquire 20thC works such as a unique Warhol print donated by a couple in Toronto and this crazy thing which I found at auction and paid for with repatriation monies from Heritage Canada.

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I also developed a deep respect for minimalist art while creating a glorious gallery for Judd, Andre and Flavin works that has since been dismantled. Continue reading

The Internet’s Own Boy

Two stills from a superb documentary about my pal Aaron Swartz, whose death started me blogging in January 2013. The photo shows Aaron celebrating the victory over the passage of SOPA legislation. Scroll down to watch the entire movie.

Continue reading

Blueprint for Counter Education Redivivus

I just received word that Paul Cronin, Rob Giampietro, Adam Michaels and Jeffrey T. Schnapp received a generous Graham Foundation grant for an exhibition analyzing and completing the inimitable Blueprint for Counter Education by Maurice R. Stein and Larry Miller, from which I quoted in this recent post. At the time I was writing a last-minute letter of support for the grant proposal, which I reckon it’s now safe to share with a new image and a few links. The fact that it fits 18 of my 30 subject tags indicates the project’s richness and its closeness to my heart! The Chicago-based Graham Foundation Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts is a wonderful institution that supported my first and last translation effort in the late ’90s.

Maurice R. Stein, Larry Miller & Marshall Henrichs; Blueprint for Counter Education, 1970, New York. Photo: Project Projects.

Maurice R. Stein, Larry Miller & Marshall Henrichs; Blueprint for Counter Education, 1970, New York. Photo: Project Projects.

23 January 2014 Dear Sir or Madam, I am writing in support of the project Blueprint for (a Media Archeology of) Counter Education, as presented to the Graham Foundation’s “Production and Presentation” grant category by Jeffrey Schnapp, Adam Michaels and Rob Giampietro. The proposed project as a natural successor to Schnapp and Michaels’ triumphant The Electric Information Age Book (TEAIB), an experiment intimately linked to the Blueprint project in form and subject matter. The book TEAIB defines the parameters of a short-lived and largely forgotten type of publication, variously described as the kinetic paperback, the inventory book and the experimental paperback. Beginning with The Medium is the Massage—the groundbreaking 1967 book written by Marshall McLuhan, designed by Quentin Fiore and ‘produced’ by Jerome Agel—these revolutionary little books rewrite the rules of style, layout and distribution. They also declare the irrelevance of divisions between highbrow and lowbrow, art and advertising, word and image, and (most crucially) form and content. This complicated mix of moves perfectly embodies McLuhan’s observation that the medium is the message. Continue reading

And that Yopp . . .

And he climbed with the lad up the Eiffelberg Tower.

“This,” cried the Mayor, “is your town’s darkest hour!
The time for all Whos who have blood that is red
to come to the aid of their country!” he said.
“We’ve GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”

Thus he spoke as he climbed. When they got to the top,
The lad cleared his throat and he shouted out, “YOPP!”

And that Yopp . . .

That one last small, extra Yopp put it over!
Finally, at last! From the speck on that clover
Their voices were heard! They rang out clear and clean.
And the elephant smiled. “Do you see what I mean? . . .
They’ve proved they ARE persons, no matter how small.
And their whole world was saved by the Smallest of All!”

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Thank You Douglas Rushkoff

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Having learned the hard way that hater-baiting is a loser’s game I’m not going to critique or even name the author who recently made the absurd claim, in a Prominent and Respectable Middlebrow Magazine, that Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock (whose title said hater gets wrong) offers no solutions. For the record, I read that book with great care in August/September, and its wise advice played no small part in the germination of my website Slow Ottawa.

Launched a month ago, this is a multimedia platform providing people in my community with the resources to live happier, more financially and ecologically sustainable lives. In the spirit of Rushkoff’s maker manifesto Program or be Programmed, which I also ingested very carefully, I produced (and continue to produce) the entire Slow Ottawa site, serving as web designer, artist, photographer, researcher, journalist and audiocast host. I have no formal training in any of that, aside from general research skills. Continue reading

Meta Post: Slow Ottawa

Did you miss me?

I’ve been busy trying to scrounge a living over here with my most ambitious and elegant web project to date, a guide to sustainable living in Canada’s capital. I’m five days in, and already I’ve made $40. I’ll be adding blog and audiocast profiles of local initiatives in the coming weeks. If you know anyone who’s into righteous poverty and/or saving the planet, kindly spread the word.

As ever,

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Borges, Duchamp and I

Mark O’Connell’s recent New Yorker blog review of two new books on Jorge Luis Borges opens by sensitively praising the Argentine master’s literary talents, and closes by deeming him politically incorrect. One big problem, in O’Connell’s eyes, is Borges’s failure to adequately appreciate women writers. Without letting us in on the joke, the critic informs us that he “laughed out loud” upon reading Borges’ remark that Emily Dickinson was “the most passionate of all women who have attempted writing.” Perhaps it’s the word “attempt” that O’Connell expects his reader to find so laugable. And perhaps he doesn’t fully grasp Borges’ understanding that this is no insult, since any communication is but an essaie.

As a lead-up to a second fit of pique O’Connell recounts the following conversation from 1980: Continue reading

Meta-Post: Pussy Riot over at Boring from Within

I’ve made a few double postings in this time of transition from my Boring from Within blog. Henceforth all my agitprop images will be posted over there, so please sign up if if you’re interested. I’ve started adding ©© (creative commons) symbols to these pieces to encourage folks to spread the word, and help raise consciousness about threats to freedom of speech and action. The Russian state’s reaction to Pussy Riot’s harmless church prank–separating two of the perpetrators from their children to place them in labour camps and clamping down on any mention of the band–is chilling to say the least.

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RIP Aaron Swartz.

Jeremy Hammond vs. the State

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I concocted this bit of agitprop after reading an important op-ed detailing the US gov’s troubling War on Reality. The article contextualizes this proposal outlining the very naughty tactics of Team Themis, a consortium of information security firms enlisted by the government at arm’s length. Further details on the Hammond debacle here.

Click on image for larger version.

Steal it & spread the word.

RIP Aaron Swartz.