I spent much of the summer just slightly the wrong side of depression – felt worn out most of the time, no energy, etc, which meant I couldn’t take advantage of the free time I had being unemployed. I also felt tense about the financial costs of being out of work. I started to feel better toward the end of August. I think this was all partly because I really wore myself out around May and June. University started up again right after Labor Day, after a trip to visit family and attend general assembly of the union (all told, a really good trip but intensely draining), and the strike here started at the same time. That’s over now, in a somewhat demoralizing way and certainly took a lot of energy, and life is again stressful and enervating and rushed. Still the right side of depression, but I have moments (“what in the hell am I doing all this for? oh yeah, because I don’t think I have any other options,” not a restorative internal dialog by any means).

What is restorative is teaching. Actually, no. Strike that. What in the hell was I thinking?! Teaching isn’t restorative at all. It’s really tiring! But it’s also energizing. It doesn’t restore so much as makes me want to exert the remaining energy I have, if that makes sense, as opposed to just feeling listless.

So far we’ve spent 5 or 6 weeks (ish) reading most of the first 7 chapters of v1 of Capital. The students are getting it. They can speak Marx-ese now. That’s a lot of fun. We just switched to reading Fortunati. The book is short but dense and badly translated and edited. Several students commented “I wish we were still reading Marx, that’s so much easier to read…”, made me laugh. Later we’re going back to Marx briefly (primitive accumulation, then Federici on same only in relation to reproductive labor.)

Anyhow, the made-my-day-part: In class today we discussed what the relationship of the students to the university is. There was immediate agreement that the students purchase something from the university and in the end they expect to emerge with formal qualifications and substantive abilities. Some thought the higher salability/price for labor power (ideally) post-graduation meant that the students are capitalists. Other said “no, we’re changing our labor power and its price but we’re not doing M-C-M’ because we’re not selling something that we buy from the university or selling something that someone else’s labor produces which buy for less than we sell it for.” That moved people. It’s really fun conducting discussion like that. I talk some, if no one makes a point I think is important I’ll eventually speak up. What’s the most fun is when a student comes up with that point first, then all I have to say is “yes!” and maybe restate it the way I want them to remember it. We got to the subject of students as unwaged laborers after talking about the labor of instructors. I said,”I’m the only one paid in this classroom, but am I the only one working? I’m definitely not the main person talking” and someone joked “hey, we’re doing your job!” It was funny. After class a student pulled me aside, one who is a bit older and returning to university after a few years out, and said “This is a really good class Nate. I wasn’t excited about it, the material or the time” – it’s an early morning class three days a week – “but I really like it. The way you facilitate discussion is really helpful.” That was really nice to hear. I’ve been enjoying the teaching all along and whenever someone has said “how’s the class going?” I’ve said “I’m not sure if the students are learning much but I really like it,” it’s really gratifying to get a bit of feedback on the former. I was telling my wife about all this after griping about what feels to me like way the fuck too much work to do over the next three days, and she said “it’s good that you’re doing this, it’s stressful and you dislike a lot about working there, but you’ve always been happier when you’re teaching than at other jobs.” That’s also tremendously gratifying, and among other things helps me not to feel like going back to university was a mistake. (Now if only someone would do all this stupid work for me.)

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