Call for camaraderie

February 4, 2000

In an issue (THES, January 28) that has Frank Furedi telling us what Theodor Adorno told us concerning bureaucratisation ("Wake-up call", THES, January 28), a Natfhe advertisement urged us to send Derby to Coventry. I felt the need for camaraderie on the way to refusal: Campaign Against Managerial Ascendancy, Research Assessment and Dearing-Evolved Rhetoric In Education. Since a conference plays the game but does not change the rules or aims, perhaps a festival of free association would raise "the spirit of academics", particularly those now haunted by their truthful selves and lifeworld values.

Everybody could come as themselves with a gift - something with the potential for enigmatic excess (opacity, timelessness), something that might embarrass marketplace managers of higher education: something unquantifiable. Art comes to mind, as I am in the very midst of fine art education being made a circus under enclosing, calculative, deadening processes (reviews, agencies and controls), those described so well by Furedi. I am working on an old piece called "The profession of shysters" for this picnic.

Ethically sound, non-totalising technique, intuitive play and unpredictable outcomes ... all those qualities the academic community has let fall away through an imposed reification of teaching and research are indeed worth defending now.

Allan Harkness Senior lecturer, Hull School of Art

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