Driving around Atlanta today, I was taken aback by the changes in the streets. It seems as if the Internet has sprung into reality. Memes are on graffiti overlooking the homeless men and women that line the streets of downtown Atlanta. Where are these coming from and to what degree do I feel comfortable about this? It is hard to write about why I truly feel the way I do. I have written a big blog of poetry over the past ten years (version one and two), as a fuck you to MIT for kicking me out of my postdoctoral fellowship with a police escort for what psychiatrists call bipolar disorder. For the most part, what I wrote was pretty tame. However, I setup a Google Analytics layer on the blog and documented the FBI reading it when I attended the Standing Rock Indian Reservation protests in 2016. To be honest, I think what we have left in the post-Internet age is the subjective. Poetry is a wonderful medium for expression because people never will really know what you mean. What makes that form of art marketable however, is the buzz surrounding an artist. I do not feel as I did a few years ago about standing up for other groups. Never once has anyone really stood up for me besides my mother and a few very small group of other people who have gone through similar experiences in academia.
Academic chemistry is notorious for abusive work environments for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The culture of denial and shame is ingrained in the culture when it comes to the human dimension of how the work is actually done. There is this mythology that the training is of value, so it goes, “One day you will be independent and will have to fend for yourself.” What they do not tell you is that to fight your way back into the “system” after being “black listed” for a “mental health condition” you will have to learn formal law and file a lawsuit. These lawsuits are unwinnable for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, we cannot afford the legal fees. I chose writing a blog as an outlet to express myself and ended up stumbling around the country in various lower grade postdoctoral positions after the events of 2010 and getting the delusion that attended seminary to study religion would be a good idea. The times have caught up with the bullshit of academia. Under COVID-19, the FBI is finally inspecting the financial records of top professors like Harvard chemistry’s Charles Lieber and some hope for anti-corruption legal work can be gained. Too little, too late in my opinion. The security risks presented by abusive labor practices and low paying basic science employment have been there all along, and a funny thought about the following Bible passage comes to mind:
Matthew 25:35-40 King James Version (KJV)
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
What if there is a literal dimension to this? If humans are playing God, or fathom themselves as such, who is to prevent another from achieving higher power?
The memes on the streets of Atlanta today on my drive speak to another time coming soon where no longer is Stanford’s Silicon Valley supplying the propaganda. Perhaps it is China’s Tik Tok? What if it is Putin’s Trump? What then? You cannot do chemistry in a political vacuum that much I know now. I did not then, but I know it now. It is going to be funny to see what happens in the next couple decades with academia. All we have to go on in the fight for liberation will be the subjective. No one gives a shit how great a scientist is when they are an enemy of the state. The history of Oppenheimer proves that. It will be interesting.