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Psychotic Variations and new Endings to the Crisis in the Academy

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A motorcade of vans of all sizes trickled into New London University’s campus. First, just a few vans in succession. Soon, the entire roadway was occupied by these nondescript vehicles, making their turn into campus towards the B.U library tower. All of them seemed to be traveling at the same speed, —25 miles per hour, well below the campus speed limit.

J. Peters was careful to give instructions to avoid police intervention and set the stage for a clear path to the tower ahead. As the vans filled the library tower lot, taking up every space, including the handicapped parking, they turned off their engines just to flip on the vehicle hazard signs.

Soon, all seventeen vans were flashing their hazard signs. The hazard sign, displayed years ago when J. Peters put the University on Watch, signaled an event in progress: an occurrence. When the last van to pull up flipped on its hazard sign, the operation was set to commence.

The first van to enter campus opened up its rear sliding door. In plain sight, standing there in the truck’s cargo area was non-other than J. Peters himself. Disembarking from his command van, Peters pointed to the library tower and adjacent English department. He proclaimed: “The time to take back the library tower and English department is upon us! Doctoral Gaurd, assemble, and take your positions at once!”

Sliding doors began to open, all sixteen of them. The doctoral guard was in full uniform and ready for this maneuver in the name of the pursuit of free language: meaning without limits. “Steady, steady now!” Peters reassured his staff as they began forming lines and taking their positions.

As the doctoral guard assembled at the library tower base, rank and filed accordingly. The only people left to fear retribution was the rhetoric professors inside the tower. These were staff now fallen out of favor with the academy. These were the most entrenched in the department, ready to defend their claims against J. Peters to the very end.

No students were in the building. The only people in the building were members of the English department in a meeting led by the chair. The purpose is to discuss the ongoing proliferation of war against J. Peters and his quest to climb the academy ranks to the very heights and apex of education in New London. The meeting droned on, and some faculty, who had heard rumors of tonight’s operation, was getting nervous. Looking at their watches, coughing, sighing, and waiting for the department hair to conclude the meeting was the most extended exercise in rhetoric for these faculty since defending their dissertations years ago.

“And, so, while Peters continues to gain increasing approval in the community and some renegade departments here on campus–we will continue to hold our ground and strengthen our resolve!” Dr. Harris stated so resolutely, using his hands to articulate his every point as if he was an old-world dictator.

“When is this meeting going to end?” Some professors would ask each other very quietly without letting on; they were nervous about J. Peters and his possible campus presence.

“Commence operations, double-time J. Guard!” J. Peters said, commanding his guard to complete their important work.

And so, a small army, an academic militia ordained in neo-national socialist regalia, goose-stepped towards the library tower, entering its base into the English department. J. Peters stepped with them. When the bulk of his doctoral guard surrounded the English department office, J. Peters gave the final signal, ordering the guard to reclaim meaning within language once and for all.

Before the department secretary could call the police, J. Peters’s finger was pressed firmly on her hand. Gripping it and not allowing her to repeat the events that resulted in Jacques’ arrest when he had only sought to register for classes. “That will be enough of that, thank you, secretary!” Peters told the desk clerk so graciously and yet so sardonically. The J. guard escorted the secretary out of the office and into the vans’ back, never to return to campus on good terms.

As the guard entered the meeting room, where everyone was still seated, everyone put their hands up, surrendering the guard without a book read or the need to shame the faculty into submission.

The chair just stood there, grinning angrily. “Let me retain my position as chair of this department, and I will grant you an honorary doctorate in rhetoric, Peters!” But the dice, as they say, had long been cast. Dr. Harris was escorted out of the department office in handcuffs into the vans, headed to the same pole in the campus barracks that once held Jacques Peters in tears.

For as far as Jaques was concerned, his honorarium was seeing his mission to the end. Restoring meaning to language and liberating rhetoric, students everywhere bound to the same dark fate bound up with all things pointing the way to brighter vistas.

 

About the Author

J. Peters

Max Guttman '08, MSW '12, is the owner of Recovery Now, a private mental health practice. Through his work as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, therapist and disability rights advocate, Max fights for those without a voice in various New York City care systems. He received a 2020 Bearcats of the Last Decade 10 Under 10 award from the Binghamton University Alumni Association.

Guttman treats clients with anxiety and depression, but specializes in issues related to psychosis or schizoaffective spectrum disorders. He frequently writes on his lived experiences with schizophrenia.

"I knew my illness was so complex that I’d need a professional understanding of its treatment to gain any real momentum in recovery," Guttman says. "After undergraduate school and the onset of my illness, I evaluated different graduate programs that could serve as a career and mechanism to guide and direct my self-care. After experiencing the helping hand of my social worker and therapist right after my 'break,' I chose social work education because of its robust skill set and foundation of knowledge I needed to heal and help others."

"In a world of increasing tragedy, we should help people learn from our lived experiences. My experience brings humility, authenticity and candidness to my practice. People genuinely appreciate candidness when it comes to their health and recovery. Humility provides space for mistakes and appraisal of progress. I thank my lived experience for contributing to a more egalitarian therapeutic experience for my clients."

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