Academic Freedom Mini-Zine: I don't get it...

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Thank you for everyone who has sent me well-wishes. My cold is going away. I'm still coughing and sniffling but my fever is gone and I definitely feel a lot better. My voice still sounds a bit weird though - Bunny has taken to calling me "sexy Pinky" the past several days - which is a problem because I have to record a guest voice over for a reforestation project thing at the end of this week. I hope I don't mess that up.

Anyway, here's a nice e-mail we received tonight:

Dear Pinky & Bunny, I think it's awesome that you guys came to Winnipeg! You have no idea how excited me and lots of other people were to have you here. Your show in the gallery was so special. I can guarantee you it led to a lot of conversations between us students about our futures and what we will make of it. That's the best part of your show to me, you always make things that clarifies and sends me on a path of thinking about my life. Which leads me to a question! I attended the academic freedom panel (which was terrific by the way) and got a Pinky Show Zine after the talk. But this might be the first time I read the Zine over and over and I still don't get what you and Bunny were trying to say. Specifically the ending -  Can you please explain to me what you were trying to say in this Zine? I hope you write me back! Best wishes, Andrea

I'm guessing there's probably other people out there who might also be confused by the academic freedom mini-zine, so I'll respond to it now while we're still in Winnipeg-mode.

Hi Andrea. Thank you for your feedback for the show. It really makes us happy to hear that people are considering the implications of class treason. It is a theme that we hope to keep revisiting in the future, especially as Bunny and I continue to reflect upon the choices we've made as a result of our analysis in our own lives.
Regarding the mini-zine... Well, we made the mini-zine tell this little story after we saw the list of presenters for the panel. Nothing personal against any of the presenters (actually, we met three of them while we were in Winnipeg and they were all greeeat), but we DO think it's significant that all of the people on the panel work at the university. Which is another way of saying that no one on the panel is not from the university.
I'm sure lots of people might think that such an omission does't mean anything - after all, the topic is academic freedom, and of course academics that work at universities have lots to say about the subject, right? Of course they do. But we made our little zine in the hopes of raising a few questions: Why is academic freedom so often considered an 'academics-only' issue? Would non-academics have any worthwhile perspective or analysis to offer in such a conversation? Does the issue of academic freedom affect life beyond the university campus?
Universities are often thought of as being a society's centers for research, theorizing, intellectual development, and all that other good stuff. In many ways universities occupy a dominant position in relation to other kinds of social institutions, especially as it relates to bettering society (and not just the university) through courageous acts of thinking. This is why we believe non-academics should not be excluded from these kinds of conversations. Everybody needs to understand that what is encouraged or discouraged or allowed or not allowed at a university ultimately has far-reaching consequences that affects all of us. In fact, often times the most profound effects are for those who seem very, very far away from universities.
When Bunny and I were discussing what we wanted to put in the zine, one of the things that I was worried about was the idea that people might think that we are just using the zine to poke fun or criticize the people on the panel or the organizers of the event. But Bunny pointed out to me, and I think she is correct, that not having any non-academics is not a failure of one or a few individuals (Bunny: "This is not personal."). This is an institutional problem; this is a social problem. Maybe we should call it a collective failure of the imagination.
Sorry for the looong e-mail, have you fallen asleep by now? Anyway, I hope it gives a little background on how we are thinking about such things.
Take care,
pinky

Oh, another thing about Winnipeg. Although we did more or less finish organizing our materials for the post-Winnipeg report, since the report does contain quite a few photographs and detailed notes regarding the exhibition installation, Bunny and I finally decided to release the report after the exhibition shuts down in Winnipeg and re-opens in Toronto. If we release it now it'll just be so boring for people in Toronto who are planning on seeing the exhibition in January/February, right?

Anyway, we have lots of things to keep us busy till then. We are currently in the process of re-accessing everything about our project, including whether or not we should continue. Mimi, who is kind of like Director of Bookkeeping & Paperwork (not a real title), has been telling us emphatically that we can't continue like this and we need to shut the Pinky Show down. Obviously Bunny and I don't want to do that, but we also don't really know how we can turn things around either. Every night I pray for an idea that will save our work but so far I haven't come up with anything really good. Maybe I'll write about all this in more detail later.

Till next time, I wish you all peace,

pinky