Posts By: Jason Sullivan

Jason Sullivan

Even erudite flies get smashed now and then for sounding too ‘school smart’. As one of many AU students not immersed in an academic social sphere, Jason’s ‘Fly on the Wall’ column seeks to aid and abet the success of others in his cohort. We won’t always be understood when we speak of what we are learning in school but we can rest assured that our education still has value.

His lighthearted approach to sociological philosophy stems from conducting field research at bush parties and working his day job reforesting the mountains of BC. Born in the city of Vancouver and raised on a farm in the Fraser Valley and an orchard in the Okanagan, he attained a diploma in Horticulture in the Creston Valley and then returned to school as a Sociology major. Today’s he’s an AU Master’s of Integrated Studies student who spends his spare time enjoying nature walks, snorkeling and reading whatever philosophical and sociological tracts capture his fancy.

Jason is fascinated with the micro-sociological thoughts and interactions that frame and demarcate our experience of daily life as well as the philosophical realm considering essential questions about what it is to be a human. It’s dense brush but Jason seeks answers where murkiness holds sway.

A Few Theoretical Influences: Louis Althusser, Isaac Asimov, Jean Baudrillard, Simone de Beauvoir, Aime Cesaire, Carol Clover, John Cummings, Kurt Cobain, Jacques Derrida, Emile Durkheim, Michel Foucault, Erving Goffman, Antonio Gramsci, Martin Heidegger, Thomas Hobbes, Agnes Martin, Karl Marx, Georg Simmel, Max Weber

Fly on the Wall—Eyes Wide Shut?

Q: What do you call a fish without an eye? (Pause, wait for tension to build.) A: A fssshhh! That joke would have elicited more eye rolls had it been pronounced aloud, am I right? Words are the barter of banter, but they form different landscapes depending on their mode of expression.  Our learning at… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—The Myth of the Star Pupil: It’s You.

Like a kitty walking invisible circles before settling its paws down upon a pillow, we at AU have to situate ourselves not only in a comfortable study nook but in a good place psychologically.  Material conditions and emotional ambiance are key to our success, but so too are the more ephemeral facts of our mental… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Psych! A Confidence Trick

Where an empathic desire to help others is built into many students desire to study psychology, it’s easy to miss key epistemological blind spots in the discipline.  A scanty half century ago a feminist writer named Germaine Greer eviscerated the core of psychiatry/psychology.  In The Female Eunuch she wrote that “psychiatry is an extraordinary confidence… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Don’t Be An Ignoramus! Is that Even Possible?

The ignoramus may be the only dinosaur that never went extinct.  Its DNA is in us all whenever we feel superior and better-informed than others.  Ironically, education itself can exacerbate this chronic condition where we become dinosaurs by resting on our intellectual laurels.  Many classes teach their disciplinary bias as though it were universally applicable… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Out to Lunch with Munch

Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream (1893) is paradigmatic of the sudden piercing realization that something is askew in one’s life.  Maybe we feel like we don’t belong where we are or that the world is all wrong.  Perhaps the painting represents a visual answer to Hamlet’s famous line: “the time is out of joint” (Shakespeare). … Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Entitlement Through the Ages

‘Entitlement: Old as the Hills’ etc Nobody wants to be called entitled, even if it’s true.  As university students we’re at risk of becoming branded with this pejorative term regardless of our age; protesting our innocence may seem of no avail.  After all, only an entitled person would complain that the label was unfair!  And… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—A Marathon of Learning

Distance education can seem like a marathon: a lot of work over a long time with the end goal seeming to recede ever-further into the distance.  Like snowshoeing through falling snow, our trail can seem, at best, nebulous.  Marathons also imply suffering rewarded with moral and physical gratification.  At AU our struggles over months and… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Reduced to a Blurb ad Finitum

By choosing AU we’ve activated those essentially expansive impulses within us that make us who we are: special beings becoming something new and more with each day, year, and course.  Without risking sentimentality, what are dreams but concrete expressions of our pursuit of excellence?  It’s worth defining ourselves, after all, according to who we want… Read more »

Fly on the Wall—Who Are You at AU?

When Alice in Wonderland meets the caterpillar, he blows letters of diaphanous smoke into her face and asks, “who are you?” It’s an unforgettable scene in the Disney animated movie and a familiar one as others ask us about our studies.  At AU our identity enters new realms of expansion and perhaps uncertainty.  Whatever we… Read more »