Friday, January 19, 2024

Hussein Madi (RIP) questioned it best...

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on an invitation to a Hussein Madi exhibition during the 1975-90 war

We have lost Hussein Madi - on January 17th 2024. That he was an immense and prolific talent is not even a question. His career spanned several decades. Apparently in 2018 he said "considering the magnitude of death and destruction that besieges us, I am starting to wonder: Why am I presenting art in front of all this death? It is the question of purposefulness creeping though the cracks of ruin".

 This is a question I seriously ask myself. "Why bother?"... Recently a former student contacted me asking about Ph.D. studies and the like. I told him it all depended on his master's and what he wrote as thesis. He showed me the thesis in question, and my jaw dropped. The work did not comply with any academic standard known as thesis, no university would accept it in the student's dossier, and it was full of quasi nonsense ideas (with "statistics" based on very very biased selection of interviewees). 

I gently told him that, unless he rewrites his thesis based on the international nomenclature of what is known academically as "thesis", and unless he did "select all and delete" the part labelled "statistics" (he never took a course in probability and statistics mind you!) no self-respecting university would accept him. Of course the joke is that he had a very high grade from the university in Lebanon he presented his work to. Go figure.

No, no, I am not going in tangents. I am trying to say that an advisor who is incapable of writing an academic thesis is supervising thesis for students and setting up to fail, just so that he can fulfill his credit quota to remain a full-time teacher at a university in Lebanon. The advisor has a Ph.D. himself mind you.

Why bother? Honestly why bother. How do you tell such a person that he is being harmful to the students. How can people who no longer read and whose last book/article/paper they read goes back to when they themselves were students, be responsible in educating a new generation of students. At Epica Awards where I am a juror a question popped up, "do we consider an instagram post as a print?" - my answer was simple "yes, just move on with the times!". 

I mean as a teacher I allow references that come from Instagram and Tiktok. Yes that Instagram and that Tiktok! If you research "percentage of fraud in academic research" you'll be aghast as to the number. So why not use someone creating new content that could match the thesis (and mind you, anything from urban greenery to upcycling to fashion theory etc... are all present on Instagram - all you have to do is just search!).

So here we are, teachers at universities are incompetent, advertisers only know how to say "el client heik baddo" (this is what the client wants), and the list continues. And among this "ruin", I am writing. The purpose of the writing remains unknown, truth be told. But keeping it in is not helping either.