Colleagues in RMIT are currently being subjected to a hilarious jape called ‘Behavioural Capability Framework’, which seemingly assures their relentless, machinelike, and ultimately terrifying optimism and enthusiasm no matter what. The NTEU have a bit on it here. It also got some sympathetic mainstream coverage here and here. This guy seems to think we only have ourselves to blame and academics are somehow getting bitten on the ass by their own rabid dog (or something), what with their being into ‘affect’ or whatever, where that was apparently all along in the service of … the service sector (damn – we should have been doing something useless and scholastically arcane all along!). This seems to be one of the documents in which the Krafte produced by this Freude is made manifest. Irony, sarcasm, critique, indirection, and so on should presumably no longer be modelled in front of students, or anywhere else for that matter – that’s not the sort of thing we like to ‘connect’ or ‘aspire’ to. Christian McCrea, who works at RMIT, says some interesting things about the Behavioural Capability Framework here, and here is some backstory to the management/union dialogue around this cryptic and decidedly weird word magic. Why are universities so interested in this form of discourse and this involvement in the interior or expressive aspects of their employees’ lives? Is this really just about (silencing poor) morale? The straightforward reading is that individuals are to be responsiblised at the expressive or affective level for managing up their own fantastic and dysfunctional management and their spiralling workloads, and then assessed in performance management terms for their capacity to do so through successfully internalising and embodying the cheery can-do attitude of the university brand. One of the most endlessly compelling aspects of these sorts of pronouncements, and indeed they way they are discussed, is the spectacular disjunct between the ideological form of the ‘Framework’ or whatever it is, and the lived experience of the people who actually do what is still alleged to be the core business of the institution: teaching and research. It is simultaneously banal, tragic, absurd, and occult: spend the money to get the magicians to cast the spell, and the workers will appear happy – they will perform happiness. It is literally enchanting.