it’s painfully obvious that some of the most stinging critiques of the academy and of academic life are altogether too often on the mark.
Academics as a field is often ossified, moribund, inherently ultraconservative, an insider’s club of “good old boys” determined to keep the money in and the newcomers and dissent out.
Even more embarrassing is when academics becomes a way to put on airs. Community colleges who act, for example, as though they can be as choosy as Harvard when in fact they’re struggling to put people in the seats and find effective teachers for their classrooms, do no one any favors.
At every level, the name of the game is “prestige.” Dead weight who haven’t published in years and who refuse to take risks (because to be challenged would endanger their club member status) try to be stuffy enough and officious enough to anyone around them to justify their titles and salaries.
Despite efforts and a rather desperate need, I’m having trouble finding the right change for my life right now.
I’m having trouble, in fact, creating any change. Trajectories in society are actually very difficult to change, whether for political reasons (in some kinds of states) or for economic ones (in free market systems).
In the former, change requires connections and power. In the latter, change requires capital or freedom from the need of it.
The trajectory right now is generally troubling. With every passing day, I feel less a scholar. Also, less a family man, less a worker, and less literate. I feel less in general.
And nothing is on the horizon to reverse this trend.
And I can’t make any major changes because I have to keep clawing ground as hard as I can, treading water to use another metaphor, to avoid the risk of turning a general downward trajectory into a catastrophic fall right off the edge of a cliff.
Is this all impossible?
What else is there, though?
What else, precisely, is there for me to do in the world, that I’m actually willing to do, that I prefer to insanity or its practical equivalents?
I have become once again obsessed by clocks.
It has been a long time since I wrote anything substantial that I like at all. Many, many months. I also feel less a writer every day.
That, perhaps, makes me feel most apprehensive of all.