So there’s a fundamental rule to good blogging and that’s to write for an audience. Initially, before you have one, it doesn’t matter which audience, so long as you have an audience in mind.
The worst thing to do, goes the conventional wisdom, is to write purely for yourself, i.e. to “navel-gaze.”
And who came up with this rule, precisely? And what assumptions are embedded in it? Dozens. Those assumptions are the stuff that boring, ugly, superficial, rational-instrumental societies are made of.
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The world was made by and for SJs, essentially. Practical, step-by-step folk who make decisions and stand by them, taking for granted in each case that either they have all the facts and have made the right choice.
I do not like SJ types. They are usually wrong, but because there is a certain strength in numbers, they get to imagine that they are right and justified in what they do. They do not see the big picture. They do not see the little picture. They barely see the picture at all; they are largely stimulus-response machines, in my opinion.
They may be better-functioning or worse-functioning, but they do not muse on metaphysics or even on how long the floor will last. They do not muse on anything. They take inputs from authority sources (other SJs acting out their J, by and large), and provide the conventional (by their own socialization history) response to them.
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I am laughing just a little inside—partially an amused laugh and partially a bitter laugh—because this entire post is the sort of thing that, when I was married, would have brought my ex-wife into my office, once she’d spotted it, to be angry with me.
For what, I was never sure, and I’m still not.
There was something in this sort of discussion that she found to be wrongheaded, threatening, and embarrassing, all in one.
She was an SJ type. That’s why we didn’t and don’t get along. At the end of the day, you cannot put an NF or an NT in a room with an SJ and achieve good results. You just can’t. The SJ will be infuriated by the NF or NT and by turns try to fix them and then feel outclassed by them in some subtle way that they can’t put their finger on.
Meanwhile, the NF or NT will feel like the SJ is trying to beat them with a stick.
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It took me until middle age to understand that the reward and life arc models of society are essentially configured for SJs, and that for NF or NT types, they appear to be lies.
For a long time, I just thought it was all a scam. Society promises you things like a good career and a kind of ambient sense of meaning and purpose if you do certain things. Then you do those things (often making sacrifices or taking on risk along the way) and you receive none of what you were promised. Scam!
It only makes sense once you realize that the largest group in society by far are SJs, who have a conception of what constitutes a “good career” and what constitutes “meaning and purpose” that is of course very different from what these things mean for NF or NT types.
If “do X, Y, and Z and you will have a good career and a meaningful life” had instead been phrased as “do X, Y, and Z and you will have a career within a clear hierarchy with clear, practical, conventional, and well-understood responsibilities alongside no-nonsense, feet-on-the-ground, organized people who are milquetoast team players and virtue-signallers, and you will also find yourself with an orderly life of concrete effects and achievements that can be listed and numerically quantified as bullet points,” well…
I would never, ever have done X, Y, or Z. Because those are not “good careers” or “meaningful” things to NF or NT types.
Naturally when I was young, I applied my own assumptions and understood “do X, Y, and Z and you will have an entirely unique career that no-one else could have done justice to, surrounded by wildly inventive people doing things that aren’t as mundane as numbers and task check-offs, and you’ll ultimately achieve a life that changes and destablizes our understandings of the world, tilting them toward the importance of the metaphysical and eternal.”
Reading this of course makes SJ folks spit coffee at their screens in shock. Then, they call me an idiot for ever having thought that, and presume that I’m stupid and irresponsible.
Because they have strength in numbers, they never question this response; it is obviously and practically correct. Emphasis on the last item, because people like me would be better off if we thought practically. Which means in dollars and cents. In calendar days and daily tasks. In mass-produced chairs and tables and their respective warranty periods and percentage of recyclable materials. You know, the real inspiring stuff.
And Einstein and Jackson Pollock and Roberto Bolaño were fuck-ups who couldn’t keep track of their socks and it’s a mystery why they got anything done—and the stuff that they did get done is of relatively dubious value at the end of the day—none of it makes any coffee or mows any lawns—so thank goodness there aren’t more of these sorts of people wandering around dirtying things up and getting unjustifiably lucky and admired in confusing and irritating ways.
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Maybe it’s the ethos of the times, but I am struggling not to see the world in tribes, however you slice them up. Tribes of culture, tribes of thought, tribes of personality.
No, I’m not so conerned about race, I think that’s irrelevant.
But the women against the men? Oh yes. The SJs against the non-SJs? Definitely. The introverts against the extroverts? Check. The legacy class against the would-be-up-and-comers? Yeah.
I know that I’m meant to have a Ph.D. in sociology and that all of this would be sneered at in those circles. Problem is, nobody listens to what is happening in those circles. If a monograph falls in the library and nobody reads it, does it make for relevant scholarship?
Survey says no.
More to the point, if all the truth was already known by the early 1980s and all that’s left to do is gather evidence to continue to more deeply emboss it on the faces of the present and future (read: do the political work that remains to be done to bring utopia to fruition)… then why do we need scholarship at all? What’s really needed in that case are foot soldiers.
And that’s secretly what the academy has been producing for some time now. Wake me up when professors stop fighting for justice with one hand and grant money (read: accolades for the most conventional performance) and start producing new and interesting data that’s framed in new and interesting ways instead.
Oh, and can we all kill Foucault and Lacan already?
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Okay, I don’t know what this post is about.
Bloody-mindedness at 3:00 am, I suppose. I am rather proud to say that I don’t know who my audience is and I can’t imagine an audience that I will satisfy, rather than bother, with this post. (Tsk-tsk go the SJs at that line, as they deign to condescend.)
Laugh, I don’t care. I’ll see your SJ and raise you an NT, sucka. And mine is better looking than yours—and you don’t know it, can’t perceive it, and never will, because your vision is limited in ways that mine isn’t.
(Yes, yes, small comfort in an SJ world, but it’s the one I’ve got.)