Writing has been tougher and tougher for me as of late. Then, this afternoon, I suddenly had this brainstorm—perhaps it was time to record some audio diary material. So I started without having any particular direction in mind.
I then proceeded to record three hours of audio, alone, just me in a room talking at and with myself. Is this a sign of mental health or of its distinct lack in my life? Hard to say.
— § —
Since earning my Ph.D., continuing to work in the wider world, and being divorced, my opinion of the academic world has continued to darken.
I don’t think this darkening matches the outlook held by my ex-wife that the life of the mind is pointless, elitist, and essentially a scam. I also don’t think it has much to do with sour grapes at not having achieved a long-term academic career, though anyone who choses to think that about me would certainly be justified in doing so.
Rather, I think it’s about the substance and biases of the humanities and social sciences academy as I watch them continue to evolve. Maybe I was just naive as a Ph.D. student and these tendencies have been there all along. Maybe things really are worse now than they used to be. Maybe I’m just seeing a different, filtered view now that I’m on the outside looking in.
More and more, however, I have this sad feeling that while the academy is something that ought to matter and that could matter and that should matter, in fact it simply doesn’t matter. It chooses not to, or rather, most of its people choose not to.
It seems to be a space of petty concerns, petty people, and largely petty consequences—a place where ensuring that white people stop eating sushi and nobody has to be subjected to small chairs is seen as far more important than ensuring that billions of people around the world have enough to eat, and in which the former is seen as the obvious path ahead for the achievement of the latter.
In short, it’s no wonder that “greats” rarely seem to come from or to happen in the academy any longer, given its anti-greatness ethos (apropos of my last post).
— § —
I don’t know whether this is all here or there except to say that I continue to look for a space in the world where greatness is valued as such, not as an instrument whose exercise leads toward profitability, not as a political cudgel, and not as a target for deconstruction, but because great is great.
The fact that nearly everyone in modern society and in the academy, and certainly everyone on the left will find the preceeding paragraph to be (a) racist, (b) sexist, (c) colonialist, (d) capitalist, (e) microagressive, (f) macroaggressive, (g) naive, (h) wrongheaded, (i) unjust, (j) prejudicial, (k) discriminatory, (l) sactionable, (m) reprehensible, (n) privileged, (o) white, (p) male, (q) hetero, (r) cis, (s) anacrhonistic, (t) reactionary, (u) counterproductive, (v) embarrassing, (w) uninformed, (x) indefensible, (y) dismissible, and (z) beneath someone like myself that holds a Ph.D. from a major private university is why I have removed myself from both the academy and the left.
I haven’t yet removed myself from society, as that isn’t properly an option. The question then becomes—where do I go from here? How do I take what I am feeling and thinking about all of this and turn it into some beneficial means (not end, as pursuing ends in things human generally leads to evil, as all of human history demonstrates; it is good means, not good ends that edify us; the pursuit of good ends simply results, history tells us, in oppression and murder).
— § —
Still wandering in the wilderness, clearly.