I was musing on the degree to which good scholarship and good writing aren’t necessarily the same thing. From there I began to think once again about public intellectualism, which led me to wonder whether or not one can participate in such a craft without first engaging wholly with the work of one’s peers so as not to be ungrounded or materially naïve.
An impossible task, I soon realized, since they are (quite literally for all intents and purposes) innumerable and not at all even discretely enumerated nor dialogically compatible. The same is true, only to an even deeper extent, in the academy. Not only has “philosophy” been broken into a hundred different major fields, with mathematics and its epistemology literally universes removed from literature or sociology, but the subfields themselves have taken on subfields, and within those there are subfields of subfields. What, precisely, is the meaning (or, indeed, the destination) of knowledge produced in this way? The answer to both questions, precisely, is obscurity and little more. Rather than “finding truth” we are simply splitting its sole mediator, understanding, apart into irregular fragments and spreading these ever-tinier, shattered bits haphazardly and irretrievably throughout space and time. There is no way to reverse this process.
I wonder if there aren’t those rare few who manage to achieve a kind of transcendental leap into truth through some mystic, similarly obscure behavior or epistemological process. If they exist, however, they’re incommunicado for the academic, whose wavelength must be regularized and fully articulated, as compared to the pi-like irrational function that like a cryptographic key encodes the universality emanating from the savant, a stream of unintelligible oneness hidden beneath the veneer of primal time, unavailable to the academic or the “public intellectual” but absolutely transparent to the lunatic.
The question of the nature of intellectualism in the present remains, of course, unanswered.
This has been yet another post that I don’t fully understand myself.
Thank god my PC power cable is here. I thought I’d lost it.