View Full Version : The Dilemma.

11-10-2011, 09:57 PM
The more and more absorbed I get into the academic world, the more I come to a twinned set of observations.

The first is simple - don't make up your mind until you have valid information. It also happens to be completely paralyzing. I have yet to form an opinion on Israel (though, like many, in the most basic level I'm for the state and against its actions - the most inconsistent possible viewpoint). Hell, I've yet to form an opinion on Iran. I don't vote in my home country's elections - and I certainly don't get involved in this country's. And yet I know that out there, there are large swathes of the population exercising that right with far less attention to detail. It's frightening.

The second observation is less simple. It involves the isolation of being involved in any specific endeavor at an advanced level. The more specialized your knowledge becomes, the fewer people you can talk to about it. And (or so it seems to me) the less chance there is that you might like those people. There's bias. There's seemingly random backstabbing. Pretending to know what someone means when they talk about the "aesthetic deconstruction of the Kantian subject" suddenly morphs into a good thing that everyone aside from you can talk about for a while - and yet you're left with an oddly vacuous sense, as if all the statements and retorts flitting back and forth have forever left the realm of reality behind in favor of... something. Reflexive modes of deflection tend to spring into action as soon as someone asks you a concrete question. If I ask you something, you give me an answer - but it's an answer that has barely any connection. If any.

The backstabbing and isolation also aren't related - unless, of course, it's realizing that you can't talk about the guts of academic life to the (supposedly) 'non-academic' people around you without delving into why you think people should preface their uselessly esoteric statements with a ten-second overview of what exactly they mean by 'post-Hegelian.'

It's not that people are unaware of the names. But last week I met someone who had never encountered Marx's commodity fetishism in discussion before. This was a rare nugget of insight confided to me in private, two hours after the relevant discussion, rendering any insight I can give (and, much as I like Marx, that's little enough) essentially meaningless. And don't get me started on people who need help with Bruno Latour. Launching into that guy (or Deleuze, Derrida, Foucault, etc. - all of those French jackasses) without making explicitly sure that the people around you have at least had the slightest brush with it is inconsiderate. Looking around and noting a majority of blank stares and doing it anyway puts you straight into the douche zone.

And - in case it was ever a question - hell yeah, you should cater to the dumber people in your programs if they're struggling. Today, that's the diminutive brunette who is struggling with Sarah Whatmore's take on Actor-Network Theory. Wait until the buck turns and you're suddenly handed Donna Haraway's feminist objectivity and you suddenly feel like you're in the quagmire. It's not a pleasant feeling, and even though you can work your way out entirely individually, a little help is always welcome (especially with Derrida). Or, of course, they may never catch up. And I don't think there's anything wrong with helping those people either.

Then again, though this is all part of the second observation, don't make up your mind until you have all of the information. It's the disgusting, disturbing model of interested thinkers. And it sucks.

It's what makes up the central dilemma. It's a long way (to the top), I hear.

- If you want to rock and roll.

11-11-2011, 05:25 AM
And how do you like Palestine? :D The USA is so beautifully biased in it. They loved Kosovo so much and now they won't give money to UN because of Palestine. That's the kind of politics the world HATES about the USA.

As for a deeply intelectual stuff. Anything can be explained simply.

11-11-2011, 06:35 AM
I find myself noticing the same two tendencies, although I am still in my bachelor studies and therefore have lots of people to talk to. But I guess it is going to become more extreme once I start specializing myself in some direction. Also, when I am around non-students I struggle to keep talking for longer periods of time.
The opinion-forming thing is the same, although I guess that it is good to rather think in this way than in the one in which you base your opinions exclusively your uninformed thoughts about something and no evidence.