16.8.12

On my disillusionment with graduate school.

Things I have learned over my past two years in graduate school.

1. Many people in supposedly more "radical" academic circles (radical = haha) think of themselves as extra special and unique butterflies, but they are also very defensive about appearing as such, and will use little self-deprecating "asides" to off-set the utter pretentiousness of 90% of what comes out of their mouths and/or what they shit on their screens.
2. "Difference" is a theoretical buzzword rather than something actually appreciated in the very real goings-on of everyday life. This is a really interesting one. Because I can't count the amount of times I've witnessed 10 people in a graduate seminar lamenting the oppression of this or that marginalized group, who talk about Jean-Luc Nancy's "Experience of Freedom" or Derrida's democracy-to-come but then they will go out of their way to ostracize people who come from different theoretical, educational, or ideological backgrounds because they are not "smart enough." Oh, and they are usually too busy whining about shit and constructing delicate existential crises to actually engage in local politics of any kind.
3. Academics are only interested in hanging out with/discoursing with those who either a) affirm what they already think is a correct [ideological or theoretical] position or b) challenge them in such a way that only superficially (i.e. theoretically rather than practically) "performs" difference without actually challenging the existing intellectual paradigm within which everyone comfortably floats. In other words, they'll theorize about the oppression of the working class but will turn up their noses at the very thought of listening or engaging with the working class, and if they do have a working class friend or a meaningful discussion with a construction worker in a bar, they'll fetishize and romanticize that discussion/individual all starry-eyed like they just did something good for the world.

Of course not all academics/people are like this. I find this is mostly true of young-ish graduate students. I have been guilty of some of this behaviour myself, but am grateful to have a thoroughly unpretentious and down-to-earth and thoughtful partner and a small group of friends who keep me accountable.  But all I have to say is: Barf. Hopefully the next stage of my academic career is less depressing.

2 comments:

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