Sunday, October 29, 2006

Good Bread for Six Reasons

I recently heard a story from an acquaintance of mine.

When he was nineteen, he went to work on a big construction project.

He lied about his age.

He said that he was thirty-four, not nineteen.

When asked about why he did that, he said that if he said he was thirty-four, he’d be allowed to think and do things which required thinking.

If he’d admitted the truth, that he was only nineteen, he would for that very reason alone been disallowed from any participation in any mental, or responsible, project activity.

He was very successful on the job during this construction project, and today, he is a millionaire.

I think he’s a millionaire today both because he is very smart and capable, but also because he never let’s these IRRATIONAL social constraints and IRRATIONAL power structures of society block him, keep him from what he wants and needs to do.

See, his desiring was to think.

In general, our desiring is not for these wild, reckless, and irresponsible and disordered and (properly-called) madnesses.

Our desiring is toward exercising our fully-human capacities. We don’t destroy or mar or wreck the world by wishing to ‘go the distance’ with what we can do.

An interesting contingency to this man’s “untruth” was that during the project, he met and married a woman who was thirty-four years old, truly thirty-four years old.

It wasn’t until they’d been married for four years or so that she discovered the truth about her husband’s age. I believe she was doing his wash and discovered legal papers he’d accidentally left in some pockets.

She cried. She was horrified. She was married to a man fifteen years her junior.

However, this was many, many years ago, and they are still married, and are still happy together.

The age doesn’t matter a damn.

It doesn’t matter.

There’s a lot of shit that doesn’t matter, and it is IRRATIONAL to pretend that it does.

I want to relate this phenomena of making shit that doesn’t matter so important and so NECESSARY to our lives to the phenomena of ‘ideals’ and how they mess our minds and lives, but I’ll do it at a later time.

I want to briefly mention what I want to call ‘academic molarization,’ and its insidiousness.

The academy is all about getting a credential so that you can be licensed to perform some activity you desire to do.

Basically, you are getting permission to do something you want to do.

This is especially aggravated and egregious in the humanities – the humanities, har har.

The more degrees you get, the more you’re allowed to play.

If you get a PhD, you’ll not only be allowed to play, but you’ll determine how much and in what ways others will play.

Having that kind of IRRATIONAL and (yes!) ARBITRARY power is probably the major incentive for being a PhD.

Let’s be honest.

Of course there are all sorts of 'justifications' for this ‘system.’

3 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Spinoza said...

I think that's pretty much exactly right. I know that my principal motivation for getting my degree was that, with a degree, I'd be allowed to make a living doing what I wanted to do.

Today I learned that my first ever article has been accepted for publication.

This thrilled my friends and family more than it thrilled me. Partly because of chronic anhedonia, perhaps. But also because it doesn't mean anything more than it's increasing likely that I'll be allowed to do more of what I want to do.

On the other hand, and at the same time, part of the life of the average humanities academic -- like the life of most average professionals -- requires that one internalize the desire for one's own molarization. It's damn hard to keep alive one's love of thought under those conditions.

Many years ago I read Jonathan Lear's Open Minded: Working Out the Logic of the Soul. He observes, in the Introduction, that there's a curious irony in being a professional philosopher or a professional psychoanalyst. Philosophy and psychoanalysis are weapons of mass destruction, directed against the conceptual and libidinal formations that constitute identity, community, and society. They are dangerous, when done right. But professionalization requires a certain ossification of conceptual and libidinal energies. So to be a professional philosopher, or professional psychoanalyst -- and Lear is both -- requires heavy doses of irony.

I realized then that I would irony and self-parody in order to survive the academy and use it in order to do what I wanted to do.

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

You've developed strategies.

As I see it, what we need to do here is find ways to make these strategies into exteriorities - so that they are public and not mainly "private."

So that our desires are avowed, and do not come up against limits which have not faced criticism.

I don't know what happened to Judith Miller professionally after she gave uni credits to the woman she talked to on the bus in Paris, other than she was booted from her uni position.

Whatever, it had to have helped that she was JLacan's daughter; the same consequences would probably have devastated any mere mortal among us.

I'm starting to think of a concept in terms of it being a publically-available strategy, more than just a tool from a kit, maybe because a "tool" is seen as a "thing," a separate thing, ( though that view is false.)

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Yusef said...

Congratulations on the article being published.

1:23 PM  

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