it’s a hard goodbye when you ain’t got nowhere to go next. embracing the spartan life is never easy when you can walk down to the corner, or flip on the box in the corner–to soften things up, make them feel pretty–never mind how they really look.
you want to gorge yourself on everything around you, but keep finding only a few things that swallow you whole, then shit you back out.
a few things like dreams of being some great thinker professor-type with no phd just a bag of words, living on the fringe of the university, embracing ghosts of professors past who lived for learning, knowledge, deep, free-flowing conversations–happy to not apply limits, because they’d just escaped the persecution of a small american town or a gray european dictatorship.
never much one to walk onto the grounds of the university itself, because it isn’t such an institution anymore–no one picks up a book and reads it unless they are guaranteed it will make them some money. and, of course, the university itself doesn’t pick up any books for its collection unless it thinks it will make it some money. the ideas of giants scrawled across a thousand journal volumes are hermetically sealed behind glass cases so people can view them like taxidermied, extinct species.
the sole purpose of man since the beginning of the industrial age, is to take a good thing in life, distill its essence, and repackage and sell it cheaply to the masses.
this has trained our university students to quickly spot in one’s ideas where and how the essential components have already been analyzed and codified by a greek or 16th century philosopher, and some latin name is typically applied, the attempt at original thought dismissed, and we can move on to the business of making money.
even in the arts, the humanities, the professions that likely will yield relatively little income for a student over a lifetime–no time is wasted in fecund conversation when we could be reaping the fruits of others’ labors, fermenting, pressing, and distilling them with a light application of our own style–for the sake of scholarships, fellowships, grants, awards, etc.
all of this is not necessarily a bad thing. for there are many free-flowing conversations, exchanges of ideas among the masses that ultimately result in corrupted or facile worldviews. in other words, having a free-flowing exchange of ideas with someone doesn’t guarantee that new, big ideas and approaches will result from the exchange.
what passes for conversation in digital form these days is highly abominable. twitter and facebook are virtually worthless. blogs, forums and comment sections are more likely to see vitriol and mean-spiritedness win than great new ideas. (everyone must always be right, all the time–and not stray from the topic of the thread)
and, too often, the attempt to have fruitful dialogue in a classroom or public meeting is a similar battle of wills.
what’s needed is an environment where two people can exchange ideas at length, with basic ground rules of a desired outcome being newly discovered common ground, or fresh ideas–rather than a battle of wills to see who’s right occasionally interrupted by a troll attempting to run the conversation off the rails.