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The Petrified Forests of the Groves of Academe

EXCERPT: “If you haven’t been on campus lately, visit your local citadel of learning. Don’t just drive through; spend some time there. On the surface, things look lovely — ivy-covered walls, dorms like 5-star hotels, trendy boutiques selling stuff you can’t afford to undergraduates wearing more than your week’s take-home pay. Light poles and store walls are covered with flyers for causes only the very wealthy and very idle could possibly care about. In short, it’s heaven…

“…but pretty soon you’ll notice that it’s a very battered, grimy sort of heaven. Nobody’s from there, nobody stays there, everyone’s just passing through on the way to something better. Certainly including the faculty: Every single professor not currently at Harvard thinks knows xzhe deserves to be at Harvard and will get there someday. Everything’s on-demand in a college town, because everything’s rented. That “distressed” look hipsters love so much isn’t an affectation on campus; it’s a logical outcome of the transient lifestyle. Why fix a pothole, paint a building, trim a tree, teach a class anyone could ever actually use? Anyone who complains will be gone next semester anyway.

“Get yours before it’s gone, and if that means skipping town one day ahead of the bill collectors, remember: Capitalism is evil.

“It’s not just campus, either. The rest of the lifestyle is just as evanescent, just as ugly. Think of the food. Whatever you do, you can’t eat what the Normals eat, drink what the Normals drink. Here again, foodie culture isn’t a hipster affectation on campus. It’s deadly serious status-jockeying with your temporary — always temporary — peers. You’ve got to win now, because next semester they’ll be gone, probably to Harvard, those cheating, ass-kissing bastards. Sure, it looks, smells, and tastes like cold dog puke, but at least you’re the first to eat it!

“As food, so romance. I’ve tried “dating” in graduate school, and trust me, nothing kills the vibe faster than answering the inevitable “So, what do you do?” with “I’m an adjunct in the Department of Gay Disabled Inuit Studies; my most recent publication is ‘A Neo-Marxist Deconstruction of Kim Kardashian.’”** Which means that your dating pool has been reduced to the kind of spastic freakazoid who not only knows what that means but is actually envious that you got published in the Journal of Polysyllabic Flimflammery. These are, needless to say, not HB10s.

“The point of all this isn’t just more academia-bashing (fun as that is, and thank you, Jesus, for early retirement). The point is: Life deals people bad hands. Many, perhaps most, of the people I know in academia are there because they really can’t do anything else — a combination of (as they feel it) genes and circumstance has landed them there, and while it looks like a really cushy upper-middle-class life materially, spiritually it’s the pits, because it’s aesthetically awful. The Classical Greek adage that the Good is the True is the Beautiful might not be factually accurate, but it sure feels right…

“…and never more than to people who know themselves un-beautiful, therefore not good, therefore false, and locked in it. Forever…” MORE AT: Politics for Fugly People | Rotten Chestnuts

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Severian October 15, 2018, 9:54 AM

    Thanks for the linkage!!! (And thank you, lord, for early retirement. Reading back over that post, I have no idea how I stood it as long as I did in those daycares-slash-lunatic asylums).

  • Donald Sensing October 15, 2018, 9:58 AM

    Holy crap – his counter-example to Pajama Boy is a Nazi SS officer? Are you freaking kidding me? This is a caricature of everything the Left accuses the rest of us: we are fascist Nazis, etc. What a tone deaf moron!

    How about using this guy instead?

  • Severian October 15, 2018, 10:21 AM

    Reading comprehension really isn’t your strong point, I see.

  • Gordon Scott October 15, 2018, 10:45 AM

    If you stop by the University of Shanghi, Minneapolis campus, you find more and more expensive, high-rise apartments going up to house all of our young friends from the PRC. There’s another three blocks of businesses being razed in Stadium Village for this. And let me tell you, it’s amazing how so many of these Chinese students, a fair number of whom don’t speak English, never flunk out! It’s uncanny how paying top dollar out-of-state tuition improves one’s academic standing.

  • Rob De Witt October 15, 2018, 10:46 AM

    Berkeley in the ’80s, to a T. When I moved to Sebastopol 6 years ago, the first welcome from my next-door neighbor was “You’re gonna love it here. It’s just like Berkeley 30 years ago.”

    He was right. Even the people are the same; not grown up, just grown older.

    Hey Severian: We met on Freeberg’s comment stream several years ago when you applauded my line about “Liberals are people who spend their lives trying to finally win at high school.” Glad to see we still share that perspective. Great post.

  • Severian October 15, 2018, 2:08 PM

    Rob, so YOU’RE the one!!! I’ve been stealing that line for years… well, ok, not stealing it exactly, but I never knew who to attribute it to. Must remember to write it down.

  • Casey Klahn October 15, 2018, 7:44 PM

    “Capitalism is evil.” I had a rare, civil conversation on the plane home from the East Coast. We kept away from politics and on meta stuff like philosophy, history, war as philosophy, art, metal working, martial arts. Cool stuff. But, the college town intellectual did try to slam capitalism, and left it at that (always unsupported). Not 3 paragraphs later he mentioned how mass capital allowed us to dominate in WW II. I made sure to turn that one back on him, and said with a chuckle, “now, what was all that about capitalism is bad?” He knew he’d been caught in something of a contradiction.

    In NYC, a dumbass, but friendly, bell hop was telling me about some new book about presidents and war, and how something made some president (either trump or Tyler) look worse than Nixon. I said to him without dropping a beat, “you mean the Nixon who ended the Vietnam war? That Nixon?” Given the topic, I had totally fried him.

    There are still opportunities for discourse, and I’m making the most out of closely listening to lefty until he inevitably steps in it. Then I turn a mirror on that.

    Capitalism is an economic system with a high degree of freedom; it’s opposite is Socialism/Marxism, which is instead an economic and political system. The political side of Socialism is there for enforcement.

  • Nori October 16, 2018, 12:38 PM

    The utter,brutal, ugliness of the Left. Indeed. Difficult for normals to comprehend, but I think we’re getting there. The neverending temper tantrum is not helping their cause,nor their image.
    There’s a campaign ad featuring uber-lefty Kyrsten Sinema dressed in a Code Stink pink tutu that’s getting lots of attention in AZ. The Marxists really believe she can beat A-10 pilot McSally for Flake’s senate seat.