<= 2004.09.01

2004.09.07 =>

"systems"

Those of you who were at Iowa know what excellent people Steve and LeeAnn are, and what a happiness it is that they're getting married this weekend. I am to Santa Barbara to bear witness. On the planes and trains there and back I will read Pamela, because that, it seems, is what grad students do. To add to yesterday's comment about empty jargon: I think if I have much academic bitching or moaning to do I should get it out of the way early, before Google starts associating this site with my new department and so on. This is the problem that sometimes crops up with using my real name on this site. Anyway, from my admittedly cursory look, it seems like most of the scholarship being done here in English lit is genuine and of high quality. The problem appears to lie with certain related departments whose graduate students appear in literature classes not to talk about books, apparently, but to make highly confusing pronoucements about social theory and God knows what else, dripping with pompous theoretical terms, at least some of which have obviously been made up on the spot.

The thing that drives me up the wall about cultural studies is its muleheaded insistence that flying in the face of common sense somehow constitutes deep thought. All you need to say is that actually, observed from the proper standpoint, once the false preconceptions and dualisms have been exposed, the heroine of a certain book never changes social position, be she in high society or in disgrace; or that every discourse will reduce to a sort of high-school algebra of domination and repression; or that there is no difference between liberal democracy and the totalitarian state. It's the fake philosophical vocabulary of these arguments, full of words connoting next to nothing, that is the worst; it's onerous and thankless work to unpack them in order to determine whether they're a) blindingly obvious, or b) just plain wrong.

I did find out, last night and this morning, that it's completely possible to write fiction on the train; and that will certainly ease my life. The fiction is still the important thing—this whole academic business is kind of a long and expensive detour, and an economic hedging of bets. I know it's weird and self-important to think of myself as a writer first and student second, given that I've published precisely one thing; but I have to think that way or the damn thing will never get done. It has to get done.

 

"systems"

Those of you who were at Iowa know what excellent people Steve and LeeAnn are, and what a happiness it is that they're getting married this weekend. I am to Santa Barbara to bear witness. On the planes and trains there and back I will read Pamela, because that, it seems, is what grad students do. To add to yesterday's comment about empty jargon: I think if I have much academic bitching or moaning to do I should get it out of the way early, before Google starts associating this site with my new department and so on. This is the problem that sometimes crops up with using my real name on this site. Anyway, from my admittedly cursory look, it seems like most of the scholarship being done here in English lit is genuine and of high quality. The problem appears to lie with certain related departments whose graduate students appear in literature classes not to talk about books, apparently, but to make highly confusing pronoucements about social theory and God knows what else, dripping with pompous theoretical terms, at least some of which have obviously been made up on the spot.

The thing that drives me up the wall about cultural studies is its muleheaded insistence that flying in the face of common sense somehow constitutes deep thought. All you need to say is that actually, observed from the proper standpoint, once the false preconceptions and dualisms have been exposed, the heroine of a certain book never changes social position, be she in high society or in disgrace; or that every discourse will reduce to a sort of high-school algebra of domination and repression; or that there is no difference between liberal democracy and the totalitarian state. It's the fake philosophical vocabulary of these arguments, full of words connoting next to nothing, that is the worst; it's onerous and thankless work to unpack them in order to determine whether they're a) blindingly obvious, or b) just plain wrong.

I did find out, last night and this morning, that it's completely possible to write fiction on the train; and that will certainly ease my life. The fiction is still the important thing—this whole academic business is kind of a long and expensive detour, and an economic hedging of bets. I know it's weird and self-important to think of myself as a writer first and student second, given that I've published precisely one thing; but I have to think that way or the damn thing will never get done. It has to get done.

 

<= 2004.09.01

2004.09.07 =>

up (2004.09)

The Warm South
The Roof Rat Review