Thursday 22 September 2011

On 'Of Disciplines and Practices'

Larval Subjects: 'Of Disciplines and Practices'

What a story! Inspiring.

It presents such a stark contrast to the majority of students I encounter at the elite British university in which I work.

Their apathy is palpable. It drips from their every expression. And their self-confidence is unbearable. They desire nothing they cannot immediately possess and so neither recognise their desire as desire nor encounter a moment of doubt as to the naturalness of their satisfaction or the plenitude of the vessel from which they drink.

The worlds of thought, education, employment and recreation are theirs by right. They are ready to hand.

The schools they go to and the neighbourhoods they grow up in are largely homogeneous, if not so much with respect to race and sex any more then certainly still with respect to class. Universities are social bubbles and designed as such. And the neoliberal university exists to make the transition from school to employment, in whatever area, as seamless as possible. Of course good middle class kids go on 'gap years' to 'see the world' but what does this usually entail? Global gentrification. Sun, sex, sandals, sangria and the servitude of the locals. 'Roughing it' generally means getting alcohol poisoning, a tan, chlamydia and a souvenir t-shirt. They pass through carefully designed conduits for gap year cash that let strapping young go-getters criss-cross the world without the trouble of actually talking to anyone who doesn't speak English. And they'll be back in time for the First Day of the Rest of Their Lives.

Is it any wonder that so many care so little for so much? They might pass their Others every day but they've never met them. What could the Little People know?

Their path is a superhighway; they glide along it, frictionless, scarcely noticing their own movement. They glance out at everyone else trudging along, hacking their way through the undergrowth. How could those people have anything interesting to say?

Movement is truly relative.

And the 'best and brightest' will run the world.

And so it's little wonder that for so many the world is like a camera lens perpetually focused on the foreground. Everything else is shapes, shadows, brown skin, weird food and mystery. And so it's little wonder that so many feel compelled to subordinate all knowledge to that of their particular clique.

There's much to recommend taking the rickety road.