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Mpls, MN, United States

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Friday, November 13, 2009

On the Academy

Today I spent eight hours in a rather small room with some of the smartest people I have ever met or heard of at a university symposium on sexual difference.

Parts of it were interesting and enlightening, a fair amount of it was slightly-to-mostly incomprehensible, and then there were a few positively painful passages.

Sometimes, events like these make me feel inspired about my research; curious about literature, philosophy, and the world in general; and both humbled and grateful to be in this fine institution of higher learning and in the presence of such learned scholars. Often, however, they make me want to disavow any connection with these pompous, onanistic pedants; drop out of school; and generally gnaw my elbow.

I'm not sure how to reconcile these competing desires, especially since I frequently oscillate so rapidly between them.


Curly Sue said...

I think you have to just grit your teeth, do what you like, and attempt to be unlike those people in their bad moments.

Also, I'd advise against doing copyediting for any academic press...tends to destroy any illusions you might have had about smart people.

mandy said...

i just spent a good 5 seconds or more imagining you gnawing on your elbow. made me laugh out loud! :)

BrianV said...

I can totally relate. I make an effort to value and learn from intellectuals, despite my annoyance with some of their attitudes.

A few good friends of my past have gone into higher education, and unfortunately some of them now think they are God's gift to mankind, and seem to be trying to enlighten and wow the rest of us with their great knowledge and complicated language. It is very frustrating to try to maintain a friendship with someone who has moved into this realm.

In the little time I've been able to hang out with you and David, I've greatly appreciated how you guys somehow manage to rise above the cultural snobbery that often comes with intellectuals of your caliber. It is people like you who can actually make a positive difference with your knowledge, because you share it in an approachable manner.

CëRïSë said...

Leah, sage advice!

Mandy, I'm glad the image amuses you as much as it does me.

And Brian, you're very kind: thank you sincerely.

Dad said...

I too had to--got to, with Mandy--laugh out loud, at your energetic dismissal of the academic strain, however briefly.

I was terribly gratified as well to vaguely remember/gradually figure out the Onan root (see Gen. 38:9 actually), before having to look it up in the dictionary for confirmation...

You word-knowers delight me

CëRïSë said...

Dad, I'm pretty sure you taught me that word!

strovska said...

yes, i loved the elbow-gnawing image. there are a lot of things that make me want to gnaw on my elbow, i just hadn't articulated it--now, thankfully, i have a mental image to attach to that feeling!

BrianV said...

Interesting. I just discovered that gnawing one's elbow is difficult, if not impossible. I'm certainly not flexible enough to make it happen.