Nov 12, 2007

The Silent Shineless Future

I am generally unenthused with the state of academia in America. Just ask yourself this question; Why are you in college?

Is it because you so dearly craved knowledge? I think not. If you are in college, the question of, ‘Should I go to college or not?’ probably never arose in your consciousness. It was simply a thing that is done—college is the place you go to get your degree. But why the degree? Is it for the immense pride you anticipated having after you completed your college education? Or was it because you heard the ‘average’ statistic quoted at you, over and over again, throughout the course of your entire god damned childhood?

What is the average statistic?—You’d surely recognize it if you heard it. The formula goes something like this: ‘You know’ or ‘Studies have shown’ that (on average) ‘persons with a college degree make’ supposedly shocking or thoughtful mathematic expression. For instance, “Did you know people who go to college make 18 gijabillion times as much as people who don’t?”

In my head I often respond to such a statement in the following manner: “Really! You don’t say! – Now why is it that you feel compelled to make such a claim, and that you don’t come right out and say, ‘People who go to college are happier’?” No one would like to state it openly, certainly not the speaker in this situation (lest they seem shallow and materialistic). But we all understand what is meant by this, and it’s because in our minds the two are concretely and nearly irreversibly linked with definite certainty.

Of course the person who makes 18 gijabillion times as much is happier! He wears nice suits to work and has a nice home in suburbia where he lives with his sexually appeased wife and two small boys plus his newborn daughter. He drives a nicer car, exhibits greater equanimity and votes regularly!

That chump who didn’t go to college got a dead-end job at McDonald’s and cleans urinals for the rest of his life (or until he decides to put in the “real” hard work of going to college). He struggles his whole life against the soul crushing force of poverty and regrets every day that he did not go to college. His highest appeal is that his kids go to college after all.

Are you listening?! For the love of God, without college you will contract herpes, experience erectile dysfunction and fall into homelessness! Lack of college degree will leave the toilet seat up—it will drink all of your beer!

College is no longer about knowledge – it is about the knowledge industry. There are only two kinds of professors. The first kind, deep down, knows they are no longer the vanguards of your intellectual awakening. In times past, professors were the watchdogs at the gates of society’s intelligentsia, both keeping an eye on those who would enter and, more importantly, the world without. They would call the bullshit from both sides. And were pivotal in society’s operation.

How disturbed would you be if you were reduced from that to being the managers of the knowledge production line? As a student you pass by on your conveyer belt, and they give you passing acknowledgement to make sure you are not so inferior as to cause problems for the factory – that is, that you are not of such inferior quality that you provide a poor reputation for the factory when it comes to the public at large. Harvard: BMW. Community college: Ford. (You pray to God you’re Lexus, or at least Toyota)

Of course it’s not just their job to make sure you don’t make problems for the institution you join after leaving theirs (yet one more in a long line of institutions you will belong to throughout the extent of your life). For what is a problem for them is also a problem for you! Their responsibility is also to you; me, me, me! To make sure you are up to quality specifications not only for your boss in upper-middle layer management, but for you because you are also the customer! We wouldn’t pay tens of thousands of dollars a year (usually going into that figure of debt to make it possible) to be left to the ravages of being unemployable, would we?

The college company gets consumers on both sides. We are not society’s great shining future – we are its mass-product. You are not gaining access to the greatness that is knowledge, we expect access to its material treasure.


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