So I’ve been meaning to elaborate on number nine on my ten truths post – the one most people thought was the lie. In fact the truth is that, yes indeed, I dropped out of university four times and no, I did not get my degree. To put it simply, Academia scared the living crap out of me.
I kept going back because reasonably I had a fear of deviating from the norm. Obviously, everyone has to have a university education. In the Western World, if you do not have a degree you have nothing to define you – you’re ‘not anything’ if you don’t have a degree. In other words, you don’t fit into a category, and society as a whole fears anything that cannot be slotted into a category or genre or that cannot be pigeonholed in some way. Besides, without a university education, you’re unlikely to land a ‘good’ job that will provide you with security from now until forevermore.
… I realize that my judgements are showing and I’m heading into treacherous territory here, so before I go further let me say that this is merely my opinion. I know that it cannot be applied across the board to everyone and everything. Furthermore, I draw a clear distinction between studying humanities and, say, rocket science, or medicine. Like anyone else I would not care to have a doctor that has not been to medical school perform an operation on me. Nonetheless I think it’s always questionable how much one can learn from reading books or quoting experts. Learning through experience and hands-on work is always the best way.
In my case, the moment I entered Academialand I felt like I was suffocating. I felt like I was being immersed in a world of intellectual theories that had been bastardized to such an extent that they had little or no relationship to reality. By that time I’d been around a bit – I had lived on my own for a few years already [since 16] and I was pretty self-aware and let’s just say I saw the world and the human condition a little differently from the people I was studying with, most of whom were fresh out of their sheltered childhood environments. Not that this was such an issue. The worst thing was that the professors, the People with the Power, had a completely warped view of the world in my opinion. The majority had clearly never lived outside the thick walls of Academia – they had studied and studied and then just got a job there, and their experience of life was pretty much limited to what they had read in books. In my view, many of them were emotional cripples who used their intellect to avoid facing themselves and the realities of their lives. At the same time they were propagating this weird world-view that in no way matched with mine. I still remember the shock, for instance, in my freshman year, of trying to voice an opinion different to that of the lecturer, and being humiliated in front of the rest of the group because I wasn’t parroting the theories he had put forth.
In short, I felt like I was confined inside a weird and scary space and looking out the window at Real Life passing by. And what was scariest about it was that everyone inside the space with me seemed to be of the conviction that Academia was real life and that there was no real life outside of it. In my gut I knew it was not so – and I wanted to be outside doing the living. Nevertheless I would doubt my own reality time and again after that – with the result that I kept returning, only to have my impressions confirmed every time.
I’ve got a bit more to say on the subject but since this is getting a bit lengthy for a blog post I’ll save it the rest until tomorrow.
AND MOVE ON TO SOMETHING SIMPLE, LIKE THE WEATHER…
It’s raining. Where is our Yuletide snow? How the hell are we supposed to be getting into the Christmas spirit when it’s totally gray and gloomy out there? OK granted, the sun has yet to rise, but still. Over in the east I can see a bit of brightness in the sky and the clouds are moving along quite speedily, so perhaps there is still hope. It’s reasonably mild, 3°C at the time of writing, and sunrise is in four minutes at 10.58, while sunset is due for 15.39. Only 15 more days until the winter solstice – hallelujah!