Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Missing Snobs

Today I was thinking about what it is that always seems to be missing at Mall University. Because I always feel like there's something that's not there, which I'm still looking for. And when the answer came to me, I liked it because it's elegant, but a bit counter-intuitive.
There's nothing arrogant about Mall University.

I've been to four universities now, and this is the only one that doesn't have arrogant pseudo-intellectuals. Actually, universities have 19-30 year olds, so it's not really fair to call them pseudo-intellectuals- more like intellectuals in a state of becoming. Those kids who've just discovered that they really like 'nerdy' things in and of themselves, and sort of lord it over everyone else. "Obviously, you know nothing about Plato's Golden Mean!' Sure, they're damned annoying, but at least, they see the value in ideas and in having a curiosity about the world. We don't have any people like that. Or, at least, none that I've met.

We have students, and more than a few professors, who are here to get 'er done- to get through the daily slog. Oh, they'll read this pretentious crap if they have to, but don't get any ideas that they like it. It's just what you've got to do. We don't have arrogance- we have disdain. People walk the halls with a look of dull disdain. Like they're in reform school! It's a bit off-putting in the freshmen- but they just got here from that anti-intellectual mecca- the American High School, so it's very understandable. It's really shocking in the grad students. They really resent being bothered. Everything is either 'irrelevant', or 'makes no sense', or 'just totally boring'. From the greatest books to the latest books- every last one of them is a waste of their time. The last bitch session I listened to was a group of MA students complaining that they have to learn about Marxism in a Modern Intellectual History seminar. "Dude, it's not like there's going to be a worker's revolution any time soon." Yes, they indeed were complaining about having to learn in a graduate history course about something that is in the past.

The snobby intellectuals-to-be at William & Mary used to bother me. But, at least, they saw something valuable in that world outside of day-to-day existence that they were interested in hanging on to. Life wasn't just about the visible and the obvious. They sensed that there are mysteries to existence. The people that I'm around now simply have no time for that. They're the blue-collar grunts of the academic world. I feel like I'm on the wrong planet.


sock puppet said...

Truthfully Rufus, at times my graduate experience was very disappointing. I was a geek, but many of my classmates merely wanted to get the degree, not experience the process.

Rufus said...

Thanks for telling me that. It's actually very reassuring to know that it's not just my university. I mean, it's a bit sad too. But, it's nice to know.

Paul said...

University educated intellectuals are one thing. I got my education in libraries. :)

Rufus said...

It's probably still the best way to do it. You're pretty much just limited by your amount of free-time.

Anonymous said...

Actually, universities have 19-30 year olds, so it's not really fair to call them pseudo-intellectuals- more like intellectuals in a state of becoming.

It's always interesting to see how different the world is in other disciplines. In math, theoretical physics, and other mathematical disciplines, your intellectual peak is in your 20's. That's when people do the work that wins them Nobel prizes and Fields medals, but even if you're not at that caliber, it's still when most people in such fields do their best work.