Wednesday, 19 August 2015

University: A Death Cult for the Middle Classes?

Top universities are just like cults when you think about it. 

The students think they have 'special knowledge' others do not have for being within the institution. There are all kinds of sensory deprivation rituals, such as gruelling exam studies, hazing and behavioural controls via extreme political correctness to the use of cult-like buzz phrases such as 'microagressions' and chanting. The 'elders' are the Professors who are the high priest class, who will only give you their 'approval' if you question nothing and do only what they tell you to do. There is the buffer of 'Campus Jesuits' called Fraternities who police the lesser adepts for the benefit of the Elder Professor Class. You can only read what they tell you to read and think only what they tell you to think. You are denied a meaningful love life and stable intimacy with someone you can trust, and your friendships are all with people exclusively within the same campus social circle. Diets are limited and proving your worth and unconditional devotion is EVERYTHING. You are isolated from your old social networks and family. You even have hymns and special vestments devoted to the glory of the institution and you consider yourself an 'elite' for doing everything you are told to do and questioning nothing. 

By the time you realise it is a huge scam, you have invested so much of your life into obtaining a degree that you 'just can't' walk away only to live with the guilt and shame of not being one the 'special adepts' with the stupid hat and gown. Finally, they take all your money and you never recover financially.

How is that different from a cult?

In the USA, I always found it amazing that working class people were not supposed to be well read. They were to conform to a stereotype of being a 'working stiff' who merely watches baseball on TV and drinks something called 'Lite' beer. 

In the Ireland I grew up in, working class people devoured books. There was no contradiction. It was only when I realised what big business 'education' actually is, that I understood why these stereotypes from Lisa Simpson to Roseanne were almost ruthlessly enforced within the American cognition. This mentality is everywhere now.

You had to go to college in order to 'read books' in the USA, and back then I used to come across Americans who were literally spellbound when they saw me holding a copy of a Tennessee Williams or Lovecraft novel on my lunch break working as a house painter. 

I recall one Harvard gentleman being literally offended that I knew more about just about everything than he did because I was wearing painter's overalls for a week in his house in Forest Hills. By the Friday, he was literally ready to hurl me out the door when when I started talking about the DaDaists with his daughter. He was terrified I was going to ask her out on a date. It was all about no crossing over of social status and that meant who pays for education and who does not. I did get my credentials in graphic design later, but as a night student paying out of my own pocket. My one year as a real college student destroying my love for Electronic Engineering put me off for life.

Listen to this discussion between myself and James Corbett on Joyce the other day. James did his thesis on Joyce at Trinity in Dublin at the same time I was there reading Joyce in the park during my lunch break. Yet there was no sense I was less knowledgeable about the subject. I just did not pay for it and get a piece of paper and a stupid hat and gown at the end of the ordeal.

Knowledge is Everywhere

That is the biggest misconception and scam of all. Having people believe they need to pay huge sums of money to get an education. If you can read and stay away from drink, weed and TV, you will learn much with books and sexy women will fancy you for it. The ideal solution is to go to trade school or tech and then do the 'academic' stuff as a hobby in your free time. You'll have a much easier and less painful life and you'll beat the banks too.