Sunday, June 1, 2008

Academe Circling the Drain

Charllote Allen has a piece over at The Weekly Standard that I at first thought a humorous if somewhat tasteless parody--something you might expect from PJ O'Rourke. But no. It is a straight piece of reportage, detailing the latest dead-end alley to be explored by postmodern academic discourse. I refer to "Waste Studies". As in human waste.

I suppose it was inevitable; that in the tireless search for new ways to transgress the stultifying bourgeois mentality, the mother lodes of feminism, queer theory, homoeroticism, and all aspects of pornography would sooner or later fail of their mission. And thus we find the new naughty, and the excitement generated by being at the very, very edge of the latest, latest thing--sex, race, and gender being about tapped out as sources of outrage and insight. Ms Allen treats us to a paper read by one Medievalist "scholar" at the conference she attended at Western Michigan University at Kalamazoo, apparently a yearly get together for thousands of devoted, but lonely postmodern medievalists. One excerpt:

"The excretory experience became associated with the proletariat," Persels explained. Although he seemed eager to demonstrate that he personally didn't share those uptight middle-class views, at least one of the academics in his audience remained unconvinced that a secret bourgeois habitus didn't lurk underneath his antinomian veneer. "Excretory?" she whispered to a fellow medievalist sitting next to her. "Why doesn't he just say s**t?"

You'll have to read the thing yourself to be convinced it's not a send up in the tradition of Monty Python, but there you are. Parents, look closely at the colleges and universities you and your kids are considering...a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

No comments: