Sunday, April 17, 2005
In addition to the thread that swallowed Pittsburgh over at Crooked Timber, if you want more reading, Mel at In Favour of Thinking has a thoughtful post about the recent frothiness on this site, literary study and pleasure. (If you visit, play nice).
The comments are worth the HaloScan popup, too. Being an aesthetic hedonist who’s expressed some pretty obnoxious generalizations about academia, I was especially struck by profsynecdoche‘s note: “We are not, as others have said, alienated from our labor, and that is something at odds with the rest of the world we inhabit.”
(Of course, trying to generalize from that might lead us into Invisible Adjunct land, but it’s still good to be reminded that sometimes it happens the way it’s supposed to.)
Isn’t that true of academia in general, though?
I should post that over there. Never mind.
David, it’s probably true of academia in general — at least, as Ray intimates, for those with job security — but I don’t think the comment was about literary scholars, specifically.
Well, I just responded over there—and for what it is worth, it was a fairly hasty comment. As I said on infavorofthinking, I think it is true of the academy in general—but that it might be important that it seems more true (or even most true) of literary scholars. That is, chemists derive pleasure out of chemistry in the way I derive pleasure out of literature (I think), but the non-academic-on-the-street doesn’t say, “Those lucky folks in chemistry, they get paid for working in the lab all day.” At least I don’t think they don’t. Moreover—and here I might be wrong—I don’t think that chemistry or economics professors teach pleasure in their disciplines to the same extent that we do, though the good ones, I’m sure, perform that pleasure.
Moreover, Ray Davis’s comments about Invisible Adjunct land are very well taken; I by no means meant to ignore the real problems of academic labor. In fact, perversely, maybe the kind of pleasure evident in the humanities makes it more available to labor exploitation.
A last thing—I did not author this comment about labor and alienation originally. It came to me from a comment on my own blog.
"In fact, perversely, maybe the kind of pleasure evident in the humanities makes it more available to labor exploitation.”
I think you are absolutely right. After all, we’re doing things we would want to do even if we weren’t paid, right?
Well, barring committee meetings.