I've Had Enough...but not Quite

That's right, I've had it up to here.

I'm sick of commentators who fixate on my gender, creepy sexist pigs who make inappropriate comments, and trolls who hijack conversations that would have been fruitful.

I'm fed up with academic style discussions. I no longer find any pleasure in five hour sessions of shooting the shit if one hard fact is not mentioned during the entire exchange. I don't want to hear any more theoretical musings that float about in space and never come back to Earth. I will tune out people if their conversation is largely based on the thoughts and philosophies of people long dead.

I'm frustrated with the disconnect between actual realities and academia, where it seems like scholars are off in la-la land and in their own little world, completely out of touch with reality. I'm pissed off at the fact that knowledge is contained and circulated only amongst students and faculty*.

I'm irritated that academics are groomed to speak in obscure, esoteric, academic jargon which often says less than more. Not only do we not hear academics because they don't come down from their ivory towers too often to come speak with us lesser beings; but even when they speak we can't understand a damn thing they're saying because it seems like they are speaking in another language. Holla back, but in a language we can understand.

I'm impatient when academically trained individuals continue to speak theoretically rather offering any substance, or better yet, alternatives**. I am then disgusted with myself that I too have fallen back on theoretical gibberish and meta-critical poetry more than once, if only because it's comfortable.

I refuse to read a book whereby the academic has projected so much of their own preconceived ideas (which are basically recycled ideas taken from other academics) onto what they are studying that they are reading into things that are not there. I will puke if I come across another "ethnographic" account of a village where I feel like the writer is so off that he/she must have had one too many of those bhang pakodas. I've got so much pent up inside that I vented my frustrations on Chapati Mystery. Poor Sepoy. Sorry, yaar.

Then there's the state of the world. My current occupation consists of scouring the news, researching events and phenomena, and sifting through the baqwaas to get to the root of the problem. At the moment, I'm digging into Baluchistan. I read the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan's report on the human rights violations in Baluchistan, and it's incredibly depressing. Then I looked over a couple of articles which frame the Baluchistan situation within the rhetoric of the "War on Terrorism." Baluchistan is rendered a geographical location that is empty of its inhabitants but full of dehumanized "insurgents" and lots of natural gas to exploit. Watching and analyzing the moves of the players in the Great Game of power politics would make anyone turn into a jaded cynic.

But then, there are glimmers of hope.

Lawyers and activists in Pakistan have challenged the Musharraf government's assault of the judiciary. Civil rights groups have rightfully contested the watered down Hudood Ordinances. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has bravely reported on the situation in Baluchistan and directly criticized the powers that may be. Though the Pakistani government has been clamping the mouths of journalists who talk too much for their own good, newspapers such as the Dawn continue to speak out. And recently, the students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts protested the fact that the university conferred an honorary degree to Andrew Card.

Then there are the cultural exchanges and the attempts to shed light on how intertwined, messy, and blurry our present day borders are. All Things Pakistan has posted some beautifully informed blogs on mandirs in Pakistan. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has set up a pen pal club for Indians and Pakistanis, stating:

Pakistan India Pen Pals Club is a platform to promote people to people contact between people of all ages, castes, creeds or genders from Pakistan and India. Students of all ages, employed personnel, housewives, retired personnel, social workers and activists are all welcome to join the club.

Pakistan and India share a common culture and have been separated by politicians for their own private ends for too long.

Here we will exchange emails and postal addresses and write to each other, sharing experiences and building friendships. We shall try to build a better future for both our countries so that we can spend more resources on the poor rather than on defence.

We shall avoid posting political or religious views and focus on common meetings grounds.

Here are people who are going against the odds, go above and beyond, inform others, or seek to make changes. While some are aggressively trumpeting their lopsided views, others are working on the ground (or in cyberspace) to challenge stereotypical notions, homogeneity, injustice, and the powerful. It may be one drop in the ocean; but still, every drop counts.

This gives me some faith.

* It would be nice if all that knowledge would be shared with the larger public and used as a tool to effectuate change.

**Don't get me wrong, I love theory as much as the next person. But if it cannot help understand and/or explain things that are happening on the ground, I don't want to hear it. Unless I'm having an existential crisis and need to narcissistically wallow in my own miseries in order to make sense of my dreary predicament. In which case, I'd like to philisophically ponder my existence and dabble in rhetorical questions about my personhood through an ontological analysis. While keeping in mind the epistemological aspects, of course.

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Comments

I know this is daft, but I

I know this is daft, but I swear I'd kill for a good session of theory. I feel like I've become stupider since I left college, and the law degree did nothing to dispel that feeling.

Sin: I know this is daft, but

Sin:

I know this is daft, but I swear I’d kill for a good session of theory. I feel like I’ve become stupider since I left college, and the law degree did nothing to dispel that feeling.

It's very interesting you say that...I felt that way when I graduated from college- but as an undergrad.

In grad school, however, I felt like I was getting stupider. The more focused my field got, the more I felt like I was being cut off from everything else. Moreover, the grad school I was at, I ended up being flooded by a handful of big names; in the end, I felt like I wasn't being exposed to other thinkers, writers, and non-academics who had really interesting things to say. In the end, I had to totally go out of my way to seek out and bring other writers into the discussion.

I also was incredulous when I found out that Ph.D. political science students had not even read the books that I thought was essential to getting a grasp on the situations that take place.

More on my thoughts here.

You want to theoretically shoot the shit, jaanam? Do it here!

BTW, what's your law degree in? I myself flirted with the idea of going to law school (for a really long time); and then I took a law course (public international law) and felt that law was too restrictive. But I absolutely loved my public international law course.

I’m fed up with academic

I’m fed up with academic style discussions. I no longer find any pleasure in five hour sessions of shooting the shit if one hard fact is not mentioned during the entire exchange. I don’t want to hear any more theoretical musings that float about in space and never come back to Earth. I will tune out people if their conversation is largely based on the thoughts and philosophies of people long dead.

strange. when i think "academic" i am thinking of the natural sciences (my background), and so i'm imagining spending years looking for facts. of course, a lot of the reductionistic science requires less context (how much context do you need in regards to one molecular genetic process in regards to one gene). in any case, perhaps you should think about going back to school and checking out a lab oriented science. you've not no time to chatter on theory, data collection beckons.

The best thing that I ever

The best thing that I ever did after three years in an anthropology grad program was cut my losses and run for the hills. Actually, I ran for India. Somehow I had the mistaken notion that being an anthropologist would mean traveling the world, meeting fascinating people and pontificating on esoteric, but persistently compelling ideas. The reality was that I would spend my life chained to a boring dissertation, spend most of my time concocting a useless theory that would--at best--only matter to a couple dozen people, and engage in a long and gut wrenching fight for a tenure track position.

No thank you says I. I'm so in your corner that it almost hurts.

scott

Scott: I’m so in your corner

Scott:

I’m so in your corner that it almost hurts.

Aww.. you poor thing!

I feel your pain.

Razib: in any case, perhaps

Razib:

in any case, perhaps you should think about going back to school and checking out a lab oriented science. you’ve not no time to chatter on theory, data collection beckons.

Been there, done that. I have always loved science, and I was quite good in biology (if I do say so myself).

If I had been really smart, I totally would have done astrophysics, or become an astronaut. Nothing like a little trip out into outer space to put things into perspective (but now, you can go to space even if you are not an astronaut, so long as you have money. Which I don't).

But now that I think about it, I still wouldn't have been able to become an astronaut, intelligence notwithstanding. I think physically speaking, I wouldn't make the cut. Don't they have weight and height requirements? I am not even allowed to donate blood, let alone go out into space.

went into grad school

went into grad school assuming I was stupid... came out feeling like a privileged, entitled asshole.

Ditto on the sentiments.

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