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Notes from the Academic Underground

When working-class whites vote for Republican policies that will further reduce their economic power—are they voting in their best interests? What about wealthy liberals in favor of higher taxes on the rich? Do people making terrible life choices—say, poor women having children with unreliable men—act in their best interests? Do they calculate at all?

Notes from Underground

What if our own interest, as we construe it, consists of refusing what others want of us? Reason is only one part of our temperament, the underground man says.

Table of contents

Individualism as a value includes the right to screw yourself up. Having given us a rant, the underground man offers experience. He shifts back sixteen years.

The Liberal Arts: Notes from Underground

He is twenty-four. He recounts some strange incidents from his social life. For years, he harbored a grievance against an officer who had casually picked him up and moved him out of the way in a tavern. The moment was nothing, but his resentment knew no bounds. In the same year, he invited himself to a dinner party thrown by old school classmates; they were unworthy, crass young men—he hated them all—but he still longed for their respect.

In the event, the dinner party is a disaster for him; he makes a fool of himself, and he winds up at the end of the evening sleeping with a lonely prostitute in a brothel and then talking to her for hours.


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She is a smart, decent girl, in desperate straits, and he condescends to her, lectures her, fears her. Will she come to him at home, make a man out of him?

Despite professorial objection and student dissatisfaction, university corporatization persists. Working in the depths of the academic underground, what can scholars to do to preserve the integrity of higher education? It would be foolish to turn our backs on technology and social media, ignore the persistent wrongheadedness of assessment exercises or the Deja-vu of yet another system redesign.

Notes From the Academic Underground

But we can remember that despite the bureaucratic obstacles placed on our path, our primary mission is to teach our students how to think, create, and invent. That mission is stronger than any assessment program, big data analysis, or five-year plan. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email.

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Notify me of new posts via email. Skip to content. Home Contact. In The One State, people are numbered and genetically engineered into standardized units. They constantly try to escape From the darkness outside and within By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.


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  8. Many aspects of life today have become disassociated from such a fundamentally human journey. Both outside the academy and within, a new false god proclaims that learning is immediate, observable, and measurable, that the human condition is solvable technologically, and that the way to happiness is to love Big Brother in his many disguises.

    Facing this Moloch, perhaps one day the ACTC, the MLA, and other humanistic organizations will join forces to fight for human uniqueness and individuality.

    Notes From the Academic Underground by Barry Greer

    In the predawn darkness, I ride along Rideau Canal toward the airport and listen as my Afghani refugee driver tells me about his children. What kind of education will they receive and what kind of world awaits them?

    Will it be liberty, imagination, and a great humanistic tradition? Or will it be dehumanization, Moloch, and The One State?