Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
Neha is writing again on her weblog. Nice to see.
But how about some debate on the issue she raises here and treated throughout this post:
It’s been a year since I’ve graduated, and for an entire plethora of reasons, my plans to head to grad school as a freshly scrubbed graduate ended up buried deep, deep under the sea. It hasn’t been all that bad, really. I’ve found there’s a good reason students are advised to take blocks of time off and away from the very cushioned academic environment. Yes, students work part time. Some even full time. And they come from every possible social strata of life. But falling into academia is nothing if not cushioned. If you don’t believe me, ask the thousands of graduates who walk right into the arms of the newest phenomenon called the quarter-life crisis.
There are a few issues here. First I don’t disagree with Neha about social expectations and traditional norms. For all our talk about progressivity, we are still creatures of effacement, which makes Tim O’Brien that much more interesting. But I disagree that academia is a cushioned place. Cushioned against or opposed to what? If it is, students have a hand in making it so. Since academe has become an aspect of the larger market place, it doesn’t help in some cases to base so much effort on “majors” and “jobs.” This, I think, is a mistake in the institution’s design. But the design can be changed. It can be changed by students. The academic environment should treat jobs or careers as accidental and should concentrate on thinking. If one has an idea, the academic environment should provide a place for that idea’s development, marketable or not. Law school should be a place where people who want to be a lawyers can go for professional training.
Likewise, traditions, such as marriage, don’t need to be “kept” if they’re important and sustainable on their own, like an interesting idea. The creative impulse is to make not keep or horde.
Stories are not insulated or cut off from the world. The core conflict is always right in step with what is.
In Beowulf, Hrothgar does not call the Geats for respite. Beowulf journeys, nonetheless.