Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Don't More Girls Wear Their Hair Like This (Or Have Hair Like This...?)

Long dark hair piled carelessly up on top of the head, perhaps stabbed with a couple of knitting needles. Should convey a sense of energy, unless she is an Amazon of absolutely staggering proportions. Always gives air of being more learned than she lets on and witty-smart, seriousnessness both of intellect and attention to own beauty tempered and beautifully proportioned. The sexiest of all general artsy-bohemian looks, shouldn't be that hard to pull off...
I was about 90% asleep when I wrote that bit above, so I am going to keep it. It is something I have wondered about for 20 years now.

In the course of every day when I am not able to write I think of and compose in my head various letters, articles, etc, for the blog which when I finally get down to the computer don't seem worthwhile to put down anymore. As I often say, I practised for years to become, and am really more comfortable as, a fiction writer, which besides allowing for different emphases in one's style that I prefer, seems to me to offer richer possibilities for understanding than the typical scrupulously literal personal or rhetorical blog post allows for. Virtually nothing on the Internet is worth reading at all, of course, but as much of it is clearly the work of fairly intelligent as well as intellecually supremely confident people it is nonetheless maddening that it is often so thoughtless. Do people trained in hard sciences and technical fields really believe that the humanities, especially literature, have no substantial place in a serious modern university? Do they really believe that no one specializing in the humanities possesses significant intelligence, or that everyone in those disciplines is there by default in the full knowledge that they could not succeed in one of the legitimate subjects at a college level? Does anyone believe that there are any human beings, especially intelligent ones, who might not be motivated by money (or at least might not be motivated to compete for it full bore every waking second?) The general identification of high IQ/intellectually brilliant people (who by definition never have humanities degrees or employment in a field identified with those areas of knowledge) with great wealth that one sees all over the Internet is of extremely recent origin, even in this country. Yet it is regularly asserted by these same Libertarian-type writers that all of the smartest people exclusively pursue the most lucrative (and therefore most prestigious) professions and positions to the detriment of any others (such as teaching, either at the secondary or modestly compensated college levels) that cannot offer them a competitive salary. This assumes too that the vast differences in compensation between different positions and professions in our society is healthy for its communal and intellectual life, which I am pretty convinced it is not. Formerly it was considered an important element of the job description, certainly of priests and academics, that while they be maintained respectably, and given some allowance for travel and other activities thought to be beneficial to their ability to carry out their duties, that they were expected to live modestly, and be generally indifferent to material concerns. Now colleges bid on star professors and parishioners are impressed by a priest who flashes symbols of success and flock to his church. That so many trends are moving at once in the same direction, while the admonitions and wisdom of long centuries are not even considered seriously, I cannot regard as boding any good for the day-to-day, cultural, spiritual, what have you, life of the nation.

This is my pessimistic late night post of the week. Of course the actual world is not really like this. It is much better and much worse. I just have the good and bad parts backwards.

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