META-NOMAD

The Function of the Academy

There is much that can constrain or suffocate a work of thought, of theory, of philosophy. There are editors, critics and shills, classical religious and political bodies, demonstrations, burnings and bannings, yet none more harmful to a work of thought that that which promises it its sceptical freedom, indeed it is the Academy itself which is sole eroder of a theoretical work’s decency. It is the Academy in all forms which pollutes the very root it so promises to help grow. I say in all forms for the Academy has and always will enter into various areas of critique under different names. Whether it’s a Chomskyan Manufacturing, a Moldbuggian ‘Cathedral’, a doomsayer’s ‘devil-machine’, a Serresian ‘Parasite’, Debord’s ‘Spectacle’ or plain old media-systems-propaganda-worship, that which attempts to broadcast art, theory, music or vision to the masses always does so via a lense of constriction, and thus that which you are seeing, hearing or reading has already been tampered with.

Mirroring Buren’s essay[1] wherein I found inspiration for this piece, one must define the function of the Academy:

 

It is the place where the work originates.

It is generally a place of WEIRDness: Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic. It is indebted and economically-umbilically linked to a WEIRD government or state.

It is a stationary place where portable and lucid works are produced.

 

And thus the contemporary importance of the Academy is established, and if one is hopefully not too blind, they can see as to why a work created in such a place may have a few progressive stains dribbled upon it, or as to why certain work might not make it out alive so to speak. Buren calls the studio the ‘first limit’, upon which all subsequent limits will depends. Yet the Academy is not just some vague room in which anything can be produced, it is quintessentially WEIRD and that is thus our first limit. The Academy of course is also where numerous critics, lecturers, tutors, reviewers, scholars and specialists come to review papers, dissertations and thesis’ to see if they make the cut, to see if they’re moulded or mouldable enough to jump through the Academic hoops, if not of course there’s a pre-constructed system to deal with work unfit for Academy consumption: a bad grade. As such it is the Academy and its practioners alone whom decide that which is a continuation, that which is to become canon, that which is to be the ‘correct’ reading; it is the Academy and the Academy alone which decides whether or not a work shall become part of its and thus the recognized ‘future’.

And so as Buren’s ‘studio’ is the reality for the work of art, so too is the Academy the reality for the work of philosophy. Much like Buren’s claims of art, the work of philosophy too becomes more mature the further it distances itself from the death-grip of the Academy, the further it strays away from the world of checkboxes, grading and marking the further it enters into the actual world of thought and freedom. And so Buren proclaims:

“If the work of art remains in the studio, however, it is the artist that risks death…from starvation…”

So too does the philosopher, writer or theorist risk death if their work remains within the Academy. One will find once they free their work from the academic cult of WEIRDness that is is finally able to breath, to live and to…feel uncomfortable. Indeed the supports you so relied upon within your industrialized-education-complex wither and die at the sight of an original mind, one not poisoned by the water of WEIRD canals. Unlike Buren’s art-from-the-studio however, one may, can and should produce work outside the Academy, not with the Academy and not of the Academy. Imagine that dear fellows, writing what it is that actually comes to your mind when reading Kant, Nietzsche, Hobbes or Rousseau without feeling an authoritarian obligation to sculp your supposedly contrarian musings into another dreary Academic repetition.

And so I say to you ‘amateur’ or ‘professional’ or ‘practicing’ philosopher there is no such thing. You have been moulded, your work sculped and the higher your form of personal academic achievement the further your work has been lost to the chasms of WEIRDness. So where does one wander once they’re banished or have managed escape from the Academy, sitting atop its marble steps you ponder what to write about, who and when to write about. After the Academy there no longer has to be a why, when, who or what as to you’re writing. You’re writing because you are writing. Your work becomes entirely its own existing for its own sake, within a decaying blog, or viral pamphlet. Your thesis read by 4 people disintegrated into the WEIRD-abyss, rife with merit-signalling and brown-nosing. Your 4000 word pulsating screed on the hell-time of a cybernetic patchwork transition stage on the other hand was read and enjoyed by many.

If the work of philosophy remains in the Academy, the philosopher and philosophy both risk death.

 

[1] The Function of the Studio – Daniel Buren