Wednesday, June 4, 2008

" Why I am an anti-intellectual" --and so am I!

PrawfsBlawg: Why I am an anti-intellectual:

Being anti-intellectual is not the same as being anti-intellect. My beef is with a particular social class -- the "intelligentsia" -- and not with the practice of using one's intellect to reflect on experience. In my experience, intellectuals (as a class) are ideologically intolerant, easily offended by ordinary humor, and pretentious in their prejudices, which they disguise as universal truths

It takes the convoluted abstractions of a Carl Schmitt or a Heidegger to offer apologetics for Hitler; a Sartre, to temporize about Stalin; a Foucault, to defend Khomeini. In this respect, I stand with George Orwell who spent the 1930s and 1940s denouncing the obscurity of intellectuals' prose as a cloak for tyranny (and, incidentally, who was also accused of being an anti-intellectual). Intellectuals spray polysyllables like squid ink, to evade the democratic decencies of conversation. I'd like not to be one of their number.
Amen, and amen. I remember being forced to read Hayden White's Metahistory in a graduate seminar. Garbage garbage garbage. What the hell ever happened to wie es eigentlicht gewesen ist ?!? Just because the Germans lost two world wars, we jettison von Ranke and instead pick up Deridda and Foucault?!?!?

I guess my problem was that I read Orwell in 9th grade (1984 and one of my all-time favorites, Animal Farm) and not only understood but also took it to heart. When the pigs begin rearranging the language, look out for the dogs. (Call me Benjamin...)

No comments: