Friday, April 24, 2009

That's Not an Ivory Tower. That's an Outhouse

Traditional Amish buggy, Lancaster County, Pen...Image via Wikipedia

Wandering around the web trying to get my mind around one of those trendy theoretical constructs that I tend not to take seriously because I seem to have gotten by most of my life with an attitude more than an actual philosophy -- though I understand most attitudes are a kind of trickle down from the status quo and thus we all have a philosophy, which we possess as naturally and unconsciously as bad breath.

I'm not trying to boast here.

But now I'm following links and staring into tangles, and I'm suddenly thinking that we academics in the softer of the liberal arts don't live in ivory towers, which imply a royal condition and/or being a trapped princess. We are like the Amish, sturdy and misunderstood, working with the oldest of tools, all those words we use to scrape at the rocky fields. We understand the power of manure. We talk in the old language of ideas, and fewer and fewer people understand us and fewer and fewer care.

I'm broadly generalizing here about our quaint unworldliness and our fierce clan loyalties. Chemistry and business school and so on, not so much, of course. But the rest of us: The world drives by and laugh -- or, worse than that, condescend. We are kind of quaint, you know.

I haven't quite worked this analogy out, obviously. It's just that today I'm in a bit of a horse and buggy mood.

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