12 April 2010

Against Universities

Not even a stiff drink can stifle the disgust when scenes of ineffable ugliness intrude upon our view. Other means are required.

As you know, I have the misfortune of living within brief motoring distance of a university. Whenever I have reason to be in the area, usually for a supper rendezvous or a cultural event in a coat of Tweed, I am startled by the spectacle of repulsiveness before me. For stalking the university campus and the surrounding neighbourhood are some of the most unattractive people I have ever seen.

Distorted bodies and misshapen faces.

Bizarre, unnatural couplings like a horror-show.

Sociology students with beards and knit caps squatting in doorways chewing pistachio nuts.

Bearded academics in thick socks and sandals walking about unattended in plain view.

Fat bald men in sunglasses sitting in groups of five or more and shouting in various Central Asian dialects.

Throngs of menacing Tongans in hoodies and flip-flops.

I find the whole situation most distracting, when all I want to do is enjoy my wine and codeine in peace. Even I concede that it would be going too far to claim I am personally offended by the grotesque; but at the very least it leaves me seriously disgruntled. There must be a reason for it.

Why the preponderance in academia of people who are diseased and deranged? Maybe it is because such individuals are drawn to scholarly work. Not having been blessed with style or good looks, they adopt a total life of the mind.

Or perhaps ugliness itself is the physical manifestation of the soul-death caused by the bizarre ideas and antiquated theories promulgated by universities. Like an afflicted oak whose withered brown leaves are testament to the disease at its core, the petulant hunchbacks that populate universities are symptomatic of a rotten system.

Whatever the case may be, I have decided, it is our obligation to cultivate a life of beauty and goodness as an antidote to prevailing conditions.

9 comments:

Lisa said...

Wow, I guess I should be glad that I squashed my own dream of becoming an English professor. I might have ended up looking like Calibos. :-D

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Amen, brother.

I live within walking distance of a university. ONe located in the city. The prevailing aesthetic is pierced, tattooed, poorly shod and baseball capped. Not a pretty sight.

My wife is always amused when I announce "I saw a well-dressed man (or woman) today!"

OldSchool said...

Having spent the past 45 years of my life as a university teacher, I can only agree with your observations about the visual pollution created by many denizens of the groves of academe. However, let me assure you that there are still some of us around who attach importance to our outward appearance as a reflection of our concern with aesthetics, standards, tradition, the finer thing of life, and a respect for the sensibilities of others.

ADG said...

Tenure. Tenure explains it all. Similar to Trade Unions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; tenure had/has a place in assuring freedom of intellectual exchange. Like Unions however, the original intent of Tenure has created a perverse reality.

v. Braun. said...

Another problem with modern university could be its undue concentration on a variety of 'mechanical' crafts, practical subjects and fashions of the day, instead of their higher theoretical forms (joke-subjects like applied sciences, journalism or sociology instead of mathematics, philosophy, theology, exclusively).
That is a reason, I think, for some of its ugliness.

A praise-worthy academy ought to forbid even the mention of any contemporary problem.

WerewolfinExile said...

ADG, great link between how aligned the perverse incentives tenure creates and the damage unions have done to industry via monopolizing labor actually are. For all of their preening and posturing, about diversity and tolerance, I have found academics, by and large to predictably beholden to group-think and dreadfully shabby and lazy in their appearance.

When I was an undergraduate, the fact that half of the campus looked and acting as if they just rolled out of bed, and having so little respect for themselves via their appearance and the image they conveyed disappointed me.

As usual, you eloquently hit the nail on the head, Admiral.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college in the late sixties - early seventies, men wore a coat and tie to dinner Sunday thru Friday. Freshman were required to wear a coat and tie to class. Upperclassmen always dressed at least with a collared shirt and jacket or nice sweater.

The only thing that keeps me from wearing most of my college clothes today is girth.

It's sad that the university scene described in your post and confirmed by commenters is representative of what are supposed to be our "best and brightest."

It's a reflection on the demise of our values and society-at-large.

I wonder if the fact that fraternities are not as important as they once were doesn't have something to do with the pathetic appearance of today's students.

Anonymous said...

When I'm near a college campus, I try to look past (or look through)the unshaven louts who call themselves students

Anonymous said...

Although some of your commentary was bordering on racist, I do agree that today's student population is no sight to behold.