You know you went to a nerd school when…

This e-mail pops up in the listserv, in response to a flurry of posts about the somewhat shady personal life of the Marxist philosopher Althusser:

To the distinguished graduates of —–,

T—— K——- (’05) here.  I will attempt brevity.

I enjoy our listserv.  I like to know about job opportunities and other networking perks like sublets and homeless cats.

But, in this recent, obtuse thread of anti-intellectualism am I perhaps missing the, ahem, irony?

I have never before heard of Tony Lundt.  However, I am now well appraised that he is notable for criticizing Althusser.  Thanks for the email alerting me to the fact!  It will no doubt provide a useful footnote for the future!

As far the ‘insane, wife-killer’ bit: my 24-year old compatriots and I chuckled about that too.  At the pub.  When we were over-worked and bemused.  With the intellectual challenges of our chosen program of study.  Not in any seriousness.  Not when the evaluation of ideas was on the table.

I hope my snap interpretation isn’t true: that there are holes in the M—- pedagogy that make engagement with critical theory a matter of taste (a la Lore Siblerman) or a matter of contextually inappropriate demonization (a la T—– O—–; French Philosopher c. 1950 = Yugoslavia c. 1999???).

Even worse is the thought that the lumpenbourgeois pseudo-intellectuals with access to a fine program like M—- may have simply excepted the divine Fukyama (and his company of later-day saints) as their lord and savoir.

Whether or not you were dedicated enough to engage with his ideas in between bullshitting about the Magnetic Fields, updating your ipod playlist, and checking out that *new tapas restaurant you’ve heard so much about*, you cannot avoid the fact that Louis Althusser was a vastly influential thinker.  His work cleared the way for countless other thinkers and lines of thought, to name a few: Foucault, ergo queer theory; Mulvey, ergo feminist film theory; the list could go on nearly endlessly in the fields of cultural studies, anthropology, and sociology.

Thanks for the quick tee-hee, guys, but I hope some of you out there join me in my disappointment.

~T—— K——-, ——-’05


5 thoughts on “You know you went to a nerd school when…

  1. douglas says:

    chuckling over wife-killing, man, what better way to spend an evening at the pub (with Ideas on the table, nonetheless).

    I think Althusser’s Ideology essays were super interesting. I’m sure I would find a lot to love in the writing of Tony JUDT whose name the above emailer didn’t even bother to read correctly let alone imagine could be influential in his own right.

    My question remains, why do people continue to suck? I wish them confidence and would banish their insecurities to the Dark Dimension if it meant a little goddam civility.

  2. osutein says:

    Yeah, that was a weird flurry of e-mails. Who knew we all felt so strongly about the author of “Ideology and the State”? Anyway, it summed up the whole MAPH experience quite well, especially the quoted letter, whose general sentiment I agree with (Althusser was an influential philosopher, like him or not), but whose author I wanted to strangle with barb wire for using a phrase like “lumpenbourgeois,” a word he clearly does not understand the meaning of but is pretty sure is insulting.

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