Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society by Mario Vargas Llosa.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One more thing from the Deresiewicz essay

I forgot to quote this part:
I had a third student, a junior, who wrote about a friend whom she had known since the beginning of college and who, she’d just discovered, went to church every Sunday. My student hadn’t even been aware that her friend was religious. When she asked her why she had concealed this essential fact about herself, her friend replied, “Because I don’t feel comfortable being out as a religious person here.”
When my student wrote about her churchgoing friend, she said that she couldn’t understand why anyone would feel uncomfortable being out as a religious person at a place as diverse as Scripps.
There's a belief that tolerance is about bringing together people whose identities are different, not people whose beliefs (or lack thereof) and practices are different.  There's an idea that diversity of the first sort--a diversity achieved through presence, not practice--not only confers moral legitimacy but also automatically exudes a sense of comfort.

I remember encountering bits of this in college in the 90's.  It was different from intellectual relativism, postmodernism, etc.  Those ideas involved hard reading and mental challenges that went deeper than smiling and saying "Thank you for sharing that."  It was not as developed as what's going on now, but the stirrings were there.  Contra Deresiewicz, it didn't come from Foucault or the humanities faculty, it came from Student Affairs.  It is the process of academia replacing academics with administration.  Academic work should exhaust the mind when it's done right, not make everyone feel happy-shiny and smug.

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