I’ve always been so concerned with what I’m supposed to say that I didn’t get an education in how I was supposed to say it in any context but the toxically exegetical side of Anglophone Continental Philosophy, and I noped out of that as hard as I could after my thesis was submitted.
I’ve spent much of my time in the last few years explicitly figuring this out and analysing the norms and the mechanisms that produce them, but it came too late for a conventional academic career.
The deep truth, and it’s obviously the root of why I hate Derrida and his spawn, is that I’m a dialogical engine. Give me speech over writing at any opportunity. My writing is speech, just extended over timescales and flattened into monologue to fit the format.
I’ve always been mystified by people who seem to think its important to write regardless of whether one has anything to say.
I can and do enjoy writing, but I cannot do it if I do not see it as, in some abstract sense, a conversation of sorts. I can even enjoy poetry and the delights of words wielded for their own sake, but it all too easily becomes empty and pointless in certain contexts.
Far too much of contemporary academia is dedicated to the production of writing that says nothing, or as little as it possibly can. Many people in philosophy have convinced themselves that commentary on secondary texts is a reasonable substitute for saying things.
Worse still is the tendency in the humanities to extend literary criticism to encompass the world qua text. Maybe a text composed of other texts, but there’s absolutely no commitment to having to understand anything beyond these texts, their symbolic allusions, and the social contexts they’re embedded in.
Not only are these people trained and employed to act in this way, but it’s often impossible to be employed if you think the whole thing is spurious and it goes against every fibre of your being to suborn yourself to it. So here I am.
The thing about autodidacticism is that it bypasses the authentication mechanisms which form the infrastructure of the education system and the academy is perched on top of it. This is an incredible generator of imposter syndrome, right up until the point where you overshoot the competence threshold and see that everyone around you has been fronting the whole time.
This is why I like interviews. They reveal what I think in the most direct way possible, by forcing me to decompress my mental model of the world and recompress it in a way suited to meet the most concrete of explanatory demands. There is nowhere to hide in an interview, which means I don’t have to worry about hiding: the question is asked, and something replies.
I get to discover what I think about a topic at more or less the same time as the person asking the question. So if you’re ever curious about what I think on a topic, I’m curious too. Hit me up.
(These thoughts articulated in dialogue with Dominic Fox)