See the foregoing summary. Now I read in the Knatz.com HTML code (My old HTML doesn't display well at this blog: I'll tighten it later):
Path: / Personal / Overview / Training / Academic Bestiary /
Module initiated 1998 10 28
(School of Anti-intellectuals)
This file climaxes my biographical narratives on pk's indoctrination by church and state. It offers personal evidence that private schools and universities are at one with the homeostatic tendencies of the culture at large: including major private universities: famous ones, universities with celebrated faculties. Universities answer to the conservatism of the society at large. Look for what ails us, but don't find it. If you do find it, even a clue, universities have an infinitude of feudally-derived (stone age-derived) devices for not getting the message, assuring that the message does not spread.
This file is a keystone of Knatz.com. It pairs with the deschooling keystone of my life's work, climaxed in my founding
The Free Learning Exchange, Inc.
Ivan Illich was the main spokesman for the group that invented information networking for a free society in 1970: the internet that was shunned: left to die on the vine: thirty-some years ago. My FLEX expanded the idea beyond deschooling: toward a wholly free marketplace for public information. But of course state, church, and universities prefer their own managed (false) version of history: and, apart from
the gull public remains ignorant of the path to survival it ignored. When we're all dead, soon, within a century in all likelihood, I hope some alien intelligence notices the path offered and not taken. The morons didn't have to go extinct; they chose to.
Original file resumes:
The purpose of school
is to shade any light
before it can illuminate anything
Unfortunately the latter is still true even at the university level (even in the Ivy League).
1999 09 01
My companion directory for Meta-Oxymoron is now, finally, getting to a point where it makes more than a couple of my most basic points about Shakespeare's sonnets. Once I get a bit further with it, I'll have to return here to rewrite as well as "finish" the story.
that however schools and universities (see my
History of Universities,
are equipped to propagate knowledge both long understood and approved, they are not equipped to recognize let alone encourage new knowledge, new ideas. The phenomenon is simultaneously one of
and Big Brotherism. Once anything becomes institutionalized any genuine content initially present gets replaced by imitation content, healthy tissue becomes clogged with fat. And the fake can never tolerate the real.
My Doctoral Orals
The Final Straw in pk's Decision
to Divorce Himself
Church, State, School ...
I'll postpone relating incidents between junior high school and the end of graduate school in order to, as they say in Hollywood, cut to the chase.
It's the morning of my doctoral orals. The medievalist asks the first question: "Tell me something about the Wife of Bath's Tale."
You're not likely to follow the significance of what happened next if you haven't already perused my thesis on
but don't jump there yet: I'll partly rephrase, partly duplicate the relevant parts here while hoping that someone knows enough history, literature, and philosophy to see the truth of what I say:
Chaucer's Wife of Bath's Tale appears in his Canterbury Tales.
It is preceded by the even more famous Wife of Bath's Prologue. Chaucer's first words for her are:
though non auctoritee
Were in this world is ryght enough for me
To speke of wo that is in marriage
God bless my good fortune. The medievalist had hung one right across my power alley. The fans will never see this one come down.
As my Shakespeare thesis explains, I'd conceived its basic points the first time I'd reread the sonnets after hearing MLA Secretary John Hurt Fisher analyze the Wife of Bath's Prologue in terms of heretical nominalism in guerrilla conflict with the Scholastic Realism which had become enthroned by the Church as Christian orthodoxy. Chaucer's Wife of Bath was a greased chute to my Meta-Oxymoron. I'd weave a spell with this answer and segue right to the next period: the Sixteenth Century (Shakespeare having primarily penned his sonnets in the 1590s).
I've been linking references to Realism and nominalism since the earliest days of this site. The linked-to files are just fragments, this file telling the story of the first series of reasons my thesis never got written beyond the original series of sketches until I started resketching it here.
Realism: Scholastic Realism
Realism with a lower case r is one of our trickiest words and I doubt that any two people mean quite the same thing by it. But Realism here refers to the philosophy of the Medieval Scholastics which became Christian orthodoxy. In simple: God is real; the world — its people and events — are shadow. Sounds like Plato, doesn't it? But the Scholastics had little to no access to Plato: they invented it for themselves.
Plato had it that the world was filled with imperfect "shadows" of ideal essences or i>Forms. Once Churchmen did have access to Plato they embraced him as theirs.
Medieval Christendom, however, was not perfectly homogeneous. There were philosophers who mistrusted metaphysical vapors, preferring to emphasize concrete particulars. Peter Abelard maintained that reality is composed of its parts: there is this chair and that chair and the other chair; people were Alison, and John, and Geoffrey ... The philosophy that "abstract words do not stand for objectively existing entities"
(Random House Unabridged)
came to be called nominalism. Their dissent did not come cheap, not once they went up against the concept of Trinity. Abelard's castration may be the most famous in the history of the West (though reference to it is usually linked merely to ire at his secret marriage to Heloise).
The nominalists lost the battle in their own centuries. Realism was enthroned. But the war, a war that's still with us, had turned by the Renaissance.
William of Occam was defending nominalism by the mid-14th Century. His impatience with fanciful metaphysics yielded his famous
"entities are not to be multiplied beyond necessity," without which science could hardly have become modern.
Back to the chase: I quote her opening sentence in my excellent Middle English, my out-loud recitation of poetry already having long been second to none, as any number of students, teachers, and coffee house audiences will attest. Next, I repeat the quote, expatiating on the significance of the diction:
First word, "experience." That word tells her audience — which
the story, includes a Monk, a Friar, an Abbess, and a priest (and that
the story, includes us) — that she's on the side of the martyred Abelard. Occam's work had had a half century of influence before Chaucer composed The Canterbury Tales.
The second significant word is "auctoritee": authority. Chaucer's Wife of Bath embeds it with reserve in a negative phrase: "though non auctoritee." "World" has a significance I'll return to in a moment: more important, the word "ryght" appears smack in the center of line two: "right." Fourthordinally, the word "ryght" is
prime cardinally: Right. True. The Truth. Experience gives the truth; not the negatively embedded (false-)authority of this (falsely-governed-)"world."
The Wife of Bath introduces her (double-edged) tale of woeful experience in marriage (a Church sacrament, don't forget) with a three-line disquisition on
one more worthy than many a learned that has followed.
whether or not there is "authority" in this world,
experience gives me all the truthful right I need
to speak of the woe that is in marriage.
She's claiming herself, much experienced in marriage, as an authority on the subject. (How her tale is multiply-edged
would be a thesis in itself as would be how the tale and the prologue interrelate.)
But my subject isn't the Wife of Bath. Neither is it Chaucer. My subject is two-fold: my doctoral orals and why the opening minutes of them finished convincing me that a university is the wrong place to seek or to seek to publish the truth (unless your truth is trivial or already four-fifths understood).
Please at this point also understand that it had been my point for years by that time (my thesis having been largely thought out in advance of my taking a couple of years off to teach at Colby College) that what John Hurt Fisher had observed about the opening words of the Wife of Bath's Prologue was also true of Shakespeare's sonnets: that Shakespeare's Fair Love and Dark Lady may far more richly be seen as emblems in a masque than as merely his "boy friend" and his "girl friend," the masque duplicating the main intellectual (and spiritual) struggle of this millennium: that between enthroned
Authority and the authority of evidence! The sonnets are oxymoronic, indeed,
setting as they do "ideal" love in conflict with the love of actual experience.
Refutation by Interruption
I've reported the first question of my orals. I've recreated the introductory part of the answer I was prepared to give. I've recounted the following few seconds as I began to answer. I was no further than important word #2, "auctoritee," when the medievalist, who'd been receiving my answer blankly, interrupts: "I thought it was a poem about the "wo that is in marriage."
Science is the only human enterprise not routinely rigged
so that certain truths are excluded:
contrast church, state,
family, the press, law ...
This woman was on the same faculty with John Hurt Fisher. She should have been able to give me the bibliography for what I was saying. Did she really not know this material? Or was she just pretending?
That response I might have anticipated had I tried to say the same thing around the cracker barrel in Faulkner's The Hamlet, but I was in a room with five supposed doctors of English literature!
Within any important issue, there are always aspects no one wishes to discuss.
2002 12 18 insert: Robert Anton Wilson writes:
Intelligence is the capacity to receive, decode and transmit information efficiently. Stupidity is blockage of this process at any point.
You know it ain't the heat that gets to me; it's the stupidity.
Indeed, this was the same woman who'd told one of my still favorite jokes:
High holidays at Temple Beth Shalom. The temple has expected such a huge turnout that guards have been hired to make sure that members of the temple have priority in seating. Just the adult male members have already filled it. No more admitted.
A boy arrives, stating that there's trouble at home: his errand is to fetch his father, a member.
The guard says he can't enter. Boy puts up a fuss. Fuss becomes a distraction.
"I'll only be a minute," the boy insists: "I know where he usually sits."
"All right," the guard relents, "only one minute. But I'm going to keep my eye on you:
and if I catch you praying ...!"
She'd told it as a deliberate analogy for the anti-their-own-purpose tendencies of institutions: universities and university libraries in particular. But here she was, in perfect harmony with Faulkner's rednecks: not just anti-educational; outright anti-intellectual!
See the story, but miss the significance. Marshall forces to deny the significance.
Asleep at the wheel and proud of it
Resistance to new information ... has a strong neurological foundation in all animals, as indicated by studies of imprinting and conditioning. Most animals, including most domesticated primates (humans) show a truly staggering ability to "ignore" certain kinds of information — that which does not "fit" their imprinted / conditioned reality-tunnel. We generally call this "conservatism" or "stupidity", but it appears in all parts of the political spectrum, and in learned societies as well as in the Ku Klux Klan.
Robert Anton Wilson
Whew! There so much going on here: what to point to first? How about cutting straight to the conclusion and then flashing back to the flesh?
I had already multiply-read
Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society.
I had already published and somewhat distributed the early invitations to join FLEX.
It was my firm determination never again to teach through any institution but the latter. So what did I need this degree for? FLEX forbade the listing of degrees. I couldn't use it to be hired by my students: I was already committed, as founder and CEO of that institution, to offer myself on my merits alone. (I had hired myself, unfortunately without pay). (See the
Meaning of FLEX.)
I wanted to complete the degree:
Because I had already put years toward it. I'd wanted to finish what I'd started, however foolishly.
I wanted to write my thesis. I still regard it as core work, work which could have introduced the benighted profession of English to modern thinking, brought literature studies into the Twentieth Century.
It had existential appeal. Illich had a Ph.D.; yet he wrote Deschooling Society.
His disciple having one would be a good joke: like a buggy whip on the early automobiles, or like my Creator in
first using a barge to track the Sun across the heavens when he had put all the waters on the Earth.
I think it meant something to my wife. Her family had after all fed us more than one meal and paid more than one rent check in the years when I was studying rather than teaching and the fellowship retarded the accumulation of bills only somewhat.
What's the opposite of diversity? ... University?
Perhaps academics have occasionally understood part of what pk says-writes-does: they just pretend that they don't:
Just as both Pilat and Caiaphas may have understood Jesus, understood that their jig was up
Just as kleptocrats truly know, deep inside, that they live on stolen land, that all their labels are wrong: deliberately, synchronously wrong: choreographed to be wrong.
God won't have to cast anyone into hell or elevate anyone into heaven. Under the right circumstances — remove artificial interferences — everyone will know their correct, comfortable place. Creation and destruction — Eros and Thanatos — will distinguish themselves naturally.
(By the bye, I must now wonder: I'd passed FLEX literature around NYU. If people at NYU knew how to read, they'd know that cheap, non-coercive networking was being offered to them, the egg of a politically free internet, an educational free marketplace: in 1971! I can identify at least one grad professor I showed this literature to. I've already
how he harrumphed to it. It's possible that my orals committee had gotten wind of it. Could they have decided before my orals commenced that criticism of universities would not be tolerated? that no solutions were to be found? Were they united to guarantee that I wouldn't be able to get a word in edgewise even when it was finally my turn to speak?)
(We've all seen that done. I have a reference here to a "debate" in which the show opened and closed without the invited speaker ever having been allowed to complete one sentence.)
I decided that bringing the Information Age to the peoples of the world was even more important than my wished for transforms via
even more important than my hope of getting the public to see how Shakespeare had delineated the muddles of our own minds. (Once delineated, shouldn't we, finally, be able to work our way out of the maze? Jesus showed us some key elements of how to get along as humans. His own disciples didn't get it. His "Christians" still don't: not as a group.) We celebrate Shakespeare while the best clues
as to what's before us are blocked.
That's the tip of the iceberg. Apropos of my orals, there are also stories I have to tell against myself. But my aim of short files dictates that the story continue in the next
Post Scripts I move to a
The relationship between my life and my orals is digested in a number of condensed versions here. Several appear at the
My Macroinformation directory contains another.
2001 09 03 I add a new weave under Teaching / Social Pathologies / Society as Kleptocracy /
And, 2003 09 20, add a relevant quote from Swede Momsen to my piece on Gregory Bateson's metaphor of tram vs. bus.
This is the key module in this section. It recounts a key moment in my life. Had my cheap internet been claimed by the public, not stolen by the government, by CERN, and the universities, it would have been one of the key moments in the history of civilization, a turning point. As it is it anticipates a key moment in the long string on Homo sapiens' missed opportunities.
Dates: The bulk of my modules have been edited and reedited since first being mounted. This module is among those most tortured with reworking, though I never had time to recompose from scratch: not here, and in few cases elsewhere. Alas.
Hint: the Wife of Bath has been multiply married, seems to be (and is) talking about woe. But more importantly: she is still fishing!
Authority Divorced from Evidence
The theme of authority which has lost contact with truth goes beyond our own poor millennium. You'll find the theme stitched throughout this site. My
in relation to
offers the important example of Jesus teaching outside, not inside the Temple of Jerusalem.
The crux within Christianity came when the cardinals (and the academics) refused to look through Galileo's
They put the beliefs of their tradition above facts.
The Earth was the center of their universe. All things revolved around the Earth. Their vanity could not admit the idea of other bodies also having satellites. Therefore, the "moons" that Galileo had seen revolving around Jupiter had to be delusory.
Why look when your eyes will deceive you?
The logic is perfect. But logic and truth had been divorced long before: if not from the beginning).
Galileo is a high point in the Church's decline, Luther another. But the Church's authority had been in doubt for some time as Abelard and Chaucer's Wife of Bath show.
Literature: living and dead
Marshall McLuhan paraphrased Shakespeare's Marc Antony to mock his fellow Shakespeare teachers:
Friends, Romans, Countrymen: I come to bury
Shakespeare, not to praise him
Art may be seen as of two types: art which
and programmatic art. Mozart is a familiar example of the former; Beethoven of the latter. The latter is frequently also tendentious. If you learn from the former, it's bound to be at a higher level than a "lesson."
Before I relate this point to Shakespeare, let me quote something that Joseph Conrad, a conspicuous example of the former said to H. G. Wells. (Wells' Fabianism makes him the more conspicuous among the latter.)
The difference between us, Wells, is fundamental. You don't care for humanity but think they are to be improved. I love humanity, but know they are not!
I personally, as much as I revere Wells and Shaw, as much as I have learned from them, as much as I imitate them, am more deeply on the side of Conrad. And Shakespeare.
Shakespeare wove things into his art without any apparent expectation, not even a hope, of our finding them.
(And we didn't: not even once a certain person, here present, volunteered to chart the maze and mark the exits.)
No Contact with NYU
At FLEX I attacked "school" unilaterally: I deliberately didn't whine about my personal experience. Though I liberally illustrated my points from my own experiences where I thought it was appropriate. In other words, though I didn't go out of my way, my orals story did get told to the public more than once: on my soap box in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in my speaking engagements at Columbia, at the New School for Social Research, in my FLEX correspondence with educators ... (in my fiction). The story has been told in this file on-line now for more than a half a dozen years. Yet not once has NYU (in any form) or any other educational institution contacted me to call me a liar, to refute me with counter or discrepant claims, or to apologize ... and certainly not to repair damage. Thus, their silence could be claimed as a form of confession.
2008 05 01
Finally, they contacted me: by having the FBI arrest me! After that the US court pressured me out of any expectation of a fair trial, my public defender, a lawyer of extraordinary intelligence, who seemed very well to follow all of my point, to see the justice, the wisdom, of them, nevertheless convinced me that he would not help me in any way to insert relevant issues into a trial. No, he was there to "help" me by making sure that the Nazis followed their prescribed rituals while scourging and crucifying me: ie, trying, convicting, and further incarcerating me. He did though see that they gave me a short, not a long sentence: and in exchange for that, he had my full cooperation. (He earned a $3,000 bonus for saving the US the expense of a trial: by getting me to lie about my "guilt." I did it to get back to these files the sooner.
Now the US forbids me to contact NYU for any reason. Thus, the fed protects its criminal institutions against complaints for fraud. Bear with me till I can rewrite all this: if I can live long enough.
Gilbert Mros has cautioned me that in his understanding of the story it was the professors who refused to look through Galileo's telescope and that the cardinals were willing. I could have my details wrong. Until I can research it (or until someone provides me with adequate documentation), I pull my horns in and fudge some of my many references to the historical scandal.
There's still no question that the Church persecuted and suppressed Galileo's science (or that it took the Church a hell of a long time to 'fess up and apologize).